Prayer:“Lord, please cover my words. I didn’t mean to say it like that. Just cover all of that, please. I’m so sorry. Let them know I didn’t mean it.”
I’ve said plenty of things that I didn’t mean. It may have come out of my mouth with a little more heat than I expected or it wasn’t as clear as the thought in my mind. Either way, I was put in a position where I couldn’t take it back or I couldn’t reach the person to fix it. Like a muddy pig, my words slipped out and there was no redeeming the moment.
One time, I was at an event where my team donated water. I mentioned over the mic that our water was cold and my team later tapped me on the shoulder to let me know that it could have been taken in a negative way… as if to throw shade at other water donors. That thought was the furthest thing from my mind when I said it and I couldn’t run back on stage to fix it. All I do was pray that prayer above. It may be small, but I never want to hurt anyone in word or deed — knowingly or unknowingly.
Sweethearts, it’s inevitable that your words will not adequately reflect your intent one day if it hasn’t already. I pray that you’re wise enough to own it and ask God for forgiveness. I’ve run into people that recalled me from an event and they had no clue what I was apologizing for. God always knows the heart. Remember that. And you’re not perfect. Remember that too. Just do your best to have a clear highway in your heart for God’s Love to always land.
Peace & Keep Praying, Sweethearts. May God direct the words of us all and clarify our intentions toward each other.
The worst feeling for me is wanting to provide assistance but something is blocking me from doing so. I’ve experienced blockages of both distance and spiritual directives when it came to those situations. There were times when I truly wanted to extend myself and God told me no. That hurt just as bad as not being physically present in their time of need. Now, my friends (and I don’t take that term lightly) know they can call me at any time. If I can, I will — they know that too, but what do you when your hands are tied? When you know that this is a lesson they have to learn on their own? When you want to do it for them, but you know it will handicap them instead? When you’re hundreds of miles away? I had to learn to release that control freak to God too.
I say this often — I’m not Jesus, but I do listen to Him. I can’t be everywhere for everybody. I can’t make every baby shower, wedding shower, bridal party, funeral, birthday party, retirement party, hospital stay, court hearing, church event… you get the point. Trust me, I tried and it was an exhausting lesson of my finite abilities. I had to make peace with that unfortunate truth and send prayers where my hands couldn’t reach. Sometimes, I’ve sent prayers and a PayPal blessing where my pockets permitted. Other times, I stopped what I was doing, tucked away in an empty classroom or closed the door to my office and interceded on their behalf. Whether through my hands or my lips, through a text message or through a hug, my friends are always on my prayer list and I have learned to let God move through me however he wishes in order to confirm His Love in their situation. I’ve gone through some doozies with my tribes, but they always appreciate prayer… and so do I.
Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts! Keep praying for your friends and listening for your next steps! I love y’all!
Prayer:“Lord, I just want to be free… and not just free for a moment. I want to be free for a lifetime.”
I was sick of a cycle that I didn’t sign up for. In one hand, I held receipts to my anger, fears, and insecurities. In the other one, I held receipts that were shoved into my hands. I didn’t ask to be mistreated or molested, but there I was — holding shredded remnants of pain and wondering when the rollercoaster would stop.
I never wanted to repeat the rides of my anger, fears, insecurities but the horror happened anyway. Altar calls didn’t seem to do it and Christian music couldn’t end the free-bound-free dysfunction I experienced. I thought something was wrong with me. I was tired of being enslaved over and over again by the same chains. Chains I thought had been eradicated but seemed to resurrect themselves without my permission. I couldn’t understand how it could happen so quickly. It wasn’t for lack of desire and fight. It wasn’t for lack of prayer and effort. Finally, in desperation, the words exhaled from my soul during a nighttime walk. Freedom kept ringing in my ears and I looked up at the starry sky for a hint of hope.
Did I instantly feel free? No.
Did I feel finally heard? Absolutely.
There was something about that night I will never forget. Being sick and tired of being sick and tired met the opportunity to speak from the depths of my darkness. I had finally reached that point where I was ready to release it all instead of a few shreds. The problem? Those chains were uncomfortable but familiar. I had the desire to be free, but I was struggling within my own strength. Exhaustion and frustration were the end result. I realized that it would always be a losing battle as long as I fought without the desire to surrender to God first.
So, I did. Then, the healing journey again.
I pray that you’re able to do the same, Sweetheart. Here’s one of my favorite verses to start the conversation. I leaned on this one and it still gives me great peace when I need it. I love you all and pray those real prayers. Peace & Thanks for listening!
He will listen to the prayers of the destitute.
He will not reject their pleas. – Psalm 102:17
We’re on the cusp of November, so you know what that means… #bloglikecrazy is here! She’s officially staring me down and I see her in all of her literary glory. Her challenging physique awaits me to step into the ring. This is my four-time sparring partner and she always transforms me a better version of myself at the end of our 30-day bout.
If you’re new to my community, #bloglikecrazy is an annual writing challenge hosted by Javacia Harris Bowser, founder of See Jane Write Birmingham and my official empowerment pusher. Each year, writers from everywhere join the opportunity to post on their blogs for 30 consecutive days or participate in NaNoWriMo by writing a novel in by the end of November.
So, why am I squaring up to #bloglikecrazy? Because I decided to share a deeper level of transparency this time around. Last year, I shared 30 Days of Good. This year, I’m allowing a peek into my most intimate relationship — my prayer life with God. I’m warning you now, Sweetheart. As with all other posts on this blog, it’s real communication. No sugar-coating. Raw snippets from written and verbal prayers I’ve expressed in both happy and horrid times. My hope is that by unveiling these lines, someone will be compelled to be authentic with God as well. To give Him every part of you and be confident that He can handle anything and everything.
First, I acknowledge the survivors and families affected by the tragedy of September 11, 2001. I also acknowledge the first responders and volunteers that rescued and sacrificed themselves in the name of Love. I appreciate you and remember you forever.
Now, to the message at hand… a very direct one at that. It encouraged me so much Sunday and I pray that it reaches you too.
Between here and heaven, you have an Intercessor (Jesus) and an Interpreter (the Holy Spirit). Liaisons that speak up and out when your silence needs a voice. When your tears are immutable forces flowing from your eyes and a wail is all you’ve got. I wasn’t in a sad space on Sunday, but a sweet surprise from a sister cracked open this hardworking vessel and my grateful heart cried out. This year has been a great lesson on how to throw my cares with a weight of faith tied to the end so it can sink in the bottom of worry. Each month, my throwing arm gets stronger and my Peace grows. All because my Intercessor knows how I feel and my Interpreter makes sense out of my jumbled emotions.
A huge part of my spiritual freedom is that I am not afraid to pray. I am not afraid to say the following:
“Lord, I’m scared.”
“God, this doesn’t make sense.”
“I don’t like this.”
“You are so awesome.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I need your help.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
Those are prayers that I release often into His lap. I am able to do so because I believe that I have an advocate in the middle of my words and eternity. Whether I’m excited or frustrated, I pray with vulnerability and confidence. God knows, Jesus prays, and the Holy Spirit guides. Because of that support, I am never afraid to share my innermost fears and expectations with my Creator. Just start the conversation and listen.
When you’re in the middle of whirlwinds and life events, remember that you have Someone that is in the middle with you. You are not alone. You are not desolate. You are not an island though you may feel like you’re standing on one. I can’t explain why bad things happen in the world other than everyone has volition and we are not robots programmed by God to be good and perfect beings. What I can say is that I have experienced supernatural comfort and intentional acts of kindness. I have felt arms around me when I felt afraid and an inexplicable amount of fortitude in times of need. I have awakened in the nick of time while driving and gotten a hug from a friend that merged my pieces back together. None of which I prayed for immediately prior to receiving… but I had a middle and I encourage you to put your middle to work too. Just like in the above video clip, those hands are on you too.
That’s what I heard for you this week. It is such a loaded and misunderstood directive.
Showing Jesus means toting my bible everywhere, quoting scriptures when someone says “Good Morning,” and barely be tolerable at social functions because of all the judgment seething through my pores, right? Quite the contrary.
Jesus has many faces (just look at all of the colorful faces in the world) and there are opportunities to show these faces in various situations. One of them could appear as a person in need of assistance while walking across the street. Another opportunity could be a co-worker in need of a kind word. We find these moments easily because the needs are relatively visible, but what happens when the need is underneath a layer of pride or anger? I agree– it’s a bit challenging to succumb to a higher level when the low blows are trying to knock you out. Truthfully speaking, this is the perfect opportunity to show His face to someone who may have never seen it or even believe it exists. You may not see the need because his/her words are too loud or they are absent from your life, but believe me, it’s there.
Here are a couple of examples of how I try to show Jesus –
I met an atheist this week and we had an intellectual and humorous conversation (Sidebar: Christians, stop arguing with everybody).
Someone raised her voice at me and I did not return the behavior.
I pick up fallen clothing at the department store on a regular basis.
I’m truthful with my feelings even when I don’t want to be.
I smile at strangers.
I don’t return road rage.
I say thank you to police and military officers.
I pray for people when they ask me to, sometimes at that moment.
I encourage as many people as I can.
Now, I am not a saint. I just try to live my faith in real life and not just at church. It’s not easy, by any means. There are plenty of times when I want to use profanity to prove that I am not a punk, but the truth of the matter is that doesn’t prove anything except a poor vocabulary to express my emotions. There are times when I want to reciprocate negative behavior so the other person can understand that I am very much capable of doing so, but that would only show me contradicting my belief system. I choose daily to show Jesus when I don’t want to do so. Sometimes, it’s a firm stance of Truth and sometimes it’s a warm hug. I make mistakes like other humans, yet I do my best to rectify it as soon as possible. That’s showing Jesus, too.
This week, I challenge you to show Jesus to the person that gets on your nerves. Notice that I didn’t say you had to agree with them or be their best friend. Just think of ways your actions can resemble His so that His Love is recognizable through you. It may seem like a small gesture or it may be a great sacrifice on your part, but at least you have made Him visible. At least you’ve provided the proof they’ve been waiting to see.
Peace & Thanks for listening. Have an awesome week!
Hello, Sweethearts! I know it’s Thursday, but this one took some simmering… and you may be wondering where I’m going with those two letters. I’m going exactly where you think I am.
In the world of social sciences, there’s a term called emotional dishonesty. Various definitions exist for it, but in essence, it is when someone does not own up to their feelings or needs, yet s/he holds the other person accountable for the offense. This can manifest itself as passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive behavior.
When I taught adult education communication courses, we would always engage in authentic and lively dialogue about relationships (platonic, professional, romantic, familial, and social). Every quarter, someone would attribute a lack of intimacy to dysfunctional communication. Every quarter, someone would tell me how lack of trust was the undercurrent in their relationship deterioration. After my first year of teaching, I learned to carve out two days in my lesson plan to discuss the conflict chapter because it always birthed the fruition of self-discovery among my students. The chapter also landed in the middle of the textbook, so by that point in the course, they usually displayed sharpened self-awareness and reframing skills. They were not only able to professionally assess and verbalize the conflict but also express ownership of its escalation which was often via emotional dishonesty. You can bet that made me one happy educator. 🙂
To listen to a man say “I see it now. I’m not helping the situation.” To hear a woman say “Yeah, I don’t really listen to my kids. I need to do that more.” That was what kept the blood flowing in my teaching career. That is what produced life within those four walls and fortified adults to engage in healthy relationships of all kinds.
Speaking of blood flow… let’s talk about that ED.
When a man experiences erectile dysfunction, it can be emotionally crippling. He may not be able to communicate how emasculated he feels and his behavior can be misunderstood and misdirected toward his partner. Multiple factors can cause ED and one of them is decreased blood flow.
How interesting it is that a lack of life in one area can be the cause of death in another? If blood is not allowed to flow and recycle through our bodies, we experience death. Then again, there are two types of death… two organs that are vital comrades in the cessation of life – the brain and the heart. I believe the effects of dysfunctional communication resemble the intimacy breakdown that can occur from ED. Emotional Dishonesty can lead to Emotional Dysfunction. One deters the physical production of life while the other deters the flow of spiritual exchange. In both instances, there’s a broken piece – trust.
And let’s be real… What good is a relationship without trust? How can a relationship survive without the trust that all valves are open… that the flow is free and clear? After all, there are 4 valves in your heart – two for incoming blood and two for outgoing blood, so obviously God knew that circulation and regeneration were vital in keeping you alive in both your head and in your heart. Why don’t we give it a try in the spiritual realm as well? Why not gift that freedom to each other and to ourselves? Be emotionally honest with yourself and with those you love. When you don’t, it hurts yourself because you’re blocking healthy intrapersonal communication, and it hurts the other person because it creates a disconnect from the intimacy you desire from her/him. As I mentioned to some friends this year –I’m in the business of having real conversations with real people that want real relationships.Sweetheart, can you say the same thing?
This doesn’t mean that you need to bleed your heart 24/7 to everyone you meet. As in physiology, that could leave you spiritually drained and unable to function effectively.
Ask God to balance this spiritual flow as you learn to communicate truthfully in HIs Love from one person to another. It can be done; I promise. I have witnessed and experienced it. You may have to be gentle or set some ground rules, but allow truthful communication to flow between your lips. Cherish those in your circle who provide opportunities for that to happen. No matter how messy or how awkward it may be, it is worth the trust structure. Letting communication flow between two hearts creates freedom amidst two people… and that’s the pinnacle of God’s Love toward us and Christ’s sacrifice for us. Freedom in mind, body, and spirit. The kind that can only come from the Prince of Peace and the Author of Love.
For more information about emotional dishonesty, check out this article. It’s one of my favorite classroom references.
Peace & Thanks for listening. Have an awesome week and I love you all!
I knew what I was going to post tonight. I had it all planned out; then, I saw Prayers Up for Jussie Smollett in my inbox and everything about my Wednesday Wind Down changed. I simply couldn’t wait. This isn’t about creating a literary bouquet of flowery words on my blog for lament and catharsis. Despite the disgust I experienced, this post is about obedience and attention.
Before I explain, let me share my immediate reaction. My mind kept trying to compute the Essence article because I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The man who stopped to speak to me and my Sorority sister in a Michigan airport had been attacked. The same human being who was on his way to advocate for Flint’s water solution. The same spirit that smiled and said that I looked like someone who knew and wasn’t walking with an entourage. The horror and hurt grew exponentially as I saw the slurs he heard and the pain he felt. My heart cracked in a matter of seconds and I cried inside and out. The worst sting was reading the end of their rationale – “This is MAGA Country.”
I had thought of Jussie Smollett all day yesterday, and not in the way of an admiring fan. I kept being compelled to pray for him, for his heart. Now, I pray for celebrities all of the time because the weight attached to their gifts, talents, and purposes can be too much to carry, but this time was different. Throughout the day, before I knew anything about the hate crime, I prayed for his spirit… that it wouldn’t be downtrodden, that he would be well and not tarnished by evil things around him. I prayed for his peace of mind and his strength. Never once did I pray for his physical health. I wasn’t led to. It was all about the pain that couldn’t be seen and didn’t need to stick to his soul. Then, to run across that article right before I was going to bed, it was gut-wrenching and I couldn’t sleep. The last moment of serendipity was that this photo was taken on January 30, 2016, three years ago today. I was speechless, then I prayed again. Lord, just make it stop.
Jussie, I am so sorry that happened to you. I hate that you were the subject of their spew. My heart is with you and please know that while I can’t explain where God was to prevent the experience, I can truly say that He had you in the spirit of someone miles away from that horrific moment in time. Your spirit can not be broken and what you are doing in life matters in more ways than you can possibly imagine. Apparently, you are breaking boundaries that need to be broken and making demons float to the surface. That’s the only way I can see anyone trying to hurt you in such a repulsive way. Even though you were tired, your heart was brighter than the sun that day at the airport. My Soror and I could feel it well after we left. I had to share how much I appreciate you and that you are covered. My prayers will continually be with you.Sweethearts, we have to do better at spreading Love. We teach those around us by living it out. Every day. No matter what. We have to teach our children, our co-workers, our neighbors that hate is not allowed to multiply near us. To have people physically assault one’s life is an act that should unsettle us all. Regardless of your religious or political affiliation, hate is not a validated battle cry and somehow the current temperament in America has created this warped sense of safety for ignorance to run free. The invisible seething waters of hate are tumultuous enough to reach out and grab us while we’re simply walking down the street. And don’t pretend that you don’t hear it in your cubicles, coffee shops, churches, and around your dining room tables. We do and we look away. We make excuses for it. We say it’s free speech, but is it liberating anyone? We say to just pray for them, but do we actually do it? You do realize that Jesus came so that individuals such as the ones who attacked our brother could not only receive the opportunity to turn from hate and receive Love but to also know that judgment was near, right? This MAGA mantra has nothing to do with Christian values. Stop sewing them together. Be careful to the extent to which you stretch your loyalty. Claim Christ more than your political party, more than your social justice agenda, and more than your generational ideology. We can’t stop hate forever, but we can stop it wherever we are, whenever we hear and see it.
This moment in time has rocked me to my core and taught me that absolutely nothing happens by chance, not even prayer. Be diligent and keep fighting using whatever means you were born with.
Recently, I felt the pain of a woman who’s only desire was to provide the best solution for her children at the expense of what she wished for them. She cried after we prayed together. I bought the items she needed and she agreed to a massage therapy session. I just wanted to help, wanted her to know that I see her. She was the 2nd person for I whom I prayed and to whom I had given. The first person was homeless and when I asked him for a prayer request, his response was to pray for his family. How selfless. These opportunities started hours after I received news that my income would decrease… again. Perfect timing, right? Exactly. That’s what I said too.
Now, I’m not monetarily rich. I’m not a superstar. I don’t have someone taking sensational photos of me at every turn so I can post them on the ‘gram. And I’m definitely not a selfie girl. I just… listen. I sincerely try to listen to God’s voice everyday and anywhere. That’s how this blog Listening at the Speed of Life was born. So, when those opportunities presented themselves, I had to be obedient. No questions asked.
What have I learned about myself along this journey of obedience?
I hug my students.
I even hug strangers.
I pray for people I don’t know.
I say thank you. A lot.
I love big and I retreat quickly.
I boldly express my care.
I can speak up when I’m scared.
I can ask questions unapologetically.
I seek to understand.
I generally stay to myself, yet I have meaningful relationships.
I am a delicate, and resilient balance of mind, body, and spirit.
My introversion is beautiful, not a defect.
I don’t have to be loud if I don’t want to be.
I don’t have to be in the mix to feel included.
I like breathing and being, and sometimes these come at the cost of being misunderstood. That’s OK with me now. (It wasn’t when I started.)
So, back to the moment. She was grateful. I was humble. We connected.
It’s time that we slow down and feel the heartbeat of one another. We’re all humans trying to navigate through this life, and if you’re a Christian, then you’re trying to adhere to a certain compass as you travel on your path. It’s not easy, and we are all doing it… walking it out, journeying into the next dimension of ourselves, and feeling our way around in the darkness of tomorrow’s challenges.
What would it hurt to wave to the service worker? Speak to the custodian? Give a thank you card to the teacher? Buy an extra meal for the hungry? Or simply hug your friend without it being an obligatory salutation?
What happened to us orbiting together instead of spinning around each other, being afraid to bump into one another’s space?
What happened to running the human race together and checking on others along the way?