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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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encouragement

Wednesday Wind Down: Deep Dive

Hey, Family!

How’s your week so far? I pray it’s been amazing!

If you’re new to my site, this is my virtual living room and you’re welcome to sit for a minute. We get personal around here as I merge faith and humanity, so I’m glad you’re here. Let’s go!

Currently, I am healing from the outside in and it is painstakingly uncomfortable. Having surgery last year opened up a Pandora’s box of emotional remnants that I didn’t know were there.

A major key I reaffirmed is that I’m acrobatic in giving grace to others.

When you’re a Psychology-turned-Communication Arts major, you are ingrained to look at every situation with a prism instead of judgmental binoculars. You quickly learn that everything isn’t as it seems and you dishonor the truth when you leave out a perspective.

For example, your spouse comes homes and the door slams behind her, what are your thoughts?

Photo by Dobromir Hristov on Pexels.com

At first glance, you may jump to a “What’s wrong with you?” type of response. A communication skill called perception checking would take you through a few steps to allow ethical interpretation of that behavior. Maybe she misjudged how close the door was to the frame or the wind forced it. Maybe, she was annoyed with something that happened during the commute and regrets letting it slam. After you provide the possibilities, you ask your spouse to verify or correct those options. This diffuses defensiveness and allows your spouse to tell you the truth instead of you being upset by your assumption. Even if she doesn’t say so, she can’t say you jumped to a conclusion and reacted rashly.

See what I mean?

Prism. Not binoculars.

So, passing out grace? No worries there. I give situations a 360-view before I draw the line.

Serving that plate to myself? Epic fail. More like “Harpo, who dis?”

Photo by Anna Nekrashevich on Pexels.com

Sometimes I even beat myself up because I’m not trudging through every muddy puddle with a smile, waving my usual positivity flag, and onboarding everyone around me on the sunshine train. Why? Let’s admit it, Family… who doesn’t want that badge of honor and who hasn’t glorified that trait in others?

“She never complained.”

“He always put his kids before himself.”

“She always had a smile on her face.

“He always had a kind word to say.”

It’s an addictive perfection drug that can take you out if you’re not careful. I admit – I want the badge. I want the perfection. I want those words said at my funeral… but when I really need to breathe between the punches, I end up landing a fist of guilt on myself as I give a plate full of grace to someone else.

All I can say is thank God for therapy.

So far, I’ve had some serious revelations. One of them is the following: I know how to survive in a box; I struggle breathing outside of it. Thank you, Therapist.

Let me explain. Who knows? Maybe you and I are related.

Remember that scene in Harlem Nights (1989) when Eddie Murphy tells Danny Aiello to take very short breaths while he’s in the vault? That’s me. Little breaths. All day. All month. All year if I have to. Whatever it takes to get me over the hump and keep moving. Don’t get me wrong – I know how to self-care just not between traumatic milestones. In the words of my therapist, I know how to survive on little breaths. It’s like coming up for air after a deep ocean dive, but only taking a short breath before returning to the depths.

That is not sustainable and I hereby declare that I am no longer able to sustain myself on those small puffs of air. See what I did there? OK, I’ll stop rhyming. Lol

I’ve accomplished a lot in the midst of about 14 years of unfortunate events. I felt great about each milestone, took vacations, enjoyed time with friends and family, smashed some goals, and yet – *gasp* Little breath. Why? Because that’s how I learned to survive the shockwaves. That’s how I said to my mind, body, and spirit “Hey, get ready. There’s another one coming.” Over time, a week-long vacation or a mini-road trip transformed into a mere puff of air or a big exhale from holding my breath underwater so long.

Who can survive like that?

None of us.

So, I’m on a quest to learn how to live outside of the ocean I’ve learned to survive in and to kick the boxes that read “This is the way to heal” and “Christians suffer quietly with permanent smiles on their faces.”  I’m asking God to rewire my spirit so I can sweetly pass that warm plate of grace to myself and to accept it easily from my Savior, knife and fork in hand.

I also pray that by sharing this moment, you are encouraged to begin or continue your own journey to a healthier you. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you have to only show the highlight reel and be shamed as you heal and learn. Our faith allows for growth and grace to flow to us and through us. It calls for us to break at the feet of Jesus and within the sanctuary of   each other’s understanding because His Love should flow from heart to heart to create that circle of safety.

Let’s agree to deep dive into the waters of our soul if we need to and to learn to deeply breathe outside of the boxes we discover – the one that happened to us and the one we taped up ourselves.

I love y’all and I’m praying for you. As always, Peace and Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Replenish

Happy Thursday, Family!

I hate I missed you last night. The sandman knocked me down and I went with it, but you know I couldn’t leave you hanging until next week. So, here’s what I’ve been chewing on lately (and it’s a short stop).

This passage comes after God lets the children of Israel have it. In modern terms, this is also called “giving the business” or “reading” someone. *lol* Whatever you want to call it, God let them know He was not happy with their fasting foolishness.

Then comes this passage which has been a breath of fresh air to this season. Every time I read it, I think about the water cycle. Remember that from elementary school? It’s a beautiful reminder that God’s strength is never-ending and that He has plenty for us. I love that the water never runs out during the water cycle. You can read more about how water reminds me of God’s awesomeness here.

That “continually” part is everything to me. The Lord’s guidance will never run out on you. Your strength will be replenished well enough for you to be well-watered in a dry place. I don’t know about you, but I could use some water right now. Like clockwork, when I feel like I have nothing left to give — like an empty garden — God always give me more… more oxygen, more strength, more peace, more of something to go a little further. I may be emotionally drained, then someone calls and asks for prayer. I may be hurting and I will feel a supernatural boost to help someone in need. He never fails and, like that ever-flowing spring, our Source is everlasting. Since He is everlasting, we do not have to be. What a blessing that is! How relieving it is that we do not have to water ourselves! You and I both know that we try to reach that aerial bar with much failure at our feet, so I pray that you bask in that truth today and every day.

What I also love is that as He replenishes us, we will be infused with enough to be rebuilders and restorers. We can go from being a desolate place to building life around us. How cool is that?

I love you all and I’m praying for you. Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Unpack the Bag

Hey, Family!

Here’s a short shop for your week!

You know how society stresses the importance of securing the bag? If you’ve never heard of this colloquialism, it means to take advantage of a financial opportunity, obtain the funds, snatch the coins… you get the drift.

Well, for some of us, I say it’s time to unpack the bag. *raising my hand too*

I’ve been undergoing this uncomfortable adventure with my therapist recently. As faith-filled as we may be, there’s a bag of stuff that we keep tucked away or in my case, that we never knew existed.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

So, how does a Christian begin the process of unpacking an emotional suitcase? First, you need two guides – The Holy Spirit and a professional counselor/therapist. If you’re new here, welcome to my blend. I’m an avid advocate for mental health and I believe God gifted persons with the ability to help us navigate difficult waters. If you need a starting point, let me know. I have a list of exceptional professionals that can either help you directly or refer you to someone who can.

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

As you find a match for your wellness needs and prepare for the journey, here are three things to remember –

  1. Remember you serve a God who cares.
    • WORD: Psalm 147:3 NLT – “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”
    • NOTE: Whatever the weight, He can handle it. Start unloading.
  2. Remember you are an exceptional creation.
    • WORD: Psalm 139: 13-14 NLT – “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it.”
    • NOTE: Your baggage doesn’t change who you are.
  3. Remember freedom is yours.
    • WORD: Psalm 34:14 NLT – “I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears.”
    • NOTE: You do not have to live in your baggage. The suitcase is not your home. You can be freed.

Family, don’t forget you are not alone and you have everything it takes to begin the journey. I pray you have the courage to take the first steps necessary toward a healthier you. I know I am.

Peace & Thanks for listening to my under-500-word Tiny Desk Ted Talk! *lol*

Wednesday Wind Down: No Shade

Hi, Family!

I hope you’re doing well out there. If not, I hope this short stop helps.

Have you ever had someone judge your plate? You know the type. They throw side-eye shade about your chicken alfredo between their green smoothie sips. They may even comment about the calories and how you should try their diet of the month. How rude.

When I sit down to enjoy a fun meal, I have no regrets. Why? I remember all the vegetables I ate and the carbs I declined. I smile at the fruit I ate instead of chocolate and the extra cardio I enjoyed (dance is my favorite cardio by the way). I let that shade stay on their side of the street. Why again? Because I know the truth. I know my plate is my reward.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

This week, I encourage you to stick close to the Truth and throw off that shade. No one knows your internal struggles but you and God. You’re the only one that lives in your skin. Pray that you are infused with divine strength to withstand the shade of judgment. Nothing but toxicity grows there, so stay on the side of Truth. Here’s three quick vitamins to help with that –

  1. Say to whom you belong, e.g. “I am yours; you are mine.”
  2. Tell yourself one truth about your plate, e.g. “I’m going to enjoy this moment, then continue my journey.”
  3. Remind yourself that judgment doesn’t stick to you, e.g. “I don’t have to own what you give.”

I love y’all and I’m praying for you as you navigate those shade trees. While you’re at it, read Ephesians 6:10-17 and do right by your body so you can have that alfredo. *lol*

Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Hero

Hi, Family!

Get ready for your short stop.

I saturated myself in the Inauguration yesterday. I always do. Why? Because I’m a nerd, an educator, and a communication specialist. I’m a nerdy educational communicator. That’s a serious trifecta.

It means that I analyze communication like a scientist studies petri dishes. I dissect verbal and nonverbal behavior like a mathematician breaks down equations. I love social sciences. It’s my jam.

Gotta love the National Park Service.

So, I watched the pomp and circumstance as I do every 4 years. I observed body language, vocal inflections, artifacts (objects people use to express themselves), and communicative congruency. I noticed hairstyles, tie colors, and this year — masks. The music. The military. The tradition. I love it all.

After weaving in and out of the little known facts yesterday, I heard the following in my spirit:

“No one is a Savior, but everyone can be an example.”

I paused and wrote it down as I do with these type of moments.

America easily idolizes leaders in various capacities —- especially when it comes to government and religion. No matter which side of the aisle you’re on, our idea of leaders can creep into deity status. That’s the trap. That’s a diabolical rabbit hole we can’t afford to travel down every 4 years.

Photo by Andres Ayrton on Pexels.com

God has called us to be everyday examples of His Love. His compassion should flow through our hands and deposit into the others. Here’s the kicker — titles aren’t required to do what is right. Prestige is not important when Love cries out. Everyone has the same opportunity to be an example because everyone was made in the image of the Father. So, president or janitor, God has given us the same orders. There are giants to slay, hearts that need mending, and lives that need enriching. He armed us with His Love. My prayer is that we accept this precious call and carry out the greatest mission in the world.

One of my favorite songs is “We Don’t Need Another Hero” by Tina Turner. It grounds me and uplifts me at the same time. The lyrics are poignant and we could use the reminder as faith walkers.

Respect every office, family, just don’t forget your own cape. God has given you the power of Love and the sword of His Truth to be an example every day… to be a hero for someone in your family, at work, or at the coffee shop.

Stay well out there. Love y’all. Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: What A Day

Well, my original first-Wednesday-of-the-year message has been altered a bit.

I’ll keep one part of the initial plan — to change my affectionate name for you. I thought it befitting to call you Family. After all, we’ve shared a whole heap of life events together (5 years worth come January 26th actually). So Sweethearts is retired and Family are you. 🙂

On to the different message.

I’m watching. So should you.

My eyes and spirit are keen and I am not dismayed by what happened in Washington, DC.
I’m not surprised.
I’m not angry.

I’m watching… and I’m actually glad we saw the attempted coup of the U.S. Capitol.

Photo by Thiago Matos on Pexels.com

Why? Because proof can not be ignored. A mirror is still a mirror even when it’s broken.

More people were able to see behind the veil of privilege and democracy (and this is from a social science educator). For America to lift up her skirt and show her tail to the world was exactly what we needed to affirm how damaged we truly are. Hypocrisy spills from her lips every time she tilts her liberty-crowned head back and scoffs at other countries for their supposed lack of governmental and military prowess. The last 3 months show how much pride is around our borders and how much ache is in our souls.

On numerous occasions, I’ve written about my love for America (just search “America” on my blog) and that I don’t always likes what she does. So what do you do in a moment like this… when you don’t like what you see and you can’t un-see it? When you’re trying to digest your sentiments with friends and family and they refuse to respect your thought?

You watch.

You pay attention and take notes.

You don’t let anyone infiltrate your peace of mind.

Photo by Barik5ive on Pexels.com

You can be sad, upset, confused, frustrated, but don’t let it alter your personality. Don’t let it harden your heart. I hate that people attach the name of Jesus to the foolishness we saw, but I refuse to exhibit behavior that would cause even more people to turn away from His Love. And that storming of our democratic symbol was no where near it.

Another tip – Be ridiculously aware. Pray for wisdom and I guarantee the Holy Spirit will be your navigator in these uncharted waters. Hone in on who is saying what and why. Notice their actions. Seek for alignment between word and deed. Ugly or not, the Truth is always present. This one is just more personal (and uglier) than we thought.

Family, you can navigate through the smoke.

You can disagree without losing your wits.

You can be disgusted with the haps and shine at work. Being temperamental is what the darkness wants you to do. So, don’t give your heart away and while you’re taking notes, remember this one – Galatians 6:7-8 New Living Translation (pretty easy to remember the number sequence, right?)

“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.”

Courtesy of my YouVersion Bible App

It may get worse before it gets better, but keep watching. Keep paying attention to God’s move in and out of you. Keep sowing the good seeds.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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!

#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

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