Last week, Beyoncé dropped Lemonade and according to Forbes.com, Lemonade has begun its charting life in the top spot with the biggest first-week sales count thus far in 2016. Am I surprised? Of course not. (King) Beyoncé is a force to be reckoned with, undoubtedly chasing the iconic status of the likes of Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson. I could have written a think piece about the issues the album so flawlessly unravelled (infidelity, race, womanhood, stereotypes, family issues – the list goes on) but it’s just not that kind of blog and I’m doing my best, these days, to stay in my lane. Just know, as a proud Beyoncé fan, I have my views on the album and I’m just awaiting her call to give her the feedback she’s been longing for.
There were a few instances during my personal viewing of the visual album (which is dope, by the way) that made me scream a little, I must admit. However, the moment that resonated with me most was a line from the speech given by Jay Z’s grandmother, Hattie, at her 90th birthday:
“I was given lemons and I made lemonade”.
I was speaking to my best friend just yesterday about the way that life works. Life is full of various seasons that we are forced to run, trudge, cry and fly through. Life overflows with turns, peaks, troughs, valleys and mountains, throwing whatever it wants at us. We are given lemons. In a second, life changes its rhythm and we are coerced into learning a new dance, one that changes the course of our lives forever. We make lemonade.
The original plan was to list all the moments life had given me lemons – where I thought life was going one way and then suddenly, I was on my back, knocked out by the blow life had dealt. Instead of reeling off a list of my own personal setbacks, I reached out to my people and the people over on Facebook, asking them about the times life had given them lemons. The responses I received were amazing. Enjoy the lemonade below.
I spent 3 months working as a massage therapist on a cruise ship. I hated it at first, but then I made friends – heck, I even got myself a tall Jamaican ship bae. The money wasn’t great but I was feeling great: partying, making memories, travelling the Caribbean. Everything was working for me, and then then literally over night my Hemoglobin checked out on me; my anaemia got so bad I had an emergency debark. Basically, they shipped my butt home. A week before Christmas, I made a 24-hour journey back to the UK from Puerto Rico. I didn’t even have a jacket! I was unemployed, a couple hundred dollars to my name in my sea account, no confidence, no energy and, sadly, fewer friends. I literally had to cling to my cousins and one in particular who was in church so by default, I was in church. As a consequence, my faith grew! I became happy, unmoved by external factors. Eventually, I got a job and it was a 5K increase per year compared to what I’d previously earned. I’m sharing my experiences via YouTube. No, I don’t wake up on a different island every day and I didn’t get to complete that journey, but its worked out for the best, and my opportunities are endless!
I went through domestic abuse throughout my entire pregnancy. It was a horrific time and I often wondered if I’d made the right choice. My son is here now and he is the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me. He’s shown me what real love is. I’ve learnt in life there are always better days ahead and life is for living, despite the ups, downs and hurdles we encounter along the way. Most importantly, I am now sure that God gives us only what we can handle and nothing more or nothing less.
I think running a marathon is something on everyone’s bucket list. Just something you should do, an achievement. When Marathon day arrived, I had everything packed and ready; I wrote the names of all my family and friends who were no longer with us on my arms so that if I hit a wall, I could look down and remember that they couldn’t run a marathon. The marathon was a struggle: at times, I couldn’t walk, tears streamed down my face as I hobbled down the paths. When I finally reached mile 25, something just clicked. All of the sudden crowds were screaming my name and I was running, actually running. I looked behind to check my hip hadn’t fallen off, phew, I was still intact and I was still running. I could see the finish line. I ran as fast as I could and finished in 6 hours, 21 minutes and 26 seconds. The best way to describe the feelings I felt was likening the feelings to a rainbow. Red was anger that my beautiful Dad got taken away from me, why him? Why not someone else? Yellow was sunshine, happiness because I knew he would be proud. Blue was tears and lots of them. Pink was love and I had never loved my dad as much as I did then. I had to thank him for leaving me, because if he hasn’t, I’d have never been running a marathon in the first place.
I was working for a TV station. I had my own show, I was a presenter and producer, had ratings of 40,000 for 2 years. Then I lost my job. It was heartbreaking and emotionally draining because for those two years, I thought my purpose was in that job. My value and worth came from having a job but losing it was actually the best thing that happened to me because then began the journey of finding where my worth, value and really came from. It’s not from a job.
I had to repeat my first year of university and it was embarrassing, such a dark time. Initially, I decided to appeal. I was praying and fasting so much. I put so much faith in God, believing that he was going to come through. When they got back to me and told me that I still had to repeat, it made me question how God actually worked. I felt that God had failed me. I felt so low walking into the New Year: I was lonelier than I’d ever felt before, I hadn’t achieved much and the girl I thought I’d spend my life with was in a new relationship. However, through this bad event, so much good came to me: I formed a relationship with God. The extra year was refreshing, spiritually and mentally. When I was ready to leave university, I walked straight into a graduate job – something I am sure would not have happened if I had graduated the year before. I can honestly say that everything fell into place.
Whilst in secondary school I was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a boy in my year. I didn’t tell my family for a year and when I eventually did, my parents decided I needed to move schools. I was distraught and distressed at the thought of leaving all of my friends behind. Having been with them for 3 years, and some since primary school, I felt I was really taking an L. Leaving at the time seemed like the worst thing in the world, however it was the best. I was given the opportunity to go to an excellent school, meet incredible friends and I realised my full academic potential. The new environment was needed, refreshing and allowed me to flourish in every way. I realised how fickle people are and not to be consumed with my relationships. Often the sexual assault makes me sad, very sad and I am still dealing with a plethora of issues but I am getting better. The assault was an incredible loss and I often felt that God had left me and didn’t love me, but that was not the case. Even in the darkest of clouds, there is a silver lining. Moving schools, changing, learning and growing – these were all my silver linings. Perhaps if it hadn’t occurred I wouldn’t be what I am not where I am today. From my experience I realised God can turn any tragedy into triumph.
I didn’t get my first choice of university. I was disappointed because I thought I was supposed to be in Manchester. It was a Russell Group university, well respected, and the course sounded great! Waking up on results day I discovered that it wasn’t meant to be. To rub salt in the wound when I collected my results it turned out that I had literally only just missed the grades for Manchester; a couple marks in one subject, four in another.
Almost three years later and nearing the end of my university journey I can honestly say that coming to Canterbury has been the best thing for me. From church, to the people I’ve met, and my actual course content it’s been so good! I remember when I was choosing where to go I purposely avoided London, I wasn’t sure that a busy city was the place for me. Can someone please tell me why choosing Manchester instead made sense!? I can only laugh and thank God for His ability to see what I couldn’t.
“A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9 NKJV
It was my birthday and I had decided to buy a car. The first two cars that a friend & I went to view were not to our liking, but the third seemed just right. My friend was driving the car around the neighbourhood and checking certain things…”boys and their toys” I thought to myself. As he was driving, he was revving the engine and suddenly it completely conked out! “I knew it!” he said. I however, was in shock and very disappointed that I wasn’t able to purchase a car for my birthday. I wanted to cry. On the way back I was praying about what had happened and God showed me a vision in which I was in the newly purchased car on the motorway and the engine cut out with loads of drivers headed my way at full speed. It lifted my spirit to know that in what seemed like an awful start to my birthday was actually one in which God reminded me how much He loved me.
Some years back I believed I’d “heard” from GOD who I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with. In fact, there was seemingly a mutual “hearing from GOD” by both parties and from there a relationship with marriage as the eventual goal began. The years that passed consisted of a number of good times, a hell of a lot of bad and a world of struggle to be each other’s reality of a perfect spouse. After what seemed like endless fighting, butting of heads and the never-ending pouring out of one’s heart and soul, it came to a dramatic end with symbols and drums. And boy, might I say that hindsight is 2020. I’ve come to the revelation that at that time of my life, I was a girl who was incomplete. Still in desperate need to know who I was and to whom I belonged to and to that end, that lack of knowledge and lack of wisdom sent me down a path I was never meant to embark on. I haven’t reached the end of my journey yet but today as a Woman of GOD I stand so clear and so confident about what’s to come for me. He said that He will make all things work together for my good. He’s doing just that.
A life full of ups and downs, along with every person who walks this planet. One of my stories… I met the ‘love’ of my life… I had never in all my years felt the way I felt about her. It was, as cliché would have it; “love at first sight”. The most magical time of my life, it was indescribable, and 6 years on, I still can’t find the words to describe ‘that’ feeling and ‘that’ time. I made a huge decision to move my life across the country ‘with’ her. Two years into the Yorkshire adventure I was betrayed by her. I was, despite my inner strength, broken. I didn’t want to be that person who ran home at the first hurdle, no matter how much I was hurting. So I stayed… And continued to live my life to the fullest, I grafted, I grew, I found my self, I became content with my own self. It wasn’t without struggle. I continued to grow professionally and achieved things I didn’t think I was capable of. I travelled the world, met fabulous people, indulged in the cultures and lifestyles of these beautiful places. Now I had this time for me, I made a conscious decision to continue my journey, taking on the path I now know, was and always has been my calling. It took the hurt, the fixing and the adventures, but I have succeeded. Say hello to a newly qualified teacher that hopes to inspire, support and challenge young adults to believe that greatness comes in all shapes and sizes and strength comes from within; this and a little bit of faith is what has got me to this point in my life.
If you’re going through a tough time, surrounded by lemons, full of confusion and disbelief, be encouraged: lemonade can always be made.
Have you got any Lemonade stories? Do share them in the comments section, if you can!
Lots of love,
Thanks to all the contributors to this piece – thank you for sharing your stories so honestly with me!
*All names and ages have been changed