A little over a year ago, I made a Joshua 1:9 declaration over my life. I even went as far as to post it on my wall. Lesson one: Be careful what you pray for. Lesson two: God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.

Becoming strong and courageous did not occur in a vacuum. Over the past year, God has developed my courage under fire. During that time, I’ve learned who I am. I’ve also learned who I’m not. Most importantly, I’ve learned not to allow myself to be a “whipping boy” and not to allow others to define me through their insecurities. Oftentimes, insecure people tend to project their short comings on to others. Lately, I’ve become good at deflecting other people’s projectile. I’ve learned that I am not who people say I am. I am who God says I am.

In a world where everyone seems to have an opinion on everyone else, we have to make sure that when we are dealing with our issues, they’re actually our issues and not ones that other people have weighted on our shoulders. The truth is, each one of us has a heavy enough cross to bear without taking on someone else’s.

One of the best, and probably most important, lessons that I’ve learned this year is that it is okay, and even necessary, to evolve even if my evolution is not well received by everyone. For some of us, we have allowed ourselves, for too long, to become a doormat. The problem is, when we try to break out of the “whipping boy” mold, some people get very upset because they like the status quo. They have grown accustomed to being placed on a pedestal, and when we decide that we want off their emotional rollercoaster, they will often say things like, “you’ve changed” or “you have an attitude” to try to evoke guilt. Here’s what I say to that: MOVE ON!!!

Being strong and courageous during this season has taught me a lot about myself, especially in the areas of life, love and friendship. I have learned that relationships, whether business or personal, are meant to edify. If BOTH parties do not bring out the best in each other, then there are no fruits in that relationship. The most important lesson here is to know who we are and know what we deserve. We should not be made afraid to move on if we are made to feel less than worthy. This year, I’ve had to move on and distance myself from people who deliberately see the worse in me and who consistently try to convince me that I am who I’m not. They try to define my life by their parameters.

My parting thoughts are this: You are strong and courageous. Find people who will reaffirm you and remind you of this. Know that words are powerful and have a lasting impact. Distance yourself from people who have negative speak. If someone ALWAYS sees the worse in you AND/OR others, then that’s not the person you want to be around because they will destroy your spirit and steel your hope. Trust me. I’ve been there. Move on! You will NEVER be who God had called you to be if you don’t have a spirit that is ready to embrace His blessings. You CANNOT develop that spirit in the midst of negativity. Think about how many Israelites missed the opportunity to see the Promised Land because they were sorrounded by negativity. The Bible says that an entire generation died and wondered the desert for 40 years because of their negativity, disbelief and lack of faith. In part, many missed the promise because of their environment. You see friend, your environment does matter. The wrong environment could cost you your future.  Remember, despite what any one else says, you are STRONG AND COURAGEOUS!