Friday, July 11, 2014

Letting Go

As I embark on this new life - I actually want to stop here. I've been calling this discovery of my Christianity and what that means a "journey." But in typing this, it hit me that it's not a journey - but, a new life.

I visited Mt. Calvary Baptist Church while in Maryland this past week and the pastor spoke about how when death happens, people like to call it a "transition." She was under the assumption that it was because it sounds nicer and more peaceful - but, people don't transition, they die. She correlated this to Jesus' death on the cross - saying, what if he had of just transitioned? He had to die because death is what allows new life.

While writing this, that message came to mind. Parts of me need to die in order for me to truly have new life. I've been using this phrase of a "journey", but this new perspective actually helps to set up what I came to speak about really well.

As I've been coming to understand what it truly means to live a Christian lifestyle, I've been met with challenges - whether it's what I consume (books, music, television), my activities, etc. I'm finding that there's been tension with who I want to become and where I currently am. It's because I've only accepted transition, not death.

Matthew 10:37
"If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine." - NLT

The first time I read that verse, I didn't quite understand. Was this saying to separate myself from my family or for mothers to separate from their children? 

Matthew 10:34-36  
"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be the members of his household." - NLT

Let that sink in! It really challenges you to consider the depths of your commitment to God. If you love anything or anyone more than Him, you are not worthy of being His. So, to answer my earlier question, yes. Anything that separates you from Him you need to let go of it.

I write this to speak on things I've been noticing in my own life as it relates to the people in my life. As I began to feel the call to draw nearer to God, I also notice the distance this is creating between me and people that I have in my "household." I am  starting to see things in people that no longer reflect my values or align with my new passions. It's growing increasingly difficult to fully commit myself because those around me aren't seeking to do the same.

Something I've noticed is that I have the tendency to try to rationalize and think that I am strong enough or wise enough to discern what's best for my life and what decisions I should make for my life. As children, we often had this feeling when your parents tell you not to hang around certain people because of how they are and you convince yourself that you're not impressionable. But, influence does happen. So, as adults, we most listen to our heavenly father and heed his warnings without question - not just in this, but all areas.

Proverbs 3:5
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." - NLT

I've come to a place where I'm being shown that there is only two directions for my life and only one leads to the path of righteousness. But, that means leaving things, desires, interests, opportunities, and people behind. I've been given the opportunity to have new life and in order for that to happen that means parts of my old life must die.

Life Happens

I never got into the groove of blogging regularly, so not sure if my absence was noticed. But, I unintentionally took a three month hiatus. But, I'm back.

I was going through some growing pains - I think that's a good way to describe it. A couple months ago, I was lost. Not quite sure of what my life had in store for me and feeling that everything had been thrown off of its axis. I don't want to paint the picture that I hit some devastating rock bottom - Thank God for that. But, when I looked inwardly, I just didn't like who I was or the trajectory I was on.

So, I made some changes. In my last few posts, I'd started speaking on my spirituality and  growing in that direction. I'm still on that journey, but I feel better than I've ever felt before. I've gained perspective in areas of my life that I didn't have before.

But, most importantly I learned to let go. I spent (and am still sometimes guilty of this) a lot of my time worrying. In hindsight, about nothing. There's such peace in giving those worries over to God and understanding that as a part of his plan the next move isn't your will or concern.

My life is not my own. I'm working to accept this and let go of my desires, wants, and wishes. I'm exploring ways to help and be of service to others - with the belief that this is where I will find true fulfillment.

I started this blog to record my journey to womanhood and exploring what that truly means.  I mentioned here the scripture that I was led to when initially creating this blog. A scripture that at the time, I'd misunderstood. But, with clarity and new outlook, I've found the way.

My blog will continue to document my journey, but using Him as my guide.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week In Review | Grace (4/13 - 4/20)

What did I learn last week? 
I learned of grace. I don't have what some would classify as major issues or problems. But, it's amazing how even though I see how insignificant my issues are in comparison to others I still fall victim to the same sorrow. Last week has led me to a state of peace regardless of my circumstances.

This grace has allowed me to put into perspective some of my more long-term goals. The main thing being that it's necessary to commit myself to Him before making the decision to commit myself to anyone else.
Which moment from last week was the most memorable and why? 
Hebrews 5:12. It taught me that nothing is a coincidence. I have been being led to start the journey I am on now, yet didn't heed certain signs I'd been receiving. I'll expound on this in another post.

What is the number one thing I need to accomplish this week?
Packing for an upcoming work trip.

What can I do right now to make the week less stressful? 
I'm not sure. I have such peace right now that I can't even think of allowing something stress me.

Am I carrying any excess baggage into the week that can be dropped? 
I still have some emotional things that find a way to surface them self.

What am I looking forward to during the upcoming week? 
Last week, I said clarity and I found exactly that. I'm going to say continued clarity because last week was great.

Have any of my recent actions moved me closer to my goals
I'm realizing that measuring my progress on my 101 goals is the wrong approach. There are bigger things I need to be accomplishing. Those things don't have a timeline though, but my journey of clarity will help all things in my life align. I'm excited about that.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Path to Understanding

If you've been reading my blog consistently, you'll notice that I've began to incorporate more spiritual undertones to my posts. I started this journey to "womanhood" because I was looking to grow into the woman that I'd always saw myself as being. Initially, I saw this in a plethora of areas: dressing better, cooking more, being fit, increased charisma. But, while on this journey I've been led to start on the inside and that mission has led me to God.

I stated in my post last Friday that I am no stranger to God. But, I'm coming to learn that my relationship with him has been very surface and that I need to embrace him in all aspects of my life, not just in prayer. I've been directed to testimonial videos of married couples and them speaking on living for God in your singleness.

As much as I hate to admit it, if I'm being honest, my journey to womanhood was kicked off in efforts to make myself more desirable for a man. I have yet to address it here, but if you've noticed, a lot of my most recent posts hint at the upset I've been dealing with regarding someone I had been dating. I've been really torn up about it and in response went into a lot of prayer as to why this happened and what was His purpose. Then in the midst of seeking these answers I was contacted by someone else and of course my first thought went to this being some sign from God.

But thank God for clarity! I came across a video about the enemy sending carbon copies of what we want to stray us from our purpose and God's plan for us. At that time, I wanted a male distraction - a rebound maybe? Let's just say, I don't think there was any mistake that I was contacted in my moment of weakness and emotional openness. God isn't the only one known for his timing.

I have received messages in my spirit, several times, that I should accept being single and find happiness within myself. Yet, that thought is always met by this other voice that keeps telling me that I can find that with someone else and that I need company on my journey. I'm now identifying that other voice as the enemy. I am coming to understand that just because I am single does not mean that I am alone, because God is with me.

I've always applied this laser focus on meeting "the one" and investing so much time and energy into dating, preparedness for dating, and all this has done was result in keeping me from building my relationship with God. I have been following my plan, not His.

In the latest video I watched, all from this couple, they spoke about how when you choose God you are accepting that your life is not your own and you let go of your wants and desires and accept those He has for you. I don't have any vices really, so it's not as if I need to let go of something that is considered major by most people. I'm not promiscuous, I don't really drink, or party, but rap music is my weakness. It sounds ridiculous but I can connect it to low points in my life and above else it's  been my connection to almost every guy that I've ever dated.

I've allowed my flesh to connect me with people versus what's in my spirit. I don't even have to go as far as dating, but in terms of the people I invite into my life that is the thread that oftentimes keeps me connected to them. It's also the one thing I struggle letting go of.

There's no conclusion to this. But, I wanted to share these thoughts as they've help me add clarity to the true purpose of my journey.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Week In Review | The Silver Lining (4/7 - 4/12)

What did I learn last week? 
I learned while reading, "Let Me Be A Woman," that discipleship means discipline. Elisabeth Elliot, the author, says, "Worship is an act, and this takes discipline. We are to worship 'in spirit and in truth' Never mind about the feelings. We are to worship in spite of them.”
Which moment from last week was the most memorable and why? 
Late last week, I stumbled across a series of videos on YouTube with Meagan Good and Devon Franklin. The series of videos as a whole were what I needed to hear to get me out of the slump I'd been in for the past couple of weeks. It also put into action some plans around my spirituality that I'd been sitting on.

What is the number one thing I need to accomplish this week? 
Action. However that word comes to fruition during this week.

What can I do right now to make the week less stressful? 
Make better use of my time.

Am I carrying any excess baggage into the week that can be dropped? 
I've finally let go of the baggage I was carrying. I'm definitely walking into this week much lighter.

What am I looking forward to during the upcoming week? 

Have any of my recent actions moved me closer to my goals
I'm beginning meatless Mondays. Wish me luck!

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Rose Is Still A Rose

While editing this post, I was watching an interview between Meagan Good and her husband, Devon Franklin. During this interview she says, "don't settle for anyone who doesn't see you as close to how God sees you - perfect."

That really struck me and inspired me to do something different with this post - start at the end. Since I have a tendency to talk in circles and usually don't get to the point until the end. I figured, I'd try something new and start backwards. Here goes...

I hate the dating process, because I'm always left thinking how many times can I be disappointed and come back from it? The walls that have to come down to trust someone new get higher each time and the one thing I don't want is to be tarnished for the one who does deserve me.

Back to the beginning...

I've been sitting on this topic for weeks trying to decide how I wanted to approach it. I figured it best if I just dove in and let things manifest on their own.The idea stemmed from my growing interest in religiously rooted reality programming. These shows push me to act more in my spirituality and increase my desire for an increased relationship with God.

I've always "known" God and the importance of having a relationship with Him. However, outside of that, I don't think I could truthfully say I know what it means to live a Christian lifestyle or what it is to be a Christian. I'm not even sure I know what the values of a Christian are - aside from the moral codes that have been weaved through society and instilled in me since youth.

While watching Preachers Daughters, my latest reality guilty pleasure, I was introduced to a girl on the show named Kolby. She radiates this raw sense of innocence and purity. It's not purity in the virginal sense, but pure as in untarnished by the realities of life and having this energy of believing that there is good in people and their intentions.

That thought is what inspired me to write this. Forever, I looked at purity as a sexual thing. That purity and virginity were synonymous. I would even go as far to say that's the definition society has placed upon it as well. Based in my experiences, a woman's innocence (purity) has been very wrapped in her sexuality.

Earlier this year, I'd began to evaluate the word innocence and its applicability to me - not because I'd been off whoring, but because I just didn't feel "innocent." It sparked from a conversation this past Christmas, in which some friends surfaced this term as a descriptor for me. I found myself irritated a bit because internally it didn't match the view I had of my self.

In a period of self reflection, I tied this back to my childhood. For reasons I'd prefer not to get into at the moment, around my preteen years, I'd developed a negative outlook as it related to my ability to be dependent on others. I realize that this has set the tone for a lot of my interactions from then to even now.

On the show, Kolby's mom is openly, and obviously, against premarital sex. But not because it's sex, but because of the affect she believes sex has on a woman's heart.

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

I'd never thought about that until seeing that episode or at least looked at my approach to life through that lens. But, the concept of remaining pure in one's heart stood out to me. It made me look at how fragile the heart and the emotions that stem from there are. We all deal with things differently, but speaking from my perspective, repetitious bouts of sadness or disappointment lead me down a path of negativity and avoidance.

This brought me to the idea of purity rings and how it's the fathers that give these to their daughters. I used to think it was tied to the concept of women being a commodity and this exchange of rings as further emphasis on his ownership of her until marriage. But, the more I thought about it, I believe that it goes back to the saying of how a girl's father is her first boyfriend.

I'd misconstrued the full meaning of that as well, thinking that it was solely based in a girl's father being the first man to make her feel special or beautiful - in essence, building her self esteem. But, I now see the Christian view to this. As her husband is eventually responsible to do, a father's duty is to protect his daughter's heart -the essence of her being.

To start back at the beginning, which was originally the end, I hate the dating process because I'm always left thinking how many times can I be disappointed and come back from it? The walls that have to come down to trust someone new get higher each time and the one thing I don't want is to be tarnished for the one who does deserve me.

But at my age, and given my circumstances, the duty to protect my heart is my own. As Meagan Good said, "don't settle for anyone who doesn't see you as close to how God sees you - perfect." Someone that views you as such, I believe, would willing take on the responsibility of protection. After all, isn't that what most women want? To feel protected.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Total Truth Thursdays | Kids: Concessions, Not The Kind Involving Popcorn

I abandoned this link up a couple of Thursdays ago, but decided to start back today with this week's topic - parenting and/or kids.

Since I'm not a parent, I'm in no position to preach on parenting. So, I decided to focus on my views around having kids. First, I have to tell you all how much my mom hates when I refer to people's children, especially my future ones, as kids. She thinks it's impersonal and not endearing. Oh, Mothers.

Anyhow, can I start by saying... pregnancy pact or nah? It seems like every week I'm finding out that another person is having or has had a baby. Unfortunately, my mom has noticed this trend as well, which has resulted in conversations about her relocating (she doesn't want to be the "other" grandma), baby names, and other topics that currently have no particular relevance to me.

Don't get me wrong I've been speaking babies on my womb since at least twelve - yet, several factors have prevented the conception of such children. The number one factor being the situation in which I'd like for this child of mine to come into existence.

I grew up in a single parent home and because of this I've mentally mapped out what it would take for me to raise a child on my own. Unfortunately, statistics also drive a lot of this thinking as well. Not that I wish this fate on myself or my future offspring, but the odds are stacked in opposition (being that I'm a black woman with an unwavering preference for black men). Statistically speaking, the odds are that my child's father and I will not raise the child as a couple and it's also likely that said father may not fulfill his parental responsibilities to his up-most potential. Due to this, two criteria have surfaced regarding what needs to exist in order for me to consider becoming someone's mother. The first being that I'm able to support my child financially, on my own. The second being that I am able to find a person that equally understands the meaning of becoming a parent and is willing to make any necessary sacrifices - as I would.

To that last point, as much I'd love to have a child and create posts of isms, I don't see parenthood as the right decision for me [now]. I believe that there are a lot of concessions I would be required to make and I'm not ready to sacrifice my sense of self and adapt to the title of being someone's mother. I say that because I'm the type of person that focuses their full attention to whatever requires it most at that time - relationships, work, etc. I fear that children would serve as a distraction that would be more harmful than good at this point in my life. The same goes for relationships, but I digress.

My above views aren't to say that mothers don't have their own identity or that in order to be a great mom you have to forsake your goals or ambitions. But, in the event that is required, I would like to be in a position to make that sacrifice. Which, currently I am not.

So, in the meantime, to all of you who've bit the bullet, or got hit by it, hats off to you. But as for me, and my womb, I'll try to keep my ovaries from influencing my ability to reason. Ladies, you know that thing that happens when you see an adorably cute child...I can't be the only one!

For those without children, but that want them, what are your reasons for postponing motherhood?

Total Truth Thursday