What do you do when things don’t turn out the way you would have hoped or planned? There is this saying that I hear quite often, “You plan, and God laughs.” So how do we ensure that the plans we set out for ourselves are the right plans? How can we feel confident in the decisions that we make? How do we get back up when life has knocked us down one too many times? How can you have hope when all you see are the failures and disappointments?
In 2019, I went to take my licensure exam which I should have taken straight out of grad school however, I did not. I was working for a hospital and since I had a limited permit that allowed me to counsel, I did not feel the need to do so right away. The thing that I did not realize was that you can only extend your permit for one additional year and at this point come 2020, I would no longer be able to extend the permit and without my license, I would not be able to work as a therapist. So here I am, in June of 2019, about to undergo a back procedure which was scheduled right after my licensure exam. Everyone told me to reschedule the test since I could not eat nor drink, and these types of exams are very lengthy. Long story short, I failed! I was devastated. I failed the “decision-making” section of the exam. Now many people fail these types of exams the first time and a lot of colleagues warned me not to be too hard on myself if I failed. But you see, when you have a history of making poor choices in life and in men, that can carry over into other areas of your life.
Me failing the test was more than just not passing, but what happened to me after that was that I allowed myself to believe that I was still my past. I allowed myself to listen to the chatters within me that reminded me that I am not smart, not worthy, not good enough. Seeing that I failed in “decision-making” was proof that I was still who I used to be. I was not deserving, and this was somehow the story of my life. You know the “woe is me, always a bridesmaid, never a bride attitude.” To make matters worse my mother had a bad fall that day and ended up having emergency hip replacement surgery. I had to go immediately the next morning to Rochester, NY which is a very long drive from White Plains, NY. I got there on a Wednesday and that Saturday my mother passed away.
Losing my mother hit differently. I lost many people that I loved but losing my mom shattered my heart. My mother believed in me, and I know that she was proud of me for going back to school after being a high school dropout and obtaining a master’s degree while being a single mother of 3 children. I told myself that my mom would want me to take the exam again and so in September, I went with high hopes that I would pass this time. Again, everyone was encouraging me to wait a little longer since I was still grieving the loss of my mother. However, I did not listen and once again, I failed and guess what section? Yes, “Decision-making!” I found myself depressed and the inner thoughts kept replaying in my head of how in my past, I messed things up. I questioned myself, my purpose, God and life itself. I had so many hopes and dreams for my life and yet, they seemed so farfetched.
I literally felt so lost and alone. I could not call my mother for words of encouragement or simply to hear her voice during such a dry season in my life. I was like a little cactus alone in the desert and I was empty with nothing to offer anyone. This was a hard and dark season of my life. I needed a moment to figure things out, to heal, and to truly grieve my mom. I knew that although I was down and out, I could not stay there that long. So, here’s what I did…
I stopped listening to the lies in my head telling me that I was not worthy, and that the story of my life is making poor decisions. I reminded myself that I have come a long, long way and that I am smart, I worked hard for that master’s degree. That I can and will pass this exam. That I am NOT who I used to be. That I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and that God created me with purpose and intent. That this is just part of my story and that I will still be able to achieve my goals and that the delay is not God’s denial. This just meant that I needed to be intentional about how I studied and being mindful of the time I dedicated to it. When anxiety and disappointment kept knocking on the door, I declined to open it. I kept myself grounded by listening to encouraging things and holding onto my faith.
In February 2020, I finally passed my licensure!! And in December of 2020, I opened my own private practice!!! It did not happen when I thought it should but nonetheless, it did happen, and I learned the importance of healing and waiting during that season of my life.
Sometimes when things do not happen the way we would have liked or on our timing we can spiral down a dark rabbit hole. I would encourage you to stay the course and to keep your eyes fixed on the prize. Life is full of hard, challenging moments. If you need a minute to sort yourself out, take it, but don’t stay there too long. At some point you need to get back up and face that reality and try again. Keep the faith and don’t give up hope! God has a plan!