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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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"Don't play with me"

Wednesday Wind Down: Don’t Play With Me

Hi, Sweethearts!

It’s the last Wednesday Wind Down for the year and I want to talk about two women and a surprise.

Let’s talk about the two women first.

They’re both in the same place. That don’t-play-with-me-i-ain’t-got-time-for-your-foolishness-today place.

You know what I’m talking about. You arrive to Don’t Play With Me Land after you’ve been duped… after you’ve experienced pain… after you’ve lost something or someone. You’re driving down Happiness Street with smiles and rainbows shooting out the tailpipe until the road suddenly looks dark and the trees are creepily crooked. The warmth of the sun turns into a bitter cold and emptiness surrounds your shoulders. You keep driving though you’re unsure of this area. Eyes ahead and sometimes darting left to right, you move forward believing the brightness of your headlights will carry you through the darkness. Then the road smooths out and the sun reappears above your head. Birds chirp joyfully and you’re left with a “whew!” in your chest. You made it, but you don’t want to go through it again.

Photo by Matu00fau0161 Burian on Pexels.com

That’s where these women were in 2 Kings, Chapter 4 — one of my absolute favorite chapters in the Bible.

At one point, everything was fine then it wasn’t. Here comes a prophet asking them to hope again — believe in God again — but they were hurt. They had experienced a dark part of the road. Enter the prophet Elisha with the divine audacity to put God’s infinite power to the test.

For Woman #1, it’s a debt she can not pay.
For Woman #2, it’s a dream she does not want to resurrect.

Woman #1 is a widowed mother with a voice of desperation and some olive oil.
Woman #2 is married, wealthy, and hopeless with a guest bedroom.

Woman #1 reminds Elisha that her late husband was one of his faithful servants (verse 1).
Woman #2 reminds Elisha not to get her hopes up about having a child (verse 15).

Photo by Fillipe Gomes on Pexels.com

In my modernized heart and mind, this is what it would sound like —

Woman #1: “My husband devoutly worked for Your prophet and reverenced Your Word and now, I’m about to lose my sons? After everything we’ve done for God, now we have no money?”

Woman #2: “I’m fine. I gave up on that dream. I finally made peace with the fact that it’s not going to happen and you want me to dig all of that back up? It’s just not in God’s plan and I’m cool with that.”

I believe both women were saying the same thing — God, don’t play with me. They reached out to Elisha at different times along their journey, but don’t discount their fortitude and faith walk.

Woman #1 had to have a lot of courage to borrow empty jars from her friends and neighbors. At this time, debt collectors didn’t call you on the phone. They came to your house — aggressively. Everyone that lived nearby would have known she was a widow and that her family owed money. Can you imagine having to knock on each door in your neighborhood to borrow jars after being ruffed up by bill collectors all because a man of God told you to do it? That’s some fire in your bones. Period.

Let’s look at Woman #2. She’s also a bad mama jama — just read the whole chapter. When her child died (yes, the one she thought she couldn’t have), she fiercely told her servant to take her to Elisha pronto! So, not only does she have to reach down into her soul and grab some dusty hope to become a mother, but she carries that hope with her to remind Elisha that she didn’t ask to be let down again in this area of darkness.

Neither woman asked to meet that part of their faith journeys, but there they were… at Don’t Play With Me Land. Both of them were at a point of “God, you gotta do something. It’s gotta be better than this.”

Both said I’m going to hope one more time.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

Maybe that’s you as you’re reading this post. The year is coming to a close and you’re tired of hoping. Trust me, I’m on that patch of road too about some things. You’re not alone.

I encourage you — encourage us — to try again, hope again, and keep driving through the dark place. The road is bumpy, but it’s not eternal. The branches are crooked, but they bloom in the spring. This is just a patch. It’s not the journey. It’s not the end. We have headlights of faith to see ahead. The engine of God’s Word is proven to be steady, so we have no fear in being deserted in the dark. This is not the end. OK? OK.

Photo by Matthias Zomer on Pexels.com

Well, here goes the surprise real quick. Ready? Keep reading!

Next year (2021), I will launch an inspirational/meditative podcast made with you in mind. I can’t wait to share short tidbits of love and empowerment to help us walk this faith journey out. We’ll continue to listen at the speed of life together as I step outside my comfort zone yet again. Will you join me there? I hope so! Stay tuned for the date and details!

Here’s to us staying on the road. Here’s to the Son shining on our shoulders. Here’s to meeting 2021 with a better version of ourselves. *clinks glass*

Peace, and as always, thanks for listening. Happy New You!

Wednesday Wind Down: Remember When

Hey, Sweethearts!

This post is dedicated to the “survivor you.” You know — the part you tucked away because you thought you were done with that season? That you. Right there. We’re going to tap into that person again.

Which person was you?

  • College student with minimal income and a heavy semester course load
  • Single parent trying to stretch a minimum wage check
  • Homeless person avoiding an abusive home
  • Fresh out of school and figuring out how to budget expenses
  • Sick at home and not able to work
  • Laid off from work and working a lower paying job
  • Caregiving for a loved one and trying to balance work demands
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

If none of these fit you, fill in the blank with whatever lean state you’ve experienced in your lifetime. Now, let’s revisit some ways you can survive this season too. You can’t be too high and mighty to dig into the following three tips. Ready? Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.


Survival Reminder Tips

  1. Stretch those meals.
    Remember those ramen noodles? I hope I didn’t make you gag. lol Essentially, you ate within your budget. You made one pizza last two days. You got creative with pasta. You could eat off of $10.00. You knew each restaurant’s deal days. This may be a different time, but you may need to dig into that mindset for a bit. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you have to feed that family on spaghetti, make it happen. When I was an RA in college, I created a study break for my residents by buying about six boxes of kiddie cereal and various types of milk and setting up a cereal bar. Do what you need to do, Sweethearts. Create that magic!
  2. Go outside.
    It’s no secret that when we were younger, we went outside more. Yes, there’s a pandemic out there, but there’s a reason why my grandparents would always tell us to play outside. Remember when you had to walk because you didn’t have a car or you took public transportation to the nearest stop? It expands the mind, strengthens the body, and uplifts the spirit. Take advantage of parks and hiking trails. Those are excellent places to create beautiful memories within social distancing and budgeting parameters. So, explore your city, county, and state!
  3. Sharing is caring.
    Back in the day, my college friends and I shared meals. Between three of us, we would conjure up a protein and some sides. This may be a little interesting with the virus, but it won’t hurt to buy a couple of frozen dinners or cans of soup for your neighbor. If you’re that neighbor, it won’t hurt to accept the kindness. The more we stay in silos, the more likely we are to die in them. Be careful? Yes. Be caring? Yes again.
Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

I truly believe that COVID-19 has been a great equalizer and everyone has the opportunity to tap into the survival skills that got them through the tough times of yesteryear.

The pandemic won’t last forever. We just have to make it through this chapter. Don’t be afraid to dig deep to see it through. Don’t be afraid to let that “survivor you” float to the surface and do what s/he does best. Then look in the mirror without shame and smile at that awesomeness.

I’m rooting for you!

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Instrument

Hello, Sweetheart! Here’s a short-stop for your week.

“Musicians must clean their instruments. If they don’t, the quality of their sound is affected. You are an instrument. What is affecting your sound?”

I heard this in my spirit on Sunday, February 16, 2020 at 10:16 AM. I grunted in confirmation of its profundity. The question was legit and it made me take a quick peek inside my soul. What’s the sound, you ask? My life.

My life is a sound that reverberates through time and space. So, what speck of dust or sticky residue is affecting my sound? After all, I am God’s Instrument. I am fashioned to make physical and spiritual noise while I’m here on Earth. His hands created my vocal cords, shaped my lungs, and He blew His breath into me, so of course, I’m designed to change the atmosphere every time I breathe. Just like an instrument in the hands of a musician, my life has the opportunity to change the world around me.

monochrome photo of man playing saxophone
Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

Taking it a step further, I thought about Black History Month and how the lives of those we read about left an exceptional mark on the Earth simply by allowing their divine sound to be heard. Some weren’t trying to be heroes; they just wanted to exhale what was breathed into them. And the sound… the sound that came from their lives was (and still is) amazing. The supernatural part is that we’re still hearing it.

So, what’s affecting your sound, Sweetheart? What’s preventing you from being an Instrument in optimum condition? What are your blockages and are you willing to let them go?

I know I am. I’ve allowed the Love of God to do a lot of cleaning in the last 5 years and there’s no way I can go backward. My prayer is that you’re able to say the same. If not now, soon. Just start with a step and keep walking.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 6 – Meeting of the Minds

The Good

#6 – I played two roles – leader and follower!

In my performing arts troupe, I play both sides of the field. It’s a delicate balance, really… one that took time and heaping spoonfuls of humble pie over the years. My Troupe has committees, each serving as a gear to make the machine called “us” run smoothly. There is plenty to do and while I am proud to lead such a fabulous group of professionals, I am even more proud when they don’t need me to turn a dream into reality. Last year, I vowed to be a better follower and when the situation called for it this year, I truly enjoyed wearing that hat.

I am on two committees and I loved meeting with my committee teammates, brainstorming and executing our plans, and presenting ideas to the Troupe like other team members. It was fun and it gave me a grassroots view upon which to compare my aerial one. My ideas were not always chosen and they didn’t play favoritism just because I’m the founder. We worked together and I loved every minute of it. In the end, I felt more well-rounded as a leader and collaborative as a follower!

The Lesson

As a leader, my job is to create other leaders, not do everything myself. Now, there something you should know – I’m a perfectionist, so when I founded this organization, I truly felt like I had to do everything and as a result, my Troupe didn’t feel like I didn’t trust them to do anything. Over time, we communicated openly and worked on being a well-oiled machine instead of a bunch of squeaky gears. The result is a group of 10 people that know their roles, serve in them well, and be interchangeable as needed.

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Teammates down, Coach.

Are you allowing yourself to be a team player? Do you listen to the heartbeat of your team or do you just push them to exhaustion?

What would happen if all of our leaders learned how to be exceptional followers?

Peace & Thanks for listening! #ivoted

 

Protect Your Merry!

Merry Christmas, Sweethearts! I know a photo of Serena may not be your thought of Christmas, but allow me to explain why it perfectly fits mine.

I had to protect my Merry yesterday (and for the last couple of weeks, for that matter.) I mean, I fiercely protected it like Serena Williams defending her side of the tennis court. A few people got clap-backs that they inadvertently signed up for. Rude shoppers, irresponsible drivers, and inconsiderate individuals/former friends in my circle could have sucked the happy right out of my bubble, but I swatted them like flies… and I have no remorse.

They didn’t know that I had to fight to gather my Merry.

I searched for its pieces while crawling through the barren forest of my spiritual winter. I scrounged. I foraged. I created little piles of joy around me, forming a 360-degree barrier between me and the world – me and the reality of my bank account, professional transition, and life changes. I replayed fond memories of my father instead of anticipating his absence on yet another holiday.  Four months later and I still patch the holes of my heart with thoughts of his smile to protect the cracks of my heart from the cold winds of grief. My piles of Merry were the only boundaries I had to keep the darkness from penetrating my oxygenated peace.

So, you had best believe, that I defended my happy with everything I had yesterday. To keep from crying sporadically in public places, I thought of his spirit dancing and I spoke to him.

“I love you.”
“I know.”
“I’m trying.”
“I miss you.”
“Thanks for everything.”

DP1745482_xmas_trees_Glass_OrnamentsTo keep from royally cussing someone clean out (as we say in the South), I retracted the sporty backhand that was perfectly poised under my tongue and said “Have a blessed day.” Friends that were jolly as long as I supported them have surprisingly fallen away like leaves from trees when reciprocity made sense. I stuffed a little happy there too so the wind couldn’t get in and make me bitter. I let the angels do their jobs. I summoned God the Father to comfort me and the Holy Spirit to keep aerating my Merry with reminders of Truth. I let a harvest of joy grow from seeds of gratefulness. As I stood in front of my heater, I thanked Him for warmth. As my feet hurt from working, I thanked Him for the opportunity. As I drove on lesser gas as I normally do, I thanked Him for my wheels. As I coughed and massaged my face from sinus pain, I thanked Him for life. When I ate leftovers, I thanked Him for provision. Upon receiving random messages from sweet friends, I released the expectation from hearing from certain ones and truly let the peace of God rule and wash the hurt away. These things fortified my Merry and I wasn’t letting anything rob me of it.

Maybe you’re like me. You’re holding onto your Merry with both hands and you’re trying to keep it alive in the midst of hardship, loss, or change. I pray that you protect it with everything you got – that you exhibit the grit needed to keep the light in your spirit on, that you regain the strength and courage to fight for your happy, fight for your joy, and fight for your right to live. Don’t be distracted by what you don’t have. Defend what you have and let God heal the cracks. Let the angels of protection do their jobs. Hold fiercely to the Truth that Jesus was born so you could live.

You are loved.
You are cared for.
You are the reason Christmas exists, and your Christmas is Merry because Merry is a state of mind.

I love you and Merry Christmas, Sweethearts! Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo of Serena Williams courtesy of Tennis.com
Photo of Christmas tree ornaments courtesy of Lowes.com

Don’t Get It Twisted

1 Samuel 16:7 NASB:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – http://bible.com/100/1sa.16.7.NASB

It’s easy to see the good stuff on the outside. Oreo cookies let you see the filling in the middle. The right frosting can make the worst-tasting cake appear delicious. A glass of juice looks appetizing because the container is transparent. Any chef will tell you the people eat with their eyes just as much as their mouths. We believe what we see! But leave it to the Lord to test that carnal inclination with a little thing called faith.

Samuel is sent on a mission to anoint the next King of Israel. He has an idea of what the candidate will look like, but there’s a flag on the play when he realizes that what he saw as the best-looking choice (Eliab) was not God’s chosen King.

How often do we get suckered in by looks alone? That job offer pays more money, but you’ll have less time with the kids. That loan will help relieve some stress, but the interest rate is high. That lover looks like “The One,” but you always feel empty instead of full when he/she leaves your presence.

God knows that our eyes cannot be trusted,
even though He made two of them on our faces!

Our perceptions will lead us over a cliff every time. There are errors in our input that cause us to output in error as well. In the Communication theory world, they are actually called perceptual errors!

Don’t be fooled by what’s on the outside. Whether it’s a person, place, or thing, always ask God to show you the heart of it and act accordingly.

Be obedient to what He sees, not what you perceive.
That’s what faith truly is.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Wednesday Wind Down: Receive

Hi, Family!

I hope your week is going well so far; if not, it just got better. 🙂

I have a confession – I’m not a good receiver. In the words of Shonda Rhimes in Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person , I should say thank you, shut up, and smile. That’s it. The end. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go that way. I’m working on it, but there’s no oak tree just yet though progress has been made. My immediate response is to reciprocate out of fear of being misunderstood as a taker. I also loathe being indebted to someone. Those that know me personally know I have a giving heart; nevertheless, the reaction is instinctive. How? Negative repetitive experiences. They rewire us – it’s science. In the case of receiving beautiful gifts from people I cherish or from strangers with big hearts, this science works against me. So, what you may see when you give me something is an attempt to recircuit myself. A small smile. A slight lowering of my head. A significant exhale. Whatever it takes, I’m working on it.

Well, here I am minding my ongoing personal growth business when a beautiful moment happened this week.

The place: in the shower. I was listening to a meditation of bible verses and it was nourishing. When it ended, I heard a voice in my spirit say “Do you receive it?” I took a deep breath, like someone had just snatched the check after a meal and placed their credit card on top of it. I immediately knew the rewiring process didn’t just apply along horizontal lines. I was being challenged to accept God’s opportunities and promises as well… and that was difficult for me. The truth is my relationship with God has holes in it. He’s ever faithful and His Spirit has guided me to places I could have never imagined, yet, I still feel like He’s going to let me down sometimes. That the prayer won’t be answered. That I won’t get the opportunity. That I won’t hear from that certain person. That the bottom will fall from beneath my feet. Call what you will, but I say it’s doubt based on a history of unfortunate events. Just enough for me to take a deep breath before saying my prayers sometimes.

Photo by Dom J on Pexels.com

But when I heard that Voice, it was sweet. It was loving. It was empathetic and understanding. It carried a tone that said “I know you’ve been hurt, Daughter, but will you trust me again?” I felt the sincerity deep in my bones. And I opened up. I felt like the sun was radiating through my skin.

So, I opened my hands and received the water from the showerhead. Overflowing with a oasis of clarity, I lifted my palms and splashed the water over my face. Over and over again. With every wave, I said “I receive it.”

*splash*
“I receive it.”
*splash*
“I receive it.”

Every time I said it, my smile on the outside matched the revelation on the inside. I smiled so big that a laugh escaped. Why couldn’t I receive God’s Love as easily as I received this water? Here it is, pouring freely, and all I have to do is stand under it (and pay for it, but you get the drift).

*splash*
“I receive it.”
*deep breath*
“I receive it!”

I feel like I had more than a shower. I had a growth spurt. My prayers sprouted green leaves of trust this week and it feels amazing. I pray that you experience the same and it’s OK if you feel like you need baby steps to walk along that journey. I have plenty of baby steps on my own.

As you allow your spiritual relationship to heal, I also pray that you recall when things went well. When it did work out. When you did get the call. When you did laugh with that person. Those moments were promises kept and I have to believe that if I don’t have it, I didn’t need it. I believe that I am worthy of receiving goodness in my life just as I am. I am worthy of being a receiver. I am a sincere and insatiable giver, so why wouldn’t Father want me to receive Love in the same spirit from which I pour?

Just something to think about. Something to stand on. Something to clutch close to your heart. I know I am.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I’m rooting for you, Family. 🙂

Thursday Love: At Capacity

Good Morning, Family!

This morning, my spirit was full… of crap.

I felt the weight of the world’s problems on my shoulders. People arguing about masks, vaccinations, federal vs. state rights, and other issues can sometimes seep into my pores and steam under my skin. Add being empathic into that mix and it can generate a whirlwind in my chest that is difficult to dissipate. Hearing and seeing the discord can make me Godly angry, then exhausted.

This morning, I noticed my internal engines revving. No, it wasn’t because of a news story or something I read. It was residue from a conversation about current events that I witnessed.

Wow… you’re really drinking your own Kool-Aid, I said to myself as words flew between the people involved. Then I thought again, as I have many times this year, if I wasn’t a Christian, I wouldn’t want to be one now. Where’s the compassion? Disappointment and grief fused my lips together as I tried my best not to hear the conversation. Bible verses that distinctly tell us how to handle disagreements and how to love one another beyond our comfort zones swirled in my head like bullets ready to be fired from my mouth. I drove home shaking my head and apparently fertilizing my heart because that thing had germinated in my spirit enough that it was sprouting leaves into today and that made me angrier. Robbing me of my brand new day was unacceptable and it felt like a cactus that wouldn’t stop growing inside my belly.

Photo by Valeria Ushakova on Pexels.com

So, what do you do when you’re at capacity with current events? When you feel like you can’t hear or see another thing before exploding? When you’re trying to see how God fits in all this mess? Great question. I’ve had to figure out a few tactics myself to keep me from spiraling. As I learn, I share, so maybe these will help you too!

First

On the way to work this morning, I vented to God about it. No filter. If you’ve been around my blog for awhile, you know real prayers are a huge part of my faith walk. What good is it to serve someone you can’t be honest with? *shrugs* So, that’s what I did. I shared my disgust, my anger, my frustration with the One who holds my heart. Feel free to do the same; He can take it.

Second

I said the following personal mantras aloud:

I can not control everything.

People will do what they want to do.

This is just a season and seasons do change. (You can thank my mom for that one.)

I don’t have to let it in.

Third

I cleansed my spiritual palate with a musical reminder that I am finite and can not hold the world’s problems inside of me. I am not designed to be the host of high stress. Soothing sounds were needed to help me throttle down, so I played How Deeply I Need You by Shekinah Glory… more than once. It’s one of my go-to songs when I don’t know what to do.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Lastly…

I made a mental list of people that show their love by respecting me. When I closed my eyes, I could see them one-by-one. I imagined them hugging me as I took deep breaths into a further state of calm. With that list, I was reminding my spirit that those high-strung people – although God loves them still – are not in my circle. They do not hold power or influence over my life. I have an excellent tribe that I value and those individuals that I saw were a temporary stop along my life’s journey. They do not get to change the molecular structure of my day or my spirit. I am loved. I am cherished. I am respected. I do not have to be loved, cherished, or respected by them. It does not elevate my value.

After a couple of hours, I was back to baseline. I could feel my skin again instead of wanting to jump out of it. I could breathe easier.

I encourage you to gather your own “emergency response” ritual in case you need it and before it sneaks up on you at the grocery store or around your family. Chop down the bad growth before the cactus within gets out of control. It’s not worth it… because after you’re dead, the foolishness will continue without missing a beat. So, don’t miss your life because it. *reminding myself too*

Peace & Thanks for listening! I love y’all and stay well!

Wednesday Wind Down: A Secret Addiction

Good Morning, Family!

I’m glad you’re here. Thanks for stopping by. Let’s dive into this short stop for your week (it’s less than 500 words).

I woke up this morning and asked God about a particular situation where I believe the art of listening wasn’t valued. This phrase breathed into my spirit – addiction to defiance.

The ceiling above my head looked like a blank canvas as I replayed the situation. Immediately, I saw evidence of what I heard. Immediately, I changed the original idea of this post.

Family, I believe some people are high on defiance. It deafens their ears and their hearts. If you tell them not to touch the mailbox because it’s freshly painted, they’ll go outside and lick it. OK, maybe not, but they’ll definitely leave a fingerprint. Getting into conversations with those with such an addiction can be mind-numbing. Fruitless and frustrating. So, it’s not worth it.

You heard me – save your breath.

Photo by Kelvin Valerio on Pexels.com

In some instances, defiance is a viable force for such cases as human rights. In other scenarios, it is a way to charge an internal battery. Perhaps that battery turns over by fear or anger. Residue from being abused by authority. An indoctrination of defiance being the only way to assert one’s self. Fear of extracted freedom. Lack of verbal resources to comprehensively express one’s opinion. Whatever it is, it can materialize into an addiction that harms budding and long-term relationships.

When I was a teenager, my dad would test my strength and will via foot races and wrestling. One time, my mother asked my dad to let me go during a mini-match in the living room. She was being a mom, what can I say? 🙂 My dad, on the other hand, was definitely being a dad because he asked if I was OK while in a pin. I said yes. Then he asked “You give?” I said no with gritted teeth. I tried to wiggle out of his pin, but it didn’t work. “Do you give?” he asked again. “No!” I yelled, still twisting myself toward freedom. There was something about the defiance that strengthened me. I used it as fuel. Somehow, I found an out and my dad congratulated me. I later heard from my mom that he said “Whew! She almost got me that time!”

That will to break out of the pin was helpful then, but my prayer is to never be saturated with it. I never want to be numb to the humanity of those around me. So gritty to defend that I refuse decipher. My prayer is that you do the same. Listen to the heartbeat of those around you, even if you don’t agree. Stay pliable enough to see the fingerprint of God on each creation, even if you have to grit your teeth.

I love you all and stay well out there. Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: A Is For Advocate

Good Afternoon, Family!

I hope you are doing well. If not, it just got better. I missed you last week, but I prayed for you. 🙂 I kept falling asleep trying to post last night, so it was best to share with you today. Trust me, you would have been all kinds of confused looking at that jibberish. lol

Well, let’s get into it. I’m taking you on a journey today.

I’ve been in a strong self-advocacy mode this year. January began with one question –

What will it take to keep Christina healthy?

It was fully-loaded, but I accepted the gravitas.

While my self-care habits are solid, I felt like there were pockets of deficiency that couldn’t matriculate into the next decade. I truly wanted to live my best life and, for me, it all began with that singular question.

Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

What I Did

I looked at it from four angles – physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. In my imagination, this question looked more like a Rubik’s cube than a spreadsheet. There were so many parts that needed to work together in order for me to be the best me. I wasn’t overwhelmed though; I was intrigued. What would it truly take to unlock me?

With meticulous care, I listed items under each category of what it would take for me to be my best self. That meant everything and everyone had to be on the chopping block so I could obtain an aerial view of my needs. It meant that my current plate needed to be clean so I could determine the essential ingredients needed to nourish CJ 2.0. Nothing or no one was “canceled,” but all parties were up for re-election.

So, I started this process with a prayer and a plan. I was going to be a healthier version of myself starting this year – no matter what. I had already resumed therapy to kickstart the mentally column. I asked God to help me not to grow weary quickly and he led me to the physical area next.

Let’s Get Physical

What would it take for my body to be in the best position to do what I am called to do?

I lined up my current medical team like a fresh roster of football players during camp (in my mind, of course). Primary Care, ENT, OB/GYN, Dermatologist… everyone was on trial. Aside from integrity, each practitioner had to make me feel like we were in a partnership. What I needed was well beyond the power of a good gym sweat. I needed to be in solidarity with my doctors and they needed to be in alignment with my CJ 2.0 vision. Everyone had to get in formation and I needed to feel 100% comfortable in their care. I needed medical support beams in my life not benchwarmers giving me prescriptions. That was officially non-negotiable. So, I went down the line and determined which professional needed to be traded so I could get to the healthy championship.

Photo by Fabricio Trujillo on Pexels.com

How It’s Going

So far, so great! The year isn’t over and the journey has just begun, but I’ve already got further than I ever have. Thanks to referrals and research, I have two new doctors who are committed to my vision and do not sugarcoat the data. They don’t talk over me when I’m explaining my experiences. They don’t dismiss my questions. They don’t make condescending comments.

They listen, assess, and deliver information honestly. What a concept.

I felt an ocean of emotions the first time I received an infusion I needed. I kept saying “Lord, thank you for being my advocate.” I flipped the timeline in my mind to the countless doctor visits where I felt diluted and depleted by the lack of empathy. The cold exam rooms. The thin paper gowns. As if it were muscle memory, I would slide off the exam table, gather my things, and attempt to walk out with my head high. Once again, my concerns were unanswered and once again, a medical bill would shortly be in my mailbox.

Photo by Klaus Nielsen on Pexels.com

“Something’s not right. I’m not getting better.”

“I need a copy of my medical file, please.”

“Will you explain the side effects of this prescription?”

“Which lab tests are you running?”

These were on repeat like a Marvin Gaye tune. Before Google was born, I researched as much as I could in books and would write down questions to prepare for medical visits. I was diligent, but after the repetition of disappointment, I was exhausted. Advocating for yourself is a job, you hear me? A full-time job if you’re doing so in the medical arena without insurance, which was where I was during two seasons of my life.

So, when I asked what would it take?, I knew it would require me to squeeze another gallon of self-advocacy out of my spirit. I had to have an “I’m the captain now” attitude. I took the approach of shopping for a car, a house, or even fruit in the grocery store. If I could have standards about my purchases, I could have standards for my medical squad.

Sometimes, we forget how simultaneously fragile and resilient we are. Yes, we coexist with others in this Big Brother house called Earth, but we are not infinite beings in these bodies. We are not endless supplies of anything. We are fueled by what we’ve been given. Self-advocating in these truths created an anchor for me. Many Christians will have you believe that the less you speak up for your needs, the closer to God you are. The more you grit your teeth and bear it or take whatever is given to you, the more jewels you get in your crown.

That’s a ridiculous lie.

Photo by Chad Witbooi on Pexels.com

I guarantee that if your meal was subpar at an upscale restaurant, you wouldn’t just “live with it.” You would expect to receive not only the advertised product, but the staff’s best service.

Self-advocacy doesn’t require rudeness, but it does demand a certain level of confidence. It may even require firm pressure to the powers that be.

I know it’s exhausting and can feel downright degrading at times, but I encourage you to keep advocating. Keep praying that God leads you to the best match for your needs. Divine navigation is real and I’m a witness of it. Every time I felt a “nope” in my gut, I respectfully declined to continue their services and crossed them off the list. It wasn’t an emotional decision; my life was (and still is) on the docket and I believe God wants me to have the best version of this life possible.

Finally. Photo by me.

My prayer is that you know advocacy is not a sin and self-advocacy is not being selfish. There’s a whole world out here (quick shoutout to Diagnosis on Netflix), so there is an empathetic match for you.

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 says “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.” As much as we work, we should be able to enjoy a positive quality of life. Self-advocacy is just as “saved” as reading my Word. It reaffirms the quality of my Craftsmanship. My DNA was created by a divine being and that alone makes it worthy to cherish.

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. – 3 John 1:2

When the Creator placed you on this planet, you were not designed to take whatever you can get. In January 2021, I officially denounced that theory when it came to my health. I pray you do the same from here on out.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Family!

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