“You are the source of my life. You are the source of my strength. I lift my hands in total praise to You.” – Richard Smallwood

America. We stink.

I thought of several short essays I could write for this post of affirmation, but this is what resonates right now.

I could’ve written an eloquent letter to my black men letting them know just how much I loved them; how I admire them for their poise and persistence during this tumultuous time.

I could’ve written a letter to people with fairer skin about the plight of the people and why it’s time that the message of Black Lives matters started to resonate.

I could’ve written a message full of anger and and hate. But that’s not my style.

It hasn’t been for quite some time.

THE PROVERBIAL CHIP ON EVERYONE’S SHOULDER

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about getting past the “b” word. I allowed people to assume what the “b” word was. In reality, the “b” was for bitter.

I’m not sure if bitter ever has a place? In food, it’s hardly ever regarded as a positive note. In life, it’s what we like to call people who seem to have this everlasting chip on their shoulder.

And that’s what we’re seeing today. A lot of bitterness living out loud.

People are bitter – standing with the presumptuous chip on their shoulder. But the reason for the chip is different.

Blacks have a chip on their shoulder because from the day the majority of us were brought to this country, we’ve had to fight. We’ve had to fight to live. Fight to eat. Fight to get married. Fight to rest. And for centuries, we’ve been fighting for equal rights.

Generation after generation, we’ve run, hidden, fought physically, picketed, marched, and staged sit-ins. In the midst of all this, generation after generation, we’ve continually been told we’re not good enough. We’re ugly. We’re only good enough for sports. We’re not smart. We’re stupid. We are not the elite. And when we finally do something for ourselves, we’re told we’re racist and separatists.

No homie. We’re just trying to survive.

This is survival, yo.

And then there are people who don’t look like us who have a bitter chip on their shoulder for multiple reasons: Some think we’re taking their jobs. Some think we’re not good enough for the sons or daughters. Some think we shouldn’t have the same rights. They think we’re inferior.

Then there are those who think we should “be over” the “slavery thing.” Some think we haven’t worked hard enough; they think we’re riding on a free pass. They think our men are dangerous or drug dealers.

Then there are some who feel they are (and may be being) blamed for the plight and hurt of people of color. So they rebel. Or maybe they harbor feelings of hurt because they can’t understand why they have to bear the burden of things that happened long before they were even born.

Ultimately, this bitterness stems from hurt, fear, pride, and rejection — sometimes all combined.

IT AIN’T JUST YOU

I know because I have experienced this bitterness. It’s a bitterness that I have to keep in check — appropriate it for the right moments, places and times.

Yes, I get ticked off when I go to work and don’t know whether the person walking the halls are friend or foe. Yes, I question whether or not a “friend” is no longer speaking to me because of my outspoken nature surrounding the Black Lives Matter campaign. Yes, I get ticked off when I think that I may not be getting a promotion or treated fairly because of my race.

But then I’m reminded of my friends who’ve brought their kids around me. Laughed with me. Joked around with me. Watched me cry. Those FRIENDS are white.

I’m reminded of the promotion and support given by my white boss. I’m reminded of the encouraging words white people have said to me as they’ve watched very vulnerable steps I’ve taken in this journey. I’m reminded of the white people – adults and teens – who joined the picket line with me…and those who stopped to simply say “we agree.”

If all people who didn’t look like us were our enemies, I wouldn’t have stories like this.

In the midst of all of this, we must stop. Pause. Remember racism is an individual thing.

Just like we don’t like stereotypes to be applied to us, we must implement the same thinking and behavior.

Finally, I’ve learned we must be willing to be vulnerable enough to share our stories and compassionate enough to hear the other side. We must be willing to speak as well as to listen, even to those who don’t share the same view points.

C IS FOR CONVERSION

If we don’t have any other example, we can think about our conversion to Christ.

There was a time when we were on the other side of the Jesus fence. We couldn’t stand Christians. We just didn’t get them. And thought, why would we give up our “freedom.”

Those on the other side of the fence knew there was so much more to gain on the other side, but we had to be willing to cross to the other side.

America. We have to be willing to cross to the other side. There’s so much to gain on the other side of hate, anger, separation and inequaltiy.

To my fellow black Americans, be righteously angry, but sin not.

To my fellow white brothers and sisters, know that all we want is equality. Not perceived equality, but one where we don’t have to worry about who is calling us the “N” word behind our back. One where we don’t have to hide who we are when we go to work…or to a restaurant…or to a club…or to the mall. One where we don’t have to worry about being “the good black.” Where you’re no longer referred to as “one we can trust.”

We should get to a point where we’re simply referred to as people. PEOPLE.

Is it going to take time to get there? Absolutely.

Will we ever get there? Probably not.

But we can get closer.

We’re closer than ever before so let’s keep moving.

HOW TO GET THERE

It all starts with you. It’s a matter of your heart. His heart. Her heart.

The bible says that what a man thinketh, so is he. It also says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

We have a lot of things to unlearn, America. Ignoring it like a moldy leftover pot that’s been left in the sink for too long isn’t going to help. The only way we’re going to get the smell to go away is by putting in the work.

Examine your biases. Check yourself. Identify how you can make a difference. Then do the work.

If it’s by picketing, do it. If it’s by breaking down the barriers and having the tough discussions with people who look like you and those who don’t look like you, do it. If it’s by simply affirming within yourself that you won’t let another day go by living in hate, do it. Do whatever it takes to bring unity AND equality.

It’s time to start cleaning up this stinkin’ thinking and move on because #weareone.

AFFIRMATION

I will not go another day with hate and unforgiveness in my heart. It starts and ends with me. I will be the difference.

PRAYER

Lord, help me to not allow my heart to be a residence for hate. Lord, replace hate, bitterness, and anger with your joy and peace. Help me to live the life that you’ve taught me to live; one where I love my neighbors as I love myself. Lord, the world is ugly; America is ugly, but there is not one hurt that you cannot heal. Help us heal. Help us to not only cover up the bruises. Let us feel the hurt. But then let us move on. Let us do the hard work. Help us to cry in front of one another. To argue, but utltimately to not let the sun go down on our wrath. Bring unity. Bring joy. Bring genuine laughter and peace.

Lord, we will lift our eyes to you. Amen.

See you next Wednesday.

Gina

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WHERE ELSE TO FIND ME

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“You are smart…you are enough.”

I was recently presented with an opportunity to work alongside a cohort of professionals on one of my organization’s internal projects. We’re in the very early stages of this project, where the foundation is being laid. Key questions are being asked and the work that is fundamental to the identity of this project is being executed.

As with any project, the work is being divvied. My friend drew the lucky straw of drafting a few statements to represent the groups purpose.

After reading these statements, I was left a bit perplexed. Thesaurus-laden buzzwords and corporate jargon had drowned out the message. I asked my friend to rewrite the statements in plain English. Though she knew I had good intentions, she was offended.

I wanted her to see that her message, the one she believed in, the one without the colorful language was enough. Adding colorful language not only took away from the message, but it made the reader work harder. In fact, I had to read the statements more than once to deduce what was being said. And in the end I was still confused and frankly, frustrated.

But this also created a great opportunity for feedback. While, my colleague wasn’t happy with my feedback, I had the opportunity to follow up with what was in my heart.

My feedback had less to do with the message and a million times more to do with what I believed, and what she needed to believe, about herself.

I had an opportunity to tell her that she was smart and that she didn’t need to rely on anyone else to tell her that. She didn’t need the “extras” to impress anyone. Simply being who she was was enough. And when she delivers her message from her heart, that would be enough.

I had an opportunity to tell her that she was, and is, enough.

 

 

Affirmation

Today, I repeat this message to you. You are enough. Give yourself the gift of relaxing the security of who you are. Stop trying to outfit yourself with the proverbial colorful layers — fancy clothes, an extensive vocabulary, multiple degrees, or the pursuit of the seemingly “perfect life” — to gain the approval of others or even yourself. Don’t water down the magnitude of who you are. Be you.

The Bible says that you were fearfully and wonderfully made. Who am I to disagree with God?

Take off those layers. Life is a lot lighter and much clearer without them.

Until next Wednesday,

RP

Tell someone they are enough.

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Note: This was written before the previous post.

Decisions are an essential, inevitable element of everyday living. What to wear? What to say? What to eat? Even what to think? But some decisions are bigger than ever. Some are life altering driven by the core of who you are.

These include where to go to church? An overall way of living. Your career path and even where to work.

Then there are decisions that are even bigger. Decisions that you seemingly have little control over. Decisions that are not influenced by, but yet dictated by the essence of who you are.

These are decisions that you have little control over. As much as you desire to be liked or change certain behaviors so that you can be liked, the makeup of yor DNA, personality, and might I add calling, don’t allow you to change.

This is why singers will always sing. Dancers will always dance. Those who are naturally charismatic will always be charismatic. And those who are naturally influential will always be influential.

I happen to be all of the above…so I get it.

On the other hand, it’s hard when your calling is to be something that’s not popular. It’s hard when your character is to go against the grain. It’s hard when your calling is to be different.

You often approach a fork in the road when throwing in the towel and jumping on the bandwagon seems like a good idea.

“I’ll just be fake nice,” I said to myself. That was when I was internally chastised for giving in to the pressure. For even considering not being who God called me to be.

That’s when I was reminded that Jesus wasn’t liked. He wasn’t fake nice and he offended a heck of a lot of people.

I, by no means, am saying I’m even close to being Jesus. But isn’t it funny when your character reflects his boldness and his ability to go against the grain and suddenly you’re not Godly. Our lens of a holy God is so blurred by the smear of a “nice” God that we get it wrong.

We go out of our way to select the right words, put on the fake smile, and act “Godly” when we forget that it was that same God who called the lady out for being a prostitute. The same God who chastised the Pharisees for being pompous. And the same God who pointed out the fact that his closest friends had little faith.

Yet, this is the same God that we praise for being loving, patient and kind.

It’s funny how we can appreciate, see and accept both sides of Christ. Yet, we have little room to do the same for those we call our brothers and sisters.

If I said I didn’t know that I rubbed others the wrong way, I would be lying. But that was part of what I’ve been called to do; to go right when everyone is going left. To strive for better when others will settle for good enough.

Going against the grains isn’t a smooth process, but it can be a refining one.

It can bring fresh air to an otherwise gray world.

It can bring light to an otherwise dark existence.

To you I ask, what parts of your brother have you discarded because it rubbed you the wrong way, and have you ever considered the validity of the approach. Paul wanted to kill Christians but them became the leader. His zeal caused him to go too far on one side and bring massive change on another. Same person. Same personality. Different goals.

My question to you…have you ever thought how you’ve rubbed your brother, yet had patience, forgiveness and acceptance shown toward you. That’s what being a Christian is about. It’s not about trying to mold someone to who you want them to be. It’s about understanding how their piece of the body works with yours.

Which part do you play and how does your brother fit? 1 Corinthian 12:27.

 

My goodness. The Holy Spirit is working with me so please bear with me as I write this post.

I’ve struggled with the concept of fake nice until right now…this very moment.

First let me explain what fake nice is. It’s the concept that we have to deliver the truth or more broadly where everyone puts a smile on their face while rubbing each other on the back to make them feel good about themselves. It’s a mask; a facade to be accepted, politically correct or to not hurt anyone feelings. Or that we have to say things certain ways for them to be accepted. At the nitty-gritty of what it is, it’s a lie.

A bold-faced lie.

It’s covering up how you really feel. Just because someone doesn’t say racist statements doesn’t make them less racist. It just makes them more politically correct.

Just because someone knows good bible verses doesn’t make them a Christian. It just means they know scripture.

 

And jus because someone doesn’t package a message exactly the way you want them to say it – or the way society has trained them to say it – doesn’t make them rude. It makes them human.

We live in a society full of lies.

We talk about muslims and cover it up with the fear of terrorism.

We talk about Mexicans and we cover it up with fear of economic stability and safety.

We talk about African-Americans and we cover it up with false truths.

And we talk about whites, but cover it up with the notion of equality. Yep. I said it.

But we never talk about the real problem. The fact that all of this – racism, political structure, the things that keep us up at night – is a measure of the heart. The fact that as long as we can  point our fingers at others, we will NEVER need to point our fingers at ourselves is the biggest problem of all.

Accountability is our real issue. As soon as someone holds us accountable, we become offended. As soon as someone stands up for themselves or projects their voice, that’s when we suddenly have a problem with people.

Don’t believe me. Prime example: Jesus.

People loved the “loving”, miracle-working Jesus. But when Jesus laid down the law – confronted the proud – that’s when problems arose. He shook things up. It was no longer the status quo. There was a new leader in town, and people weren’t ready for it…so they tried to play with his mind.

The pharisees tried to trip him up. (Help me Holy Ghost. yep I went COGIC on y’all right there (smile)) They tried to make him lose at his own game, but they missed one key factor; Jesus wasn’t just another guy on the street. Jesus was called for one reason and one reason only. To save the world from their sins. And that’s what he did.

Jesus never strayed from his purpose. No matter how much people spit on him. No matter how much they beat him. No matter how they pierced Him in His side.

He asked God to take him off the project. Then He humbled himself and said, “not my will but Your will.”

In this season of transition, I will prayerfully say, “not my will, but your will.” I will be spat on. I will be teased. I will be ridiculed. (There’s no question to it.) And in the end, God will get the glory.

He chose me because He knew I could take it. He also knew that I’d point it all back to Him.

Lord, while I don’t like it, I still say thank you for trusting me with such a responsibility.

Now I ask, what has God chosen you for?

 

When I pray, I tend to write out my prayers. While that may seem a little weird to some, that fact that I love to write and that I process my thoughts through writing should make the fact that I write out my prayers make a bit more sense.

Anyway, while I believe praying is a personal thing, I do think it’s important to address a comment that comes up often in the body of Christ; the discussion of “time spent praying.” So what do I believe?

Prayer is crucial to your relationship with God. Repeat after me: A relationship with someone you don’t talk to is a relationship that doesn’t exist. The mere foundation of any relationship is relating. It is impossible to build friendships, strong familial relationships or even date without a communication. It is through communication that we find out what someone likes, what they don’t like, what we have in common, ways in which we’re different and so on. This is no different in our relationship with God. We have to take time our to communicate with Him. It is during our time with Him that we get to express what’s on our minds; what’s bringing us joy or sadness or anger or confusion. And in return we get to hear from Him. Sometimes we receive very fast answers and feedback. Other times, it may be days, weeks or even years before we receive our answer. However, without praying, it’s hard to know what God is saying. If you’ve never communicated your desires, hurts or wants, how do you even start to recognize His answers?

Prayer is crucial for your life. We need direction. It is through Bible study and prayer that we receive that direction. Otherwise, we’d be wandering like lost sheep, stressed out and burned out by the pressures of life. It is through prayer that we are able to exchange our burdens for solace. We were not made to be God. That’s God’s job. When we try to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, we’ve misappropriated our capabilities. We have to realize we’re not God, and we never will be God. By accepting this truth, it’s easier to relinquish control of the things that burden you. For Christians, that relinquishing happens through prayer.

Now for the big question. If prayer is so important, how long should you spend praying?

Until you’re done.

7/22/14

“God, Thank You. Amen.”

This is literally one of the prayers in my prayer journal. Then there are prayers that may be 5 or more pages long.

 

It’s not about the amount of time that you spend with God (heck, he should be wrapped around your entire day), but it’s about the quality of your conversation. It’s about being authentic in your communication.

If you have 30 minutes to an hour (or more) worth of conversation with God, then so be it. However, if you’re simply spending 30 minutes of wasted time on your spiritual knees, stop. God doesn’t need your time or adherence to rigid, self-imposed laws. He more concerned with your heart.  And if you’re one worrying that you haven’t given enough time to God because of how you see or hear about others worshipping, rest assured knowing that if you’re communing from your heart, that’s all that matters.

 

I’m really concerned, y’all. Really concerned.

Before I go into my rant/inspirational moment, I’d like to give you my background.

Hi, my name is Regina Patterson. I’m a bible toting, Christian who is in no way, form or fashion ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What does that mean? This means that I believe the ENTIRE Bible. There is not one word in the Holy Bible that I choose not to believe. While I believe I have the choice to believe what I want, I believe that once I chose Jesus, I chose to believe all that He put forth before us. That’s why I DO NOT change the Bible or my faith for what makes me feel good or what I think is right. Everything in life ain’t about rainbows and butterflies. This life is real and the stuff we go through is real. My faith has gotten me through a lot, including the depression that I’ve gone through for years. It’s helped me understand how I can be used by Christ and how in the midst of pain, He still has my back; that he can comfort me when the devil tries to get me down. That He is there for me when I don’t know what to do. That He is so much, I don’t even have words. “If I had ten thousand tongues…”

What else does it mean? It means that I believe that there is a heaven and a hell. I don’t believe in purgatory. And I believe you have to accept Christ to make it into heaven. Key verses that makes this real in my heart:

John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him will not perish (die), but have everlasting life.

John 14:6: Jesus answered, “am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – NIV, biblegateway.com

John 3:16 is something that I have learned since childhood, but it has not had as much meaning to me until now as I’m writing this post. This means that there was a God who loved me so much that He literally came down from heaven, cloaked himself in human flesh, all for the purpose of dying for me. He was the last sacrifice, meaning no other animal had to be killed for the atonement of my sins. He did it so we could stop crucifying bulls and cows and so on. It was the blood of animals that once was sacrificed for the atonement (or cleansing, forgiveness) of our sins, but Jesus came down and said “enough.” He literally laid down his life, his pride, his ego, his Kinghood…all to die for me. So how in the world can I cheapen what He did for me simple on the account of I don’t like how I was treated in the past or I don’t like what they do at church or fill in the blank. It ain’t about them. You make the difference. Don’t run. Do it how God wanted it to be done. You be the example. That was, and still is, my decision.

What does it not mean? Being a Christian doesn’t mean that I’m perfect. I do not get it right. I can be legalistic, which means I can try to work my way to salvation. I can be judgmental, meaning that I look down on people at times. It means that I’m still working out my salvation, as the Bible says, which means there are times when I still sin.

What else does it not mean? It doesn’t mean that I hate homosexuals. It doesn’t mean that I’m mean in the name of Christ. It doesn’t mean that I’m not a democrat. And it doesn’t mean that I’m a pushover.

Why did I feel compelled to write this?

There are a ton of impressionable minds out there – Some who have been hurt by the church. Others who are trying to decide what they believe…many within my generation and some older, many younger. And there are a ton of people making impressions on these minds. And I’m scared for these people. I’m scared that they won’t be able to experience the glory of God because there are so many false prophets/prophesies (proclamations) sculpting their beliefs.

I’m seeing and have been bothered by the fact that it’s no longer okay to stand firm in the Christian faith. Instead, I see so many saying they believe in Jesus, but then not taking the Bible in its totality. That’s scary because that is exactly what will make people comfortable on earth and send them to a burning hell all at the same time.

I’m sorry to have to preach fire and brimstone. I hated it when I was growing up, but hell is real… and living a comfortable life, accepting whatever you want on earth is what will send you to a place of eternal damnation. I’m not okay knowing that my friends will end up there if they don’t accept the truth, but I also can’t change it. That’s a personal choice.

I wish they could see Jesus as I do and accept him as I do, because hell is real and so is Heaven…and we have everything we need right here to get us to either place. The gift is 100% free. We just have to accept it.

Yes. Many of us have been church hurt; myself included. I’ve been scared of God. I’ve had people try to pray my depression away, and while they had good intentions, it did more hurt than harm. And frankly there are times when my mother and I can’t even talk about spiritual things because we have different convictions within the same Christian faith.

But guess what…in the end we both believe in the same Jesus, and we both believe in the fundamentals on how to get to heaven.

I’m scared y’all. I’m really concerned. I call America a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah. Read the story. Boasting of sexual immorality; prostitution, lust, open fornication, and homosexuality.

Some of y’all may say, “Gina is crazy.” I really don’t care. Truth is truth..and if history repeats itself, “welcome back Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Like I said, I’m not perfect, I have my own set of sins, but that’s no excuse for being quiet. That was the whole point of His death; to free us from our life of sins. To wash us white as snow.That’s why I can’t get down with it…even my own set of sins. I have my own set of things I get convicted about…and that’s why I’m so happy for grace. But it’s hard to understand grace if you don’t even understand Jesus.

Anyhoo, I say all this to say please, I beg of you, stop letting people and past experiences get in your way of knowing a real, loving God. I’m not going to lie to you; He is fair, just like any parent is to any child. He doesn’t choose heaven or hell for you. He gives you the choice. It’s based on what you choose to believe.

Where do I go from here? I mean, I’ve been saved since I was 10 years old and really living for Christ since I was 18…with slip ups, of course. But I mean now, I’m really struggling. It’s like the polar opposites are pulling at me and I don’t know which way to go. I’m looking for more excitement as a Christian and my old ways are saying, “hey, Gina, remember us?” And I’m like, “I do, but I love God more than you, but you do look quite good right now.” Oh what I’d give to just cuss someone out…just once or 15 times. But I won’t.

I won’t turn back. That’s all I hear. That’s all I feel, though I feel the pull…the tug to go the opposite way.

Lord, I know you hear me, but it seems like you’re just letting me figure it out.

Transition. That’s what it is. That’s what I feel. No pain, no gain, right?

I guess I’m growing up again. Another level like a young boy going through a painful growth spurt, but the outcome is a handsome young man in comparison to the little boy with the deep voice with distinct signs of growth, yet his countenance not fully to fruition.

I just have to hold on.

It seems like there are so many days that I sigh. So many days that I cry. So many days I hurt. Yet, so many days I smile. Smile in the pain. Smile through the pain. Smile despite the pain. In fact, there are times when the smile literally takes away the pain. Or times when I smile because I’ve literally forgotten about the pain, if only for one moment.

It’s not that I want you to be sad for me. If I could make it go away, I would. But I’m growing and learning…and growth can sometimes be painful…but tell me a time when true growth hasn’t been rewarding – when there hasn’t been a testimony that came out of the test or a message that has come out of the mess. If I were to say it didn’t suck, I would be lying. But positivity and knowing God will are what holds me. It’s what keeps me going. I never said I would be perfect. I never said it wouldn’t hurt. But I will say God has me. And even in the midst of me struggling, He’s still with me…walking with me. Holding my hand, making sure I don’t fall…or even picking me up and dusting me off when I do fall. He did it for Adam and Eve, He did it for David, and I’m sure he has been and will do it for me.

If you’re a Christian and a praying person, please pray for me. Your prayers are appreciated.

I’ve been plagued with loss almost my entire life. When I was in elementary school, my Girls Scouts leaders and family members were killed in a car accident. And it seems that loss hasn’t stopped since then.540535_572906280538_1980147504_n

Between 7th and 8th grade, I lost an aunt…an aunt I was extremely close to…to lupus.

In 12th grade, I lost her sister to lupus. Another aunt, I was extremely close to.

Directly following my freshman year of college, I lost my grandfather to cancer.

The next summer, I lost my cousin (the son of my aunt I lost in the 12th grade) to a drive-by shooting.

The next summer, I lost my  uncle to lupus.

Eventually, I lost my grandmother. Then I lost my 16-year old cousin to a car accident. A few years later, last year, his father unexpected passed away.

Mind you…every person listed above were on the same side of my family.

I’ve also lost a very close great-aunt on my mother’s side and my godmother during this timeframe.

Yes. Loss is inevitable; a part of growing up. A part of growing up that sucks might I add.

This year, I had a loss that rocked my world and my faith. The loss of a 13-year old student at my church. And if you know anything about me, I love my students…and I had no idea how God could allow her to pass away…unexpected…and at such a young age.

And that’s when I learned, there’s a lot to learn in loss. Key lessons:

God is sovereign

God comforts

God listens

God forgives

God cares

God teaches through loss

Your faith is strengthened through loss

And even though all of the above is true, it’s still a process and hurts like heck.

Why am I writing this today…and right now.

I know people who have personally been impacted by a major loss…as of yesterday.

#1…Know that I love you and always love you.

#2…Know that your feelings are valid. That you can be absolutely made at God right now and that no one can tell you how you should feel.

#3…Allow yourself time to process and heal. It’s a process and it may get better before it gets worse. Tell God how you feel. Be mad but never turn away. Know we’re praying for you and it will all work out. When you can’t pray. We have your back.

#4…I repeat. I love you.

No go on. Grieve. Take your time to heal and go through the process…and know that the family is here for you.

Love you infinitely.

 

I’ve been going through a very trying time; both at work and personally. To put it mildly, my stressIMG_0006 level has been on 10. From managing a potential relationship to dealing with parental issues to working on a pretty intense project, the concept of fun and games has been pretty low. Add a wedding that’s less than 30 days away, a bridal shower that just passed, an upcoming bachelorette party, and surviving a car accident that happened literally 14 days ago, and you’ve come across a pretty frazzled chick. BTW…I had no idea all this stuff was going on in my life. And the list doesn’t end there until reflecting while writing this. But I digress.

And with stress comes a couple more things…depression and anxiety attacks. And if any of you are like me, you may have silent anxiety attacks. At least that’s what I’m calling them. They’re the attacks that don’t paralyze you. You barely even know they’re happening. But when you stop to think about it, you realize you’re having an anxiety attack. Yep…totally had one of those today…accompanied with internal shaking and anger.

One thought. Meds and sleep.

But I took a different route.

I hit the treadmill. I was determined to literally work out the aggression.

30 minutes. Aggression still there.

41 minutes. Anxiety and anger still there.

And it wasn’t torture. I even started dancing on the treadmill. (Don’t try that at home.) I took pics, recorded a video, and had a couple of conversations via text. And let’s not even talk about my Twitter timeline.

Then I wrote my mom, “I want to back slide.” I totally wanted to revert to old habits – at least the one where potty mouth was in effect. Swearing was my thing prior to living for God. And boy, could I go in. I told her I needed prayer and holy oil plugged into me via IV.

She responded with the most profound comment of the day:

“OK, just hooked up the prayer iv line up; I think I found a good vein and there flows the blood of Jesus.”

My goodness. Those are shouting words (as we say in the black community). I mean…do you get it. The blood of Jesus is available to me. He took stripes, suffered, and died specifically for this. And now, I have access to this grace freely. My goodness. Or should I say His goodness! (SMH)

***I have to stop just for a moment of praise. God is so good!***

I tried to do so much to make it right, but God…

Anyhoo…to the title of this. The reality is some things have to go. Toxic relationships are an example of things that need to go, especially when you’re living in a fantasy.

So, today, I say farewell to a fantasy. Sorry, guy, but i have to let you go. (Not the guy I referred to in my last post.) You have to live your life and I have to live mine. I love you, but it’s doing more harm than good. I now realize I am whole. I have a perfect life. And I’m okay with the way it came out. The experience was enlightening and definitely worth it – and because of it, I now have another story to share…to uplift and shine light on situations like mine.

I realize the experience had its purpose. But a fantasy is just that…not real. Thanks for all you’ve done. I will now go on with my life. Whole and a pretty darn cool chick.

In the voice of Kirk Franklin, “I smile.”

If you can’t tell by now, I’m in this mode of huge self-discovery. I thought I had this all figured out, but with 2 conversations, I’ve realized I’m back at the drawing board; not starting over. Just adding to the picture.

If I had to paint a picture of my life, I’d say I’ve colored inside of the lines pretty much my entire life. I achieved good grades, didn’t get into major trouble, and acquired a pretty satisfying job…and I took the normal path getting there with only limited detours.

So now the question exists…is it time to color outside of the lines? Is it time to do something not so traditional; not so prescribed? Or do I stay within the lines.

If I were to stay within the lines, I have no doubt I’d achieve the goals within societal norms. Corporate leadership. A massive house on a hill (maybe). And vacations to be envied.

But is that enough?

And if I do take the normal route, what would make it personally unique and fulfilling.

On one end, I find the ability to vacation and afford what I want very fulfilling. However, I find the road to get there a bit dull and boring. A bit prescribed. A bit…American.

On the other hand, I’m not sure what would be fulfilling about coloring outside of the lines. Sure, there will be a bit of thrill and, of course, adventure. But where would it really get it me?

And honestly I don’t know the answer. By the end of a post, I like to have clarity; a sense of where I want to be. I’m not sure that I can articulate that at this moment. And that leaves me a bit frustrated.

One thing I do see is the potential for merger. The potential to keep coloring outside of the lines. The potential to “do me” while I continue to discover me.

In fact, as I look back, I’ve never really been inside the lines. I’ve always been a bit different. Coloring inside the lines is different. As the rapper, Lecrae, noted, rebellion is the norm. The straight and narrow is peculiar – as originally indicated in the Bible.

Maybe it’s not about the end at all. Maybe the focus should be on the journey. Whether I become consumed in books and research or I allow my free spirit to be led by God, I know everything will work out okay. I’m putting entirely too much pressure on myself. I need to let go and let God. He will make a way. This is something I NEVER have to worry about. Never have. Don’t plan on starting now.

As my dad says, God has my back.