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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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growth

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate Your Growth

Hi, Family!

Last month, it was Appreciate Your Attributes. This month, it’s about your growth.

I’ll start with mine.

Once upon a time, I was too scared to be a full-time entrepreneur. I also knew I would be one, but the older I got, the more I thought it would reckless and expensive. The thought of depending upon others to provide my income carried anxiety with it. Strong, stinky, paralyzing anxiety. If you’ve been on the blog with me for a while, you remember when I stepped out on faith in November 2018. I heard God say “It’s time.” and I threw my whole self into my businesses. To still be here on that Word, that’s growth.

Another example is my “no” game. It’s stronger now than it ever was. Saying “no” felt like a sinful act of pride or disobedience. Now, I walk in the truth that my “no” protects my health and I use it as needed. I allow wisdom to navigate my life instead of letting guilt reign over my decisions. That’s growth. Serious growth.

Courtesy of YouVersion.

Regardless of your age, I believe there’s plenty of learning to do in this world. Plenty of opportunities to be the best version of yourself. And with the world wide web, those opportunities are growing exponentially. Courses, webinars, workshops… take your pick. In the midst of your everyday grind, I challenge you to review how far you’ve come. Maybe it was being a doormat in your relationships or exploding anger on the people you love. Maybe it’s reclaiming your time for self-care or spending more time with your family. What about your patience or your lying habit? Are those areas sprouting green?

Growth is more than monetary or intellectual results. It’s more than congregation numbers and stock markets. While we’re here on Earth, our spiritual growth has great value. Every year, we should aim to grow closer to the Son. Just like the plants do. A branch of your spirit can sprout peace in the darkest of nights. A leaf can express colors of gratitude when seasons change.

Photo by PhotoMIX Company on Pexels.com

When I feel like I’m treading water, I recall my less-than-lovely moments. How I treated someone. How I handled a situation. How I didn’t speak up for myself. Then, the Truth reaches out and brings me back to shore. Acknowledging my growth is the secret sauce that keeps me hopeful every morning. I still overthink things at times, but I’m not easily offended. I still get scared of the future every now and then, but my trust in God is stronger than ever. Perfection will never be reached on Earth, yet we are in control over how much we can learn while we’re here… how much we can grow.

Celebrate your wins, then pray for God to show you another growth opportunity. Are you going to church every week but not applying the Word among your family? Is Sunday morning or Bible Study Night a ritualistic checkmark on your calendar? Do you still manipulate others to get what you want? I promise that if you ask, He’ll show it to you.

Growth isn’t a stagnant thing. It’s a cycle. A continuous act. Trees may be stationary, but the impact of their roots and seeds spread beyond their visible location. You have that same power, Family. You truly do.

The feature photo on this post? That’s me walking into my massage practice… the same building where I attended yoga sessions. The same building where I said “It would be cool to have my practice here one day, but…” Then, faith said otherwise, and I agreed. And I love every step of it. That’s some growth right there.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Celebrate those sprouts and stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate Your Attributes

Hi, Family!

How are you? I hope you’re doing well out there.

I missed connecting with you while I was out. It feels good to be on an upswing and back on the page.

I thought about what I would say and the only thing that kept resurfacing was love, more specifically how to love yourself. Yes, Valentine’s Day is approaching, but that doesn’t mean that all of the love has to pour out and leave you behind. Plus, it sounds great, but sometimes you need night lights to lead you in the best direction.

Loving myself has been a journey with several moving pieces. I loved the parts that I loved, but it took work over the years to love the parts that were quirky, annoying, and confusing. When I was child, a constant question was “Lord, why did you make me like this?” I didn’t hate myself, but I disliked the parts that didn’t make sense to me. Being in what Jane Fonda calls the “second act” of life – between 30 and 60 years of age – has brought with it a deeper sense of self. A deeper understanding of what makes me an exceptional Creation of God. A sweeter Peace that passes all understanding.

In January, there’s natural talk about goals, developing new habits, healthy decisions, new career moves… things you will activate in the new year. I want you to consider a February resolution – to embrace every part of yourself.

My challenge is for every month of the year, I want you to locate and ask God to illuminate part of your design – your purposeful DNA, your spiritual architecture. If once a month is too daunting, just start with this month and see how it goes. You may even focus on the same attribute for a while. That’s OK. It’s not about quantity here; it’s about the quality of self you were designed to live with.

Courtesy of my YouVersion Bible App

In your stillness, ask “OK, what is it about me that you made that is meant to multiply? What is it about me that is meant to elevate this world before I leave?” Maybe it’s your ability to make others feel comfortable in your presence or your ability to navigate difficult situations. Maybe when you hug people, they feel comforted. It could be your expressive nature that empowers others to lift their hearts, their voices, and their actions. Whatever it is, it’s important. It’s vital to this life down here.

We are often asked to cherry-pick our attributes and sometimes they bleed into stressful situations. I believe there is more than one thing that is awesome about you and I’m asking for you to begin learning how to love all of them. All of you. Starting this month.

Notice your design. Notice your stellar nature. Notice how God carefully created you.

While I pray nothing bad happens to bring out your awesomeness, the truth is crap happens. And sometimes it happens in clusters, to good people, at inconvenient moments, etc. So, if you naturally give comic relief in sensitive moments, embrace that. The more you illuminate how God made you and recall how He sees you, it will strengthen you when feel like you don’t have purpose and that you aren’t fearfully and wonderfully made. Because you really are.

My prayer is that you see yourself as different pieces that make up a mosaic, a beautiful piece of art… and I say that intentionally because we’re all a piece that’s designed to work together (1 Corinthians 12). Instead of boxing yourself as being one-dimensional or ordinary, I would like for you to ask God to show you what He made.

I love y’all! Peace & Thanks for listening!

#blogbetter: Lessons Learned

Hi, Family!

Thanks for joining me for the first entry of the See Jane Write #blogbetter challenge (formerly #bloglikecrazy)! That Friday surprise didn’t work out, but it’s coming! Until then, here I am with a Tuesday post instead of a Wednesday, so let’s chat a minute!

One of the hardest things to do is to accept the truth after lying to yourself. Your cozy chrysalis breaks open and you’re exposed to the air. Truthful, piercing air. The kind of experience that creates a huge breath of freedom. That’s how the following lessons arrived in my life and I’m so glad they did.

📝LESSON #1 – Stop expecting others to act like you.

Have you found yourself caring about someone and not experiencing reciprocity? Same here. Sweet gestures simply weren’t enough to crack the code to their heart space. It doesn’t matter if the relationship is platonic or romantic, it hurts. I pray those moments do not happen often for you, but when they do, remind yourself of Lesson #1 – Stop expecting others to act like you.

You may extend yourself in ways that others do not. It doesn’t mean that your heartstrings are defective. It doesn’t mean you are too nice, too helpful, too considerate… too anything. I’ve heard it all and worn all the stickers.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

You are you for a divine purpose on this Earth. They are them; you are you. Separate what God tells you to do from who they are and how they may receive it. Once you get that Truth serum in your spirit, the heartbreak of caring for others will start to melt. When you do something for someone and you only hear from them when they need something (you know how that goes), it will hurt less over time. You’ll remember the reason for your extension of Love is just that… Love. Every time I have extended Jesus’ hands to someone, God has always returned that Love to me somehow. The law of the harvest is not a lie. The pain from not receiving the Love you give can cause your heart to rot; it’s not worth it. God made that heart to hug others, so let it flow… unapologetically.

Quick Sidebar: The crazy thing about this lesson is that it applies to petty people too. You may dish out gossip, but that doesn’t mean the other party will do the same. Let that prick your petty heart the next time you mistreat someone.

📝LESSON #2 – Your words will outlive you.

When someone dies, the first warmth I feel is from their words. Whatever they said, I grasp on and hold tightly, pulling that blanket up to my chin then over my head to bathe in their presence. I remember moments, not things. Even if I hold an item of theirs, their words and the moments flood me. If words are so potent, it is imperative that we leave as many good ones behind as possible. Those are the kind of seeds I want to be remembered by.

📝LESSON #3 – Progress isn’t pretty.

Perfection is cute. It has a nice little bow and a sweet fragrance. It beams beneath the limelight of filtered social media posts. Perfection is what we aspire to obtain, but what you really need is progress. She is treated like the ugly stepsister when she’s really the star. 

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Progress isn’t pretty but she’s necessary. When you see an artist’s work or an athlete’s performance, you may not see Progress. She usually brings a cocktail of sweat, tears, financial stress, doubt, with a splash of dreaming on the rocks. All of that stuff in that glass may taste terrible, but just like medicine (not the cocktail up there), it will make you better. Progress improves us on the way to excellence. So, drink up!

📝 LESSON #4 – There are people in the Bible just like me.

One of the best lessons I learned is that every feeling I have felt has been felt by someone in the Bible. If I’m frustrated, I can read about David or Job. If leadership is feeling a little heavy, I can read about Moses and Joshua. When I feel like a mountain is in front of me, I can read about Jesus.

The Bible is not an archaic book of fiction to me. It hosts examples for my everyday life, examples of people that were fragile just like me… examples of imperfection, love, and miracles wrapped up in one place. Reading about their experiences helps me see myself when times are difficult.

Peace & Blessings, Family! As always, thank you for listening!

Were any of these lessons helpful to you? Let me know in the comments and on social media (when I post it there later today). Stay well out there and I love you!

Wednesday Wind Down: Fruit

Hey, Family!

Can you believe it’s October? Y’all… we made it to October. I’m going to pause and celebrate that with you. *fist bump* Here’s a short stop (500 words or less) for your week.

I’ve been on a fruit kick lately… as in the study of how fruit multiplies itself.

Elementary school gave us the following basics, right?

seed -> sprout -> bush, tree, or vine -> flower, bud -> fruit

But we know the story doesn’t end there. Inside of that fruit is more seed to keep the process going. To perpetuate what began. I always found that part fascinating… how God placed that law in motion at the beginning of time and it continues to this day. Strawberries make more strawberries. Oranges make more oranges. Bananas produce more bananas and we are not surprised. We expect the fruit to multiply, but not just multiply more fruit… we expect it to multiply itself.

Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.com

When you read and hear the Word of God, a seed of Life becomes available for the soil in your spirit. Maybe it’s a word of hope, faith, love, encouragement… whatever the type, it is a viable, living seed that is divinely designed with spiritually-genetic code. It was created to multiply just as God’s Word did during the Creation. It was destined to die in the soil and germinate in your heart so fruit can burst forth in your life. Seeds die so they can produce what is within. In that unsuspecting seed is a tree full of more than we can imagine and someone somewhere needs that fruit.

My thought for us is to remember the purpose of our seeds. Remember there is fruit in them. In every Bible verse you read, there is fruit waiting to happen. Goodness waiting to multiply. Love waiting to be shared. Hope waiting to be held. In each Word you hear, you have the opportunity to multiply it everywhere you go.

Everywhere.

Here’s the question – what are you planting around you? If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you may remember a #bloglikecrazy post or a Wednesday Wind Down about this topic. I’m passionate about it because it affects everything around us. The very air we breathe can carry remnants of positive or negative fruit from a previous conversation. So, I encourage you to multiply the fruit of God’s spirit as much as you can. It’s a struggle sometimes, I know… for real… but we can do it. We were built for growth, after all, we’re made from the Earth. *shrug*

So, sprinkle those seeds of temperance in the office. Place a seed of self-control in your home tomorrow. Throw a seed of kindness in the grocery store. It won’t go to waste… I promise. Seeds never die without purpose. At the very least, they can’t say they didn’t see a Seed in you.

I love you all and I’m praying for you. Stay well out there.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Pick One

Hi, Family!

I hope your day went or is going well (shout out to our international family members).

I heard a Word in my Spirit over the weekend and I am so excited to share it with you!

Let’s look at half of one of my favorite passages – Psalm 1.

Psalm 1:1-3 (New American Standard Bible)

(1) Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! (2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. (3) He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither. And in whatever he does, he prospers.

OK, so I want to highlight the “sit in the seat of the scoffers” part. What is a scoffer? According to dictionary.com, it is a person who speaks derisively; ridicules; mocks; jeers. Isn’t that happening right now over various topics? Sure it is! The phrasing indicates that the man doesn’t sit in their seat. He doesn’t get comfortable in barbaric conversations where love and listening are not welcome. He doesn’t delight in mocking others. That’s not where he lives; it’s not where he thrives. He does not breathe there.

This passage came to mind after I heard the following in my spirit over the holiday: They want a religion that will not change them.

Photo by KoolShooters on Pexels.com

Whoa.

I paused what I was doing and let the gravitas float in the air. The Holy Spirit was spot on (per usual) and I shook my head in disappointment.

Although Sunday is deemed a sacred day in many communities, I believe it became more ritualistic than life-changing. This was never the intent. Never in the Plan. I truly believe the upside of the pandemic is that this comfy church blanket was ripped from our hands and more importantly from our internal dictionaries. When we couldn’t go to an edifice, we had to create space in our homes for Christ to inhabit. We had to sit with ourselves or with our families, pause some duties, and cultivate intimacy in our belief systems. More importantly, we had to create space in our hearts.

Let’s go back to Psalm 1:1-3. The only way for that man to be like a tree is to have a consistent supply of nutrients. He meditates day and night on what will foster growth. The tree is planted by water and the last time I checked, trees have all sorts of things crawling and growing around them, but they keep being a tree. They keep rising, sometimes growing against seemingly impossible odds. They grow. They bear fruit. They release leaves. They do what they were created to do.

Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Pexels.com

Are we the man in the passage or are we stuck in the ritualism of our faith with no intention of growing – attending church events with no appetite for the Word to purify our lives?

Even David mentions a similar frustration in Psalm 4:2“O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach? How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?”

Now check out Proverbs 15:12“A scoffer doesn’t love to be reproved; he will not go to the wise.”

As believers, we can’t want the highlights of our faith without the grittiness of growth. What the world ends up seeing is a group of hypocrites scorning them, which is actually closer to the origin of the Hebrew word for “scoffer” used in Psalm 1.

Not Love.
Not Wisdom.
Not Correction.

Scorn.

So, the latest additions to my prayer life have been the following:

“Lord, I don’t want to be in the way of someone seeing You.”
“Growth is a continuous expectation. Let me be at peace with the process.”
“I have an appetite for Your Word to live in me.”

Some years back, I picked one. I picked life. I picked growth. I picked the streams of water that channel the Love of Christ into my spirit over getting into petty debates about mask wearing and vaccines (Family, remember what I always say – it’s not worth the neurons. I picked the opportunity to not be a living thing that does not grow.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

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: Make It Match

Hi, Family!

I’m glad you’re here.

Let’s dig in.

Have you ever fell victim to the missing sock fiasco? You put two socks in the laundry load (at least you think you did) and when you extract the load from the dryer, you only see one.

Now, two things may have happened – either the sock was left out of the wash or it was hidden within another clothing item. It’s an annoying conundrum that can inconvenience any busy morning.

What if instead of socks you were seeking to match, it were Christians to their behavior? When was the last time you checked to be sure your faith matched your deeds?

I witnessed a person wearing a faith-professing shirt say something so heartless. I instantly thought – “If I were not a Christian, I definitely wouldn’t want to be one after hearing that.”

Please note that I am not saying we should be flawless beings; however, I believe we often forget that we are to be the extension of God on Earth. That means that while we are in this restrictive body, we have a job to do and it will not be easy doing it. It means that we must be mindful of the Name we wear.

Family, this is where I am – If you’re not willing to allow the Gospel of Christ to circulate your veins and elevate your heart,  don’t wear the Cross around your neck or on your shirt. When people see that symbol of our Savior, they expect compassion instead of hypocrisy. They expect encouragement not judgment.

We are not the judges. Let me repeat that for someone who was falling asleep… We are not the judges. We are the extenders of God’s Love on Earth. That’s our one of two jobs – to love our neighbors as ourselves. I will forever admonish us to allow the Light to illuminate every room in our hearts so we can represent responsibly.

Let’s go back to those socks. You’re standing there, sock in hand, wondering where the other could be. Perhaps it didn’t make the wash. This represents the Word of God we do not care to read or hear. We grasp just enough inspirational quotes to snack on and move about life. We rush to “do the laundry” without fully doing it.

And what if the sock is hidden within the clean laundry? It’s still clean, right? Sure, but it may not be dry or may be difficult to find when you need it. This represents the disconnect between our faith and our actions. There are principles we fail to put into practice. We hear the sermon, listen to the audiobooks, and attend the conferences, but when it’s time to use them in adversity, we fall flat. Sincerity and discipline beyond a Sunday service are the cures for that. Both would yield subsequent changes in our lives as faith walkers.  

The theme of this blog is that Christianity is a process, not a destination. It contains hills and valleys, whispers of wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way. So ask yourself this question – are you willing to walk the journey or just wear the t-shirt?

Photo by Orione Conceiu00e7u00e3o on Pexels.com

I am determined to live a life open to the guidance of God’s Love. I’m committed to the excavation of dead things that should have been buried. I’m committed to re-discovering myself through God’s eyes. I’m committed to being uncomfortable in order to be fruitful. I hope you are too.

That’s the journey. That’s the endgame. That’s what I signed up for. Peace and Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: The Pain Principle

Hi, Family!

What a week. What a month. Before I begin, just give yourself some room to appreciate that you made it to today. And if no one has told you lately, allow me to say I’m proud of you.

This post is wrapped around a simple Word from the Father that truly nourished my soul.

You don’t have to prove your pain.

Y’all.

I stopped in my tracks.

I paused everything and let it seep into my pores.

Why was this Word so profound to me? Because probably like some of you, I am accustomed to hiding pain. From health challenges to grieving loved ones, I learned to override my senses and clock into the next item on the agenda. I found that zone when I was in elementary school and I knew how to access it when it was needed. Fighting health battles that people couldn’t easily detect grew easier over time and I learned to just not talk about it. Besides, I’m uncomfortable in the spotlight. Always have been. But, growth tends to throw you into that thing anyway.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Hiding pain a great trait to develop, but it can also be physically exhausting and emotionally castrating, yet we do it anyway. Why? Because in many cultures, it is celebrated. The less you express, the louder the applause. You must admit the prestige is to be coveted when you hear things like “You would never know he was in pain” and “She was so strong through it all.” I mean, who wouldn’t want those accolades!

So, as I got out of my car with my temporary disability placard hanging from the rearview mirror, I thought People aren’t going to believe me. Just get across the parking lot. No, try to walk straight. Let’s get rid of this limp… but then, someone’s going to judge me for parking in that limited mobility spot. Ugh. I hate this.

Placing one foot in front of the other, I attempted to smooth out my gait, then I felt my body slip into the familiar limp that resided in my legs for over a year. My hip moved to an imbalance posture and subconsciously, I let the pattern follow through. I didn’t feel like facing judging eyes as I tried to walk out my healing process. It was easier to just fall back into my abnormal rhythm and just get to the door of the grocery store.

That’s when I heard that Word and it arrested and empowered me at the same time.

I slowly straightened my posture to the best of my ability (yes, in the middle of the mini-roadway between the parking lot and the Publix doors). I attempted the heel-toe rolling action and in my mind, I resembled my old school marching band 8-to-5 stride. I probably didn’t, but I didn’t care. Honestly, it hurt like hell and it was scary, but I did it anyway because my God said that I didn’t need anyone to approve my process. It didn’t matter if I appeared in pain or not.

Likewise, I shared this freedom with a massage client recently when I listened to him share a similar sentiment. When he completed his thoughts, I said “You don’t have to prove your pain… to me or to anyone else.” I watched relief rain down his face. His eyes softened, then he nodded. I mirrored his affirmation and resumed his massage.

How many of us could actually heal if we gave each other the grace to do so? Seriously. Think of how much healing could truly take place?

I recall countless times when my face and voice didn’t match someone’s definition of pain. I have a high pain tolerance (elementary school, remember?), so once I say it hurts – I’m there. Until I get to that point, my exterior doesn’t change. This makes it difficult for people who don’t know me to gauge and thus, judge. I get it; we’re all looking for barometers to help us understand each other in this crazy world. Unfortunately, that desire can place a yolk on someone who is already cringing from the process itself, especially if it’s a visible one. It isn’t fair to place our cloak of definitions on anyone’s anything.

I share my newfound freedom with you as well, Family. I don’t care if you are experiencing mental anguish, emotional upheaval, spiritual renovation, or physical immobility – God knows your pain. He hears your cries and sees your attempts. He can pick up your crumbles one by one until you’re healed and whole. No one deserves proof of that process… not a supervisor, family member, or a stranger. Your word is enough – just like our Father’s. Just try to walk again. Try to walk with your heads up, even if it’s a slow stroll from the parking lot to the door.

I love you all and I wish you the absolutely best of days ahead. Here’s to your healing and, as always, Peace & Thanks for listening!

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?

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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?”

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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!

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