The Graduation: Class of 2024

May 19, 2024

By Nicole

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Though I’ve been out of school for quite some time, I am still an avid learner, constantly reaching for the nearest wealth of knowledge to feed my brain, chew, digest, and then ultimately store it away. I think that’s why my faith has been an allure. I am drawn to the hard things. But that is because I need a challenge and growth comes from being challenged.

When I went back to school for accounting, my mother said, “Yep. Because you need to be challenged.” That’s why boredom in my career was such a challenge. Who knew doing nothing could be challenging? It is for a go-getter.

My avid learning lifestyle seems to be paying off though because I’m the official honoree for the Career Mastered Emerging Leader Award (insert round of applause and profuse thank you’s). 

This week I went to Detroit to receive my award with my good friend Lisa who nominated me. I sat, stunned to be amongst such accomplished, seasoned female leaders who had decades on me. As they spouted from the deep wells of their souls all that they had experienced in their careers, I drank in every word. I knew God was speaking. I was in the presence of greatness.

When you’re a lifelong learner it can be easy to be viewed as a “giant” to some but that’s that “Big fish, little pond” mentality. You may be big now but wait until you’re dropped into a bigger pond.

At the ceremony, the women of the hour were each called by name, their images displayed on large photos, their time of honoring had come. Tears clung to my eyes. By curating this ceremony, the host was saying to each one, “I see you. Well done.” 

This was a holy moment. I was graduating to the next level in my journey of purpose. I have had enough graduations in the natural to know what graduation looks like. Even starting as young as 5 years old. 

But if you’re not in tune, you can miss those spiritual graduations.

Spiritual graduations are marking advancement in your spiritual journey. They are saying in the spirit, “This one passed the test. This one has increased authority.”

I find it interesting that the kickoff for my graduation wasn’t necessarily the ceremony itself but a spiritual test that I admit, I am still in. The morning I prepared for my trip, I was in the bathroom. I looked in the mirror and murmured, “Lord, I don’t know what You are doing, but help me pass this test.” Once they spilled from my lips, I knew those were the words that were needed. Sometimes we don’t know what the heck is going on around us. Sometimes what we see with our eyes is the exact opposite of what we had hoped for in our hearts. But I have walked out enough of my journey to know God is faithful and doesn’t lie. My eyes may lie. My heart may lie. My thoughts may lie. But God doesn’t. And if I am being tested, well, I want to pass. But what I also knew at that moment was that I could not pass this test myself. 

It’s easy to default to our own strength but the thing about spiritual tests is they are advancing you in your weakness. They are crafted to be so extravagant that you cannot possibly climb the mountain in your own ability.

Spiritual tests are made to give God the glory. 

I nervously and eagerly awaited my turn to accept my award. I felt supernatural grace as the picture of resiliency was tangibly being demonstrated in my current circumstances. It did not escape me that we were celebrating a theme of resiliency at the ceremony. Everyone in the room had demonstrated resiliency at varying levels. I was demonstrating it even at that moment.

I was being stretched beyond capacity. I had already endured a grueling race, one that left me spent and breathless, yet I was being asked to keep enduring. Even as I accepted my award. Even as I was esteemed for my leadership capabilities. The very thing that I was going through at that moment is what qualified me to be an honoree. I wonder how many others in that room were having that experience?

As is often the case with spiritual tests, my circumstances did not change but the grace to endure them was present. I was able to be fully present. I couldn’t even dwell on the disappointment in my heart that seemed constant. The Lord had moved in me, even if He had not moved in my situation. I laughed, danced, and celebrated with my newfound community. I dove into this new city I had never visited: Detroit, Michigan. I took pictures and videos and after nearly six whole months, I drank wine. Yes, I had been detoxing but it was time to partake. It was time to celebrate. I got to see Berry Gordy’s ingenious phenomenon, the Motown Museum. We walked the halls decked with the greats and listened to those old classics I grew up with. I was in awe of the historic richness that still stands today.

God said, “Nicole I am making you a tall tower.” Did you know the tallest buildings have the deepest foundations? We cannot expect to reach the masses or fulfill our callings without deep foundations. Deep roots.

But my journey is not a solitary one. Though physically I am called to walk it, there are many standing with me in the spirit. Holding up my arms. Interceding for my heart. Even as I attended the conference with many whom I did not know, because they are overcomers, I felt incubated in the spirit of resiliency. I was in good company.

Is there something you are going through that requires a greater level of resiliency in you?

Have you already demonstrated great character, tenacity, and endurance but are now being asked for more? To continue? That is the requirement for the next level of purpose. We must advance in who we are to obtain greater authority and make a larger impact. The good news is, there is grace, and we will not do it in and of ourselves. It will truly be supernatural.

In other news…Did you know that I just dropped my debut novel When Love Wins? You can check out more here! This time around there is an audiobook in addition to the eBook and paperback versions. Make sure you are subscribed to my email list to catch special offers, discounts, insider information, and more!

Are you on Instagram/Facebook? If so, please reach out. I have a series called “Word of the Day Wednesdays” where I share 5-10 minutes worth of nuggets that are on my heart, which I hope are encouraging to others on IGTV/FB Live! I have these also posted on my Youtube Channel.

And, lastly, if you have read “Stories for the (Urban) Soul, please put up an Amazon review here. I was SUPER encouraged and blessed when a new reader put up her review for my 2nd book which you can view here :).

As always, thank you for your support!

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