Walk even when the way is not clear.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
At this time I was trying to get Ayana Productions on television. I was confident that if we got on television and got some more eyes on us, we would be sure to make a profit. So I drew up a proposal and made a reel. I sent it out to WKBT and NYC TV. But I hadn’t received any replies to my emails. At this point I didn’t know what else to do or where else I could turn. It was back to the drawing board again it seemed. I went to God in prayer and told God that it felt like I hit a brick wall. My worry and concern only grew when I didn’t hear from God or at least feel Him right away. As the days passed it was business as usual. My mother and I covered events like the Mental Health Association of NYC “Where there is Help, There is Hope Gala, the Live From T5 Goodie Mob concert, the Urban World Film Festival and the United Cerebral Palsy of NYC 4th annual Santa Project and Auction. While editing one of the shows I made a terrible goof with one of the kyrons and another one during the ins and outs. I decided to take a break and do some yard work. For some reason gardening relaxes me. And just as softly as the wind blew across my face, I heard God say “It’s time to change the direction of the company. I want you to write a sitcom.”
It seemed all throughout my career, my in between jobs seemed insignificant. Family and friends always had a way of making me feel that what I do is not important. Before I knew it that way of thinking trickled down into the way I felt about my purpose for God because I felt insignificant. Because I wasn’t making a certain amount of money, I felt insignificant. Because I hadn’t acquired a certain amount of materialistic things I felt insignificant. Before I knew it I stopped fellowshipping with God and was back to doing my own thing. I tried to take matters into my own hands by trying to acquire a job that the world considered significant but was nothing more than a mere whim of selfish ambition to God. I had been tricked by the enemy.
If you only knew how significant you are to God’s plan.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.
To commemorate my 30th birthday here’s 30 pieces of advice I would have given to my younger self.
1. Genuine love IS worth waiting on.
2. Put it in God’s hands.
3. Relax God is in control.
4. If you’ve done your best there’s no sense in beating yourself up over it if it didn’t work out.
5. Always look at the bigger picture.
6. In tough times ask God what He wants you to learn from it.
7. You do more than most & work harder than you or others give you credit for. So it’s okay to have more fun!
8. You don’t have to make room in your life for ANYONE who is belittlingly you.
9. If the ball is in someone else’s court leave it there until they pass it back.
10. Open up your eyes and look around you. You’re holding it down.
11. Encourage yourself in the Lord more.
12. Let go of false guilt. Most of the time things are not what they seem.
13. Get back to basics. Spend time in prayer everyday.
14. Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4)
15. Celebrate you more.
16. If you think you’ve missed out on something…think again! God’s plan is perfect. His timing is perfect. It has no holes and no mistakes. So if you missed out on it rest assured it was apart of God’s perfect plan.
17. Check up on and spend more time with your family.
18. Make more time for yourself.
19. And we know that all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)
21. Most of the time people are not who they’re cracked up to be. How many times have you discovered this to be true.
22. God didn’t bring you this far to leave you now. Have faith!
23. Go for what you want.
24. Do the things you enjoy more.
25. You know God’s voice by now so knock it off and listen!
26. Look less at your surrounding circumstances and more at God.
27. If you ever find yourself worrying about how you’re going to make it remember God said in His word that He would meet every need.
28. God doesn’t lie and He doesn’t go back on His word so hold on to the promises of the Lord.
29. Don’t just listen to the words…Peep the game.
30. Don’t quit God is not through with you yet!
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
I filed for unemployment some time ago. But I hadn’t heard from the Department of Labor regarding their decision about whether or not they approved my claim. I had been contemplating applying for a customer service position I saw on Craigslist at a digital printing company. But every time I tried to go through with applying, something on the inside of me told me not to. As the days passed, I got more and more anxious. Not hearing from the Department of Labor for so long was driving me crazy. The more I thought about applying for the job the more I heard God tell me not to. But according to my common sense I needed money and therefore I should apply. There was a war going on inside of me. Eventually my common sense got the best of me. I applied and got an email to come in for an interview. On the way to the interview, something said,
I disregarded it and went anyway. The interview went fairly well and I got the job. I discovered my unemployment insurance claim was approved on my start date. On my way there God warned me once more,
“Turn around and go back home.”
It troubled me but I brushed it off. My first few days were okay. My nerves were a little rattled because it was another office job and the one I was at before didn’t turn out too well. Fortunately for me there was another person in the office who worked with me and she answered any questions I had. Eventually I got the hang of things. But a few weeks later she resigned and the reason why God never wanted me to work there in the first place became more and more apparent. A small business, most times it was just the owner and myself there. There were times when I walked into the office and the owner undressed me with his eyes and as if that wasn’t enough he would sometimes say, “You’re looking sexy today.” It made working there so uncomfortable.
I thought about talking to him about it but with just me and him the office I felt that anything could happen. So I decided not to say anything. But one thing was for certain. I wish I would’ve listened to God. I regretted not doing what God asked me to do in the first place. Now here I was in another unfortunate situation, my unemployment gone all because I let my common sense undermine what God said.
I worked diligently to get my company off the ground, in order to get out of my current situation. While working there we had Actress Nhadya Salomon and Film Producer Rich McKweon on the show. But you better believe once my tax refund came I was out of there. I decided to live off of that until I figured out what my next move would be. We went on to cover the United Cerebral Palsy Women Who Care Luncheon and the Mental Health Association of New York City, Where there is Help, There is Hope Gala.
Not knowing how I would pay my bills and not staying in the same place for too long was starting to wear on me. The jobs I found on Craigslist never lasted that long so I didn’t want to search for employment there anymore. I prayed and asked God to show me how I could make money through Ayana Productions. It wasn’t absolutely necessary for me to be rich, but I wanted to make enough money to at least sustain me. But with each passing day the weight of the bills increased on my shoulders. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and there I was looking for another job on Craigslist.
I landed a gig working for a non-profit organization raising funds to prevent companies from lobbying politicians in order to continue fracking. I worked outside. Which was fine except it was the dead of winter and it was unforgivably cold outside. Putting in an eight shift asking people for donations didn’t exactly make me enthusiastic. Most people didn’t want to stand outside and talk to me about the environment much less anything else and I know because I used to be one of them. I used to be one of the people too busy to stop and listen to what somebody had to say. Now I was on the other side of the fence. The people who I came in contact with either scurried inside to their offices or to a nearby café to get a nice warm drink. But it wasn’t all bad. I did get a few donations. Unfortunately it wasn’t up to company standard so…You guessed it. I got laid off. This time I was quite relieved because I didn’t have to stand out in the cold asking complete strangers for donations any longer. In the end what was facing me was the task God wanted me to complete a few months back and that was to finish typing the feature film script my mother wrote.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold for that which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
By now I had four shows under my belt. I felt pretty good about that considering the circumstances. But I couldn’t shake the anxiety that I felt every time I walked into that office. I told my friend about what I was going through and she talked me into working with her at her job. I thought to myself that anything would be better than what I was going through. Yet something in my gut told me working with her wasn’t a good idea. But I went to the job interview anyway and I got a position as a customer service representative. I put in my two weeks’ notice. However my anxiety attacks only increased when I started the other job. They were so bad that I couldn’t understand the work for the life of me. The pain in my stomach was so severe that I spent most of my time in the bathroom. I needed to get out and that’s exactly what I did. I left the job not sure about how I would pay my bills but the relief of not having to go back there ever again was so great none of the circumstances bothered me. I went home early and prayed for hours. I hadn’t prayed that way in a long time. My circumstances were so loud that I couldn’t hear God speak. The anxiety attacks, bills and concerns about my job consumed me so much so that I lost fellowship with God.
Never let your circumstances cause you to lose fellowship with God.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pray without ceasing.
God gave me a peace even in the midst of my extenuating circumstances. He gave me strength to carry out the next episode. I had the pleasure of having Actor and Model Jarrel Cudjoe on the next episode of the show.
So here I was unemployed. In addition to my daily job search, I tried to get more coverage for Ayana Productions. I went back to my old routine and started praying first thing in the morning. Things were going pretty well but then my boredom got the best of me. Praying every day, looking for jobs and searching for media coverage somehow didn’t satisfy me especially since I still didn’t see a significant change in the websites’ traffic.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourself.
Eventually my boredom led me right back to my selfish ambition. I was spending more and more time taking online courses to make my resume look more appealing in order to get a job that had nothing to do with what God wanted me to do. Again I was headed in a direction that God didn’t want me to go in. Then my selfish ambition got the best of me. My mother, who is now the Executive Director and Host of Ayana Productions, wrote a feature film script in two composition notebooks. I could feel God tug at my heart, telling me to type the script. Still not used to God’s voice, I brushed it off because we had an online news and entertainment show. In my mind, we had no business fooling up with a feature film when we couldn’t even get the show off the ground. So I put it off. I certainly wish I would’ve listened to God because what comes next, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
Eventually I got another job. But God has a way of chastising you when you’ve been disobedient. I landed a gig at an eCommerce company as a customer service representative. In retrospect, the job was pretty simple. All I had to do was assist customers with their orders via email. At this job we were allowed to wear our headphones and listen to music. But at a reasonable volume of course just in case one of the supervisors was trying to get our attention. Simple enough right? Not really. Because we were allowed to listen to music, the supervisors’ sitting in the front office would speak negatively about the staff. There were times I heard them speak negatively about me, which made for a very uncomfortable working condition. One day I guess I couldn’t suppress their comments any longer because I started gasping for air and my heart started racing. I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong. So I got up, went to the restroom, took a couple of deep breaths and tried to calm myself down. But the relief was only temporary. When I got back to my desk, it started up again. This feeling just wouldn’t let up. It was becoming increasingly worse with each passing day. I did some research on my symptoms and apparently I was suffering from anxiety attacks. To make matters’ worse I was beginning to have night terrors during my sleeping hours. The job was really wearing on me. I prayed and asked God to get me out of the situation. My desire became so great that I vehemently started working on Ayana Productions coverage. While I was employed there I covered the Queens Peace Keepers March, a Fathers Alive In The Hood event and the Dumbo Arts Festival. My mother also interviewed Ralph McDaniels (Uncle Ralph) and the Mis B’havin Misfits. Sometimes God allows trouble to come to get your attention and get you back in line. But take my advice; things are always easier when you listen to God the first time.