“What are you harboring in your heart that you have yet to forgive them for?”

I was watching The Shack the other day; that’s when I heard these words. “Who have you not forgiven?”

These words stuck, possibly even stung… Yeah they stung. They hurt. So much so that I can still feel the piercing at this moment.

“Who have you not forgiven?”

The thing is…I pride myself in the ability to forgive and move on. If you were to ask me about grudges, I’d tell you that I don’t hold grudges. But maybe there’s  difference between holding a grudge and offering forgiveness. Maybe not.

When I heard the question, “Who have you not forgiven?,” I searched my heart. Lo and behold, there was a person who I had not forgiven. This is a person of the past. A person who I severed ties with physically but failed to sever ties with emotionally. Not because I still loved or was in love with that person. Instead, it was because there were damaging pieces of the relationship that still follow me today.

Pieces that cause me to question my motives. Pieces that trigger the thoughts of clothing choices. Pieces that make me question my interactions with men.

The words and emotional responses from this man literally made me question who I was. Made me question my loyalty. Made me feel so bad about myself and my choices to the point that I said I’d never allow myself to get into another relationship like that.

This weekend, I decided to forgive him. I decided to no longer allow these things to harbor in my heart, and per the example in The Shack, I’m making it a point to forgive him over and over again. Not because I’m not a strong and confident woman, but because it’s the right thing to do. And not just because God said so, but because I’m understanding the power of forgiveness.

While writing this post, I feel a lightness — an airiness — a feeling of overwhelming and unmistakable peace that (from experience I know it) only comes from God. It’s a feeling that says that I have now let go. I am now able to move on. That I am now experiencing my healing.

Over the past 7 months, I have experienced a brokenness like no other. Moreover, I’ve lived in a state of perpetual anger over the last two years.

This weekend has been a moment of “no more.” All because I’ve decided to let go and forgive.

Today, I leave you with the same question. What are you harboring in your heart that you have yet to forgive? What is stealing your joy or taking up a space where so many other life-giving sentiments could dwell? I encourage you to search your heart. All you have to do is be willing to forgive. God will help you do the rest.

If you haven’t seen The Shack, take a moment to check it out. It could be life-changing.

Love you. Until next time,

Gina

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Love. What is it really?

Is it a feeling? Is it an action? Is it a word to describe a feeling or an action? Or is it something else.

The bible says that “…God loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him would have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

The Bible also says that love is patient and kind and doesn’t boast in evil and a whole slew of other things.

And if you ask my Pastor, the Bible is a 66 book love letter.

So why is it so hard for us as humans to wrap our brains around love?

Maybe it’s because love is so much bigger than just a feeling or an action?

Maybe it’s not about the kisses and the gifts and what media – or social media – portray.

Maybe it ‘s about sticking through it when times get tough. (Patience)

Maybe it’s not about running our mouths when he or she has presumably done you wrong. (Kind and Not boasting in evil.)

Maybe it’s not about the flowers and kisses and warm and fuzzies; those are all just by-products.

It’s about sticking to it when you hate his guts; when you feel ultimately heartbroken, but decide to let him explain.

It’s about bending further than you’ve ever bent before only to learn that you, indeed, won’t break. Instead, your flexibility increases with every patient, kindness and not boasting in evil exercise there is.

It’s not about seeing who pulled the short stick. Maybe it’s about realizing and accepting that when you put the sticks together, you both win.

It’s about seeing you need as much growth as you think you are valuable…all without losing sight of your worth.

Books have created fantasies…Cinderalla was the greatest of them all, but as soon as we remove the Disney enamored lens, we’ll realize that love isn’t pretty. It’s messy. It doesn’t end merely with a happily ever after. Instead, the ending is more like…they worked each day ever after.

They found happy and they found love, but that was only the first step. The rest was a great big culmination of the chorus of Rhianna’s most recent hit, work (and all that crap you don’t understand in the middle). And when you put it all together, a hit is made.

I’m simultaneously living that hit and looking forward to it.

And that’s what I mean by “love is messy.”

Until next time,

Gina

Over the course of my blog, I’ve shared several posts regarding my love life. You’ve read the good, the bad, and the ugly. You’ve read stories that went from love to the struggles of being in an abusive relationship. You’ve even had a chance to laugh as I chronicled some of my experiences.

All-in-all, you’ve had a chance to journey with me. And if you’ve followed me for any amount of time – virtually or in real life – then you know that my journey hasn’t come without it’s frustrations, especially those related to being single, successful, and well, black.

I talked about the need for black men to step up. I’ve talked about the struggles of being lonely. And, for goodness sakes, I’ve talked about the things I only wished people would not say to single people.

That’s why this is not going to be a wait on your Boaz, find yourself, wait for the perfect person post. That crap will have you single foreva (and eva eva *in my Outkast voice*).

You Gotta Kiss Some Frogs

“Lord, why am I single,” I would often think. Comparing myself to media and my friends, I thought I wasn’t pretty enough or skinny enough or something enough. (Cliché, but true)

Then I read a book by a Christian author and something things stuck out. I didn’t allow myself to kiss enough frogs. I wasn’t looking at the whole of my friends relationship experiences.

The author directed the reader to look at their married friends and think about their experiences on a broader scale. He reminded me to think about all the frogs they had to kiss, i.e. all their bad experiences, before they found “the one.” I realized one big difference was their willingness to experiment regardless of what others thought.

The Frogs Were Part of the Refining Process

But let’s be honest, kissing frogs and letting people in is painful. Look at my journey. Look at the frogs I’ve chronicled…including the ones who looked like sheep, but were in wolves clothing. From broken hearts to games to the emotional roller coaster. Heck, even just the awkward stage of getting to know the person and their intentions. It’s hard out there.

I was over getting played. I was over people I didn’t think were good enough for me. I was over being lonely. I was over falling deeply only to find myself once again on the other side of the road picking up the pieces. And I was growing more and more bitter inside. I was at my WITS END.

What I didn’t realize was that I was also going through a period of refinement. As much as it sucked. As much as I hated it. As many tears as I cried. It was necessary.

It was when I got to a point of sheer frustration point that I realized what I really wanted. I was finally able to put it in words, and it wasn’t some light-skinned trophy piece that I could show off in public and brag about in private.

Simply put, I wanted someone to appreciate Regina. The quirky, opinionated, and sometimes cocky Regina…flaws and all. It wasn’t just about someone who thought I was pretty. It wasn’t about being part of the in crowd. I just wanted to be in love with someone who loved me and appreciated me as much as I did them.

In comes Jay…

Jay is not the saved thug, semi-hood type. He’s not gonna get street with the brothas and assimilate at the job. And he’s not chasing the lastest trends. He’s very different from what I would’ve stated as my type; that is if you’re only looking at these qualities alone.

But I’ve fallen in love with Jay.  I’ll brag about him all day. He’s handsome. He’s caring. And so much more (but I’ll keep that to myself because I don’t want y’all going after what I have). I’ll just put it like this there are so many qualities that make up who Jay is that I couldn’t help but love him. He pulls my heart strings. And of everything I could want from a man, he gives me the thing I want most; someone who shows and communicates that they appreciate and care for me as much as I appreciate and care for them.

If I’d never gone through my refining period, I’d never know the gem that I have in Jay. As much as it sucked and all the tears I cried were worth it. It was worth getting bitter and upset and almost giving up. Then and only then did I realize what was really important to me.

Ladies, there are times when we are ridiculous. Yes…your standards (or fantasy) may be too high ridiculous. I’m not going to sugar coat this for you because it wasn’t sugar-coated for me. Maybe you’ve concocted an unrealistic fantasy. I did. In fact, the post that I wrote on Facebook wasn’t very far from the fantasy I’d concocted.

Single ladies. I want to let you know how irrational and unfair some of our desires for a mate are. Read this: Single female looking for nice looking black male, bad boy type who knows how to treat me right with the right amount of hood but can’t be too ghetto. Oh yeah…and he MUST be a Christian holding down a good job and pays all the time and gives me all the time I desire but doesn’t ask me for too much. And yeah…I may or may not cook. Is this you? Is this like you?

 

So what’s my advice to single women?

Be okay with whatever state you’re in. Know that loneliness is normal. Know that maybe it’s okay to be a little thirsty…to desire companionship. Most of all, know that this period may be a period of refinement.

Take time to truly look at yourself. Maybe it is about acquiring skills or working on “flaws,” but let’s be honest, you’ve likely read or heard that from someone else. But from someone who can still feel the pains of being single (though I’m in a happy relationship), I’d challenge you to learn from my experience. Allow this time to speak to you to know who you are and can’t change and what you need to make you happy. It may take some tears. It may take some bad experiences. But you’ll come out with another notch of what will make you hopefully make you relationship-ready.

 

Dear brothas,

And by brothas…I mean you chocolatey, fine men. And you caramel pieces of handsomeness. And you light-skinned sons-of-a-shut-yo-mouth.

Yes you. Those who I love to look at, talk to, and flirt with.

Still wondering? I may be talking to you.

Brothers…it’s hard out here for a black woman…married and single. I read so many columns on how sistas should reduce their criteria, be a little less selective — heck lower her standards — for her to have a man.

I get it. Some of us are a bit too picky. I may be one of those, but please help me understand why I have to lower my standards instead of you stepping up to the plate, being a man and being who, I, no we, deserve?

It’s not okay to be a playa, to be okay with being ignorant, incessantly smoking weed, and still hanging out at the hole in the wall club. And while I know sex is super important to you (as it should be), I’m going to need you to get to know what’s important to me.

I’m 34…I want to go on a high-end date. I shouldn’t have to settle for the closest fast food restaurant or even Applebee’s for that matter. There’s nothing is wrong with those options in a relationship, but sometimes you have to show us that you appreciate us. Doing what’s easy doesn’t show us that.

And I shouldn’t have to ask myself if the only reason you’re coming over is for sex. That makes us feel like a piece of meat.

I think we’ve made it too easy for you. In signs of desperation and lack of supply, we’ve began to accept paying higher prices without getting a fair return on our investment. We cook. We clean. We pick up after you. We stroke your ego. We put it down in the bed. And you may or may not come home with a paycheck.

You ask us to be patient as you grow, but I’m wondering where were you when I was growing. When I was preparing myself for the future? Where were you when I was studying, writing papers and shedding tears? Why were’t you working on similar goals at the same time?

Maybe college wasn’t for you. But what about trade school or simply starting a career the old-fashioned way and working your way up. And even if you are just now seeing the investing in a better you, I’m going to need you to be forreal…not just words. Actions. Real actions.

I don’t write this out of theory. I write this out of personal experience; from dating, from advice I’ve been given from other women, and from the myriad of articles and mass media that tells me I should accept anything because it’s better to have something than it is to have nothing.

Is it?

Is it okay for me to make sure your bills are paid?

Is it okay for me to sit through a meaningless conversation and then for you to turn over and ask me for sex?

Is it okay for you to tell me to deal with it when I tell you about sensitive situations from the past?

Is it okay for me to have to wonder about our relationship status?

Or who else you’re talking to or dating when we should either exclusive?

No. It’s not okay.

Ladies. We have to stop making it so easy for them.

If we can put in the work to cook (and do it well), clean (including picking up after you), and be pretty and be the best boo we can be, I’m going to need you to step it up.

We put in a ton of time and energy making sure we keep your eyes happy and your bellies full. To show you that we value you. And, to be honest, there are times we forsake our values to keep you. (Totally different discussion.)

Can you please stop complaining about us and fearing our status. Instead, go out of your way to show we’re just as big in your world as we make you in ours. Do a chore without me asking. Don’t come to my house looking like a scrub. Smell good for goodness sake. And freaking approach me with some darn respect.

And when it comes to a job, I’m not asking you to be a CEO. You could work in a factory for all I care. Just hold down a job. No…do more than have a job. Value yourself enough to have a career. Don’t complain about money if you’re not doing anything to hold yourself accountable. Value yourself enough to go to work every day and volunteer for overtime if you’re looking for. And then look at a potential career path. There is potential for those who are not degreed.

Have some goals and make a plan. And look forward to something other than money. The world is bigger than you and money.

And yes…you do need to find Jesus. Get over it. We love Him. We’re going to need you to get on board.

I was asked why sistas always stay true to the brothas.

My answer…we love you. It’s our instinct to protect you. After all you’ve gone through and what society puts you through…

A black man is the total representation of strength. But he needs to know this and believe it. I’ll help, but you have to be willing to not be overcome by societal challenges.

I only can imagine. I believe the struggle is real, but it’s not an excuse. There are some days that’ll get you down, but we’re here to pick you up. To support you. To be your Wonder Woman when it’s hard for you to be our Superman.

We’re not as strong as you think. We long to be women. To be vulnerable. To be treated and protected as such. To be caressed. To not have to put on a show and speak fondly of you in hopes of convincing our families and friends we have good men. Instead, we want our words to be sincere. We want to love on you without hesitation.

Black men…this isn’t a dis. (Okay it kinda is, but that’s simply because I’m tired.)

It’s also a cry.

We need you.

I need you.

Featured image by RayBanBro66 | Flickr

The beginning of 2014 was literally 367 days ago. Now that I look back, it’s amazing to IMG_2384see how much life can progress in those days. (For some reason, I’m not into talking about how life changed. It’s feeling more like movement than change…maybe this will prompt another post, who knows?)

Anyhoo…I ended 2014 determined to rid my life of drama within the next year. Check. On Jan. 4, I officially exited an abusive relationship. Yes. This is the first time I’m calling it for what it was online. I’ve told those close to me about it, but this is the first time you, my friends, have heard this.

My relationship wasn’t physically abusive; we can spot an abusive relationship a mile away. My relationship was emotionally and financially abusive. And I’m no longer in the mode of protecting that person. His actions were wrong and sometimes you just have to call a duck a duck. And these things need to be exposed for my freedom. For my sanity. For my ability to move on.

I’m no longer about saying he didn’t mean to do it. No longer about what he seemingly added to my life. He took from my life. He took my sanity. My peace. Me. And I’m taking my life back from this point on.

During my lifetime, I’ve been molested, taking advantage of sexually, and bullied. I’m over it.

It’s time to escape denial.

I’m no longer about being held back.

I am Regina, a strong, black, intelligent, EMPOWERED woman…and no one deserves to take that from me. I’m a child of the King, and I walk in that purpose this year.

I guess I’ll leave you with this; the most empowering piece of advice I received from my mom the day I decided to break up with my ex…Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re less than what you are!

That piece of advice there broke the chains. If you’re in an abusive relationship, I pray you allow these words to help you find the freedom and the you that you deserve.

As for 2015, I will feel again. I will enjoy life again. I will be free again. Selah.

Dedicated to all my single homies.


CAUTION: A few italics may or may not have prematurely lost their lives during the development of this post. 🙂

After clicking on a link on my friends blog the other day, I promptly landed on a mommy blog, and I felt my frustration-level rise almost immediately. It was the feeling of…another club that I’m not part of. And after thinking about it (for a very brief time while standing at my sink), there are all these “self-affirmation”, unity, we love the same thing blogs out there… with the exception of one…the single people unite blog.

Don’t believe me…There are some blog types that seem to prevail. The mommy blog… the fashion blog… celebrity gossip blog… the sports junkie blog…  and the list goes on. (Please add more in the comments.)

I get it; singles aren’t screaming “my love life is amazing” from the mountain tops. In fact, you often find singles

singing anthems filled with “woe it’s me” or ballads filled with love-starved lyrics featuring their quest for their long, lost Prince Charming or feminist-derived compositions of “he ain’t crap.” And while there are plenty of posts about how to get a man, I’ve only heard of maybe one popular one about being single and proud.

But let’s really just be real. If we really think about it, there are some pretty awesome things about being single. (And no, I’m not talking about the “you get to know yourself” line.) – Don’t forget to like and retweet if you’re feeling this post.

  1. You don’t have to schedule dates to hang out with your friends.

    Cereal for dinner is one of the little things that make singlehood a little bit better.
    Cereal for dinner is one of the little things that make single living a little bit better.
  2. You don’t have to check with “no-dang-body” before you make plans.
  3. You can leave the house any time you dang well please.
  4. And then come back any time you dang well please
  5. You can eat WHATEVER you want…
  6. And at any time of the day you want. Chicken for breakfast? Sure. Why not?
  7. You don’t have to worry about what he is doing…
  8. Or who he is calling…
  9. Or whether or not he is lying…
  10. About ANYTHING.
  11. And you don’t have to worry about his boys…
  12. Or what his friends are saying…
  13. Primarily about you.
  14. You don’t have to worry about their 2 cents about you kids…
  15. Or your dog…
  16. Or cat…
  17. Or what you feed them…
  18. Or how you raise them.
  19. You don’t have to hold your gas
  20. The only “stuff” [car, home…] you have to be concerned with is your own.
  21. And you can spend your money on anything you dang well please.
  22. You don’t have to worry about how he thinks you look…
  23. Or how he looks. Are you really wearing that?
  24. You don’t have to compromise on vacation plans…
  25. You don’t have to worry about explaining why you bought another pair of shoes
  26. Or a new shirt
  27. Or a new dress
  28. Or iPhone 6 (since you just got the 5 last year) (yup…I just shamelessly used an Apple link for SEO)
  29. Or [fill in the blank]
  30. And you don’t have to worry about fighting over the blanket
  31. Or sleeping under a sliver of a blanket
  32. Or being stuck at the edge of the bed because your significant other has unconsciously taken up the other 99/100ths of the bed.
  33. You don’t have to worry about the amount of time you spend on your computer
  34. Or on your phone
  35. Or on YouTube
  36. You get the sofa all to yourself
  37. And the chair
  38. And the love seat
  39. You can have a party whenever you want.
  40. The only sandwich you have to worry about making is your own.
  41. If you don’t want to watch football, you don’t have to.
  42. And you don’t have to worry about trying to decipher between a field goal, first down, jump shot, or slap shot.
  43. You don’t have to worry about being a softball – hockey – [fill in the blank] widow.
  44. And you don’t have to worry about fighting with anyone at home…and if you do, that problem is bigger than anything this blog can solve
  45. The only person’s decisions you have to be concerned with are your own
  46. And if you get a job offer, the only thing you have to worry about is the raise and when do you start.
  47. You don’t have to worry about anyone else’s credit score. Whether you’re a 200 or 720.
  48. He/she didn’t eat the last of your favorite food…
  49. Or the leftovers.
  50. And no one is asking you what’s for dinner.
  51. Your house can be a mess and no one has to know…
  52. And you have the luxury of cleaning whenever you get around to it.
  53. You don’t have to compromise about what to watch on TV
  54. Or be forced to watch “that” one more time. (Comment with your “that” in the comments below.)
  55. And you can listen to music as loud as you want without worrying about whether or not you’re disrupting anyone.
  56. You don’t to have to pretend to be okay around others when you’re totally fighting.
  57. You don’t have to act like you care about something you really could care less about. No, I don’t want to play Dungeons and Dragons!
  58. You don’t have to explain why you do that weird thing you do.
  59. And finally, you don’t have to worry about getting into a fight because of something posted on Facebook! *Ooh…look at that donk*

Today, I went on a date. And it was great. We played basketball and then we went for a ride on his moped…wind flying in my hair. To make a long story short, I really like this guy, but there is one HUGE flaw. No, he’s not an ex-con – been there – he has a decent job. Frankly, if it were Jerry McGuire, I’d say “You had me at 401K and good credit.” And he’s genuinely a good person.

But there’s a very moral dilemma I have. His religious beliefs don’t line up with mine…and that’s HUGE. I mean REALLY big. My friends know one of the first questions I ask about the guys they’re dating is “are they saved.” To put it kindly, I can’t say this guy is saved. I can’t even say he has a relationship with Jesus at all. But I like him and at this point, it’s not that easy to let him go. I mean, while in my religious mind, I think that I should, my heart is really with him. He is literally everything that I want with that one exception. Okay, maybe there is more than one exception, but this is the biggest. Outside of this, I really like him.

So now, I don’t know what to do. Should I go or should I stay?

At this point, I’ve decided to stay…at least for a bit longer. One thing I will trust is that through prayer, it’ll work itself out. Either he’ll come to know Christ or the relationship will fizzle out one way or another.

The good thing is that this is just the beginning, and we’re not yet a thing.

If not anything, I can say the day was good. I literally went from “do I really like him” to “oh my gosh, I really like him in one in-person encounter.”

I can’t say I recommend this course of action for anyone, but I know myself. I’m stubborn and I don’t quit that easily. I’m not very strong when it comes to guys. They are kinda my kryptonite…especially when I like them. So, though the saying is insanely funny to me, I’m gonna have to say, “Jesus take the wheel.”

That’s hard enough for me, but I do still come with a heart of submission, wanting to do the right thing, knowing that I need His help, guidance, and will.

Amen.

And he may have been cyber-stalking me for all of 3 seconds…and then I blocked him.

The chronicles of online dating continue.

[He likes my photo.]

[Wait! What is that beard?!]

[WHAT! Age: 47]

[He likes another photo.]

[AND ANOTHER PHOTO]

YOU LOOK SO GOOD. AND YOUR EYES ARE SO SEDUCTIVE. AND YOU LIPS…

[OH NO. I THINK I’M BEING CYBER-STALKED]

CALL ME! *insert phone number*

[_____.com ads lie]

[And block]

*Different site.* [Wait a minute now. You call me! 555-XXXX]

 

“2014 will be a year of peace. If you bring drama, you may as well leave. I cannot be scared of those who
may leave. 
I cannot be afraid of what I cannot see.” – written on the inside cover of my journal at the end of 2013.

Sometimes big changes require drastic changes.

2014 will be a year of peace.” That’s what continues to go through my head as I take a look at where I am in my life.

Making this statement was hard. I knew that with this statement there was a good change I would be giving up a long-term relationship. One where marriage was in talks. One where I had a beautiful promise ring. One where no one thought it would ever end.

photoOne where happiness no longer lived. There were tears. There were fights. And no matter how hard I tried, I just wasn’t good enough.

And I was tired.

I couldn’t do it anymore.

On Jan 5, 2014, I said goodbye to that relationship.

3 months later, I’m better for it.

The lesson: Big changes may require drastic changes.

Since the breakup, I’ve seen a drastic change in my life, my mood, and my energy. I’m happier, and I have a newfound understanding of living life, loving Gina, and not being so anxious to have the love that others profess to have found.

But the breakup was just the beginning of more life-changing changes.

With the loss of a young lady, my faith was rocked to the core. I questioned why God would let something like that happen – and so suddenly. I cried hard. I prayed hard. It took a lot of fight to keep my faith. I was mad at God. I was hurt by the situation. I was overwhelmed. I just didn’t know how to handle it. I still have pain. Yet, I’m stronger.

Then something else changed – my dream. RRP Marketing began its journey of cessation. The activation of a new Gina was in motion. Appreciating the finer, less tangible things in life became a priority.

And finally, in less than 14 days, my Facebook account will be deleted. Not just deactivated. Deleted.

These were all bold leaps. In the midst of personal weakness, I found personal strength. I’m no longer chasing what others have nor what makes others happy. This year, I’m being a bit selfish. And it feels good.

 

What lies beneath. That was the name of a movie, right?

That’s exactly what this moment right now represents.

With all the amazing things that have happened to me – all the peace and prosperity I’ve felt as of late – I hate that right now at this very moment I feel as if I’m reliving moments of past. Mind racing. Can’t sleep despite the fact that I’ve taken my every day pill and my special, doctor-approved wonder drug.

I thought that right now I’d be sleep.

And while I appreciate the blessings God has bestowed on me – and they have been pretty great, may I add – I still feel the tension of:

Not feeling worthy of the blessings.

Feeling that I would be worthy if only I gave a little more.

Stress of retirement. Will Social Security even be an option?

Being a good mentor.

Being a good person.

Being a good example.

And simply enjoying life – which I have been doing a pretty fabulous job at.

Longing once again for a relationship, but not in an instance trusting that I am ready to give my heart in such a vulnerable manner. Feel the stress of a relationship once again. Wear my emotions on my sleeve with the need for repair because right now my heart is damaged goods. Or even love again. Loving God is enough for me at this moment. Maybe one day I’ll feel someone is worthy of my love. I can’t say today is that day. Tomorrow won’t be either. Don’t know how I’m going to get there, but maybe one day I will.

I want marriage…………. right?

What lies beneath. That was the name of a movie, right?

And, at this moment, right now, I still can’t sleep.