Skip to main content

I'm A Quitter...So What!?

When I was 8, I went to a cousin's wedding in Lansing, Michigan. My mom and I stayed after the wedding festivities to sight-see. One afternoon, we were walking to the public bus and it flew passed us to the bus stop, a good distance away. My mom told me to run! I took off jogging, casually. Frustrated and annoyed, I stopped running. I turned around and proclaimed that I was tired and our efforts were futile. She told me to keep running. Rolling my eyes, I took off in a light sprint and the bus driver was gracious enough to wait for us to catch up (this clearly wasn't anything like the brutal NYC transit operators who could care less about you). We winded-ly climbed on the bus and to this day, my mother uses this story to lecture me about the benefits of not giving up--of not quitting.
Although my mother would never want me to stay in a toxic situation, that experience has shaped the narrative around my vigorous fight against being labeled "quitter."

I'm an overachiever. Surprise! My type-A personality isn't an accident. It wasn't nature; it was nurture. Harangues against quitting are weaved into our adolescent lives through educational practices, athletics, and even biblical narratives that thrive on perseverance and determinism. Perhaps, it was my overenthusiastic desire to never miss the bus...to keep running despite the costs...to never quit, even if it meant losing my sanity. Last October, I quit. I took a deep breath and walked away from everything I knew about Sunday mornings, begrudgingly embracing a new freedom. It was like going through a bad breakup--a separation that you'd been avoiding for months because, let's face it, abuse becomes home and joy becomes the high you try to recreate, and peace is an eschatological reality only achieved in death. Abuse becomes us. Weariness becomes us. And freedom? Freedom cracks open our dysfunctional foundations, causing us to fall deep into the unknown of ourselves. This wasn't the freedom I was waiting for. In fact, just as I'd wrestled with my calling into ministry from 2011-2015, I wrestled with this new freedom--this new rest. I'd become so used to slavery that the prospect of freedom seemed painful. I became so comfortable in the captivity of "serving the Lord" and the toxicity of environments that were supposed to be healing spaces that I stopped growing. I stopped giving cheerfully. I stopped loving myself and I stopped loving ministry. 

I Quit Church in October--not because I was trying to make a statement or attempting to garner a pity-party. I quit because I realized on the bus from Laguardia Airport to Harlem, that I was allowing my sanity and my gifts to be castrated "in the name of Jesus." It might not've been intentional but it was damaging to the greater calling on my life. As I began to empty my hands of the things that made me comfortable--of the things that filled my calendar and, temporarily, fulfilled my duty as a servant of the Lord--, I began to receive things that I'd never imagined. The free time made room for me to deepen my studies, for me to explore new relationships, and for me to figure out who God was/is calling me to be in this era of my life.
I quit because some fiber in me couldn't stand fighting to be in a space I'd outgrown. When I was younger, I was taught not to be a quitter. As an adult, I've realized how damaging and destructive that teaching was. You come to points in your journey where, in order to move forward and step into your greatness, you have to leave spaces that you've outgrown--spaces that are suffocating you--for if you're being suffocated, you can't breathe life into the world. And if that leaving--that removing yourself from toxic spaces--makes you a quitter, then so be it. There is more for you waiting on the other side of that label.

I realized that there was more for me...and as I soon I realized that, doors began to open, dreams began to come true, and prospects that were future-oriented became facts of the present. I don't know about you but when I walk into an unforeseen door that God has opened, I get excited because I know that walking into that door means walking into myself. Emptying my hands in October meant more than just "quitting." It meant preparing for my future--it meant leaving space for the assignments that God and the universe were placing upon me. I, now, find joy in being a quitter. I love my mama, but forget what she said in 1997. I'm no longer begrudgingly jogging for the bus. I'm enjoying the marathon that is life and stepping into myself, stride by stride.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

It's Cheaper To Die

This past December, I sat down with my checking accounts after my rent was paid, and I added up all of the past due medical bills that had been piling up for months (some, for years). I deduced that I had the funds to finally pay off the $500+ of unpaid bills--bills from the colonoscopy I had in 2014 and the biopsies I got done in November (nothing malignant was found). I was so proud of myself for paying off my medical bills at the end of the year. It felt like a tiny weight of debt was lifted from my aching back.
In January, however, I got slammed with a new set of unexpected and hefty medical bills and, honestly, my friends, it's cheaper to die. 😶
When you go to the doctor or dentist these days, there is a lot of lack of clarity about how much things cost. I knew I'd have to pay for some of the colonoscopy and x-ray, and I did so up front, but I wasn't expecting the unexpected remainder that my insurance suddenly decided not to cover to slap me across the face with th…

Surviving the Community that Supports R. Kelly (and Men Like Him)

Read Finding Love After Sexual AssaultHere
_______________________
My brilliant colleague, Danielle Williams Thiam, preached a sermon this fall on the rape of Tamar (2 Samuel 13). In her sermon she pointed out all the ways in which, not just Amnon, but the community and world in which Tamar lived participated in her rape. "Rape is a communal sin," she preached. I honor her words as a sexual assault survivor and as an advocate for holding the collective responsible for the violation of women's bodies, particularly the bodies of black and brown girls. ______________________
For every person who knew that Deacon so-and-so (who was in with the pastor) was touching little girls and turned their heads cuz they didn't want to 'fall out' with the pastor-
REPENT.
For every person who stood outside a closed door knowing that what was going on behind that door involved an abuse of power that ravaged a female body-
REPENT.
For every lawyer who knowingly defended a guilty…

Pile Up Your Affirmations

I haven't blogged in a while. I suppose it's due to many reasons. First, many of you know that I relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina at the beginning of April. I got the offer of a lifetime to come down here and do full-time ministry, focusing on the fields of spiritual formation and community outreach--which are two of my favorite things in ministry. I left New York after 8 LONG years of hustling and self-discovery, saying "yes" to God and the unknown yet again. For my final sermon in New York, I preached about God's command to varying groups of people in the book of Genesis to "fill the earth" (Gen 1:28, Gen 9:1, Gen 9:7). I  knocked down the Towers of Babel that I'd built over the years and I ventured forth into the mystery. 
This journey has been a tumultuous one. It has been one of many ups and downs over the past 18 months. For the most part, I am grateful--grateful for the opportunities that have come my way--for the accolades, for the aw…