It was some time toward the beginning of last year when I remember the Lord telling me He was going to have me move out to Houston. I recall how nervous that made me because:
- I don’t like Houston. I prefer the quiet and solitude of the country/rural areas over the chaos of large cities. Yeah, there’s a lot to do but it’s too much going on for me.
- I really loved being at home. Everything I know and love is at home. I had lived there all my life and I reached a point where I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else—not because I loved home that much, but because I had grown that attached.
Let’s go back to 2014 for a moment. I can recall thinking about my life then, wondering where I would go if I left my mom’s house. I hadn’t really been anywhere and I didn’t know what other places were like. I remember feeling comfortable and complacent with the way things were and I told God, “I know I have to get out on my own eventually, but I feel like it would take something drastic. I mean, I hate to say that, but that’s how I feel.” I could see the progress I was making and I could see my poetry was beginning to elevate, but spiritually I was plateauing.
As the year came to an end, my best friend called and told me about an opportunity she had been given to have a place to stay—rent free—while she finished her last semester of college. She needed a roommate and asked if I would room with her. I was totally okay with that, but I was nervous about telling my mom because I wasn’t sure if she’d let me go. Yes, I was 26 at the time, but I was still in her house. Her house, her rules. Surprisingly though, my mom approached me about it. My friend’s aunt came to my mom and told her, and that’s when my mom asked me. She wasn’t too happy, but she was willing to let me go and that was good enough for me.
Enter 2015. I moved in with my bestie about a week or so later and started my journey in the “real world.” We didn’t have much to eat and I remember waking up in the night with hunger pains. The last time I had, had pains that bad was when I was a sophomore; it was terrible but it was the very thing that motivated me to get a job. Before the end of January I found work on campus with campus dining. It was grueling, I almost had one day where I was ready to throw in the towel, but God put a wonderful lady in place named Tan who was patient and helped me through the whole process. Working in a kitchen was tough, but with Tan as a friend coming to work was actually fun. Eventually I got to know the ladies in my station and I grew to enjoy working with them as well. There were some rough and tiring days, but I was determined to see it all through.
That summer I went off to Kids Across America and worked at a summer sports kamp for urban youth (once you work there, you’ll understand why “camp” is spelled with a “k.”) I got on a plane to work 10 weeks in Missouri despite the protests I kept getting, “That’s a waste of time,” “They’re not even paying you that much,” “What exactly are you going to get out of that?”
Working at KAA ended up being the best move I ever made. From day one, God began to rebuild me and remold me. He showed me that back home I leaned too heavily on my friends and family, on myself, rather than coming to Him. I felt completely and utterly alone, totally out of place, but He helped me to slowly come out of my comfort zone. I started becoming a hugger (not in my character at all.) The girls in my cabin, all my new friends—everyone became FAMILY. I went from being skittish, skeptical and homesick to never wanting to leave.
Then while at kamp, my soror and prophyte Sandra Bland died…
I felt so many emotions…angry that she died, sad that I would no longer hear or see from her again, guilty because I hadn’t bothered to keep in touch with her. Her death revealed that I kept people at a distance to avoid the pain I ended up dealing with anyway. I tried to isolate myself, but my newfound family just wasn’t having it. I agonized over the fear of opening up to someone, anyone at camp but feared getting shut down with, “Oh, that’s really sad,” or “Oh, so sorry to hear that. I’ll pray for you.” Basically all the things I had said to others in the past for failure to empathize with them. I kept saying I had to be strong, but God told me, “It’s not about being strong, because I give you strength. Even when all your friends and family are gone and have passed away, I will still be here. I will always be here. I’m not going to leave you.”
I finally did open up to my cabin-mates and surprisingly they didn’t brush me off. They embraced me, encouraged me and continually loved on me. A lot of people at kamp did and I’m so thankful to them for that. I began to seek God more instead reaching for my crutches, I began to accept that I was weak and it was okay to be weak because I wasn’t designed to carry all that weight by myself. Coming home to the chaos around Sandy’s death wasn’t easy…it still isn’t…it has left a hole inside of me, but that hole has helped me to be more caring and understanding for those who have suffered loss in their life.
Once I got back home, I made the move to Houston.
Living in Houston had a lot of ups and downs. There were so many times things began to look up only for it to come crashing. I began to get frustrated with God and I kept asking, “Why did You have me come out here? I was fine at home. I feel like I’m wasting my time—I haven’t accomplished a single thing I wanted to do since being out here, so WHY AM I HERE?”
As I get ready to move back home this week, I think over the four months I stayed in Houston. I realize that I’m too much of a circumstantial praiser; I serve God too much by how I feel. I learned a lot of new things about myself: personality, likes, dislikes, preferences, etc. I developed new skills, took on new challenges and matured both naturally and spiritually over that time. Not to be mistaken, I’m aware I still have a lot of growing up to do, but at least I’m aware of it now. I’ve come to see that I don’t trust God in everything and I’m too driven by what I want rather than seeking God for what I need.
There are so many things that I have learned and now I’m taking it all back home with me. It took a whole year for God to prepare me and get me ready for the next season to come, and honestly, even when He told me what was coming I still didn’t prepare, but I’m preparing now. Whatever He would have me do, I’ll do. It scares me to say that because it means giving up control, but it’s what has to be done.
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. (Luke 22:42 KJV)
I ended my journey here the way it first began: on the Metro Bus.
As I took my last ride, I began to reminisce from my first time to that point. I was terrified and frantic; it was a breeze now. I came here knowing nothing, naive and unaware. I’m leaving a stronger, wiser person. So while originally I felt like my time was wasted, God has shown me none of it was in vain and for that I’m thankful.
I’m thankful…and now, I’m going home. I don’t know what the future holds, but I have to trust that God has it covered and press on anyhow.
Thank You, Lord. Goodbye, Houston.