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.
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.
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?
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?”
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!
I hope you’re doing well out there despite severe weather, hate crimes, and illness swirling around us. I pray for you often, so you have an advocate here, OK? OK. Let’s dig into this short stop.
As my excavation and therapy continues, the layers have revealed a rawness I haven’t been able to ignore.
Sometimes I cry and sometimes I’m overwhelmed with frustration. While the rollercoaster is annoying, I am committed to the healing process. Like I told my therapist, now that I’m aware of this hidden suitcase, I’m all in – I’m healing from this one time and one time only.
One of the revelations on this rollercoaster has been that in spite of the valleys, God has always shown me that I am loved.
A note of appreciation from a student A love note from my mother A sunset in my favorite colors A car ride from my sister A text message saying I love you A slow walk with my cousin after surgery A former student calling to check on me A stranger pushing my car during a snowstorm A supervisor letting me sit in on an executive meeting A long hug that was much needed A kind word on a difficult day A chance to cry on a friend’s shoulder A compliment from a cashier A friend paying for dinner A road trip full of laughs A cup of grace when I was wrong
All of these beautiful moments were unsolicited and there are plenty more. I’ll never understand why horrible things happen. Truthfully, I can’t even say that everything is allowed to make us stronger either. I believe some things occur because we make negative decisions. I also believe nothing catches God by surprise. Somehow, some way, there are reminders we are loved through it all.
Consider similar moments in your life. I know the sucky moments are there, but place your pencil on the page and retrace the years. I’m sure you’ll find unsolicited moments of love sprinkled over your life. So, as much as I despised the valleys and felt alone at times, God always said “You are so loved.”
The ring of those words has been in my ear for years (and is actually a book in progress), but it radiated such high vibrations one day. I teared up and said “Thank you. I am so loved.” Over and over again, I said those words and they washed over me like a warm water from a rainfall showerhead. At that moment, I didn’t feel forsaken. I felt remembered.
Family, you are so loved. I love you enough to write you on the regular and God loves you enough to send you reminders from various directions. You are not forgotten. You are not forsaken.
I pray you receive every transmitted love message divinely sent to you.
You know how society stresses the importance of securing the bag? If you’ve never heard of this colloquialism, it means to take advantage of a financial opportunity, obtain the funds, snatch the coins… you get the drift.
Well, for some of us, I say it’s time to unpack the bag. *raising my hand too*
I’ve been undergoing this uncomfortable adventure with my therapist recently. As faith-filled as we may be, there’s a bag of stuff that we keep tucked away or in my case, that we never knew existed.
So, how does a Christian begin the process of unpacking an emotional suitcase? First, you need two guides – The Holy Spirit and a professional counselor/therapist. If you’re new here, welcome to my blend. I’m an avid advocate for mental health and I believe God gifted persons with the ability to help us navigate difficult waters. If you need a starting point, let me know. I have a list of exceptional professionals that can either help you directly or refer you to someone who can.
As you find a match for your wellness needs and prepare for the journey, here are three things to remember –
Remember you serve a God who cares.
WORD: Psalm 147:3 NLT – “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”
NOTE: Whatever the weight, He can handle it. Start unloading.
Remember you are an exceptional creation.
WORD: Psalm 139: 13-14 NLT – “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it.”
NOTE: Your baggage doesn’t change who you are.
Remember freedom is yours.
WORD: Psalm 34:14 NLT – “I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears.”
NOTE: You do not have to live in your baggage. The suitcase is not your home. You can be freed.
Family, don’t forget you are not alone and you have everything it takes to begin the journey. I pray you have the courage to take the first steps necessary toward a healthier you. I know I am.
Peace & Thanks for listening to my under-500-word Tiny Desk Ted Talk! *lol*
Help comes in different forms. The question is — do you want it?
Now, before you respond with hearty yes, take a minute a think about your answer.
Help sounds heroic, urgent, even sexy. We revel in being the helper. I’ve seen pre-Kindergarteners fight over who would help the teacher and adults battle in a boardroom to supply the solution. We like to help, at least most of us do. Sometimes this heroic (or altruistic) gesture comes with a price. We end up being horrible at accepting help when it’s our turn. I heard a preacher say once – everyone wants a miracle, but no one wants to be in need of one.
Fast forward to the next dot on this shortstop — What do you do when you need help? And I mean, you know you need it, but being in the mess feels good. It feels cozy. Comforting. Familiar. You may start to indulge in thoughts that keep you bound in the mess… recounting the past or imagining a future that may never arrive. Next thing you know, the thought clouds pass and there you are… still captive in the muddy mess. Let’s go practical.
In order to wrap yourself in the presence of Jesus instead of marinating in the warm, cozy mess, you have to accept help. Your heart has to be open enough to receive it. This sounds easy, but it can be difficult to release what feeds our monsters. When we do, the presence of Jesus creates a new blanket for us to curl up in. The downside? We can sometimes use our faith as an excuse not to seek help.
So, whether it is gluttony via extra trips to fridge or lack of self-control by mismanaging your funds, you need help and it’s up to you to accept it.
It’s mental health awareness month, so there are professionals available to help you through the rough patches. I have a shortlist of counselors/therapists I can share if you need a starting point; just private message or email me and I will send it to you. After all, God made therapists too. That’s a form of help you may be avoiding. That’s a healthy journey to receive the peace of Jesus’s presence in your life.
So, I’ll circle back to the beginning — Help comes in different forms. The question is — do you want it? What do you do when you need it?
Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!
We seek specialists for areas that need attention. We take medications for what ails our bodies and encourage others to do the same. Prescriptions are filled and routines are formed. Adults become child-like as they read carefully and follow instructions; we become child-like as we look for signs if we’re getting better and worse.
Here’s the question.
Why are we are willing to carefully tend to our tangible diseases and not our invisible ones? I have a newsflash for you. Your invisible wounds bleed out too. They fester beneath the surface and seep through your pores. They manifest themselves through the words of your lips. Your body movements tattle-tell on you like a kindergartener. Your eyes are gateways to things your soul can vocalize to others. You’re hurting and as much as you try to suppress it, you’re leaking.
This post is to encourage you to see a specialist for the innermost part of you. Pray and seek the face of God, your Maker, then seek a counselor or therapist. I’ll let you in on another secret, Sweetheart. God made them too. If every good and perfect gift comes from Him, we must believe the gift of counseling and therapy were created by Him as well. So, why shy away from those gifts helping you?
Cosmetologists. Cardiologists. Oncologists. Orthodontists. Every one of these professions requires a level of trust between the person in need and the person of skill. Perhaps it’s time to allow yourself to build that trust with God and with one of his gifted servants designed to help you heal.
Don’t be a hypocritical Christian… willing to take 10 prescriptions yet speaking ill of those who seek mental and spiritual wellness. Maybe you should stand in the truth that you need to schedule an appointment with a therapist to work through some of that pain you’re sitting in. There’s nothing degrading about that reality. There is nothing degrading about you. Ask for help. Reach for help. Accept the help. Be parallel in your faith. Be parallel in your healing. Let God help you through specialists ready to sit with you.
If you need a starting point, contact me. I have a short list of licensed professional counselors and therapists that have proven to be trustworthy referrals and I am willing to share this list with you. After I refer someone, I never hear of their interaction and that’s what you want. Sincerity and confidentiality.
Peace & Thanks for listening. I’m proud of you and I love you. Your next step is going to create a better version of yourself. Take it.
In case you missed the sidebar announcement on Instagram, I began therapeutic massage school this month and it has been eye-opening and fun every single day – sincerely one of the most enlightening learning experiences I’ve ever had. Along with notes of history and technique, self-care instructions flutter throughout the chapters.
One of the first things my instructor said was that our hands were our tools and we should protect them at all costs. Furthermore, our bodies are our tools, so it’s imperative to keep them healthy. I wrote a special LATSOL message in my notebook that day because the Holy Spirit’s voice was so clear.
“You’re the channel for healing others. You can’t heal others if you’re sick.”
That was so loud to me. I have spent the majority of my life giving until I pass out or run out. Have you? You run yourself ragged believing that the more you squeeze out of your time, talent, and treasure, the more Christ-like you are. The more Jesus you’re showing other people. The more glory God gets. Well, Sweetheart, I am happy – no, absolutely ecstatic – to inform you that this is a lie! There is no more work you can do that will justify you sacrificing yourself to death. Now, I’m not talking about people that are modern martyrs for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m talking about you lying in a hospital bed because you have spent your life to death thinking that it was for the best, that no one else could do it, or that your ego told you it was the only option. The truth is, only Jesus was the perfect martyr, so you don’t have to die trying to move the bar.
God wants you to love Him and His Love circulates back to you as he enjoys loving on His Creations – which includes you! You can’t heal people if you’re sick, Love. Your hands are the tools God have you to give generously and wildly to the one who needs it; not to work feverishly into a stressful ball of frenzy, anguish, or remorse. Your entire body is needed to be the conduit through which Love flows. Words of healing turn into gestures of wholeness and you can’t do that when you’re dead from stretching yourself too thin and overworking your body for the sake of the cause. Even while I’m administering massage techniques, I am required to practice proper posture so I don’t damage myself in the process of client therapy.
Check this out… even Jesus said “Let’s slow down for a minute.” in Mark 6:31 NLT
Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”
He said this because there were so many people coming and going that
Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.
Balance the care – input and output. Maybe your self-care is a day of fishing or a road trip to your favorite hiking spot. Maybe it’s a relaxing spa experience or an expression of community service. Whatever it is, do it. There is nothing sinful in balancing God’s Love in you and through you. He is a never-ending supply. You, my Dear, are not.