BY SHONDA WHITE. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEUN IVORY.
Have you ever been in the car and started singing so loud that you forgot other people could see you and possibly even hear you?
I remember when I first heard Beyoncé's “Best Thing I Never Had." When I reached the part where she says, “Thank God I found the good in goodbye," you would've thought I wrote the song the way I belted it out. I can remember a time when I thought I couldn't live without a certain someone, or when I doubted another door would open after another door had closed.
I'll never forget when I was in college and I went through a terrible break-up. I found out my ex had been cheating on me. I was so hurt and distraught that I actually called my mom crying and sobbing and told her, “I'm sorry for not always listening and for not always taking your advice." I couldn't stop crying and I was so depressed that one day I literally quit my job, drove home to my mom's house and stayed there for about a week.
There was another time a few short years ago when I was dealing with a difficult situation as it relates to my career. My work environment was toxic and I found myself dealing with extreme anxiety, and I even experienced a panic attack. Funny thing is, they offered me a promotion with a significant pay increase and I turned it down. I basically told them, “Bye, Felicia" and accepted a new position with a different company and made a lateral move instead. Some people thought I was crazy for turning it down but for me at that time, peace of mind was more important than the number of zeroes on my check.
What's interesting now, however, is when I look back at those dark times in my life I realize what I once thought I wanted was exactly what I didn't need. There's a liberating feeling knowing that what you once thought was the best thing in your life became the best thing when it was actually removed from your life. Even though we may experience bad situations, we can still find the good in goodbye.
Some of us struggle with moving forward because all we can see is what we left behind versus what lies ahead. We're focused on what we lost instead of what we look to gain, but sometimes the very thing we are holding onto is the very thing that is holding us back. I've definitely learned how to find the good in goodbye and I want to encourage someone to start the process to help keep you moving forward.
Keep in mind, when I refer to the term "goodbye," I'm not necessarily referring to us saying farewell to our loved ones when they pass away even though we still have to find a way to keep living when those situations arise. Instead, I'm referring to the relationships, jobs, careers or even dreams that have ended or appear as if they're headed nowhere. Whatever it is you're struggling to cope with or move forward from, here's how I find the GOOD in Goodbye:
G – Get out of the way and let God do his thing.
How many times have we tried to do things our own way, ignored God's plans or got mad at God because things didn't go as planned? It's okay to make plans for our lives because like they say, “If you don't plan, you plan to fail," but the conflict arises when we try to play God and orchestrate things without consulting Him or even after talking with Him. I don't know how many times I've prayed for God to send me a sign and remove certain people, places or things from my life that would hinder my growth. Then, as soon as it happened I would make excuses or I would avoid the signs because deep down inside that's not what I wanted. It's like when we get advice from our friends - sometimes we're open to receiving and sometimes we're not because we'd rather ignore the truth.
Now, I know it's not just about what we want but what we need. Just like from my story earlier, I wanted so bad to be with a certain someone despite how they were treating me and even though it was clear that they didn't want to be with me. At the end of the day, God knows just what we need when we need it. There's a good quote that says “Be god or let God." In other words, I've learned to get out of the way and stop trying to force things to happen. We can repeatedly and hopelessly try and create the life we want by manufacturing defected relationships or situations that will eventually be recalled; or, we can hand over control to God and let him guide and lead us so that He can make room for what we really need.
O – Open your heart and mind to something greater.
Just because something ended doesn't mean we won't have the chance to experience something greater. Every now and then, certain things have to end in order for something bigger and better to begin. Yes, it's hard when things go awry or relationships end and we have to take a moment to deal with the pain and release a good cry, but we can't stay there forever. We have to pick ourselves up and keep moving.
Had I stayed crying and complaining over my past break-ups and situations, I never would have been open and available to receive the love from my husband. Had I not said goodbye to them I wouldn't have been able to say hello to him – my husband. Had I settled for convenience, chaos and toxic environments, I never would've stepped out on faith and fought for something better.
Just because you haven't met “Mr. Right" doesn't mean it will never happen. Just because you hear 10 “No's" doesn't mean you'll never hear a “Yes." I'll never forget when my husband was laid off during our first year of marriage. Even though it was a tough time, he NEVER gave up. He always believed there was something greater coming not only for him but for us as a family, and everything he believed would happen for us has come to fruition. When things don't necessarily go as planned, we have to trust that God is still at work and can bless us with something greater. We have to put our hope in Him, not man.
O - Observe the greater purpose and focus on what's important.
I truly believe we all have a purpose, and at times, the culmination of one thing can lead to the birth of so many more things not only in our lives, but in the lives of others as well. What's more encouraging than being able to help or encourage someone who is going through something you've already overcome? There's an encouraging verse in Genesis 50:20 that says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…"
That's why I do what I do. That's why I write what I write. I understand now more than ever that all of the so-called break-ups, disappointments and failures I experienced in the past actually prepared me for this moment – to help someone else who may be going through similar situations. Our tests form our testimonies. I have to ask myself sometimes, "What is my attitude in adversity" because I realize others may be watching and my actions and reactions can influence how they will deal with life's interruptions. So, when things get difficult and when I get discouraged and can't see clearly the good in goodbye at the moment, above all I have to remember my purpose so I can keep going.
D – Declare the victory!
It's funny when we experience break-ups, heartache, or we hear the words “goodbye" or “no" we immediately find ourselves crying and focused more on what could've been instead of what could be. As human beings, it's totally natural, of course, to feel defeated and disappointed. We live, we love, we laugh and unfortunately we hurt.
But how often do we take the time to rejoice about the potential catastrophes we avoided like: constant and unnecessary drama, abuse, pain, lies, cheating and so much more? It only takes me a second to think about where I could've been had I done X, Y or Z; had I taken that position or had I stayed with "Tom," "Joe," or "Keith." Think about how much you could be going through right now had you stayed a little longer or had they not walked away? Think about the job or position you were overlooked for and the long hours you would've spent away from your friends and loved ones had you accepted it.
Like I said earlier, there is a liberating feeling knowing what you used to desperately desire ended up being something you could actually live without. Everything runs its course. If certain things and situations had not ended when they did, they could have very well prevented us from living life to our full potential. That's the victory! I'm thankful to God for each and every blessing – the ones I prayed for and even the ones I didn't know I needed; the open doors and even the ones He closed.
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