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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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devotional

Wednesday Wind Down: Keep It Up

Good Morning, Family! Happy September!

I hope that you’re doing well out there. I’m glad you made it to another week.

There’s a lot going on and I’m not oblivious to it, but whew… it can be a struggle to keep your spirits up. One thing I remember my late father saying is “If you look down, you go down. If you look up, you go up.” I used to think “Man, that sounds so easy, Pop. It sounds good, but it’s not that easy.”

But to him, it was. It truly was.

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Between racial injustice, church scrutiny, and near-death experiences, he endured more than his fair share of adversity. He lived through so much turmoil that I guess he had no other choice but to look up. Looking down in despair would have surely taken him out of this world sooner than appointed. When I am surrounded by dark clouds, I find myself grasping for Pop’s determination to look up… to look up past the hovering gloom. I know it wasn’t easy, but somehow he kept his spiritual chin up. Being a deacon-turned-pastor would probably cultivate that strength within any person. The grounds of his heart had to be rich with fertilizer to grow such wisdom and unbothered-ness.

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So, how do you keep your spiritual chin up when your head and heart feel heavy? I’m glad you asked. Here’s three practical things that help me save myself –

  1. I religiously use my Google Chromecast. Whether it is instrumental jazz for four hours or a feel-good movie, I take news breaks so I am not overwhelmed via heart and mind. Seeing division and unrest rips my heart to shreds. Social and political misrepresentation squeezes my analytical educator brain. Hypocrisy makes me sick. Modern-day Pharisees give me hives. The perpetual dismissal of the obvious can make my chest heat up. So… I utilize my Chromecast to the fullest before I get full. On many days, I feel more like the God in Amos 6:8-14 than the Peter in 1 Peter 2:12. Streaming a mental palate cleanser works like a charm.
  2. I remember I am just a piece of the puzzle. Say it with me, Family – “I can not fix all of this.” Say it again if you have to – “I can not fix all of this.” Replacing “everything” with “all of this” makes my typical mantra plop down on the doorstep of my heart, right there with the rest of the world’s problems. I cannot look at pain and not be moved. I cannot see an opportunity to help and not flinch like a track athlete ready to run at the gun’s fire. I’m not built that way… yet, while I believe my puzzle piece has purpose, I am still just one piece. I don’t have the capacity to eradicate racism or provide a limitless supply of homes for the unhoused. I certainly can’t fix everything I see. I just have to make sure to do what I can. In other words, think micro when you’re overwhelmed with macro. Ask yourself, “What’s my piece of the puzzle?”
  3. I save my voice. Listen, I’m going say this with a sharper sentence – don’t lose your voice screaming at people who aren’t listening. Period. In a time where all sides are shouting, someone has to have Peace at the center of the conversation. Someone has to let Love rule the table… even if it’s piercing. As my Pop would say, “Somebody gotta have some sense.” I watched my dad stay silent in the most heated debates. When he was done talking, he was done talking. It’s like a switch flipped and he knew it would be a waste of time to speak further. Like the Holy Spirit gave him a baseball coach’s signal and he knew to stay on base. I admired that about him so much. Over the years, I’ve acquired it, but even past the grave, his mastery is well above my level. One thing that doesn’t happen anymore is me being physically or spiritually hoarse. By saving my voice, I save myself.
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I hope one or some of these tips help you this week and beyond. After all, it’s the second day of September and there is much opportunity for goodness to happen to you, through you, and around you. I know it’s difficult to be in the midst of turmoil, but remember that you are a vessel of Peace. You may not can stop everything bad that is happening, but you can stop letting it control your heart. Take charge of your eyes and ears and take care of your spirit. You are worth the Love.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there and I love you!

Wednesday Wind Down: Post-Op

Hi, Family!

I hope you had an enriching day. If not, I hope these words give you some solace.

Let me start by saying that today was a hard one. As I claw my way out of depressive waters (thank you Jesus and Therapy) and realign my life, there are days like today that make me wander down a rabbit hole of “why’s” and “what if’s.” I know what you may be thinking… “Why would you wander down a road of why’s? What good does it do?” It’s not a place I wanted to be, but somehow I ended up there today and whew… talk about a headspin. Next thing I know, I was sitting in my car with a pen in my hand trying to write my way out of a dark hole of loneliness. While that’s not the cool thing to say in Christianity, we keep it real around here.

So, what happened next was a beautiful reminder in the form of a whisper. Pen still in hand with about a half-page of spillage, I heard “You’re in post-op.”

It made perfect sense… instantly. In 2019, I told a friend that I felt like I was in spiritual surgery – like God wanted to rearrange some things in my life and all He wanted was my yes. I remember saying “OK, let’s go. Whatever You want to do, I’m in.” I had just transitioned into full-time entrepreneurship and felt like I was already skywalking on faith anyway. So in 2020, when depressive waves crashed into my soul, I remember saying “OK, so isn’t it over? Is the surgery incomplete? Am I still going through it? This is rough.”

*insert radio silence here*

Me and my frustration cried and yelled feeling like a used discarded sweater. Meanwhile, my body felt limp and expended. What in the world was happening? Was this the second phase or something? Whatever it was, I wasn’t a fan and it was lasting too long.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

*insert timelapse here to present day*

I sat in my car, lamenting on paper, then I heard that whisper and I saw it clearly. Me + hospital gown + hospital bed + tubes + monitors + four sterile walls. I knew the scenary all too well. There I was, lying there, eyes closed. I took a deep breath and realized what the Holy Spirit was telling me.

Occasionally in the vision, a nurse came in to check on me. A doctor had already spoken to my family. Limited visitors, one or two persons. I slept mostly. Limited words left my lips because my throat was still sore from anesthesia and/or the surgery itself.

After surgery, I think I should be up and running like a car after a tune-up. I always think that even though I know better. Once a procedure is completed, there’s a place called post-op and there are post-op instructions. Even same-day surgery has a post-op period. Nevertheless, what do I do? A slight tip over too much. *SMH* Why? Because I think it’s over. It’s done. It’s time to move on.

Well, Family, that’s how depression hit me like a freight train last year. I had a series of “it’s time to move on” lies in my head that lasted over a decade. Each compounded over the other. I still had joy. I still had divine anointing over my life. I still used my gifts in church, and yes, I still inspired others. And I did it well. And I meant it. But when I gave God permission to rearrange and extract as needed, I tried to apply the same lie – “OK. It’s over. It’s done. It’s time to move on.” Meanwhile, in the batcaves of reality and against my desire, I’m in post-operation recovery. Some friends have been removed. Some boundaries have been implanted. Some desires were shifted underneath others. Some thought patterns have been rewired. Stitching of redefined faith is in place and my insides are learning to work with them. I don’t feel like talking much because it hurts as it heals. I’m relearning my voice and its abilities. I’m raw, fragile, and strong at the same time.

I’m healing.

I’m healing.

I am healing.

And I can’t rush the post-op. “Change my heart, God!” “I want to be like You!” “Make me over!” Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, if you want it, this transition can not be skipped. There are instructions that must be followed so the healing can continue past the operating room.

Photo by Nguyu1ec5n Thanh Ngu1ecdc on Pexels.com

Tonight, I want to share some grace with you in the form of this reminder – make peace with the post-op period. It’s uncomfortable, I know because you want to jump into the swing of normal, but truthfully, your normal is different after you ask God to change it. After you want to level up inside. After you say yes. When I said “OK, let’s go,” that meant that some people, things, thoughts, and habits could not go with me… and I didn’t get to decipher which ones stayed. I won’t lie to you, Family. It’s been the rawest experience of my life to date but the best decision I’ve ever made. If you’ve been here for a while, you know attention is not my cozy place, but with this experience, I’ve had to speak up more and share my heart past the uncomfortable part of me. Every time I do, someone says “Me too.”

Hence the entire reason for this blog. I don’t want anyone to be afraid of the process of Jesus’ Love. I don’t anyone to be ashamed to say “I need a therapist.” I don’t want anyone to feel alone in their walk of faith. If no one has told you lately, you are not alone. You have value and you have purpose on this Earth. You also have a right to be the best version of yourself… the version God had in mind when He fashioned you with His hands.

My prayer is that you embrace the discomfort of recuperation knowing that healing is a process and wholeness is on the other side of it.

I love you. Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there and reach out if you need to.

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: Real Prayer Time

Hey, Family.

Tonight, it’s real prayer time and I’m going to share some real talk I had with God this week after reviewing the details and footage of 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario’s case and a few other atrocities.

My prayers also include you… that your spirits will be malleable enough to empathize and fortified enough to carry out the duties of the days ahead. It’s been a difficult week so far for some of us, but we are a family in the eyes of God, and families stick together, so let’s approach the Throne of Grace… together.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Father God, in the name of Jesus –

America the Beautiful is not America the Perfect and sometimes those imperfections are hard to see, hard to digest, and hard to admit.

We’ve come a long way, but we have a ways to go… but let some folks tell it, we’re just fine. Nothing’s wrong. Everything is as it should be. I couldn’t disagree more.

I’ve seen tears and anguish once again and it seems there is no end in sight. Every hail of accomplishment seems to carry with it another blow, another dismissal of human dignity.

I’m coming to you in a state of gratitude right now. Grateful there’s proof of what we need to fix. Grateful that for the countless others who were never filmed, there is a dossier of visible scars that never healed. At some point, the disjunction has to be undeniable and our shades must be removed so we can see the full picture. We need Your grace to helps us with that because we suck at it right now.

Sometimes our teeth grit and we square our shoulders ready to combat anyone that can take the brunt of our pain. Unwarranted words filled with bile fly back and forth between us. I can’t believe we’re in 2021 sometimes with the things I see and hear.

We are sick in need of a Cure, yet You’ve given us the anecdote to eradicate the invisible virus that is truly keeping us apart. I know utopia is not an option. I’m not oblivious to the fact that things will worsen as You prepare to return; however, I pray that the saturation of discord and rhetoric decreases, in the name of Jesus. Cut off the pipelines of hate on every side. I know it will never leave, but at least it doesn’t have to thrive. Not like this.

Help us to see each other as part of the same whole… that helping or listening to our brother doesn’t discount us in any way. That we are spirits in human form.

Keep correcting us, O God. It hurts, but it’s necessary. Again, you remind us that we can’t say we are your children yet we treat each other otherwise. 1 John 4:19-21 states that we can’t love You and not love each other.

We say “Fill me up,” “I want to be like You,” and “Show me Your face,” but…

You keep showing us our hearts instead. We can’t even get the fundamentals right… the love You with all of our heart and to love our neighbors and ourselves… those… right there, those keep tripping us up from the Kingdom. You gave us the greatest commandment and I can only imagine Your face as we beg for more to follow.

Keep exposing.


Keep irrigating the wound so it can heal correctly somewhere… anywhere… everywhere…


Keep bringing us closer to where we should be instead of our cozy places. Only You can change the heart, but You also give us the free will to let You.

Keep my readers safe from all harm seen and unseen. Keep their minds clear and their hearts open to receive the Love you have so readily available to us all. Keep their ears open to hear Your voice and willing hands ready to serve.

In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

Be safe out there, Family. Peace & Thanks for listening. I love y’all. Have a great week! 💙

Wednesday Wind Down: Learning Again

Hi, Sweethearts!

Two years ago, I wrote a short stop entitled Learning to encourage you to be comfortable with your vulnerable process. What more of a reminder do we need than right now?

I’ve been keeping a running tab on all of the things I have done and learned during the quarantine. The items range from refreshing my French via Duolingo to shredding unnecessary paperwork. The list also includes life lessons. I’m going to share two of them with you and I look forward to hearing yours.

  1. I still have enough pride not to ask for help. So, I thought I got rid of all of my pride when I was unemployed during graduate school. I truly thought I passed that course, but apparently, a smidgen of it is still left and boy, did it get dealt with.
  2. I had a necessary and challenging conversation with a friend. A conversation I avoided for months because I was overly accommodating. It took more than one phone call, but the result was a friendship on the mend instead of another carcass in the desert of emotional dishonesty.

I know everyone isn’t staying at home, but I’m sure this season is giving us all another life lesson opportunity of some kind. Are you willing to learn again? Are you teachable? When it’s all said and done, we can’t say we didn’t have the chance. So, what is something you’ve learned so far?

I’m praying for you, Sweethearts! Keep shining!

Wednesday Wind Down: Slumber

Well, Sweethearts… I have a confession to share.

I’ve been sleeping pretty well and not at all — and it’s been great. Let me explain.

You already know that I’m a night owl. That’s when my creative juices come out and play.  Sometimes their stride can generate a supernatural momentum, so much so that the sun and I say hello the next day. When that happens, I don’t just get a lot done; I am infused with energy to execute the plan laid out before me.  If there are obstacles in my way like a bunch of linebackers, I feel inoculated against them and empowered to run them right over. Lately, this is how those sleepless nights have been.

woman in black overall lying down on wooden dock
Photo by Tomas Anunziata on Pexels.com

Then, there’s the flip. Aside from a few not-so-great health days, my sleep has been sound. Ridiculously sound. It doesn’t hurt that my work commutes have stopped under quarantine, so that created a lot of room for naps as needed. For someone who usually spends 4-5 hours a day in a car, those naps have been golden.

I remember a season when this wasn’t the case. I used to have repetitive nightmares of various kinds. They would feel so real that I would delay going to bed. I would tire myself out in hopes that I wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night. I felt tormented instead of settled at sundown. Then, this verse changed the game.

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I realized had control over my rejuvenation. The tumultuous overnights were actually an evil scheme against my productivity and my Peace. So, I took my sleep back. I quoted that verse every night before I went to bed. More than once if necessary (which was often).

My encouragement to you is that you re-possess your rest. When you sleep well, your body rebuilds. Your mental prowess increases. You power up to be a better version of yourself. Now, you can see why it was such a perfect plan… to steal something that would enhance your God-given awesomeness. Don’t let it happen especially in this season. You deserve to be your best self, so do what it takes. Speak with Word over your rest.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart. Here’s to those sweet dreams too.

Wednesday Wind Down: Resurrect

Hi, Sweethearts!

This past Sunday was Easter Sunday where Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I thought of a quick stop of encouragement for you… for us.

I am determined to come out of this quarantine season better than I was when it began. Like our Savior, we are in a place of holding. It is darker for some than it is for others, but one truth is the same — it is temporary.

What will you become when this is all over? When a new normal resumes, will you carry the same baggage? Will the residue of your anger infiltrate your future relationships? Will you continue to abuse others and yourself? Who will you be after we come out of this season? Those are my questions to you.

person hands woman pen
Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

Personally, I have a list of to-do’s. I’m definitely not sitting at home twiddling my thumbs. Those that know me well can attest that I am always working on something to achieve my goals. This season is no different. There is one thing on the to-do list that supersedes them all… and that is to stay free. To not let anything physically, mentally, and emotionally hold me captive from filling this life with everything I was created to be. I know I make God proud. I know His love is unconditional; however, I know I can get in my own way. I can think that I’m not good enough, that I’m too old, that I’m not old enough, etc. That part —- that cancer — has no place here. So, under quarantine, that is how I will resurrect.

How will you?

I love y’all and I’m praying for you. Peace & Thanks for listening!

 

Sunday Special: Incline Your Ear

Happy Palm Sunday, Sweethearts!

I just had a “listening at the speed of life” moment.

I was sitting on the couch and noticed my dog’s ears. They were turned outward while he was lying on his bed. I needed him to move so I wouldn’t step on him (he likes to move his bed close to my feet). I shifted my weight and one of his ears turned toward me. I whispered his name and he looked up.

Now, when Sammy and I lock eyes, I know he’s paying attention; however, when he hears my voice, his formerly-outward ears rotate toward me.

Pause. Take note of that for a second.

His eyes can be on me and I know he will hear my words, but the moment I call his name, the orientation of his ears always changes. He not only recognizes my voice, but he is waiting to hear from me. It doesn’t matter what is on television or what music I’m playing, he hears me over the noise.

The Holy Spirit used this as a teachable moment and I said a quick yet sincere prayer right then.

Lord, may I always incline my ear to You. Your voice supersedes every sound around me. I want to always be ready to hear your voice — whatever it is You have to say.

Here’s a verse to chew on that relates to this prayer – Isaiah 55:3: “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.”

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Courtesy of my YouVersion – Bible App

Here’s the next step. While out for our walk today, I heard more from the Holy Spirit. “He even inclines his ear when you shift.” It made me pause again. I shook my head and said, “Lord, please let me be so sensitive that I listen when you move.” Think of how much spiritual sensitivity and intimacy that takes… to change the orientation of your heart, mind, and body when God shifts his movement around you and in you. To turn your ear toward Him at a moment’s notice because You don’t want to miss what He has to say. That’s how I want to be. It’s how I am now, but I want it even more so.

I pray that your ears become inclined too. That during this season and beyond, you will hear the voice of God as clearly as you hear a parent’s voice. I pray that you recognize it clearly as the stillness of the world is commanded among us. Here’s a hint – His voice is usually not loud, but it is clear. Keep reading the Word and saying real prayers, Sweetheart. He is there and he is also listening out for you.

Peace & Thanks for listening to me. 🙂

 

Wednesday Wind Down: Corners

Happy Thursday, Sweetheart.

Yesterday, I took a break for in-home self-care and went to sleep soon after. It was so relaxing… so much so that I missed our weekly Wednesday check-in. I apologize. I did think of you before the slumber though. Below were my short-stop sentiments. I hope they help you through the rest of this week.

During this quarantine, we have a valuable opportunity. Yes, me too. Along with my cleaning fits (the Marie Kondo method continues), I am also allowing God to sweep the corners of my heart. You know, those rooms that you close the door to when company comes over? Well, those are the doors I decided to open to my Father for the last 20 days and it has been liberating. A little raw, a little ugly, but liberating. There’s something about being completely vulnerable with nothing holding you hostage. It’s a comforting bar of safety that supersedes this world.

On Tuesday, my church hosted a virtual devotional via Facebook and I used Mark 6:31 as my foundation verse to lead the meeting. In this passage, Jesus says something so sweet. He knew his disciples were exhausted from ministry travel and what else would be perfect than stillness and food? Sounds like a nice “welcome back” homage to me.

I don’t struggle with balancing stillness and productivity. It was a lesson I learned a long time ago; however, I am using this season as an opportunity to open the doors and let some fresh air flow through those rooms.

Sitting in one of those corners was the fear of being finite. That I’m on this continuum that will not stop until I expire. That I am not able to rewind. It only moves forward and I only move with it. I gave that over to the Creator along with a couple of other dust bunnies that were found. That’s what the Word does… it helps you see yourself. The one that God created. The masterpiece He had in mind. It illuminates those corners and creates a desire to live free and clear.

In this season, I pray you will allow the same sweep to take place inside of you. Every time you reach for your broom (or the disinfectant wipes), I want you to think about your heart. Think about those rooms. Before quarantine, many of us were able to restrict those areas, but now we are probably finding it difficult to do so… and that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with vulnerability. There’s nothing wrong with being open. You just have to do with the right One.

I’m praying for you, Sweetheart. Much love and hugs to you. We got this.

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