It’s been quite sometime since my last post! As I stated before, I wanted 2021 to be a year of silence, healing and deep connection and I’ve done a pretty good job at living it out. I’ve kept my social media at a minimum (or just straight up deleted), further reduced my social circle and honoured my feelings. It’s been fairly peaceful, life never completely stops being a whirlwind, but I’ve been better at removing myself from nonsense I don’t have to be a part of.
As the months of 2021 trudged on, I didn’t feel pulled to write and I started a countdown to see how long I would feel distant from this site. Eventually my thoughts for a farewell post started to form and it felt right. I almost ended this blog in 2019, but there was a bit more in the tank, now I believe it has served its purpose. 2020 was the year for this blog to inspire others to take their healing seriously, here are a few messages I got:
“Just wanted to tell you that your blog has been helping my sister. She just started therapy and read your recent blog and is now more willing to give it a chance.“
“I shared with my daughter today that you wrote a blog and expressed how much your therapist has helped you and asked her if she is ok with me reaching out to for a therapist, she said yes for the first time. This is a breakthrough.“
“I found a therapist in November. Things are going really well, thank you for all your support and help.“
On top of that I’ve had so many amazing conversations with others realizing their mental blocks and unhealthy coping mechanisms they’ve long ignored. I’m amazed and jealous that most of these folks have found a great first therapist, I was not so lucky lol. I feel very blessed to have been used through this blog to impact people worldwide.
I have no idea what’s next for me as my previous self continues to shed and a new me emerges. I’ve retired from DJing weddings (unless I promised you years ago), I’m ending this blog and losing my globetrotting spirit. My perception of God, humans and this life has been fluctuating like crazy, but that’s pretty normal for me at this point. It’s becoming easier to accept the uncertain nature of this world, I tend to expect instability much more than I once did. Less expectations do the heart well.
The rest of my life is wide open and I don’t really have any “must-haves” or “must-dos”. There are fleeting ideas, but nothing setting my heart ablaze, I’m sure passion will make its way to me when it’s ready. This chapter is so interesting because all of my life I’ve be ON and energized to the nth degree. Now I’m just floating and it’s not bad, just very different and that’s okay. I imagine I’m in an interlude before the next act in a show. I’m a bit nervous about what will happen next, but I’m certain it will be interesting as always.
“I want this venture to be genuine, healthy, and characterised by quality not quantity.”
That is a quote from a 2018 post as I was finding my blogging groove and I believe I achieved it. I respected my privacy, was honest, didn’t put pressure on myself to post and I hope this has been a high quality blog. This “censored diary” is something I’m proud of and glad I pursued for the last few years. It has truly been special.
I will deleting this blog in in a week or two to give folks time to sift through it once more. Feel free to reach out while it’s still up, it’s been so sweet to hear from you all through different channels. Since I’m no longer on social media, you’re a real one if you see this post, subscribers get the last laugh 😂 But seriously I love you all and it has been such a wonderful 4 years posting, thanks for joining the ride!
Welcome readers new and old to my end of the year review!
Before I talk about my own experience this year, I want to put the spotlight on those who have had it unbelievably tough during these 12 months. There has been so much tragedy economically, socially, educationally, politically, culturally, spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. All the allys. It’s unbelievable what I’ve seen people go through this year and I wish I could have shielded them. I have been praying on behalf of many of you who lost their loved ones, jobs, way of life, and dreams. Your grief has not escaped my attention and I love you.
It’s safe to say the general public’s consensus about the year 2020 would most likely be:
For me, I spent most of 2020 in surveillance mode. I watched people, watched myself, and watched the world. I watched God, wondering what He would do next, curious of His reasons. This was a year where I constantly had to decide I was going to keep believing in a loving, compassionate, wise and powerful God, even when it didn’t make sense. After all, that’s what faith is right?
As I surveyed everyone at each others’ throats, people judging everything and dividing at rapid rates, I struggled to believe in the God and the Heaven I read about. A Heaven where there’s finally absolute peace and nothing can take it away. An omnipotent God who watches over us and truly empathizes with our suffering. There were moments this year I thought, “Maybe we just live in unchecked chaos“, but it broke my heart too much. The question “Are you sure?” replayed over and over in my head. Am I sure about this God, these people who I call brother and sister, about this book that people twist to their advantage, about the very fabric of our reality?
I’ve always disliked inauthenticity, but this year it has disgusted me to my core. Some of the social media posts I’ve seen have been incredibly fake, hateful and ignorant yet under the guise of allyship, patriotism, justice and unity. Mind you this is from all sides. And since they’re on my feed I know these people, the things they’ve said, lives they’ve lived and the beliefs they have. I’ll just say, it has not been matching up. So many have deceived themselves into thinking they care more about people/society than they actually do and it has been mind-blowing to have a front row seat to the dissonance.
It’s time for some to get off the stage and work behind the scenes to create a consistent life. Some would call it “shadow work” others would call it “cleaning the inside of the cup”. Either way, I think we all need to take a step back to figure out what we truly believe, how we feel, who we are and whether or not it is aligning with how we live our lives. We all are piles of funky stuff that happened to us/around us in life and if we don’t sort through that junk we are dying and hurting others. Hence the chaos we have seen this year with the lack of communication, empathy, listening skills and understanding.
I’ll be honest, I’m fed up if you can’t already tell from the paragraphs above. It’s been difficult for me to maintain grace and patience. I’m no longer interested in subjecting myself to people who don’t strive to know themselves and view their life with sobriety. I’m done with shallow living, shallow christianity, shallow friendships and a shallow understanding of myself. 2020 has renewed my dedication to digging deep. I constantly ask myself: Why do I do this? Where did this come from? How do I heal from this? What are my triggers? Do I enjoy this? Do I believe this? What do I really think about this and why? It may sound overwhelming, but I believe self-actualization might be some of the most important work you could do in this life.
We are very ignorant of ourselves and function on autopilot more often than we care to admit. We ignore what we truly feel and think just to fit in. We avoid taking responsibility for how we’ve hurt others. We fear looking at who we really are and putting in the effort to change what we needs to be changed. But we also don’t embrace the amazing aspects of us. We put our passions in the backseat and downplay the innate gifts we’ve been given. And because of all of that, we trample on each other’s hearts and our own. It’s a horrendous cycle but I believe it can be broken one person at a time.
If you’ve been following along in my blogs, you know I’ve had a rough 3-4 years. Mainly because I lost many relationships dear to my heart and my own sense of self. This year, I believe, has been the culmination of my “dark night of the soul” and things have begun to shift (hence the title). God has revealed what I believe are the last of those who don’t truly value me and I’m so glad this chapter is ending because it was THE WORST.
I did my part throughout the year to make sure I’ve done all I can to reach out, make peace, save relationships and deal with my own bitterness/unforgiveness, but there’s not much to be salvaged when it’s one-sided.
This year I’ve continued to lose people but I started flowing with the loss a little better and standing up for myself. In 2019, I took everyone’s judgement of me so seriously and began believing my life was worthless. This year I’ve started learning how not to care, especially if I know someone does not know all the facts about me. I’ve gone from doing pretty much anything for almost anyone to now, I’m uncertain if I like humans lol. I think I love them though. My journey of trusting people again is an uphill battle. Now let’s wrap this post (and insane year) up!
I don’t have to be burdened by inaccurate judgements
You can leave (people, places, companies etc.)
Not many people have the courage to be honest with themselves
Less is more
God is going to do what He wants
It is worth it to attempt reconciliation
A loving heart is nothing to be ashamed of
Time does not heal
It’s worth the wait (whatever it is)
Forgiveness is a daily decision
I do not have to accept one sided relationships
Life does not make any sense
My favorite part of 2020 is how many people I have helped consider therapy. If any of you are reading this I AM SO PROUD OF YOU KEEP PERSEVERING!!! Gently nudging others toward mental health and self-actualization is something I discovered that really energizes me. How can we truly know and love our neighbor if we don’t know and love ourselves?
Besides that, I gained new hobbies, got a new job, moved to a new city I enjoy (surprise surprise), and have my first place to myself. I have LOVED living alone and wasn’t sure I would, it’s so peaceful. I have been very blessed this year and it feels so wrong because this year has been horrible for most, but personal gratitude does not have to negate empathy.
My resolution for next year is more silence, healing and true, deep connection. Sometimes I think about just disappearing and living in a cottage where only 2-3 people know where I am. But for now I’m content with my little, funky apartment where I’m free to be myself.
Thank you for reading! I really wish y’all the best for next year and I’m proud of you for making it through 2020, you each deserve a dozen cookies and a big hug AT LEAST. Rest easy these last few days of the year if you can ♥️
Greetings Readers, new and old! There has been a steady spike in visitors in the last month, I have no idea why because I haven’t posted anything but thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts and what brought you to my blog 🙂
If you’re new here, for the last few years I’ve been posting annually about how my Christian journey has been. This will be going over my tenth year of choosing to live by the Bible and walk with God.
It’s wild that a decision I made at 18 years old is still relevant to me a decade later. Especially because Christianity is so heavily scrutinized in this world and even by my own inquisitive mind. Do I really believe that there is a loving, all-knowing God that seeks to reconcile humans to Himself? Is what the Bible says actually true and given from God? Has He actually imparted His Spirit to us to guide our steps and teach us? And of course the most debated question of all, was Jesus God incarnate and did He actually die and raise from the dead to rescue us?
It takes a lot of faith to initially believe these things, but even more to continue believing as you experience more of life. What has kept me faithful is that I haven’t found the caliber of wisdom, love and hope Jesus gives me in anything else.
I think secondly my fight to read the Bible thoroughly, looking into the Greek and Hebrew and not just taking anyone’s word for what it says, has helped me remain. Deep study is incredibly important and has kept me from following imperfect humans and baseless traditions. It is terrifying how many people I’ve watched follow blindly and not dedicate themselves to getting a full grasp of the Word. (PLEASE READ THE BIBLE FOR YOURSELF PEOPLE!!)
“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.“
This year of my faith has been characterised by three things: forgiveness, reconciliation and solitude. Love has been woven throughout all three.
I have been fighting hard to emulate Jesus who continually forgave and loved those who attacked, misunderstood and disowned him. Out of the 10 years, the most difficult lesson of all has been that forgiveness is a daily, even hourly, decision. It is a challenge to love Christians and non-Christians alike when they have hurt me so deeply. It is a challenge to love myself when I remember how I’ve hurt others and myself. It is a challenge to put hope in God’s power to transform hearts, minds and relationships. I’ve learned there is no true transformation and forgiveness without love, whether that’s love from God, love for yourself or love for others.
My heart has been ablaze with anger, despair, frustration and sorrow for a while. I wondered if I would survive the weight of all these emotions, but God is always full of surprises. What I have realised is that I loved truly and deeply. My pain would not be so severe if I didn’t give my heart to those God placed in my life. So though this has been difficult, I am proud to say that so far I have lived a life of true love.
This love has caused me to feel/look foolish, weak and pitiful, but now I have something new in common with Christ. When I look at how He loved, loved to death itself, I have been able to understand a tiny fraction through these trials I’ve faced. For when I think of those who have hurt me, I can honestly say I still love them. When I notice how God has been helping me to forgive my own sinfulness and love myself in the process of becoming, I smile.
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.“
This has been a very cumbersome year in my relationship with God as well. He has pushed me to have many talks I didn’t want to have and set me in situations that tired me out emotionally and mentally. I’m still not totally sure what the purpose was for certain things, but I do know I am quite spent. But not too spent to look back in gratitude on my top 10 moments of following Jesus thus far:
Each woman I helped become a Christian
The first time I read 2 Corinthians 3:18
Every moment I’ve spent studying the Bible with someone
Learning how to love myself
Summer of 2018
Party for a Purpose 2017
The first full worship song I wrote
Epiphanies about freedom in Christ
Epiphanies about forgiveness/reconciliation
Thinking of the next decade with God is unfathomable for me right now, I’m shocked that I’m still hanging on. My goal would be to keep loving and to remain soft-hearted, it has been so difficult to not shut out everyone.
I have spent most of my life being a vault for people’s secrets, trauma, fear and shame, only for them to leave me when I’m depleted. It honestly makes me never want to be a friend of anyone again. I want to learn how Jesus kept loving anyway, how he stayed engaged with others. It’s been hard to lose so many I thought were safe spaces, but I’ve learned to appreciate and even thrive being in solitude.
Why am I still choosing to be a Christian? Because I believe in the vision God has for my life and the lives of others. Even though myself and those who follow Him fall short of this vision constantly, I choose to believe we can see incredible things if we continue to humbly walk with God and be honest with our wounds. He is where love is.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.“
-2 Corinthians 3:18
As always, thank you Sterling, Mariah, Kristen, Lai-Yan and Rachel for challenging me to wrestle with Scripture and seek God wholeheartedly.
Before I get into the meat of this post, I just want to say I was overwhelmed by the response to my Why Therapy post. The number of people reaching out to ask more questions or share the impact it had on themselves and those they care about was powerful. I love seeing how God is continuing to work through this blog to bring healing and hope.
As National Suicide Prevention Month comes to a close, I’ve been thinking about what I would have said to myself if I could travel back to Spring 2019. I also have thought about those who have shared dark thoughts with me in the past and how I would have more eloquently described how I see them and why they should remain here. I’ve decided to write to my past self and those I love a letter. You may find yourself or someone you love being spoken to below.
Dear Beloved Soul,
I have watched you get ripped apart by tragedies beyond your control and struggle to put yourself back together. The pieces you have glued keep coming undone and you have begun to fear you may never become whole. That fear has caused you to push love away and see the world as an inescapable hell and yourself a curse. I know you want to leave because this chapter of your life is excruciating. But one thing I know is that nothing is forever, so I ask you kindly to hold on.
Hold on to the idea that you can become whole. Even though the gashes in your heart seem to never close, try to believe that they are stitching up gradually. Remember that a heart still manages to beat even after the most dreadful times and so has yours. And I know it hurts, it hurts to the point where you feel you cannot breathe and can barely see. But one day that intense feeling in your chest will be the love and compassion you have toward yourself. Then you will see the beauty within and pour mercy over your shortcomings and watch them grow into strengths. That immense love will overflow into others and they will find hope as well.
This future I speak of probably seems too bright and so far off, I completely understand. Miracles are overwhelming in that way. Yet here you are, still breathing and reading each of these words. There is a tiny light within you steadily burning and miraculously finding fuel to go on a second longer. I hope you will be curious about how it endures and wonder what it could develop into. I believe that light will burgeon into something worth the perseverance that feels nearly impossible right now.
My dear, you do not have to drown. As you are washed over with deep sorrow, lead those waters to creativity, safe people and stillness. You are not meant to handle these waves alone, let them flow out from you. I know it is scary to be honest with your emotions, but this is how you will learn to thrive. Someday they will no longer master you, instead you will show them the way to go. Deep emotions do not have to be your enemy, they can be a fine companion throughout your journey.
I am afraid I cannot tell you why you are here on this planet, only that you are here. For some reason, you have remained even now in this dense fog of misery and anguish. I hope you will continue to take small steps until the day it clears and you will marvel at where you are. It may be an incredible mountaintop or a lush meadow. You may possibly find yourself at a majestic lake with a boat waiting for you. As long as your are moving, even at a pace you think is insignificant, you will arrive somewhere new.
Until you arrive at that new destination, I want you to know that I love you. I truly do. And just you, not the things you have accomplished, only your genuine soul, scars and all. I am excitedly curious about how you will evolve and invested in supporting you along the way. I do not want you to suffer, but I also do not want you to give up. It is true that the road of transformation is strenuous, but the reward is marvelous.
Please know you are worthy of love, you are capable of change, and that there are others out there who will see who you really are and accept you. Just because some people you loved did not love you back as you hoped, does not mean no one ever will. I am aware this is easier said than believed, but it is true. In the meantime, I hope you will choose to learn more about yourself and grow to love who you are. Create a pleasant home in that body of yours where your soul is cherished. Like any relationship, the one with yourself will take time to bloom.
This all may seem daunting, so I will remind you, take it one second at a time. In that second, you may decide to take a nap, watch something lighthearted or maybe take a calming walk. Time will suddenly move fast again, but I cannot tell you when that will be. But it will. In those slow motion moments, give yourself grace and rest. Wading through the depths of your pain is indeed exhausting, but you must feel your way through to the other side.
I am extremely proud of every step you are taking, each one is a big deal my friend. I cannot wait until you see yourself the way I see you. Your strength will surprise you and your eyes will be filled with wonder. You will be amazed not only at what you survived, but how you matured. It will be remarkable.
You precious soul, I love you so much. You can overcome this season of torment and feel delight once more. The decision is yours to pour into that little seed of hope, I know it is there. Please give yourself a chance to be astonished, I believe in you.
Hey Hey Heyyyyy!! Welcome/Welcome back to my blog!
I hope you all have been doing as well as you can during this infamous year! The wild circumstances have placed mental/emotional health and wellness at the forefront of many minds. In the last few months I’ve had quite a few conversations with those around me concerning therapy. I’ve answered questions like:
Is it worth it?
What kind of therapy is best?
What if I don’t like my therapist?
Should they be Christian?
What if I’m afraid of what I find out about myself?
What do I say in sessions?
Where do I find a therapist?
Do I really need it?
How many of you have been curious about therapy?
Just as God has given us doctors, car mechanics, and plumbers to meet our various needs, He has also given us therapists. For a long time I prayed for God to fix my mind and to help me overcome my relational and emotional problems. Because there is a stigma surrounding mental health, which is thankfully waning, I never considered that what I was dealing with was worth getting professional help.
It wasn’t until I had two panic attacks in 2016 that I realised there might be something bigger going on with me. I am forever grateful for an old friend of mine who found my first therapist and drove me to my first appointment and stayed in the car the entire time just in case it was too much for me. From there, I began my therapy journey and the healing that literally saved my life.
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead…As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
-James 2:14-17, 26
I’m just letting y’all know right now, these are my thoughts, based on my experience. I ain’t licensed or nothing, I’m just a human being trying to get through life and be like Jesus. Therapy has helped me do both in a way that works for me!
Do I Really Need Therapy?
The skepticism is real. Most people I speak with say something like, “What would I even talk about?” A good place to start is why you considered therapy in the first place. Did you have an emotional outburst that surprised you? Do you always feel like you’re losing the battle of self-control in a certain area? Maybe someone suggested it to you, if so, ask them why and humbly listen.
I personally think it’s at least worth a shot if you went through a recent life change (relationship status, family addition, career switch, death, etc.). Those types of transitions can bring out weird inner stuff and also they’re simply new territory. It can’t hurt to get a bit of help and gain a few skills to wade through it in a healthy way.
Why Do I Love Therapy?
OH MY GOODNESS SO MANY REASONS BUT I WILL TRY SO HARD TO MAKE THIS BRIEF.
For about a decade I had been trying to understand why my social/emotional/mental makeup is so wonky. My feelings were ruining my life, I never really felt safe anywhere and I would destroy friendship after friendship. I’ll take a moment here to say being self-aware is not enough, I knew for a long time something was up with me, but I didn’t have the words/tools to overcome. It was like I had all of these puzzle pieces, but didn’t have the pieces to connect them and it was driving me CRAZY. In addition to that, I had all of these people making assumptions about me and my mind accusing me which caused me to feel even more misunderstood and hopeless. I knew there was something I was missing, but couldn’t figure out what.
It wasn’t until my 4th therapist that I started feeling adequately seen and gained helpful coping skills. That connection was cut short when I moved to Boston for a job last Spring. I prayed and fasted for many months that my next therapist would be a perfect match and would help me break through my toughest mental/emotional hurdles. BOY DID GOD ANSWER. She has been beyond all that I asked of God and completely worth the wait. Not only is she amazingly guiding me through my most difficult areas, but she is also hilarious, quirky and deeply invested in my growth. So invested, that she teared up when I got offered my new job and cheers crazily whenever I tell her about how I’ve stood up for myself. Although she isn’t a Christian therapist, she has definitely been a gift from God.
Through my sessions with her for the last year, I’ve been able to better understand how to practically live out the Bible. God made us all so different from one another so naturally our walks will be different. Understanding my emotional makeup, personality, trauma, and the environment I grew up in has a lot to do with type of follower of Christ I am and how I connect to God. One of the most incredible takeaways has been learning how to love and forgive myself, which frees me to love and forgive others.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.‘”
What Will People Think?
The obvious answer is, “Who cares?”, but in my experience there have been about 4-5 types of people. There are those who think it’s “interesting” but don’t care to know more. There are others who don’t think you need it yet have no idea what therapy entails. As you learn new skills and grow, there may be people who don’t respond well to how you change and you may lose them. On the other hand, there might be people who don’t believe you’re actually changing and doubt your progress, you may lose them too. And lastly, my personal favourite, the group that is proud of you, sees your progress and encourages you to keep doing the hard work.
Therapy has helped me clarify who is truly in my corner and who is not. It has also taught me how to choose more wisely who I allow into my inner circle. The right people will respect to your boundaries, actively listen to you and are working on their own personal growth.
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
Where Do I Even Start This Therapy Journey?
First of all, if you’re really thinking about it YAY!! This list isn’t perfect but I think it could be helpful:
Tell 2-3 People You Trustwhat you’re doing so they can hold you accountable and support you! As the saying goes, it takes a village, but because this is so vulnerable it may need to be a tiny, trustworthy village. It has been so helpful to bounce what I’ve been learning off of a few people and have my growth affirmed by them.
Start Searching– Be sure to know your price range, how often you want sessions (weekly/bi-weekly/monthly) and insurance. This can be a daunting process, use your village to help you!! Helpful Tip: if you’re low on money, search for therapists who offer “sliding scale” payments.
Psychology Today is a fantastic starting point, you can filter the therapist search by virtually anything. They also have helpful articles and guides. Check out their Types of Therapy page.
Betterhelp by far is the most flexible, quickest and probably the least costly. It is completely virtual though, but that’s optimal right now anyway. This is the service I used while I was in Australia!
Zencare is also good and gives great visibility into a therapist’s availability! The downside is that it is only available for major west/east coast U.S. cities 😫
If employed, check with your employer’s HR (Human Resources) to see if there is an EAP (Employee Assistance Program). If there is, you could have access to a free assessment and a few free therapy sessions!!
Have a Free Phone Consultation (If Possible) Some therapists offer a free consultation which allows you to check if they’re a good fit. This can save you money, time and honestly frustration. Here’s a good guide for what to ask!
DO. THE. WORK.– Once you have a therapist, give it a true, humble chance. Do the homework they give you, try out the skills and be honest if they didn’t work for you! A good therapist will listen and adjust. Don’t waste your/their time.
Rinse and Repeat– If you find that they’re not a good fit, but you want to continue seeking help, make a note of what did/didn’t work and adjust your search accordingly, it’s so worth it!
“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.”
If you are a believing person, pray and fast fervently over who your therapist will be. When done correctly, therapy can beautifully transform your walk with God. But to be clear, this journey takes courage, time, humility, faith and strength. Depending on how deep your sessions are, it can be very challenging to face past events in your life and unlearn harmful behaviours. God will bless your effort and guide you to who you were created to be and what you were created to do.
I love you all, please contact me if you have more questions about my experience with therapy!!
Hey there new and old blog visitors!! Wild year huh?
So this post has been edited and edited and editeeeeed since AUGUST 2019. I took some chunks of this post and added it to The Lonely Jesus. So you could think of this as part two. What pushed me to finally finish it up was this tweet:
In the past decade or so, there’s been a great shift in the cultural mindset regarding personal growth and mental health. Two things I believe have been largely ignored to the detriment of our society. As this movement has been steadily growing, some of the buzzwords/phrases I’ve been hearing are:
Protect your energy
I’m going to focus on cancel culture and how it aligns with Jesus and His teachings. If you see anything in this post that seems a bit off-base please PLEASE contact me. If you are working on growing in these areas like I am, don’t let this guilt you, but rather move you to persevere. We are all truly works in progress. And with that, let us dive into to Jesus and Cancel Culture.
“In pop culture, canceled means to make someone or something irrelevant due to current drama.”
For the more seasoned folks, “canceled” is comparable to “cutting off”.
This trend is very difficult to line up with Jesus’ teaching because He is all about forgiveness, love, and repentance. But there is a scripture that comes to mind that gives room for a form of cancellation.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
Jesus outlines quite a few steps before you treat a member of God’s family like a pagan or tax collector. God calls His people to pursue peace and repentance until it is clear that the other party is unwilling to do so. And even after we find that someone is unwilling to live as God intended we are still called to pray for and love everyone.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Cancel culture revolves around “loving those who love you”, but Christians are called to a higher standard of love. Where would each of us be if someone didn’t love and pray for us when we were in deep darkness? Where would we be if no one reached out their hand to us? Who are we if we are not following Jesus’ example of loving everyone around Him including the very people He knew would murder Him?
But What If They…
One of the reasons I delayed publishing this post was because I have been both hurt by and struggle with being a part of cancel culture. I worried if this would end up being a biased and/or hypocritical post. To this day I’ve wrestled with thoughts like:
They hurt me a lot, why talk to them ever again?
I’m obviously a toxic person, I deserve to be alone.
They can’t seem to understand to me, so what’s the point?
If people are gonna cancel me, I’ll cancel them too.
Things were bad before, the situation will never get better.
Why fill my life with drama again? It’s easier to avoid them.
Jesus was surrounded by fake friends, religious bigots, an overbearing family, insincere fans and on top of all of that He was striving to not sin AND aware of a horrific death waiting for Him which will save all of humanity. Also, you can’t forget that He still took time to be with His Father, healed people, taught lessons, mentored His disciples and engaged in rigged debates. If anyone needed to “protect their energy” it was Jesus.
In this world we’re taught that it’s okay to shun a person without compassion because they didn’t get with the program fast enough. But Jesus gives us an example that is the complete opposite.
“At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the groupand said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.Now what do you say?’They were using this question as a trap,in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stoneat her.‘ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Jesus’ love and compassion for both the religious leaders and the woman is clearly seen in this passage. He shows them both the way, but ultimately He leaves the choice to them if they want to be righteous or not. The lesson I see for us is that we must always be willing to be a light and love anyone, whether or not they turn from their unrighteous ways. Condemnation is not our job.
It is important to respect a person’s willingness to change, sometimes people just need to wander off like the prodigal son. Regardless, we have a responsibility to mirror the Father’s heart who was watching the horizon and anxious to welcome the son back. (Matthew 15:11-32) But how are we going to do that if we’re just cutting people off left and right and staying on our little righteous island? It makes no sense and it is not of God.
The Unmerciful Heart
Being influenced by cancel culture puts our hearts in danger of becoming unforgiving. Jesus warns us of this in the parable of the unmerciful servant.
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him.Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
‘Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.“
Jesus’ standard of love and mercy seems crazy, he died for all of us who are “toxic” and “problematic”. If He behaved like the rest of the world, He would have done what’s best for Him and only associated Himself with crowds who had the same energy. When we are unmerciful, we cloak Jesus and extinguish the light we are meant to shine.
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Evil is everywhere and thanks to the internet we get a front row seat to see the various ways it is flourishing worldwide. Because of this we are most definitely at risk for developing cold hearts. My call to Christians reading this is to let the love of God be stronger than the ways the world tries to harden us. We must pay attention to how trends are affecting us and fight to shine the light God has given us.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.“
Hello there! I hope you and your loved ones are well and safe during this tumultuous time. I will not spend any moments speaking of it who must not be named, but know that I am praying for it all.
This post is going to be all about an aspect of Jesus I’ve been thinking about for close to a year, His loneliness. Not only His loneliness, but how He managed it and treated those who made Him feel that way.
Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.
Throughout the accounts of Jesus’ life there are many verses like the one above that describe His frequent withdrawal from the masses. I often interpreted these instances as Jesus simply needing to take a breather and realign His purpose with His Father’s instead of falling in line with the world’s. I still believe this is true, but I’m now thinking this was also His way of not getting too dependent on the presence of others. After all, He knew of the disappointment and loneliness He’d face in the final days of His life. Maybe He was preparing for that lonesome moment in Gethsemane when His disciples couldn’t stay awake to support Him and ultimately fled as He was arrested. Was Jesus preparing all along to not only face His brutal murder, but also His own heart as it was plagued with feelings of abandonment, betrayal and disappointment?
He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.
What was it like when Jesus would read over this passage in the synagogue as He grew up? Did He wrestle with social anxiety and distrust of every single person He met? Did He ever think, “They’re all going to turn their backs on me one day. Why should I make myself vulnerable to them?” His entire life was leading up to the fulfillment of this scripture and many others that are most humans’ nightmare. But somehow He was able to deeply love every person He came into contact with and remain on the course the Father set for Him.
“Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people.He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.”
Jesus constantly chose to only entrust Himself to the Father, always relying on the perfect love and immense power that can strengthen Him and change mankind. He didn’t need people to be perfect in order for Him to love and rescue them from their own humanity. And though on a good day this is very easy to take hold of, I’m certain there were days when Jesus just wanted to be truly accepted by those around Him. He was misunderstood 99% of the time, even by His own earthly family. The loneliness of Jesus is boundless, I believe that’s why He often communed with the Father in solitude. The Father is the only one who truly understood and loved Him.
“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
1 Peter 2:23
During my bout with severe depression last year, no one really knew how to speak to me, few tried but most completely left me. In that silence Jesus whispered, “I’ve been there and I made it through.” I’ve wanted to remain in the remote places with God because it’s much safer than being with people. But if I’m going to follow Jesus, that means I need to not only go back in the crowds, but also allow myself to be vulnerable in love. Even if I am rejected, misunderstood or treated poorly by them, it should not hinder my love for them.
Jesus also cultivated a heart willing to welcome back those who betrayed Him on the other side of His suffering. Pretty much everyone understands people will fail us, but it is not normal to readily receive those who failed us back into our lives. We lean on phrases like “people are in our lives for a season” or “friends come and go” and create a boundary in our hearts toward those who we were once close to.
I’ve been looking to Jesus’ example hoping to seek reconciliation rather than dissension. It has been challenging to allow my emotions to surface and let God work with me to respond as He would. The temptation to behave as the world would is nothing short of challenging. How can I stand tall in mercy when I live in a culture that encourages cutting off whoever isn’t “worth my energy”?
“When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.
“Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.
“Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said.”
This is yet another area where Jesus is quite countercultural. He could’ve returned from the realm of the dead and had absolutely nothing to do with the disciples who showed their full cowardice and betrayal. This is what we’d expect of the average person, but Jesus is greater. Instead He lays out a seafood breakfast and reassures the disciples of His forgiveness and love for them. Even further, He chooses them to carry on His work of bringing salvation and light to the world. This same group, who were what we’d call “fake friends” today, have been tasked with acting the complete opposite, bearing Jesus’ likeness.
Being like Jesus means believing that people can change for the better. Not only that we can be made new, but that those around us can be made new as well. Usually people have a hard time believing either the former or the latter. Sometimes both! But it doesn’t change that anything is possible with God. Even though Jesus knew “what was in man“, He found a way to love and empower us to transcend our own humanness. He is truly perfect in all of His ways.
I pray we will strive to follow Jesus’ example of complete forgiveness, unshakable hope and unconditional love. This is how we can make His sacrifice on the cross bear fruit in our own lives.
“The merciful are blessed, for they will be shown mercy. The pure in heart are blessed, for they will see God. The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God.”
Times are obviously quite wild, but on the bright side, it’s forced me to simmer down and finally write another post.
As an extraverted introvert, I am enjoying the indoors in my comfy clothes posting weird instagram stories. But as an introspective human, it’s been rough because I have a bit too much time to think about all that’s going on within me. It’s even more difficult as an empath because I’m absorbing the world’s panic.
I imagine this is the case for some of you out there and I wanted to share some therapy gems and random stuff that have helped me push through.
Create Your Garden
My 4th therapist was an absolute treasure who taught me how to create space in my mind to relieve stress. One of my favourite exercises we did was creating my mind garden. I’m sure I will botch how she explained it, but basically I closed my eyes and she began to walk me through my “mind garden”.
First, you’re walking along a path and the path can look however you want and the weather is however you please. As you’re walking you approach a gate, once you open it, you enter your dream garden. It can have a small pond, a giant willow tree, soft grass, or whatever is going to put you at ease. Mine has a super cute puppy that will lay in the grass with me under the sun. AND NO ANTS!
I visit my garden when things are a bit too hectic in the real world. It’s a nice 5-10 minute escape to de-stress.
The Breathing Square
The Breathing Square exercise was shared with me by my current therapist! This one is quick, simple and easy to do if you don’t want people to notice you’re having a slight panic attack. If you don’t have access to the fancy animated square below, try tracing a square with your finger as you inhale-hold-exhale-hold for each side.
Lighten Up the Timeline
Naturally, I am an unashamed goofball and in these uncertain times I get to really shine happy rays on the public. While on lockdown I’ve been posting an assortment of ridiculous videos, good news and positive quotes on my instagram to keep people encouraged. I’ve loved getting all of the laugh reacts and grateful messages from others about how it’s taken their mind off of everything. As they say, laughter is indeed the best medicine. Here’s one of my goofy clips from when I was getting song requests:
Some Instagram accounts that have been keeping my eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel are:
Walking, Talking and Creating
If you can go on a quick walk in a park or around your neighbourhood (social distancing of course) I highly recommend it. I miss my peaceful water walks near my job, but a walk around the block will have to cut it for now. There’s nothing like fresh spring air, especially after being cooped up in your home for longer than usual. Your body will thank you!
Oddly enough, I have been enjoying messaging people instead of a phone call as of late, I have no idea what that’s about. Maybe because it passes more time having to type a response rather than saying it out loud? Uncertain. Either way, human connection is paramount in all its forms right now. It’s given me time to catch up with people who normally have a schedule opposite of mine. There are blessings in this storm for sure.
Although the situation is grave, this is where creativity tends to shine! My mind has already been churning with music, words and ideas. The MIDI keyboard is nearby, my journal is open and I still have a few pages left in my canvas notebook to do some watercoloring. Y’all I LOVE watercoloring!!! One of the most useful hobbies that came out of my horrid 2019. I’m so bad painting, but goodness it is SO therapeutic that I don’t even care. Who knows, maybe I’ll finally get better at blending over these next few weeks! Also simply watching watercolour videos are calming for me. If you like the GIF below, you’ll probably enjoy it too!
I’ve figured out a few hacks that’ll work for me and hopefully will help you as well! But I can’t lie, this is tough. Personally, I miss being able to go to coffee shops and DJing weddings, both are not possible indefinitely. I do, however, believe we will totally get through this. Patience, hope and unity need to be our companions right now as we wade in uncertainty. If I have learned nothing else over the past 4-5 years, it’s that things will always change. We will not be on lockdown forever. I hope you take this opportunity to rediscover yourself, those around you and this world. I love you all, please take care of yourself and if you’re good then support those in need, we need each other more than we have in quite a while.
“The end of a matter is better than its beginning; a patient spirit is better than a proud spirit.”
Hey Readers!! I decided to spice up my first 2020 blog post 😏 I had a wild virus for like 22 out of the 31 days of January, but I’m still HEEERRREE!! Happy February and Happy Black History Month!!
I wanted to kick off my new year of blogging with something uplifting. Get ready to be inspired!
As y’all know, my life has been a tornado for a bit. It seems I’ve at least gotten through the eye of the storm though and I’m beginning to see how God has deeply changed me. This is HUGE because usually I believe God can incredibly transform other people, but have barely any faith when it comes to my own growth. After seeing myself mess up so much I began to think, “Maybe I’m too much for even God to work with.” I wouldn’t dare say that to someone else, but I consistently fed my own mind and heart this lie.
It’s a terrible lie for many reasons, but the biggest reason is that I have refused God’s power and love. This is prideful and damaging for myself and my relationship with God. There are hundreds of scriptures that combat this lie and I’ve read them all, how was I still so blinded? Also how could I, with such deep faith, encourage others about the love and power of God for them, yet miss out on it personally? I know I’ve told many people, “You are being transformed into the image of God, He hasn’t given up on you!” (2 Corinthians 3:18) then I’ll hear in my heart, “I haven’t given up on you Anijah, I’m transforming you too.” And I’m just like:
Can ya relate?
Although I prayed with tears and frustration to be better, I just couldn’t seem to get it right. At the same time, I would see God do amazing things with people around me. I have witnessed some incredible transformations that, to this day, send shivers through my soul. Only God could do such miracles in a person. So what was stopping God in my case? Is it my lack of faith or egregious sins or my specific brand of crazy?
What I have learned in a more profound way is that everyone’s journey with God is unique. There are themes in common like suffering, joy, growth and love, but how they are woven together in each life are different. I think of it as a variety of plants, some grow fast, some grow slow, but they all grow.
I want to speak the late bloomers, but I don’t like that term because it makes it seem like you missed something. So let’s call ourselves slow bloomers.
So, slow bloomers, I want you to know that the work God has been doing in us is deliberate, full of love and honestly a mystery. Just as we don’t see all that is happening to a seed under the soil, we can’t see how God is moving within us. As we live our everyday life, the Spirit is working overtime inside and around us to bring us closer to God. This occurs in the moments when we’re a “good” Christian and when we are a bumbling, spiritual mess. At our worst and at our best.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, whohave been called according to his purpose.”
I know at times it can feel like we will never arrive and that we’ll be buried under the soil forever. Especially when we see others around us overcome sin and become stronger in their faith. We want to believe in God’s power and love, but we feel like an anomaly. It may feel true, but it is a lie.
It can seem that all of our prayers to transform our character are going to God’s spam box in His holy email account, but it’s not true. He sees them all and has been working to make us complete in Him. There is NO way we can come into contact with God, the love of Jesus, and not be changed. As we walk with Him we learn His ways and see who He truly is. But this takes time, the world has been teaching us for many years and we have much to unlearn to become like Jesus.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
-2 Corinthians 4:16-18
We must not forget that the day we devoted our lives to God was the beginning. The rest of our lives on Earth will be filled with growth, pruning, watering, and, most exciting of all, bearing fruit. Each of these stages are amazing because a loving God is behind it all and He does not make senseless actions. How beautiful is it to be seen as your full unfinished, imperfect self yet still be believed in by the perfect Creator of the whole Universe?
So no, we are not late bloomers. We are right at the stage we are supposed to be in as we move toward seeing God face to face. Our roots are growing deeper in times of testing. We are gaining energy to endure cloudy days while the sun is shining on us in times of joy. As we pray, read, fast and meditate God is providing the water and nutrients needed for us to become the unique disciples of Jesus He planned for us to be long ago. Our Gardener loves us and tends to us more than we could ever comprehend.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
As I’ve been writing this post my emotions have been deeply stirred. I want so much to hug anyone who needed this post. These words come from my heart, but also from God’s heart. As someone who is wrestling to see how God can actually make me a new creation, I feel you and see you. He has not left us. His work is not done. Hang in there and let the process continue. In every stage He is good.
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”
Salutations Everyone!! Welcome to my obligatory end of the year/decade blog post! By some miracle, I made it through 2019!!! I am so grateful to God.
If 2018 was a dumpster fire, then 2019 was the scorched earth that followed. I was all dried up and crusty this year. My body legit was falling apart and waging war against me. My mind was malfunctioning like crazy. My soul and heart were getting shredded, shattered, and smashed to pieces. It was gross.
Before I jump into my recap, I want to take this moment to warn anyone who is triggered by darker subjects to turn back now. I will be weaving in and out of my mental health journey in this post and I want to be mindful of anyone in a sensitive mindset.
2019 is the year where I understood:
-Why people become social hermits
-Why people commit suicide
-Why people stop believing in God
-Why people stop trying
-Why people lose faith in humanity
Truly from January 1st this year was incredibly difficult. It began with more people I thought would be lifetime friends disappearing from my life. The trend of shedding friendships had been going since 2016, but those who I parted ways with through this year were by far the most heartbreaking. At the time, I reasoned that this is all happening because I am a terrible, sinful human who can’t seem to get relationships right. This led to anxiety and panic attacks nearly any time I had to be in a public social setting. I began seeing my 4th therapist.
In February, I had the amazing opportunity to be flown out to Hawaii for the first time to DJ a wedding and it was beautiful. Unfortunately, on the plane ride to Oahu I was overtaken by my immense guilt and began to write out my suicide note. I could not understand why God had not ended my life already because I figured I could only ruin His reputation from this point on as a self-proclaimed Christian. I was tired of reliving my sins against others and my failures in life and I wanted it all to just stop. What held me back from taking action during that trip was the desire to make that couples’ wedding special.
My last day in Honolulu, I received an email from a company in Boston I applied to letting me know they wanted to bring me in for an interview.
At the start of the season I was offered the position and moved to Boston uncertain of what was to come. The last sermon I heard in Texas was The Wall taught by Christian Flores. It was the perfect sermon for me to hear because it summed up my last couple of years, but also prepared me to endure more of it. If you’re going through a difficult season in your spiritual walk, I highly recommend giving it a listen.
Upon arriving in Boston, myself and a few others immediately began looking for a new therapist for me in the Boston area. Everyone was booked up or impossible to get in touch with. My anxiety was starting to get accompanied by a deep depression that led to weight gain, apathy and isolation. I attempted to go to church, but I couldn’t handle the sounds and people. There were some who checked in on me every now and then, but I spent the majority of my evenings and weekends indoors steeped in entertainment to keep my mind out of the shadows. I began separating myself from people who were noticeably uncomfortable around me or who I felt pressure from to be my old vibrant self. I hated not being my normal self.
The search for a therapist was still going and it was discouraging. The busy season at work began and it was absolutely draining. It was a welcome distraction from my grief, but due to my heightened sensitivity I felt everyone’s stress in the office. I started going to bed around 7 or 8pm every weeknight. Around this time was when I had my first ocular migraine at work, it was one of the most terrifying moments of my life. It seemed that everything that could go wrong did.
On the upside, I was able to write again which was SO unbelievably encouraging, my well of emotions had an outlet once more. This was the season when it dawned on me that I will be forever changed and I need to just go with the flow of who I am becoming in my suffering. To manage the stress of work and frustration of the therapy search, I found refuge in my walks along the port nearby my job. I could not understand what God was doing with me, but I decided I want to live as long as He wanted me to so I can find out.
FINALLY a therapist was found for me by my roommate and she was so worth the wait! My anxiety and depression got so bad that I couldn’t go to a concert I was looking forward to all year and I had to cancel my Autumn Europe vacation as well. I began taking medicine for my anxiety which gave me the mental space I needed to dive deep with my therapist. Out of the 5 therapists I’ve seen in the last 3 years, she is the best one and has managed to get to the root of things in record time compared to others. For those struggling with mental health, it is worth the trial and error to find the right therapist for you.
It turns out I’ve been living with social anxiety for about 12 years, specifically when it comes to close friendships. When enough of them imploded, my anxiety spilled over into to all social situations this year. Coupled with other life challenges, it was a perfect storm for my mental health. I thank God for His patience with me but also His deep love for not wanting me to remain in the dark about who I am and how I can truly change.
I desperately wish I learned these things about myself earlier, but I have to trust that God will orchestrate my seasons how He sees fit. He has held me close to Him as I have endured my darkest season and He has guided me to grow through it. Just as Jesus was led to the desert by the Spirit to be tempted and strengthened, so was I.
Here are the main lessons I learned this year:
Do not book more than 5 or 6 weddings in a season
Listen to your body
Be a best friend to yourself
Therapists and psychiatrists are a blessing
I can do nothing about God’s decision to unconditionally love me
If people want to leave, let them leave
Work hard to forgive should God decide to bring those people back into your life
Healing and grief are not linear
God is always moving in hearts and minds
The only way out is through
I can change
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God.”
The first sentence of the quote is how I have lived the majority of my life in relationships. People are drawn to my humour and energy, but no one really got to my core. Throughout this decade I found people who I thought were the third sentence, but actually turned out to be the second or first sentence and it broke my heart. My prayer going into the new decade is to love and be loved like the third sentence in this new decade as much as it is in my power.
I’m uncertain of the reasons for all of the challenges I’ve endured in the last portion of the 2010s and what will come of it, but I am hopeful I’ll understand in the future because hindsight is…20/20
I’ll end this post with a poem I wrote earlier this year:
But in the morning
The sun will shine on your scars
Proving that there’s treasure in these jars
The sun will overtake your darkness
Swallowing whole its power
In the morning
It won’t all make sense
But you will bask in the rays
For you have not seen the light
In far too many days
You believed the sun would no longer know you
Or where you once occupied space
You wore your guilt as a badge
And denounced grace
But in the morning
The glorious morning
I have no resolutions, just a prayer to continue being faithful to God and to keep healing. I’m hoping 2020 will be a wonderful year for us all! I love you! Thank you for reading!
I haven’t done a Sharing the Wealth blog ALL YEAR 😮 I mean, I shouldn’t be too surprised I haven’t done much reading this year, but I have done enough to fashion a post before the new year!! If you’re new here, I try to do a few posts a year where I review books, podcasts, sermons and such that I’ve enjoyed. Hope ya like it!
1. A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards
A friend of mine is pretty obsessed with this book and he was prodding me for a little while to read it. I finally cracked and read it in one sitting at a coffee shop during the summer this year. It’s pretty short but quite a thought provoking, heart searching read. The author weaves the stories of Saul, David, and Absalom together to give a lesson in leadership, brokenness, humility and trusting God’s positioning of people. By the end of it, I was surveying my own experience in various churches and the examples of leadership I had seen. Then, I started looking at myself and seeing where my heart parallels with each of the kings in the story. If you decide to read this, I would be shocked if you don’t pause to check your own heart at least once. You can find this book here.
Referring to David after his defeat of Goliath– “…do you find it strange that this remarkable event led the young man not to the throne but to a decade of hellish agony and suffering? On that day, David was enrolled, not into the lineage of royalty but into the school of brokenness.”
2. Behind the Scenes- To Hell With the Hustle: Reclaiming Your Life in an Overworked, Overspent, and Overconnected World (Ep. 59)
A couple months ago, I saw someone on instagram raving about this podcast episode so I decided to see what all of the fuss was about. Jeremy and Audrey Roloff were interviewing Jeff Bethke about his new book, To Hell With The Hustle: Reclaiming Your Life in an Overworked, Overspent, and Overconnected World. They discussed the value of slowness, silence, and listening when it comes to our walk with God. It was soooooo good. So good in fact, that I put his book in my Amazon cart so I can read it in 2020. It’s not often that an interview pushes me to actually purchase something, so that’s a huge deal for me! Here is a link to the interview and a link to order the book.
“You have to be okay with that brutality of silence before you can find the beauty of silence. Silence gives you space for you to face up with who you truly are that you’re usually using hustle to fill up or numb or avoid. When you face up with that, a lot of us don’t like what we see. But the good news is that, in that moment, that’s where Jesus meets us.”
3. The Power of Vulnerability- Brené Brown
So my therapist recommended this, specifically the audiobook version of it and y’all…THIS IS WHY I PAY HER THE BIG BUCKS. It’s so funny because Erin (my therapist) hates mainstream stuff and Brené Brown is the epitome of the current “get your life together” fad. But she couldn’t fight the power that is Brené and I needed no further convincing because I’ve been a fan of hers for a few years now. I highly recommend getting the audiobook because she is hilarious and you get the bonus of hearing people in the audience laughing as well. I had to take my time listening to it because it definitely unearthed some deep experiences and emotions, but I was still able to enjoy the journey. If you’re unsure if you’ll enjoy hearing her for 6 hours, check out her TED Talk. If you’re feeling great about it, here’s a link the audiobook.
“No one reaches out to you for compassion or empathy so you can teach them how to behave better. They reach out to us because they believe in our capacity to know our darkness well enough to sit in the dark with them.”
4. A Grief Observed- C.S. Lewis
The final spot on my 2019 reading list is reserved for my literary bae, C.S. Lewis. I have yet to read a book I did not enjoy by him, the man truly had a gift. Of all the books I’ve read in life, no book has made me feel more seen than this one. Although Lewis is writing about the grief of losing his wife to cancer, he perfectly described my own grief I’ve been experiencing due to so many life changes. I wasn’t sure if it would resonate with me, but I found myself consistently thinking as I read, “Yes! That’s exactly how that feels!!” And so, my love for C.S. Lewis grows even more. Here’s a link to the book.
“Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'”
And that’s a wrap! I look forward to reading and listening a lot more in 2020 so get excited for those reviews! If you end up reading/listening to any of these, please let me know what you think! Also, I’m always up for adding more to my list so give me your recommendations 😃 Thank you for reading!
Welcome, or welcome back, to my blog! This will be a recap of my ninth year of walking with God and a celebration of remaining faithful to Him but more so Him remaining faithful to me.
My walk with God this past year has been patchy at best. My church attendance has been sparse and my tithing was the worst it has ever been. My time in prayer and reading the Bible has been minimal. I have been on the edge of my beliefs, watching them fray as I try to make sense of all I have experienced. But my faith has been comparable to a mustard seed, and Jesus says He can work with that:
“‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'”
The first half of the year I would wake up, filled to the brim with guilt, and pray to the Lord for forgiveness. By the middle of the day, I was yet again overflowing with guilt and would bow before the Lord once more. Once the day ended I discovered I still was in a chokehold of self despair. I spent my days looking down at my hands horrified to find they were blood stained over and over even though I had fought to give things over to Christ and live in His grace.
I do not remember when it happened or any particular moment of an epiphany, but at some point in the year I could sort of live freely again. All I know is, when I sat during communion at church and watched the juice and the bread come my way I began thinking, “I can do nothing about what Jesus decided to do for me, I just have to accept it.”
I am loved because He decided to love me.
I am forgiven because He decided to forgive me.
I am worthy because He decided I am worthy.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
I knew full well that I did not deserve to be saved from my sins or to get any more chances at this life, but I had no say. God already decided before I had the chance to state my case that He deemed me worthy of sacrificing His Son. He deemed me worthy of His unconditional love. So now, thousands of years after that fateful day, I let the blood of Jesus do the work.
This past year in my walk I have leaned more than I ever have on the power of Jesus’ sacrifice. When I look in the mirror, I see this pitiful woman staring back at me with many scars, open wounds, and fears. But I have had to accept that regardless of how broken I truly am, I am still worth God’s forgiveness, love and healing. Not because of anything I’ve done, but because of God’s heart.
My year has not been full of scripture, prayer and fasting, but of silence, lamentation, and mourning. One could argue there is an aspect of prayer in these things but I digress. The Lord has watched me writhe, but I also believe He has been unraveling a lot of longstanding patterns and roots. Walking with God is a great mystery.
I wanted so desperately to connect with Him as I have always connected and give as I have always given, but He has made it clear that things have changed. The ways in which I will connect with Him moving forward will be different and deeper. The ways in which I will give to Him and the work of His Church will be different as well. He has been bringing me to new depths while simultaneously bringing me to new heights. Once again, walking with God is a great mystery.
When I look back over the last few years, it has fascinated me that I have not left this faith yet. I have watched many leave and venture off into the world happy to leave behind God, His teachings and His people. I have also experienced people who still follow God choose to give up on me during this hard time and cease all contact. These things plus all of the other personal madness going on should have destroyed my faith. I have seen people denounce God for much less, why haven’t I? But each time I go down that road I wonder, “Where else could I even go?” There is nothing and no one that compares to what I have found in God and His Word.
I still believe because this life, this earth, is too much of a mess to not have a resolution. How sad would it be if there was no peace on the other side of this war? And maybe that makes me childish or foolish to have such a fairytale view, but it’s the only way I’ve been able to function throughout this year. Heaven has to be real. Salvation has to be real. Jesus has to be real.
“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.””
And now, as my 10th year begins, I have no idea what awaits me and I am uncertain of what I hope will happen. I pray that the healing of my being will continue because many old wounds have called attention to themselves over the last few years. I would like to entrust this journey to the One beyond all that I understand. Though I feel completely exhausted and unfinished, I know God is working to make me complete in Him.
Thank you to Kristen, Lai-Yan, Sterling and Mariah for sitting down with me and showing me the Scriptures. Thank you to all who have prayed, listened, fasted and loved me through this difficult year. Thank you God for remaining faithful to me, loving me, forgiving me and healing me. I cannot wait to be with you for eternity. Until then, please give me the strength to live the life you have crafted for me here.
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown himself.”
Welcome welcome welcome! New month new post! All hail the greatest season of the year…AUTUMN. Sweaters, boots, hot cocoa, THE LEAVES CHANGING, scarves, crisp weather, beanies, cozy mood oooooh my goodness I’m so ready.
Excuse me while I break out into my Fall Dance.
Alrrrriiiiight, moving on to the actual topic.
If I had to sum up the past 3 years it would be “The Undoing of Me”. In past posts I’ve written about how hard it has been to let go of who I used to be, those who I was once close to and my own dreams. It’s as if I was once a whole (ish) tapestry and God has been unraveling it until I’m just a pile of threads.
It was also very difficult to realize that I have been grieving for a good while now. It felt wrong to label what I’m going through as grief because I always believed that true grief was reserved only for death or some sort of severe trauma. But it’s true. I have in a way died and so have some of my friendships and a majority of my dreams for this life. It has taken a few talks with various people to help me understand that I am grieving and that it is warranted.
This grief has taken on many forms: isolation, irritability, depression, anxiety, insomnia, apathy, panic attacks, guilt and the list goes on. I finally took the step to begin taking medicine to help me through the thick of this and it has been helping. It was hard to decide to try medication mostly because I feared crazy side effects, but as my condition worsened I knew it was time. I do not regret it.
But even with the benefit of SSRIs, it doesn’t stop my need to sort through the deep fears and insecurities that life’s challenges have stirred up. Daily I wrestle with challenging thoughts that some of you out there are familiar with also:
“I make everyone’s life worse”
“I will always be this way, I can’t seem to change”
“I will always be alone”
“I am a disappointment”
“Nothing will ever work out for me”
“God must have given up on me”
“I can’t try again, I’ll fail”
“I may never truly heal”
“It’s better if I don’t exist”
And while there are many scriptures about fixing our thoughts elsewhere and focusing on gratitude, there are just many biblical examples of honouring the deep emotions we feel. Here is a slight reimagining of Psalm 56 through the lens of fighting the thoughts that are contrary to God and what He thinks about us:
“O God, have mercy on me, for these thoughts are hounding me. Mythoughts attack me all day long. I am constantly hounded by slanderous voices in my head, and they are boldly attacking me. But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere thoughts do to me?
They are always twisting what I say; they spend their days plotting to harm me. They come together to spy on me— watching my every step, eager to kill me. Don’t let them get away with their wickedness; in your anger, O God, bring them down.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
My accusing thoughts will retreat when I call to you for help. This I know: God is on my side! I praise God for what he has promised; yes, I praise the Lord for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere thoughts do to me?
I will fulfill my vows to you, O God, and will offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help. For you have rescued me from death; you have kept me from falling victim to my thoughts. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.”
Even on my worst days, a seemingly minuscule piece of my soul awaits the salvation and comfort of God. This part of me assumes this grim chapter of my life has not lost the attention of the loving Father I came to believe in long ago. A larger part of me thinks it’s kind of ridiculous that I have any faith at all. I have seen people leave their faith behind for much less, why would I remain? But then I remember my moments silently crying to Him, my times of devouring His Word and feeling full, the miracles of bringing women to faith in Him, and the joyous moments of me realizing I know Him a tiny bit more than before. He is just as real now as He was during those times, we are just traversing a path I am unfamiliar with and I am cautiously expecting Him to appear once more.
“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”
Thank you for visiting yet another post of mine or giving it a read for the first time! For you interesting folks who love summer, I hope you’re soaking up the last of it well!
I decided to post a draft from the beginning of this year that I never got around to publishing. I reread it recently and thought, “Hey, why haven’t I posted that yet?” So here I am…posting it. Enjoy!
Have you ever learned something too late? And if you had learned it sooner things would be very different?
For me, in a smaller sense, I think of how I did not understand geometry until about three or four years after the class. I have no idea why it didn’t make sense at the time and I was really frustrated when I finally understood how to add up the degrees of the angles since I didn’t need it anymore. But the nice thing is, now I can tutor teenagers if they’re having trouble with geometry. It was too late for me but it’s not too late for them.
On a serious note, I learned a lesson about how to treat someone too late. I have this interesting pattern of firework friendships. They are an instant burst of energy, love, drama, and fun. But they fade quickly only leaving behind smoke, debris and eventually nothing. This has followed me since high school and it has haunted me in my walk with God and his people. Due to this, I grew to expect that no one I really connected with would stay in my life.
A few years ago, there was a special firework, one that was not like any of the others. It exploded brighter and was much louder than the previous ones combined. And I was scared. I was afraid that it would fade away fast, so I reacted obsessively and possessively. Instead of trusting God and believing that maybe, just maybe, not every person who blooms bright in my life has to leave quickly, I decided to function out of fear.
Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies of my life thus far, was seeing this friendship horribly fall apart.
I didn’t know when I would end up sharing more deeply about this in my blog, I never knew when the right time would be, or if there was even a good time to do it. But I don’t want other people to learn a lesson too late like I did. I have a great opportunity with this blog to give cautionary tales, encouragement, and insight.
I pray that there is one person who reads this and decides to act differently before it is too late for them. I can only blame myself for my sin and behaving out of believed scarcity instead of true abundance.
I have no idea how long the regret and the guilt will last, but I know that I am forgiven by God and that has to be enough. I’ve heard it said that the greatest apology is changed behavior. I’ve been apologizing a lot and not realizing it. What isn’t too late for me, is to be better. To be the friend I wish I had been right away to the firework I lost.
It’s not too late for me to trust God and it’s not too late for me to believe that he will continue to transform me. I may have lost a battle but the war is already won, I am victorious in Christ. And every day I have to fight to believe that, I have to believe that He is greater than my mistakes.
And there ya have it.
I have lost more friendships and hit more walls since writing that post and it has honestly made me hate myself and life. I’m a day off from National Suicide Prevention Week, but I still wanted to share a couple of resources that have helped me through this painful year that may help someone else out there:
Nothing Much Happens– THE podcast I listen to on Spotify when I’m recovering from a panic attack. Their tagline is “Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups” and it’s true!
If your thoughts are getting dark please tell someone (It’s tough I know). If someone trusts you enough to share their dark thoughts with you take it seriously. Hope and love seem elusive but they’re out there.
Welcome to my blooogg!! Refreshments are at the back table, kick off your shoes and make yourself comfortable! This episode we’re gonna talk about heartbreak and the seemingly negative, positive effects it has on life as we know it!
**House band plays funky music plays as the audience barely claps on beat**
In general life has a way of teaching you new skills and enhancing ones you have learned in the past, but heartbreak gives life lessons a bit more flair. She bursts through the doors demanding all of your attention and energy until she is done teaching you all that she needs to. She’s disruptive, unavoidable and has a wealth of wisdom if you listen to what she says.
Me: *Having a pleasant day*
Heartbreak: “HELLO I’M HEARTBREAK, CLASS IS NOW IN SESSION.”
“Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.”
1. Level Up
Going to the next level in a game usually means you get a couple of new powers, higher HP, and a skills boost of some sort. The equivalent for me has been x-ray vision (social discernment), force fields (boundaries), and enhanced clairvoyance (empathy).
X-Ray Vision– In heartbreak the good times don’t roll like they used to and you learn very quickly who can’t go off-road. Some can’t because it’s too heavy, some because they were never really in your corner, and others because they’re immature or are still expecting a version of you that is no longer available. All you can do is let these people exit or guide them to the exit because there will only be more heartache if you hold on to the mirage of a connection. The key is to not lock any doors, it’s a prideful response because you never know what God will do with a relationship in the future. I try to use vocabulary like “for now” “later” or “at this moment in time” because I only know what isn’t working in this present season not in the next.
Force Fields– The most poignant truth my previous therapist told me was “Anijah, you cannot have a productive discussion with someone who is attached to a false reality.” A gift and a curse of mine is my desire to make peace with everyone. This desire drives me to have as many heart to hearts and mediated honest discussions as possible until all is well with someone. I forgot one scripture that can quell this endless struggle:
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
-Romans 12:18 NIV
Heartbreak has taught me that you can’t force peace, but you can cultivate a space where it can thrive in your heart, mind, and life. Part of this cultivation is found in forming strong boundaries and realising when you’re punching against a brick wall. You can only be understood by people who are willing to understand and this fact goes both ways. My responsibility is to give an honest effort in reconciliation and trust God from there. But this is still so difficult for me, because I’m trying to create a quality of Heaven that will not be fully realised on this side of time.
Clairvoyance– I’ve always felt a lot of feelings and the feelings of others, but heartbreak has cracked me open even more. Legit, if a child is crying near me I start to tear up now. If I see a bird struggling to fly I’m on the verge of a meltdown. When everyone is stressed in my office, whether they say so or not, it’s a nearly physical weight on my being. It is pretty overwhelming, but in a weird way I feel more in tune with the world around me. At the same time it makes me so sad that I can’t save the world or myself for that matter, so I do what I can. I make a joke, write a post, DJ a party, lend an ear, and await the day when all the tears are wiped from our eyes.
2. You Find You
Yes, a palindromic phrase, bask in it. When you are cut to your core by the disappointments of yourself, life and humans, you are able to see the icky and interesting details of who you are. You begin to notice how certain events and interactions in your life have molded how you communicate, your coping mechanisms, and the way you think. The dots all begin to connect because heartbreak has cleared the fog of expectations, avoidance, and distraction.
You have an out of body experience as you gaze upon your shattered self, seeing each shard in its own light. It’s overwhelming because you observe in yourself so many things you need to work through, unlearn and heal from. But eventually you begin to imagine who you could be on the other side of the tough task that is self-realisation.
As I mentioned in many posts, a lot of who I thought I was has vanished and it was terrifying. But my new perspective on it is, whoever I really am will survive through this deep trial. There are many learned traits, but few are innate. For me, I’ve learned my built in qualities are humour, creativity, and deep introspection. A piece of me I was surprised to find out wasn’t a core quality was being outgoing. My current social ceiling is coffee with one maaayybbeee two people. Beyond that, expect me to be indoors in my lounge clothes watching Hey Arnold for the 80th time. But then again, maybe those other qualities are simply hibernating.
3. Jesus is Amazing
Well duh. But in heartbreak you see the clearest where you and Jesus are quite different when it comes to loving people, praying to God, forgiveness, and faith. Between the Last Supper and the Crucifixion alone Jesus had to have gone through at least 5 major heartbreaks. Not only that, but he dove headfirst into that heartbreak with the Father filled to the brim with raw emotion, physical pain, and mental unrest. And this is the expectation set upon me and, surprisingly, I feel more in awe than I do crushed under the weight of Jesus’ perfect response to pain.
Even though I wouldn’t say it out loud I believed that Jesus didn’t truly understand what it was like to be human. If anything, I figured He had a beyond human experience on earth because all that He went through and did was so extreme. Yet in my heartbreak, Jesus has become more realistic. I find myself still loving those who broke my spirit, desiring to make the world a better place and believing, though I feel distant, that God’s love hasn’t fully run out. In that light, I see how Jesus has imparted a bit more of Himself to me than I thought I originally had received.
“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
And that is what has been in my personalised curriculum as I have been attending The Academy of Broken Hearts.
Ahoy fair readers, thank you for dropping anchor on this here blog for a few moments.
I know my latest blogs have been a bit…morose, but I wanted to take a post to thank those of you who read my posts and let you in on why I continue writing.
“You either have to write or you shouldn’t be writing. That’s all.”
― Joss Whedon
When I first began this blog, it was due to a bunch of friends wanting an outlet to hear all about my adventures in Australia. But my penchant for writing started around 8 or 9 years old, I was very into composing whimsical stories. One of which, somewhere in the ruins of my Mom’s attic, was focused on the story of heart-shaped Valentine’s Day baby. By the time I was a teenager, I started encountering growing pains and the only way I survived was by writing poems, soooo many poems. It’s how I was able to make sense of everything I felt without going completely bonkers. Once I got to college, I fell in love with creating hand written cards to the loved ones in my life. Where spoken words failed to express my heart for people, those cards filled in the gap. The most accurate representation of my inner world is in my writings.
During part of the winter and spring this year, I found myself unable to write because my heart was so heavy. A good day consisted of getting 4 or 5 sentences out on paper. It was the worst moment because my anxiety, sorrow, and pain had nowhere to go, it just smothered me. By May I was preparing to shut down the blog altogether figuring God had decided the time had come to end it. Yet to my surprise, as I was forming my final post in my head, new words came flowing out to describe all that has been happening in my life.
“A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.”
― Stephen King
Now I could have kept these writings in a personal journal, which I totally do, but I realized I have the right amount foolish guts share it on a public blog. As I’ve stated before, you definitely will not see the full spectrum on here, it’s my censored diary. But this censored diary has been used by God to deeply connect to people’s souls. Here are some comments I’ve received about previous posts:
“Thank you for that real, raw & relateable explanation. You put words on things I’ve been feeling but didn’t know how to say”
“You articulated so well what many of us go through but don’t quite know how to express”
“This fed my soul. Thank you so much for your vulnerability and inspiring review of the scriptures. I needed this more times than a few”
“Thank you for being bold enough to be vulnerable. God is using your struggles & your pain for something so much bigger than yourself”
I decided that if God continues to supply me with the words, I will continue to broadcast them on this page. So thank you readers in Canada, India, France, Australia, Italy, America, England and beyond for allowing me to share what God has placed on my heart with you. I hope you will continue to glean comfort, insight, wisdom, and joy from these writings. Even though I don’t know all of ya, I love ya.
I’m ready for this year to be over, it feels like I’ve lived about 5 years in the past 6 months or so. I hope 2019 hasn’t felt like that for you dear reader, you beautiful beautiful human you.
I’ve been spending a little time looking over posts from last year and I miss that version of Anijah so much. She was definitely struggling, but she was fighting hard. I respect her a lot. Against all odds she learned to love God more and didn’t completely retreat into a hole of despair. She believed God could heal and empower her. She let God move in the wounds.
2019’s version of Anijah, is well, a bit different. When you go through things they can fundamentally change you. Kinda like how a piece of paper is nothing like the tree it came from. It has a whole new role in society, different characteristics, and it can’t go back to how it used to be, there’s no way.
It has taken me a while to accept that I won’t be able to return to the old me, I kept pushing myself to do things I usually did. Whether it was heavy socialisation, diving head first into some whimsical idea I have, or expecting myself to deal with things in a certain way. I hindered myself from being the me I am right now by forcing myself to be the me I’m used to. (So meta I know) Basically, God hit the factory reset button on me and I’ve been in denial up until recently.
This denial has kept me from figuring out how to live for God in this new headspace. I thought to myself, “If I can’t serve how I have always served, I have nothing to give to His Kingdom. What’s God gonna do with an anxiety ridden, grief stricken girl who keeps hurting the people He loves?” When enough people choose to walk away from you, the excuse of “It’s them, not you.” starts to lose its potency. I find myself wanting to walk away from God because I don’t want to tarnish His reputation. I don’t want someone to see me and say, “Ah so that’s what a follower of Jesus is like.” But then I hear God whisper to me:
“Humans are not like Me. I am not like humans. Now take up your cross and follow Me. Love as I love, forgive as I forgive, live as my Son lived. Get back in the ring, your time is not finished Anijah. I have not given up on you.”
Then I imagine myself sitting on a stool in the corner of a boxing ring, afraid of putting my gloves back on and engaging in the fight. The crowd is roaring and I can’t decipher who’s rooting for me and who’s against me, it’s all noise. I am short of breath, hardly able to see through my swollen eyes, and doubtful of a victorious end. I see flashes in my mind of the punches thrown that knocked me to the ground. Is it worth it? I do not want to fight again, I want to leave the ring altogether. I am dizzy with exhaustion, pain and fear. The thought of willing myself to stand is daunting, my body tremors at the idea. Yet, my lungs continue to fill with air and I feel the thud of my heart within my chest. And I can’t help but wonder, “What if I win?“
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
As noted in the previous post, I started a new job in Boston at the beginning of April and it has been pleasant, hectic, but pleasant. It was good for me to leave Dallas, it had slowly become a haunted house of sorts. My favourite part about my new office is that it’s nestled in the Boston Seaport District which makes for beautiful walks and tasty lunch/coffee/tea breaks. Summer, however, is the busy season so I’ve been swamped with client calls, answering a bunch of emails and techy stuff. #adulting
In other news, it has been about a year and two months since I moved back to the U.S. from Australia and wow, a lot can happen in a year. I’ve moved 3 times, worked 4 different jobs, and gone through all types of other changes. I guess you could say I have acquired my PhD in transition. Also, I’m now a 27 year old and I have no idea what that means for my life. Should I have a house by now? Maybe a firm handle on the subject of retirement funds? Who knows.
Aaaand you’re up to date! Now we shall move forward into an amalgamation of 3 or 4 posts I never finished because I have been plagued by anxiety, depression, and grief.
Readers I’ve been going thrrrooouuugh iiiitttt. What is it? Not sure, though I have been told by a few people it’s the “dark night of the soul” or “hitting the spiritual wall”. One way I’ve heard it explained is that it’s the point where you either become a Peter or a Judas. A less intense example could be Zaccheus versus the rich young ruler. Basically you either grow stronger spiritually or you choose to walk away.
It is said to be one of the loneliest times in your walk and some have even gone so far as to call it spiritual depression. A whole bunch of inner stuff bubbles to the surface, causing you to see everything differently including yourself. Because of this it’s a disorienting and scary experience and not many people can be in trenches with you, if anyone at all. It makes me think of a line from, in my opinion, the saddest psalm:
“You’ve made my loved ones and companions distant. My only friend is darkness.”
And this is how I have been feeling for quite a bit. This type of darkness is the kind where you can’t even see your hand in front of your face, the kind where it looks no different if your eyes are closed or open. It has left me wondering where everything I’ve learned in the Bible fits in this tumultuous time. Am I connecting to God when only the depths of my soul are crying out in its own language but my mouth can only produce a few sentences? What really is repentance, peace, mourning, forgiveness, unity, trust, wisdom, vulnerability, sober judgement, mercy, and love? Where do God’s people, the Church, fit in these topics?
Those around me have tried to encourage me by saying the the sun will shine again, but I know there will be another night after that. There are people going through much worse trials than me, but it doesn’t make the insomnia, panic attacks, and haunting memories any less real. It doesn’t change how alone I’ve felt even when I’m in a room full of people I’ve “known” for quite some time. That knowledge doesn’t quiet the anxiety that crops up any time I have to actually connect with anyone socially. Or the nights when I hope desperately that sleep consumes me before my thoughts do. I struggle with understanding how God is expecting me to deal with these new “features”. He can’t be expecting much.
I had hoped I would never have to experience the moments when God doesn’t feel like He exists anymore. When He would feel so far away, so silent and so foreign to my existence. I’ve heard many faithful people share about these times for years, but I reasoned foolishly that it would never happen to me. Yet here we are and I really hope I make it to the other side of this obscurity with a soft heart because bitterness is wanting to have its day fiercely.
“And when you’re alone there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.”
-The ever clever Dr. Seuss
One star that has appeared in the deep night sky is my side gig DJ-ing. I’ve noticed it’s the only time I truly don’t think about any of the insanely difficult things I’m sorting out mentally and spiritually. It’s also the only time I can effectively socialise, which is not much at all since I’m on the outside looking in. I love that I am able to make a few hours of this seemingly endless journey of life we’re all on enjoyable for people. I consider that a blessing from God.
As always, I appreciate that you have taken the time to read a post of mine. I hope it has resonated in some way. May the sun rise for each of us soon and if it already has, I hope you bask in the rays.
I tell you what, God is consistent in His character. He indeed works in mysterious ways that I seriously do not understand and/or agree with.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
As I’ve shared before, I have been battling with self-condemnation and guilt for a good while now even though I’m aware Jesus has already done the hard work on the cross. So you can imagine my shock and bout of imposter syndrome when I received a job offer in Boston after nearly a year of applying to various tech companies. I decided to accept the offer and will be returning to the city of my alma mater after a 5-year hiatus. It feels deeply undeserved and the timing is just so weird, but I have been told to “accept the blessing and enjoy the ride” haha ummm ok. After I received the phone call for the offer I was just like, “God, is this really you?”
From that point, I was in denial for weeks and waited until 2 and a half days before my move to finally buy a plane ticket. As soon as I clicked the purchase button on the Southwest Airlines website a shiver of panic went straight through the centre of my chest. I called a friend of mine who made a big move not too long ago and she said something so helpful, “Anijah, the future will not be like the past.” then she prayed with me. I needed that more than I understood.
Someday I may share just how dark this past chapter of my life has been, but I’m not there yet. What I can say is that it has been so dark that a glimpse of light looks outlandish and terrifying. I’m sure it’s partly because I have been so excited before about new beginnings and people in my life that turned ended up being heartbreaking milestones. You could say I’m a bit traumatised by it all. Although my level of anxiety is higher, the one thing that has not changed about me is my tendency to jump head first into the unknown.
Life is often compared to this grand story where we are the main protagonist. This concept is flipped on its head in Christianity and instead of the protagonist we’re more like a bunch of mini stories intertwining to tell a larger story. God has a perfect plan, but He also has this built in “Choose Your Own Adventure” feature we call freewill. I’m not going to pretend I know how this works, but I do know that I could have said yes or no to many things throughout life.
It’s funny, I was done with the idea of moving back to Boston midway through last year. I had set my sights on either remaining in Texas or moving to the west coast depending on what doors opened. At the end of December however, I came across a company I found intriguing that had just built an office in Boston. There was a role that was exactly what I had been looking for so I took a chance and applied. I would love to say I had faith, but honestly I was expecting to make it through one or two rounds of interviews then getting a polite email saying, “We’ve decided not to move you forward in the interview process.”
“Thank you for considering me!” *Stares into the void after clicking send*
I was getting so used to rejection that I forgot what acceptance felt like. It wasn’t the feeling of God forgetting me, it just felt like it was a time to be beaten down and humbled. A time where I would lose more and more and more and more. And I felt and still feel like I deserve it. And as uncomfortable as it feels now, it seems God is allowing a new chapter to begin.
“Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked? Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life.”
As I turn the page with God, there will be characters from previous chapters reprising their roles. I’ll be in a familiar city with a very different outlook than the green teenager who was excited to begin her university years. There will be new challenges and hopefully new encouragements as well.
The goodbyes in this current chapter have been frequent and the hardest I have ever experienced. A bitter sadness constantly strangled my heart, but in the last few days it has become this soft sorrow that wraps around. Although I hurt many and was hurt as well, I know I gave my heart fully and sought reconciliation as best as I could. I find peace in knowing nothing is forever and maybe someday I will say hello to the old once again in a future chapter.
I would absolutely LOVE to tell you that 2019 has been off to a great start, I would have loooooved to. Lovelovelovelove. But it is feeling an awful lot like 2018 part two. Before we get into that, here’s a delightful picture of Hawaii I took last month when I was there to DJ a wedding to make you feel nice and fuzzy:
Barely a few days into 2019, my beloved 2018 decided to burst through the door for a final attack to ensure I will never forget it. I found that I, yet again, miscalculated where exactly rock bottom is. It’s many miles deeper and at this point I think we humans created the concept so we don’t live with a crippling anxiety of the future. I remember thinking at the end of the year, “Well, the worse case scenario is (blank)” and I did my best to accept, fast, and pray through a very real possibility I honestly expected. What I received was the worst case scenario super sized with an extra side of fries I didn’t ask for.
It feels like there has been this hardcore campaign to completely destroy all sources of optimism, peace, and childlike qualities within me. During this time, similes have been my absolute best friend so I’ll explain how I have reacted mentally, physically, and spiritually in a series of sayings I’ve been using when people have asked how I’m doing(going). I hope maybe some of you can find words to express your own feelings through some of these:
“My mind is like a broken fire hydrant.”
“It’s like a tv lost signal and the channel is just static. Sometimes you make out an image or a few sentences, but mostly it’s a deafening noise and too many pixels jumping around on the screen.”
“Inside of me is a constant debate between the older brother and younger brother from the Prodigal Son story arguing why he has no place in the Father’s home.”
“It’s like being a bird in a cage with the door wide open, but terrified of ever leaving.”
“It’s like all of my thoughts are on fast forward.”
“Have you ever spilled flour on the floor? It’s so hard to clean up, that’s what life feels like right now and it’s driving me insane.”
“I feel like a stranger in my own body. It’s like I’m constantly walking on eggshells around myself.”
My current favourite way to express how I’m doing is the frozen computer example. You know that thing when you click a program or something and it doesn’t open automatically so you start clicking on all sorts of stuff? And you begin to freak out because your computer isn’t showing any signs of life? Then out of nowhere a bunch of windows start popping up, music starts blasting, the screen starts flickering, a youtube video is playing and it’s highly unnerving. After you’ve had enough of the madness you press and hold the power button hoping the computer will restart with little complications, but at the same time you kinda want to throw the whole thing away.
As you can imagine it’s been very hard to communicate lately which adds to the distress. Music has been too loud, people have been too irritating, writing anything has been nearly impossible and I have been frustrated with myself for not being able to be my normal self. The result is I have gone into extreme self-protection mode until we can figure out what in the world is going on. Otherwise, many casualties would result in me trying to continue life as if things are normal, they are definitely not, things are in fact very messy.
Nearly every day I have wondered if I deceived myself last year. Have I grown at all? What kind of Christian acts like this or feels like this? How on earth can I represent God correctly in this state of being? Why am I seemingly worse off than before? I find solace in the fact that I still believe God is good and He’s forgiven me, in fact I’ve had moments where I’ve thought He and Heaven might be too good to be true. Although He seems impossibly far right now, I don’t think He’s forsaken me. It does, however, feel like He has too much faith in me, He’s allowed a lot of heartbreaking stuff happen. He’s here though.
As always, thanks for reading. Prayers are needed and appreciated. May these blurbs of thought help you on your journey as well. Here’s another pic of Hawaii to send you off well:
Hi Readers, tap into your inner child. I’ve got a story for you ♥️
Hidden from the world’s eye was an Aviary made of gold, it housed wounded birds both young and old. It was owned by a kind Healer with steady hands, He devoted His life to healing birds from all over the lands. Many birds would visit, but chose not to live, yet the ones who remained received the best of what He had to give. They became His voice to all near and far, that declared healing to any no matter who they are. The Healer urged them:
“Beloved birds, beloved birds you have been healed! Gather the broken to me from valley and field. Fly east, fly west, south and north! Do not delay you must go forth!”
Off they flew with a sparkle in their eyes, eager to bring hope to the anguished cries.
Within the flock was a bird named April who was quirky and carefree. Her humorous nature always left a trail of shining glee. She delighted in bringing birds to the Healer and see them restored. She loved seeing the transformations, every time she was floored.
This day as she was flying her life was about to change, when she heard a solemn song from below on the barren range:
“Oo Oo My heart is shattered and my feathers torn. I long to laugh, but can only mourn. I wish I could slumber instead of cry, I’ve only known sorrow and I don’t know why.”
April’s heart quickened as she zoomed to the lament, she sang sweetly as she ended her descent:
“Beloved bird, beloved bird your wounds are deep and your cry has been heard! Let me bring you to the Healer, He’s healed so many. He’ll take your little and make it plenty!”
The bird looked up at her with an intense gaze and April felt her heart suddenly ablaze. She instantly cared for her more deeply than any bird before, this reaction frightened her about what was in store.
The bird’s name was May and her wounds were as deep as her feathers were blue. She immediately trusted April to take her to the Healer where she could be made new. April rushed to the Healer with May perched on her back. Her strength from the Healer made up for what May had lacked.
April was thrilled for May, knowing the Healer would give her life. His great kindness would cure May’s bruises from deep strife. May laughed as they flew to the Aviary, April’s humor was contagious. She appreciated her company even though April was a bit outrageous.
“Oh Healer, oh Healer! Here is bird who wants to be revived!” April stayed nearby from the moment they had arrived.
The other birds in the Aviary had never seen April quite like this. Most saw it as lovely, though a few thought something was amiss. She flew out less as the weeks went by, the adventurous bird gradually became shy. Each stage of May’s healing April would check in wanting to know as much as she could. May wouldn’t tell her everything, but she assured her the Healer’s work was good. April chirped:
“Your feathers are so beautiful! Your wings so strong!”
April looked at her own as if something was wrong. The Healer gave May dazzling feathers as she let go of her old. They were a bluish-green with tiny flecks of gold. May sang brightly:
“I love the Healer and the Healer loves me! He released me from disaster and now I am truly free!”
Silently in her heart, April envied a freedom she had yet to taste. She wondered if her years near the Healer were just a waste. Ashamed of her thoughts she pushed them down below, but everything that’s hidden will surely start to show.
Now that May was strong enough to fly, she had an important choice to make. She could either leave the Aviary or decide to stay. The decision was as clear as could possibly be, the Healer deeply loved her, why would she flee? April was ecstatic for she had hoped May would remain. Now they could soar together redeeming birds from pain.
Navigating the skies was never more delightful than when they flew together. April had hoped these pleasant moments would last forever. They giggled endlessly and shared their stories as they ventured over seas and many territories.
One windy afternoon, they settled on an oak branch and talked for hours on end. It was then that May confidently spoke:
“April, you are my best friend!”
Fear seized April for this pricked an old wound she fought to escape. It was in this moment May noticed the inside of April’s wing had a sizeable scrape. May exclaimed:
“What’s that I see? It seems you might be hurt!”
It terrified April that May was so alert.
“It is a deep wound, but don’t get too close. I always end up harming those I love the most.”
“April, I accept you just as you’ve accepted me. You’re the kindest bird I’ve had the privilege to meet! Take one of my feathers it’s the least I can do, I am loved by the Healer thanks to you!”
May lightly winced as she plucked it from her wing. April couldn’t believe May would do such a daring thing! Hesitantly, she accepted May’s feather and so their bond grew stronger together.
What was once a kind gesture became an expectation. A wonderful friendship became a dreadful situation. The Healer noticed April visited Him less and less, but He waited patiently because He knew it was best. May, however consistently went to the Healer, in love with who He was. The best part of her days were His warm, healing hugs.
On a gray afternoon, May went to find April, she thought good news would help her be grateful.
“Oh April the Healer is my greatest friend, may my glorious times with Him never end!”
April was hidden beneath a great willow tree, May knew she was there, but couldn’t fully see.
“April my dear friend why do you hide? It’s not like you to stay inside.”
“Go away May, go away! I cannot fly with you, no not on this day!”
Ignoring her demand, May soared closer with concern in her eyes. Her greatest strength and weakness was her ability to empathize.
“This is not you April, you’re just going through a trial. All you need is to sit with the Healer for a while!”
April’s appearance had faded, her wound worse than ever before. She tried to swat May away, but her wing was too sore.
“I have only hurt you May please believe this fact! Once you see how true this is you will surely turn your back!”
Now May’s eyes filled with tears, she hated that April had become infected with fears.
“That’s not true April, you’re believing lies! I’ll carry you to the Healer, your spirits He will rise!”
May rushed to the Healer with April perched on her back. Her strength from the Healer made up for what April had lacked.
May placed April before the Healer pleading for His aid. She could not bear the distress and how heavy it weighed. The Healer softly spoke:
“May, your love is fierce and your heart is pure, but this is something April must choose to endure.”
April stared into the distance, refusing to look His way. Feeling the last of her strength slip away. Suddenly, in a sharp blast she gave a shout:
“If I am going to live May must go out!”
Her own words pained her for she loved May with all her heart. But if there was anyway she could be a true friend, this was how to start. They wrestled with leaving each other and gradually began to weep. May understood it was best and flew off as the night became deep.
Shame, guilt, and heartache plagued April day and night. Her healing seemed to be a never-ending fight.
“Oh Healer, my Healer why did I stray? I should have known better than to rely on May. Many years in your care yet have I healed at all? Cast me from your presence, into a pit I must fall! I took you for granted and hurt many of your own. A bird like me does not deserve a place in Your home!”
“Beloved bird, beloved bird accept my compassion. On healing and love must your attention fasten. Once more you’ll be able to soar through the skies, but for now your heart must heal from the lies.”
“I have failed you and destroyed your work!” The Healer looked at her with a light smirk.
“You cannot ruin what I have healed. What you thought was hidden was never concealed. The healing process is detailed and takes some time, it is not a short walk but rather a long climb.”
This discouraged April for she felt hopelessly weak. So the Healer began to sing to April as bitter tears wet her beak. Day after day she made the choice to remain in the Aviary and be healed by His voice.
“Someday all will be made new, an altogether different May and a different you. Peace will come to every bird who has remained and their healing will be complete. Until that eternal time stay here and trust in what I have said will be.”
“I love you Healer and you love me. I cannot imagine this, but one day I will see.”
A small circle of birds who once saw April at her best surrounded her with love during her exhausting quest. They sang songs of hope when she couldn’t sing at all and comforted her when she could only bawl.
“April, April, you’ve helped many birds in this Aviary! You will get through this, we know it seems scary. Know the Healer can heal even this, He will give you life and everlasting bliss!”
Many nights were hard and April was tempted to run, but the Healer whispered to her:
“Beloved bird, I am not done.”
At this she grew silent, her face downcast. She struggled to have hope as she faced her dark past.
“Look up, look up! Keep your eyes ahead. If things need healing that means they are not dead.”
As months passed, April learned new songs from the Healer she would softly sing, the graceful melodies treated her crippled wing. She had listened to these songs before, but the meaning was new. With each note she heard her feathers gained a richer hue.
The birds exclaimed:
“April! April! Look how you’ve grown! Your color is returning and your voice has a new tone!”
It was hard for April to see because guilt still held her close. She did not want to be hopeful, not even a small dose. The birds could see this and prepared April to meet with May. The fear of this was deep, but April understood she had apologies to say.
“Surely May must have realized how damaging I had become. If we should see each other again I imagine she would run!”
The birds did not believe this would be so, for what is a better apology than one who has chosen to grow? It was challenging for April to accept for she knew how much she failed, but she allowed a tiny glimmer of hope to prevail.
The time had come to face May after a good while. April expected the worst, her anxiety forming into a pile. As she flew to meet her, she came across a note. It seemed to be a letter that May herself wrote:
“April, I assumed I would be ready to see you, but it seems I cannot. The pain I endured from you was much deeper than I thought. I hope this will free you, I wish you well. But there is no longer friendship for us as far as I can tell.”
And so again the sharp sword of guilt ran through April with all its might and floods of sorrow blinded her sight. She sped to the Healer, and He gently took her into His Hands, singing sweetly to her His comforting plans:
“I know your past, present, and future as well. Though you are crushed now, from within new songs will swell. Your wings will be even stronger and your feathers renewed, I have set out to fully heal all who have been abused. Every bird who remains with me will receive my very best. It may seem like an endless storm, but there will be an unshakable rest.”
There were more difficult nights and April was tempted to run, but the Healer constantly assured her:
“Beloved bird, I am not done.”
Moore Awaits ❤️
Check out https://www.katierosejohnston.com she created one of the gifs above and her artwork is beautiful, couldn’t find any of the other creators of these awesome gifs though 😔
Readers, readers, readers. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and all that jazz!
2018 was the saddest, craziest, loneliest, most difficult and transforming year of my life so far.
Earlier this year I literally had a friend of mine pray to God to ease up on me. I broke my emotional breakdown record this year as well as starting and ending the year with dropping an f-bomb after nearly 8 years of going without it. I watched pretty much everything go up in flames. Relationships, dreams, money, sanity, hope, faith, and my very self, charred beyond recognition.
Now let’s look at the hilariously/painfully ironic quote from my 2017 NYE post:
“So with all of that I say, ‘2018 you better be more chill than 2017 because that was a crazy ride that I don’t want to get on again.’ Just kidding. (Kinda)”
2018 was way less chill and much more crazy than 2017. In a single gif, the year looked like this:
I fought hard this year. But the interesting thing about the Christian walk is that fighting at times is just the struggle to still yourself in God when all you want to do is writhe. It’s not this ‘grin and bear it’ battle, it’s more of a wrestling to keep your mind and heart centred on God at all times. A single verse planted in your heart and bearing fruit is worth much more than a fine sounding theological debate. Remaining in the vine is a more valiant victory in God’s eyes than anything else. We were never meant to function apart from the power source of our souls, when we stay connected we win the battle.
This year has taught me a bajillion things, but one of the top 3 takeaways is learning the difference between hoping for something and putting your hope in something. Hoping for something is fine, but it is not wise to place hope in a single thing or person on this earth. You will let even yourself down at some point. Hope in God is the only safe place.
“The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”
What got me into a lot of trouble for the past few years was me placing my hope in places other than God. I confused blessings with antidotes for the flaws in myself that only God can heal. This confusion caused me to hoard originally good things and live in constant fear of God snatching them away. This deceived way of thinking and living led to my life falling apart.
I completely misinterpreted God’s heart. His compassion, goodness, and generosity was drowned out by lies. I’m grateful He has helped me to see who He truly is and what His unfailing love is like. Although everything is crumbling, I can trust His heart is good. Even when I have strayed, He’s ready to help me move forward and learn from my mistakes. He’s always ready to forgive and reorient my direction into light not darkness, toward Him.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”
-1 Peter 5:10
That being said, I have had a terribly difficult time forgiving myself. I keep making sure I don’t forget how much of a wretch I’ve been and what punishment I deserve. My new mantra I got from a dear friend recently is, “Jesus Christ died and you are free.” So simple. When my guilt ridden thoughts start, I repeat this to myself and strive to move on from accusing voices. It’s hard not to give in, but I’m hangin’ in there.
But it’s true.
I. Am. Free.
Free from Satan’s accusations.
Free from my negative thoughts.
Free from the judgements of others.
Free from my past self.
Free from the wrath of God Himself.
”What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Christ Jesus our Lord!”
I have been working through this scripture all year pretty much. Some days I wake up and realize it’s still 2018 and this is real life, not a nightmare. I’d sit in the first sentence:
“Anijah you are such a wretch, look at the mess you’ve made and the mess you are. There’s no hope for you, you’ve used up all of God’s grace and patience.”
My love for the Bible grew so much this year because I started truly allowing it to tell me what was true and what was false about my thoughts. The truth is I am a wretch, but what’s also true is that there is a God of restoration who loves a good fixer upper.
One who can take what is engulfed in flames and form it into something that glorifies Him. It is no longer “good as new”, but an object of greater quality and purpose altogether.
2019 will be different, simply because I serve a God who moves forward and uses all things to bring about peace. It may be another painful year or it could be pleasant, but either way it’s orchestrated by a loving, good God.
I will be okay. You will be okay. We will be okay. For we are loved now, in 2019, and beyond.
My only resolution for the new year is to live in the freedom Christ has purchased for me through His sacrifice. Jesus Christ died and I am free to grow, learn, and live for God.
But to be real, I’m also heading into 2019 bracing myself with my hands in God’s like:
“Unfortunately, very few believers, especially publicly revered ones, are willing to risk this level of vulnerability. So the false perception is perpetuated, ‘Certain people don’t deal with the kind of discouragement I deal with. That’s why God can use them and that’s why He can’t use someone like me.’ We don’t have nearly enough records of great saints who are willing to transcribe their actual, unfiltered struggles with doubt, despondency, and discouragement. But we do have a few.”
– Crashing the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick
Thank you all for reading this blog. It’s been scary at times to be vulnerable, but sharing my journey with you has helped and healed in ways that have truly surprised me. Here’s to another year of blogging it up!
Happy December and welcome to another Sharing the Wealth post! This has been a year with loads of reading, listening, and learning so I figured I should let others know what’s been up. Shall we hop in?
1. Demolishing Strongholds – Anselm Beach and Kristin Moulden
In August, I went to a Singles Conference my church hosted in Phoenix and ugh it was the best. I should have done a blog post about it, but at the same time, you kinda just had to be there. Anywaaays, my best guy friend, Anselm, and a women’s ministry leader from Chicago, Kristin, put together an incredible lesson on demolishing strongholds. Don’t know what a stronghold is? No problem, they’ll explain it to you. Basically, this class was about breaking through the walls in your heart, mind, and character that the hope of Jesus hasn’t reached yet. This lesson helped me to increase my vulnerability with God. It’s good. Real good. Listen here.
“Anything you withhold from God will be used by Satan.”
2. Anxious For Nothing- Max Lucado
I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of Max Lucado, but this book was wonderful. It’s simple break down of Philippians 4:4-8 that makes you want to take multiple deep, calming breaths. God is great and capable, but when stuff starts going haywire this fact gets clouded, or maybe reveals our true perception of God. In Anxious For Nothing, you’ll get a relatively short and sweet guide to letting go and letting God. This was a welcome break from the ultra deep books I had been reading throughout the year. I LOVE meaty books, but sometimes it’s good to have a short read that aims to lighten your heart and mind. You can snag the book here.
“Your anxiety decreases as your understanding of your Father increases.”
3. Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien
A good, but at times uncomfortable read. Fellow Westerners if you choose to read this book, pray for humility and an open mind before you start. I made it pretty far into this book before I felt attacked, not in a bad way, but in a “Hey there, ease up.” sort of way. The authors are just sharing what they have learned about biblical cultures and some of what they’ve learned does not line up with Western ideology. Since they’re both westerners it’s a little easier to digest. It’ll have you reading the Bible a bit differently, I don’t think that’s a bad thing though. I’ll leave it at that. You can check it out here.
“At some point in this generation, ‘Take up your cross and follow me’ changed into, ‘Come to Jesus and he’ll make your life better.'”
4. God Series- The Bible Project
This podcast series is freaking insane. I have referred, and honestly annoyed, many people to listen to this. I was listening to it with my Mom originally, but I left her behind because I couldn’t wait to hear more of what they were discovering. Sorry, sorry. Let me backtrack.
Where did the concept of The Trinity come from?
Who’s the Angel of the Lord?
WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON IN THE FIRST PART OF GENESIS?
These questions and many more are explored in 18+ episodes of amazingness. This series is literally about God. It focuses on how He’s described in the Bible and His many attributes. But this is also a series that dives into a rabbit hole about the spiritual realm and boy howdy it’s wild. I LOVE IT AND I DON’T WANT IT TO END. I have yet to hear of anyone who I made listen to it that regretted their decision. If anything, I now have more Bible nerds to chat with. The series is fascinating, utterly fascinating. You can start listening to it here. You’ll need a helmet though because it’s mind-blowing.
And there ya go!! Pleeeassseee let me know if you ended up reading or listening to any of these. I’d love to hear your thoughts about them! Also, if there are any books/sermons you’re thinking I should check out please comment! I already have a pretty nice-sized list, but I will gladly add to it. Til next time!
Quick life update: Started my new job resolving insurance claims, moved out of my Mom’s place, it’s finally consistent sweater weather in Dallas, and God is continuing to move in mysterious ways.
It’s wild that exactly a year ago I landed in Australia excited, curious, and with a smidgen of fear about what the new adventure would hold. I was so grateful God finally granted my dream to live abroad. Little did I know, He would use it, and a couple other dreams come true, as a painful catalyst to bring me into a deeper relationship with Him.
“Pain removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul. “
Exactly 8 years ago, I decided to give my life to God. On a chilly November 16th evening in Boston during my first semester of college, I was baptised and proclaimed Jesus as Lord of my life. I had the smallest inkling that it would be a challenging journey, but I had no idea how intense it would be.
This past year walking with God was the hardest by far. I have explained it to others as “open heart surgery with no anesthesia” This is a huge victory because I didn’t numb the pain of broken dreams, heart wounds and loneliness, I felt all of it. God was constantly upping my trust levels as I wrestled to let go of what I wanted. I finally started to understand that leisure, escapism, and busyness were not going to provide the peace and growth I truly craved. Only God could cradle my heart through the darkest storms.
“Jesus was asleep at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. Frantically they wakened him, shouting, ‘Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to drown?'”
February was when things started getting extra rough, money was getting low, no job in sight, friendship troubles, and character issues getting exposed all over the place. I remember talking to God about how I totally believed in Him and His Word, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to be truly devoted to Him any longer. I couldn’t see how things would turn around and I was angry at Him for allowing me to venture out to Australia if He knew my faith would fail. I could hardly stand to read my Bible, it just reminded me of how far I had fallen and my prayers were weak whimpers.
I thank God for the retreat I went to about a month and a half later where a few course changing conversations happened. A friend of mine who was there asked me how much I had been reading my Bible lately and I was honest about my minimal effort. Her response was unforgettable. “So you’re on the battlefield with no armour getting slaughtered by Satan.” Shooketh. Then she challenged me to read like crazy since I had no job and a bunch of free time, tough facts, but real facts. We prayed together and I just cried because I knew where I wanted to be, I just didn’t know how to get there.
“‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’
Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
Even now when you’ve gotten to the end of yourself
Even now when you’ve sinned greatly
Even now when everything is falling apart
Return to Me.
From there, God showed me the power of His Word and His love. I totally thought I blew it too badly for prayer, fasting, and reading to work. Sure I’ve seen things move amazingly when I do it on behalf of others, but I didn’t have much faith in it for myself. I wondered, “Is His grace really sufficient? Will His power actually be showcased in my extreme weakness?”
The rest you know if you’ve been reading my blogs. I had to face my sins head on, be completely vulnerable and dependent on God, and surround myself with people who were going to hold me accountable. God has revealed Himself in so many incredible ways, I think it’s the most I’ve ever enjoyed reading the Bible and spending time alone with Him. It’s also the most I have ever missed God and looked forward to the next life. He is seriously good all of the time, I’m the one who’s all over the place.
God isn’t planning on giving up on me. He’s continuing to show me that the impossible is possible with Him. I can be a better friend, daughter, sister, co-worker, and representative of Him if I rely on Him to transform me. I am forgiven by God even when someone can’t forgive me or I cannot forgive myself. If God is giving me another chance, that has to be enough. I’ve spent too much time allowing pride and guilt to control me instead of God’s Truth. If God is going to have mercy on me who am I to oppose it? God is God, no one else is. The crazy amount of spiritual growth I’ve had this year is a testament to God’s grace and power, it has zero to do with me, I’m triumphant because He made it so.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Thank you Kristen, Sterling, Mariah, and Lai-Yan for studying the Bible with me 8 years ago and showing me what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Thank you to everyone who has prayed, encouraged, fasted for me and with me and loved me throughout this challenging year. Thank you God for seeing my heart for you and carrying me to new heights and depths when I couldn’t even look up at You.
Now begins the 9th year, I have no idea what is to come, but I know it will be worth it in the end. Here’s to more years of learning about God and unlearning the patterns of this world.
Thank you for visiting my page once more, I really love writing and it’s wild that some people out there actually want to read it 💕
I’m currently moving up on the life ladder, I got a better job which I’ll be starting soon. I’ve been successfully filtering my emotions through God before I share them with humans, not perfectly, but way better than before. I’m settling into not knowing at all what’s happening, God knows what He’s doing, I don’t. So yeah, that’s my life currently in a nutshell.
Things have been happening in and around my life that have caused me to ponder about timing and what to make of it. Like, why isn’t it time yet for this life event? Or why did a person appear in a specific season of hardship or good fortune? Why didn’t something happen earlier or later? And to be honest I haven’t found any answers, I’m just rambling in this post.
I may leave some of you reading with a feeling of ambiguity by the end of this post. I will gladly apologise in advance for that. But, I believe something we all have to face at some point is that certain happenings may never make sense. It’s an uncomfortable truth because we’ve been conditioned to believe peace is synonymous with clarity.
To no one’s surprise I’ve been reading through the book of Job lately…
I don’t think this book gets any easier to read over time, I always have more questions at the end than the last time I read it. A glaring theme this time around is, at times life makes no sense and you may never know why.
As far as I can tell, Job was never given insight on why things turned out the way they did for him even though he was righteous in God’s eyes. It’s difficult because we want there to be a nice, full circle resolution at the end, but it doesn’t happen in a way we would expect. We tend to use phrases like:
“Hindsight is 20/20.”
“It’ll make sense in due time.”
“Time heals all wounds.”
These sayings are true and helpful sometimes, but can also be weak bandaids when placed over nonsensical heartbreak and deep trials. One of the hardest pills to swallow is that God is within His rights to not give us complete understanding. Only with humility can one accept this fact. Until then, it’s easy to succumb to anger, frustration, and sorrow as we wrestle to unravel what is meant to remain bound.
Personally, I’ve found that the most I can do for myself and those around me who are dealing with confusing suffering is to talk with God as vulnerably as possible. Expressing to Him that I want to understand, but also pleading to be content with not understanding. Praying fervently for those who are on their last strand of faith, or only at the beginning, and don’t know how to process what’s going on in their lives. This is not an easy feat.
It’s interesting (also spoiler alert), at the end of the book of Job, he gains a deeper knowledge of God. He of course is blessed once more with an abundance of possessions, health and a huge family, but before all of that, it’s just a greater understanding of God.
Is a richer relationship with God worth sacrificing the answers to your deepest questions?
I believe this trips everyone up at some point. If it’s not when someone is first seeking God, it definitely pops up later in faith.
“If you could just explain why you let this happen, I’ll believe.”
“If you answer my question, then I’ll obey you.”
We can accept the unknown depths of the sea and the mysteries of space, yet we think a vast, complex God owes us all the answers to our lives’ questions. I deceive myself into thinking that if only I knew why, things would be better and I would love God more. Slowly but surely, God is teaching me how to trust Him with all things, not just the stuff I can wrap my head around.
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”
Casper was so adorable, but that bathroom mirror scene in this movie scarred me as a kid…
Hey y’all, it’s spoooky month!
I personally don’t know how to feel about October because I LOVE fall but I HATE scary stuff. It does not provide for me the peace and joy I seek in life.
The scariest movie I can watch and actually enjoy is Hocus Pocus. I get nightmares from the trailers of horror movies. Yes. You read that correctly. I can’t make it through a movie preview without my imagination being corrupted. Haunted houses are a hard no, only the love of my life could convince me to walk through one of those and even then, I’m not sure if I’d do it.
I was once convinced to watch Insidious at a friend’s movie night a couple years ago and wow…that was the worst the decision I may have ever made in my entire life. I had to watch Winnie the Pooh for the rest of the night until the sun started shining again I kid you not. Peer pressure is not worth it people.
So what better topic to chat with y’all about this time of year than fear and the ways it disguises itself in my life and probably yours too?!
As I was living my little life a couple months ago, a friend of mine interrupted my flow and said, “Anijah, I think you’re living in fear now.” I paused, considered it, then I sifted that comment through a few more people to see if they’ve noticed it too. Turns out it was hiding in plain sight, veiled beneath my wise words and new cautious demeanor. I fooled myself and others pretty well, but it didn’t escape the keen eye of a few caring detectives in my life.
I’ll map out where the little fearlings have been hiding and maybe it’ll help you discover where they’ve been sneaking around for you as well. Let the investigation commence!
When you go through a bunch of stuff, you learn a bunch of stuff. It’s a fact of life for most people. Now that the dust has settled quite a bit in my life, I’m seeing errors in judgement, weaknesses in myself, and what possibilities a decision could yield. These are great things, but I noticed fear had latched onto wisdom to keep me from trying something new. Fear has some sly ways of speaking:
“Maybe you should refrain from anything you’re excited about, are you guarding your heart?”
“Considering what has been revealed in your character, is this really a blessing or are you deceiving yourself?”
This one is huge. Especially for a restless wanderer like myself. I’m always wanting to go somewhere new or do something crazy. This phase of life has partially been characterized by me learning how to be still and rest in God. I think it’s working because now I’m low-key afraid of putting myself out there again in many ways. I believe fear was able to disguise itself the best in my struggle to be content in my circumstances since I’m historically bad at it.
“Let’s not stir the pot, just settle, you’ve done enough in the past haven’t you?”
“Adventures are meant for someone else not you, why can’t you be content?”
As I’ve stated in previous posts, I have more clearly seen the perfection of God which has in turn highlighted the depravity of myself. It’s a necessary realisation to get to a heart of deep gratitude. After seeing the gravity of sin, it’s incredible to even take the next breath knowing God gave it to me. Yet even as I’ve been growing in humility, fear found a way to twist it to its advantage.
“Why try? You’re too sinful for this to work out well, you can’t handle good things.”
“Who are you to ask anything of God? You deserve nothing.”
I have a vivid imagination full of many versions of myself and my life. I could dream up pretty much anything and fantasize about how it would all work out perfectly. That’s the way I’ve lived my most of my life, even with its difficulties. But there’s something about being on the brink of adulthood, allllmost having it together, then squandering it all. This year killed a chunk of my dreamer heart. In some ways it’s needed because we all must grow up, but the fear of optimism appeared with my newfound maturity.
“There are more important matters to pray about, why is your head in the clouds?”
“Life is not a fairytale, don’t you think dreaming is a bit dangerous?”
I’ve noticed fear use focus a lot lately in my heart and mind. It’s so easy for it to masquerade as discipline since I’m such a flighty person. An idea or new interest now causes a paranoid response within me. Working to overcome a lack of focus has blinded me from seeing where self-control ends and trepidation begins.
“This is a trap, what is this trying to distract you from?”
“You can’t confront this right now, you don’t want to lose your focus do you?”
It’s so tricky because each of these doubts have a ring of truth to them. Many times these are in fact very reasonable and helpful in life. So the question becomes, how can you tell what is true and what is fear?
Personally, I’ve come to learn that it’s fear when it comes in direct conflict with who God has revealed Himself to me as. I can see it in my prayers when I start withholding desires, worries, and thoughts from God. It is written many times that God wants us to share everything with Him in confidence and vulnerability. He’s a good Father full of grace, compassion, and wisdom. I realised I have been playing God by deciding how little I deserve and what my future outcome should be. My fear has been manifesting itself by trying to premeditate God’s thoughts and figure out what’s going to happen next so I can brace myself.
It seems there is something pulling the strings of fear…
He’s always lurking somewhere when things are getting off track.
Pride drives overthinking. My mind drowned out the sound of my heart calling to God for peace, comfort, and direction. I need to depend on God, but pride says, “You can figure this all out if you think hard enough, ignore how you feel.” I’m learning more and more that thinking and feeling are meant to work in tandem. It seems they’re both trying to communicate that I am struggling with the fear of change and the temptation to grab the reins from God.
After all of the mental and heart-ical gymnastics, the answer was clear: I need to face fear head on and bring it all to God. Now that I know the masks fear can wear, I’m able to thwart its terrorising ways much sooner.
Yaaaaas Velmaaaa expose 👏 them 👏
My time of solitude is coming to a close and I’m afraid. I have loved having a low-key season of learning about God and growing closer to Him. But He is moving me to change surroundings, mindsets, and goals to embrace what’s next. Just as Elijah had to leave the cave and Moses had to return from Midian after a time of healing so must I. The future is a bit scary, but I want to be able to glorify God in it. May you also be able to do the same.
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
A state. A state of mind. Basically it’s own country.
There is no place quite like it in the entire United States, but you could say that about any of the 50 states right? Maybe, I don’t know, Texas is pretty out there.
My Texan journey started when I was 6 years old. I remember sobbing when my Mom told me we were leaving Indiana for what I believed was a desert wasteland with cattle and no place to plug in my playstation. I was not pleased. But, it wasn’t my choice, I was but a wee lass at the mercy of my Mother’s bidding.
Throughout childhood I always wanted to be elsewhere, I loved visiting my Dad in the northeast for holidays and summers. Philly, New York, and even the strange land of New Jersey, those places felt more like home. I guess it’s because I was born in the Bronx and that attachment never truly fades.
I never felt like I belonged in Texas, or the south for that matter, it was just a place I resided in the longest. That deep Texas pride which seems to spread like a virus to the born and raised and transplants alike never reached me. Almost every time I had the chance to leave this place I would, short time or long.
Yet I wouldn’t say I hated Texas. I’ve definitely said it in the past, many many times, but now I have accepted it’s just not my land but it has it’s perks and it has most definitely served a purpose in my life.
There are 3 things I love most about Texas: The Sky, Austin, and The Storms.
🎶 The Prairie Sky is Wide and High… 🎶
Ain’t nothing quite like a broad Texas sky. There have been so many times I just exclaim, “YAAAASSSS” up above because it’s just showin’ out. Lookin’ all gorgeous and stuff, it’s truly a sight to behold. I wanted to post a photo here, but it honestly wouldn’t do it justice, you have to just experience it. (On a non-sweltering day) When I see that big expanse above me I get stilled, I’ve fallen in love with it even more since I’ve been back.
Keep Austin Weird 👽
Austin, Texas is easily in my top ten when it comes to my favorite cities. The coffee shops, the music, the tacos, the vibes, the hills and bodies of water. Ugh! No place in Texas brings me greater joy and makes me feel more myself. It’s a shape-shifting city that becomes whatever I need it to be in the moment. Be it a calm, recharging time or a wacky, adventurous time. I am forever grateful for my cheap getaway road trips to Austin, it’s the best city in Texas in my humble opinion.
Texas Storms ⛈
This one is two-fold. Of course I am talking about the fear inducing storms that shake houses and dare I say the core of your soul. It’s awe-inspiring to hear, watch, and feel as God’s power is on display. The booming thunder, the multiple strikes of lightning, the sheets of rain. I LOVE IT. As long as I’m inside of my home of course. And it’s not even just the storm itself, it’s also the beautiful, paint-brushed sky that results for the next few days afterwards that fills me with wonder. In my travels so far I have yet to see storms like the ones here in Texas.
But there’s another type of storm I’m referring to when it comes to the Lone Star State. It’s the life storms God uses to build up my character and draw me near to Him. This drives my love/hate relationship with Texas, outside of my pure hatred for it’s hellish summers and lack of effective public transportation.
Since I’ve become a Christian, every time God has returned me to Texas it’s been some set of hardcore challenges waiting for me. Lots of internal struggle, difficulties around me, and I usually end up having to wrestle it out with God over a bunch of things. I feel like He sends me here to gain grit, some true-blue rugged faith that says, “Come what may, I’m in it for the long haul.”
I’ve fought against this fact because I enjoy avoiding hardship, but God keeps pressing on to help me see the necessity of trying times. He uses this tough terrain for my good and He wants me to recognize it. It’s taken a lot of humbling so far, but I’m starting to see the light. Texas is important for my walk. God teaches me so much when I’m here, some of the hardest and most heartbreaking lessons, but I believe these are the lessons that will help me withstand anything later on.
Texas, I don’t love ya, I kinda like ya, but I definitely need ya.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Welcome, or welcome back, to my blog. Hope you’ve been doing weeeelll and if not I hope you’ve been learniiiing. There’s always something to be gained 😃
Niceties aside, this week started off rough. This year has been full of things ending earlier than I hoped, being postponed, or just straight up missing an experience altogether. I’ve been faring pretty well since it’s been happening SO much this year, but realising I had to miss my dear friend’s wedding last weekend was a punch to my soul.
It was like this huge bellowing voice that said “HOOOOW LOOOONG LOOOORRRRDD” was echoing throughout my insides. The longer I live, the more the Psalms of David resonate with my very being.
See, I know the deepest longing I have will not be fulfilled until the next life. The longing for there to be no more death, sadness, and difficulties. The longing to finally rest and not worry about anything. The longing to have no more longing, to be completely satisfied. But sometimes it’s just really tough down here and I know every person reading this can relate because we’re all in that longing state. (Heh, that rhymed.)
“So what did you do Anijah?”
Welp, as I sat down at my little call centre desk Monday morning on the verge of tears, I began to write and process my feelings. It was often interrupted by needy customers, but I was able to work through the emotions successfully. The thought process started with, “Life sucks.” A bit of a moody preteen approach, but God already views me as a child so we’re all good there. Then I began to think about what I went over earlier that morning in this book I’m reading called Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb.
The topic of that morning happened to be on Hebrews 11 and how the hope God has in mind for us is vastly different from what we’d expect. In the past, I would read something like that and my skin would crawl, but as I read through the chapter I nodded with peace and that totally freaked me out to be honest. I’m changiiiiiinnnggg!!
Please tell me you know what movie this is from.
Even in this spiritual growth spurt I’ve been having, it does not make me impervious to sorrow, frustration and disappointment. No one in Hebrews 11, which is sometimes referred to as the “Hall of Faith”, made it through the fires of life unscathed. Yet they trusted. That’s the kind of heart God is searching for in us. Not the kind that toughs it out with a fake smile or tries to overcome by their own means, but one who relies on Him in all circumstances. One who’s willing to cry out to Him like a child, unashamed of the emotions that can be too much to bear alone.
A broken and contrite heart He will not despise.
He draws near to those who draw near to Him.
He remembers we are dust and He knows we’re just aloof sheep who don’t know which way is up.
By the time I worked through all of these thoughts, it felt like God had just thrown me a life preserver to keep me afloat. My heart was better able to accept the sadness of the moment and I had hope that beyond this life I will never have to miss out on the greatest things.
My encouragement to you, dear reader, is that you will let God into your deepest disappointments and wounds. Allow Him to heal your heart and change your mind about certain situations. Even if they’re not the most intense of situations, but they still matter to you, connect with Him about it. Vulnerability and humility before God will always yield great fruit.
“The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.”
Happy aaaalllmost Fall (Autumn) Everyone!!I could cry y’all, it’s my favorite season. And summer is my least favorite season and I just lived through THREE OF THEM. THREEEEEEEEE. So I am quite ready for that crisp Fall air my friends.
I’ve been back stateside about as long as I was gone in Australia now and it’s been a wild ride as you can tell from my previous posts. As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read, I hope it’s been beneficial in some way to you ♥️
As I’ve been reading, thinking, praying, and observing, something dawned on me in early July. The hot mess unraveling of my life might partially be due to a few prayers I’ve consistently sent up over the past 4 or 5 years.The ones I think of specifically are:
“God, please increase my trust in you.”
“Help me to love you more than anything or anyone else, including myself.”
“I pray you will bind my heart to yours.”
“Help me to connect with you as deeply as she connects with you.”
There were times, especially in the past couple of years, where I seemed to be drifting further away from these things I was asking of God. Once the opportunity to go to Australia appeared, I prayed almost every day, “Father, do not let me go to Australia if I’m going to end up leaving you. If you’re not coming with me, I don’t want to go.”
There were a few key things and people that seemed almost tailor-made for me that led to this steep spiritual learning curve I’m in the midst of now. Each of them led to a serious heartbreak and pain which threw me at the feet of God. This had me wondering throughout this summer, “Was there really no other way to answer these prayers?”
If you’ve seen Avengers: Infinity War, it makes me think of the scene where Doctor Strange is considering all of the different possibilities of how Thanos can be defeated.At the end of his hyper-speed twitch fest, he comes to only one solution out of millions that would result in a victory. Since none of the other Avengers had the ability to see such things, they just had to trust him.
Jesus found himself in a similar position when He was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tested and also in the Garden of Gethsemane when He pleaded with the Father for His cup of suffering to be taken away. For some reason, these events were the only viable option for him to glorify the Father and save us.
Of course, I’m definitely nowhere near as righteous, but the argument still holds up. I think of a few scriptures:
“Before you made me suffer, I used to wander off, but now I hold to your Word.”
“It is good that I had to suffer to learn your laws.”
-Psalm 119:67, 71
“Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered”
Hardship is the great equalizer. A tool God is not shy about using in order to further set us apart and make us like Him. Failures, break-ups, job loss, illness, realisation of sin, sudden misfortunes, and the list goes on and on. They are for our benefit if we decide to humble ourselves.
“Our shattered dreams are never random. They are always a piece in a larger puzzle, a chapter in a larger story. Pain is a tragedy. But it’s never only a tragedy. For the Christian, it’s always a necessary mile on the long journey to joy.”
–Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb
It’s been interesting to have a circle of commentators like Job (who I am also nowhere near as righteous as) who have been pitching their different theories about my life and what’s happening.
“Did you actually fast and pray before you went to Australia? God couldn’t have led you there.”
“I think God’s preparing you for your husband!”
“He’s going to keep you in Texas until you finally love it.”
“You’ll get a job as soon as you confront this issue.”blahblahblerghbluebleeeeeh
Nobody knows what’s going on up in the spiritual realm, His ways are not our ways. But, I can trust that God will definitely do the ultimate good with the perfect method. I can’t speak to most of the of theories posed to me, but I know I have not grown this much in a long periololically time.
As rough as these past couple of years have been, I wouldn’t change a thing because it has humbled me to a point where I can see God in way I constantly prayed I would. I’m more aware of the snares I can get trapped in. My compassion is deeper for others, I love them where they’re at and forgive more readily. I’m getting better at letting go, A FULL BLOWN MIRACLE. To God’s glory there are even more things, but I’ll stop here.
Would this have happened if I got everything I wanted? If Australia was a breeze? If I got a great job right away when I moved back? I can’t know for sure, but I really don’t think so. Some things are only learned through difficult times. As the saying goes, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”
I am grateful that God doesn’t only use storms to humble us out. I look forward to the next patch of calm waters, but I am so grateful for how He has strengthened me in this difficult season. Moore Awaits ♥️
Another blog post, another random way of saying hello. If you’re new here, welcome! If not, thanks so much for continuing to read about the inner machinations of my enigmatic mind and the Lord’s patience with me. ♥️
The first draft of this blog I wrote in my microscopic notebook was untitled and empowering. The second draft of this blog I typed out, named Silencing the Soothsayer, morphed into this ultra bleak manifesto about the temporary nature of life. I let a friend of mine read a bit of that version and she was like, “Wow, that…that’s pretty depressing. Is this what you really think about life right now?”
I took that as a cue to hold off on this post and work through my perception of life with God. He revealed that I was missing some key elements about this life. I’ll be real, I was getting awfully sick of this world and the moral decay that is experienced on all levels. I approached God’s throne earlier this month asking for an advance on my inheritance because this life is trash compared to the next life. Isn’t it better to be with God than on this crazy earth in this rebellious flesh of mine? But what do I know? And God is quick to say:
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’”
Everything is temporary, no denying that.
Situations. Relationships. Seasons. Days. Emotions. Years. Moods. Our life on Earth.
There have been times since I’ve moved back from Australia when I’ve thought, “What’s the point?” How can you have hope when nothing and no one is certain to stay? At any moment, you could lose it all and not know when or if God will give any of it back. The best part is Heaven and the rest beforehand is a wearisome war leading up to the victory that seems forever away. What’s the use in getting a new job or falling in love? Or moving to a new place? Or going back to school? There is no way to know how things will turn out or how long they will last. It’s all fleeting and you can take none of it with you after death.
And when you look at things that way, it can all seem very grim.
How can one really have hope while living in the mist?
Accept Each Tense
Recently God has been teaching me how to consider the phases of life in a different way. The past, present, and future all have value, but if the value is misplaced, living in the mist becomes strenuous.
Did you just shudder? Or maybe you smiled fondly at memories from long ago? Or was it a mixture of happiness and sadness? Some of us long to relive the glory days while some of us work extra hard to shut out any hint of the past. In both cases the past has put chains on our hearts and minds. The result is you’re either devastated or jaded. Two scriptures come to mind about these responses:
“Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.” -Ecclesiastes 7:10
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” -Isaiah 43:17-18
If the past in question was particularly amazing, once its season has passed you’re skeptical about a future time being just as good, if not better. You reminisce yourself into a hole that robs you of present joy and future hope. On the flip-side, maybe the past was downright terrible and instead of processing and healing you just shove it way down and act as if it never happened. Our psyche never lets us off the hook that easy and it ends up robbing God of an opportunity to do something new within us. I speak from experience on both of these.
Treat the past as a teacher and a reminder of the great things God has done. It’s a gift to be able to look back on the past as a survival guide or pleasant scrapbook. Because life is so complex, it’s a little of both. The trouble comes when we try to make it a sign of what is to become of us and our future rather than letting God be in control.
It looms over our heads causing us to stress over our career decisions, health regiments, relationship directions, and financial investments. Constantly prodding us to be prepared, be anxious, be productive, and be careful.
Was there really hope for any of us who were raised in a standardized testing culture to not be perturbed about what is to come?
A phrase I’ve been getting comfortable with saying lately is “I don’t know.” It all started with a dream I had over a month ago where a friend of mine kept asking me all of these questions about the future and I just kept saying “I don’t know.” repeatedly with no emotion. Once I woke up, the phrase just stuck.
“Do you think you’ll ever go back to Australia?” I don’t know.
“How long are you going to stay in Texas?” I don’t know.
“Do you think you’ll get that job?” I don’t know.
I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.
My next breath isn’t even up to me.
What I do know, and am continuing to have impressed upon my heart more is that my future is in the hands of a compassionate, loving, and wise beyond human understanding God. I will not live a moment longer or shorter than how long He has decided I should live. He knows what’s going to be beneficial for my mind, heart, and soul spiritually and what will not. However, what can trip me up, and maybe what trips you up also, is that I can confuse beneficial with comfortable. I’m not sure if God uses a formula as for the phases of our lives, and even if He did I doubt any of us would understand it.
“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.”
The present is tricky because it’s where the past and the future converge. (If you think as deeply as me about the passage of time, I’m glad I’m not so alone.) It’s the time when you can affect your future the most as you deal with the past and persevere.
In today, you can consider the past and be grateful for what God has done. Recounting the good He has allowed you to experience and the difficult times He gave you the insight to learn from. Both will aid in what happens throughout each passing moment. As each minute comes and goes, God is working on a future you and the future circumstances you’ll be cultivated in. Trusting God is the only way this complex timeline we call life won’t completely swamp you with its waves.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.“
Did you seriously think you were gonna make it through this post without seeing this scripture?
Live in the moment, but don’t be enslaved by it. If things are going great, enjoy it, but be careful to not hold on too tightly. If things are going terrible, make sure to let it train you instead of stain you. Most of all, invest in the eternal, your soul and the souls of others, that is what’s going to remain at the end of it all. Should anything tether us humans, it should be something that is sturdy and unchanging. God does not shift like the seasons. He doesn’t change His mind like we constantly change ours. His character is set in stone and His love is unfailing. Every day is a fight to remain dependent upon this fact, not the past, present, nor the future.
When it’s snowing grab a cup of hot cocoa and go sledding.
When the blizzard comes, take shelter somewhere warm.
When the flowers are in bloom, go on a nice stroll.
When the spring storms rage, hold tight to your umbrella.
When summer approaches, grab your sunnies and a beach towel.
When it’s sweltering, cool down and hydrate.
When the leaves begin to change, breathe in that crisp air with gratitude.
Don’t fight the passage of time.
“What do workers gain from their toil?I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.”
For the first time in my short blogging career I am behind! Not that I have a schedule or anything, but somehow I’ve gotten about 4 blogs in the pipeline that I’ve outlined but not posted. Hooray for inspiration! Hooroo for procrastination…
Life update: I’ve been temping at a call centre (My mac insists on Australian spellings still, should probably google about that) for a little over a month now and it has been quite the adventure.
This is so real.
Here’s a bullet point summary of my past month in the call centre:
1. Humans Are…Interesting…
We all know this, but the call centre experience has shed further light on this fact. I’ve listened to and assisted a wide variety of humans. Some have been horrendously entitled, others downright creepy, and of course I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to the even-tempered angels in disguise.
Each time the phone rings it’s like rolling the die in a game of Eels and Escalators (I love Spongebob don’t judge me). When I answer, who KNOWS who it’s going to be? A disgruntled consumer? That one account holder who believes every one in the company should know who he is? A person with a suuuper thick accent I’ll have to struggle to understand? A flirty weirdo trying to get my facebook profile even though we’ve only been talking for 30 seconds? A fast talker with a short fuse? A person who thinks I can bend the rules just for them? Someone who thinks I’m a mind reader???????? A HEAVY BREATHER TOO CLOSE TO THE PHONE MIC?!?!?!
Y’all…please be kind and thoughtful the next time you call in about your faulty product or unfortunate experience at an establishment. Us call centre representatives were probably not there when it happened and most likely don’t know the person who slighted you. We’re just here to help as best as possible. Also in the amount of time you’ve been on hold, your CSR has possibly been talking to the worst of the worst, so please be the best of the best.
Be kind. Have your receipt, order number, and/or personal info prepared before you call. Be humble, you’re the one who needs assistance. And please PLEASE make sure you have good reception.
2. It’s Been a Confidence Boost
I believe it’s easy to think less of a call centre role because of the grunge work and relatively low pay, but it teaches you A LOT. Obviously from the first point, how to treat people, but it’s also strengthened my communication skills and level-headedness. Even though I communicate in written word well I’m not very confident in speech. Those who are close to me know this painfully well.
As I was being trained, a critique I received multiple times a day was that I have the knowledge, but my confidence does not show it. I cringed so hard because this is actually a problem that has been around for a while that affects all areas of my life. Even as I have my phone interviews for other jobs, I can hear it as I answer the recruiter’s questions about my experience. It’s the worst.
On the bright side, thanks to the tough love from my co-workers, I’ve grown in my confidence! It helps to be told often that the callers can basically smell fear and uncertainty. They totally can.
To be successful in a call centre you must exude confidence over the phone.
3. The Call Centre Crew is a Family
Honestly, it is. As soon as I arrived everyone was welcoming and constantly made sure I understood what was going on. They warned me about infamous callers and gave me tips on how to avoid mistakes they made when they first started. We have potlucks, inside jokes, and heart to hearts if need be. Also, because of the many Spanish speakers in the office, I’m getting to sharpen my Spanish skills!! I feel very fortunate to have a call centre experience like this, there’s drama, but I know it could be way worse.
Now, I still get laughed at for being a rookie. There was no mercy when I was on a call and I was trying to tell a customer “We have forty boxes available.” when in reality I just said, “Ferder berxes.” Or the time when I said, “Have a good day!” and the customer remained silent so naturally I responded to myself and said, “You too goodbye!” Yet, in true family fashion, they still accept me as the baby of the CSRs…while making fun of me.
4. Recharge Time
In the call centre, it’s all or nothing. You’re either backed up with calls in the queue and have no time to eat your cucumber slices or you get 1 or 2 calls in an hour. I’m not really sure which I prefer, the former makes the day go by much faster. The latter is wonderful because it’s allowed me to ponder many things, write cards, read books, and formulate blog posts.
I’m grateful that God has allowed me to work here, it’s becoming clear that this is a time for me to rest up until the next full-time job He places me in. I have had multiple, deeply groundbreaking moments with God during my shifts. He’s been showing Himself in so many ways, but also has given me busy times on the job so my mind doesn’t get overloaded with epiphanies.
All that’s to say, it hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been awesome. Each day I have to fight to live by the Spirit when I get sassy customers on phone, but I see God’s providence here. I don’t know how long He’ll have me in this role, but I trust His timing and plan a lot more than I used to.
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.'”
No I’m not giving out a bunch of money. I’ve been reading so many great books and listening to many wonderful talks and I just wanted to share the wealth!! Yeah it’s really gonna be that cheesy of a blog title, no shame.
Anywhooooo, I’m going to give you some reviews, links, and personal anecdotes about some of the awesome material that has been shaping me lately! I have not been able to clam up about these and I’m so excited to let you all know what’s up!! YAAAAASSSS!!
This is hilarious because I totally did not enjoy doing reports in school yet here I am doing them for fun.
1. Relationship Goals Series – Michael Todd
Oooooh my goodness this series was so disruptive in my life. 8 videos worth of soul digging scripture and life application. From singlehood to dating to marriage to friendships to your relationship with yourself and most importantly with God, this dude approaches it all with jarring humor. It took me about a month and a half to listen to them all because there was so much to digest. I mm’d and ah’d, cried, laughed, and walked away with some solid practicals that are still serving me. This series is not for the faint of heart or the easily embarrassed, but if you’re ready to be challenged and don’t mind a millennial style approach to God’s Word listen up!! You can check out the series here.
“God only funds His own ideas.”
Rating: 🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥
2. Healing of a Wounded Idealist: A Guide Back to Faith for the Christian Cynic by Justin and Irene Renton
A short, yet dense, read for idealists and those who want to understand how idealists function. I love love LOVE this book. It really helped me make sense of some of the reasons why I do what I do and my thought processes. It’s awesome because it’s written from the perspective of a realist (Justin) and an idealist (Irene), they tag team the subject beautifully. They delve into the situations that tend to stunt the faith of an idealistic Christian and teach how to successfully dodge those pitfalls to get to spiritual maturity. If you are a cynical Christian, or can feel yourself nearing that title, THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU. Here is a link to buy the book! It’s also kindle friendly 😃
“While the Bible does say, ‘ask and you will receive’, it also describes a lowly widow who had to persevere in her prayers against an unjust judge. If unanswered prayers reflect a lack of faith where does that put Jesus who begged God to take away his cup of his suffering? Something is fundamentally wrong with this theology. It is idealistic and potentially damaging.”
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
3. Good Father and the Prodigal of Psalm 119 – Derik Vett
Hands down the BEST Father’s Day sermon I have ever heard. Like…it was so good. I don’t even know what else to say. But I’ll try because I said I would say stuff. Basically, this sermon was a parallel between the Prodigal Son and Psalm 119:65-72. Derik taught an amazing perspective on how God gives ridiculous amounts of freedom as a Father and His purpose behind it. I’d love to expound more, but it’s one of those things you just have to listen to, it shook me to my core. It was awesome at the same time, because it was underlining all that I have gone through in the past couple of years personally. Here’s the audio link to the sermon ♥️
“No man will love his Bible until God has afflicted him.”
Rating: ♥️ ♥️ 😮 😮 🔥
4. Disappointment With God- Three Questions No One Asks Aloud by Philip Yancey
I am going to try as best I can to make this last review short. I really am. It’s gonna be difficult though.
People. PEOPLLEEE!!! This book is delicious. You know when you’re having a reeeaallly good meal and you realized you forgot to breathe because you’ve been chowing down so hard? That’s exactly how this book was for me. It was like a multi-course feast that seemed never ending. Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be a better dish after the one you just ate the chef presents something even more delectable. I can hear you all thinking, “Okay okay I get it, now tell me why!!!!”
So this dude Philip approaches this book by answering to the best of his ability these three questions that haunt anyone who’s considered the possibility of the God:
Is He silent?
Is He hidden?
Is He unfair?
Then Philip does this huge survey of about 85% of the Bible to answer these questions while weaving in the stories of people he personally knows and his own faith journey. This man does not sugar coat anything. He is realistic from a human stance and a godly stance. So if you have ever been disappointed with God, curious about God’s point of view, disturbed by the book of Job, or you’re having hard time with how the world is, GIVE THIS A READ. I don’t want to say you won’t regret it because I don’t know your life, but I have a hard time imagining how you would regret reading this book so yeaaaahhh. Here’s a link to this gem.
“Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”
This is quite accurate of my journey through this book. The last section of it is INCREDIBLE.
And there it is folks!! My first recommendation list blog post!! Thanks for checking it out! I read and listen a lot so I’ll do this again 😀 No one is paying me to do these reviews so you know it’s legit. Please PLEASE let me know if you end up listening to or reading any one of these. I would love to know your thoughts!!
It’s been about two months since my return from the land down under and a month since the ending of my Savvy Suffering blog trilogy. In that time, I’ve been practicing what I’ve shared in that series and taking advantage of the silence and space I’ve been afforded. In that silence and space, I’ve become grateful for the decimation of my comfortable little life bubble. (Try saying that 5x fast)
The bubble seemed to begin bursting in February, but as I thought about it more, it honestly began a little over two years ago. God has slowly been removing pieces of my earthly identity and poking at my spiritual Achilles’ heels to bring me to this point of clarity. From financial comfort to relationships to life dreams to the simple hope of being an independent woman by my mid-20s, God has shattered it all.
I imagine the past couple of years as this slow, yet powerful cosmic storm that uprooted and repositioned many things. There were great peals of thunder, overpowering winds, and multiple strikes of lightning.
Surely my end has come.
Yet, the rain subsided. The wind calmed. The thunder hushed. The clouds cleared. And there I was, shaken up, but completely unharmed in this clearing. And in that new vacant space I am looking at God without anything obstructing my view for what felt like the first time.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
-2 Corinthians 4:7-9
God allowed me to face almost every major fear I’ve ever had. Specifically, the type of fears that made me wonder if I would stay sane if they happened. If I would continue dreaming and hoping if those fears became a reality. The kind of fears that made me curious if I honestly would remain faithful to God instead of becoming a cowardly recluse. I feel like God decided, “Let’s test that theory why don’t we?”
This GIF is painfully accurate to my initial emotions. I was angry, hurt, confused, and hardened, then in other moments, afraid, sorrowful, and distrusting. I thought, “Why would God do such a dangerous thing to His frightened, beloved daughter?”
I imagine He responded:
A couple of weeks ago I was stunned when I realized I did not in fact die. I actually was beginning to thrive with God, much like a baby bird when its parents shove her out of the nest and she finds her wings.
I’ve been reading through the Gospels with the goal of understanding how God feels, thinks, and what catches His attention. It’s fascinating. Just when I start wondering if Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John have given me all I could possibly need, I happen upon more amazing things. What I didn’t expect was that in aiming to learn more about God I would end up learning about myself as well. It’s interesting to be in such a vulnerable place with God without distractions. I don’t like eye contact in general so the beginning of this time with Him was wildly uncomfortable for me.
This chapter of my walk with God has been characterized by Him reintroducing Himself in a deeper way. He’s revealing more of His compassion, trustworthiness, power, intimacy, intelligence, and holiness. Yet, as His perfect character is made more plain to me, so is my terribly imperfect character. Both are being laid beautifully and horribly bare, depending on the person in question.
Somehow, beyond what my mortal mind can comprehend, this unsettling bareness has been incredibly healing and has changed my view of life itself. I’m thinking more often about Heaven than Earth and my soul instead of my worldly desires. It’s kind of an Ecclesiastes-like way of thinking.
Everything is meaningless.
Except the faithful pursuit of God with all you have.
Honestly, I’m a bit afraid of when life speeds up again. When the full-time job is found. When transportation is easier. When the bank account is filling up. When exciting trips happen. When I meet new and awesome people or reconnect with old and wonderful people. Will I still have this laser focus on God alone?
I hope so.
I hope I never forget this moment of solitude with God. I hope it set deeper roots in my heart and forged new pathways in my mind. And I’m trying, ever so hard, to believe God will keep my heart bound to His both now and forevermore. He is faithful, even when I am not.
“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
I pray you all will reach new depths with God whether you are currently seeking Him or you’ve been faithful to Him much longer than me. There’s much to learn ♥️
Welcome to the third and final section of A Savvy Guide to Suffering. Here are parts one and two if you need to play catch up 😊 Thanks for reading! I really hope it has been helpful so far ❤️
7. Just Keep Swimming
Perseverance. Perseverance. PERSEVERANCE. This is going to be a short practical because it’s very straight forward.
Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop reading your Bible. Don’t isolate yourself from those who love you and can help you. Don’t give up on the progress you’re making as you face yourself and choose to grow. I know it’s so hard and at times can feel like you haven’t made any improvement, but you have!!
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
I’ll be real, the past week was terribly discouraging and I was wondering if I’d ever see get on the other side, but I didn’t give up. I was slowly crawling to God asking for His strength, encouragement, and peace and He provided. At the time I wasn’t so sure, but looking back on the week, it’s clear that He definitely provided. God gave me recovering time with Him to cry, pray, and be strengthened through His Word and Spirit. He also sent a few peeps my way who inspired me to hang in there and remind me of how much God has already transformed me in the last few months. Christianity is not meant to be lived out alone.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
8. Share Because You Care
If you’re making the most of your self-inflicted suffering, you’re probably learning heaps right now. I know I am. DON’T KEEP IT TO YOURSELF!! I firmly believe that the things we go through in life are meant to not only shape us personally, but to help those we encounter. In the past couple of months, I’ve caught myself saying so many times to people around me, “Don’t be like me!!! Don’t make the mistakes I’ve made!! Be wise!!” Here’s a couple of accurate depictions of what those interactions look like:
Maybe don’t approach them so unhinged, but you get the picture.
Your experience can totally teach and protect someone else, testimonies are quite powerful. Especially the ones where you have messed up and it exploded in your face! It’s relatable and gives hope to those who know all too well the darkness within their own hearts.
Grace, mercy, love, and so many other virtues, grow out of these difficult times and everyone needs more of that! For some reason it’s way easier to listen to someone who has laid bare their imperfections than someone who’s trying to keep up appearances.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.“
God wants us to be beneficial to each other, but there’s a way He recommends on how to carry it out. We need to look honestly at ourselves and humbly allow wise people to tell us what’s going on in our blind spots. Next, we get to work on cleaning out what’s been festering behind the scenes in our hearts and minds. Then, we can see clear enough to begin expressing to others what God has taught us in that time. You won’t be perfect, but you will have healed enough in some ways to extend a helping hand to those stumbling onto a rough path. In the next verse, Jesus warns us to be wise in who we give these golden nuggets of wisdom and insight to.
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
Have you ever tried to tell someone something and they were just not ready to hear it? It goes bad, real bad. Sometimes they give you the cold shoulder or maybe you get yelled at or receive the infamous death stare. It’s not fun. But haven’t we all been this person probably multiple times in our lives? #AnUncomfortableTruth
Wisdom gained through repentance is described by Jesus as sacred and equivalent to the worldly value of pearls. Speak about what you’ve learned! It’s loving and life saving for someone out there. Deliver it with tact and choose wisely who you share these new revelations with. You have a magnificent treasure that is not meant to be hoarded.
Many people in my life have expressed how grateful they are that I have chosen to pass on what I’ve gleaned in my suffering. It has safeguarded them in their own lives and kept them from making unwise choices. It’s vulnerable for me to share, but worth it to see how it has benefitted others.
9. Find the Silver Lining
Ah, the last directive that has personally aided me in this suffering journey 😭 Hope. Hope will keep you going. I’ve decided to set my hope in God and not the outcome of this time. I may never have certain things restored to me once I learn the lessons God wanted to teach me, but I will still have Him. I will still have these new treasures of wisdom, encouragement of knowing I’ve helped others, new insights about myself, and a renewed mind and heart.
Can’t stand him, but President Snow has a point.
Fear of making another mistake, never growing, or missing out on wonderful things can be paralyzing. But hope in the right thing, or should I say right One, will keep you moving forward.
“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”
The wise turtle I mentioned in the first part of this series brought this scripture to my attention a month ago and asked me, “Do you think this proverb is describing two different women?” To which I quickly responded yes.
What do you think? I’ll give you a moment to let it simmer. Take your time. It’s a judgement-free zone.
Got your final answer ready? Okay, so this turtle BLEW MY MIND and told me it’s the SAME. WOMAN.
“Anijah, how can a foolish woman tear down her house that was never built?”
YAAAAAALLLLLL!!!!!!! I was shook. SHOOKETH. Afterwards, I was so comforted and inspired because that means I can be wise too and build my own house up again after all of the tearing down I’ve done due to my folly. HOW BEAUTIFUL.
As mentioned in part two, wisdom comes from God and He is more than happy to provide it to each of us if we humbly ask. He will give us whatever we need to rebuild what we have demolished, beginning first in our very soul. Not only that, but He will do the majority of the work because He has the power to do so and deep love for us. That really excites me to keep persevering to see what my new house will look like. Trusting God’s heart is essential to allowing Him to mold us in times of suffering and repentance.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
I hope this guide to savvy suffering has given you some encouragement and guidance for your own trials. God has blessed me with so much understanding in this crazy season I’m in, what kind of person would I be to not share it with others? A selfish one. Thanks so much to everyone who has prayed for me and shared their wisdom with me!!
If any readers have some wise nuggets that you didn’t see in this list PLEASE POST IN THE COMMENTS!!! Let’s help each other succeed! ♥️ Until next time friends…
This is part TWO of A Guide to Savvy Suffering. If you’re confused as to where part one was, please click here. However if you don’t feel like reading it, here’s a quick recap:
Face the Facts…With Faith– Own up to what you’ve done, but have faith that God will use your mistake for your good! Don’t let the guilt and shame overshadow God’s plan to turn it around. He still loves you and wants to work with you ♥️
Pick Your Posse– Choose carefully 2 to 3 people who are your first responders as you go through the depths of your self-inflicted suffering. Don’t overcrowd your life with advice and people. Not everyone needs to know everything. Let the rest who care deeply pray for you and with you, if you so choose.
Trust the Process, Don’t Rush the Process– God is teaching you a lot during this time of suffering and it will not be a quick process, but it will be worth it. Let emotions pass and as they do, bring them to God so you can healthily process them.
Alright!! If those were helpful for you, please continue on to the next set of practicals!
4. Live a Little
As you process all you have done and its consequences, it can seem like sulking and being ashamed is the only thing you should be allowed to do. We can even be fooled into thinking that it’s noble and mature! IT AIN’T.
Just because you made a mistake does not mean your life is over. Do you realize that? I certainly didn’t at first. Now say it out loud with me. “Just because I made a mistake does NOT mean my life is over.” Isn’t that relieving and wonderful to know? Now, that doesn’t mean you should act like nothing ever happened. That my friends is called denial. Don’t be in denial. What I am talking about is lightening up some of the gravity of the situation so it doesn’t destroy you.
Within the first week of me being back in the U.S. I had a small board game gathering at my house. Something simple, fun, and low pressure that took my mind off of all that was going on. There were like 5 or 6 of us and we smiled and laughed while playing Spot It and Munchkin, two hysterical games in their own right. It was effective in helping me realize, “Anijah, it’s not the end of the world, life can still be beautiful.” It didn’t fix everything, but it made it more bearable by far.
Engaging with lighthearted people will work wonders. Just the other day I was helping my older cousin prepare her house for the twins she’s about to have (SO EXCITING) and midway through our time together her husband brought home their 3 year old. Maaan me and this little lady had a blast dancing to the Trolls soundtrack while folding newborn clothes for her future brother and sister. We had such a good time in fact, that she asked her Mom to schedule a movie playdate with me! Yes you heard me right, schedule. Few things make you feel cooler than a kid giving you their stamp of approval.
“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”
It’s funny, I used to look at this scripture and think these “times” where separated by months or years, but a lot of the time they happen throughout the day or in a given week. Usually my mornings and evenings are characterized by deep prayer, but throughout the day there are plenty of opportunities to just enjoy life.
My point is, do not try and punish yourself, but don’t be idle either, it’s harmful and ineffective. Take a walk, play games with friends, serve the homeless, work on a small project or maybe dance down a grocery store aisle like I do. Life has not stopped, lighten up and live a little 😃
5. Soul Diet
Coming to terms with your sin and the suffering that has resulted from it is a bit like a spiritual heart attack. Your soul, mind, and heart are going haywire and the Spirit is like, “ALERT ALERT ALERT!!! TURN AROUND!!!!“
Once that event gets your attention, hopefully, you switch direction and make the necessary lifestyle changes needed.
In attempting to get healthy, whether folks admit it or not, nutrition is over half of the battle. Everybody knows the drill; no candy, no soda, no smoking, limit alcohol, limit sugar, etc. We always know what not to do, but are a bit more hazy on what the replacements are.
Similarly, our spiritual health is deeply affected by what we allow our minds and hearts to partake in. For me, lately I’ve been trying to feed myself with Scripture, wise council, and positive messages.
Reading the Bible daily is pretty easy, but keeping the Scriptures on my heart throughout the day is difficult. As soon as I leave that time of focus in the morning, the worries of life bombard and distract me from God’s promises. To remedy the situation, I do this trick a wise wallaby taught me. I set silent alarms in my phone, as many and as frequently as I need, with various verses from the Bible that pertain to my situation. Here’s an example of what it looks like when an alarm pops up:
It’s funny because each verse pops up riiiight when I’m starting to doubt if I’ll ever overcome then BOOM encouragement! I love it because it takes over my entire screen so I can’t miss the message. A handy tool indeed.
Wise council comes from all over the place. The ladies I’ve chosen to be in the trenches with me have given a lot of support and advice. Also, the sermons I hear at church are helpful for my growth. Outside of that, I just finished listening to this amazing sermon series called Relationship Goals and boy howdy!! It has taught me a lot about embracing my singlehood and how to view stages of life and relationships through God’s eyes and not the world’s. Check it out here, but be warned, it’s not for the faint of heart! I also recently started reading Disappointed With God by Philip Yancey, thanks to a lovely Bostonian who lent it to me believing I might need it. She was right. I’m a third of the way through and it’s been mind blowing. In my humble opinion, I think everyone should read that book as soon as they can.
Beyond Scripture and wise council, I try to surround myself as best I can with positivity. I follow the Special Books by Special Kids pageon Facebook, which is a welcome detour from the negativity people post in my newsfeed. I have decided to unfriend or unfollow those who post more divisive than unifying content. I read uplifting articles about various topics and listen to songs that simply make me happy. Like…how can you not feel positive about the future when “Defying Gravity” is blasting through your speakers as you belt it along with Kristen Chenoweth and Idina Menzel?
Just me? Okay…we’ll just move on to the last point of the post then.
6. LEARN Something From This
The title of this point comes from arguably the single greatest moment in reality tv history. On April 13th, 2005, the world, well at least America, saw a whole new side of Tyra Banks during an elimination episode of America’s Next Top Model. From which came the beautiful quote, “Be Quiet Tiffany!” If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please watch this clip.
Not gonna lie, I pretty much know this entire exchange by heart. When I first saw it as a middle schooler it was shocking and entertaining. But as I listened to it again while working on this guide, I found it to be super cutting to my heart. Looking at my own mistakes and how everything went down in Australia, Tyra’s tirade (or TYRAde, sorry😂) is applicable.
I relate to Tiffany more than I would like to admit. I’ve tried to blame shift, make excuses, and accept having a defeatist attitude, but God wants so much more for me. Shout out to those God placed in my life who had to do a Tyra-like shutdown for me, but in a much kinder tone. I feel so loved and I now know that I have the potential to learn and grow!
Don’t misunderstand though, people can give you pep talk after pep talk, but change will not happen until you decide you want it. And I really hope you do!
“One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’“
This verse has always been fascinating to me because I tend to think, “Duuuh why would he not want to get well?! I thought you knew everything Jesus!” Then I realized, as humans, if we do not want to learn something, we will not learn. Not meaning that we will never learn, but it affects what we will be able to perceive in a given situation.
For instance, a student could go to class every day and not learn a single thing if he chooses to not humbly accept the teaching from his professor. And that professor could have loads of knowledge, clear presentations and an incredible curriculum. But it doesn’t matter if the student does not want to learn. Yet the student could argue, “WELL I’M IN CLASS AREN’T I?! OBVIOUSLY I WANT TO LEARN!!” But does he really?
I see my life is a mess, obviously I want to change.
I show up to church, obviously I want to grow closer to God.
I’m letting you give me advice, obviously I’m humble.
God strongly desires for us to get well and to no longer be stifled by the sin that torments us, but His power in our lives can be severely limited by the condition of our heart. It’s sobering. However, He will not stop sending warnings and wake up calls due to His love for us. God is very patient. Once we decide to turn to Him, He is THRILLED and rushes to restore us and teach us new things.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Just ask. Humble out and ask. God is waiting for each of us to cash in on the riches of wisdom and understanding in His storehouse! Personally, God has been revealing deeper truths to me about gratitude, sin, forgiveness, and healing. On a greater scale, I have learned incredible things about God’s heart and mind which has been crazyyyy. But if I didn’t go ahead and let God teach me in this time of suffering, which I’ve honestly done many times in the past, I’d be like this horrifying proverb:
“As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”
Gross huh? So in the passion of Tyra, I urge you don’t be a fool and…
Expect the Final Post of A Guide to Savvy Suffering soon! I hope it has been helpful so far!
Greetings Earthlings! It’s been a little bit since my last post, yet there has been A LOT in the little bit ya know what I mean?
Short update, I’m back in Texas, working temp jobs, interviewing for new jobs, DJ-ing and continuing to process all I have experienced in Australia while embracing my new/old normal. If you have been praying for my transition, growth, and perspective THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOOOOOUUUU!!! Prayer works and it’s made a huge difference in my life!! I have had many realizations, the largest being that things started going rough in Australia for me when I stopped trusting in God about my job search.
When anyone loses hope, honestly in anything, they start getting wonky. I think of the super villain Syndrome from The Incredibles (a cinematic masterpiece) who, as a kid, aspired to become a hero just like his role model Mr. Incredible. But once he was rejected of his dream to be Mr. Incredible’s sidekick, his faith in his hero was crushed and in his disillusionment he strayed far from the path of good.
Now I’m not declaring the start of my life of crime and vengeance due to my disillusionment in Australia but, like Syndrome, I am declaring that I’m currently suffering because I put my hope in everything else except God.
Just to clarify, hardship and suffering isn’t only self-inflicted, sometimes it just happens because we’re in an imperfect world full of imperfect people. Regardless, tough times are unavoidable and inevitable, a fact of life I am not particularly fond of, but it would be wise to accept it. For the purpose of this blog post I’ll be typing from the standpoint of suffering because of being sinful, stupid, sinfully stupid, or stupidly sinful. Whatever rings true for you. But I think it’ll be helpful no matter where you’re at.
As I have been listening to the wise people God has placed in my life, praying, fasting, and reading the Bible, a desire has developed within me to make the most of my self-inflicted suffering. It started to take shape into a guideline of sorts and I was moved to share it with you all because I am CERTAIN most folks out there can relate to messing up and suffering because of it. It’s been about 2 and a half weeks since I’ve started working on this and it’s proving to be a larger challenge than I imagined. A friend of mine helped me realize this guide will have to be a multiple post affair and with that, here’s part one…
A Guide to Savvy Suffering (Part One)
Suffering. It’s an uncomfortable word. Personally, it makes me itchy and I do not like the sound of it one bit. Yet, this is one of the tools God uses to shape us into beings more like Him and less like the world around us. You don’t have to look far into the Bible to see how God continues to use humans even after they have royally messed up. There are natural consequences to their actions, but it doesn’t stop God from loving, forgiving and striving to bring them closer to Him.
“For it is better, if it is God’s will, to sufferfor doing good than for doing evil.” – 1 Peter 3:17
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” -1 Peter 5:10
Suffering is mentioned in the Bible (Well the NIV version) 150 times in various situations. In both cases you still see God moving powerfully and in such a way that results in growth, wisdom, and hope. I came across this article that explains the silver lining of sinful suffering in a great way.
“Suffering because of our sinful behavior, on the other hand, does not bring the same results. We are blessed in this “deserved” suffering in that God often uses such hardship to bring us to repentance; but by it we do not share in the same kind of blessings bestowed upon Jesus for His obedient suffering. Our “deserved” sufferings do not imitate the sufferings of Jesus, yet we can honor God in them if we turn from sin and acknowledge the justness of our punishment.” – (Deserved Suffering)
1. Face the Facts…With Faith
In Healing of a Wounded Idealist(shameless plug of a fabulous book), the Rentons pose that the mark of a matured idealist is one who can face facts with faith. Here’s a quote from their chapter on the prophet Elijah:
“He moved from being a bold idealist to what could best be described as a faithful realist. He became a man able to face facts with faith. He kept his confidence, but now it was placed in Godand not an outcome. He learned to trust that God works in and through difficulties.”
Wonderful quote right? In light of self-inflicted suffering, you cannot move forward until you face the fact that the mess you’re currently in is your fault. If not, you’ll miss out on the teaching moment God is bringing to your attention. I know it stings, I’m going through it too remember? But there is hoooope:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Preach Bob. “All things” includes whatever you did to get to where you’re at now. The faith portion is believing that God will use even this mistake ultimately for your good, which turns it into a “happy accident”! Keep this in the forefront of your mind because if you don’t you will be swept away by self-pity and guilt. Remember, God allllready knows all that’s in your heart and all you’re capable of in good and in evil yet He still loves you and desires to mold you in to something greater.
Me: Ohhh my goodness I’m such a hot mess person my heart is so dark and ungodly I can’t believe this waaaaahhhh I’m so sorry God I’m ashaaamed this is a shock!!!!
God is not surprised, He still accepts you thanks to Jesus, and He won’t let you stay in your mess, take His hand and allow Him to pull you to the next level in your walk with Him.
2. Pick Your Posse (Props to my friend for this title)
On this journey of suffering and growing you’re going to need top-notch peeps who are fearless and formidable. CHOOSE WISELY. The company you keep definitely affects whether you will flourish or wither.
“The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray” -Proverbs 12:26
The squad requirements I’ve come to so far for myself is that whoever is involved needs to be: Compassionate, Worthy of Imitation, Dependable, Loving, Honest, Encouraging, Level-Headed, Seasoned, Wise, a Perspective Changer, and Patient. No one is perfectly all of these things, but all of these qualities can be covered with about 2 to 3 people. The ones in bold are non-negotiable in my eyes, each of the people helping me through this time of growth have at least those main characteristics. These ladies in my life are what I would call my first responders. I had to understand that not everyone needs to know everything going on with me and that is okay. It’s counterproductive and unwise to have too many people involved and pitching their two cents constantly in an already tumultuous time. *Cue Hunger Games Reference*
So what do you do about these wonderful people who genuinely love and care? Make them prayer warriors and prayer partners!! At least that’s what I do, take it or leave it. For me, if someone asks what’s going on I politely say, “I would rather not talk in depth, but please pray for my reliance on God, perseverance, and for me to have a healthy perspective.” Pretty much everyone has respected that request. With others I’m a bit closer to, I ask them to pray with me and will be more vulnerable with them, it just depends. Position people however you need to in order for you to move forward, not backwards, in the process.
Please please please pleeeeaaassseee do not subject yourself to people who will constantly bring up your faults, drag you down with their own struggles, or distract you from growing closer to God. The first and third actually should be something to live by anyway, but for the second one, you simply don’t have the capacity to deal with as you recover. Get filled up with God first then you can pour yourself out again, it’s okay to take a step back in order to be more helpful later. This does not mean you should be self-centered however, but that you should be careful to not bite off more than you can chew. I’ll delve more into serving others in the suffering in part two 😀
3. Trust the Process, Don’t Rush the Process
The other day it dawned on me that this time of suffering in my life is a bit like a software update. It involves assessing and processing information about what has transpired and what is happening now. My mind, heart, and soul are learning new ways to cope and gaining insight on lots of things. In the end, I will emerge with “bug fixes”, “new features”, and “performance improvements”. Tech wise, these software updates occur in order for the app/computer/program to run more efficiently, smoothly, and quickly. In the same way, God allows us to bump our heads and experience hardship because He is trying to update our minds and hearts for the next phase of life He’s bringing us into.
Unlike a computer update, God does not tell us how many minutes or hours it will take before it’s done, but I fully believe He’ll make it clear when it’s time. That being said, don’t rush it! Also be careful to not think this is the last of the updates either. This has been a struggle for me, but as time has gone on it’s gotten a lot easier to go with the flow. When I first returned to the U.S. there were days when I cried because I felt like I ruined everything, other days I was able to be fully present in Texas and look forward to the future, it comes in waves and thankfully the waves have gotten smaller and less frequent.
A wise turtle told me, “Emotions always pass, let them pass through you as you readjust to life right now.” It sounded like mumbo jumbo when I first heard it, but when I felt my first wave of sadness probably the third or fourth day I was back in Texas I had figured out what she meant. The best way I can describe this, is that emotion is like a cloud that passes over you and you can choose to let it give it’s shade and pass or you can follow it long after it was supposed to have moved on from where you were positioned. If you do the latter you will end up somewhere you were never supposed to be.
Emotions in themselves are not bad, they’re actually a reflection of God. So many times in the passages about Jesus it was clear how He was feeling. Compassion, indignation, anger, sorrow, amazement, gratitude, and distress are just some of the emotions the Bible mentions He felt at different parts of His time on earth. He chose to allow those emotions to propel Him to heal, teach, and connect to others and to the Father. We have a choice as well to do good or not when our emotions pass over us.
When my wave of sadness comes, I’m real with God about how I am disappointed that Australia didn’t go as I had hoped and ask Him to help me see the experience in the way He wants me to see it. Even though it can be emotionally taxing, it brings healing and a deeper relationship with God way sooner than avoiding my emotions would. Trust me, I’ve tried avoiding how I’ve felt and it’s slowed the process and made it more painful. Praying, journaling, talking things through with a person I trust, and just existing in silence and nature are some ways I process the process. Also I ask God to help me be as patient with myself as He is patient with me. That’s a looot of patience.
“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” ”
-Hebrews 12:5-6/Proverbs 3:11-12\
As you go through this process, it’s good to be aware of which of these categories you fall into. Something a wise Brit taught me. I personally am in the “lose heart” camp, a guilty soul through and through, but for others, you may be more inclined to not understand the gravity of what God is trying to teach you. Neither of these are good responses because it distracts from seeing God’s love and encouragement in the suffering. The more you know the better it’ll go ♥️
I hope this has helped someone so far, thank you so much for reading! Stay tuned for A Guide to Savvy Suffering: Part Two!!
I think that about covers my last few weeks in general. There have been smiles and laughs peppered in, but these have been the main themes. Actually, looking at it now, this characterises the last couple of months as well. I’ll get the biggest news out of the way first, I’m moving back to the states in about two days.
After praying, fasting, lots of conversations, looking at myself, looking at my finances, and the state of things, it seems it is time to return. Two days before I moved to Sydney my job offer was suddenly revoked and the recruiter was at a loss for why such a thing would happen. I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what the point of this whole time in Australia was, but I don’t think I will for a few months or maybe even years. To limit the many texts, comments, and messages I imagine I’ll get, I will try to premeditate the questions you’re probably thinking.
“Wow, how are you feeling?”
Utterly heartbroken and seeking to understand what to do next while trying not to miss out on the lessons God was trying to teach me here. Australia has been difficult, but I have loved it here and I’ve made so many new, incredible friends. I will miss them dearly, but I have a feeling it won’t be my last time seeing them, whether I come back or they come to the states. I have been fighting to process the emotions and give them to God even though denial is way easier. Also, it’s challenging to see all I had given up to get here and things I’ve lost since getting here. At times I feel I have lost more than I gained in this experience, BUT hindsight is 20/20 so it’ll be best if I just move forward. Wise words from a friend here, “Don’t look on the past, good or bad, you will get frozen in the present.”
“Where are you headed now?”
Back to Texas. No job. No car. No concrete plans. Barely any funds. Thank God for Moms willing to take you in at any stage of life. I’m trying to be excited about going back, but I’m just not. Another great quote from a different friend here, “Be careful to not think the grass is greener on the other side. The grass is green everywhere because God is everywhere.”
“What are you hoping for?”
I am hoping to get through this time with my faith intact and even strengthened, that would be awesome. I also hope to get a job real quick, because no good will come from me having idle time to think myself into a hole. Also also, I’m hoping to fully recover without losing the dreamer heart I’ve always had. Situations like this have the potential to destroy a dreamer. I can totally see the possibility of being afraid to take risks for the rest of my life, but I know God and those He has placed around me won’t let me remain in that mindset. “And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” -Romans 8:28
“What does your Mom think?”
I’ve already gotten this question a number of times believe it or not. She’s really proud of me and hopes that I won’t shut down, stop dreaming and be afraid of taking risks. Less than 12 hours after I told her the news she asked for my resume and has been sending me career articles haha. She wants to see me get rooted in a city/career that brings me and my gifts to life whether that’s near or far from her. I’ll end with something she said to me on the phone the other night, “You did not fail, you tried something and went after it and found it’s not where you’re meant to be. You saved up and paid your way. You can’t even get folks to drive from Dallas to Austin (it’s a 3 hour drive), but you lived in AUSTRALIA for 5 months!!”
“What did you learn?”
Weeeellll, refer to all my other blog posts before this 😂 😂 I kid I kid…sorta. I’ll do bullet points:
How to live with spiders
How to live with wild, loud birds
How to meditate on scripture
The importance of direct, honest conversations
Just how much of a sinful wretch I am
What freedom and no condemnation in Christ means
The necessity of boundaries
How to blog
The weight of guilt
Certain convictions I’ve lost or have weakened
Finding a healthy balance of introspection
Discipline in job searching
The loveliness of a stern rebuke
What I need (In various ways)
Emotions are not bad
The effects of sin
The difference between idealism and faith
New ways to stay focused on God
Letting go while simultaneously having hope
I’m positive there’s way more than that, but we’ll just stop there. Most of these concepts I’m currently learning and will continue to learn, we can just say I finished a course of it, but there are many more semesters. The school of life amiright? “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God” -Philippians 1:9-11
“Will you stop blogging?”
I don’t think so, it won’t be much different than what it has been now which is just a censored diary of sorts. As I’ve said before, if I’m not feeling it, I won’t post it. I learned my lesson from Myspace many years ago. I’ve loved sharing my thoughts and seeing how many people feel and function the same way. It’s also been great to enhance my writing chops, but we shall see…I definitely am going to need more time to settle and reflect once I return to Texas.
There have been a lot of tears, heartache and dark days, but everyone I have spoken to has felt so faithful and excited about the next phase of my life. A scripture that keeps popping up in various conversations is John 15:2, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” Then I referred to the great Google to understand what pruning really means, because I have no interest in gardening. And boy! I know wikipedia isn’t the best source but this definition SPOKE to me.
“Pruning is a horticultural and silvicultural practice involving the selective removal of certain parts of a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots. Reasons to prune plants include deadwood removal, shaping (by controlling or redirecting growth), improving or sustaining health, reducing risk from falling branches, preparing nursery specimens for transplanting, and both harvesting and increasing the yield or quality of flowers and fruits.
The practice entails targeted removal of diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive, structurally unsound, or otherwise unwanted tissue from crop and landscape plants. In general, the smaller the branch that is cut, the easier it is for a woody plant to compartmentalise the wound and thus limit the potential for pathogen intrusion and decay. It is therefore preferable to make any necessary formative structural pruning cuts to young plants, rather than removing large, poorly placed branches from mature plants.”
I’m not sure of how much longer this period of pruning will be, but it’s encouraging to know that the end result will be a healthier relationship with God, others, and even myself. The sooner I humble out and trust God with this process the better it will be. The challenge is to not revert to pride and fear, which would make an already painful procedure worse. Only then can I become branch bearing even better and more fruit.
“God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.”
It seems that each time I write a new blog post it’s right after a whirlwind of things have happened internally, externally, or both. I shall update you in bullet point form because I don’t feel like going into much detail (hit me up if you want the full story):
I was offered a job in Brisbane, Australia
Took an 11 hour train ride to Sydney
Had an interview there
Got offered the job within 24 hours of the interview
Stressed over where God was leading me
Strongly considered buying a plane ticket back to America
Declined the Brisbane job
A bunch of details suddenly fell into place in Sydney
Experienced the 6AM call of the Kookaburras and I was TERRIFIED
Learned that hectic is a term Aussies use instead of saying something is crazy e.g. “My hamster morphed into a unicorn yesterday!” “Woah that’s hectic!”
Returned to Melbourne
Bought my ticket to move to Sydney for April 9th
Currently taking in all that’s going on
As I’ve been packing up today, I came across the cards that were written to me before I made the big move to Melbourne and it was so encouraging, and at times sad, but also hilarious. Encouraging, because there were best wishes and kind words about the person they believed I would be in Melbourne, yet sad because I feel that I was not that person while I’ve been here (At least once the job search got discouraging). Hilarious, simply because none of the cards entertained the idea that I wouldn’t stay in Melbourne the whole year of my VISA. Ididn’t even consider I could end up moving to a different part of Australia during my time here. These last 4 and a half months have been challenging in a myriad of ways and my faith is being stretched like crazy.
In my most recent post I shared about my struggle with self-centredness, which is basically idolatry if we’re gonna call a spade a spade. I find it interesting that as soon as my sin is revealed and the process of humbling and repentance has begun my employment situation gets resolved. As soon as I soberly realised that I don’t deserve to get my way and began accepting that the Australia journey could be over, the tide changed. Once I started filling my empty schedule with more prayer, reading of the Bible, and meditation instead of Netflix, complaining, and self-pity the burdens of life became more bearable than before. That sounds awfully similar to a few scriptures in the Bible doesn’t it? The main one I think of is in 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” Coincidentally, this was the last scripture I was meditating on right before I started going off the deep end spiritually a couple months ago. Ameeeen walking with God is a process or as others say, “A marathon, not a sprint.”
At the moment I feel like this child passed out on a suitcase and God is rolling me along through this time as He renews my strength. Even in my greatest moments God is still doing the heavy lifting, but as soon as I lost sight of that fact I lost my footing. Multiple friends of mine have pointed out that the way out of idolatry is simply loving God more. To which I responded, HOWHOWHOWHOWHOW, because I am someone who functions on practicals. I like to have clear formulas and a definite beginning and ending to things, which is strange considering I am also highly creative. Since those conversations, I’ve realised my heart’s question wasn’t how, but more accurately how long. How long do I have to read my bible/pray through things/meditate on who God is until I am better? And by better my heart meant perfect. I’m cool with everyone else being imperfect, but I cannot stand it within myself. Yet, God expects it and accepts it. In addition to that, He is still willing to bless me with wonderful things in the meantime as He’s making me more similar to Him.
During the Easter service I attended in Sydney, a sermon point that seriously hit home for me was: “Jesus’ wounds bring you closer to God and so do yours. Where would you be if you got everything you wanted out of this life on Earth? Not here worshipping God. Your scars are what opened your heart to the Gospel.” Not an exact quote, but that was the gist of it and it’s so true. As I finally got the long time dream of living abroad, my heart began to drift off to created things instead of the one who created it all. But instead of plucking me out of Australia after revealing my waywardness, God has allowed me stay and is willing to continue working on me. I expected God to be more like, “Oh, she can’t handle following me and having great things on Earth, guess I gotta snatch away everything from her!” But no, He’s a God of restoration, grace and transformation.
So now, I will enjoy my last week of living in artsy Melbourne and finally go to the Science Museum that I’ve been itching to go to. I will continue to persevere in the challenge to love God more than anything or anyone else, while being patient with myself. And I will strive to be filled with gratitude for all God has done, whether it was my preference or not. Will this be easy? NAW. But it will be worth it and I am not alone.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3
Heeeey, 🎶 It’s been a whiiiile 🎶 Long story short, I’ve been, as the youths say, in my feelings. As I find my routine and style in blogging, it’s been made clear that I will not have a consistent schedule because if I’m not feeling/believing it, I will not write it. I don’t want to be trapped into thinking I have to be consistently posting. I want this venture to be genuine, healthy, and characterised by quality not quantity. Thank you to everyone who have been reading, responding, and supporting me all over the world, I’m surprised by how much this has helped people. I’m grateful that God is using this to draw people closer to him and to each other, it’s a privilege and really cool!
4 months in Melbourne now
No job here in Australia yet (one of the reasons I was melancholy) buuuut there have been interviews, so that’s promising
New Aussie words I’ve come across:
Chuffed=Excited “He was quite chuffed when he won the lottery”
Crook= Sick or ill “My son was crook last week, I’m pretty sure it was the flu”
Feed= A meal “We can go for a feed in the arvo” (arvo=afternoon in case you forgot from an earlier post)
I think the birds have gotten louder since I first moved here
It’s been a revealing month and a half for me. You know how you know something and then later on you knoooow it, and then after more time you know know knoooow it even more which makes you wonder if you ever really “knew” in the first place? If that made an ounce of sense to you we are now best friends, bless you. Anyway, that’s how it’s been with my character flaw of self-centredness. I was aware when I first became a Christian that putting Jesus on the throne of my life instead of myself was going to be the most difficult part, but GOODNESS. It’s a bit like I thought it was just a flesh wound, which would be a simple fix, but it actually ended up being an infection that has affected every part of my body and the healing process is going to take a whiiiiile. God has been showing me how deeply I am in love with myself and it’s beyond cringeworthy, if you could see my face right now as I type this it looks something like:
Self-centredness is the festering swamp from which all of my egregious sins flow and it’s more problematic than I could have ever imagined. It affects my heart, my mental health, my character, my family, my friendships, and most importantly my pursuit of God. I want things when I want, how I want them, and as long as I want them for. And if that does not happen, I throw a tantrum like a toddler, sometimes it’s kicking and screaming other times it’s me silent sulking in a corner refusing to speak to anyone. The world must be ending if Anijah Moore did not receive what she wanted whether she worked hard for it or not yeah? That’s ugly, like real uuuugh, you see why I was cringing now right?
As I’ve shared in many posts before, I am an overthinker and deeply introspective so I started thinking about where this all started. Why do I act like Angelica from Rugrats mixed with Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the 1971 version of course)? The answer lies in my upbringing.
*DISCLAIMER* My parents/family are fabulous, loving, and sacrificial, I’m super blessed to have been raised by them!!!!! Also I’m responsible for my own sin!!!!!
Okay, now that we have made that clear I can proceed with an unbothered conscience and take comfort in knowing that the world knows my parents are gifts.
My upbringing was filled with words of affirmation, love, hugs, joy, sooo much fun, and rewards whether I did something awesome or not. I never ever questioned if my Mom and Dad loved me, were proud of me, and wanted to do anything they could to support me and my dreams. They both went through a lot growing up and worked hard to get where they are, because of this they wanted something different for me. I tell people often that I sort of have hippie parents. I had lots of freedom to make my own choices artistically, spiritually, educationally, and socially. I’d like to think it was easy for them because I was a nerdy kid who was afraid of getting in trouble, the dark, plain pumpkins, and getting bad grades in school. I didn’t like the idea of rebellion and deceit which saved them a parental headache and saved me a lot of punishment. Also, as I’ve said before, everything came quite easily to me, school, music, making friends, theatre, behaving, it didn’t take much effort. I was accepted into every university I applied for except for one and it was only because I didn’t do an early action application (I can still hear my Mom telling me I should have listened to her and applied early). My young ears were filled with phrases like “You can do all things through Christ!” “Follow your dreams!” “We are so proud of you!” ” You are special, fearfully and wonderfully made!” “The world is yours!” “You’re so smart/talented/unique!” “I will support you even if you want to go to clown school!!” That last one is my Dad’s favourite thing to say to me, it’s hilarious every single time he says it and I know he means it with all his heart. I now know they struggled in various ways to give me the childhood I received, but they made sure I didn’t see that side as I grew up.
So you can imagine my confusion, anger, and sadness on the rare occasions when I hear a no or not yet. Or when I’ve tried my best and I didn’t receive what I worked and prepared for. As I’ve gotten older, it has become a more frequent occurrence and I was not prepared. My parents did amazing at making sure I had great self-esteem, many dreams, and an understanding that God loves me, but they dropped the ball on preparing me for hardship and rejection. Bless them, no one is perfect, still love them.
In the last 4 or 5 years I have been denied all types of stuff, or it has been postponed, I don’t know the future. I have dealt with it quite poorly and have allowed it to tarnish my view of myself, life, and God. The entitlement is strong in this one. If I’m being real with myself, I really think I deserve lots of things in this life and I believe it can be had without hard work or hardship. It’s so unrealistic. And as I look at the mess my self-centredness has made I feel unworthy of God and ashamed of my imperfection. Sounds noble, right? WRONG. A friend of mine made it quite clear over the weekend that I am engaging in self-pity rather than godly sorrow. I want to be a better version of myself for my own sake, not because I love God and want to do right by Him. OOOF. I felt the shot through my soul all over again as I typed that. I’m left wondering, is there really redemption left for a self-absorbed soul like myself? YEEEEEESSSS. But I want to earn my keep and take credit so it’s difficult to accept the grace beckoning for my broken soul.
I imagine Jesus is saying to me, “You are not perfect, you will never be perfect on this Earth, embrace your unworthiness and accept the sacrifice I’ve made for you.” I’m struggling y’all, but we’re getting through this. It’s going to take a lot of mourning, prayer, fasting, reading, conversations, and loads of perseverance. I need to let go of myself, my dreams, my ideas, my desires, and completely take hold of God. A book that has been helping me on this journey, other than the Bible, is called Healing of a Wounded Idealist: A Guide Back to Faith for the Christian Cynic by Justin and Irene Renton. Thank you to the bajillion people who have told me to read it, I’m finally doing it! I’m only a few chapters in, but it is totally what the doctor ordered, I highly recommend it. I am also so grateful for the women God has put in my life who aren’t afraid to tell me the whole truth not only about who I am in my sinful self, but who I can be in Christ.
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.”
I did not expect that the first time I would be called the n-word would be in Australia.
On the way to the Black Panther premiere.
In broad daylight.
During Black History Month.
I figured it would always be in whispers behind my back or in the comfort of their homes, whoever they are. If it didn’t happen in my many years of living in the South in America, it probably never would. I’ve gotten used to, as much as one could get used to it, the surprised looks regarding my speech, the term “oreo” getting tossed around, and that weird “black mama” sass tone people use with me once they think they know me. I’ve heard all too often, “Well, I’m not particularly attracted to darker females, no offence” or “My family would not be happy if I married someone black” Not to mention the many history lessons I’ve been constantly fed about how those who looked like me were treated not only in America, but worldwide. Slavery, segregation, racial slurs, lynchings, bombings, false incarcerations, redlining, police brutality, wiped out history, and the list goes on seemingly forever. And because all of that is too much to bear in mind and heart day after day, I immersed myself in music, travel, education, writing, and God.
Maybe that’s why I hardly recognised what the drunk, or maybe strung out, man was babbling when a friend and I walked passed him last week. Over and over he repeated the word at us as we were going to catch the train. His thick Aussie accent distorted it so much I assumed he was just spouting gibberish. My friend motioned quickly for us to cross the street, “I can’t believe he’s saying that” she uttered. Surprised that she understood him, I asked her about what he said, but she told me I didn’t want to know. Then as I replayed it in my head again, I simply said, “Oh.”
I simply brushed it off at the moment and continued being excited about Black Panther, which was so good. I didn’t realise how amazing it would feel to see an entire movie with people who looked like me being superheroes, scientists, and warriors. I felt so proud and inspired. But as soon as I left my friend and hopped the train to go back home, those words from earlier haunted me as I sat in silence.
I don’t believe God made a mistake when he deepened my skin tone, He sees me as beautiful, I am a work of art. But so often art is misunderstood and I reason that’s why things are the way they’ve been for darker people. In most cultures around the world you will see the issue of skin colour arise. Whoever is the darker of the people are the least desired, respected, and valued. Sometimes I let this flaw of the world speak louder to my mind and heart than God’s voice. Yet even when I rise above this plight, it still finds me when I least expect it. To some, I am seen as a risk, a stereotype, a chance to rebel against their parents, a fetish, a blemish, an oddity, or a jester. These things secretly weigh and wear on my soul and I ask God why did He make me the least of the humans.
My beauty is not hidden from Him. He assures me that I am always seen by Him and that my soul is in His care. I am loved and supernaturally crafted, just as everyone else around me is. Standing in the skin I am in has afforded me the opportunity to see everyone more accurately. It has given me an understanding of feeling unwanted and forgotten in many ways. Rather than the eyes the media wants me to see through, I have been gifted eyes that see glimpses of God in human beings. Eyes that see souls in all their splendour, minds in all their brilliance, and hearts in all their tenderness. I will continue to do this as I navigate this Earth, even if hardly anyone else will give me that same honour.
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Hey there, it’s been a little while. I’ve still been running into a nice bit of Australian slang likesuchas:
Tasty Cheese= Cheddar Cheese. Why Cheddar was bestowed the title of the tasty cheese out of all cheeses, I have no idea.
Singlet= Tank top
What’s On?= What’s going on?
You Have Something On?= Are you busy?
Servo= Gas Station
Tradie=Basically anyone with a trade job i.e. plumber, carpenter, electrician and so on
Chips= Fries. Which I already knew, but here pretty much everything similar to fries or in the realm of potato chips are also chips. It’s quite confusing at times.
On Special= On Sale
Magpie Swoop= PAIN. I had heard about how Magpies hit you on the head at times, but I reasoned my American nature would help me to be immune… I was wrong. That devil bird hit me straight on the scalp and I didn’t know where I was for a few seconds.
I still do love it here, although I started randomly missing Wendy’s, I don’t even know why because it’s not my fave food place at all. The job search is still trudging along, I feel my eyes starting to cross because I’ve stared at so many applications. Personally, it’s like I’m just floating aimlessly and missing the mark in every way possible. Then, to keep things interesting, I got a bit of a head cold that’s making me feel even more spaced out. And the question that seems to continually ping back and forth in my mind like a game of tennis is, “What am I doing?”
Did I expect to find something here in this foreign land? Was I hoping a change of scenery would spark a new fire within me? Or did I just want to get away from it all, even for a little bit of time?
As much as the 9 to 5 lifestyle goes against every artistic bone in my body, in a strange way, it allows you to press pause on your inner turmoil. Not for very long of course, but it can be a welcome distraction every now and then. What I have awaiting my gaze every day now is an inbox full of kind rejections for jobs and shopping deals I will never use. As I read all that I’m typing, it looks like I’ve lost hope. But in reality I know I have just enough hope to apply for another position, read another verse, pray another prayer, and get out of the house for a little.
In my few months here, I have built a respectful relationship with the Daddy Long Leg spiders who frequent my bathroom. They are quite cordial roommates, remaining a great distance from things I regularly use. My bravery has grown and it’s pretty unbelievable considering my aversion to insects. Also, I am continually learning how to navigate my mind as I’ve mentioned in previous posts. It is simultaneously difficult and interesting, like a perilous yet beautiful labyrinth. Being alone with my mind has revealed so much in the realm of dreams, self-worth, and social patterns. I guess delving into my mind takes a sort of bravery as well. What better place to grow in bravery than in a country/continent full of crazy wildlife and weather?
In all seriousness, it takes courage to ask your own soul/heart why you think, do, and say certain things. You have given yourself the opportunity to either scare or liberate yourself, depending on what you find out.
“Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.”
For the past week and a half, I’ve been trying to live out what I wrote in my last post. I went with a group of friends to see the Twelve Apostles and coast along part of The Great Ocean Road. It was incredible, wicked hot and filled with flies, but incredible. Pics or it didn’t happen so here: