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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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communication

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: The Invisibles

Hi, Family!

I hope you had a good day. If not, it just got better. I prayed for you this week and here’s the shortstop Word I was given to share.

One of my consistent prayers is to see the heart of people. To peer past the surface and listen to the heartbeat God placed within these bodies. Let me warn you – this is one of those real prayers. It’s not an easy feat to penetrate a heavy armor of hatred and seek the root of a person. Honestly, it takes practice (but doesn’t all of this thing call faith take practice?).

After praying that request some years ago, my natural empathy boosted 10 times over. It felt like an overload some days. I walked by a woman one day and realized her retail therapy was an attempt to hush her grief-stricken heart. I spoke to her and she cried. Moments like that began to multiply and I found myself praying the following: “Lord, how many of us are there? How many of us are walking with invisible scars, aches, and pains? How many of us do we not see?” The answer I heard – “Everywhere.”

Every day, the Invisibles are among us. They work with us, shop with us, and even live with us. Some are strangers we love and some are family we despise. Some hold stark opinions that can make your blood boil. Newsflash: Our faith calls us to Love them too.

Now, I’m not telling you to act like a licensed professional and diagnose everyone you meet. I am challenging you to see beyond. Since we do not know what a person is experiencing, it would behoove us to act like Jesus and show compassion to all. Since some battles are invisible, it would be wise not to pass judgment to anyone. Since we do not live in each other’s skin, we should watch our mouths. Our words alone could repel someone from seeing the essence of our beliefs. So, since we don’t know, we should be quiet. Be still. Check in with the Holy Spirit and check our circles of influence. Be for real and ask God to illuminate and eliminate our blind spots . We should show that overwhelming Love that was shown to us.

It doesn’t take much. It just takes kindness. An extra tip to your server. An open door for a person who is carrying a load. An encouraging text to someone you admire. A listening ear to someone who feels unheard. A sincere compliment. It takes an extension of yourself past that prayer.

So let’s make grace contagious. Let’s move past the familiar and into the invisible. Let’s see the fingerprint of God in people and Love them as we are commanded to do.

Stay well out there and, in case you haven’t heard it recently, I love you and I’m proud of you. You’re still here and you made it this far.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Got A Buck?

Hi, Family!

I know it’s not Wednesday. I also know that you wouldn’t have wanted me to type anything last night as sleepy as I was. I felt like a restless cranky kid fighting bedtime. I told my aunt “I’m so sleepy, but I need to write my blog post… but I can’t do it!” *insert fake-cry-almost real cry here* She told me I should go to bed, so I did… and the sleep was glorious. I missed you, but the back of my eyelids made good company too.

On the flip side, I knew exactly what I wanted to say, so here we go. 🙂

All day Wednesday, I heard the same thing in my spirit.

Are you on Instagram? Great. Me too.

I instantly thought of political parties, countries, families, corporations… a plethora of complex organisms. The back-and-forth on who should pay for healthcare, if redlining is real, if dad should be in an assisted living facility, or why historical injustices should be recognized as a repellent for the future is enough to make anyone throw up her hands and say “forget it.”

But, then what? We end up being two sides of one coin trying to separate from its core. As a faith walker, the tension will make you want to stay out of conversations that need your voice… or make you pass the buck to someone else. Unfortunately, that is not what we are called to do as the Body of Christ.

That’s right. I said it. Christians skirt around responsibilities and tough conversations too. Don’t confuse arguing and debating with digesting communication. They are not the same. We tend to pass the buck when ideals do not align to ours. Disagreements will exist; so, do our responsibilities.

We are called to stand up for the voiceless. We are commanded to love the difficult heart. We are commissioned to serve the those that are without. These are non-negotiables. So, when a member of God’s Kingdom tells another member of the same Kingdom that their experience is false, unimportant, or discounted, we are passing the buck. We are saying “That’s not my responsibility” and I beg to differ that Jesus would use the same words in our current environment.

Do you know one place where the buck doesn’t get shuffled around? Your body.

Photo by Evelina Zhu on Pexels.com

You’re equipped with various methods to fight illness and injury at any given time. You have different types of pain receptors the assist with proper pain management assessment and microphages that destroy harmful organisms on a regular basis. Your body doesn’t say “That’s not my problem” or “You’re making excuses.” It says I feel you and we’re in this together.

What buck are you passing around at work or home? What are you dodging instead of acknowledging both? This is an internal and external means of accountability. Bottom line – own it. Whatever it is. Maybe it’s that conversation you’ve been avoiding with your spouse or child. Perhaps it is that offensive statement you made to a friend that you have yet to apologize for. When the buck stands still, it doesn’t create a vortex of pain between the parties at play. That’s where we get the phrase the buck stops here. Who cares who pays for healthcare if it means a citizen doesn’t have to choose going to work over a doctor’s appointment? What difference should it make if a Latinx family moves into an all-White neighborhood? Why shouldn’t a someone be empathic when he hears of a racist act? Family, the buck should stop with us because we are representatives of the Blood of Christ. Matthew 12:36 states the following: But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.

As long as we deflect responsibility, we will never work together as a seamless organism. So, I encourage you to survey your internal and external grounds (like I am) to check for those roaming bucks. Call them to order and live in dominion over them all.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Tongue-Tie

Hi, Sweethearts!

Let’s talk about ankyloglossia.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s a relatively common condition in which small band of tissue connects the tip of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. It is usually present at birth and can affect one’s speaking and eating. Sometimes surgery is necessary to rectify the condition.

What do you do when you’re trying to say something and you can’t find the words to make it happen? I usually pause to allow a pathway for the right word to surface. At times, however, I don’t say anything at all and I tuck my thought in the back of my mind.

Lately, I’ve felt like my prayers of hope have been struggling to reach the ceiling. Heartfelt whispers easily flew from my lips, but to utter a sound — to use my voice — seemed like a tall order. I could sense the hands of disappointment choking me as I prayed for myself. I tried to get the words out, but they ended up getting tucked back in.

Has that ever happened to you? Have you been afraid to pray for what you need? What’s your spiritual tongue-tie condition?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

This week, I got frustrated with my lack of expectation and I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I raised my arms and prayed out loud. For the first time in months, I felt my words break through the glass ceiling in my mind. My voice cracked through clouds of despair and it was invigorating. I immediately thought “I need to do this again. This is just the beginning.” See, the thing about ankyloglossia is that it doesn’t prevent a baby from crying. It doesn’t deter the sound of the soul. The following verse was my first step.

Courtesy of my YouVersion App

Don’t allow the past to choke the voice of your future. It deteriorates the power of your prayers — our prayers.

Let’s speak in confidence to our God. One sentence at a time, if need be. Sing in the car, lift your hands in the closet, or pray aloud while you’re cooking. Let’s do what it takes to make our voices break through the clouds. Our hope is stronger than any evil force that says otherwise and being tongue-tied will not stop us from communicating with our Creator.

Stay well out there. Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #30

To My Fellow Creatives:


I sincerely applaud us! Like immigrants, we get the job done! (see what I did there?)

We robe ourselves with the stories of others and output exceptional interpretations. It takes a brilliant mind to do such acrobatics. It takes a certain level of emotional skill to tap into the dark recesses of the world to tell an authentic story and come out of the cave without permanent scarring. I marvel at our community’s ability to do this often and sometimes across multiple projects. We are AH-MAY-ZING!

If I had to remind us of something, it would be to remember that we are valuable beyond what we do. Yes, our skills pay the bills, but we are more than what comes out of us. We are more than our masks. We are more than the stage.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

The truth is if we die tomorrow, the show of society would commemorate us for a bit and continue with another cast of characters. So, take care of yourselves, Loves. Our minds, bodies, and souls are more than worth it. I know we lie ourselves down for the sake of the craft, but for a lifetime of creative expulsion, I don’t like seeing us falling victim to the vice of overexertion. Some of us therapeutically deal with our issues through the arts and some of us die physically and spiritually because of them. The cycle in our community has to stop. WE MATTER.

Photo by Edgar Colomba on Pexels.com

When we sing, notes fly out of our souls like beautifully-winged freedom. When we dance, movement creates waves that disrupt unseen demons. When we act, emotion pours out of us and onto a canvas called life so others can see themselves. Yet… when I see another one of us die by suicide, drugs, crime, and various manners caused by reckless living, I am saddened because it was so preventable and the world is dimmer. Such a beautiful Icarus. Another creative we must love from afar because they got too close to the sun.

Please take care of you and look out for one another. It can be a lonely career although it is dependent upon so many people. Once you give yourself so well and you return to your hotel room or the job is over and you’re back home until the next call, the pause can be rejuvenating or deafening. Let’s be sure that we’re OK. Let’s be sure we don’t get lost in the sauce. Let’s remember that we are people first and we are loved.

Keep rocking EVERYTHING, Co-Stars!

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #29

Written January 11, 2017 at 1:36 AM (It’s a little lengthy because I let it flow that day. No apologies.)

To The Obama Family:


I cried.

Not the sniff-sniff sentimental cute cry. The ugly one. A lamentation even.

I kept asking myself “Why am I crying?! Why… am I crying?” I’m a firm believer that tears have a name. They speak when your words can’t, so I was trying to hear what these were saying. My voice got softer as the tears got bigger and my face crumbled like an unwanted piece of paper. I didn’t understand where the tears were coming from. Here I was — watching the farewell address of a current president as I had done before, only this time, my soul was weeping and I couldn’t put my finger on the origin. Then, I asked again aloud in frustration, “Why am I crying right now?!” I heard the Lord say “Because someone had to do it. You’re mourning the end, but you’re glad to see it.”

I couldn’t have agreed more.

I was so overjoyed to see with own eyes the historical manifestation of what I taught to hundreds of students. I was proud of our technological age as I absorbed the spirit of the moment through my cell phone. I was grateful to hear the passionate sincerity in your voice, President Obama. My president. My ownership of the political process was just as real as my ancestors. In essence, I was crying with my late grandmother that used to clean the homes of White families. I was crying with my late great-grandparents and my uncles who experienced discrimination in the military. I can’t describe how anointed it felt to be in this moment, full of grace and momentum, simultaneously.

I was in awe.

Photo by Aaron Schwartz on Pexels.com

I felt the love toward your wife and daughters. I absorbed the gratitude extended to the vice-president, cabinet, and staff. I witnessed the appreciation toward the volunteers and voters that got you there (at this moment I could see the tear wiped from your face with a handkerchief). To acknowledge the torch was burning for a new carrier and that you had taken it as far as you could. Despite the surge of overt racism, death threats, and emphatic defiance, you made it to this moment. And it was true — somebody had to do it. And I wasn’t looking for perfection — I was just looking for someone to try. Someone that looked like me.

And First Lady Obama… to be painted as an angry Black woman in the midst of raising the standard of America’s children as well as your own was no feat for the average will, but again… somebody had to do it and do it well. So much so, that the second go ’round was even more beautiful to behold than the first. Your blossoms of security, passion, and focus were bigger and brighter. As a result, the pollination of other Queendoms ensued and there are gardens all over the world. You were and still are remarkable in your own undeniable right and I love you for being brave enough to remain authentic. Authentically in love with your husband, authentically protective of your children, and authentically passionate about justice and solidarity. I appreciate that. A blueprint beautifully unscrolled for other women to follow and cherish.

Sasha and Malia — Bless you for growing up under such a judgmental microscope. When people picked you apart, I shook my head and spoke up. You were children living in a world you didn’t sign up for, not on a reality show with a contract. You were not “fair game,” as I heard someone say. Despite all of this, you rose to exceptional heights and I am so proud of you. You’re intelligent and you stand unapologetically in your womanhood. Keep doing just that.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

I’m still amazed how those sporadic tears jumped down my face, but they were definitely shed without regret. I admonished them to have their way and for my soul to speak its peace without restraint. And it did. Again and again. A lamented song with bars I had never heard. I let it out without penance. I was sad to see you go, Obama Family, but so happy to see the completion of this chapter. There were many times I prayed no one would kill you as you waved to crowds with heart and hugged with compassion. I prayed often for your protection because the threats were out there. I’ve always prayed for leaders as the Bible says so, but this time was different. On several occasions, I feared for your lives and your optimism. I didn’t want the vile of a few to dilute your hope and strength. The past, present, and future needed you.

In closing, I appreciate your steadfastness toward each other and for displaying balance of life. You have a few more gray hairs there, Mr. President, and you earned every one. There’s no telling how many backdoor conversations you had to stomach and pep talks you had to give and get.

I’m sorry to see you go, but I’m glad to see you live.

Somebody had to do it. Somebody had to stand in the middle of time and history. Somebody had to be you in this lifetime and I’m so glad it was you. Thank you. For everything seen and unseen. You did it well and your heart spoke for you in every footstep toward your belief for better. My tears today are well spent and I appreciate the opportunity to let them fall. Thank you for being you and may God richly bless your days and the lives of your family.

Sincerely,

Christina J. Wade

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #28

Disclaimer: Have you ever heard of encouraging yourself? Well, this is an authentic letter from my spirit back into myself at a time (any given time) when I needed to do that. Thank you for listening.

Christina,

Girl. It’s OK.

It’s OK to not be OK. It’s OK to be frustrated. It’s OK to survive on the Word of God. It’s OK to drink pouches of positivity to stay alive. It’s OK to pour it out.

You’re doing the best you can. You do right by people. And as you type this part with your eyes closed, you are emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically aware of who you are and who you want to be.

I know there are parts of your life you have yet to obtain. Those unreached parts do not define a deficit in who you are. I know there are many experiences you are grateful to have in your memory bank. How beautiful, they are. How beautiful, you are. Remember that you are not your accomplishments and there is no race. Do your best and when you get there, you’ll be there. In the meantime, you’re here and don’t be angry at that. It’s downright egregious that you’ve had to fight for things that others received easily. You’re not envious of the person, but the frequency frustrates you.

Photo by mikoto.raw on Pexels.com

Queen, stand firm in knowing that God’s got you. You have to believe that enough to keep walking when the room is spinning. You have to breathe that in every chance you get. That’s your resuscitation when it feels like you’re suffocating under the bricks. Our God is great provider, healer, and the resurrection of life itself.

You have to be better at accepting His help through others though. You’re patient with others more than you are with yourself. You know how to give yourself grace, but you suck at letting the process continue when you don’t see the justice. You struggle with letting patience have her perfect work in certain situations. No, you’re not the only one with challenges beyond your control, but your experiences do matter to the Father and to those whose loving arms surround you.

Just breathe. Deeply. Inhaling all you know that is Truth and exhaling all you know that is heavy.

It’s OK.

It’s OK.

It’s going to be OK.

Photo by Matheus Natan on Pexels.com

You are a warrior. You are soft enough to be a princess and strong enough to be a queen. You have exceptional abilities and capabilities. You are one woman with a wide wingspan. Doubt is no match for you. Despair slinks away at the mention of your presence coming because you know to whom you belong. The same God that created the world and all that you see lives inside of you as a force to be reckoned with. So, after those tears comes a rising. After those shoulders rolled forward comes a head held high. Listen to your heartbeat and remember God put it there for a reason.

You got this.

He got you.

Just like He did the last time.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #27

To my Fantastic Frat Brothers of Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity:

First things first — Happy 101st Anniversary, Bruhs!

When I joined Tau Beta Sigma in 2001, my dean/big sister told me that if I ever need anything, find a Bruh. Not that my sisters wouldn’t have my back, but she wanted to establish that I had always had back-up. I was always covered.

She didn’t lie.

A Quick Note: Now this was before KKPsi became co-ed, so my primary memories involve male members and my points of references in this letter will reflect that experience. This doesn’t knock any member post the co-ed change. You know I love you all.

Whether I was on the road or down the street, a brother of KKPsi would sincerely ensure my well-being. Small things matter to me like walking to me to my car (which you always do) and the big things certainly can not be overlooked like letting me sleep peacefully in your room and making sure no one woke me up because you knew I had a long drive ahead. It was even a Bruh that provided a place to stay and transportation for my audition in DC. I’ll never forget that.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I love that you are exceptional musicians and no one can stroll like you — no one. One of my favorite memories is watching a small group of you recall the score of band music you played in college. Quarter notes and staccatos punctuated your voices like audible artwork and you gathered like the geniuses you were to make sure it was flawless. The musicianship it takes to be you in unparallel and that’s what I admire about you all year long.

I love that you support each other In The Bond. I’ve seen you hold each other up in hard times and correct each other at parties. You’re brothers and you act like it.

God bless you all for the rest of your years and beyond. Stick together — no matter what. Keep loving on each other during this time and keep showing Sorors that sibling love (not just Greek crushes) is indeed real — that those constitutions meant something when our founders bonded us together. Music and band are the ultimate examples of that because it takes every part of us to create the Masterpiece.

I love you. Keep striving for the highest. I tip 101 red carnations to you.

CJW
“Fine Tuned”
#1 – Eta Lambda – SPR01
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Eta Lambda Alumni Association

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