Die to Self

I had a really weird dream last night about death being a person “after me” or rather I thought he was so I ran from him, but he wasn’t after me. He literally said I have come so you can now have life. There was more complexity in it but it brought me to prayer.

I realized how self centered I had been. I had been focusing on me and not the mission of Christ. I was focusing on my development and my advancement but not the advancement of the Gospel.

I don’t know if you’re like me or not. But there’s a lot of us who let their flesh dictate more than we want to give it credit. We allow out flesh to run our lives without even realizing it. It’s found in our daily decisions, our moment to moment reactions and ultimately our life altering decisions.

How do we not realize it? It’s called the enemy is cunning, he’s disguises himself as what we want to see not what God wants us to see. The enemy’s best friend is bitterness, jealousy, pride, and self righteousness. We filter our next move through whatever we let rule, either our flesh or spirit.

Lately, I’ve had some tough discussions with people. I was angry at some and frustrated at others for no work of their own. I did let my reflection of self dictate their reactions and decisions and ultimately misjudged everything because I let filtered it through the flesh and not the spirit without even taken a note that it was even possible.

I had been hoping for a miracle for so long to cure me of my depression and my anxiety that I didn’t realize I was the one holding the shovel digging myself further and further into it. I allowed myself to dictate that my value comes from man, that my worth is identified in wealth and that I must do this or that to better this or that job. I didn’t see how much I wasn’t dying to self and how much I was so self focused.

I was blinded, blind sided by the enemy when I thought I was doing what was right for me, I didn’t think of what I was doing as what was right for Christ. It stems from people reaching over me saying, “you need to take care of yourself”, “your not valued enough”, and my own voices of unworthiness. I let others dictate my reactions causing my flesh to take over. Now do I need take care of myself mentally and physically, absolutely, but I internalized it as watching out for Tanya and not allowing other take advantage of of which they never actually were.

What I’ve learned is so elementary but so raw and true. That my job isn’t to make my life as best as it can be my job is to die to self everyday. It’s putting God back in control of my life. It’s giving up my reigns that I’ve held onto that I thought I let go of. It’s allowing him to use me again. I will never be free from any of it but through Jesus I am set free.

I can bash myself for everything and point fingers at myself for not seeing it. I can bury myself further and further down but it’s by God’s grace I have be set free and I am forever being sanctified.

Today, I die to self. Tomorrow I pray I will to. I want to be used to advance the Gospel and I want to be able serve God’s people and church. I must have Jesus to be at center of who I am. I just have to stop trying and letting him rule again in my life.

My life is not mine to live it’s His and His alone to use me for his glory. I can’t do anything by my accord. My decisions, reactions, must be filtered through the Spirit that dwells within me not the flesh that is so easy to let rule.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” -Galatians 2:20

Fear to Fight

Tonight, I read my first blog post on here. It was actually reflective of my anonymous blog I wrote called “Crooked Self”. Now this was a short lived blog for about 6 months during my weight loss journey back in 2011. I kept it anonymous because I feared judgement and ridicule from my family and friends. So it allowed me to freely write without worry.

What’s great about it though is that I titled one my posts “Reality Check”. This post was about living in a “fantasy world”. Back then I was so untouched with reality and those around me, I lost touch with who I was and who God made me to be. I was secluded in this world because I was afraid of this world.

Fear ate me alive. I was afraid of failing, afraid of trying out for things, afraid of not making that part, afraid of judgement, afraid of dying, afraid someone or something was going to happen if I failed. I was even afraid to sleep when I was little because I was afraid of what might happen.

Being that fearful handicaps you. It drives you away from things and drives you away from reality. In 2001, I became majorly depressed and suicidal for the first time. I wanted to end my life because of some “boy” on the internet, mind you I had been a depressed state for a few years due to other reasons, but this “boy” set me over the edge. My life according to my definition was not worthy of living.

However, I wrote about it before I did it. I used to write poetry back in the day, so I wrote a poem called “My last Poem” or “My last Song”, I don’t remember exactly. Anyway, it was a poem about suicide and a poem about how life was not worth living. I was too fearful to talk to others so I let my words do the talking.

Fear strikes you down and holds you back. Fear is the reason, most of us don’t accomplish much. I let fear dictate who I was and my dreams. I ultimately let the enemy steal me away from God’s hope. He put blinders on me and pulled me away from where I could’ve been.

But my could’ve been wasn’t where God wanted me. My could’ve been was where God had me. You see I can sit back and wonder what might have been, but that’s not my story. My story is broken, full of fear, and darkness but my story also has forgiveness, grace, hope, and redemption. I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I wouldn’t be still peeling back the layers of my insecurities and knocking down the walls of my fears and doubts.

God created a beautiful story in me. A story I get to share to everyone around me. A story I get use to help some of the teenagers around me and help those who are fighting what I faced. And there are people out there who have stories that will help me get through the next challenge I’m up against.

We all face a past but your past can either dictate your future by constantly reliving it or you can move on from it and let God use it to help those around you.

Fear doesn’t define my everyday life anymore. The only fear I really have in my life is a healthy fear of God. I am still learning life little by little and I’m still learning a lot about myself even at my age. I might be different. I might be a little weird, but what’s most important is that I am me. I am striving to become the woman God called me to be. I have a calling on my life to live for God and to serve Jesus.

No matter where you are in life, I pray that you let down the fears that holds you back. I pray you walk the walk God has for you. I pray that you overcome whatever past you might have. I pray that life brings you joy, peace, and happiness. I pray blessings over you. God has amazing things in store for everyone of us if we just surrender to his will, we just have to give up trying to fight our past to give ourselves a future.


 

Digging Out the Hurt

So often times we go through life and we beat ourselves down putting “standards”, burdens, our past, our failure all on top of us and we bury the very person God designed us to be.

All of these things we are not suppose to even carry let alone have it bury us so down that we we lose all sight of hope. We begin to believe our shortfalls our what defines us, our failures are the only thing people see, and that life is pointless because no one sees you, hears you, understands you, or even loves you. So we turn to outside sources to fill the void, to make us feel something or even make us feel nothing. It can be anything, that gives us that feeling. We find it somewhere. It allows us not to feel invincible or hurt for a small window of time.

These are only temporary solutions that will not last. They will only bury us further and further down and it starts a cycle of needing that “high” because it feels that void. Some will lose their life fighting a battle against things they never were meant to battle let alone battle alone. This void we feel is found in God. , people often refer to it as “The God size hole in your heart” and how we fill it determine how we go through our life, day by day, step by step.

Hope, grace, and freedom can be found regardless how bad the situation or past may be.

Hope is found in God. Hope is the last thing we hold on to and the first twinkle we see in our road to healing. Hope is found everywhere. Hope can be found in a smile of a little kids face, or a cry of a baby. It can be a friend reaching out to you, or a mentor to tell you to hold on, it can be just someone finally getting you to see that hope isn’t lost, hope is just buried inside.

Grace is found when we surrender it ALL. It’s confessing every sin and every time you hear and feel the voice of God in conviction and you turn the other cheek. It allowing God into the areas of our life that we keep private in a dark closet in the basement, it’s allowing God in to everything he already knows but confessing it with our lips and on our knees in repentance.

Freedom is found after laying everything down at the foot of the cross. After putting EVERYTHING and surrendering EVERYTHING to God. It’s letting go of the control we think we have in our lives and giving the keys to God. It’s putting Gods hand back on your shoulder and allowing God to lead you. It’s the feeling of a heavy weight coming off your chest. It’s the first breathe of air after feeling trapped for so long.

Life isn’t about the temporary. It’s about the eternal. We either live a life trying to figure out which way to go or we live a life surrendered to God, prayerfully connected, confessing when we need to confess and staying in tuned to the frequency of God.

We all are buried to some extent. It just depends on how we try to unbury ourselves that determines the future God has in store.

Swallowing the Pill

Over the past few years, I’ve written about and have talked about the struggle with depression. This one is no different.

Some of you are aware that since about August I went into a really dark place with major depression. What some of you don’t know is I was diagnosed by my psychiatrist with not only major depression but also PTSD and panic disorder. The reason why I believe people should know is that this world is not okay.

Many of us disguise our depression, our anxious thoughts with a vice. Because we are taught in early age that we are not allowed to feel down, depressed, worried, to have a mind full of fear, that it’s okay to not know how to show and receive love and that’s it’s okay to not want to be a part of the world. We are shown by examples in media that suicide has to be a result of something major we are hiding, that depression is looked down on, that PTSD is something only war vets get, that mental hospitals are for the crazy people and that being “normal” is hiding who we really are.

Vices can be anything that makes us feel numb even just for a moment. It might be alcohol, drugs, food, porn, anger, literally anything can be formed as a vice. I can say I’ve never felt the high of the drugs but I’ve felt the alcohol pour through my veins. I’ve felt the food layer in pounds and the porn become mindless. Vices make us numb and quiet our voices and stresses but never confronts the problems.

The issue many of us face is we don’t see that our problems are not ours to bare. We get up trying to fight them and become worn out and beaten. We become exhausted, never wining, always giving up. What we need to do is to surrender and stop trying to fight them. We will NEVER win, we are not suppose to. God won already. God took your burdens to the cross through Jesus.

Jesus is our hope we should be fighting for. He is the only way for us to get the strength to fight the enemy because it is only through him we have won against him. Depression, anxiety, anything that makes us turn to vices and addiction needs to be given up to surrender. We cannot control those dark places in our minds, but He can. He has numbered every one of our days, every hair on our head. He is our redeemer, our hope , our fighter, our rescuer, our Father, our love, our everything. He knows every down fall, every breathe we take he has known and will know.

We cannot hide from him any thoughts he does not already know. I wanted to end my life earlier this year because I saw no hope. Hope was no where to be found. I lost meaning. I lost me. I saw no future, no friends, no love. As hard as it may be to say, I was scared of myself and this world. I just wanted it all to be over. Today, I still struggle, I’m not perfect nor healed. I’m on medication and in counseling. But if I never got to that places where I saw no hope, I wouldn’t of surrendered inside my car outside of a Starbucks with tears running down my face. I had to reach that point of brokenness so that he kind mend those pieces.

I’ve been through this path before. I’ve been through this struggle. But this time I know God is here to mend the broken pieces that he’s never been able to touch before because I never fully surrendered everything to him.

If you believe you might need help in any sort of manner. If you’re down, sad, suicidal, addicted to drugs and alcohol, anything there is hope. Hope is alive. You are not meant to walk this path by yourself. Seek help from others. There are more people out there who care for you and love you than you will ever know.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255

Crisis Text Line: Text “Home” to 741741



A Letter to my Poppop

Dear Poppop,

You are missed. As the 21st anniversary of your death is approaching it still feels like yesterday I lost you. I walked beside you as you fought a good fight to stay alive. I remember being beside you as you lay in your hospital bed. I remember the pain in your eyes yet your love and humor never ceased to make me smile.

I still remember the smell of cigarettes and leather with a hint of double mint gum on the rides to church. I remember sitting in the garage watching you doing what you love and never backing down from a challenge. I remember you falling asleep watching wrestling or NASCAR and we would try to change it and you would wake up and yell at us.

I’ve held onto 11 years of memories but I’ve held onto 21 years of hurt. The last words from you I remember are, “Tanya, give me one more hug because I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again”. In the moment I was quiet, I took it like a champ just like you’ve would’ve wanted, I was dying inside. A week later we got a phone call, you went home.

But I lost the man who loved me unconditionally, the man who couldn’t get mad at me regardless of how many times I messed up and acted up. I lost my best friend, my grandfather, I lost a piece of me.

God gave us a time together that will go down in history but I’m still struggling with my 11 year old self trying to get passed this hurt today. I’m not who I was 21 years ago. The root of my pain and is driven by the hurt I felt the day you took that last breath. I ran away from God. I pretended he didn’t exist for many years. I filled my void with alcohol, pornography, and men beginning at the age of 13. I lost all self worth and identity. I stopped believing in who you told me I was. I blamed myself for your death, “If I only prayed more, if I was there more, if I was a better granddaughter, if I loved more”

I didn’t know who I was anymore. I never found myself until I got a glimpse of the God you believed in, I met Jesus. I got to finally feel the love you had for me. I got to witness the man you tried to be for me. I want to say that from that moment I was a completely different person. But I wasn’t. My life changed drastically, roads I was going down rerouted to where God wanted me but it took years to dig through the sin and it’s still taking time fighting the enemy and my flesh to get back to who I was before you died. There’s still shame, guilt, and more I’m still digging up I have to work through. But with Jesus I can do all things, you taught me that, I was just too blind to see.

Thank you for loving me like your own daughter. Thank you for teaching me even though I was too blind to see. Love you Poppop. Until we meet again.

Your Granddaughter,

Tanya

Baltimore’s Hope

Baltimore, you hurt my soul. The one thing I have learned over these past few months is that it doesn’t cost a thing to make a difference in someone’s life. It doesn’t cost a thing to tell someone you are cheering for them. It doesn’t cost a thing to tell someone you believe in them. It doesn’t cost a thing to tell someone there is hope. It doesn’t cost a thing to tell someone about the love God has for them. It doesn’t cost a thing to pray for or with them. But we don’t.
 
We don’t go out in the inner city and tell those kids we are there for them. We don’t go out and tell those kids who had no choice in the situation they are in to tell them there is hope. We don’t go out and encourage them and show them the love God has for them. We don’t do it. Why?
 
We believe it’s someone else’s job. God appointed special people for it. But let me tell you, do you know how much Baltimore would be different if we put down our pride and took up our cross and followed him into where he cries out? If we laid down our lives to better those around us.
 
There are lost people everywhere, all around us. But my heart breaks for those kids in the city most of them are unaware what they are even going through. Their normal is our nightmare. Yet we expect their outcome to be the same as ours.
 
You have no idea what they go through. I haven’t even gotten past the surface and all I want to do is cry out to God and ask why. There is hope. We are the hope. We are the ones God called to love this city. Love cannot be poured out if it is not poured in. We can make a difference. You can make a difference.
 
I love my church because we have a ministry in East Baltimore. We have the light of Jesus shinning. But they can’t change the city by themselves. They can’t share the gospel with every kid in the city. But He doesn’t just call his church to his kids, he calls you and me to give hope and to show love to these kids. He calls all of us. If we all put the plow to the ground we can give hope and show love to these kids and start to show them a better a future just by taking time out of our schedule, embracing them and encouraging them. 

The Seed

2006. My first true freshman year of college. I was at High Point University. A university I never actually applied to because we couldn’t afford to pay the application fee. But I got the letter anyway.

Anyway, it was my first time being away from family. My first time I felt true “freedom”. I went into college as political science major, my dream at the time was to be lawyer. So since I knew I would stressed out, I decided to do the thing that would ease anxiety and stress, sing. I joined a group called University Singers at my college. We would sing at events and one time we event went to NYC to sing at a church. It was an unforgettable experience. I’ve never had experienced anything like that before.

In University Singers was this amazing young woman, Stephanie. There was something different about her. She was handicapped but she didn’t let it stop her. She shared her faith with me when I didn’t want to hear it. In my mind the only thing I could think about was “I wonder what I’m doing on Friday night? Whose having a party?” I didn’t care at the time what she was saying but my soul cared because it longed to be like hers. It envied her.

That year I was almost suspended from school because I was caught drinking and completely wasted throwing up in women’s bathroom in my dorm. And It wasn’t the first time. I talked my way out of the suspension and a large fine by getting community service and a minimal fine. But even through that Stephanie never gave up on me, I would tell her what I did and she didn’t care. She loved me through it. Something different.

My glimmer of light and hope shattered suddenly. Stephanie passed away unexpectedly. I can’t say it shattered my world because I was more focused on me and my fleshly desires. But it opened my eyes. The school did a dedication to her so the University Singers got up and sang a few of her favorite songs. I Can Only Imagine was one of them. This song resinated in my soul and every time I heard it, I cried. I had no real idea of what the song was about but my soul cried for it.

I transferred schools that year because I wanted to be “comfortable” next to friends. So I transferred schools to Lynchburg College. My flesh took over full fledge and hatred for Christianity began to stir up inside of me. I would debate it until my face was blue. I had all the answers. I would mock it. I would be mean to anyone who believed in it. I was an unpleasant person.

There were times I would listen to the songs we song at her dedication because it took to a place I couldn’t let go of. These songs were her light shinning through. They were hope. But I hid them from everyone. I didn’t want to be a “softy” or a hypocrite. So I only would put it on when I was completely stressed to the max.

6 years after the seed was planted, I found Jesus. That hope they sing about was found. My soul that holding on to those words was home. I felt alive for the first time.

Life happens but it’s what you take away that’s important. People come and people go. But there are people who you might only see for a very short moments that will end up changing your life forever.

Love like Jesus. Live with your faith in your sleeve. Never give up hope. And always listen to the spirit inside of you. We are chosen, sons and daughters of a living God. This world is not our home. Our father has a place for us in heaven…. I can only imagine.