In my vocation as a pastor, I've had the privilege of speaking to individuals and large groups at churches and at events across the country. In these off-line conversations a common theme emerges: people are growing increasingly dissatisfied with mere survival. They know intuitively that there's more to life than the status quo.
This age-old angst is magnified 100-fold in hard economic times.
When you encounter hardship, you can't continue down the same familiar, comfortable path, sticking with what you know, doing what you've always done. Mike Tyson famously mused "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face."
When things aren't going according to plan, it's time to head in another direction. It's time to reinvent the dream.
More often than not, hard times are the catalyst that invariably sets you up to repurpose pursuits and reignite the vision.
I've learned to look for the opportunity within the adversity.
More often than not, our struggles will invite us to develop new skills and to connect to that internal inkling that we were created for something greater.
When we pay close attention, we find that God is constantly revealing hidden talents and undiscovered passions that help unstick and unlock our circumstances.
If we put one foot in front of the other even when the way seems uncertain, a path will emerge like an old Polaroid peeling away the darkness to reveal a clearly formed image right before our eyes.
So begins "the journey of transformation."
As a high school dropout, I would never have imagined the turns that my own journey would take. I unknowingly set on a new course as a young pastor's wife and mother when my world intersected with T.D. Jakes' following a family move to Tennessee.
Over time, Bishop Jakes became a mentor who helped me to realize my full potential as a preacher, singer, and now first-time author. Along this journey, I found my own voice and a purpose to encourage others. His guidance gave me the courage to feel that there was nothing that I couldn't tackle.
That is until one late August afternoon when I received a call asking me to speak at his popular men's-only conference, called ManPower. I knew that this was a truly historic, breakthrough moment. I would be the first woman ever to address this audience of 10,000 men, waiting expectantly to hear from the visionary himself. Insecurity set in and I asked him if he really wanted me to do this.
He told me that I was the perfect woman for the job. Nevertheless, I was scared. But, I caught my breath, dug deep and delivered a power-packed message. Had I not listened to that little voice inside that said, "You can do this!" Bishop Jakes' empowering, trust-filled words would have fallen on deaf ears.
I wrote my first book, "You Have It In You!: Empowered to do the Impossible," out of my own scrapbook: a wife in my teens, a mother in my 20s, pastor in my 30s and an author at the age of 50. Each decade brought with it new twists, challenges and achievements that I never imagined were within my reach.
So now, when my Sunday morning seekers come I speak to them from the volumes of my own living epistle.
I tell them with conviction, "No matter what landed you on life's crash cart – an unforgiving economy, unemployment, debt, foreclosure, bankruptcy, divorce, family strife – the latitude and longitude of your destiny lie within.'
I tell them to listen to that little voice inside and to take that first giant step towards the best part of their lives.
Then with a tender knowing embrace, I say, '"Hard times don't last, resilient people do. Your time is now. Reinvent you. You have it in you!"