This article is the one which has generated the most responses of all my articles. In the last week, I received many responses through emails, phone calls, WhatsApp and FB private messages and the few responses on DNO indicate how the article touched, inspired and encouraged them. I thank the respondents for their words of encouragement and pray God continues to reveal himself to them amidst the “Stop” and the “Go.” This week, I present the second and final part of the article, “Giving Thanks for the “Year of ‘Stop’!”
In mid-August 2016, I was talking to one of my goddaughters. She was distraught. She had plans to go to university to pursue her first degree and these plans fell through. She was depressed: her whole life was passing her by and she stood at a standstill, while all her friends were off embarking on their journeys of making something out of their lives. I could sense the despair and the tears in her heart. I listened. When she was through, I said to her, that she should not despair. This was her “Year of Stop.” A year to prepare better for her start of her university life: to allow her parents to secure the financing for her studies, to enable her to save more from her salary so she could assist with the expenses, to get to know herself more deeply and to become more secure in and with her person, so she won’t compare herself with others; this was her year of preparation. I assured her that at 20, her life was not passing her by…in fact, her whole life lay before her, that she should rejoice for and with her friends who had gone ahead and they going ahead was not going to prevent her from going in her time. She now had a chance to prepare anew; to close all the gaps to embrace her new beginning.
I shared with her my own story…Eleanor Phillip, was the first of our group of SIFOCOL Class of 1983 and our little subgroup of musketeers (Mrs. Francis called Eleanor, Diane Francis and I, the “Three Musketeers. Helen Mellow became a close member of that group making us the “Four Musketeers!”) who left for university in July of 1985. I remember we were all just so happy for Eleanor and we did many things together, had long talks about our future that summer. We were optimistic that the world was just waiting for us to make our mark and we were ready! Eleanor was the trailblazer! I told her though I had applied to universities and for scholarships, there were no definite plans for me to go to study that year, however, I never despaired or felt life was passing me by, for I knew deep within my being, I would go to university and fulfill my life’s purpose. I ended up going unexpectedly the October of that very year. Diane went in 1987, the year after she was crowned Miss Dominica 1986. Diane was very shy and many were surprised that she decided to participate in the Queen Pageant. She not only participated, she was outstanding and went on to win a few regional crowns. Helen Mellow chose to pursue a career in banking and later Human Resource Management. Life has a way of unfolding for us in unexpected ways, if we believe.
I know that there may be a number of young people who feel like my goddaughter. They expect that as soon as they leave the Dominica State College or work for a year, their parents will or should send them to study. The expectations of every generation changes. In my time, the majority of us knew that we had to work for at least two years before heading out to universities, that unless our parents had property, we had to apply for scholarships. We knew and accepted that. My message is, please do not sink in despair. Use the “Year of Stop” to apply to new schools, apply for scholarships, find a job, if you don’t have one; save more if you have a job; strengthen your work ethics (it will come in handy for student life); join a community, service or youth group; make new friends; discover Dominica, create happy and joyful memories for and with your family and friends.
There are some of you experiencing the “Year of Stop,” with respect to your careers. You graduated from high school, college or university so full of promise, ready to contribute to your Nation and months and in some cases years later, a job, much less a career, is not on the horizon. Every application letter either goes unanswered or comes back with a “no vacancy, application on file.” You are depressed, you have lost hope. I say to you, keep hope alive: do some deep introspection, find your passion; what do you really, really love? What would you do even if you were not paid? Think of ways of income generation. Change the approach, write for an unpaid internship or a reduced pay internship. You may resist the idea because it is unpaid. Truth is, you are not being paid now, so you are losing nothing, aside from the costs of the bus-fare and that you can negotiate. If you prove yourself, this unpaid internship can turn into a job and a career. I know of a few people who started off their working life this way. Additionally, the knowledge, skills and competencies you learn are yours to keep and may provide the opportunity for a better tomorrow.
There are some of you experiencing the “Year of Stop,” in your relationships. The relationship is no longer life-giving. It is no longer the wind allowing your wings to soar; it has become an anchor holding you down. It is robbing you of your joy. It is not self-affirming; it is self-denying. You are stressed and may even be getting sick. You can’t see a way out of this dead relationship. You may be thinking of the children, finance, family, what people will say. Often times, in relationships that are no longer life-giving, communication between the parties is almost non-existent or ineffective; one’s needs are not being met; there is no respect. This gives the chance to redefine what one wants from and the expectations of the relationship, to assess the probability that the relationship can provide what is wanted; to rebuild the bridge of communication; to forgive and truly start anew if the decision is to stay; to develop the courage and strength to walk on, if that is the decision. Whatever the decision, to pray it leads to a path of light, joy and fulfillment.
Someone asked, “while you dealt with a ‘Health Stop,’ what if that stop is terminal, how does one give thanks?” I often say, death is the only promotion that many of us don’t want for ourselves and loved ones. Terminal illness is one of the more difficult stops, however it gives us a chance to really get things right with our Maker, to inspire and leave a lasting legacy for others, especially our loved ones to follow. It gives us the opportunity to prepare them for our going, to truly live and make every moment of our lives count, to be gracious and bestow our final blessings on family and friends. I know several people, including close family and friends, who in the face of death or diagnosis of serious illness, who remain optimistic with a fighting and loving spirit, fully embracing life and its wonders. Caring for a sick loved one or coping with the death of a loved one also provides us the opportunity to get our priorities right, create beautiful and lasting memories and deepen our spiritual relationship with God.
My advice, don’t spend too much time fighting the “Stop.” Just as the Stoplight, may save us from an accident and possibly death, the “Year of Stop,” may do just that. The same way we give thanks if we get saved from an accident or death, we should give thanks for the “Year of Stop.” That does not mean that one should not cry, be angry or even ask God, “Why?” However, we ought not to stay in that place of anger and apathy. As my father used to say, “You are allowed to cry and rant for a day, after that you need to begin to look for solutions.” And the Bible reminds us that “Joy comes in the morning.” Embrace your “Year of Stop” and remember to be on the lookout for the “Go” interspersed along the way.
May the Lord continue to Bless, Keep and Hold us in the Palm of His Hands, until we meet again! Love and Blessings Aplenty!
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WOW.. i needed that reminder… you know what i like about God is that he speaks through us in so many different.. I am at at this place now and I am being refreshed to be relaunched
Interesting follow-up article. I love the advice, “don’t spend too much time fighting the “Stop.” Just as the Stoplight, may save us from an accident and possibly death, the “Year of Stop,” may do just that.
A close family friend is battling cancer that reaches the brain. But you could not have more fighting spirit and an enduring love for God than her love. Even in despair she seeks and exudes inner peace.
This reminds me of Erling & Marge Wold who went to the beach with his children, frolicking in the surf – take WAVES we called it when I was growing up. Well a wave crashed on him and broke his neck and was paralyzed. After despairing for a while he found the strength to write the book “WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO – BREAK MY NECK?” the book is a journey of patience and deepened sense of grace in sharing his thoughts and feelings on hospitalization, surgery, and painful recuperative therapy.
He followed up with another book “THANKS FOR THE MOUNTAIN” – even in paralysis. WHAT…
He followed up with another book “THANKS FOR THE MOUNTAIN” – even in paralysis. WHAT STRENGTH!! What determination and will to keep on living and enjoying life till the last breath. So we must find the Devine Strength to thank God for the “moments, days, year(s) of Stop” and “Thank Him for The Mountains” even when it is humanly hard to do.
Thanks for this article Dr. Henry
not Devine but “Divine”