Why I Believe in the Power of Prayer

STAY WITH ME! Don’t leave! I promise this isn’t a Jesus-saved-me-so-now-life-is-amazing story.

If you thought it was and that’s why you’re here, please don’t leave either! I promise this is a good story.

I didn’t always pray. In fact, who needs prayer when you can make.shit.happen. Prayer just seemed like a moment that was taken up by more thoughts, more talk, when I just wanted quiet.

I turned 15, and everything changed. I had a situation that shook my whole family, and from that day on, I believed something. Let me clarify that: I believed in something. Something larger than myself and to this day, I believe with all my heart that something kept me here when it could’ve taken me away. I was supposed to be here.

But why? For what reason did I live? What was I supposed to do with my life if my life was meaningful enough to save?

That’s when I started to pray. Not for answers, but for guidance. I prayed every night that God would help me find my path. And not only help me find my path, but keep me on it. To help me not be swayed from what I was meant to do in my lifetime. To keep me going forward.

I prayed those same words for YEARS. When things got crazy in my life, when I was partnered with the wrong people, when I was off doing nutso things, when I was off balance, I prayed the same words.

I did realize over a few years that I have to do some of the work myself. DUH. And so I did. I researched my job path, talked to people who held the jobs I wanted, and figured out for myself how to get where I needed to go.

Others helped FOR SURE. My parents paid for all of my education, so without them, I’d be a sad sack of debt. I was able to work flexible jobs during my education that helped me pay for this and that. And I didn’t really ever flounder because my foundation of friends and family was so solid. I graduated with my MPH from Emory and was moving on up.

Then the economy tanked.

My jobs went away, the path that I KNEW I was supposed to be on disappeared beneath my feet. And so I went back to prayer. Went back to the same words I had been praying for years. Help me find my path and help keep me on it.

I got jobs that I HATED. HATED with a fiery passion. FLAMES ON THE SIDE OF MY FACE kind of hate (Clue? Anyone? Best movie ever).

But I kept praying. And I kept trying to learn as much as I could, in case I would need it later. Always keeping my options open, but with a narrow focus on the end goal. So narrow, in fact, it drove my parents crazy! They kept wanting something else for me, but I was sure that I was doing what I needed to do to get to where I wanted to go.

And then, THREE AND A HALF YEARS LATER, opportunities started to open up, and I took full advantage. Every night, I said those words in a prayer, and every night I believed that I would be helped. Now, in St. Pete, I believe with all my heart that it’s because of my faith that I got where I needed to be and had the strength of character to make it happen.

Every opportunity I didn’t get for all those years of praying are falling into my lap left and right here. When it rains, it hurricanes right? (A little FL humor for you.) And I’m taking advantage of everything that I can. I would be stupid not to. I mean, hello, THIS IS WHAT I PRAYED FOR. It wasn’t overnight, it wasn’t the next night, but it happened.

Not only did I ask for guidance and support, I also made it happen. You can never get what you want if you don’t go for it. Period.

So I guess you’re wondering why I decided to write an entire post about prayer. You already know that I feel fortunate as F*%K, that I’m blessed beyond belief. You know why we moved down here. You know all this. Why talk about it now?

Because prayer also helped Timmy & me happen.

If you know me, you know that I’m a strong, independent, fiery, dancing machine. No one really ever gets in my way, and I get what I want when I want it. I don’t really care what others think of me because I never stop long enough to think about what others may think of me in the first place. And I’m also the most impatient person you’ve ever met.

Like seriously, it’s a problem.

I’ve been this way my entire life, I kid you not. I could never last an entire game of Monopoly (I think I only played the entire game once), I can’t stand when people or events take longer than I want, I hate waiting in line, I hate crowds, my God forsaken commute, I hate anything that sets me off my schedule.

So as you can tell, I spend a lot of time frustrated and pissed at things outside of my control.

So it occurred to me, around the same time that I figured out how to ask for guidance on my career path, that I could also ask for help getting patience. It couldn’t hurt, right? Besides, isn’t that God’s thing, being patient and all that?

And so I prayed for patience too. I prayed every night, “Please give me patience.” I prayed and asked for help in being patient.

After probably 6 years of praying for patience, I wasn’t noticing any difference in my ability to be patient. No progress. None. Nada. Zip. And to be honest, I wasn’t really trying. I didn’t know how to be any other way.

Then Timmy came into my life. This huge personality of fun, laughter, kindness, reliability, and genuine friendship wanted to be with me. Forever. And I also wanted to be with him forever. He was the partner I’d been wishing for my entire life.

Everything was perfect the first year or so. I mean, isn’t it always? I’d been in relationships before, so I knew the honeymoon phase was going to be coming to a close soon. Oh snap, did it ever.

As I’ve mentioned numerous times on this blog, Timmy is not exactly what I’d call a good time manager. In fact, he’s terrible at it. He’s constantly late, which in turn, makes us late to everything. He has no system, he has no schedule, he has no mindset that’s similar to mine.

With a fiery vengeance, my patience evaporated. I found myself unable to control my anger, exploding all the time, because I had no patience. I still prayed for it, but I couldn’t find it anywhere.

And then, I realized it. The glaring fact that had been staring me in the face for almost 4 years. How I didn’t see this until a few months ago, I have no idea. I was blind to it until I just decided to open my eyes.

God paired me, someone with minor OCD, with Timmy, who has ADHD.

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor, right?

Now that I can finally see how God answered my prayer, I have to laugh about it.  I mean, duh, of course God would give me someone who has a total inability to focus and fully concentrate for long periods of time. HOW ELSE WOULD I BE ABLE TO PRACTICE BEING PATIENT?!?!

I’ve realized that it wasn’t about God just handing me a package with PATIENCE written on the label. I have to practice, every day, being patient. It won’t come any other way. In fact, I was on Pinterest the other day and found this:

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Honestly, I have no idea if that’s from Joyce Meyer or not. The quote itself struck me in a way that I’ve never been struck by anything online. It was like the story of my life’s struggle, in 15 words or less. I’ve been repeating this in my head daily now, not only as a reminder of what patience is but also as a reminder that God did answer my prayer. Just not in the way I expected.

Timmy is God’s gift of patience to me. And I thank God every day for that because otherwise, without my prayer, we may never have found a reason to be together forever. We probably would’ve just passed each other, high fived, and moved on.

Prayer is important for many reasons, but I believe it’s a way to challenge yourself and boil down your deepest desires to the simplest form. If I had asked God to just give me a cool job without asking him to put me on a path, I would’ve ended up bored and languishing in a dead end position. If I had asked for a fun partner who always makes me laugh, I never would’ve had the opportunities that I do with Timmy to constantly better myself.

Hard work and prayer go hand in hand. Timmy and I are meant to be, sure, but we have to work and work and work at making sure we stay meant to be.

Don’t pray for wishes and long shots. Pray for the opportunity to show that you can do something. Pray for that window where you can see hope. Pray for the time that you can rise to occasion. And when those moments happen, ACT.

That’s my story folks. And I’m sticking to it.

♥, VB

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How to Compromise

I apologize immediately if you thought this post is an explanation or a discussion on how you can best learn to compromise with someone else. It’s not. I’m actually asking you how to compromise with someone else who at times feels like they hail from another time-space continuum. How do you do it?

I feel like sometimes I nail it, right on the head, that sweet spot known as a perfect compromise. The decision that gets both parties what they want satisfactorily without anyone feeling like major sacrifices took place. Other times, I feel like the only way to feel like justice is being served is to duke it out Hunger Games-style until one person is dead and the other left standing victorious and therefore able to make whatever the hell decision he/she wants to make. Is this just me?

hunger games

The more time that passes in our relationship, the less I can tell if we’re getting better or worse at compromising. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small or little thing. Most of the time, compromising feels like one of us is just giving up in order to move forward without a fight. Is that what compromise is in the end? Between two people who have chosen to spend their lives together, compromise = giving up? Should I be disappointed in this?

quick search of google gives you this definition of compromise

quick search of google gives you this definition of compromise

There are probably about a million things that Timmy and I agree on. But for those million things we agree on, there’s half we really don’t see eye to eye. Half of that stuff is non-important stuff that we can agree to compromise on, staying in that sweet spot zone. A quarter of non-agreeing stuff, I don’t think either one of us really cares about at all, so we agree to let the other person just have their way. But that last 1/4 of the stuff….holy shit, that’s the stuff that makes you stay awake at night, the stuff that you will destroy furniture and glassware for (not that I’ve done this), the items that you don’t think Satan or God could get you to change your thinking on.

Most of the stuff that Timmy and I agree on are those important life things, like core values, moral fiber, education, and relative equal standing in life. Those things have always been what I believe makes or breaks a relationship. If you can’t agree to the values that you hold dear in your own life, you have no chance of making it. I’ve experienced it before in past relationships and see loved ones’ relationships crumble all the time because the foundation they thought they had in common was built out of totally different and incompatible materials.

The stuff we don’t agree on, the items we would punch each other in the face over (if it were legal and not harmful), that’s the stuff I constantly struggle with deciding on how to compromise.

Take for example being punctual. In my family, we are HYSTERICAL about being places on time. This is not a joke. Many many many a fight has been launched because someone made the entire group late. It doesn’t even matter what we’re doing or where we’re going; it matters if we’re on time or not. I will admit that being punctual is probably one of the only things that gives me legit anxiety. And it’s a tangible anxiety that anyone can see starts to get worse and worse as the minutes tick by.

Timmy, on the other hand, I wonder if he can even tell time. I don’t say this to be a bitch, but to illustrate his inability to manage time. He is habitually at least 15 minutes late to everything, and when we have to go somewhere, that time has extended to two hours more than once. MULTIPLE HOURS LATE. Why…what…I mean, how is this even possible?!?!

When I get ready, I’m able to accurately estimate how long it takes me per item on my checklist: do hair (15 minutes), makeup (5 minutes), find outfit (5-10 minutes), pack (20-30 minutes), etc. It’s the planner in me. I know myself well enough to call it like I see it: I’m not spontaneous, I’m not chill, I’m not “fly by the seat of your pants”. I’m the complete opposite of all of that, and I love that about myself. I’ve been this way since I could form thoughts. I believe it really is a part of who I am and how I present myself to people. What I believe my planning and punctuality say about me is this: “Victoria is punctual and reliable. She wants me to trust that she will be places on time, be where she says she will be, that she is honest and trustworthy.”

I can’t even honestly tell you how Timmy approaches time management. I’ve never seen anything in my experience that suggests that he has a plan or is able to accurately estimate how long it takes him to do things. Most of the time, his time projections are off by about 20 minutes. From my viewpoint, he spends a lot of his time moving slowly, checking FB and his phones, stopping by the tv to watch ESPN, then moves on to do things on his checklist. We’ve been late to weddings, festivals, parties, vacations, and dinners because of his time management skills. And it kills me slowly every single time. All I had to do was read this article today in the Huffington Post to get anxious all over again about being late to things!

I know everyone is different and handles things differently. To each, his/her own, right? In most cases, I agree with this statement. I don’t want to ask someone to change something about themselves that is character-defining or is one of those core value items I discussed before. That would be ridiculous and just wrong.

But herein lies my problem: DO I GIVE IN OR FIGHT TILL I DIE ABOUT PUNCTUALITY??? His inability to move his arse into a similar gear that mine is in drives me crazy. Certifiably crazy. Should I just accept that this is how he is, and try to control the anger and rage that rise in my throat every time it happens? Or do I insist that he try to practice time management skills like alarm-setting, to do lists, reminders, itinerary planning, because it’s a necessary skill to have in life? Shouldn’t the mere fact that it drives his girlfriend insane be enough?

How do you compromise on something that you feel is important, with every bone in your body, but isn’t on the same list of priorities for your partner? I attempt to control my anxiety so that my reaction isn’t negative and strong. But in order for me to feel like it’s a true compromise, shouldn’t he also have to rise to the occasion?

Is this a typical male vs. female argument? That women are better planners and men just need to be told where and what to do in order to keep a relationship afloat? I for one refuse to buy into that gender norms crap. I think everyone has the ability to control their emotions (like how I try to) and improve their skills (like I think Timmy should). But it can’t happen without practice.

Before you think that I’m an exploding crazyass girlfriend, I will share with you that I know for a fact there are things I do that drive Timmy crazyface, and I have maybe not attempted to fix because I don’t see what the big deal is. Or maybe I like that thing about me that he can’t stand. Do either of our complaints or seeming apathy make us bad people not meant to be in a relationship with each other? Absolutely not. It makes us two different people trying to make a relationship work.

Either way, we’re not perfect beings without flaws. We will drive each other nuts sometimes, and that’s life.

compromiseIf we can all agree that it sucks sometimes to compromise, I think we’ll be ok. It works out in the end, and you just keep practicing and trying and working at it. I keep practicing at controlling myself, taking a breath, reminding myself that it’s not the end of the world if things don’t always go my way. It’s a part of being in a relationship, any kind of relationship, that oh-so-fun game of give and take.

But give me my watch, cause seriously, that shit drives me crazy.

♥, VB

How to Live With Your Partner…If He’s Male and You’re Definitely NOT

This post is based off an email conversation that I recently had with one of my friends. She’s planning on moving in with one of Timmy’s best friends in a few months, and she wanted some advice on how to live with a dude. I decided to expand the short list I gave her and share my amazing wisdom with the general public. If you have any additional insights, please do share in the comments. We women need all the help we can get.

Rules to living with a boy:

  1. Tell your soon-to-be-roommate your dealbreakers ahead of time. Things like “you cannot handle repeating yourself about cleaning” or “if you split the chores, then each person MUST do them” are important issues to get out of the way beforehand. I told Timmy waaaay before we ever moved in about my OCD tendencies because I knew we would move in together at some point and he needed to know NOW what I was like. I think I told him so much about my crazy organizing sprees and my need to fix the bed sheets when they get messed up in the middle of the night that I think maybe he thought I was exaggerating. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so hardcore in sharing my issues, but I knew I needed to tell him so that it didn’t come up as a surprise later. It did though, against all my previous prepping. But now, after living together for over a year and a half, he gets it. Oh does he get it. So whenever he starts to get a little testy with me when I ask him to clean something up, I remind him that I’m not nagging, I warned him I was crazy about cleaning before! One of Timmy’s dealbreakers was that the dishes need to be dried after handwashing and immediately put away. I’m the type that washes them, then lets them air dry in the left hand sink compartment. I HATE towel drying. The air is so much simpler, right? But he freakin hates it. So I try to do my best, but I’m still not into it. It helps that when we’re in Atlanta at my parents’ house, he sees that my mom does the exact same thing that I do, and my dad is the one left to hand dry the dishes. Like mother, like daughter.
  2. Obvs, discuss the finances, utilities, and splitting of payment beforehand. Agree to a monthly budget, and stick to it. That way, if you buy something on your own, or he does, you can’t get mad because the budget was stuck to and all the bills were paid the way they were supposed to be paid. I can’t believe how many couples move in together before they talk about this stuff. Sure, things may end up shifting around once you’re actually paying bills and stuff, but at least you’ve opened the door to this discussion. Money is one of those things that people HATE fighting about but it’s honestly on everyone’s minds all the time. Just don’t be dumb, and work it out beforehand.
  3. There will be little hairs everywhere on the sink because of beard shaving. It honestly looks like their facial hair has exploded off of their faces and razors because the hairs are EVERYWHERE. My leg hair doesn’t do this in the shower, and believe me, I’ve let those hairs grow dangerously long. I have no idea how men do this, or if they’re conveniently blind to the clean-up but it is disgusting and will ultimately be up to you to wipe down the sink area thoroughly. Nothing you do or say will get them to clean it up better than you can. Those little hairs I swear will be the death of me.
  4. They have no clue how to plan for dinner or how to grocery shop without a list. Give him a list, and it’ll be fine. Make sure the list is specific. Timmy calls me from the grocery store to check on which brand of a canned whateverwasonthelist before he buys it. He will call for almost any item on the list that doesn’t have a brand name written before it. It annoys the crap out of me, but I know his intention is to make sure he gets what I want. Give him a detailed recipe and it’ll be fine. Sure, it may take Timmy three hours to make a salad, but it’s delicious, and his attention to detail is pretty impressive. But if left to his own devices, you will eat Mexican takeout every day of the week. I love cheese dip, but let me tell you, 10 extra lbs is not a good look for me.
  5. Try to turn off the tv at dinner. It’s SOOOOOO easy to eat dinner on the couch and watch tv, and tune the rest of the night out. Especially when you don’t have children, you don’t really have the responsibility to set a table up for dinner. Usually, it feels too formal for just two people. But without the tv, you actually talk to each other and reconnect, and it makes a huge difference. Trust me, the lazy way hurts your relationship.
  6. The toilet. Oh gross, the toilet. If you can, just get a place with two bathrooms. Either the one bathroom is disgusting, they pee and don’t flush, or the hairs, or whatever, two bathrooms will save your relationship. I couldn’t care less about about the toilet seat being up or down. I don’t even understand why that’s such a big issue with some women. Who cares? But what I do care about is when either one of us blows up the bathroom, and there’s no place left to dry my hair or for him to brush his teeth except our gas chamber of a bathroom. NO. Just No. Two bathrooms = amazing relationship.
  7. The mismatching internal body temperatures will leave one of you sweating to death and the other with a constant sinus infection. Timmy’s hot 100% of the time. He sweats like he just ran a marathon when we’re watching “Modern Family”. We have our ceiling fan and a standing fan and the AC on all day, all night. Meanwhile, it’s 85 degrees and 110% humidity outside, and I’m in fleece Hello Kitty pajama pants and my NYU sweatshirt, shaking from how cold I am. I think Timmy’s “Ferguson fanny”* actually steals the cold from the air around it, leaving the rest of Timmy’s body fighting for any additional cold that he can get. So while his booty is operating at a nice maybe 70 degrees, his body is 20 degrees hotter and that’s why he’s hot all the time. This is just a theory, but I’m willing to test it out with high-tech scientific gear and what not.
  8. He will attempt to have an opinion on your clothes, and you need to SHUT THAT DOWN. I will never listen to someone telling me that what I’m wearing doesn’t match if he wears polo shirts that ceased to have a recognizable color about 10 years ago with holes in the collar from the 8th grade. If I ask you how I look, I don’t care what you think about my outfit unless your response is, “You look sexy.” And you’d better say it in a Tim Gunn accent if you want me to take you seriously.

I think that’s it for now. This list might save your lives, ladies. Pay attention, print this out and laminate it if you need to refer to it in the future. You are not alone ladies, you are definitely not alone.

♥, VB

* “Ferguson fanny” refers to the bulbous, firm, sky-high booty that’s passed down through the maternal side of Timmy’s family. This booty defies gravity, weight loss, and nuclear bombs. This phenomenon should be studied, stat.

Why It’s Good to Live With Your Partner: Lesson #247

I’ve been a single mom to Floyd for a week and a half now and I’ve learned some pretty important things about living alone after living with a partner for a year and a half. First thing: God the house is so much cleaner. I love my man, but geez, the place finally stays clean once I leave it that way. I do miss that part.

But I think the lesson for this week was made apparent last night.

Lesson #247: It’s good to live with your partner because they keep you from scarfing down the majority of chocolate pieces out of the Special K® Chocolatey Delight cereal by subtly judging you.

When you live with someone, your secret behaviors aren’t so secret anymore. Living with my old roomie Lyndsay was wonderful because when you’re a woman and you NEED chocolate (esp during the best time of the month ever), another woman roommate ain’t gonna stand in your way. And Timmy’s been the best, occasionally running out and grabbing me a brownie or chocolate chip cookies when I’m in dire straits (probably because he knows what’s good for him). He has thrown a little shade my way though sometimes, like perhaps the day I took down nearly all of the cinnamon rolls by myself (DON’TJUDGEMEINEEDEDSWEETFOOD!). Thankfully, those days are really really uncommon, so I don’t feel the need to be ashamed or embarrassed. We all need cheat days.

But I really could’ve used his help last night keeping that in check. It’s more fun attempting to eat bad stuff when someone’s giving you the side eye.

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♥, VB