This article was originally written in July of 2012 for Our Witness, a website that highlights personal testimonies of Christians all over the world. Thank you for reading!
Recently, I was at a financial workshop and the leaders of the session (husband and wife) asked us attendees to take a few minutes and write down what we value most in life. Being that we were going to discuss finances, I wrote my answers accordingly. When we were asked to share, others were saying values like “Relationship with God. Family. Giving to others.” I admit I felt pretty selfish when I piped up “Peace of Mind.” The leaders actually took a beat to think about that and responded, “We’ve never heard that answer before. But we value that too.” Since then, I’ve been thinking about my response and wondering why peace is so high on my list of values.
In my life currently, peace of mind can be hard to come by. My career, friendships, and finances are all very inconsistent. Some would say that having those elements can make up a happy lifestyle. Thank God that’s not true because—if it were—I’d be a nut case. Pardon my French. When I first moved to California years ago, God rocked my world by taking away everything I felt secure in. Before that move, I was used to having a consistent job, consistent friendships, and money to do what I wanted. Because of this, I relied mainly on myself and thanked God for the strength to do so. Now I know just how backwards that is.
“You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.” (Psalm 59:17)
Even though I had security at that time, I wouldn’t say I was at my happiest. God called me to be a performer and I knew that the more I pursued this career, the less I would enjoy my pre-packaged lifestyle. This is my calling, but as I’ve stated before, being a Christian and being an actor do not necessarily go hand in hand. Actually, being a HUMAN and being an actor do not necessarily go hand in hand. Because of God taking away everything I was familiar with and introducing me to this new career, I cannot count the times I’ve had to go to my husband and Jesus to mend my brokenness after facing rejection, isolation, and uncertainty. Those are probably the only consistent things about my life at the moment, and I am all the more mature because of them.
Taking a stand: peace in the face of rejection. Have you ever seen a baby wobbling around trying to stand up because it’s still learning to support its own weight? You watch them upright for two seconds, but they’re so excited by their own triumph that they fall and get startled by the fact that they’re on the ground again. When I was first learning to walk in peace, that’s how I must have looked. Instead of seeing this peace as something that needed to be strengthened in me, I took each situation as a case by case basis. If I struggled in anything, I’d get over it, move on, and rejoice about being an overcomer. Being in Hollywood would have broken me if I kept that same attitude because I face the same “failure” each and every day. There’s nothing to move on to if your weakness becomes a lifestyle.
Whenever I had a horrible Hollywood experience, I’d get frustrated, pray, and then feel ready to conquer the world the next day. Thinking I was building an indestructible shield against criticism, I’d be surprised if I felt the same way when rejection came again. I kept getting defeated because I thought I was supposed to get used to it, but God showed me that I should never be used to rejection. I have to instead keep reminding myself who I am in Christ and build myself up on a regular basis, lest I fall on my face again.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)
When I’m secure in knowing that God made me to be wonderful, I’m standing firm in that knowledge instead of being swayed every time I don’t get a job, or am passed over because they chose someone else for a role. I realized that what He has for me is for me, so I stopped forfeiting my peace during painful circumstances.
Going steady: peace in the face of isolation. Once a child is able to stand on their own, every step is still hesitant and unbalanced unless they are holding onto something else to support them. I’ve seen a lot of kids go the long way from point A to point B because they had to travel the path with the wall, the coffee table, and the chair in order to have something to lean on. I used to be that way with my friendships. As long as I had acceptance and love from my closest friends, I felt validated and that was my support system. Fast forward and I’ve been in LA for a while and am gaining peace as it relates to my career, but there’s still that need in me to connect with people and build a support group.
One of the hardest things about being an actress is feeling like life is passing you by. While others are making solid plans and committing to things weeks from now, I’m still wondering what my day will bring. It’s because of this lifestyle that it’s close to impossible to forge new friendships and dive deeper into current ones. For someone who relied on the validation of friendships and consistency of them, it’s hard not to let isolation set in when that aspect of life is missing. It’s been years since I landed in Los Angeles, and I have so many testimonies of how God brought amazing people into my life. However, I wouldn’t have gained the gratitude toward God that I needed if I hadn’t learned to cut that dependence out of my life and trust in His love and friendship alone.
“I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.” (Psalm 52:8)
Because of God’s love for me, I developed a steady peace knowing that He’ll continue to be the most important relationship I’ll ever know in my life. Not only that, but He’ll also be the one to bring about—and help me to sustain—the community that I need.
Walking the walk: peace in the face of uncertainty. When children are used to walking—even with the support of walls and furniture—they start to take risks. A few steps here and there across the room without holding onto anything prove that they will indeed be able to walk on their own soon. In my younger days, I had the most support when I lived with my parents. I was working, but had a financial buffer in case anything were to happen to me. Once my husband and I made our vows to cling to each other, that comfort was stripped away. We said goodbye to what we were accustomed to and would soon say goodbye to our steady jobs. One afternoon, Jerrell called me to pick him up from work. When I parked outside of his office building, he walked towards me with a box full of his belongings and I knew that was the end of our job security. From that day on, we’ve been called to rely on God for everything.
Even though God would always come through, I used to worry every month about rent getting paid and when we’d buy groceries. This became an unhealthy cycle of being grateful, relieved, and immediately worried about the next month’s turn of events. In my anxiety, I would even blame my husband every time things didn’t go according to plan because he was supposed to be the provider for the household. One day I had a revelation that I—like many other people—was allowing finances to cause division in my marriage. I didn’t want to be that person, and I knew God was not happy with my on again/off again relationship with peace. I decided to be thankful regardless of my situation and meditate on what I had instead of what I didn’t.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Walking in peace with God reminds me to think about the fact that He will continue to provide for me and knows exactly what I need even when I don’t. Ultimately peace is something I am given, and I have to make a choice to use it so that I no longer fear rejection, isolation, or uncertainty.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John14:27)
Since my peace walk began, I I’ve gotten better at looking at life through a different lens. I can appreciate all of the times God reminds me of who He’s made me to be and keeps me built up so I’m not stumbling over myself trying to prove my talent or place in this industry. Instead of feeling isolated because I’m not always able to develop friendships as much as I’d like to, I’m grateful for the amazing relationship I have with God and the friendships He’s brought into my life. Being able to rely on God to provide for me is no longer scary. I see it as an honor to have so many testimonies about how He came through when nothing else seemed to work. I’m in no way done learning about peace because it is a constant battle of the mind, but at least I can walk in it steadily now. I pray this blesses you and that your peace in life will continue to grow as mine has.