I am a single woman, doing life in New York City and the world, and I am ridiculously happy pretty much all of the time. There is nothing spectacular in the natural to warrant the permanent and somewhat goofy smile that is plastered on my face. I live in the same crazy, chaotic, dog-eat-dog, unstable, pleasure-hungry world you do. What you might call “walking around with rose-colored glasses” is actually what happens to a girl who lives in awareness of her Creator, chooses to make amazing memories and falls in love with who she really is.
One of the things I love about this amazing city is the fearlessness that inspires radical creativity and risk taking. Every street is filled with life and color. People wear clothes that bring out your inner paparazzi and cause you to keep your photo app up and running at all times. Young and old start businesses that meet needs you never even knew you had. Some last a few months while others go the distance and have to expand into the high-rent space next door. This place feeds my “closet superhero” tendencies and reminds me to use the wings I was created with.
A few months after moving here, when the air was still cool and buds were beginning to explode into flowers, I sat on a bench in the East Village by a funny woman with hot pink lips, little fancy white gloves and socks with hearts all over them. She was in her 90s and had lived in NYC her entire life. As I listened to stories that created portraits in my mind of a very different city, I made the conscious decision to take lots of pictures, to make sure I never got too busy to have coffee with friends, and to mark off my “list of amazing things to do in NYC with intentionality. Because everyone walks as fast as possible to get to their next destination with no eye contact whatsoever, I knew it would take effort not to get sucked into the chaotic madness of mere survival.
Then there is that other tempting vortex.
You know … the one where you sit around pining for your “right place at the right time” moment, when years of preparation, education and calling miraculously collide with your dream career, dream home and dream spouse? Where disappointment hides neatly wrapped under the Christmas tree of yet another year of no hand-in-hand walks through Bryant Park, or starry-eyed gazes over sips of a shared cocoa on a city rooftop? Where, instead of being on the stage on Broadway, you are collecting tickets at the door to pay for your dance, acting and vocal lessons?
There came a time when the channel had to be changed and a decision had to be made to live fully in my now. It was that required shift, to take the journey and transition out of the “tortured waiting zone” and into the “content and happy zone.” For many, including the old me, this would have been a sign of weakness or giving up. On the contrary, this perspective change was like a slippy-slide ride into living a happy life, even when the dream hadn’t quite manifested into reality.
Contentment began to look like something and created an atmosphere of growing and fun in the process.
I learned about love and fearlessness on the streets of NYC.
There are beautiful men and women from all over the world who have come to this place and taken bigger risks than anyone in their families from generations past ever had. There are subway performers who would rather put a smile on our faces in the heat, noise and filth for whatever change gets dropped into a hat, than sit in an air-conditioned office for “real” money. Huge smiles light up coffee shops where aspiring actors and dancers are barely making it as waiters, but are celebrating the fact that they actually live in the greatest city on earth.
I have seen too many Christian singles who are so caught up in the “call of God” on their lives that they can’t remotely enjoy any stage that doesn’t look like their definition of “having arrived.” There are so many I’ve watched sink deeper and deeper into depression because they felt like the ethereal timeline was passing them by and mocking them at every mile marker. I once lived plagued by that notebook of prophetic words that looked more like a carrot dangling in front of my face, out of reach, than a book of promises.
This is the city where I began to come alive and live in my now. This is the place where I began to walk down the street with my head held high, feeling like the most beautiful woman on the block. This was the place where I stepped into a joy, peace and love that would do nothing but grow and expand, yet had nothing to do with my facts.
Could my “happy girl” transformation have happened in some other city? Of course … but it didn’t. It happened here. It happened in a place where sin, darkness, perversion, chaos and fear are masked by billboards as big as buildings, where promises are as slippery as a car salesman and where quiet is simply nonexistent.
As I realized that every step along the way was just as important as the destination, the King and His Kingdom began to grow in my eyes and impress my heart at an exponential rate. Was it actually possible to live a ridiculously happy, single, peaceful and fun existence? Was it possible to live in constant relationship with God and invite Him into every aspect of my life? Was it possible to channel my inner Peter Pan and never, ever outgrow the thrill of adventure along the journey?
Here’s the deal: This smile isn’t leaving. It has become as permanent as New York City is on the map of the United States. It will expand. It will shine for the entire world to see. It will be my greatest testimony and the foundation for my legacy.
I have committed to never miss out on the fun to be had, the memories to be made or the love to be lived. I simply don’t have time to sit around waiting for romance to happen, because I am just too busy loving ferociously. I was created for relationship and I was created for love, so my friends and family have become cherished constants in my life. I was created to create with the Creator, so being stagnant is just never an option. I learned how to rest in this beautiful life with God in a city that never sleeps.
Living in my now has become as easy as breathing. And all the while my hopes, dreams, goals and prophetic words are manifesting all around me, as brilliant and loud as fireworks over the Hudson River on the Fourth of July.
Today is your day to start being so preoccupied with living in your now, that anything else will need a billboard in Times Square to get your attention … because you are just too busy being happy!!!