This is the question that has been on my mind for the last two months.
When the question first popped into my mind, I brushed it off. Let me be honest with you, for the most part, my life seemed to be on sure footing. I was healing from my accident, my family was in a good place, my close friends were healthy and doing incredible things, Chats with Chelsi recordings were scheduled…
I felt that I was living my best life!
As the days passed by, I saw shakeups in certain areas of my life and those close to me and could sense more shakeups were to come. Even though I sensed things shaking up, I did not want to believe what I was sensing and seeing happen around me.
I am not sure about you, yet I had dreamed up, planned out, and believed God for an Instagram, Christian reality show life and those things were NOT manifesting when and how I had imagined. I have friends on the verge of divorce, I have one friend who has had major surgery twice in five months and partly because the first surgery was not comprehensive enough, I have friends experiencing drastic life changes because of someone else's action – these have all been moments of loss or hurt that touched the depths of my soul and challenged the identity of my success.
So I continued to questioned Chelsi’s definition of success. Why was I feeling defeated? Why was I feeling that I had not lived up to the ideal image I had of myself? Why did I feel like certain situations were my fault? I was left with these and many other questions.
Let me take you back three decades…
I was born to a brave 16 year old teenage mom who chose life for me when given the opportunity to end her pregnancy. My young father spent the first few years of my childhood incarcerated yet returned to society to be his best. There are many stories of triumph, confusion, and defeat in between, yet I remember being in my pre-teen years and wanting a life like The Cosby Show or 7th Heaven. At that time I thought success was defined by a big house in a safe neighborhood, a faithful and funny husband, incredible friends that were a part of the best social clubs, seemingly unlimited finances to provide the best of everything for my children, an exceptional, ceiling breaking career, etc. Little did I know that those ideals would have an effect on my definition of success two decades later.
Fast forward to two weeks ago…
Other shakeups were happening in my life and the lives of those I care deeply about so I took time to write down what success looked like in my mind. It was hard because I had to be honest with myself about what I wanted and in some instances had secretly been wanting that no one knew about and I had not accounted for in my goal setting. Some of what I defined as success was unattainable because of me - I wanted things that I was not preparing for. I wanted things that I was not making sacrifices for. I wanted things that I was not studying and reading for.
As I took a blank sheet of white paper and wrote down what success looked for me in my finances, career, health, family, entrepreneur life, wardrobe, ministry, travel plans, etc., the light bulb went off for me -- my success was rooted in misguided expectations of what I thought success looked like. Ouch!
Yes, my white sheet of paper was filled with some great things - some benefited me solely, others were a benefit to those around me BUT some of those great things were still misguided and unrealistic.
The past few months, since my accident, have been preparing me for this moment. Life has subtly taught me and boldly brought to my attention this truth- my success will be different than your success or the person sitting next to me at church or my husband’s or my sibling’s or what I dreamed up as a pre-teen living in the urban core of Jacksonville. My success has to be personal, unique, truthful, and flexible.
I DEFINE MY SUCCESS. And, how I define my success affects how I view life.
In my defining of my success, I have to be truthful with where I am, where I want to be, when I want to be there, and how I plan on getting there. Ambition can be the death of happiness and success.
In defining my success, I have to be realistic about where I am, where I want to be, and what it will take to get there. Timing, knowledge, and resources are necessary unless you and I plan on waiting for a miracle for everything we desire.
In defining my success, I have to accept that I must acknowledge and trust God – for me that is Jesus. Yes, I have recently felt moments of defeat and failure. I became engulfed with manifesting a perfect life when it will never happen. I have wanted things to happen my way – how and when I wanted. But that is a contradiction to my faith in Jesus.
Your success has to be grounded in someone, checked by someone, and evolving to please someone. I NOW KNOW with great confidence that my someone is Jesus.
My friend, I challenge you to question how you define YOUR success!! Is it based on a tv show, your favorite social media celebrity, your fear of being like the person you said you would never be like?
P.S. Chats with Chelsi released its first interview on Sunday, check it out here.
Hello sweet friend-
My name is Chelsi B! I am a pastor’s wife, former elected official, your homegirl that loves to dance on the 1s and 3s, attorney, novice chef, and Jesus-loving truth teller. More importantly, I am on a mission to lead women to love Christ.
For several years, I have felt a burden to reach young women by sharing my testimony and lessons learned. And, let me tell you, I have soooooo many lessons to share in hopes to spare you the pain, heartache, and disappointment I have experienced. Last year I moved to Virginia from Florida to marry my handsome husband, Jon, who is truly everything I prayed for and much more. (I will talk about him, our dating relationship, and what I have learned as a newlywed in upcoming blogs.) Jon has been an assistant pastor for over 10 years with a focus on teen ministry. It was heavy on our hearts to launch a young adult ministry at our church. And, we did! So heavy on our hearts that we left our honeymoon a few days early to come back to Richmond to build a new set and create an app. We were so high on love and Jesus that we could not imagine waiting another day to start laying the foundation for this new ministry.
Now, on Sunday mornings, I lead our women's small group and have been exponentially blessed by the sisterhood we have created. Yet, I knew God was calling for me to share more, pour into other ladies more, and just plain out be more open about my failures and successes. As a recovering politician, you can imagine sharing all your junk can be difficult. In politics, you are trained to only share the essentials. But God did not only call me to politics He has also called me to ministry. (What a pill to swallow).
So, earlier this year I decided I would take a big step of faith and go for it. I decided I would share with young women what I knew and learn even more about Jesus, life, and Christian womanhood. In January, "Life with Chelsi" was launched as a daily podcast. It was going well, yet in talking with my listeners I learned that many listened to all five daily devotionals at the end or beginning of their week. I thought about this and decided that a weekly video format would be my next best step. And, so birthed "Life with Chelsi" on YouTube.
Since July 3rd, every Monday I have released an inspirational video message for Christian millennial women. We talk about the issues that you and I have to tackle on a daily basis. Think love, apologetics, career, purpose, current issues, friendships, and women empowerment.
Life with Chelsi was launched to be a place for me and you to gather together, grow together, learn together, and ultimately fall deeper in love with Christ together. It is a community of women, for women who are on a journey to learning and accepting God’s love. It is a journey of hope, love, faith, mishaps, disappointment, pain, grace, and Christ.
I truly believe that through the teachings God is touching lives, providing directions, encouraging those who may be depressed, grieving, lost, frustrated, setting young women free from addictions and strongholds, and so much more. I cannot imagine what is to come - not because of me but because of my obedience to pursue purpose. In my heart of hearts, I want women to know how to embrace God, His love, and how He made them -- and that is not easy or natural for most of us. At least it has not been for me...
Will you join me on this journey? Will you even share your story with us?
Every Monday via Facebook LIVE, I will share a message. Please watch the video, leave a comment, and share with another girlfriend! Plus, I will be blogging here often - so check back.
I am praying for you and our journey...
This week's message provided a biblical response to racism that was on display this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. Watch here.
If you haven't already, please follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and subscribe to my YouTube channel.
If you're in Richmond, Virginia, or near, join us at The Return RVA. We are a young adult ministry with services on Wednesdays and Sundays. On Wednesdays, my husband addresses controversial biblical issues from 7PM - 8PM. On Sundays, we have an hour-long service from 11AM - 12PM and then small groups from 12PM - 1PM. I would love to meet you and for you to join my small group!!
*originally published on AlwaysPraying.com (June 2015)
Whew. It has been a tough season. A season of being broken before the Lord. Did I say it has been tough??
The beauty of this season has been learning more about the faithful, wonderful, loving, kind, amazing, awesome, healing, providing God I serve. There have many moments where I felt like, "God, where are you?".... Have you ever felt like that? Have you ever felt like God has deserted you and left you for the wolves?
It is a scary feeling. You ask yourself a ton of questions all wondering whether you did something wrong or if you are crazy to believe in God. Listen, some may say you are crazy because you have faith to believe in God. And, maybe you are! Yet, you are crazy enough to know that there is NOTHING this present life can offer you to fulfill the void you have in your life. We all have tried to make people or things our god and be god in our own lives. I miserably failed. And, I understand now it is because the void/longing we all have in our heart can only be filled by God, our Creator, our Father.
Law school caused me to question everything I believed. And, I am SOO thankful. Like in school, as a student you find out how much you know and have retained by your test scores. What are your faith test scores saying about you? Do you only trust God when things are going your way??
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things not seen. What are you believing God for?
Philippians 1:6 is a constant motivator for someone like me, that strives for perfection. Yes, I know, no one is perfect. I am not perfect. You are not perfect. My friends are not perfect. My family is not perfect. I know. I, also know that as God has shown me more about life in this season, the struggles are all preparation.
A while back, you could not have convinced me that I was in God's will. Why? I, also, had this notion that I missed God because I was suffering. WRONG! We miss God when we disobey Him. You may be in a tough season right now, but that does not mean you are outside the will of God. I know, I know- someone somewhere in some pulpit told you that you're only in the will of God if everything is going right. Next time you hear that, ask them for the scripture.
Yes, God has promised us amazing blessings. He also made it clear that we would endure suffering. Let's think for a minute. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He suffered. Was it outside the will of God? I THINK NOT!!!! He was right dab smack in it. He was beaten. He was lied on. He was lied to. He was betrayed. All while in the perfect will of God.
In the wilderness of your Christian walk, you are being prepared. The bigger question is: Will you survive? Not just survive physically, but spiritually. Will you trust God when the tears are flowing down your eyes profusely? Will you trust Him when chaos seems to overtake every area of your life? Will you trust Him to be God in every area, every situation, every inch of your heart.
I know there is a part of you that does not want to suffer. I get that. I do. Yet, I also have learned avoiding pain and suffering only places me in a place of disobedience to God. Not only do I miss God but I also have to go through the process later.
My friend, He is with and for you. Though you cannot comprehend or explain it all, you have to have faith in the King of Kings. He loves you. He allowed His Son to suffer an excruciating and painful death to save your soul. Will you survive in faith? Will you allow Him to prepare you?
I am praying your strength. I know how it feels to be prepared for the great work of the Lord.
praying for you always,
If you have specific prayer requests, visit: AlwaysPraying.com
Hello! I am Chelsi, Founder/CEO of Life with Chelsi. I am the friend you call for life advice, legal insights, political clarity, and the best places to eat. I am married to my favorite preacher. I love sharing my lessons learned to develop other women leaders.