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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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Wednesday Wind Down: Keep It Up

Good Morning, Family! Happy September!

I hope that you’re doing well out there. I’m glad you made it to another week.

There’s a lot going on and I’m not oblivious to it, but whew… it can be a struggle to keep your spirits up. One thing I remember my late father saying is “If you look down, you go down. If you look up, you go up.” I used to think “Man, that sounds so easy, Pop. It sounds good, but it’s not that easy.”

But to him, it was. It truly was.

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Between racial injustice, church scrutiny, and near-death experiences, he endured more than his fair share of adversity. He lived through so much turmoil that I guess he had no other choice but to look up. Looking down in despair would have surely taken him out of this world sooner than appointed. When I am surrounded by dark clouds, I find myself grasping for Pop’s determination to look up… to look up past the hovering gloom. I know it wasn’t easy, but somehow he kept his spiritual chin up. Being a deacon-turned-pastor would probably cultivate that strength within any person. The grounds of his heart had to be rich with fertilizer to grow such wisdom and unbothered-ness.

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So, how do you keep your spiritual chin up when your head and heart feel heavy? I’m glad you asked. Here’s three practical things that help me save myself –

  1. I religiously use my Google Chromecast. Whether it is instrumental jazz for four hours or a feel-good movie, I take news breaks so I am not overwhelmed via heart and mind. Seeing division and unrest rips my heart to shreds. Social and political misrepresentation squeezes my analytical educator brain. Hypocrisy makes me sick. Modern-day Pharisees give me hives. The perpetual dismissal of the obvious can make my chest heat up. So… I utilize my Chromecast to the fullest before I get full. On many days, I feel more like the God in Amos 6:8-14 than the Peter in 1 Peter 2:12. Streaming a mental palate cleanser works like a charm.
  2. I remember I am just a piece of the puzzle. Say it with me, Family – “I can not fix all of this.” Say it again if you have to – “I can not fix all of this.” Replacing “everything” with “all of this” makes my typical mantra plop down on the doorstep of my heart, right there with the rest of the world’s problems. I cannot look at pain and not be moved. I cannot see an opportunity to help and not flinch like a track athlete ready to run at the gun’s fire. I’m not built that way… yet, while I believe my puzzle piece has purpose, I am still just one piece. I don’t have the capacity to eradicate racism or provide a limitless supply of homes for the unhoused. I certainly can’t fix everything I see. I just have to make sure to do what I can. In other words, think micro when you’re overwhelmed with macro. Ask yourself, “What’s my piece of the puzzle?”
  3. I save my voice. Listen, I’m going say this with a sharper sentence – don’t lose your voice screaming at people who aren’t listening. Period. In a time where all sides are shouting, someone has to have Peace at the center of the conversation. Someone has to let Love rule the table… even if it’s piercing. As my Pop would say, “Somebody gotta have some sense.” I watched my dad stay silent in the most heated debates. When he was done talking, he was done talking. It’s like a switch flipped and he knew it would be a waste of time to speak further. Like the Holy Spirit gave him a baseball coach’s signal and he knew to stay on base. I admired that about him so much. Over the years, I’ve acquired it, but even past the grave, his mastery is well above my level. One thing that doesn’t happen anymore is me being physically or spiritually hoarse. By saving my voice, I save myself.
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I hope one or some of these tips help you this week and beyond. After all, it’s the second day of September and there is much opportunity for goodness to happen to you, through you, and around you. I know it’s difficult to be in the midst of turmoil, but remember that you are a vessel of Peace. You may not can stop everything bad that is happening, but you can stop letting it control your heart. Take charge of your eyes and ears and take care of your spirit. You are worth the Love.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there and I love you!

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: Don’t Play With Me

Hi, Sweethearts!

It’s the last Wednesday Wind Down for the year and I want to talk about two women and a surprise.

Let’s talk about the two women first.

They’re both in the same place. That don’t-play-with-me-i-ain’t-got-time-for-your-foolishness-today place.

You know what I’m talking about. You arrive to Don’t Play With Me Land after you’ve been duped… after you’ve experienced pain… after you’ve lost something or someone. You’re driving down Happiness Street with smiles and rainbows shooting out the tailpipe until the road suddenly looks dark and the trees are creepily crooked. The warmth of the sun turns into a bitter cold and emptiness surrounds your shoulders. You keep driving though you’re unsure of this area. Eyes ahead and sometimes darting left to right, you move forward believing the brightness of your headlights will carry you through the darkness. Then the road smooths out and the sun reappears above your head. Birds chirp joyfully and you’re left with a “whew!” in your chest. You made it, but you don’t want to go through it again.

Photo by Matu00fau0161 Burian on Pexels.com

That’s where these women were in 2 Kings, Chapter 4 — one of my absolute favorite chapters in the Bible.

At one point, everything was fine then it wasn’t. Here comes a prophet asking them to hope again — believe in God again — but they were hurt. They had experienced a dark part of the road. Enter the prophet Elisha with the divine audacity to put God’s infinite power to the test.

For Woman #1, it’s a debt she can not pay.
For Woman #2, it’s a dream she does not want to resurrect.

Woman #1 is a widowed mother with a voice of desperation and some olive oil.
Woman #2 is married, wealthy, and hopeless with a guest bedroom.

Woman #1 reminds Elisha that her late husband was one of his faithful servants (verse 1).
Woman #2 reminds Elisha not to get her hopes up about having a child (verse 15).

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In my modernized heart and mind, this is what it would sound like —

Woman #1: “My husband devoutly worked for Your prophet and reverenced Your Word and now, I’m about to lose my sons? After everything we’ve done for God, now we have no money?”

Woman #2: “I’m fine. I gave up on that dream. I finally made peace with the fact that it’s not going to happen and you want me to dig all of that back up? It’s just not in God’s plan and I’m cool with that.”

I believe both women were saying the same thing — God, don’t play with me. They reached out to Elisha at different times along their journey, but don’t discount their fortitude and faith walk.

Woman #1 had to have a lot of courage to borrow empty jars from her friends and neighbors. At this time, debt collectors didn’t call you on the phone. They came to your house — aggressively. Everyone that lived nearby would have known she was a widow and that her family owed money. Can you imagine having to knock on each door in your neighborhood to borrow jars after being ruffed up by bill collectors all because a man of God told you to do it? That’s some fire in your bones. Period.

Let’s look at Woman #2. She’s also a bad mama jama — just read the whole chapter. When her child died (yes, the one she thought she couldn’t have), she fiercely told her servant to take her to Elisha pronto! So, not only does she have to reach down into her soul and grab some dusty hope to become a mother, but she carries that hope with her to remind Elisha that she didn’t ask to be let down again in this area of darkness.

Neither woman asked to meet that part of their faith journeys, but there they were… at Don’t Play With Me Land. Both of them were at a point of “God, you gotta do something. It’s gotta be better than this.”

Both said I’m going to hope one more time.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

Maybe that’s you as you’re reading this post. The year is coming to a close and you’re tired of hoping. Trust me, I’m on that patch of road too about some things. You’re not alone.

I encourage you — encourage us — to try again, hope again, and keep driving through the dark place. The road is bumpy, but it’s not eternal. The branches are crooked, but they bloom in the spring. This is just a patch. It’s not the journey. It’s not the end. We have headlights of faith to see ahead. The engine of God’s Word is proven to be steady, so we have no fear in being deserted in the dark. This is not the end. OK? OK.

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Well, here goes the surprise real quick. Ready? Keep reading!

Next year (2021), I will launch an inspirational/meditative podcast made with you in mind. I can’t wait to share short tidbits of love and empowerment to help us walk this faith journey out. We’ll continue to listen at the speed of life together as I step outside my comfort zone yet again. Will you join me there? I hope so! Stay tuned for the date and details!

Here’s to us staying on the road. Here’s to the Son shining on our shoulders. Here’s to meeting 2021 with a better version of ourselves. *clinks glass*

Peace, and as always, thanks for listening. Happy New You!

Wednesday Wind Down: Dichotomic 

Recently, I felt the pain of a woman who’s only desire was to provide the best solution for her children at the expense of what she wished for them. She cried after we prayed together. I bought the items she needed and she agreed to a massage therapy session. I just wanted to help, wanted her to know that I see her. She was the 2nd person for I whom I prayed and to whom I had given. The first person was homeless and when I asked him for a prayer request, his response was to pray for his family. How selfless. These opportunities started hours after I received news that my income would decrease… again. Perfect timing, right? Exactly. That’s what I said too.

Now, I’m not monetarily rich. I’m not a superstar. I don’t have someone taking sensational photos of me at every turn so I can post them on the ‘gram. And I’m definitely not a selfie girl. I just… listen. I sincerely try to listen to God’s voice everyday and anywhere. That’s how this blog Listening at the Speed of Life was born. So, when those opportunities presented themselves, I had to be obedient. No questions asked. 

What have I learned about myself along this journey of obedience? 

  • I hug my students.
  • I even hug strangers. 
  • I pray for people I don’t know.
  • I say thank you. A lot.
  • I love big and I retreat quickly.
  • I boldly express my care.
  • I can speak up when I’m scared.
  • I can ask questions unapologetically. 
  • I seek to understand. 
  • I generally stay to myself, yet I have meaningful relationships.
  • I am a delicate, and resilient balance of mind, body, and spirit.
  • My introversion is beautiful, not a defect.
  • I don’t have to be loud if I don’t want to be.
  • I don’t have to be in the mix to feel included.
  • I like breathing and being, and sometimes these come at the cost of being misunderstood. That’s OK with me now. (It wasn’t when I started.)

So, back to the moment. She was grateful. I was humble. We connected.

The message?

It’s time that we slow down and feel the heartbeat of one another. We’re all humans trying to navigate through this life, and if you’re a Christian, then you’re trying to adhere to a certain compass as you travel on your path. It’s not easy, and we are all doing it… walking it out, journeying into the next dimension of ourselves, and feeling our way around in the darkness of tomorrow’s challenges. 

What would it hurt to wave to the service worker? Speak to the custodian? Give a thank you card to the teacher? Buy an extra meal for the hungry? Or simply hug your friend without it being an obligatory salutation? 

What happened to us orbiting together instead of spinning around each other, being afraid to bump into one another’s space? 

What happened to running the human race together and checking on others along the way?

Peace & Thanks for listening. 

Wednesday Wind Down: These Three Things

Where was the Wednesday Wind Down last week? On the road. To Indianapolis, Indiana. So, you have a bit to catch up on.

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I just had to pause and take this shot of Jesus waiting for the curtain to open. 

On Easter weekend, Upon This Rock (UTR) Productions celebrated 34 years of theatrical passion with a trailblazing rendition of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that could rival any Broadway play. Hands down, Sweetheart. It was exciting, invigorating, and  empowering.

 

The day before the last rehearsal, I left Alabama with a worn out spirit, waiting to be refreshed. I won’t lie and say that nothing good happened to me leading up to my departure. Actually, God the Father sent distinct reminders after I cried my eyes out the prior week. I don’t cry often, so why the tears, you ask? Because I felt like a wrung out dish rag. Strong will plus a caring spirit, coupled with a loving heart can create opportunities for people to minimize you. Because I am not boisterous, it is sometimes assumed that I am resilient enough to be kicked around like kindergarten ball at recess.  If you’ve ever felt this way, you know that at some point, you deflate a bit.

Well, since the beginning of the year, there have been significant instances where this assumption occurred, and by late March, I had reached my quota. I recall feeling so low a couple of weeks ago that I pulled over at a parking lot to gather myself on the way home one night because my silent frustration was so loud. There I was, battling the Truth against what was true – 1) that as much as I sincerely give of my time, talent, and treasure, there will always be someone that will disregard it, 2) that I can not control whether someone values my gifts, 3) that at times I feel invisible – trudging along some days just to stay positive and uplifting, 4) that in the midst of invitations to birthday shindigs, bridal showers, baby showers, gender reveals, organizational celebrations, etc. I somehow felt good enough to celebrate with, but not enough to contact otherwise, and lastly 5) that I was God’s Beloved and that I shouldn’t be feeling down in the first place. Ever been there? It’s not a “Woe is me” moment, but a “I’m tired of getting screwed over and fighting for the basics” moment. The vest that was once girding and protecting me was now suffocating me. It needed to come off for a minute. Just for one minute so I could catch my breath from the blows… then, I could strap back on my armor and return to the battlefield. *smh* But, two weeks

20180330_194828
My Sister for Life – Producing Actress/ Vocalist/ Comedienne Moneca Reid 

 ago, I just needed a minute. That minute turned into an hour of outcry over the phone to my sister (with whom I would attend UTR) who understood exactly what I was experiencing. She decoded my tears and congratulated me on giving my frustration a voice.

 

So, now you see my mindset and spiritual state by the time I had to travel to Indiana. I came with a positive outlook, ready to receive whatever God had to show me. Whatever He had to say, I was beyond all ears. My prayer included the resolve that I was coming to Indianapolis empty-hearted, but would not leave empty-handed. I was spiritually hungry, and everything in me was open and available. My assistant role was clear and I was excited to serve and experience my first UTR Production.

In the midst of working backstage, I was absolutely filled. There were 3 things that I heard from God and three responses I released to Him.

  1. “You do all things well.”

  2. “How dare I accept less than what I am worth?”

  3. “You really do know how I feel.”

 

20180331_012130
Living Testimony / Executive Director Sharon L. Hill

Though some loved ones are no longer here, God does all things well. The adversity that we live through brings us closer to the people who need our story. This is the case for Executive Director Sharon L. Hill. Her testimony manifested in the form of Upon This Rock Productions. The smiles you see in that photo are not results of everything being perfect, but of God doing everything well from one point in life to another and another and another…

 

So how dare I accept anything less than what Jesus paid for my heart when He came with my end in mind? He values me so much that He continues to give His Love in exchange for my tainted version. Friends, Lovers, Family… it doesn’t matter. You can not – hear me clearly – you CAN NOT allow yourself to absorb the value that someone has placed on you. Check yourself for “stickers” that others have put on you and remove them quickly. You may need the Father’s help, but you can do it.

When I saw the actors cast as Jesus experience everything I had cried about just days before, it humbled me… quickly. He truly does know how I feel. Now that I’m back home, I can’t imagine the thought of forgetting that Truth. He knows what it feels like to be me. After all, that was the soul purpose of Jesus coming to Earth, destroying the religious status quo, loving the discarded, and obliterating hell’s power. He had to experience life in my shoes. At times, He retreated to pray and regroup. Sometimes, He was frustrated. He was sad. His authority and identity were questioned. He felt loved. He felt happy. He felt betrayed. He felt forgotten. He felt victorious. He is the perfect example of finishing a mission. He is the perfect depiction of Love.

One thing is for sure — everyone who experienced Jesus then and everyone who experiences His Love now have probably said one or all of those three responses above. As you wind down tonight or get ready to start your day, I pray that you are reminded of God’s Love toward you.  I had to get that off my chest before I went to bed, so I hope you feel the virtual hugs through your screen.

Peace, Love, and Thanks for listening, Sweetheart.

 

 

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