A Question Every Woman Should Ask Herself
Are you the real woman God created you to be? Have you wanted to become her? Have you wondered how to make that happen? If so, then you’re the amazing woman I wrote this book for. You’re the woman who wants to become even better than she already is. What you want is to become the best you can be in all areas of your life.
But, first, I think it’s only fair that I answer the opening question myself.
So here goes…For longer than I realized, I wasn’t being the real woman God created me to be. Not spiritually, personally, or professionally. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have always loved, honored, and trusted God, and even though I have sometimes failed at it, I have also tried to be a great wife, daughter, sister, bonus mom, nana, aunt, niece, and friend. I’ve tried to be a great business professional, too. Still, I wasn’t being the true woman that God wanted me to be.
But how could I?
Especially when it was years before I discovered that attending church on Sundays wasn’t enough—and that building and maintaining my own personal relationship with God, and reading His Word, were the keys to becoming…the real woman He wanted me to be.
Had I been completely focused on my relationship with God from the time I entered adulthood, would I have become angry with Him when my mom became terminally ill? Would I have lost faith in Him to some degree? Would I have told myself that I would never be able to go on without her? Would I have struggled to forgive people who hurt me and held grudges against them for years? Would I have judged others when I had my own flaws and faults to work on? Would I have had sex before marriage? Would I have allowed all the rejection letters I received for my first book to discourage me from trying to get published? Would I have allowed fear to cripple me more times than I care to remember—as a woman, a writer, and a speaker? Would I have used even one word of profanity in the first few books I wrote? Or at times, would I have spoken those very words from my own mouth when I was infuriated with or hurt by someone? Would I have plastered a huge smile across my face while attending certain events, when deep down, I couldn’t have been more exhausted and unhappy with parts of my career? Would I have allowed anxiety to hinder my emotional well-being?
So, yes, there was a time when I certainly was not being the real woman God wanted me to be.
As a matter of fact, in 2013, after writing twenty novels and being a New York Times, USA Today, Essence, Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, and Publishers Weekly best-selling author, I woke up one morning barely able to breathe. Not because I had medical issues, but because I no longer loved what I was doing. To be honest, I had nearly begun to despise it. I’d even begun shedding tears on far too many occasions, both publicly and privately, even though, for the most part, I smiled brightly for my reading audience and the media, just as everyone expected me to. I pretended that having a successful novel-writing career still made me happy, when Lord knows it didn’t.
But, nonetheless, I did what most people do when they rise before dawn every single morning, year after year, preparing to go to a job they literally can’t stand: I kept doing what I couldn’t stand and wrote seven more fictional stories in total misery. I realize now, though, that I did what I thought I had to do, partly because so many of my loyal readers regularly asked when my next Reverend Curtis Black title or one of my standalone novellas would be hitting bookstores, and partly because, well…writing fiction was how I earned my living. But let me tell you something right now. Something you’ve likely heard many times before.
Not all money is good money.
I’m a living witness to it.
I do want to be clear about something else, too, though. I did still love, love, love writing, but it was just that I no longer enjoyed creating fictional characters and storylines—at least not in the way I once had. In all truthfulness, I was totally burned out. I wasn’t sure why, either, but as I forced myself to write and submit those last seven books to my publisher, my dear husband, Will, became concerned. He noticed how stressed and tired I was all the time. And while Will is my greatest supporter and always has been, he even suggested that, for a while, maybe I should write only one book per year instead of two, or that I should take a break altogether.
Now, one would think that if the man I love with my entire being gave me some much-needed advice, I would take it—and anyone who knows me personally knows that I definitely love Will Roby with everything in me. But, like many super-shero kind of women I know, I thought I was fine and that I could easily handle the insane schedule I kept myself on. So much so that not even the alarming panic attack that sent me to the emergency room was enough to stop me. (Will and I didn’t leave the ER until around midnight that night, yet I still boarded a plane the very next morning for a speaking engagement—with shortness of breath and heart palpitations. But I’ll share more about this kind of foolish decision-making later.)
After that, though, I did take my doctor’s advice and slowed down a bit. But sadly, it wasn’t long before self-care became a distant memory, and I eased myself back to the norm. Soon I became more miserable than I had ever been in my life.
But then, something great happened.
God began speaking to my heart daily. Well, actually, what I know now is that He’d always been speaking to me, even through my thoughts, and that the only difference was that I was finally listening. I was also learning a lot more about discernment and how to hear His voice—something we should always pray for.
But He spoke to me and reminded me of the additional calling He had for my life, the one He’d revealed to me as early as October 2004. I know the month and year because this was when I had immediately searched online and purchased three books on professional speaking. Yes, I knew He still wanted me to write, but He also wanted me to use my gift and love for words to speak to women. He wanted me to use my own struggles, mistakes, and accomplishments to encourage women to seek Him first and to inspire them to become the great women He created them to be—spiritually, personally, and professionally.
But here’s the thing. While I so wish I could tell you that this God-fearing girl hurried to answer His call, I didn’t. Worse, I even went as far as telling Him what I thought about every bit of it, which was: “I’ll do whatever You want me to do, but what else You got? Because speaking formally on a regular basis isn’t something I see myself doing. It’s not even something I want to be doing.”
Still, He wouldn’t take the calling away, and as weeks, months, and years passed, I went to bed with it, and I woke up with it…every…single…day.
Okay, so I think I need to repeat that part again, because my guess is that you, my dear sister in Christ, are doing the exact same thing. You’re hesitant and likely even terrified of the idea of moving forward to fulfill the amazing purpose that God has so divinely and specifically assigned to you. So, I repeat: He wouldn’t take it away, and as weeks, months, and years passed, I went to bed with it, and I woke up with it…every…single…day. Then, three years ago, I began going to bed and waking up…every…single…day with yet another assignment. This time it involved writing the book you’re reading now—my first nonfiction title. I didn’t see this happening, either, but again, it wouldn’t go away. So, of course, this became the season in my life when I fully realized, more than ever before, that God always gets what He wants. We can try to ignore His call, we can run from it, and we can even pray with all our might for Him to eliminate it. But the truth of the matter is, God has created each of us in a unique fashion. He has given every one of us gifts, talents, and abilities, and just as God told Jeremiah, He knew who we were going to be well before the day we were born.
“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations—that’s what I had in mind for you.” —Jeremiah 1:5 (MSG)
God knew, and while you and I may not have known for years what plans He had for us—or maybe you still don’t fully know now—what I can promise you is this: Your purpose has always been there. It has been present in your heart, soul, and spirit. I know this, because while I didn’t write my first book until I was thirty years old, there was no denying that from the time I was in elementary school, I had a great love for writing. Then, even though I didn’t see myself speaking in front of hundreds of people, Mrs. Ceola Pearson, the children’s director at the church I was born into, did. Why? Because, as a child, if I was given a short Easter speech to recite instead of a longer one, I was not happy. Mrs. Pearson never forgot that, and just a year or so before she passed (forty-plus years after I delivered those childhood speeches), she shared that story with Will. He’d been visiting her and one of his friends (her son), and when he returned home, he told me how they’d laughed about it and how she’d also brought up the fact that I had always had a lot to say. I laughed, too, and while I hadn’t thought about it before, it was then that I realized how perfectly God had placed the wonderful Mrs. Pearson at the forefront of my purpose, many years before I knew what that purpose was going to be. When I was just a small girl, not only had Mrs. Pearson given me my very first opportunities to speak, she’d also given me the courage to do so, and she’d taught me how to deliver those speeches in front of our entire congregation, which meant that from the very beginning, I’d learned how to speak from a faith-based perspective.
Then, there was my dear mom and dear maternal grandmother, who taught me to love and honor God, no matter what. I was a small girl then, too, but as soon as I was old enough to understand, they taught me about believing in God and about accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. They raised me to have strong Christian, moral, and family values, and it is because of the two of them that I have spent so much of my life trying to do the right thing, as well as trying to treat others the way I want to be treated.
Please do understand, though, that I certainly haven’t always been successful in my attempts. Please know, too, that I’ve done and said things I wish I could take back—things I’m absolutely not proud of. But it is because of my Christian upbringing that I have still tried to honor God’s Word. Not to mention, in those times when I haven’t done the right thing or when I have said something terrible, I always knew right away that I was wrong, and I soon felt God’s conviction. Sometimes I felt it immediately, or worse, I would feel convicted before I said or did the wrong thing, yet I would still say or do it anyway.
Now, how awful is that?
But, then, of course, like the good Christian girls that most of us try to be, I would ask God to forgive me. I would feel bad about it, too. Yet that didn’t always stop me from repeating some of my same transgressions.
As I eased into my thirties, forties, and fifties, though—experiencing many types of disappointment and pain—I worked even harder to do the right thing. I also worked on my overall relationship with God so that I wouldn’t have to ask Him to forgive me for things I knew I shouldn’t be doing or saying in the first place. But are there still times when I fall short of His glory? Absolutely. Am I perfect in any way, shape, or form? Definitely not.
And I never will be.
But the point I’m trying to make here is that I have willingly made a conscious effort to grow in Him and become the true woman He created me to be. This is crucial for all women, and I am forever grateful to my mom and grandmother—two precious women of God—for starting me on a faith-driven path as early as possible.
This is also the reason that I have written this book in three sections: The Spiritual You, The Personal You, and The Professional You. Because what I’ve learned more than anything else, as it relates to becoming the great women that God wants us to be, is that we need to have not one or two but all three areas of our lives in order. First and foremost, we need to make sure that we have solid spiritual well-being, because without God, nothing else will work properly anyhow. Then, once we have our spiritual lives in order, we need to make sure that we’re taking care of ourselves from a personal standpoint, physically and mentally, and we also need to make sure that our relationships with our husbands or the men we’re dating as well as our relationships with our family members and friends are healthy. From there, we can work on being who we need to be in our professional arenas. Because whether God has called us to work in ministry, start our own businesses, work in the public sector or in corporate America, being professional is very necessary, and we need to keep our faith at the center of all of it.
So, with that said, once you’ve finished reading this book, my hope is that you will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what steps to take to become the real woman God created you to be. My prayer is that your spiritual, personal, and professional lives will become so aligned and so in balance that you will be happier than you’ve ever been. My prayer is that you’ll arrive at a point in your life where you won’t have to smile to keep from crying, the way I used to. You’ll smile because you’re genuinely happy and bursting with incredible joy. But most of all, my prayer is that you will become totally equipped and ready to serve others in a way like never before—because serving and helping others is what matters more than anything I can think of.