As a single woman, happiness is my only goal

received_2162487400681309Many single women feel like marriage is the ultimate key to eternal happiness, and I used to feel the same way. However, after going through a marriage (and divorce), I’ve learned that I’m in control of and responsible for my own life’s joy. Instead of spending time and energy focusing on marriage goals, I’ve shifted my focus on things that genuinely make me happy.

  1. I’d rather spend time growing. My professional and personal success is very important to me. While I greatly enjoy climbing the ladder in my career, I also have huge aspirations to own my own business and grow that as well. To a level where I have to just manage my employees and make sure everything is running smoothly. In addition to growing in my career, I also enjoy working on my spiritual and emotional growth.
  2. I love hanging out with my closest friends. I’ve been blessed with the absolute best friends on earth and I truly treasure our relationships. They’re some of my biggest cheerleaders, they make me a better person, and they play a vital role in my overall happiness. Instead of focusing on the romantic relationship I don’t have, I choose to cherish the platonic ones I’ve been blessed with. After all, these people are the ones who will be there through it all.
  3. Family is just as important. The time I spend with my family is so very precious to me. Especially after losing my mother a few years ago, I have grown to appreciate every moment I get to spend with my family. The joy I have when hanging out with my dad, step-mom, brother and sister (in-law) would be hard to replace. Same applies to my aunts, uncles, and cousins. They’re supportive and love me unconditionally.
  4. I want to travel the world. I love to travel. I’ve visited several different cities and countries but there are so many others still on my list. Traveling offers so many benefits. In addition to being an escape from the real world, it can also be very educational and enlightening. I always seem to return home with a new sense of purpose and gratefulness.
  5. I enjoy my “me time.” It wasn’t always the case that I would enjoy being alone. For so long, I longed to be around others and really really wanted a boyfriend to fill what felt like an emptiness within me. After achieving adulthood in my 30s, spending time alone provides a bit of self-rejuvenation. Whether I’m cuddled up on the couch enjoying a good book or catching up on my favorite television show, I can find plenty of happiness spending quality time with myself.
  6. Self-sufficiency is an accomplishment. My ability to take care of myself makes me very happy. It’s a great feeling knowing that I am my own provider. My self-reliance gives me a confidence boost that’s reflected in other areas of my life too. I rarely see a task as too difficult to take on. That’s a great attitude to have and one that I plan to keep even if I do end up in a relationship down the road.
  7. I love marching to the beat of my own drum. There’s nothing more satisfying than being able to make my own decisions and not have to worry about how those decisions will affect anyone else. I absolutely love the fact that I don’t have to consult with anyone about my own life choices. It’s a beautiful feeling and one that I’m not quite ready to give up.
  8. I enjoy the carefree approach to love and relationships. I truly believe people would take more risks in relationships if they weren’t so concerned about things not working out in the end. I’m not advocating recklessness but there is something to be said about living in the moment and enjoying each season you’re in. There’s no pressure when you’re single. If things don’t work out, it’s OK.
  9. Being married doesn’t automatically make you happy. Trust me, been there done that. Got the fucking T shirt. But that shit takes work. I tried hard, for several years, to maintain the happiness only to find that the other half of the marriage already moved on without letting me know. As a single woman, if I focus on the things that truly make me happy, anything else that comes along, be it marriage or a family, is simply a bonus to an already wonderful life. And I’m getting a big bonus in April with my baby girl.

So it took me 30+ years to get here, but I’ve never been happier. The joy that shines from inside is sometimes overwhelming. And I hope to share this joy with as many as I can.

A special prayer

I recently found out that my ex is going through some major personal struggles. When I first heard this, a tiny part of me felt a little relief. Sometimes, when you’re on the outside looking in all you see is perfection. But then I felt guilty. And ultimately, I turned to God with all my feelings. I prayed a special prayer for my ex. One that I’ve been praying for since we split up over two years ago.

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I prayed that he find joy and happiness in God and Jesus. I prayed that God’s will be done when it comes to his personal life and struggles. I prayed that he felt love and hope through his family, friends and God. I prayed for God to grant him the strength and courage needed to get through this season of life. And once again, I felt my heart breaking for him all over again.

It also did make me realize that amongst the lies he told me, there was one truth. He really did want a family, just not with me. And while that is heartbreaking, I can’t hold someone back from finding what they truly want. I just hope and pray that this is truly God’s plan for him and that he does end up joyful and happy with his life choices.

I also pray that one day I find someone who not only deserves and can handle this type of love but who can love me in the same way. If this is how I feel and treat someone who cheated and left me for someone else, it’s unimaginable how it could improve for the person who actually loves me back.

That is exactly why I’m patient and willing to wait for the right guy, the one meant for me. I already tried it with the one not meant to be and it nearly killed me. But I still wish the best for him and his new family, even if that doesn’t include me. And I’m so very thankful God made it clear to me that we weren’t meant to be. This time I’m sitting still and listening to His voice to tell me His plan, in His timing. I focus my eyes towards Him and know that everything will work out according to His plan.

He’s already taken me this far. To Oak Park, to run my first marathon, to walk away from yet another toxic relationship, and to be given the blessing of my first baby girl due in another few weeks. I just keep focusing on the good and all the blessings I’ve been given. And through every season, I take the time to thank Him for it all. The good, the bad and the ugly.

 

Wake me up when September ends

The year was 2005. It had just been 2004 and I found myself entering my second semester at UIUC at a loss. I had dumped my boyfriend after Thanksgiving only to find myself falling head over heels for the wrong guy, again. The same guy who had pulled on my heart-strings since I was in High School. A guy who existed mostly in my imagination, which was exactly why it would never work out. I just kept hoping, but the longer I dug my nails in the less I had a hold of things.

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Everything felt like it was spiraling out of control. It was one of those days where I found myself in my dorm, only to be missing my very expensive and needed graphic calculator in order to try my hand at this chemistry assignment. I decided to anxiously walk/run rather than ride my bike on the icy roads. About an hour later I return to my dorm-room to find three police officers standing in the doorway. Instantly, I think what did my room-mate do? But she was perfect, unlike me. And I soon found out they were there for me.

It may be hard to believe, but up until this point in my life I had zero run ins with cops. Like literally never even been pulled over before. To say I was shaking would be an understatement. If I wasn’t already upset, I was in tears by the time they decided to take me to the emergency room. See, they weren’t there to arrest me. Instead, a very concerned friend called them on my behalf. My friend somehow didn’t have my phone number so instead of trying to get a hold of me, called the police.

At first I was mad. But then I realized I needed this wake-up call. I had been blogging some seriously “emo” stuff. And while I wrote it off as song lyrics that I enjoyed, they were all saying the same thing. I was sad, and I felt alone. Really alone. I was borderline anorexic, I would only eat when a friend was with me. I remember due to this, I would skip multiple meals, sometimes for a few days at a time. And I still thought I was fat. The body-image issues were out of control. And I felt like I was just crawling around campus hoping to find where I belonged. I went from a high school of about 2,000 students to a campus of about 40,000 students. I was literally lost among a sea full of people. I regretted my decision to attend one of the largest universities and felt like it was going to be the longest four years of my life.

It took awhile, but I ended up thankful that I spent hours that night and morning in the ER. I had to convince my mom and dad to not drive down to see me, and that I was totally okay. This was a turning point in my life. After a prescribed meeting with a therapist, I was already feeling better. A few girls in my dorm invited me to hang out with them. It ended up being a bible study, but that’s exactly what I needed: a small group of friends to feel like I belonged. I also, miraculously, started having a crush on a class-mate’s friend. Just when I thought I would never get over Mr. never-ending crush, I found myself chasing a cute engineer. And you know the rest, I ended the semester not wanting to go home, started the dating dare, and found Jesus. Right?

Not quite. My finding Jesus journey was just beginning. But you can’t climb to the peak if you don’t walk through the valley first. And this was one of those valleys I had to go through to learn that I couldn’t do life alone. This was the year I learned that if I rely solely on myself, I will fall short. I also learned that people care, and to give out my phone number to my friends more often.

 

A dating dare

The year was 2005. I was coming up on the end of my first year of college. And what a year it had been! I started the year out homesick only to do a 180 and find myself not wanting to head home for the summer. After a short-lived long-distance relationship and a failed attempt at dating a fellow freshman, I was going into a long summer in the suburbs very, very single. And my good friend Polina was facing a very similar situation, just home to her was a bit further away in Korea. So she had a genius plan! Whoever could get a boyfriend for the summer (summer fling, anyone) would win the bet. I think it was something silly like 5 dollars and/or bragging rights. But it lit a fire under my butt.

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And that was a fire I very much needed. A push off a long-term obsessively ridiculous love for someone I had never met. Ask me another time about that one. But what happened next wasn’t exactly what I expected. I signed up for a free dating site (I was a poor college student who had just finally picked up a summer job!) and within days was inundated with messages from nearly every eligible man near Chicago (and Bloomington???). After carefully weeding out the very noticeable weirdos, I settled on meeting three guys who seemed the most interesting (or least creepy however you’d like to see it).

I liked the first guy. Actually, almost so much that I nearly considered calling off the other two. But there was two things that kinda threw me off about him that I noticed on the first date. And while they weren’t deal-breakers, I didn’t want to torture myself over the long, hot summer with someone I’d have to settle for just to win a bet. So I met the other two guys.

The second guy was awful. The red flags were burning from the beginning, but by the time I decided to call off the date it was too late. So I actually had my guy friend join us on our date, making it more of a casual hangout session. He still tried to kiss me at the end of the night, which didn’t happen. The third guy caught my eye, and on the second date I fell in love with… his mom. Fast forward, I cut things off with the first guy and third guy asks me to be his girlfriend halfway through summer. I win the dare, I win the bragging rights, and I get to hang out with a pretty stellar guy.

His family is great, and actually one of the first examples I witness firsthand where step families get along and mesh well together. He has a step-brother in California, an older brother his mom had during her first marriage. Her first husband moved on and had another family of his own, and all of them are friends. So original marriage, divorced but remained friends. I didn’t know this level of forgiveness and friendship existed. And it was beautiful.

I liked the guy too, but I think a part of me just grinned and bared it for the gloating rights. I also expected him to dump me and move on once we turned into a long distance relationship. The main reason for that thought was that the only other girlfriend he had was someone who lived a few blocks from him. I was already pushing it being about 25 minutes away, I doubted he would survive with me being 2.5 hours away. But once back at school, he proved me wrong. We worked something out and ended up seeing each other every 3 weeks.

What was supposed to be a summer fling, ended up lasting 2 years and 4 months, y’all. My point is, never label something until you know all the details. I learned the hard way to not just write someone off as a fling. Actually, that might be why to this day I still try to imagine myself being with whoever I’m dating for much longer than just that moment. It tends to get me in trouble. Thanks to the summer dating dare, I now try to see if Mr. Joe could be Mr. Brice (obviously he would take my name bc it is superior lol).

This has bitten me in the butt a few times, most noticeably recently when my mind was about 5 million light-years ahead imagining things actually working out with someone only to have him not even give me a chance and choose someone else. So maybe I have to work on balance. Not just write someone off as a fling but also stop imagining myself walking down the aisle in a white dress with them. At least make it a cool color!

What I want to be when I grow up

Growing up, I had big dreams. At first, I wanted to be a teacher. But in middle school I realized I didn’t like kids/students and actually really loved animals. From that point on, I wanted to be a veterinarian. But not any vet, one who owned her own practice and saved every animal she possibly could. It wasn’t a lavish life, one where maybe I’d have to work hard but I figured all that hard work would pay off. I would own my own business and not have to answer to anyone.

Years later, reality hits. It started in High School when my counselor put in my head that I wasn’t smart enough (i.e. grades not good enough) to get into Veterinary School. This was Freshman year, years before even applying to college let alone vet school. But I was determined. My B-average was just that… B average. I studied hard and even took an Advanced Placement class and test. I had a rocky senior year and had to write the letter of my life to still go to University of Illinois, but they let me attend and 4 years later I walked away with my degree, along with that solid B average GPA.

Guess my counselor was right, not a single veterinary school out of the 5 I applied to even considered me for an interview. Yet I persisted. I moved back home and enrolled in some classes at the local community college in order to try and get my very average 3.0 GPA up a little. And I applied to 13 schools instead of only 5. This time around I was invited to two interviews, and placed on two wait-lists. After not being chosen, I decided to enroll in Grad School to once again hopefully increase my GPA.

Working full-time as a Veterinary Assistant and attending school full-time was very interesting. After years of long days full of sick animals, classes, and creating and writing a thesis, reality hit. I no longer had the same passion and dream to be a veterinarian. So now what?

Over the past 5 years, I’ve dabbled in so many different career fields but they all have a common theme: I love helping others. Whether that’s helping people with their computer, school subject, ACT, SAT, beloved pet, fitness goals, laboratory equipment, gym equipment, or anything else. As long as I’m helping someone else, I’m happy. I didn’t need a Master’s degree to realize this, but it appears like I needed to venture away from my long-time dream to discover just who I want to be when I grow up.

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I want to be a helper. But even more than that, I want to create an asset where I’m in control, helping people and being paid for it. You’re either helping build someone else’s asset or your building your own. While I enjoy what I do, at the end of the day I’m still answering to someone else. I want to be free when I grow up: have financial freedom and be happy in what I do everyday.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A hair above the rest

Growing up, I was cute but cuteness only went so far in school. I had my parent’s genetics to deal with. Some things you just can’t control, like crooked teeth or bad eyesight. I was born blind but my parents didn’t notice until I was in Kindergarten. I blame that on my smartness, I just faked it till I made it, or at least until I could no longer make it. Like when my mom asked me what time it was and I admitted that I couldn’t read the clock. Glasses it is!

Just looking at my dad, you could tell my teeth were doomed after seeing that I got his flat brown hair and poo-colored eyes. Braces were inevitable, but even metal mouth and extra large glasses were bearable compared to… my hair.

My hair was an oil pit. Especially once I entered middle school. It was that type of hair that literally would hit 24 hours after washing and turn into grease city. I’m talking did you pour a bottle of olive oil on your head and expect to make friends? Quite the opposite happened. I got made fun of all the time. To the point where my lazy 7th grader self was forced to wash my hair every day or suffer the consequences.

It was 50/50. And a part of me kept thinking maybe I could train my hair to last longer than 24 hours. Ain’t nobody got time to be washing and drying long stringy brown hair everyday. As I got older, I ended up caving in and washing as often as possible, sometimes twice a day. Throughout high school and college, I struggled to try and extend my hair life beyond the 24 hours it typically lasted. Even with advice from wiser women who would go DAYS, and I mean like 3-5 days without washing their hair, I still struggled. I finally discovered dry shampoo, but even that only gave me another day or two. At least I was improving, but it just wasn’t enough.

It likely didn’t help that I lived an active lifestyle full of jogging, martial arts, and other forms of torturous cardio/strength training activities. As recent as a few months ago, I was working out 5-6 times a week and still ended up washing my hair every 2-3 days. Still too often, and my hair still wasn’t at it’s prime since I was going through dry shampoo like water.

PicsArt_01-15-03.10.38.jpgThat’s when I discovered Monat. My friend gave me a bunch of samples and I put it to the test. From the first wash, my hair was beautiful for 4 days. On the 4th day, my lazy bum self used dry shampoo and made it to day 5. Not only did it look good, it felt and smelled even better. If I had a boyfriend, no doubt he would have his nose in my hair. But instead I just couldn’t stop touching my hair. I was beyond excited and actually looked forward to washing my hair again. Because of how long my hair went, the samples lasted me weeks. Which is unheard of. I was sold after going to a Monat hair washing and brunch event, where they transformed my hair in just one washing. While the shampoo isn’t the cheapest, it easily lasts 3-4 months if not longer. I purchased my first bottle back in November and have barely made a dent. I expect it to last yet another 3 months from now.PicsArt_01-15-03.16.08.jpg

And trust me, I’ve spent the same amount if not more on shampoo that lasted half that time. And normally I don’t spoil myself. Actually, I’m still sometimes in that college-kid mindset where the idea of spending any money on myself outside of food and gas is instantly rejected. But I will say that the dollars spent on Monat were well worth it. Every week, when I wash my hair once or maybe twice, I feel a change in my hair for the better. I get excited when I see other people’s hair improving as well. And the stories are endless. But don’t just take it from me, give it a shot. We all wash our hair anyways, why not try a sample and see if it’s for you?

The struggle to love unconditionally

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Love as the media shows it is not true love. It’s the love where you are happy and showered with all the feels, until it gets hard. Then it’s time to break up and move on to the next. This illusion of plenty of fish in the sea, and maybe the lie of that perfect person for us keeps us unsatisfied until we end up alone and grumpy wondering where we went wrong.

Most of my life, I have struggled to learn and apply unconditional love in all of my relationships. I’m talking family, friends and most importantly romantic relationships. And the biggest struggle I face is unconditionally loving people who can’t love me back.

Both historically (my exes) and currently, there are and have been people in my life that I have and still love wholeheartedly who don’t have the capacity love me back. I won’t drop names, but there is someone in my life right now where I have to sit and meditate, take several deep breaths, before composing myself to respond to him in the most loving way I can.

But he already rejected me months ago, and even without that I know he doesn’t have the ability to love me back. At least, not the way I love him. And I’m not going to lie, there are nights where I just feel like crying. But each day gets better, because God gives me the strength to continue loving him the way Jesus loves me. And I pray that one day, he too will know and understand that type of love. The one where there are no limits. Without conditions. The way love is supposed to be.

Four categories of consciousness

Have you heard of the Hawkins scale of consciousness? It is a scale that goes from 0 to 1000: 0 being death and 1000 being Lord Jesus, Buddha, Krishna level. While there are many levels, you can split them into four categories where it’s safe to say if you aren’t with someone within your category, the likelihood of your relationship working out is very low unless one of you evolves or de-evolves to be more similar.

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Here are the four categories as I see them:

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If you fall into this category, you are considered powerless. The highest level you can achieve in this category is pride, which may seem positive but it actually just feels good in contrast to the other, lower levels. These levels are vulnerable since they rely on outside forces. Growth is blocked in these levels, and to be honest you shouldn’t even consider dragging anyone else into your world until you evolve.

200-500

Level 200 is when you leave behind being powerless and start seeing life as exciting, challenging and stimulating. As you move up and evolve in this category, there is a high potential of growth. You also no longer let outside forces control how you feel and see things. You begin to rely on yourself to be happy and no one else can take away your happiness. The highest you can get to in this category is the level of reason, which is the level of science, medicine, and of generally increased capacity for conceptualization and comprehension. This is the level of Nobel Prize winners, great statesmen, and Supreme Court justices. It’s usually where we all strive to be but many fall short.

500-700

The 500 level is characterized by the development of a love that is unconditional, unchanging, and permanent. It doesn’t fluctuate – its source isn’t dependent on external factors. Loving is a state of being. It’s a forgiving, nurturing, and supportive way of relating to the world. Love isn’t intellectual and doesn’t proceed from the mind; Love emanates from the heart. This is the level of true happiness. It’s considered very rare to reach level 500, with only 0.4% of the world’s population reaching it.

As you evolve from love, you reach levels of joy (saints, spiritual healers) and then peace. Peace is associated with the experience designated by such terms as transcendence, self-realization, and God-consciousness. It’s extremely rare, attained by only 1 in 10 million people.

700 and above

Enlightenment. This is the level of the Great Ones of history who originated the spiritual patterns that countless people have followed throughout the ages. This is the level of powerful inspiration; these beings set in place attractor energy fields that influence all of mankind. At this level there is no longer the experience of an individual personal self separate from others; rather, there is an identification of Self with Consciousness and Divinity.

The weirdest part about all of this is that I’m at level 500, the level of unconditional love. But I keep falling for and trying to evolve people who are below level 200. I literally feel like a martyr trying to pull these guys up from the trenches. The most noticeable being my ex-husband, but this also applies to the people currently in my life now. And from the years of unconditionally loving the wrong people, I’m burned out. The idea of even liking someone right now is exhausting. I’m literally stacking up every piece of energy to love on my baby girl coming in a few months, and to be honest I’m getting used to the idea of being single for the majority of my life, if not for the rest of it.

Having this ability is both a blessing and a curse. Will I ever find another on my level?

Lively Athletics

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Growing up, I strived to fit in. I was made fun of most of elementary and middle school, I felt accepted in high school, and then I attended one of the largest US universities where I felt like I was drowning the first year. Once I was out on my own, I felt alone in a big city of Chicago. For about 6 years, I felt connected through a small Kung Fu school in Ravenswood.

But a mixture of life circumstances and the owner not caring about me and my welfare led me to moving away and leaving the school. When moving to a brand new area, I was scared that once again I wouldn’t fit in. Just about a month after moving, I entered a local running store named Lively Athletics for a marathon training run that was put together by World Vision and my church. And I saw a chalkboard with a cute sign that said weekly co-ed beer runs every Wednesday night 6:30pm. What I didn’t realize was just how much this little beer run would change my life.

I went to check it out that very Wednesday and instantly fell in love with the runners, store, and running route. Beer was a bonus. I actually went 12 weeks in a row to get a T shirt at 6 weeks and a beer glass at 12. That’s dedication. But through all the sweaty runs, I made friends. And I felt like I fit in with my new community.

The more I learned about Lively, the more I fell in love with it. It’s a sister-owned local running store that caters to women and children. Sorry, guys, but you already know women are taking over. And the owners are amazing. Kate, mother of two beautiful girls, cranking out marathons left and right. And Anne, mother of two as well, a power-lifter and cross-fitter. Together, they’ve created not just another running store, but a welcoming running community for runners of all ages, sizes and paces.

Every time I lace up on a Wednesday, I know that I won’t feel judged or left behind. Even now that I skip the beer afterwards, the gathering of sweaty runners afterwards is something I look forward to. It feels like I belong here, and that I belong in Oak Park thanks to Lively Athletics. And if you’re a runner looking for anything running (or tennis!) related, hit up this local gem. You won’t be disappointed.

The beginning of the end

The year was 2016. Everything in my life was changing, and not in a good way. My Dad was engaged and about to marry a raging alcoholic. I was still grieving the recent loss of my mother and there were few things that felt solid in my life: my marriage and my therapist were the top two. Kung Fu helped me vent, as well. But all through everything else falling apart, I felt like I could count on my husband and my therapist.

Even when my husband was frustrated over my grieving and stress about my Dad, I still felt like we were solid. Even when he spent more and more time away from home, I just wrote it off as his way of dealing with things. I felt like my stress may have been overflowing onto him, so tried my best to give him everything he needed, including many “massages” and other activities where he didn’t invite me to. It felt like I had blinders on until he blew up at me. What seemed like overnight, he started sleeping on the couch and stopped talking to me. All the love and warmth was sucked out of the room when we were home. My world was officially falling apart, not just everywhere else but also at home.

And the only solid thing I could cling onto was my therapist. And God. I started praying daily from the first day I felt a rift in my marriage, which was about two months before my husband left the house. I prayed for someone to go to church with me, since it was pretty clear my husband wasn’t going to go anymore. I prayed not just for someone to invite me but for me to find a community where I belonged. And God answered my prayers.

My co-worker Elizabeth who I didn’t know very well invited me to her church. I could tell she was nervous to ask me, but I couldn’t say no. Especially since it was exactly what I needed, at the right time. I started attending Free Church right after my husband left the house. Right around that time, I finally realized just how many lies my husband had told me. It spiraled out of control and I ended up in the middle of a panic attack late at night. It felt like the entire house was spinning all around me and my life was falling apart. I started hyperventilating and felt dizzy. I considered driving myself to the ER or calling 911 if I didn’t move in the next few moments.

As tears started rolling down my face, I started talking to God. I couldn’t say anything other than I’m sorry. I apologized, over and over again, because here I was losing my shit over a person. A human being. A shitty, awful one but at the end of the day just a creature. And in the midst of all my tears and apologies, I heard God tell me “It’s ok, I have someone better for you.” And all of a sudden, I’m calm. My tears dry up, and I feel a sense of warmth and relief. And I fall asleep.

That was the beginning of the end of my marriage. But that was also the year I learned that just because one thing ends doesn’t mean that everything is over. Actually, it usually means a new, different opportunity will present itself. And in the end, as long as you trust in God, he will take you where you’re supposed to go.