In Shonda Rhimes’ new book, Year of Yes, she recounts being honored by Elle Magazine as a powerful woman in television. As the ceremony hostess ran off the litany of accomplishments of the women in the room, she noted that as the women were being complimented, they did one of three things:
- “Shook her head and looked away, waving off the words and ensuing applause…”
- “Ducked her head, an embarrassed look on her face that read, ‘Me??’…”
- “Laughed. A mortified, embarrassed, stunned ‘I can’t believe I’m even sitting at this table with all of these awesome people…'”
Rhimes chose door number two in response to her being applauded for the amazing ways she changed the landscape of TV while being a mother of three; she notes, “not a single woman in the room could handle being told, ‘you’re awesome.'”
During her Year of Yes, she decided to no longer shrug off compliments that she earned — earned with a community of friends, coworkers, and family members at the helm. She reminds us that we should, in fact, be “into ourselves. In love with [ourselves]. Think we’re special.”
She called her self a badass.
2015 has been a badass year for me.
2015 was the year I’d do what I thought was impossible: graduate from Emory University with a Masters of Divinity with a concentration in Religious Education. Top it off with a 3.5 GPA, a number of community service awards, and public recognition from faculty and peers alike for my work on race and difference on campus, Emory would be the place where the itch to write, teach, and travel would be nurtured and explored.
2015 was the year I’d get a passport. For the first time. Ever.
With that passport, I’d travel to four countries on four different continents. In Brazil, I’d study models of pastoral care. In Uganda, I’d put Scripture into practice and care for the poor. In London, I’d have a blast running across the city to see as many sites as I could within a five hour window. And in Palestine, I’d better understand the plight of Palestinian people under apartheid occupation that would totally shift my understanding of the bible, Jesus, and Christianity.
2015 was also the year I’d learn that preaching/teaching is one of my gifts; just 13 months ago, I’d preach in Cannon Chapel at Candler, an opportunity bestowed on only a few students every year. Since then, I’ve preached five times at the church that has been so, so, SO important to my development as a preacher, worship leader, and religious educator. Years of being afraid of accepting the call to ministry has been pretty much assuaged because I’ve finally realized that I can be my most authentic self at all times, even while preaching the Gospel. (While wearing Chucks, of course.)
This year, I’d speak at Allume as a workshop presenter about how our stories are often the common threads we have to make connections with people who are different from us. From there, I’d begin getting calls and emails from people across the country who were interested in me speaking at their conference or giving a keynote address at their university. Just a few weeks ago, I announced that I’d be giving the keynote address at Florida A&M University and Iowa State University next month. I have a couple of other dates in California and Milwaukee later in the year that I hope to solidify soon. I want to keep my hands and heart open for all the other opportunities that are coming that will keep my calendar and pocketbook full so I can do exactly what God called me to do: write, teach, and travel. (book me!)
I’d publish an article in T.D. Jakes’ MegaFest Magazine, offer social commentary on the approval of same-sex marriage and biblical interpretations, offer some final words on the execution of Kelly Gissendaner, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, and two single moms from across the globe who are cut from the same cloth. I’d even collaborate to write a small group curriculum for single moms launched at Impact Church earlier this year. I hope to get other churches interested in bringing the curriculum to their ministry as a resource for single moms (message me if interested!)
My kid would make 2015 a good one, too! She’d place in the school-wide spelling bee, maintain a 4.0 GPA (despite some challenges in Math), speak at the Georgia Federation of Democratic Women’s spring awards meeting, ride a horse for the first time EVER, spend time at the beach with Angie and Ayinde, be the 5th grade salutatorian, participate in the 5k Color Run and a bunch of other amazing accomplishments.
I’d even manage to find love. The quiet kind.
2015 was a badass year. And, like Shonda in her Year of Yes, I list these accomplishments as an ode to myself and my community of reliable others that have made these things possible.
We spend too much time shying away from the beauty of our accomplishments — this is especially true for women and mothers. Who are we to not relish in the amazing things that have happened in our lives? What do we gain by playing down our gifts, talents, and supernatural ways we balance life, family, career, dreams, and so much more?
Nothing. Nothing but looking weird at the table with a bunch of other badasses hiding behind their wine glasses and nervous giggles.
Here’s to a 2016 where we fearlessly applaud ourselves — and those who support us!
Here’s to saying yes to being a badass.
On the Chase,