Adjusting the Focus
Blessed is the man who expects nothing, for surely he will receive it.
I have to admit I have been upset lately. I desperately want to move into a different part of the entertainment industry, but have suffered repeated failures. I have been on at least 15 interviews where I was labeled a “top candidate” only to have the door slammed in my face. This past month I happened upon two amazing production coordinator opportunities that would have had me in creative meetings with writers, directors and producers on a daily basis. Oh, the things I could have learned and the money I could have earned! Sadly, after two more great interviews with great feedback, I came up empty handed yet again. It just sucks. I purposely put all of my energy into a job blitz because I knew once the end of January came, I would be busy most week nights and unable to devote time to job hunting. What’s more is that I am really feeling the nudge from above to get back into my writing which takes more time away from the little time I have to job hunt. I am one frustrated soul right now.
The word expectation has been coming up a lot recently. In AA, I have been told you need to make a list of what you want to accomplish in sobriety and share it with your higher power. I have been told by friends that I must create a bucket list and share it with God so that He and I can work together to mark off all the things I want to see, do and experience while I am on planet earth. In a mission-training group for which I am taking part, I was told the opening quote and made to list expectations for this training and subsequent mission trip. I will tell you right now that I do not like having expectations due to the fact that my expectations are not usually found in my reality.
Having said this, a Soul’s Goals class I took through The Daily Love came to mind. In this class I learned that it is one thing to set goals and expectations for your life and quite another to set realistic goals and expectations. And then there is the fact that you have to keep resetting these goals as you move through life experiencing what is working and what is not working or as the goals themselves begin to morph into new goals and expectations. It is with this in mind that I took a look at my life goals and expectations and decided that it was my focus that needed to change. My job hunting is going to have to be set on the back burner and it is my writing that will be set on the front burner for 2014. This does not mean that I am going to stop putting effort into finding and obtaining a learning opportunity in TV or Film; it just means that I cannot allow it to be my focus any longer. It is time to create, it is time to prepare for my own creative venture and if I obtain a better paying and more creative day job in the process – well then that’s just icing on the cake. This city has tried to kick me out several times, but I know I came here for a reason and I am not leaving until I can tell all of you about the real reason I moved half way across the country and settled in the city of angels.
Even if you're on the right track you'll get run over if you just sit there."
I have to be honest that these first two months in Los Angeles have not been easy. For one, I am up in the valley and apparently “no one hires people from up there”. Second, I happen to live with six female college students who don’t speak a lick of English as they are all from the great land that owns us, China. Being from China you would think they would be at least a little tidy, but they are just like American college students in that they are filthy and apparently under the impression that a fairy is going to clean up after them. My biggest problem as of right now is parking in that I am not use to having to have cash on hand 24/7 to park and I happen to be out of cash at the moment. Dear State Farm Bank: Please send me my debit card, as it is of utmost importance that I receive it. I am also not use to pedestrians being everywhere so if you, a pedestrian, see a silver Impala please look before crossing because I am probably not even aware that you exist. On the bright side, I am finally starting to get a handle on navigating this giant city and as a result only make one wrong turn per trip, which is an improvement of gigantic proportions.
Boredom and lack of human interaction has also been a major problem in these first two months. As is being stuck in a hot, un-air conditioned house in the valley that could use some serious TLC. Moreover, I am facing the fact that I need income as medical bills keep arriving that I cannot pay. Adding to the boredom and impending financial doom is the fact that I am getting sober for the umpteenth time. Needless to say, I need something to give and I need it to give now. Unfortunately, I seem to be sending out resumes left and right and nobody seems to be interested. Moreover, those that are “interested” only seem to be interested in telling me that I need to “move to the city” or better yet “you need some experience before you can intern here”. Um, really? I thought internships were for experience and as a matter of fact, I am in the city! And for the love of God, the 405 is not that bad! Suck it up Lalians, Suck it up!
Any who, things got to the point that I felt like I was suppose to receive some sort of key in order to actually live here and without that key I would be doomed to wander the streets as a beggar. No matter how much I prayed or cried, nothing seemed to be changing. I felt locked out and I had no one to seek advice from and I didn’t know what to do so I did the only thing I could do… I unloaded all of this on the poor messianic pastor at the messianic synagogue I have been visiting and I did this unloading during the service. He, obviously having dealt with a bunch of crazy people in his life, asked if I had ever tried fasting and prayer. He said that whenever he needs a breakthrough in life, whether it is financial, relational, emotional or physical, he sets aside a day or a weekend to fast and pray. He told me that Yeshua, himself, in the seventeenth chapter of Matthew, told His disciples that some problems require fasting and prayer. As luck would have it, the congregation was having a day of breakthrough prayer and fasting the very next day. I assume you think I went. You would be wrong. I got scared at everyone trying to get me to go so I left the service as quickly as possible. I must have resembled a dear caught in headlights. Note to self: flight response is alive and kicking; fight response – not so much.
After I got home, I looked up Matthew chapter seventeen and found in verse twenty-one that Yeshua did indeed say that some things can only be conquered through prayer and fasting so I decided to do my own little version in the solitude and safety of my little rented room in the hot, sticky valley that everyone pretends doesn’t exist. Being that I have never done this before and being that I always have a bit of method to my madness, I decided to plan out my six hours of prayer and fasting… I’ve never done this before and thought a whole day was a little presumptive of myself.
Hour 1 (12-1pm) – Praise
Hour 2 (1-2pm) – Prayer
Hour 3 (2-3pm) – Praise
Hour 4 (3-4pm) – Scripture
Hour 5 (4-5pm) – Prayer
Hour 6 (5-6pm) – Praise
Okay, so maybe I did a lot more praising than I did praying, but due to a recent realization, I actually connect to God through praise much more than I connect through prayer. While, I could probably do a whole post on all that thought encompasses, it will not be done today.
I do have to say that the experience did not disappoint. I thought I was going to be bored. I thought I would not be able to concentrate or run out of things to say, but let me tell you that when the God of the Universe wants to talk, He has a way of commanding your attention beyond all of your human capabilities. I used the Praise & Worship channel on Pandora for my praise hours and actually found some songs and artists that I really enjoyed. As for the first hour of prayer… I began by telling my God and King my purpose for this time and explained in detail what I was feeling and what I felt I needed from Him. After that, I opened up the floor for Him to speak and well, let’s just say He relayed what He needed from me before He could give me what I claimed to so desperately want! I had recently taken a class entitled Actualizing Your Soul’s Goals with Mastin Kipp from The Daily Love, an online blog and community. In this class Mastin taught us the difference between goals and intentions and lead us through a series of exercises designed to bring out our own individual purposes for this life. By the end of the class everyone had a list of intentions, goals and grounded action steps to help them reach the goals that would bring true fulfillment. I have to say the class was awesome and I was immediately hit between the eyes with the realization of what was keeping me in a very unhealthy cyclical holding pattern from which I was desperate to break free. I thought the work from that class was done, but during the first hour of prayer God took all of my class work and went much, much deeper. I ended up spending the last thirty minutes of prayer completely re-writing my intentions, my purpose and something Mastin calls my Major Definite Purpose. I had gotten ahead of myself in the class and while the majority of what I wrote was and is true, I have work to do before I actually get there. AMAZING!
After the initial prayer hour, I continued with my itinerary until I came to the scripture hour. I actually didn’t have a clue as to what I was going to do with that hour. I suppose I was planning on looking up some verses on some particular topics I am struggling with but I ended up just asking God to guide me as I opened His book and He did. It seems He has some things to tell me about life and how one is to live life. He directed me to several scriptures, one of them being 1 Thessalonians where Paul talks to the new Christians regarding how they are to live their lives and why. He also led me to look over the Ten Commandments again. It seems as though God wanted to remind me that He has some advice on this thing called life and that it would be good for me to familiarize myself with such advice both on a physically practical level and on a mentally practical level.
And don’t think the hours of praise were a vacation either. I strained to really listen to and contemplate the meaning of the words I was singing and in those words I found God speaking loud and clear regarding many aspects of my life. It is interesting to note that I now feel that my own personal life purpose is to… “Be a blessing to everyone I meet by empowering myself so that I can empower others to live out their own individual purposes thereby sharing their own unique gifts with the world and making the world a better place by having done so.” … When I am so far from being a blessing in any sense of the word to any other human being on this planet. In simplest terms, I have a lot of transforming to do in terms of what I say and what I do blending into a recognizable harmony.
All in all, I am very happy with the outcome of my first ever day of prayer and fasting and feel it is a great way to reconnect with God, empower yourself when feeling vulnerable or need divine insight into a person or situation. It is especially useful for times when a breakthrough is needed. If the door is locked, go to the Person with the key… You know, the Person who created the door and the lock or at least allowed the lock to exist. Of course, the challenge is to keep your focus on God and His love and NOT on the end result because God will only give you that which you are ready to receive. Though you can be sure that He will reveal exactly what you need to cultivate in your life in order to be ready for that which you want.
As for me, I guess I was ready. Let’s just say that the giant door on the entertainment industry appears to now be unlocked. I have received a multitude of internship opportunities and am in the midst of the selection process as I type this post. On an even more pleasing note, I am beginning to receive interviews for paid positions within the industry too. Hopefully, I will land an offer soon and be well on my way to obtaining a place of my own in this land known as La la.
I did not plan on making this my October post, but as John Lennon put it: life is what happens while you are making other plans. I wish I had known the truth found in this quote three years back or five years back or well, you get the idea. For the past three years, I have been making other plans while life threw me curve ball after curve ball and somehow this year I finally woke up to the dire situation I am in and I have absolutely no one to blame, but myself.
To say I have not had many opportunities to forge a good life for myself would be the truth, but to say that I have not had any opportunities to forge a good life for myself would be absolutely false. I seem to have the same taste in job opportunities that I have in men: if it is good and will treat me with the respect I deserve and offer me great rewards…then I tend to pass.
This past month, opportunity actually rang and it rang loud and clear, now that I have taken my cell phone off of the silence mode. To be clear, this was not just an opportunity; this was an opportunity in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. This opportunity was so good that it would have allowed me to live in my own one-bedroom apartment near the ocean in my preferred west coast city. So you can guess what I did with that opportunity, right? If you guessed played phone and email tag with an executive that I thought was a recruiter then you would be correct. The worse part is that while in a snot slinging moment of desperation, that executive called me back for the last time and I refused to answer the phone.
What can I say, this is not the first time I have had an amazing opportunity laid at my feet. And this is not the first time I have defiantly kicked that opportunity back to God. About a year ago, I had the chance to work for the Christian music arm of Sony in Nashville. At the time, I could not stomach not going to Los Angeles and I had no desire to go back to Nashville as I was looking for new pastures and not old ones. Looking back on that situation, yes I sort of sabotaged my chances, but in all honesty had I given a 100% in that interview, there is a giant chance I still would have walked away empty handed. The company needed someone to start the following week and while I could have told them I could make that happen, chances are they would have gone with someone in town and already available. Even with this knowledge, I still cannot dismiss the fact that I had been very defiant with that opportunity and now, here I am being defiant again.
The morning after I possibly deflated my own Hollywood dream, I thought about how I could have blown my nose, woken myself up and called that executive back. I did call him that day and I left a message knowing full well that it was already too late. That afternoon I decided to count up those “once in a life time” opportunities that I defiantly kicked back at God, which included the following: a major state college to the North, a major Airline to the South, the Nashville fiasco, a hospital here in town and last, but not least, the Hollywood dream.
In all honesty, I am dumbfounded by my audacity to tell God, “ no, not now, not like this”. Who am I to instruct God on how He is going to resurrect me? Who am I other than something God should smash at this point?
To say that I felt like I had crossed a line with God would be an understatement. So I did what many people do who feel they just might have gotten themselves on God’s last nerve and I found someone I was sure God liked a whole bunch, my congregational leader. In my e-request I asked for the elders to intercede for me since God might listen to them whereas I wasn’t so sure He’d listen to me. Two days later, I attended service for the first time in a couple of months. I’m not sure if part of that service was tailored just for me or if God was answering me through the service, but one thing is for sure: God loves us no matter what we do or what we don’t do. He may not be exactly happy with us due to some of our choices, but He never stops loving us.
God’s word says He is unfailing, always faithful and with us until the end, but does God really stick with us and work in spite of all we do to get in His way? Can we really expect Him to keep offering up once in a lifetime opportunities if we keep batting them away?
I actually sometimes wish for a Jonah-like life. Yes, I imagine it was horribly disgusting to be swallowed by a whale, but when he got regurgitated back to dry land and God asked him if he was ready to go to Nineveh, he sure didn’t have any hesitation in his voice, now did he?
Part of me wants to believe that God, in his infinite wisdom, knows that some of us need several opportunities to run across our path before we are ready to run with the right one, but how many opportunities does He lay at our feet before He finally turns His face and leaves us to the messes we have created for ourselves? And, if He does turn His face from us...how long before He turns His face back?
Since God did not leave Jonah in the whale, I am guessing He will not leave me in my predicament either. I don’t know if a viable opportunity will come in time to get me out of the horrible situation I am about to be in, but I do know He will bring another opportunity. To sum up the thirteen attributes of God found in Exodus 34:5-7: He is merciful, He is powerful, He is compassionate, He grants even undeserved blessings, He is slow to anger, He abounds in truth, mercy and loving kindness and He always keeps His word.
A Game of Trust
We all know the saying don’t place all of your eggs in one basket, but if that one basket is what we truly want, are we foolish for ignoring other opportunities?
For almost two years now, I have been trying to open a door for myself in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. Over the past two years I have gone from trying to get a job in the industry to just trying to get a job somewhere within the LA metro area to moving without a job and rooming with an acquaintance. As you can probably guess, I have received nothing but rejections on the job front and utter disappointment with any potential living situations. I have many reasons for wanting to be in LA: the weather, the mountains, the beaches, the writing community, my screen and television writings, etc. I mean if I want any chance at getting anything I write actually made into a movie, I pretty much have to be in LA, but the road to LA, for me at least, has a giant sinkhole in the middle of it and if you walk to the edge and look down into that hole you will find me sitting there looking up and waiting for someone to throw me a rope.
I feel like LA is where I am supposed to be, but I am not and I cannot shake this feeling either. Every time I have an opportunity elsewhere, I feel as if my urge to go to LA becomes that much stronger as if not going to LA equals giving up on my dreams. What makes matters worse is the fact that I cannot stay where I am right now. Not career wise, not location wise and not living situation wise. I have to go somewhere and the only rope that anyone has thrown me is a rope I do not want to catch. So do I continue to sit in the sinkhole or do I catch the next rope and allow who and whatever is on the other end to pull me to safety?
I mean one can only keep hope alive for so long before it is time to face the facts. At some point reality has to be reality and one has to place some eggs in a different basket. Not that I’m ever going to stop writing, but I can only let life pass me by for so long before it is gone.
I guess the real problem is that I have this notion that what God wants for me is the exact opposite of what I want for myself and that as a result I will never be happy. Warped? Yes, but I do feel that way and I don’t know why.
What I do know is this: I have heard stories of people who ended up walking down an unexpected path in life and how happy they are they did. I’ve also heard of people who never settled for anything less than what they wanted and sacrificed years of their lives to obtain what they believed was their destiny and they couldn’t imagine doing anything else. The only real difference with the latter group and myself is that the latter group had a way of continuing to relentlessly go after their dreams. Whether they had a substantial financial cushion or family and friends that allowed them room and board...they had a way to continue whereas I do not.
Maybe it all comes down to a game of trust between my Creator and myself. Maybe I need to trust the moves He chooses to make in my life even if those moves don’t seem to be in line with what I want. I guess if He can create this universe, then He shouldn’t have any problem creating a life for me.
Perhaps courage is not moving forward in the direction you want to go regardless of the cost, but instead opening yourself up to the path you are on and the realization that some roadblocks just aren’t going to go away. Maybe real courage is trying with all of your might only to realize that you can’t make something happen no matter how bad you want it and just maybe it is supposed to be that way. Maybe real strength lies not in the holding on, but in the letting go. What do you think?
Have any of you had to “let go” of a specific vision or dream you had for your life? If so, what happened? Have any of you had to place some of your eggs in a basket you really didn’t want? If so, are you glad you did?