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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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motivational

Thursday Love: Purple People Pleaser

Hi, Family!

First things first – guess what? I intentionally went to bed before midnight last night. *gasp* I know! I’m surprised too! Usually I stay up to write you, but I was led to turn in early… then my dog decided he wanted to frolic up and down the street without returning home for about an hour.

When you know you messed up… #SammysWorld

I growled, retrieved him, and still managed to throttle down before midnight. I say that’s a win. Thanks for celebrating with me. lol

Before I went to sleep, I knew the contents of this post and I’m so excited to encourage you today. It’s a little meaty, but there’s good stuff and pictures, so let’s get into it!

I want to talk about Aaron, Moses’ right-hand man and priest to the Israelites. He’s one of my favorite Bible profiles to study because he had such an interesting life. Here’s some facts you may not know.

  • He was older than Moses by three years (Exodus 7:7).
  • He was commissioned to be Moses’ eloquent mouthpiece as he confronted Pharaoh (Exodus 3:14).
  • His staff turned into a serpent in front of Pharaoh and ate the other magician’s staff-serpents (Exodus 7:8-12).
  • He made the infamous golden calf that caused Moses to flip his lid and break the Ten Commandments (Exodus 32).

Yes, you read that right. Aaron made the golden calf. From the Israelites’ earrings. Ear-rings. Let that sink in.

Photo by Rafael Barros on Pexels.com

To put this in a present-day perspective, imagine you and your older brother (emphasis on older) built a company from the ground up and he sells it to the lowest bidder without telling you. So, you come to work one day, and the employees are having a fully blown party. Cake. Balloons. Alcohol. Dancing on desks. Everything. Then your brother says he didn’t know how the sale took place, that he just gave the people what they wanted. That would make you angry, yes? I know I would be furious.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Well, that’s a small equivalent of what happened between Moses and Aaron. Moses trusted Aaron to be his go-to. They confronted Pharaoh together. Traveled the wilderness together. Beheld the intricate assembly of the Tabernacle (their mobile place of worship) together. Saw God rain manna (small pancake-like food) from heaven together. While the Israelites were fighting the Amalekites, Aaron and Hur upheld Moses’ arms so they wouldn’t lose (Exodus 17:8-13). He was bestowed the responsibility of priesthood to lead alongside Moses. He was even outfitted with custom threads made to God’s specifications to represent his leadership calling (Exodus 28). So, you can imagine the disgust Moses wore on his face after he comes down from Mount Sinai with God’s Words in his arms, still beaming with glory from meeting the The Most High to find out that his older brother was the culprit of the calf and leader of the party. Then, to make matters worse, Aaron gives a lame excuse and says the calf just came out of the fire (Exodus 32:24). Really, dude? <— my real life response. See what I wrote next to the verse.

I write what I think as I read the Bible. Good ol’ reading comprehension skills happening over here.

Now, before we judge Aaron and his tomfoolery, let’s recall when we did something not-so-great under the pressure of others. Here he is, among the anger of thousands, wondering how much longer his brother was going to take in the mountains. “He’ll be back soon,” my imagination hears Aaron saying to himself. “Just be patient.” The grumbling grew to insurmountable degrees. The legal matters multiplied as he judged with his best intentions. Their piercing eyes alone would have made anyone nervous to come out of his tent. Then one day, he cracked and gave in to the people. This is where I wanted to bring you into the picture. The “you” that tends to say yes when you should say no. The “you” that accepts the invitation when you should respectfully decline. The “you” that foregoes your preferences for the comfort of others. That “you.” That’s who I want to bring to the table to meet Aaron. Meet the leader. Meet humanity. Sometimes we forget that as we read God’s Word that there were people in it. Blood, sweat, and tears. Skin. Fear. Love. Admiration. Ambition. People-pleasers. For a moment in time, Aaron set aside his divine directive to oversee the Israelites while Moses was gone and gave them what they wanted instead of what they needed. How often do we do the same? Setting aside our divine instructions for a temporary moment? Throwing up our hands instead of squaring our shoulders? The answer is probably more often than we think.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

My favorite part of the story is that God didn’t throw Aaron away. Not only was he outfitted in customized priestly garments, but so were his sons. In Exodus Chapter 39, we see the same attention to detail and craftmanship put into his attire as in Chapter 28… and this is after goldencalf-mageddon. He reminded Aaron of his identity. He reminded him of his purpose. It comes full circle when you research Aaron’s garments. Part of God’s instructions were to engrave the names of the 12 tribes of Israel on two onyx stones. Onyx has been known throughout the ages as representing protection and forward movement from the past. I believe Aaron the priest needed that prayer just as much as his people. His breastpiece included jewels that represented each of the 12 tribes and a linen pouch sown inside of it carrying the Urim and the Thummim, which were stone-like objects used for divine decision-making. He was to wear this breastpiece over his heart when he entered the Tabernacle as a reminder that he would carry judgment for all 12 tribes (Exodus 28:29-30). How befitting… that God would give him such responsibility before and after the decision to create the golden calf.

If you find yourself being a chronic people-pleaser, know that you’re not alone, that it is easy to fall down that wormhole, and that you can get out. My suggestive start is to say no to one thing a week that you usually say yes to and that you would probably feel guilty about later. Just one no once a week until you’re comfortable with that level. It doesn’t have to be a rude one and you don’t have to overexplain it. Just exhale it and let it breathe into the moment. Start there. Pray about where you should be so you don’t overbook and overwhelm your schedule. I do it all the time and it started years ago with a prayer and a stressed-out face looking at my calendar – “Lord, where do I need to be?” As a result, I haven’t been stressed about my schedule again.

Wherever you are on the spectrum of people-pleasing, I pray that you uproot insecurities and fear of rejection. I pray that Love wraps around you so warmly that you remember exactly who you were fashioned to be. People-pleasing is a dangerous trap that always leaves you as the victim. My prayer is that you remember that you are the survivor.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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: A Secret Addiction

Good Morning, Family!

I’m glad you’re here. Thanks for stopping by. Let’s dive into this short stop for your week (it’s less than 500 words).

I woke up this morning and asked God about a particular situation where I believe the art of listening wasn’t valued. This phrase breathed into my spirit – addiction to defiance.

The ceiling above my head looked like a blank canvas as I replayed the situation. Immediately, I saw evidence of what I heard. Immediately, I changed the original idea of this post.

Family, I believe some people are high on defiance. It deafens their ears and their hearts. If you tell them not to touch the mailbox because it’s freshly painted, they’ll go outside and lick it. OK, maybe not, but they’ll definitely leave a fingerprint. Getting into conversations with those with such an addiction can be mind-numbing. Fruitless and frustrating. So, it’s not worth it.

You heard me – save your breath.

Photo by Kelvin Valerio on Pexels.com

In some instances, defiance is a viable force for such cases as human rights. In other scenarios, it is a way to charge an internal battery. Perhaps that battery turns over by fear or anger. Residue from being abused by authority. An indoctrination of defiance being the only way to assert one’s self. Fear of extracted freedom. Lack of verbal resources to comprehensively express one’s opinion. Whatever it is, it can materialize into an addiction that harms budding and long-term relationships.

When I was a teenager, my dad would test my strength and will via foot races and wrestling. One time, my mother asked my dad to let me go during a mini-match in the living room. She was being a mom, what can I say? 🙂 My dad, on the other hand, was definitely being a dad because he asked if I was OK while in a pin. I said yes. Then he asked “You give?” I said no with gritted teeth. I tried to wiggle out of his pin, but it didn’t work. “Do you give?” he asked again. “No!” I yelled, still twisting myself toward freedom. There was something about the defiance that strengthened me. I used it as fuel. Somehow, I found an out and my dad congratulated me. I later heard from my mom that he said “Whew! She almost got me that time!”

That will to break out of the pin was helpful then, but my prayer is to never be saturated with it. I never want to be numb to the humanity of those around me. So gritty to defend that I refuse decipher. My prayer is that you do the same. Listen to the heartbeat of those around you, even if you don’t agree. Stay pliable enough to see the fingerprint of God on each creation, even if you have to grit your teeth.

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

Wednesday Wind Down: Movie Night

Hi, Family!

You made it to another week and I’m glad you’re here!

So, I made a goal to catch up on Marvel and DC movies starting this month. I’ve missed quite a few over the years (don’t throw me away, Squad), but I’m determined to see them all.

So far, I have seen Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, and WW84. I’ve been a feminist since before I knew the word (just ask my mother), so I decided to begin with these titles. Let me tell you – I saw divine lessons all up in those movies. There were too many gems to cram into one post, but I’m excited to share three of them from Captain Marvel with you tonight (Spoiler alerts below if you haven’t seen it). Being still in geeky mode, I’m only going to use character names, OK? Great!

Captain Marvel

Lesson: When you know who you are, nothing can stop you.

I felt empowered watching Carol Danvers (known as Vers for half the movie) discover the strength in her true identity. She literally lit up. The more fire flew threw her veins, the more I nodded in affirmation. My spirit rose to the surface of my skin when she said, “I’ve been fighting with one arm tied behind my back, but what happens when I’m finally set free?” I’ve asked myself that question more than a time or two.

Family, when we know who we are in God – when we know who we were created to be – no evil force can overcome us. Period. C’mon… did you see her break through that stronghold? Did you see her flex on those bad guys after she removed that device from her neck? Then she said, “I have nothing to prove to you” when taunted by Yon-Rogg to engage in fist-to-fist combat, right before dragging him (literally) by his arm to his flying vessel. Perfect.

Photo Courtesy of IMDb

Lesson: The power is your mind not your hands.

Vers was used to fighting with her fists. She believed they housed her power. The force of her potential was realized when her mind was free. How cool is that for us to remember in times like these? So often, we are shadowboxing through life… transferring anger to anyone within earshot. Once we are free in our mind, we do not need to prove anything with our might.

Lesson: Everything isn’t as it seems. Pay attention to the Truth.

I wasn’t expecting the aliens to be the good guys based upon how the movie began. What a perfect twist and a great reminder for us all. We’re so used to absorbing stereotypes about people and ideas without seeking the Truth for ourselves. Once Carol slowed down to listen to the heart of the Skrulls, she was able form context around her experience with them. I thought of how often our story is the only one we bother reading. I thought about how comprehensive our understanding could truly be if we listened to each other. How often we block beautiful possibilities due to the earplugs of pride. Like I told my students, know who you’re mad it and be sure you’re mad at the right thing. There’s nothing worse than misdirected anger. Perhaps we can adopt her sentiment – “I’m not going to fight your war. I’m going to end it.”

Have you seen this movie too? If so, what did you see in it besides Stan Lee’s regular guest appearance? 🙂

I love you all and I believe in your purpose. Stay well and stay encouraged.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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 Invisibles

Hi, Family!

I hope you had a good day. If not, it just got better. I prayed for you this week and here’s the shortstop Word I was given to share.

One of my consistent prayers is to see the heart of people. To peer past the surface and listen to the heartbeat God placed within these bodies. Let me warn you – this is one of those real prayers. It’s not an easy feat to penetrate a heavy armor of hatred and seek the root of a person. Honestly, it takes practice (but doesn’t all of this thing call faith take practice?).

After praying that request some years ago, my natural empathy boosted 10 times over. It felt like an overload some days. I walked by a woman one day and realized her retail therapy was an attempt to hush her grief-stricken heart. I spoke to her and she cried. Moments like that began to multiply and I found myself praying the following: “Lord, how many of us are there? How many of us are walking with invisible scars, aches, and pains? How many of us do we not see?” The answer I heard – “Everywhere.”

Every day, the Invisibles are among us. They work with us, shop with us, and even live with us. Some are strangers we love and some are family we despise. Some hold stark opinions that can make your blood boil. Newsflash: Our faith calls us to Love them too.

Now, I’m not telling you to act like a licensed professional and diagnose everyone you meet. I am challenging you to see beyond. Since we do not know what a person is experiencing, it would behoove us to act like Jesus and show compassion to all. Since some battles are invisible, it would be wise not to pass judgment to anyone. Since we do not live in each other’s skin, we should watch our mouths. Our words alone could repel someone from seeing the essence of our beliefs. So, since we don’t know, we should be quiet. Be still. Check in with the Holy Spirit and check our circles of influence. Be for real and ask God to illuminate and eliminate our blind spots . We should show that overwhelming Love that was shown to us.

It doesn’t take much. It just takes kindness. An extra tip to your server. An open door for a person who is carrying a load. An encouraging text to someone you admire. A listening ear to someone who feels unheard. A sincere compliment. It takes an extension of yourself past that prayer.

So let’s make grace contagious. Let’s move past the familiar and into the invisible. Let’s see the fingerprint of God in people and Love them as we are commanded to do.

Stay well out there and, in case you haven’t heard it recently, I love you and I’m proud of you. You’re still here and you made it this far.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Thursday Love: Don’t Curse Your Current

Good Afternoon, Family!

As I prepared for bed last night, this short-stop message floated in my spirit just for you.

Say this phrase with me –

I will not curse my current.

Say it again if you have to –

I will not curse my current.

That’s what I’ve had to say aloud a few times this year. I’ve had to remind myself that my current situation is the very thing that will carry me into the next breakthrough. The current is a current and cursing it doesn’t help. Let me explain.

You can swim or ride a boat in the right direction, but if you don’t understand the currents, you can still drown. The water doesn’t just flow straightly; it has unexpected curves and riptides. The current is always changing and you have the choice whether to move with it. I guarantee if take Jesus into your current, you will always have an anchor. A safe place in your boat. A reference point. A compass. It won’t matter if the current feels like it’s taking you under or it’s sweeping you off your feet like a gust of wind. Even if you don’t know why you are where you are, you can be assured that you are on your way to a purposeful destination and that your current has a purpose as well.

Photo by julie aagaard on Pexels.com

So, what do you do in the meantime, especially when it seems like water keeps getting into your boat? You refrain from cursing where you are and be thankful for the current. It’s the very place that will grow you into the person you were designed to be… the person needed to handle the destination. Be mindful that when you curse your current phase, you block your opportunity to develop into a better version of yourself. I’m an avid believer that every difficult situation is designed to teach me something and to make me better. I may feel completely clueless at the time, but when I look back at every riptide, I can see how it strengthened my spirit for the next chapter. I’m also reminded that it eventually dissipated; currents do not last forever.

Family, no matter how tempting it is, do not curse your current. Seek God for direction and understanding, but don’t curse it. You’re unknowingly cursing your gift of the future.

So, let that current develop your discipline. Let it stretch the boundary of your skill set. Let the experience trim profanity from your daily dialogue. I’m rooting for you. I’m rooting for us!

Stay well out there and love you much!

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: A is for Advocate – PART 2

Happy Thursday, Family!

Since last week’s post, I have spoken to 10 people about self-advocacy – some strangers and some within my circle – and I don’t think this is by accident at all.

What I’ve realized is that humans (including myself) are willing to put up with abusive behavior from all angles. When we think of abuse, we often imagine physical turmoil, but it has many forms. By a singular person or by collective experience, we allow a cycle of abuse acceptance.

Photo by Joey Kyber on Pexels.com

When you’re a Christian, this cycle has multiple rings like an old tree. We are told that there is no glory without suffering, and while that is true in some capacities (just think of an athlete training for the Olympics), it should not be the soundtrack for our daily lives. We tell ourselves a lie that the more suffering, the closer to God we are and that being meek and humble means not being assertive. This loop of lies causes us not to self-advocate when needed and so the cycle of abuse acceptance continues. In essence, we abuse ourselves. I’m not talking about letting something slide for your peace of mind’s sake. I’m referring to always placing yourself in 2nd place or even worse, at the back of the line.

Photo by KoolShooters on Pexels.com

Here’s a recent example –

A health provider presented appointment time options. I wanted the 10:30 AM appointment, but I have a client that usually books a noon session. Now, the client’s session was not on the calendar yet, but my first inclination was to schedule the health appointment around the possible session. A few seconds after the thought leaped from my lips, I stopped the cycle. I confirmed the shift with a verbal affirmation. “I am important enough to be on my calendar. Please put me down for the 10:30 appointment. Anyone booking me will have to catch me after that time.” I blocked the 12:00 hour in my booking software to provide the necessary space. She nodded her head and proceeded to schedule me. I needed to do that… for me, for my heart, for my mental health, for my spirit. I needed to remind myself that my health was the priority instead of making myself available for something that may not happen.

Photo by Orione Conceiu00e7u00e3o on Pexels.com

That’s why some of these posts have been on Thursdays lately. I had to ingest my own wisdom when I’m too exhausted to post quality thoughts. I have to say, “Pushing through this moment will not yield the best of me. I need to go to bed.” So, instead of beating myself up about missing a Wednesday, I relinquish my pride and go to sleep. Why? Because Jesus snatched solitude when He needed too (Mark 1:35). He paused and prayed to refuel his spirit (Luke 5:15-16). He did not allow his ministry to deplete Him. *insert record scratch here* Let me say that again – He did not allow his ministry to deplete Him. He knew there was a divine appointment that would need all of his focus and he geared up for it along the way.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Self-advocacy preserves us for our purpose. It allows the mind, body, and spirit to be healthy enough to do exceptional things and have beautiful moments with others. It is not selfish when it is in your best interest. This is why the backlash against Naomi Osaka does not surprise me. We celebrate exertion over well-being. We would rather look good than be well. We prefer to say “If you can’t handle the pressure, change jobs.” instead of saying “I respect your decision. How can I support you?” We perpetuate the cycle of abuse acceptance both inside and outside of ourselves and that is by design. I believe evil forces seek to stress and tire you out before your divine appointments arrive. So, when it’s time to activate the excellence within you, you’re depleted. Well, I’m on a mission to change that for myself.

My prayer for you, Family, is that you join me in making small changes in your schedule… small changes with your interactions… small changes in your workplace. Ask God to show you what you need to function optimally and I guarantee He will show you. I am a witness of this truth. He cares about our earthen vessels and I care about you too.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: A Is For Advocate

Good Afternoon, Family!

I hope you are doing well. If not, it just got better. I missed you last week, but I prayed for you. 🙂 I kept falling asleep trying to post last night, so it was best to share with you today. Trust me, you would have been all kinds of confused looking at that jibberish. lol

Well, let’s get into it. I’m taking you on a journey today.

I’ve been in a strong self-advocacy mode this year. January began with one question –

What will it take to keep Christina healthy?

It was fully-loaded, but I accepted the gravitas.

While my self-care habits are solid, I felt like there were pockets of deficiency that couldn’t matriculate into the next decade. I truly wanted to live my best life and, for me, it all began with that singular question.

Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

What I Did

I looked at it from four angles – physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. In my imagination, this question looked more like a Rubik’s cube than a spreadsheet. There were so many parts that needed to work together in order for me to be the best me. I wasn’t overwhelmed though; I was intrigued. What would it truly take to unlock me?

With meticulous care, I listed items under each category of what it would take for me to be my best self. That meant everything and everyone had to be on the chopping block so I could obtain an aerial view of my needs. It meant that my current plate needed to be clean so I could determine the essential ingredients needed to nourish CJ 2.0. Nothing or no one was “canceled,” but all parties were up for re-election.

So, I started this process with a prayer and a plan. I was going to be a healthier version of myself starting this year – no matter what. I had already resumed therapy to kickstart the mentally column. I asked God to help me not to grow weary quickly and he led me to the physical area next.

Let’s Get Physical

What would it take for my body to be in the best position to do what I am called to do?

I lined up my current medical team like a fresh roster of football players during camp (in my mind, of course). Primary Care, ENT, OB/GYN, Dermatologist… everyone was on trial. Aside from integrity, each practitioner had to make me feel like we were in a partnership. What I needed was well beyond the power of a good gym sweat. I needed to be in solidarity with my doctors and they needed to be in alignment with my CJ 2.0 vision. Everyone had to get in formation and I needed to feel 100% comfortable in their care. I needed medical support beams in my life not benchwarmers giving me prescriptions. That was officially non-negotiable. So, I went down the line and determined which professional needed to be traded so I could get to the healthy championship.

Photo by Fabricio Trujillo on Pexels.com

How It’s Going

So far, so great! The year isn’t over and the journey has just begun, but I’ve already got further than I ever have. Thanks to referrals and research, I have two new doctors who are committed to my vision and do not sugarcoat the data. They don’t talk over me when I’m explaining my experiences. They don’t dismiss my questions. They don’t make condescending comments.

They listen, assess, and deliver information honestly. What a concept.

I felt an ocean of emotions the first time I received an infusion I needed. I kept saying “Lord, thank you for being my advocate.” I flipped the timeline in my mind to the countless doctor visits where I felt diluted and depleted by the lack of empathy. The cold exam rooms. The thin paper gowns. As if it were muscle memory, I would slide off the exam table, gather my things, and attempt to walk out with my head high. Once again, my concerns were unanswered and once again, a medical bill would shortly be in my mailbox.

Photo by Klaus Nielsen on Pexels.com

“Something’s not right. I’m not getting better.”

“I need a copy of my medical file, please.”

“Will you explain the side effects of this prescription?”

“Which lab tests are you running?”

These were on repeat like a Marvin Gaye tune. Before Google was born, I researched as much as I could in books and would write down questions to prepare for medical visits. I was diligent, but after the repetition of disappointment, I was exhausted. Advocating for yourself is a job, you hear me? A full-time job if you’re doing so in the medical arena without insurance, which was where I was during two seasons of my life.

So, when I asked what would it take?, I knew it would require me to squeeze another gallon of self-advocacy out of my spirit. I had to have an “I’m the captain now” attitude. I took the approach of shopping for a car, a house, or even fruit in the grocery store. If I could have standards about my purchases, I could have standards for my medical squad.

Sometimes, we forget how simultaneously fragile and resilient we are. Yes, we coexist with others in this Big Brother house called Earth, but we are not infinite beings in these bodies. We are not endless supplies of anything. We are fueled by what we’ve been given. Self-advocating in these truths created an anchor for me. Many Christians will have you believe that the less you speak up for your needs, the closer to God you are. The more you grit your teeth and bear it or take whatever is given to you, the more jewels you get in your crown.

That’s a ridiculous lie.

Photo by Chad Witbooi on Pexels.com

I guarantee that if your meal was subpar at an upscale restaurant, you wouldn’t just “live with it.” You would expect to receive not only the advertised product, but the staff’s best service.

Self-advocacy doesn’t require rudeness, but it does demand a certain level of confidence. It may even require firm pressure to the powers that be.

I know it’s exhausting and can feel downright degrading at times, but I encourage you to keep advocating. Keep praying that God leads you to the best match for your needs. Divine navigation is real and I’m a witness of it. Every time I felt a “nope” in my gut, I respectfully declined to continue their services and crossed them off the list. It wasn’t an emotional decision; my life was (and still is) on the docket and I believe God wants me to have the best version of this life possible.

Finally. Photo by me.

My prayer is that you know advocacy is not a sin and self-advocacy is not being selfish. There’s a whole world out here (quick shoutout to Diagnosis on Netflix), so there is an empathetic match for you.

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 says “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.” As much as we work, we should be able to enjoy a positive quality of life. Self-advocacy is just as “saved” as reading my Word. It reaffirms the quality of my Craftsmanship. My DNA was created by a divine being and that alone makes it worthy to cherish.

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. – 3 John 1:2

When the Creator placed you on this planet, you were not designed to take whatever you can get. In January 2021, I officially denounced that theory when it came to my health. I pray you do the same from here on out.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Family!

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