In Bad Girl Gone Good, Part I, I wrote about the first two stages of my transformation from a bad Christian to a spiritual woman. Here is the rest of the story.
A pivotal moment in my transformation was reading The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears by Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church (NCC). When Mark and his wife founded NCC in Washington, DC in 1996, nineteen people attended their first real church service. Today, thousands of people attend services in seven locations throughout the metropolitan DC area. The Circle Maker is the story of NCC’s growth and Mark’s development as a pastor and writer, as well as a call to arms. He encourages the reader to “Dream Big. Think Long. Pray Hard.”
While reading The Circle Maker, I decided to stop selling myself short. I focused for five months on identifying my “big dream.” It took a lot of thinking and soul searching, but eventually I found the answer. More than a decade in education had shown me how much disparity in educational opportunities and outcomes existed for low-income students of color. I wanted to focus on those issues. The job I had coaching teachers was important, but it wouldn’t allow me to deal with inequity.
So, I started networking and interviewing. I searched high and low, and took advantage of every Penn and Princeton connection to find a new professional opportunity. I prayed hard, as did a small group of professional women with whom I met before work one morning a week. In March 2012, I gave notice that I would not be returning to my job for another school year. That summer, I poured my heart into working on a presidential campaign, while I continued interviewing.
I thought long about my future, about where I wanted to be in five or ten years. I was able to narrow it down to two very different things: I either wanted to be a civil rights lawyer dealing with educational issues, or I wanted to teach yoga and run my own studio. When I couldn’t decide between the two, I decided to pursue both, trusting that the answer would come in due time. At the end of the summer of 2012, I enroll in a yoga teacher training program and began studying for the LSAT.
Make a PLAN
I had first thought about becoming a yoga instructor several years earlier while I was living in Jersey City. While attending a yoga retreat in early January 2009, I was challenged to imagine my ideal life. What would it look like in five years?
Because I had learned to be still and get honest, I was able to express the true desires of my heart during that retreat:
After I envisioned my ideal life during the retreat, I was urged to create a five-year plan to achieve them. Where should I be in three years to make that five-year goal a reality? Where should I be in a year? Six months? Three months? Finally, the facilitators urged me to think of small, baby steps I could take to get started.
In the 30 days after the retreat, I:
For the next six years, I kept taking small steps toward my goals. Several times a year, I would look at that goal sheet and decide where to focus, which goal I wanted to achieve next. I bought furniture for my new apartment in DC and made it a home. I stopped traveling, so I could make friends and build a life. I found a church and became a part of a regular fellowship. I started saving, and bought my house a few years later.
Six years later, most of the goals I set out during that retreat have come true. I own my home and a yoga studio. I also teach several yoga classes a week. Some of the goals on that original list have changed, like becoming an attorney, while others have been added, like annual trips to foreign countries. Nothing would have been possible without a plan.
ACT, and Surrender to God
Last summer, I was unexpectedly terminated from my nonprofit management job. The week after my last day of work, I got a call from a real estate developer in my neighborhood. He wanted to know if I would be interested in opening a yoga studio in a new commercial property near my home. I was shocked, dismayed, and excited all at the same time. The questions flooded my mind,
How did this developer find me?
In my quest for answers, I talked with a lot of people, attended numerous entrepreneurship trainings, and read as much as I could. I also prayed A LOT. I would go on hour-long prayer walks before I started my day, beginning at my front door, walking down a hill, and turning onto a major thoroughfare in my community. I walked for two miles along that avenue, singing, praying, reciting the psalms, and crying out to God. I walked past the new development as well as numerous other establishments that had been around for decades. As I neared the DC-MD line, I turned around and headed back home.
I prayed for faith. I prayed to trust God. I prayed for wisdom and discernment. I also prayed for courage and conviction. I prayed for tenacity and the ability to persevere. I always ended, “Lord, your will be done. Show me your will.” Less than nine weeks later, Serenity Place DC, your community yoga studio, opened on Labor Day.
I serve an amazingly faithful God. I blamed myself for my struggles as a young Christian. God was thrilled that I was even trying. I tried to force the change. He knew it would happen at just the right time. There was so much hurt and pain and trauma that had to be processed in order for Christ’s light to shine through.
Today I have spirituality and faith that run deeper than church; they are rooted in knowing the awesome God that I serve. I can look at the talents, opportunities, and interests that He has placed in my life, and know that I have a unique mission to fulfill on this Earth. My studio is a part of that calling. It is a place where the neighborhood comes together to focus on health and wellness. It is amazing to see young and old, Black and White, affluent and not-so-affluent, come together on their yoga mats, where those differences do not matter.
I also notice how peaceful, kind and patient I am with my students—and loving I am toward the teachers at the studio. Those are not words that anyone would have used to describe me in my twenties when I was angry all the time. I am grateful to be able to let go of that anger, and replace it with love. That’s the accomplishment of which I am most proud.
Crystal Moore began her wellness quest in 2003 after being diagnosed with lupus. Her quest has led her to embrace yoga, faith, exercise, healthy eating, and relationships. Share her journey.