Let’s get one thing straight: I’m the star of the show. My life is a never ending journey –a movie if you will –starring me. I’m the main attraction. The heroine and the villain. Sometimes I’m one, other times, the other. It’s always about me, and if it’s not, I’m going to make it about me.
The first line of Rick Warren’s infamous spiritual bestseller “The Purpose Driven Life” reads, It’s not about you. And so that I am not misunderstood, I admit, I get it. The Christian walk is not about my comfort, my happiness, my personal dreams being fulfilled, my family being safe, or my tears remaining dry. I get that. Just as the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks, and the like was about a cause far bigger than them, the purpose of the Christian walk is far removed from any individual life. The purpose must always begin and end with God.
But that’s not what I’m talking about. Life is a series of tests, peaks and pits. Even the most insignificant occurrences have their place in our story.
That’s what I was thinking the morning I sat in court battling my ex over a legal issue regarding our children. It was a once tender relationship gone awry, and it was that morning I realized a puzzle piece in my life was broken and had been ignored for…years. Failing to reach an agreement, the judge decided to issue a temporary order and adjourn the session until a later date.
We waited, the man and I, outside the courtroom for paperwork to be drawn up, and a court date set. Me, sitting on a bench, sipping cold coffee. Him, pacing the floor in front of me, talking on his phone to…someone…about what had just transpired. In that moment, I remembered how every area of my life is considered, and balanced. Physically, I try to eat healthy, organic foods, littIe sugar; and run consistently. Mentally, I feed my mind stimulating myself daily with writers like Toni Morrison and James Baldwin. My daily devotional begins my day. Time spent in my Bible ends it. Emotionally, I fill my downtime enjoying my children, having drinks with friends –real friends. I strive to excel in my career, manage my finances, and build a life for myself that would prove an inspiration to others. I seek to always be fulfilling a purpose, all the while strengthening an intimate relationship with the Lord, asking for his guidance and trying to follow his lead.
But this ongoing battle with my ex? Why have I not considered this? Why have I written this off as some added nuisance to my life that may be my cross to bear, the thorn in my side that cannot be removed but only accepted? I don’t have to confront it if I can simply disregard it long enough.
Nope. It has a place in my story. A fire detector does not sound to be ignored or to be removed. The sound of the fire detector is not the issue. It is the fire that must be dealt with. This is about me.
What do I need to learn? What do I need to “get” that I’m just not “getting”? Jordan could never expect to be great if he never practiced. Beyonce would never get a step right if she never rehearsed. Yet I say I want to perfect my walk. I ask for patience and humility, and the very opportunities I have to practice patience and humility, I write off as an insurmountable mountain that should be ignored. I can and should acquire a new skill through this ordeal. Only practice makes perfect.
A week later, I learned that an acquaintance had died—someone I knew of from high school—and it reminded me of the fleeting quality of life. Why her and not me? As gut wrenching as it was to hear that someone just like me, from the same town, same mutual friends, reached the end of her life before the age of 30, I was more inclined to wonder what was in this for me. Her death meant something and it was about me.
Considering the number of times I text and drive, despite Oprah’s best efforts, the illnesses that run in my family, my grueling high-risk pregnancy, my bouts of depression, I should be dead. But the fact that I’m not brought me back to reality. Death has a way of transforming people. Because I, like her, will inevitably reach the end, am I doing enough? Am I inspiring enough? Am I witnessing enough? Am I serving enough?
No, my purpose is not about me. It’s not about me finding my Zen, and living happily ever after, but in every experience, bad or good, in every hardship, every conversation, every friendship lost or gained, it is very much about God honing some quality in me that is needed to fulfill the bigger purpose.
But it is always about me. My life is a concern of His and while my ease at which I experience this life is much less a concern than the makeup of my character, coincidences do not exist in my mind. It’s because there can always be something to learn, someone to teach, some skill to perfect, whether it be big or small.
The struggle with my ex in the courtroom that day, the death of my high school friend, even the plight of Dr. King has an angle in there for me. It can all be used to develop the mind and the spirit. Life is what you make it. Let it be said of me that I was selfish because I used every opportunity for my own gain.
Herina Ayot is a freelance writer living in Jersey City, NJ. She is currently writing a novel based loosely on her own life, "The Content of Things Undone." Follow her on Twitter @ReeExperience.