As I was updating my blog I saw this post and am reminded to keep pushing on. I have fulfilled some of the goals such as: serving on the College Museum at the MET, graduating from my program, working with a book coach to write my story and I went through 6 months of health coaching,but I still need to run that 5k! I hope this post will encourage you to turn the page and finish writing your story.
“We are changed; we are marked by challenge. Adversity is not an obstacle we need to get around to live our life, its apart of our life. The question is not when you’re going to meet adversity but how you are going to meet it. The human ability to adapt is our greatest asset.” Aimee Mullins ground breaking runner born without shinbones
“Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. Habakkuk 2:2
As I thought about this contest I could not think of ways in which I would drastically change my story. Though my life has been full of challenges, hurts and disappointments early on I learned the lessons of perseverance, faith, tenacity and service. I don’t necessarily want to write a new story but I do feel like I am coming to the end of chapter one and need to start the second chapter. As I enter the last year of my theology and social work program I stand at a crossroads. I have been pursuing healing so that I am healthy, whole, connected to God and empowered to fulfill my vocational calling. I want to fulfill my calling out of an abundance of love not out of bitterness.
Faced with a difficult beginning filled with injustice and poverty induced struggle I had two choices to make overcome or be overcome. Experiencing foster care, racism, homelessness, and inner-city poverty I struggled between writing a story of self-pity or a story of empowering grace. This contest has forced me to examine my life and I have realized that I want to keep my story. I have overcome obstacles to emerge as a leader who can stand alongside others who face adversity. God has strengthened and comforted me in my trouble so that I can comfort others with the comfort I have received (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). I am called to start a faith based non-profit to organize the residents of the eleven public housing projects in East New York, Brooklyn (the community I grew-up in). I wrote a proposal for this organization and have been working for groups that focus on similar issues to gain experiences that will be valuable for my vocation.
The challenges to living out my next chapter which ultimately include starting my non-profit in the next 5 years is that I will have to gain leadership skills and financial support. I will also have to navigate the transition from being a young person in my community to being a leader and that is going to be difficult. Furthermore I have spent a great deal of time living outside of my community to pursue education, so I will have to rebuild certain connections to establish legitimacy. The steps I am taking to deal with the above challenges are: I am networking with-in the non-profit community, reading and listening to messages about leadership (like Andy Stanley’s Catalyst podcast) and putting myself in positions where I have to lead. My social work program requires that I take a grant writing class which will prepare me for raising the financial support needed to start the organization. I continue to visit my family in East New York to stay connected to the community.
The arts have played a huge role in my endurance and healing. Over the past few years I have found solace in museums, literature and music. Over the past year I have felt called to add a new chapter to my story and this chapter is utilizing art in my justice work. So at this crossroads in my life I have decided to stop being an artistic spectator and to become involved in the arts, to this end I am applying to be a member of a college group at one of New York City’s premier museums. Additionally, I am enrolling in art history classes. I have also begun to learn about photography and plan to do a photo documentary featuring people in my community. Instead of becoming frustrated when my story is not told (especially in the Christian world) I plan to write a book highlighting poor people doing justice ministry in their communities. To gain a global perspective on urban poverty I am applying to do a program with The Church of Scotland in which I would work with low-income girls while studying theology and urban affairs. For much of my life I have neglected my health and wellness and in this next chapter I am developing a rhythm of life which will include centering prayer and exercise. I also plan to run in a 5k race this fall in preparation for my goal of running the NY Marathon in the next five years. In September I will embark on living in a Harlem Christian Intentional Community because in this chapter of my life I want to write a story of interdependence. The challenges to the above goals are to incorporate the art classes and museum college group into my life while balancing school, relationships and keeping a healthy life rhythm. I plan on developing a schedule and making my health a priority and if I have to alter my story by a couple of years to make it more balanced I am willing to do so.
In the next chapter I will continue my story of: tenacity, service and faith while incorporating art, travel, health and interdependence all undergirded by love. I now know that adversity is not to be erased from my story. I will pick-up my pen and continue to write building on the challenges I have overcome. My story needs to be told in how I live my life. If I could give a title to my life story it would be:
“Life is for living and LOVE is a Choice.”
As I go into my last year of school I am in a period of discernment and by writing a personal storyline I will be able to transition to my next chapter. This conference will give me a chance to connect with others who want to write stories worth living. I will be able to gain valuable insight into how my life can tell a story that is empowering for me and those I seek to serve.
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Video of Donald Miller discussing Living a Better Life Seminar: