new sabbath: 07.18.21: embracing the 'and.'

it's like this and like that and this and-a....

good Sunday afternoon, friend,

i hope you’ve had a wonderful week.

i missed sending you this note last week. this time last week, i was so exhausted after the week that i had, that i slept right through my Sunday reading and writing time. last week’s new sabbath simply consisted of a long, luxurious nap. i woke up to eat, sat down to Netflix and chill, and woke up another hour later. clearly, i was tired and needed to go lay down.

today has been a slow Sunday, and something that’s been on my heart to share is a concept i call, “embracing the ‘and.’” let me explain:

yesterday, i officially launched Black Girl Black Coffee, and i cannot find the words to articulate my amazement and gratitude for all the support. i was with my line sisters this weekend, and they were there on Friday night when i was up until 2:00 a.m., putting final touches on the website. they were there when the store went live at noon. they were there when all of my on-hand inventory sold out at 2:30. they were there when i contacted Kenny the Roaster to get more coffee and then, to resume sales. at every step, they were there to motivate, celebrate, and encourage. it really was a beautiful day, and i’m really glad that i wasn’t alone for this milestone.

last week, when i announced my coffee company, i received a question: “does this mean that you’re not preaching anymore?”

i had to laugh to myself for a second, because the full truth is that, for a season of my life i, too, didn’t think that owning a coffee company and doing full-time ministry would be possible. i don’t mean in terms of the demand on my time, (because i know how to make time for what and who is important to me, but that’s another lesson for another day. 😂). rather, i didn’t see how it would make “sense.” in retrospect, this was my own naïveté and limited imagination.

it was also my narrow definition of “vocation.” i didn’t think that it would make sense because i didn’t think that “passion” for coffee was a reason to turn it into something that i do. it had always been something that i enjoyed, and could discuss and consume for hours. but, because it didn’t have much to explicitly do with ministry, and because i didn’t know all that i could do in coffee, outside of being a barista, i didn’t consider it as a vocational option.

however, this started to change when i was sitting in quarantine, relishing in my first opportunity to really get to know coffee. there was nowhere to go. nothing to do. i’d come to a point where my mental wellness had become compromised from continuously watching the news. coffee was becoming my creative outlet, and as i learned about brewing, i learned about all roles involved in the process of getting a great cup into the hands of consumers. with a calendar cleared of physical ministry engagements, i felt myself begin to consider what it would feel like to do something seemingly “unrelated” to preaching. i began to sit with the question of, “why does it have to make sense if you love it?”

we spend a lot of time being preoccupied with what other people think of us. similarly, we spend a lot of time writing off our curiosities and passions, simply because they do not appear to “match” with the work we’re currently doing. but, if we’re really honest, we have interests and passions that go beyond our professional scopes and industries. we have gifts and skills that go beyond what we’re paid to do, and what we’re “known” for doing. we are drawn to what we are drawn to, and we’re good at what we’re good at, because we are mysterious, grand, complex, and wonderful creations that were made for more than just work. we were also made for joy: to experience it, to create it, to feel it, to share it.

i call these additional capacities the “and.” vocationally, we often think very linearly. we are often trained to think of our lives, professionally and personally, in terms of next steps that derive from previous steps. we are taught to value focus, upward mobility, promotion and the prestige that comes with obtaining of certain roles and titles. nothing is wrong with this. but, this linear path is often fraught with burnout and exhaustion, deprivation of creativity and droughts of inspiration. when this happens, it is absolutely necessary to rethink the centrality of work in our lives, how we want to work, and most importantly, how we want to live. this is where the ‘and’ comes in. this is where our quirky passions and long-held curiosities come in.

the filmmaking.

the music production.

the musical instrument.

the life coaching.

the poetry.

the bread-breaking.

the craft cocktails.

the art collecting.

the fashion design.

the world travel.

the buying cookbooks to taste global cuisine.

even, the ‘and’ of taking more naps.

et cetera.

we often speak of bi-vocationality as something that is done out of necessity. in my field, this is due to low-paying ministry jobs, and how hard it is to make a living with just one of them. i’ve also experienced it as being hard to stay personally spiritually nourished when the emphasis is so much on nourishing others. in light of these realities, i would love to speak of bi-vocationality as a pathway to a more passionate life, for those of us who desire to embrace the ‘and,’ by doing the work we’ve been trained to do and the work that feels more like play. i still love to preach, but preaching is work! from the preparation to the proclamation, preaching is heavy work that often doesn’t sustain until after the preaching moment. coffee, on the other hand, is pure pleasure for me. the learning, the sensing, the brewing, and even all the effort that has gone into my business. it’s all been just wonderful, and the only thing that gives me more joy is the idea of sharing my joy with my community and my customers. if for nothing else, i’m embracing my ‘and’ for the sake of balance.

we are more than our work, and our lives were simply not meant to be defined by what we do. rather, our moments of joy, gratitude, and love are what move us away from merely existing and into deeply living. i pray that you will always choose these, by embracing whatever ‘and’ is calling your name.

have a blessed, awesome, and amazing week, y’all.