Am I Winning or Failing?
Honestly, I have no idea, I think both, but is winning and failing at the same time even possible? I guess it depends on what you call winning and what you call failing. Right now, my surroundings and emotions are telling me I am failing, but to the outside world, I am winning.
Recently I took a step back and took a long hard look at my life and the direction it seemed to be going in and was not happy with what I saw. The ministry work I am doing is impacting lives, I am in a wonderful relationship, I am self-employed with my own cake business, I am getting ready to register my Christmas feeding program as a charity and trying to finish my second book. Anyone would look at me and say I am winning, but the truth was I am not winning, I am barely getting by.
The scenes I was witnessing were scary. I had operated the way I was operating all my life, and all my life I had found the successes I achieved to be a real struggle. I’m not saying I expected life to be easy, but it really should not have been so hard, all the time, every time. Surely there should have been some periods of respite. So here I was asking myself a very serious question, am I winning or failing?
Without knowing the answer, one thing was for sure, I could not go on living and operating the way I had been all these years. I was a successful black woman. I had talent, I had dreams, I had achieved things I never thought I would or could. I had travelled, worked and lived abroad, I had my own home, drove a decent car and a scooter, I was young, fit and easy on the eye, but most of all I was hard-working, and that right there was the problem. I have spent all of my life working very hard but what did I have to show for it?
What foundation had I built, what structures were set in place for my future and what legacy would I leave behind? And having worked so hard what fruits of my labour would I enjoy in my old age? Was the work I was doing and the hours I was investing leading me towards an end that spoke winner or failure? It was time to forget about what the world saw and take a long hard look at what was happening behind the closed doors of my life.
What I saw petrified me. What was I doing, what was I really doing? Time was running out, if I wanted to establish a solid foundation for the rest of my remaining years, then things had to change. I was sick and tired of the rat race, fed up with the many dreams I had given up on due to them all being in my head and nowhere else. It was the old, “I want to do this, I want to do that” but never actually doing anything to make it happen.
So here I am with just under a year to go before my 50th birthday, some dreams that I am passionate about, a wonderful man in my life and no reason why I can’t achieve what my heart desires. I have decided it is time for some drastic changes to be made. It’ may seem a bit late in the day to be doing this, but they say it is never too late for you to learn.
A Pivotal Turning Point
In March this year, I shut up shop, took a week off and went before God with a large notepad and said, “speak to me, tell me what I need to do, what is my next step?” Up until that point I had been hosting the 7 day GRG Retreats once a year from 2015-2016 and twice since 2017, as well as making cakes and trying to complete my second book. I was tired, I had a vision, but I had no plans. There was so much I was good at, so many ideas running through my head, but I was unsettled and felt I needed God to speak directly into my life. I was getting up every day and working but something was missing and I was unsure if I was winning or failing.
I needed a reason to get up in the mornings, which for someone whose past was clouded with depression, at moments this was no easy task. People think just because you have overcome something, you are no longer affected by it, in as much as you are not still attacked by it, think again. The difference between my present and my past is that now I fight it instead of giving in to it. Depression is an emotion, a state of mind that is triggered by many things. For someone without a poor mental health background, they may just feel a little sad, for someone with a depressive mental health background, what starts off as being a little sad can cascade into a heavy dark pit of hopelessness, and that is what I have learned to fight.
I tried speaking to people about the way I was feeling and the fact that what I was doing seemed to be drawing me away from what I really wanted to do, but no one could understand why I wanted to walk away from my cake business Jemz Cake Box. Members of my own family called me crazy for wanting to give it up, people didn’t understand how something I was so good at brought me very little contentment.
In 2004, when I felt God telling me to leave my fulltime job to prepare for ministry, I was petrified. I was 35 years old and at the time I could not see myself in a ministerial role, I even told God my past did not qualify me to minister to others. Having given up my full-time job I worked part-time for the next 9 years getting distracted along the way, so in October 2014 when I felt God leading me to leave my part-time job, I knew the last thing He wanted me to do was work fulltime in Jemz Cake Box.
JCB, was how I was able to pay my mortgage, but often its busy schedule served as a distraction from what I believed God was calling me to do, as with my part-time job when I had overstayed my welcome, it was starting to feel like a noose around my neck. So, come January this year, I found myself searching for a direction that did not involve a future in cakes. I wanted to be winning, but I seemed to be failing.
What God laid on my heart in March of this year, on one hand, is producing fruit and fulfilment that no cake ever could, but on the other hand has become as draining as everything else I have been doing. Lives are being impacted by what God is doing through me, but as I labour tiredly in His vineyard spreading the important message of knowing, understanding and making intimacy with God an everyday practice of our lives, I am growing weary.
My passion for this work stems from my personal testimony, God’s Romantic Getaway the book, the Retreats and now the Away Days, serve as a testament to the power and deep intimate encounters we experience when our relationship with God changes from acquaintance to intimate. I believe this is just the beginning of what God has planned for my life, and this year alone has seen three new branches added to the GRG brand. The first Youth Retreat, the first Emotional Healing Retreat and the Away Days. But with all this going on, why am I still not fulfilled? Why at times is the journey so discouraging, why am I becoming weary and why is help in very short supply?
In all honesty, the GRG brand as dear as it is to my heart like everything else is taking its toll on me. Many say it is the enemy fighting me because I am doing something great, but I am learning that whatever path you choose to follow in life, you will face challenges that have absolutely NOTHING to do with the devil. That said the effects it is having on me mentally, emotionally and spiritually are humongous. This is evidence that even those called who are blessed with a purpose will not only face obstacles, but they will also face many seasons of discouragement, and that is not me being negative. If I were to tell you of all the setbacks from the Emotional Healing Retreat alone, maybe, just maybe you would understand why a very large part of me is too wounded to go on, while another part of me is driven.
It started in June of this year with my car being hit, me being charged and questioned under police caution, and I still have no idea what is happening with the case, given the motorcyclist involved ended up in the hospital with serious injuries. This then progressed to me not having my car, which is very much needed for the retreat. Then 2 days before the retreat the owners of the property I was booked to go into cancelled my booking and I lost all my money! They accused me of subletting the property and though I know that is not true, I am presently trying to find the energy to fight them as looking for legal help in the matter is adding more weight to my plate.
With no venue, I had to pay out more money that I did not have and was very much depleted before I even arrived to minister for the 7 days. Upon arrival Tesco’s did not deliver our food due to some glitch in the system and the driver of the minibus that was hired to transport the attendees, a brand-new Mercedes was hit as he returned to London. And that is just a taster of the setbacks. With all that behind above, below and around me I still had to minister.
So, I ministered, just about, feeling drained and tired after each session. Literally staggering into bed unable to keep my balance from the onslaught of sleep my body craved. If it were up to my emotions and my past I would give up now, but how can I give up on something that is part of me, how can I give up on my purpose, passion, and dream?
Gimme What You Got
The many setbacks I have encountered this year, of which there have been an abundance have taught me three valuable lessons, if you want something you have to fight for it, you must have a plan and more importantly, you have to have the right mindset. My problem was that I had all these wonderful ideas, great talent, awesome testimony to share, but no plans, no support, and the wrong mindset.
I have a cake company that could go places, but I have no staff, this means I am the only one executing every order that goes out, which keeps me away from other things I want and need to do. It’s not that I’ve not tried to get staff, I have, but the setup and the layout of my home make it very difficult for one person to work let alone a team. The solution would be to get JCB out of my house, but I’ve allowed the obstacles, such as funding and staff to keep me back. I keep saying I want to get it out of my flat which is way too small to house it, but what have I done about it? When I had the chance of someone investing in me, instead of looking at the long-term plan, I was blinded by the short-term obstacles and allowed a great opportunity to slip through my fingers. On one hand, I wanted to run before I could walk, while on the other I could not even see myself walking.
I have a wonderful, soul-stirring book, that has impacted the lives of all who have read it, but the lack of knowledge and understanding that comes with publishing a book has served as a great discouragement. The number of doors that have slammed in my face has been too much, each one crushing my spirit. But I still have an amazing book, and that book needs an amazing plan to help it get the exposure it requires and deserves. After all, the experiences documented on its pages are the reason why I am still here and not lying in a cold grave decaying. That in itself is a selling point!
There is the whole GRG brand, the Retreats and Away Days which are not only a blessing but life-transforming too. However, the lack of knowledge and time I’m investing in marketing and virtually running them, single-handed is draining the life out of me and robbing me of the passion for doing it. It is an amazing work but impossible for me to do on my own. Then there is the audiobook which has been met with so many setbacks out of my control, yet still, affect me all the same, and let’s not talk about the musical CD, which again without funding is going nowhere.
I would argue all the above require finance, but I would argue stronger, that what they really need is a plan executed under the right mindset. Finances without a plan will have me right back here, discouraged with my outcomes. So here I am fighting my discouragement, looking into creating plans for the things I want to do while fighting the self-loathing emotions that are screaming for my attention and the condemnation that comes with it. So, am I winning or failing? If I look at things as a win or a fail, I will spend most of my time depressed, because I seem to fail more than I win. But if I look at it as lessons to be learned then I am more likely to start moving in the right direction.
I tell myself I just need a break, some help, a good team, and some funding, but is that true? If my mind is overwhelmed with the mass of defeatism screaming for attention, no amount of help or finance will change things, the change must begin with my mindset, followed by plans and execution.
So, what are my plans and how will I make them happen?
Every day I am pushing myself to get up, make plans and stick to them. I’m not sure how things will pan out, all I know is that in the end, I want to be a winner and not a failure! To be a winner I need to separate what has to be done from the way I am feeling, why? Because right now I feel like giving up, and I’m angry about giving up, and can’t give up, so I must make a plan and stick to it.
My first step is to make a plan, my second to stick to it! Plan in a way that sets you up for the next day, this is great because not only does it make each day easier, it also makes doing things fun. Third, reward myself, yep, I get a reward for doing what needs to be done and that makes me feel sweeeeeeet! 4th, keep a journal so I can see my progress. Fifth get help and support, this feels so goooood! Six, STICK TO THE PLAN! Because one thing is for sure, with no plans and the discipline to execute them, I will fail!
It’s only been a few days, but already I am seeing a change in the way I execute my day, the way it plays out and my mindset behind it. My time is valuable, so I am learning to make each second count and loving the book I am reading by John C Maxwell, Make Today Count. If you struggle with making plans and sticking to them or feel like you are drifting through life, I highly recommend this book
Look forward to sharing the journey with you. I’m setting the bar high because I am planning to soar…………