Michelle Lenae is a St. Louis native who received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with from Spelman college. At the time, Michelle says she knew she wanted to do law but wasn’t sure what kind and she had an interest in healthcare. So upon graduation from Spelman, Michelle enrolled in the University of Texas School of Public Health to receive her Master’s degree, which is how she ended up in Houston where’s now living.
Currently she works as a Regional Operations Analyst for the 1115 Waiver, which is “essentially a Medicaid waiver that improves quality of care and expands access to low-income, uninsured and Medicaid beneficiaries.” When she’s not running analysis, Michelle is running her podcast Christ Over Culture. She received the vision for it in 2015 and launched it officially in 2016. “That’s what I do in my free time – learning and sharing my testimony,” Michelle says. “It’s definitely a hustle, if I’m not at work I’m doing Christ Over Culture stuff. It’s definitely a passion project for me.”
BGWP: What does it mean to you to be a black girl with purpose?
Michelle: What that means to me is being confident in what you were put here on this Earth to do. God chose each and every one of us to be here. There are people who could have been here and should have been here but are not here. Whether they didn’t make it here or have passed on – we’re here every day [and it’s for a reason].
Being a black girl with purpose means I’m in tune with God. We have conversations and I understand why I’m here every day. It’s submitting yourself to Him every day.It says “I’m confident in my calling and how God has wrapped me up in it.” Knowing your identity in your Creator is so much more powerful than holding your identity in something else that was created. You have to go to the Source.
BGWP: When did you feel like you realized your purpose or first got a glimpse of what your purpose is?
Michelle: I always knew I was an encourager. My friends have always described me as the optimistic one. I think that when I really got a glimpse into my purpose and how to channel something I have always known – 2015 in the fall is when the light bulb went off. It’s like God was saying “Michelle, you need to take all of your experiences and share them with others. How are you going to use your platform? What do you want it to be forever?” That’s when I got a glimpse into my purpose, faith has always been a central part of my life. It couldn’t just be my opinion or grounded in what I heard, it needed to be grounded in faith.”
I came from Spelman – this epicenter of black girl magic and was moved to a commuter school. It was very much like “you have to charter your own path.” I had a lot of struggles, wanting to quit grad school but I realized that God used those experiences to strengthen my faith.” I had to go through helping others. Being an encourager, marketing. Those were things I am able to channel through my podcast now.
BGWP: What is the hardest part about walking in your purpose?
Michelle: Being all in – that’s been a theme at my church but before I even heard it at my church God put it on my heart. Faith has always been a part of me but I haven’t always shared that on my personal [social network] page and I have struggled with it. When you have a business, you may have a personal page and a business page – I have my peers who I respect who I hope respect me too. And as I share on them, I find myself asking “Should they be separate, should they all be one?” I believe there should be a balance but you can’t hide who you are. You can’t be lukewarm. You’re either a Christian or you’re not. You shouldn’t have anything to hide. I just had to decide I don’t care if someone is going to be offended. “Ima just do it.” You can say ‘that’s the Jesus girl’ but I’m not doing it to please people. I’m doing it to please God. If God sees it and He’s pleased with it, that’s all that matters. I don’t care what anyone else says.
BGWP: What would you say to someone who doesn’t know where to start to find their purpose?
Michelle: Jot down the things that you really like to do and what you’re good at. There may be some things that overlap. Once you have your list, decide from your list what you would do for free and then pray on it. “These are the things I like, these are the talents and gifts you put inside of me God, how do you want me to use them?” While you’re waiting, because you may not get it right away, it wasn’t until after graduate school for me, keep doing [those things] for free, keep using them and God will reveal how He’s going to wrap that into your purpose, into His purpose.
BGWP: What’s your go to scripture when you find yourself lacking direction or in need of some type of motivation?
Michelle: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13
This scripture says, it doesn’t matter how tired you are. When you have a full time job and a side hustle you will feel exhausted. I say this scripture to myself and keep it pushing. I know then, it’s not by my might but by God’s might.
God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, of love and a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7
Many times we don’t think we’re qualified, old enough, have enough experience, we’re the only person of color in the room, the only woman in the room but this scripture keeps me calm and focused. I know what God says about me. I can overcome fear. I know what God has promised me.
In what way do you feel like God has stretched your faith in the course of the past year?
Michelle: The launch of Christ Over Culture was a faith stretcher. It started out with me being a millennial adjusting to the real world. I had just finished grad school and went through a spiritual transformation that started here in Houston. I knew God was calling me to something more and something greater and that’s when He gave me the podcast and told me it needed to be faith based. I kept saying ‘Are you sure God? I’m scared. I’m not a Bible scholar. I go to church like everybody else but I’m no expert. Are you sure? Is it supposed to be me? Surely you want someone who is more mature.’ And He said do it anyway.
When I tell you fear was the biggest hurdle before faith. It goes back to the obedience side of it. Obedience requires faith. You can’t obey without having faith. Starting COC was the biggest leaps of faith I’ve taken in my life. It tested me in the area of being a people pleaser and I had to overcome that. I cared a lot about what people thought about me. About what they would say about me. Starting Christ Over Culture put everything out there. [I was] talking about God of all things. Religion is one of the most controversial topics outside of politics.
To move forward and see it on a website, to record the first episode and now we’re about 13 episodes in, the fruits of the labor is really amazing. It’s nothing but God. I don’t have a background in journalism. My background is in Political Science and Healthcare Administration. It was nothing I studied or got a degree for. I didn’t know how to use the equipment or start a podcast. But I think that’s why He put me in that position so that He could get the glory.
I have a recent testimony:
One of the people who volunteers for the podcast told me about a conference that was happening. John Gray, an associate pastor at Lakewood Church and his wife were there. Adrienne Bailone and Israel Houghton were there. Rob Riley and a lot of other people were there. So we’re on the red carpet, I’m interviewing folks and the PR lady was impressed with us. This was our first true red carpet opportunity. She had to pick people only 4 people to interview Adrienne and Israel and she gave us the last interview.. Then she said I want you to have a sit down with Rob Riley – 1:1. It was just me, my cousin Brittany who helps with video and another girl who volunteers but people saw what we were doing.
[It showed me] when you step out on faith, God will do the rest. You’ve got to do your part and partner with God in order for your purpose to manifest itself and other people will recognize it too. God will open the doors for you but you have to step out in faith. He will give you every single thing you need to make it happen.
We wouldn’t be here if He just wanted us to fail. He created us in His image. He boasts and is proud of the good works that we do. He relishes in those things. Failure is not of God. That’s not His design or His intention for my life. When I fail that’s when it’s time to assess if this didn’t work out how it was supposed to, how do I realign myself with Him so it is successful?
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience?
Michelle: Your purpose is a process – he may reveal different things during different seasons. Don’t get discouraged if it’s not an epiphany or overnight thing that happens. Stay in tune with His will. As long as you stay connected to that source you will be able to walk in confidence and boldness in your purpose.
“Your purpose is a process.” – Michelle
Want to hear more from Michelle? Be sure to follow @christoverculture on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can also listen to the Christ Over Culture podcast on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher. Catch the latest episode here.
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