Challenged to Overcome
An Open Letter from the Editor
2016 was the most challenging year of my life (and quite frankly, 2017 has tried its best to top its rank). The year's challenges by far exceeded any I ever faced before. I entered into 2016 expecting the manifestation of miracles, to expand my territory and to fill my lack with accomplishments. Yet the year brought many unexpected tears, losses and a dwindled hope that left me discouraged to live past an already existing fear. It was heartbreaking, overwhelming, crushing! Tough!!
Within weeks apart - a little over a month - I lost my oldest and youngest brothers! I never felt this feeling of emptiness before. I was shocked, hurt, torn, broken, confused. Was this really happening? Did I hear correctly? Were my eyes deceiving me? Did I really have to conjure up words to speak at my brothers' funerals? Minister past my emotions and sing over them? Pick out caskets, colors, program and flower arrangements? Muster up a pleasant facade while accepting hundreds, even thousands, of well wishes, with deepest sympathies and sincerest condolences for not one but two brothers back to back?
Joseph Sayles (3.3.16), Kenneth Sayles (4.9.16)
Brothers, I promise to make you proud!
Way before losing my brothers I lost a piece of myself but their absence heightened my awareness of what I already lacked and caused me to not only confront my fears but to overcome them as well. I was challenged to live and to find my smile, strength and confidence again. As difficult as the lessons were (and are), their lives are a constant lesson and reminder that no amount of anything is worth not living my fullest life.
Past disappointments and heartaches had a great influence on my lack of trust in others and faith in myself. Because I had such a fear of rejection and failure I vowed to not put myself on the line again. I was challenged because I was afraid of being honest; with myself and with God.
How could I admit that one of the main causes of my inconsistent pursuit of anything was because uncertainty scared me? I was unsure if success was even a guarantee; so, when inspired I'd prepare to launch into greatness but when reminded of reality's unpredictabilities I'd revert to stagnation. How could I admit that, though I wanted more than anything to experience life surrounded by genuine love and support, I feared getting too close to anyone because I didn't want to endure the hurt of loss?
How could I admit that I sometimes purposely looked the other way, hid my face and ran in the other direction when convicted of my calling because I didn't want to be held accountable for lives beside my own? I wasn't confident upholding my promise; how could I (why would I want to) carry the weight of others? How could I admit that at times I sincerely didn't want to care? That I created distance between myself and others because I didn't want to get too attached to their vision and raise their expectations of my involvement in helping to carry it through.
How could I admit that I (secretly) blamed others for my stand still? I didn't know how to admit that I struggled to balance doing for myself plus being there for others. So, to not be a disappointment I constantly said "yes" to the wants and needs of others, which meant I constantly said "no" to my own; causing bitterness to grow deeper and take root.
How could I admit that I became weary within myself because I felt I had nothing left in me to give? That I operated in illusion for the sake of "the team"; to not appear weak or incompetent. I chose not to take the chance to trust others with my feelings, pressures or go throughs because I felt no one could handle all of me. I felt no one would understand. So, I stayed to myself; quiet and empty yet full of confusion, disappointment, questions, shame, resentment, frustration and hurt.
But I was challenged to focus on my desires and put into motion my plans to live because I lacked confidence. My challenges preceded the loss of my brothers but losing them challenged me to forgive myself for letting go of my dreams, losing focus on my desires, entertaining distractions that deceived me into thinking defeat was my only option and for allowing the insecurities of my own and others to interfere with the manifestation of the plans God so graciously wants and expects for me. I was challenged to not only acknowledge and face my preexisting issues but to get to the core of what caused my disconnect and hesitation to live uninhibitedly.
Despite the many challenges I faced and though my passion to pursue my dreams wasn't as strong as it once was, my desire to see the fulfillment of the promises God made to me was still there. But how could I ever admit that I didn't believe enough in myself (and apparently in God) to be sure that though I may encounter happenstance the gift that I am was/is enough?
So, though uncomfortable being discontent, I learned how to function being uncomfortable and discontent. I wasn't OK. I knew there was more. There had to be; I felt it, I wanted it. But I accepted "this" was my lot; nothing more could or would come of my current state.
More than anything I was sad because I wasn't ready. We had plans; individually and together as a family. Past mishaps halted the motion but we were taking steps toward accomplishment. But in the quickest, most unpredictable unexpected moment of time they were gone.
I was challenged to accept that they weren't returning. That I'd never see or talk to them again. That last phone call, laugh, tease, hug, kiss, hand hold, "I love you" was it. I was challenged to accept that they believed in me and wanted nothing but for me to believe in me. I was challenged to see me as they did; confident, gifted, strong and free. I was challenged to embrace vision, passion, love and purpose. To live fully without hesitation, doubt or compromise.
I was challenged to accept that they had transitioned to another realm while I remained - with two less supporters - to finish the work. I was afraid because I was challenged to face the reality of time and that I don't have much of it. I'd better hug a bit more affectionately, pay more attention to stories, consider feelings, spend more time, take more pictures, call more often, have more patience. Because now is the only promise of time I have to fulfill purpose I'd better focus on my desires and put into motion my plans to live.
With this letter, I openly profess that I am ready to live victoriously. I apologize for the excuses I've created to not be consistent, to not take every opportunity to love and to be the best me I could possibly be. Yesterday can't be relived and tomorrow isn't promised but today presents an opportunity to triumph. There's so much inside of me to do today that God and all those He's placed in my path need and are waiting for.
Sometimes I'm hesitant to proclaim because what's expected afterwards is action and what if I miss the mark? But today I choose to take authority over every fear and over all of the insecurities that try to dictate my life. I choose to win. So, with this letter I openly profess that I confidently accept the call to fulfill this promise of greatness God has chosen me to bring forth!
I sincerely thank you for your patience and for your continued unwavering support of our endeavors. It is our mission to be instruments of inspiration that will affect change in people's lives. We are undoubtedly encouraged; for your thoughts and prayers have sustained, lifted and strengthened us to keep going on and on. We are forever grateful!
Stay tuned for more!
With all my love,