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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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learning

Sunday Special: Processing

Happy Sunday, Family!

I hope you had the weekend you needed!

Christmas is my favorite holiday, but I’ll be honest with you (because we keep it authentic around here), I was unsure how it would go this year. There was a nervousness attached to it because this has been a season of processing a pendulum swing of intensities.

I gained wisdom.
I lost 8 loved ones due to death.
I acquired insight.
I lost a dream.
I gained stronger relationships.
I lost ties I thought I had.
I developed a deeper love for myself.

Sweet and bitter. That was the mix I couldn’t bypass. I tried, but it didn’t work. I screamed in both victory and in anguish this year and frankly, the velocity of the pendulum swing was nauseating. As we speak, I cried tears of appreciation and grief in less than 5 minutes. So, I paused, prayed, made some hot tea, and returned to writing this post. A post for processing smiles and frowns and to let you know you are not alone.

It’s OK to be excited about a new home, new family member, or new career venture, and yet be nervous your stewardship of it. I’m crazy enough to believe that God can handle that dichotomy of emotions.

Processing on a work day…
…and on a rest day.

You may not be finished processing everything, and that’s OK too. It truly is. Don’t let anyone stamp an expiration date on your journey; only God knows when and how. The Holy Spirit can walk you through a season until it is digested and He’ll even give you certain hands to hold along the way.

I also want to stand with you and say “You made it.” You made it through one of the most intimate holidays of the year! Keep breathing through the rough patches and celebrating the good parts. That’s what Christianity truly is. It’s giving God our broken pieces instead of hiding them and it’s appreciating His divine communion as we take one step at a time.

Process it, Family. Everything doesn’t bounce off you and everything shouldn’t stick to you either. Digest as you need it so you won’t be imprisoned by it. That’s what I’m doing… and it’s working.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I love y’all and stay well out there!

Written in honor of Alana, Kevin, Courtney, George, Mrs. Packer, Brian, Aunt Janice, Mr. Larry, Deacon Welch, Daddy Wade. I am so grateful to have experienced this life with you. You will forever be missed.

#blogbetter: How to Mistreat Yourself

Hi, Family!

During my teaching career, I showed a presentation called “How to Fail Ms. Wade’s Class.” It was my way of warning students of expecting positive outcomes after engaging in negative academic habits.

It’s a simple mirage that dupes so many – my bad habits will produce positive results. Well, since last fall, I’ve been rearranging some emotional furniture and excavating unnecessary items. One of them being mistreating myself. Overall, my self-care is sufficient but I didn’t allow it to evolve. I didn’t allow the strategies to stretch so they could breathe into my current stage of womanhood. So, from my personal vault, here are three ways to mistreat yourself in hopes that you sincerely stop the madness. None of these behaviors will yield the best you, so here we go –

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  1. Tell yourself you have infinite strength. Say it every time you’re tired. Every time you don’t get enough sleep. Every time you know you don’t ask for help. Tell yourself that you don’t need to power up. Tell yourself that you’re weak or lazy when you need rest and rejuvenation. After all, if you don’t show up for everything at all the times, you’re a terrible person, right?
  2. Morph yourself to fit into the mold of others. Squeeze all of your awesomeness into every size of person that comes into your life. Like a shoe that is too small or a suit that is too large, your shape shifting will be uncomfortable, but you’ll get used to it. In most cases, it will serve you well because you’ll be well liked. In other situations, it will blowback as you miss the mark, but you’ll readjust and figure out what works to mask your true self.
  3. Lastly, break promises to yourself… often. Big or small, a promise to yourself is the closest thing you have to making laws. Think of your body, soul, and spirit as your personal Congress where your resolutions are scarce. Who cares about having peace with your decisions and camaraderie among the three branches of you? Who cares about prioritizing what God speaks over your life? Tell yourself everything and honor nothing. It will sharpen your self-deprecation skills and reinforce #1 and #2 – that’s a win-win.
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See how ridiculous these sound? How can we expect a beautiful version of ourselves if we engage in habits that tear us down? Did one, two, or all of these apply to you? If this list was a mirror, negative results are coming. A discouraged and unhappy you is coming soon or is already in the seat of your heart. I pray the Love of God washes over you like a refreshing shower. And it’s OK if you to allow Love to cleanse you more than once. That’s how Christianity works. We are renewed daily by dying daily to decaying actions. There’s no shame in messy progress.

Peace & Blessings to your day. Much Love to your journey. As always, thanks for listening. Treat yourself like you would treat someone you love… because you should Love yourself like God loves you.

#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.

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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. 

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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: Receive

Hi, Family!

I hope your week is going well so far; if not, it just got better. 🙂

I have a confession – I’m not a good receiver. In the words of Shonda Rhimes in Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person , I should say thank you, shut up, and smile. That’s it. The end. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go that way. I’m working on it, but there’s no oak tree just yet though progress has been made. My immediate response is to reciprocate out of fear of being misunderstood as a taker. I also loathe being indebted to someone. Those that know me personally know I have a giving heart; nevertheless, the reaction is instinctive. How? Negative repetitive experiences. They rewire us – it’s science. In the case of receiving beautiful gifts from people I cherish or from strangers with big hearts, this science works against me. So, what you may see when you give me something is an attempt to recircuit myself. A small smile. A slight lowering of my head. A significant exhale. Whatever it takes, I’m working on it.

Well, here I am minding my ongoing personal growth business when a beautiful moment happened this week.

The place: in the shower. I was listening to a meditation of bible verses and it was nourishing. When it ended, I heard a voice in my spirit say “Do you receive it?” I took a deep breath, like someone had just snatched the check after a meal and placed their credit card on top of it. I immediately knew the rewiring process didn’t just apply along horizontal lines. I was being challenged to accept God’s opportunities and promises as well… and that was difficult for me. The truth is my relationship with God has holes in it. He’s ever faithful and His Spirit has guided me to places I could have never imagined, yet, I still feel like He’s going to let me down sometimes. That the prayer won’t be answered. That I won’t get the opportunity. That I won’t hear from that certain person. That the bottom will fall from beneath my feet. Call what you will, but I say it’s doubt based on a history of unfortunate events. Just enough for me to take a deep breath before saying my prayers sometimes.

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But when I heard that Voice, it was sweet. It was loving. It was empathetic and understanding. It carried a tone that said “I know you’ve been hurt, Daughter, but will you trust me again?” I felt the sincerity deep in my bones. And I opened up. I felt like the sun was radiating through my skin.

So, I opened my hands and received the water from the showerhead. Overflowing with a oasis of clarity, I lifted my palms and splashed the water over my face. Over and over again. With every wave, I said “I receive it.”

*splash*
“I receive it.”
*splash*
“I receive it.”

Every time I said it, my smile on the outside matched the revelation on the inside. I smiled so big that a laugh escaped. Why couldn’t I receive God’s Love as easily as I received this water? Here it is, pouring freely, and all I have to do is stand under it (and pay for it, but you get the drift).

*splash*
“I receive it.”
*deep breath*
“I receive it!”

I feel like I had more than a shower. I had a growth spurt. My prayers sprouted green leaves of trust this week and it feels amazing. I pray that you experience the same and it’s OK if you feel like you need baby steps to walk along that journey. I have plenty of baby steps on my own.

As you allow your spiritual relationship to heal, I also pray that you recall when things went well. When it did work out. When you did get the call. When you did laugh with that person. Those moments were promises kept and I have to believe that if I don’t have it, I didn’t need it. I believe that I am worthy of receiving goodness in my life just as I am. I am worthy of being a receiver. I am a sincere and insatiable giver, so why wouldn’t Father want me to receive Love in the same spirit from which I pour?

Just something to think about. Something to stand on. Something to clutch close to your heart. I know I am.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I’m rooting for you, Family. 🙂

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.

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*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: Matri

Happy Wednesday, Family!

Mother’s Day is near and I’ve been reflecting lately on lessons I’ve learned from the matriarchs in my family. Before I dive into that pool of goodness, I must acknowledge the mamas in this virtual living room and those mourning their mamas. I love you all and I see you. I appreciate you and I’m hugging all of you right now.

April is a reflective month for me because two of my late grandmothers’ birthdays are in that month. When May comes, the flutter of mother’s day rests on my heart in the same sentimental space. It’s a peaceful area. I feel the spirits of my matriarchs everywhere and their wisdom wraps me up and steadies my seas. Below are four lessons that steer my life to this day.

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  1. Keep your mind sharp.
    When my great-grandparents drove down from Ohio to visit us in Alabama, it felt like Christmas morning. Not because they had a bag of presents, but because Great-Grandma Coffee was my mental playmate. I was nerdy elementary kid and she reveled in it. A few books of word search puzzles was always in her bag and my eyes lit up every time she held it in her hands. When she calmly pulled out a pen from her purse and rested her knees in that rocking chair, I knew what time it was. The challenge was on to see who could finish a page first. We could go through 50 puzzles in a matter of days. She had a head full of trivia. If I beat her, it was a miracle. Our word search battles were the stuff of gladiators. Her daughter, my grandmother, was the same way… always stretching her mind. Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy were constantly playing on the television and I loved it all. Thank God for matriarchs that weren’t afraid to show their wit.
  2. We are stewards of the Earth.
    My paternal grandmother taught me early that God gave us a divine charge to take care of this planet. Recycling was non-negotiable and eating fresh foods was normal. She read every label and screened every meal to ensure it was nutritionally balanced. Aloe plants thrived in her apartment It’s because of her that I only purchase 100% juice and that I can tell you which vegetables contain certain vitamins. She’s why I eat broccoli like candy and monitor my fried food intake. Her mantra was that we were made from the Earth, so She had everything we needed to survive. I loved that about my grandmother and I appreciate her wisdom in marrying our faith to Mother Nature.
  3. Do it well or don’t do it at all.
    One thing about my grandmothers and my mother, they were/are notorious perfectionists. My aunts are the same. What you could not do was do something halfway and they find out about it. No way. Make that a hell no with stadium lights around it.. My grandmothers could dress to the nines and could organize an event better than any professional planner. They stressed that the only thing you truly own is your name and is imperative to keep it intact. Whether it was re-applying the crooked stamps on the envelopes or making sure my choir robe was pressed, everything has the stamp of your name on it, so care about everything that leaves your hands.
  4. Serve from the heart.
    I watched my matriarchs serve people from all walks of life when they needed Love most. Their hands were extensions of God. I saw grace with my own eyes from elementary school onward and it germinated grace in me. My mother called the parents of her Sunday School students every Saturday to ensure they were coming the next day and to offer a ride if they needed. The little brown Chevette carried a caravan, you hear me? Every week, she picked up youth choir members and anyone who wanted to go to church. That single mother on a shoestring budget made several trips if necessary. My mother. Every week. Rain or shine. My aunt wakes up asking God to show her who to help today, then… she actually does it. No matter what it is. When you serve others, you do it from the heart of God, or don’t do it at all. Period.
Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

None of my grandparents are living, but they live within me. Their wisdom stands around me when life gets rough. I appreciate everything they instilled in me and all that my mother still pours into my soul. It’s a priceless gift.

I pray that you are surrounded by maternal wisdom from surprising places if you’re not able to retrieve it from your family. Matriarchs are all over the place – in your community, your church, your neighborhood senior living center or retirement community… anywhere. Reach out for it and be amazed at the richness you’ll find.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Family. I love you and stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: The Pain Principle – Part 2

Good Evening/Morning, Family!

We made it to another week, so I celebrate that with you!

I received a few private messages regarding last week’s post – that it helped them breathe a little easier as they walk along their respective journeys. Thank you for letting me know. I write for you. Let’s dive into the second part of my Pain Principle –

Pain should not be muted.

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Pain has a voice and we should listen to it every chance we get. It tells us that something is changing or something needs to be changed.

About 17 years ago, God showed me a vision to explain a concept about pain (I love that He knows I’m a visual learner). I saw a vision of a human spine. It was vertically suspended. A hand slid one of the thoracic vertebrae out of place as if it were a wooden block in a game of Jenga; then, it slid it back into alignment. Then I heard the following:

Either way, there’s pain.

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A lightbulb went off in my spirit.

Pain is an indicator that something’s wrong and that something is right. Think about it – whether the vertebra is out of place or returned to its place, pain would be present. It’s a crazy dichotomy, yet our bodies were built to know the difference. At some point during the healing process, the pain would subside. That’s how God made us.

But what do we do? We mute pain through pills, alcohol, vacations, porn… you name it, we’ll use it to prevent us from dipping our toes into a pool of pain. We run away from it thinking that it will suddenly disappear only to find that it has grown roots into areas we thought were off limits. Pain is an indicator that something is changing… for better or for worse. When we listen to it – physically or spiritually – we allow healthy footsteps to lead us into a better version of ourselves. We lay the groundwork for true healing to take place.

So, my motivational questions for you are the following:

What pain are running away from?
Since pain has a voice, what is it saying to you?
Is something out of alignment or is something being aligned?

Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels.com

I pray that you allow the Holy Spirit to speak through the voice of your pain. I know it’s dark down there and you’re not quite sure of its depth, but the more you mute its echo, the more it will grow into other areas of your life. I’m a firm believer that whatever is in you will come out of you. It may look like an emotional blow up or emotional constipation when talking to your parents. Trust me – it’s there.

Ever since that day when I envisioned that spine, I have allowed pain to tell me something so I can adjust accordingly. Like many of you, I’ve grown accustomed to “dealing” with pain, but over time I realized that terminology can send us into a spiral of unhealthy living. I tell my clients that pain on the way to healing is better than pain standing still.

I love all of you and I want us to be well inside and out. If you think that journey will be difficult to begin, I highly recommend finding a mental health therapist to match your needs. After all, God made therapists too.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Family!

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.

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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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