Forward. For Real: A Conversation with Tera Carissa

Published on January 5th, 2015

My favorite thing about the New Year is that it reminds me that we all have a chance to start things over and this time, “get it right.” Realizing that this task is often much easier said than done, I wanted to give readers some true, sound principles for living more abundantly in 2015. And while I do have a very deep, personal relationship with the Creator and I like to think that I have plenty of good, common sense (not to mention lots of entertaining life experiences to use as case studies), I didn’t feel adequately equipped to tackle this subject alone. So, luckily for you, I called an old friend to help me out with this one.

Tera Carissa is simply amazing. Not only is she a world-renowned minister and teacher, ordained prophetess, published author and successful businesswoman, but also a loving wife, loyal friend, and beautiful, well-rounded, down-to-earth woman. I’m honored that she took the time to answer the questions I’ve compiled on behalf of my readers and friends, and I’m delighted to share her thoughts with you. Blessings below.

KJ: So Tera, let’s get right to heart of this “New Year, New Me” attitude that so many of us have right now. See, I think that plenty folks have been taught to believe that we are expected to achieve certain accomplishments by certain chronological ages and timeframes. For example, according to some of our mamas (or grand-parents or aunties or well-meaning friends, or whomever—you fill in the blank), we are supposed to find both a spouse and lifelong career in our twenties, purchase our dream home by age thirty, have two-point-five children before thirty-five, get that job promotion by forty-five, retire at age sixty-five, and become an expert in knitting by seventy. So for some, the prospect of starting a new year often brings with it the stress and anxiety of trying to accomplish all of these self-imposed deliverables by their specified timeframes, sometimes resulting in rushed decisions that aren’t right for us. How can we set realistic goals in the coming year? And what should we do while we wait?

Tera Carissa: Honor who God has created you to be. While parents, co-workers, and friends may have the best intentions towards you, they may not be privy to God’s plans for you. You can’t get clear on what to do and in what time frame to do it in, until you are clear on who you are and why you are here. The best way to get clear on those questions is to spend alone time with God. Ask Him why you were created, then wait for the answer. God may not open the heavens and speak to you in a loud voice accompanied by thunder and lightning. But, He will speak. Be open to how He chooses to. It may be through nudges and ideas, but listen.

If you’re struggling to hear who you are meant to be, consider what you have been through. Being an avid Christian, I believe scripture shows us that our past, our pain, and our passion are clues that help us identify why we were created. Are you a survivor of child abuse? Does the thought of a child being abused enrage you? Are you passionate about children’s rights? Those are clues: work with children. No experience in your life is meant to be wasted. Experience is a developer.

Next, be willing to travel your own path, knowing that your peace depends on it. Contrary to popular belief, a particular profession doesn’t guarantee financial stability. Your passion, combined with hard work, strategy, and preparation guarantee that. I talk to so many people who say I want to be a teacher but it doesn’t pay enough. My response: how much is enough? For me, I could easily survive on a teacher’s salary because part of who I am and love being is a thrifty shopper. I take pride in buying items I want that have been deeply discounted. I always say: when I become a millionaire, I’m still not buying Christian Louboutins, because that is not what I want. But, I had to go through a process to uncover that.

That process for me was and still is fasting, because fasting helps you to disconnect from the extras in life and helps you focus on the essentials. What really matters to you? Do you really want to be married? Do you really want five cars? What matters to you. Disconnecting through a fast will help you realize what you want, versus what you were tempted to want because of what other people have or said you should have.

Around this time of the year, many faith groups participate in The Daniel Fast. While there is nothing wrong with this food related fast, try fasting from television, secular music, unneccessary phone conversations, social media, hanging out, etc. Instead, pray, meditate, ask yourself questions, journal, take an enrichment class. Getting to the root of who you are, what you’ve been through, and who you want to become are excellent tools that keep you from fulfilling others expectations of you.

KJ: You travel the world teaching and inspiring others to live their best lives by following Christ. What principles can you share that may help us to live life more abundantly in 2015 despite whatever our current circumstances?

Tera Carissa: Focus on what matters. Abundance is relative. Its definition will be different for everyone. Someone without a job can feel abundant because they have perfect health. A person going through a divorce can feel abundant, because at their core, they never really desired to be married. Identify what abundance means to you and adjust your perspective accordingly. That means if abundance for you is having your needs met and some of your wants, don’t allow yourself to envy a billionaire who just bought a private jet. Cheer them on but remember what abundance means to you. Contentment is a discipline.

If there is a gap between where you are and where you want to be, come up with a plan to get there. Don’t try to tackle every area at once. That can be overwhelming and very little will get done. Instead, remember you’re not in competition with anyone; there are no winners or losers and life is a journey.  You won’t be able to do it all in one day, one month, or one year. But, you can make progress one step at a time.

KJ: Yes, we indeed can (while nodding my head). Now—I love your personal motto—we all make mistakes. But we don’t have to allow our mistakes to make us. Move on and GROW FORWARD. This year, how can we incorporate this advice into our everyday living?

Tera Carissa: Make a list of every lesson you learned in 2014. Study it. Identify the trigger that caused you to make that mistake to begin with, then come up with a strategy to respond differently to that trigger. You can’t control events and other people, but you can control your response.

And finally, remember, life is not perfect; it is managed. You have to manage your life like you are supposed to manage your checkbook—daily. At the end of each day, think through what you liked about the day, what you wish you could have done differently, etc. Make this your daily routine.

KJ: Thank you, Tera Carissa. And may you be blessed this year, more than ever before.

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