Last month was a challenge. I was tired in my body, I was overwhelmed with work, and I was mentally drained! That Thursday, for the first time ever, I wanted to give it all up.
We are starting the production of a new stage play at the studio and I was casting for parts. I always hate audition day because it is long and often we get individuals who have never audition before. The fact that they have never auditioned before doesn’t bother me; it’s that they do not do their research and often come unprepared with no headshot, no resume, no song prepared to sing (for a musical production at that); this leaves a lot of time wasted and after about 10 or so of these, it is nerve-racking! It makes me feel as though we are not being taken seriously as a theater arts organization. On top of a long, exhausting audition day, I had to prepare for our spring break camp the same week. This camp was our first attempt at offering a full day camp for the families in our community. In the past, we’ve only had half day camps from 8 am – 12 noon. My assistant was in a production for the week and would be off, so it was my daughter and myself at the studio all day every day for the entire week. The days were long with early morning having to be there at 7:30 a.m. and late evening leaving between 4:30 -5:00. Thankfully my assistant would come to relieve us when her practices were over at 4:30. In addition to the long days, I became sick with a terrible 24-hour stomach virus on Thursday of that same week, leaving me at home in bed and my daughter handling things at the studio that day (she did a marvelous job). Additionally, the same old nonprofit money problem plague my thoughts daily. I am constantly thinking of creative/ innovative ways to bring in revenue to keep the organization afloat. Worried if we will have enough money to pay our employees, bills, or fully fund our upcoming production!
Thursday, as I lie in bed feeling horrible, I thought things would be so much easier for me if I just gave it all up. No more worrying about bills, payroll etc. I thought how nice it would be to just be free from worry, from stress, fear, anxiety. Oh, the relief of it all! For that moment, I wanted to give it all up. Oh, but God is so awesome! He had to bring me back to myself!
In the same moment that I felt the relief of giving it all up, I also felt the loss, disappointment, and sadness of not having what I’d worked so hard for over the last 13 years. God literally took me back to our production of The Wiz; as I sat in the back of the theater watching our actors perform on stage, I could see the audience members. There were children in the aisles singing and dancing along with the cast and this brought me to tears. For many of them it was their first-time experiencing live theater and I remember thanking God for allowing me to do what I do. God also reminded me of the kids in our after-school programs; most of them dancing, acting, and cooking for the first time in their lives all because of Bearden Productions. I had to thank God again for choosing me for the task. Then I think of my youngest daughter who was so shy, she was too afraid to sing in the church choir because she didn’t want people to look at her, but because of classes at Bearden Productions she is now a social butterfly. She has participated in 4 stage plays and had the lead role in Akeelah and the Bee. Her personality is unique, funny, bold and beautiful!
God also reminded me that He has always made a way out of no way at all, when it came to finances. Last summer alone was the most difficult yet! We had practically no finances to run our business, but somehow God made the resources available for us to service the families in our community. God reminded me that my love for the arts is a gift from Him and that as long as I continue to seek His face and acknowledge Him, He will always be there. He reminded me that I should never worry and that I should know this by now. After all He has done, why do I still worry? He informed me that my only setback is myself!
What would I do without our nonprofit? If I gave it all up? I would be miserable and unfulfilled with a huge void in my life. This is one of my gifts from God; and it is through God’s gifts that we are able to excel. But that does not mean there will never be challenges. I realize that now.
Adversities will come, but through it all it makes me stronger and I can honestly say I am a better leader because of them. After each hardship, I seek ways to avoid repeats, I research, I network, I ask for help. I understand now why the hard times come; and I am so grateful for them. I am better and my organization is better.
The day I wanted to give up my nonprofit was one of the best days of my life, because it opened my eyes to what life would be like without it.