Dwelling in the Past 

20 years ago my life was altered. It was shattered into tiny pieces, some getting lost along the way. My Poppop died 20 years ago after a battle with leukemia.

I remember where I was when I heard the news, alone. I was downstairs trying to hold it together. I swollowed the sadness and held it in, even though I wanted to just run away or even die myself.  My life was ruined. I was only 10 years old. 
You see I walked the journey with him. I held his hand has he fought the cancer. I went to most doctor visits and always was there with him in and out of the hospital. If no one was allowed to go, I was the exception. Yet, I couldn’t save him. I couldn’t fight it for him as much as I wanted to. 

I saw every up when the cancer would go into remission and he acted like himself again. I got so hopeful every time. And every time I would be heartbroken when I saw him getting worse. I remember being so angry at God for not healing him. 

I saw every low when his flesh became so pale, his skin so cold. I remember seeing the look on his face when he knew we would never see each other again. I remember that last hug he gave. I didn’t want to let go. 

Poppop died a few days after I last saw him. We were taken out of town to see other family. Honestly, it probably was on purpose so we didn’t see him die literally before our eyes. 

I still remember thinking his death was my fault. I took the blame and shame onto myself. “If only I…” just kept repeating in my head even though I knew I couldn’t stop the cancer.

Today I went back to a place where he underwent his cancer treatments. It was a very freeing experience. I wasn’t there for mourning, I wasn’t there to have the memories flood. I was there for a friend. I was there because it’s where God brought her to undergo observation and where God ultimately led me to. It’s no coincidence that God brought me back to where I lost myself over 20 yeas ago.  

God always has a plan, even if the outcome isn’t in our best interest. My Poppop might have died. I might have lost myself in that and defined myself by that, but it makes me no less of the person I am today because of that.  

I wouldn’t be who I am if I never went through the storm. So I can sit here and try to say a part of me died that day but really it was God ultimately using that to define my path and my story.  God’s not done with me. He’s not done with you. 

Design 

A year ago I had no idea what I was doing. I was thrown into an opportunity that I had no formal training in and not getting trained in something for me was hard. I like guidelines, I like bullet points to what I need to achieve to do well in a role or project. But there was no bullet points, no checkboxes. I literally just had to be me. But it was hard because I see so many flaws in myself that the idea of being me was scary. So last year I did my job and interacted when I had to or if they they needed help. It was very hard for me to be me in front of them so I put on a facade and I tried not to let them see the broken me inside because I was afraid they’d find out how I really felt, fake. 
But this year, God moved mountains in my life. I’ve learned to embrace my flaws as who God designed me as. I’m not perfect, I never will be. I have a tendency to tell myself, “If I only talked more maybe people would like more. If I wasn’t so awkward maybe people would invite more to things and I’d have more friends. If I wasn’t so big maybe then I’d win a guy over. If I lost weight maybe then I’ll love myself.” I could go on, the criteria I put on myself to be able to accept myself is not God ordained, it’s pure evil. I could never obtain it. I’m seeking perfection when God says ‘no, you weren’t designed to be perfect. You weren’t designed not to have flaws, you weren’t designed to get everything right the first time. You were designed to love and to care for others. You were designed to teach others about my Son. You were designed to lead the way for young believers. You were designed to be you. But do you trust me enough to let me use the person I designed you to be? Or do you want to try to constantly aim for something you never hit and live a life we’re all you see are failures because the criteria of perfection is too high to be obtained?’

Don’t live a life of failure. Live of life full of grace and love. One of the hardest things for me is allowing myself to have grace, I’m the hardest person on myself, but there’s freedom found in it. Be who God designed you to be and allow him to mold you to be exactly who he made you to be. Trust in him. 

Vulnerability: God Moments

So recently I’ve battled the question, “Where’s God?”. I didn’t feel him. I longed for a glimpse and connection but I didn’t have it. I read the Word of God but the words just felt like words in a book. Sermons were just someone talking. My bible study was just painful rectorial questions asked over and over again. Prayers just seemed empty.

So I pondered if God forsake me even though according to scripture I knew he wouldn’t. I pondered if I could hold on to the daily routine I had that felt worthless and useless. I pondered my faith, my devotion, my life to Christ. I pondered it all. God was so silent.

But the more I dug into what was wrong I realized it was me. I was the problem. I wasn’t vulnerable, I wasn’t letting people in anymore. I closed the doors on myself. I put my walls backup and I checked out mentally and spiritually. I didn’t let people see me struggle, depressed, anxious, or stressed. I showed up and got the job done and left.

The other day I sat down and I wrote out how I was feeling…and then I began a part of where I began to make excuses to just leave Baltimore and start my life over, at that very moment someone walked through the door. And then later as I continued to write, the youth program weighed on my heart.  

Over this past week, I got to witness this teen girl accept Christ into her heart and life. Then on youth night that same girl pull me aside and tell me her life story and her struggles. Where I  opened up abour my story. Then it was lunch with this girl and more in depth conversation about what’s she’s going through and talk about Jesus. 

All this time I see myself in this girl. I see my struggles I went through at her age. I see the struggles I still face today through this girl. 

Late tonight she reached out to me again. She asked if hiding her feelings was okay. I began to tell her the truths of what Jesus says and I told her my testimony in that area. God is present. God is listening. As I wrote out my response to her, God was reminding me of his truths, of His love, of His plans and purpose for my life. He was pouring this on to me so I could pour it out to her.

My purpose in my life is to be a vessel. To show people the love of Jesus, the love of God , to show them a redeemer, a savior. To show them that they are not alone in this life. 

God gave me a story to share. I didn’t go through my life for just my sake. I went through it for moments like I’ve had this past week and for future moments I have yet to see.

Take off the Blinders

I don’t know if you are like me, but I grew up in a shell protected from the outside. Alcohol was not present in my home neither were cigarettes or any type of drugs other than what the doctor prescribed us.  Alcohol and cigarettes were only things part of my family partook in and I didn’t really know what actually drugs were till I was in my teens in health class. I was sheltered.

I was taught not to mind what others are doing and focus on where I was heading. Where this a great mindset when you are pressing towards a goal in the world, but not when you are living for Christ and being who God calls us all to be. You have to take the blinders off.

Let me explain, we can’t truly love our neighbors if we can’t see them. If we have the blinders on, we are only going to neighbors for our own benefit, sadly enough but it’s true. We can’t see where they are hurting, we can’t see how we can help them because we are focused on our next step and our next move. So many of us live this way in life and its scary.

They are focused on their next promotion, their next growth step or their next big move that they cannot see the people God placed before them. They cannot see the hurting people right outside their doorstep. Even if they take 10 mins away from their busy schedule to notice someone, they are inwardly thinking about themselves and how they have to go somewhere or have to accomplish something and are not focused on the conversation at hand. We are all guilty of this on some level but it doesn’t discount how unbiblical it actually is.  My pastor recently stated in a sermon, “love is rooted in sacrifice.”  I didn’t think much of it then but it’s so true. If we are not willing to sacrifice something as simple enough as time are we really truly loving our neighbor? our friends? our family? even God?

God doesn’t tell us we have give up our physical bodies to be sacrificed like Jesus, but he does tell us that we are to give up ourselves to live for him. He does tell us we have to put ourselves aside to live for Him and to allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. Our flesh will always want it to be about us because naturally, we are selfish not self-less. So there will be times where we go apart from God and not see the people around us. Not see how the city, state, country we are in is so broken. We don’t see all the hurting people on the street, that just want their next hit because that just want a glimpse of that high they once had.

God put us all where are for a reason. Take the blinders off, look around you, sacrifice time for them and think of yourself less because we maybe the only flicker of light that those people might be able to see. So we have to be it.

Don’t be your own worst enemy

Don’t be your own worst enemy. I’m sure you are questioning that last part. Let me tell you what I am talking about.

Over the past few months, I haven’t felt motivated to dig deep. I haven’t felt motivated to grow. I haven’t really felt connected to God, at times I felt abandoned and alone. I tried to do my personal Bible readings,  but it was a complete struggle. I stopped listening to sermons online, I stopped listening to Podcasts, to me I just didn’t “feel” like it. However, those moments began to add up and soon I “forgot” about them.

Then my personal Bible readings, I noticed only happening Sunday mornings. As much as I longed for the Word, I noticed the Word began to feel like only words as if it was just a book.  I felt numb and pulling away from my walk.

I didn’t know what was going on. I felt like I was slipping down in a spiral and that I couldn’t stop myself. But I began to journal and I figured out what I was longing for, love. Just to feel loved, because over the past few months I felt empty and alone. I didn’t go out and search for it like I did in the past, but the temptation starred at me in the face.  Instead, I isolated myself. I became my own worst enemy.

Here are the problems with isolation; temptation, thoughts, and forgetting who God says we are. Temptation stares at you in the face and the flesh is quicker to win when you remain isolated. Those negative thoughts speak louder. Who God says you are gets put away and you begin to believe the thoughts that you are worthless, unloveable, no good…etc. I could go on, but those words reply over and over in your head and you begin to believe them.

But we are sons and daughters of God. We are His children. He loves us. He never has stopped loving us. Just because you slip into isolation and you slip into darkness. Doesn’t mean God has forgotten about you. It doesn’t mean that God has given up on you. It doesn’t mean all of a sudden you are unqualified to be His Child. What it means is that it is time to stop thinking about your OWN wants, your OWN desires, just stop thinking about YOU.  And start focusing on who GOD wants us to love, OTHERS.

So when I say don’t become your own worst enemy, what I am saying is selfishness will only lead to isolation and separation from God, but LOVE, love will lead to God because “if we love God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12b)

So wipe the tears away, get off your bed, and start walking towards who God called you to be.