My mom was among eleven children and I was the first grandchild.
My closest cousin was 2 or 3 years younger than I. She grow up knowing exactly what she wanted to do in life. She would say “I will be a doctor when I grow up”. It was odd how she was so sure of what she wanted to do at such a young age. In our teenagers years she was still saying she wanted to be a doctor. As for me, it was hard to zero in on what I wanted to do since stuttering took center stage of my life.
I went from wanting to be a Veterinarian -always loved animals – to wanting to be a writer -I love to write- to be a teacher, a journalist, a stay home mom, among other things I wanted to travel the world. I couldn’t see myself been a teacher or a journalist since I stuttered so bad. So I buried those dreams.
Brazil was not politically stable, my family couldn’t pay for my studies and at the time the burden of working full time and attend private college was too much for me. I quit college to travel the world, clear my head, save some money, grow up a bit and come back home to finish my studies. Little did I know that going back home would never come to pass except for visits.
I did travel the world specially Europe. I was always an avid reader and books never left my company. I end up in USA, enrolled at college in NYC, open a cafe in the heart of downtown, and got married. Not all in this order necessarily.
I am the true representation of the American dream. I made money, I married, I had an incredible successful business and 3 amazing children. Yet, something was bothering me. I felt somewhat empty. Yes I did yoga, meditations, therapies, trips, vacations, what not, but still…
Something was still missing and worst was the excruciating feeling that I had no right to feel the way I felt considering all the blessings I had in my life.
The self help book isles of different bookstores became familiar to me. I discovered that not always self could help self.
I listened to the speeches given by motivational speakers. I could and still can motivate myself pushing myself to the limits. It was never my nature to dwell on the side of self pity or depression for too long. Life is too short and a true Brazilian knows how to be happy no matter what. Nevertheless, I still had this weird feeling. Self couldn’t help self and I needed a miracle.
So I tried Jesus.
I begged my 14 years old daughter to take a taxi while walking in NYC. I was too tired to keep walking – she answered “mom I don’t do taxi” cute. I never did Jesus either until nine years ago, I thought I knew better than do Jesus. However one of the greatest thing about been Brazilian is that if you are going to try anything, do it to the fullest.
I got to know Jesus personally and got closer to God in a way I never did before. It was special and life changing. Not long after I fell in love with Jesus I sensed God telling me to teach his people; just like in the Jonah story in which God tells him where to go, and Jonah turns and goes the other direction I also turned the other direction.
It was like in most romances, the honey moon did wear out and the trials of faith came.
There is a verse on the bible John 7:13 “None had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders”.
For whatever the reason I also become afraid of sharing about Jesus in public as I did once. I got tired of the trials but most important I got tired of “feeling” like an outsider. I wanted to do Jesus but I didn’t. At one point I didn’t see a point on been a Jesus “freak”. I looked to blend in.
David put so beautifully on Psalm 73
For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. 4 They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. 5 They don’t have troubles like other people; they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else. 6 They wear pride like a jeweled necklace and clothe themselves with cruelty. 7 These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! 8 They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others. 9 They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. 10 And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words. 11 “What does God know?” they ask. “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?” 12 Look at these wicked people— enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.
13 Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? 14 I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.
This Psalm reflected my own heart. My love for Jesus was still there but admittedly I didn’t understand the trials. In time I started to live a double life so to speak.
Have you ever been embarrassed of introducing your date to friends because maybe he is not dressed as well as you wish? or you wonder what people are going to think about the guy you choose to date? That’s what I did to Jesus. I kept Him away from the general public.
There was no distinction between how I lived and how everyone else lived once the honey moon of 5 years worn off. In the privacy of my home I could spend quality time with Jesus but outside I was just like everyone else. I walked in the company of those who are not walking by faith but by sight. I filled my mind with irrelevant news. I listened to stories that clearly didn’t edify me and further when trials came my way I looked for solace with those that meant well but didn’t see things the way God saw it. It all just added to the confusion of my double life.
In Isaiah He says “my ways are not your ways my thoughts are not your thoughts”.
As it turned out my life become like Jonah’s. I end up in the middle of a storm. I was thrown into the sea and found myself inside of a whale. My internal turmoils grow. I was wrestling with what I knew I had to do but was too afraid to take the step.
My cousin did become a doctor and I knew that God wanted me to teach his word. Once upon a time I wanted to be a teacher and walked away out of fear. Now, God was asking me to teach His word, stuttering was no longer the obstacle, but my disbelief that I am qualified to teach anything let alone God’s word.
In the midst of all God showed himself faithful and with that I freely confess
I have a God that does comes through. I have a God that does listen to prayers and time and time again proved to be forever present, forever compassionate, merciful and patience with my stubbornness. In the darkest hours of my life, when everything else failed, He didn’t fail.
When I needed a miracle, I got a miracle. When I needed strength I got strength, when I needed a a real human being to help me He placed that human being in my life. When I swallowed my pride and my stubbornness and did what I felt He was directing me to do things went well and smoothly but when I run like an wild horse not only I got hurt but had to face the consequences of my actions.
In the book of Jonah it says “From the deep in the realm of the dead I called for help and you listened to my cry” and in another verse it says “in my distress I called for help”. Jonah was spitted out of the whale and with that came freedom.
It is time to be vomited out of the fish and go follow what you know you have to follow.
Happy 4th of July.
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