Wise Counsel

Written by Naome Seifu 

“Listen to counsel and receive instruction so that you may be wise later in life. Many plans are in a person’s heart, but the Lord’s decree will prevail.”
Proverbs 19:20-21
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About 2 years ago I realized I was in a place of stagnancy and needed to be discipled and mentored. I never realized how this journey would become the most challenging, painful and emotion-packed roller coasters I would have ever experienced. In my pursuit of seeking wise counsel, I was exposed to my sin, I was confronted with my weakness’ insecurities and brokenness.

As an adult I have always understood that taking charge of your mental health and spiritual growth is something that should be sharpened and prioritized in everyone’s lives. But I never took the time to prioritize that part of my life until I was preparing for marriage.

Every turn I took, it was defeat and strenuous heartbreak. But I knew I could not give up. The journey itself in finding someone for me to walk with in the faith was overwhelming and challenging. Every moment of every second I would ask why this was happening to me. Why was I getting overlooked? Why was I left in pain? Why could I not find someone who saw the value I know I have? All those questions have ONE common denominator – the word “I”.

It wasn’t until now, 2 years later that i was able to discover how treacherous sin is in my life. 

The focus of “I” and not “Him” was what made this journey that much more difficult. I slowly learned that I should have let God take reign, surrendering myself to Him and letting Him bring me the person I need to grow with.

I bring this experience to light now, in all transparency (as difficult and hard as it is) because there is a greater story to this. and that is, God is faithful. 

I bring this experience to light now, in all transparency (as difficult and hard as it is) because there is a greater story to this. And that is, God is faithful. A verse that has recently been heavy on my heart is this:

“The Lord is the one who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

In the profound book “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life in Christ”, author Peter Scazzero breaks down the importance of understanding and processing our emotions.

“Ignoring our emotions is turning our back on reality. Listening to our emotions ushers us into reality. And reality is where we meet God…Emotions are the language of the soul. They are the cry that gives the heart a voice.”

It was this that brought me to a place of clarity in understanding that wise counsel, discipleship, and therapy were all very important resources needed in my life. I’m grateful for the understanding of what marriage counseling opened my eyes to – mentorship. And I’m grateful for what mentorship is teaching me.

It wasn’t until I let God do the work in fully leading me to wise counsel that my life changed forever. I found a person I wasn’t dependent on – but someone who is teaching me how to depend on Jesus. I found someone who decided they would take the responsibility to walk with me and be my person in my growth. It was through prayer and God’s shepherding that brought me to someone who has given me a sense of hope and faith in myself that I can attain the goals and life that I want in the spiritual realm.

My next goal now is in developing a deeper level of wise counsel by seeking therapy. 

In the journey of seeking wise counsel, I connected with my pastor in Atlanta to lead my fiancé and I in marriage counseling. It was then, through the first session, that I realized how necessary wise counsel is in my life – it was that moment that I became aware of the accountability I needed for myself in taking charge of my emotions, spirituality and mental health.

Some important factors my fiancé and I needed in a marriage counselor was someone who was married for 20+ years with children, is in ministry, and would be someone we look up to and who’s life reflects one we admire and strive towards. Through the counseling we received thus far, we have learned about wisdom in ways we never understood.

Every day I am thankful for the moments I get to be transparent with our leader that is walking with us as we enter into one of the most important covenants we make before the Lord. 

In Timothy Keller’s, “The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God” he breaks down the substance of the gospel by saying, “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” Being introduced to that perspective of the gospel convicted me. Though we carry our sinful nature – yet we are loved, cleansed, forgiven and accepted by the Father through Christ Jesus.

So, in my testimony of the impact wise counsel has covered my life with, I have hope that the person reading this will find someone who fits them best. Who will guide them and fulfill them in ways unimaginable.

But you will find the best counsel not through your own strength or might, but through your obedience to God’s choice for you. 

Your decisions are a reflection of your relationship with Christ. Nurture that one first. He will take care of the rest.

Hawwi Edao

Written by Hawwi Edao

Hawwi Edao graduated from the University of Miami in May 2020 with a J.D., cum laude, and in 2017 with a B.S. in Public Health and a minor in Business Law and Health Sector Management & Policy. In college, she received a number of academic scholarships, was a member of the President’s List and the Dean’s List, and was named as a Civic Scholar through the Butler Center for Leadership & Service. She served as a Resident Assistant on campus, a Student Assistant with the Public Interest Resource Center at the School of Law, and a leader in Student Orientation and the College Council. During her time in law school, Hawwi was appointed as Class Governor by the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Law Student Division and was 1 of 4 first-year law students inducted into the Honor Society of Bar & Gavel. Hawwi also interned at a civil rights firm that primarily focuses on prisoners’ rights, and she served as a student attorney representing kids in the foster care and dependency system. Hawwi is an incoming associate at Foley & Lardner LLP, an international law firm.

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My path to being a lawyer is a combination of serendipity and faith.

I would be lying if I said my childhood dream job was to be a lawyer, or that law school was the plan I set out when I completed high school. Instead, I went with the flow and learned to embrace the beauty of change on my path to law school.

UPBRINGING
I was born in Ethiopia and immigrated to the United States at a very young age. I spent my childhood growing up in Portland, Oregon with my two brothers, but I also knew that I did not want to spend my life living in just one city. Instead, I wanted to challenge myself in a new environment, learn about different cultures, and travel. 

I applied to colleges all over the United States.

When I was accepted to my alma mater, University of Miami, I never once considered visiting the very school (or even the city) where I would spend the next four years of my life before submitting my seat deposit. All I knew was that I felt called to be there and was prepared to experience something different. By the grace of God, I received a scholarship that made this opportunity possible. Looking back, moving to a city that I knew nothing about and did not know a single soul required a huge leap of faith. It challenged me to grow in ways I never expected, define my identity, and rely on God through times of uncertainty. 

The further you get out of your comfort zone, the closer you get to your purpose. 

Growth is hardly ever comfortable. Just like faith, growth requires us to jump without seeing exactly what lies below. In truth, it is in the midst of the unknown, in the unfamiliar environments, and through the mysterious encounters, that we find our true selves. 

EXPERIENCE IN COLLEGE
I spent my early years in college as a Microbiology major and was on a medical school track for the first two and half years of college. It was not until my junior year that I decided to go to law school. This decision was largely influenced by my experience taking elective courses “just for fun” that explored business law, health policies, and the criminal justice system. Simultaneously, I realized that I was miserable in my science courses and needed to recalibrate the direction of my career. 

I spoke with advisors, consulted family members, and prayed again and again for clarity. It all led me down one road – law school. Although I knew it was a risk switching my major during my junior year of college, and ambitious of me to believe that I could complete a different degree within two years while studying for the LSAT and applying to law schools, I did it anyways.

Career paths are not meant to be straightforward.

I knew if I wanted to be successful in the future, I had to make a change and have faith in the process. When I look back at how much uncertainty and fear of failure I felt during that particular season of my life, I can’t help but chuckle. God had greater plans for me than I could have imagined. In 2017, I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Public Health and minors in Business Law and Healthy Sector Policy. Around the same time, I received a full-tuition scholarship to law school that honestly changed my life. 

LAW SCHOOL CHALLENGES AND SUCCESSES
Oh boy, law school was quite the rollercoaster. Being one of a handful of black students in an academic setting was a feeling I’ve experienced my entire life, but professional school has a tendency of magnifying the “black sheep” feeling even more.  Maybe it had to do with sitting in classrooms that discussed the glaring systemic injustices of the legal system, the lack of black professionals I would encounter at networking events, or perhaps the culmination of all my experiences.

I questioned how I would be successful in a field where black women make up less than 2% of lawyers. 

It is no secret that the legal field poorly reflects society in terms of cultural representation. However, “why me” turned to “why not me” quickly.

I decided to go to law school because I wanted to have a seat at the table. 

The occasional self-doubt did not entirely disappear, but I learned to be conscious of my fears so that I could proactively challenge them. I found opportunities to network with black attorneys in my community, join multicultural organizations at my law school, and seek out mentors that inspired and guided me through my law school experience.   

I took this confidence into job interviews during the second year of law school. I received offers from multiple firms and eventually accepted a Summer Associate position at a V100 global law firm. For 10 weeks, I worked with exceptional lawyers across the country on international matters and built incredible relationships. This dream of an experience led to a job offer as a full-time attorney once I successfully complete the bar exam.

TRAVEL
The best thing I did in law school for my personal growth was to travel as much as I could. During my last semester of law school, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Madrid, Spain. As excited as I was, part of me was afraid to move to another country that spoke a language I couldn’t speak (despite living in Miami for 6.5 years ha). I had never traveled alone internationally, so I knew this experience would force me to step out of my comfort zone once again. 

I found me a cozy, little apartment just a 15 minute walk away from the law school I was attending. 

Outside of class, I spent most of the week exploring the city, trying the local cuisine (paellas are God’s gift to earth), and brushing up on my elementary Spanish skills at the local bakeries. On the weekends, I would plan trips with my new Spanish friends around Europe. From Italy to Portugal, France to England, and all throughout Spain, I got to experience parts of the world I never would have imagined. By the end of the semester, I visited 9 countries! Although my trip was cut short due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, those three months of my life were unforgettable. 

Life is truly what you make it. 

I could have spent law school tucked away in my favorite corner cubicle at the library all three years, but I wanted to experience life beyond the four walls of my comfort zone. Spain was the perfect opportunity for me to do just that. Traveling is a life-changing experience; if you have the means and opportunity to explore another country, TAKE IT.

You never know what experiences are lying at the other end of the plane ride. 

The next step for me is taking the Florida bar exam this summer and starting my career as a commercial litigator. I am excited to be a part of the 2% of Black women attorneys in America and even more thrilled to serve as a mentor for young women of color, like myself, as they navigate law school and beyond. Paying it forward is not only important, it is necessary.

Black women are capable, qualified, and powerful when we come together and lift each other up. 

This journey has left me with many lessons. Below are my top 10 takeaways from my experiences. 

  1. Step out of your comfort zone. Growth requires it. 
  2. Seek out mentors. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 
  3. Be kind to yourself. Take a moment to breathe (it’s OKAY, I promise). 
  4. Set plans, but realize that the true quality of a successful person is flexibility. 
  5. Grow in your faith. God’s plans are greater than yours. 
  6. Self-Affirmations will keep you going. Remind yourself that you are capable and qualified, always. 
  7. Take a break when you need to. Self-care and mental health are a part of success.
  8. Be confident in yourself. You are made in the image of God. 
  9. Travel! Travel! Travel! We are the sum of our experiences. 
  10. Pay it forward!!! 

FOllow Hawwi and follow her journey here 

Noahamin Taye

Written by Noahamin Taye

Noahamin Taye, a wanderlust, a creative, a woman who always challenges herself to pursue genuine love even through fear are some of the ways you can describe Noahamin Taye. No matter where she is, Noahamin stays true to her roots as a woman of faith, coming from a background as an Ethiopian-Eritrean American raised in the suburbs of metro-Atlanta. At this point of time, she’s a 24-year old art director currently based in Los Angeles, and also the founder of the IG blog: @brokebutmakeitbougie.

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I honestly believe it’s been my intimate relationship with art that’s supported me to where I am now.

Discovering my love and skill for art early on shaped a lot of my perspective. Especially when it came to adapting in different social environments, art has always been a way that I communicated and sustained/created confidence. I remember transitioning from private to public school, and bringing my sketchbooks to class as a way for people to start conversation or find some interest in me. It’s always been a way to get people to see me, and never failed me.

It was following my passions that’s gotten me to where I am now.

That process is never easy  because there’s a mix of doubt either within yourself or around you, and sometimes people who just flat out disagree. For me, there were a lot of people around me who were making practical decisions and compromising their dreams, and that never sat right with me. If it wasn’t for my mom’s faith and encouragement that this was “between me and God, I just need to trust in Him.” I don’t know where I would be.

My dreams and passions have always been so personal from then on.

Going to school out-of-state to Syracuse University, studying abroad and interning in Florence, Italy, and then getting to intern and live in NYC. I feel like for some people these things might sound expected based on the performance of work I put out, but honestly it was all faith. God met me where I was at, and simply provided.

As a first-generation student who didn’t come from wealth, I can’t tell you how many times I felt “not enough”. During my most challenging moments in school is when I started to lean on God more.

One of the prayers that changed my life was asking God to help me do my best, and that He’d simply fill in the rest. 

It was getting through school that gave my faith proof that it worked. So when it came to making decisions based off of my passions, that was easy for me. I decided LA was for me through a lot reflection, prayer and journaling. I moved out here to pursue my creative ventures in hopes of being an art director. It was literally by God’s grace everything worked out [because when I tell you the constant transitions that were happening… sis]. I started off sleeping on my aunt’s couch for like a month, working in retail, to then finally interning at an advertising agency which later hired me full time as an art director. 

About to reach year two in LA, and although life has been looking very “uncertain” in 2020. Mind you, I also recently got laid off. It’s been sort of a blessing, a redirection and push for my creativity and also an end to being passive.

2020 is really giving me the time to be still, to align myself even more with my passions, and to really fight for the things i believe in . 

I’m excited for what’s to come, and the change we are going to see. In everything,  I’m putting my faith and trust that God’s next move for all of us is bigger and better than we could have imagined. 

Claiming that part. 

Follow Noahamin’s project @brokebutmakeitbougie
and her personal page @noahamin