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Reflection Friday: Do you practice self-reflection?

Kicking off self-reflection for Reflection Fridays!

Self-reflection is a huge part of changing, growing and maturing. Recently, a colleague shared some great year-end reflection questions. Her prompt has inspired me to do a Reflection Friday series.

self-reflection: meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives

Prompt: Do you practice self-reflection?

  1. What did you accomplish in 2022 that make you proud?
  2. What challenges did you overcome during the year?
  3. What mistakes did you hold on to throughout the year?
  4. Why are those mistakes hard for you to let go of?
  5. How did you take care of yourself (emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually) in 2022?
  6. What character trait(s) did you rely on or practice the most in 2022? (Examples: patience, forgiveness, courage, hope, joy, gratitude, grace, honesty, compassion, etc.)
  7. Where did you start the year compared to where you ended the year? How do you measure your progress/change?
  8. What do you wish you had known at the start of 2022? What would you have done differently if you had known?
  9. What did you learn about the world in 2022?
  10. What did 2022 teach you about yourself? 
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Poem: Without Reservation

Repost: Have you ever felt like you’re a prophet in your own life? Writing instructions decades in advance of a moment? Or is it that people remain the same no matter the decade?

I’ve been thinking –
perhaps I had an epiphany –
I thought of how I was willing,
begged God actually,
for the boon of being
with you. To my mind,
you were the greatest
possible gift.
Then it came to me
this desire to give, give, give,
to love you with all
my heart and mind
to worship and praise
your body with mine –
it was all wrong.
I was backwards.
I’ve been requesting things
which would not satisfy me
in the long run.
Yes, I want you.
Yes, truly I want all
I’ve petitioned God for.
I do. I love you.
But there is something I want
much more than the pleasure of
pouring my life into yours.
There is something I need more
than my prayer answered.
Something I deserve more than
being a giver who receives
nothing in return.

Epiphany showed me
more than anything
I want and need
to be loved and desired
without reservation.

It showed me you should be
the initiator and I should follow.
When you give of yourself,
cover me – pour your life into me –
those will be my true gifts.
When you choose to love me
with your heart, mind and spirit…
choose to join your body with mine in a
symphony of worship and praise…
Those are acts worthy of my devotion.

I was sitting and thinking –
my ask was so limiting.
What I was shown opened the heavens.
My efforts are useless against your inaction.
So, my love, I must back away from temptation.
I must resist the urge
to supplicate myself at your feet.
Resist my obsessive longing and
suppress the desire to shower my gifts on
a man who does not value
or reciprocate my devotion.
I must resist that part of me until
you present that part of yourself to me.
Your gifts will replenish and revive
even as your presence restores.
Your love will cover
even as your strength shelters.
When you join your gifts to mine
WE will become our greatest blessing.

~ LaShawnda Jones, 2004 (ed. 2017, 2022)

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Relics of My Imagination

Returning to a former hometown has been revelatory in a profoundly impactful way. We remember people as we were last with them. Memory is faulty. It leans towards rosy hues and comfort connections. If prior interactions were positive, or what we may have considered to be warm, friendly, or loving at the time, memory will serve rosy images of comfort. If prior interactions had been overwhelmingly negative or emotionally damaging, memory will bar any images of comfort attaching to lingering thoughts. If the relationship was a mixed bag of all life has to offer, the love, admiration and esteem you held for the person will overshadow everything. Until it can no longer stand up to the truth of character and time.

shown me more of. Releasing my thoughts release their hold on me.

Since the turn of the century 😊 (the last twenty years or so), I have been trying to understand myself in tandem with my core relationships. I have chiseled away the elements I didn’t want to be a part of the woman I am becoming. Likewise, I began holding my relationships up to the same harsh light. I saw they all needed infusions of Spirit, Love and Truth. Only then was I able to see people as are, rather than as my imagination remembered them.

Even as my relationships collapsed and wasted away one by one, there were a few I genuinely believed would survive close scrutiny. The friendships I thought were based in truth and mutuality of intent. The friendships I built on shared belief in the Word and compatible spirits. The family members I loved more than myself and would have laid down my life for… until my life became an expected forfeit for their ease. I thought some relationships would survive the fire God was purging my life with. For many years, I held on to some stubbornly. Refused to let go. Kept doors open. Maintained lines of communication. Fanned the flames of hope. All the way up to my return to Milwaukee last year.

Returning to a point of beginning has shown me like nothing else, how much I’ve grown – how much I’ve BECOME. In many ways, all the people I’ve been holding on to are in the same places emotionally, mentally, physically and/or spiritually as they were when I left. Effective sharing has been impossible because I’m not able to be fully who I am now in conversation. My current troubles, concerns, hopes, goals, views, ideas are nothing close to what they were twenty years ago. And yet they speak to me as if twenty years have not passed, even though we’ve been communicating throughout this time.

Twenty years ago, I subjugated myself in every arena of life. Everyone I encountered and interacted with were treated with great esteem. So much so, that it may have appeared that I esteemed myself less than I esteemed them. This is true to the point that I chose to leave home – family and friends – for a faraway place (New York City) to explore who I am without everyone else’s demands and influence on my personhood, time, and resources. That was the beginning of me chiseling my identity out of the narrative I was born, and repeatedly placed, into.

I’ve been gone from Milwaukee for as long as I’ve ever lived there, yet it remains the place I’ve lived the longest. As such, it has a deep impact on my early worldview and life expectations. These ingrained perceptions transformed into re-writable code during my fifteen years in New York City. A whole life recalibration in the Southern Arizona desert followed my time in New York. Living in quiet solitude allowed me to gently revisit core family and friend relationships. The tranquility of my environment provided space for honest evaluation and the ability to listen with an uncluttered heart.

During that time, I learned I wasn’t important to any of the mother and sister figures in my life. I was useful, but not valued as a whole person. What I could do for them kept them in contact with me. When I let their words and actions reveal their hearts, I was able to see how they viewed me as only a fraction of who I once was. They kept me in a mental space of need, lack, silliness, and inferiority. Easier to exploit if they thought they were doing me a favor with their attention and demands.

Painful revelations to be sure, but from the distance of a few years, I now appreciate not misunderstanding my place in people’s lives. They held a special place in my heart, but now what I thought we were has become fond memories. I’m no longer burdened with a desire to be present, to perform or to even communicate. When I stopped buying into the performative nature of our interactions, they began giving up the performance as well. This unmasking has been a great process for repositioning relationships more appropriately according to their nature rather than what I imagined they were.

Returning to Milwaukee has cleared away fog, doubt and shaken the stranglers completely loose. I’ve been looking at this period of my life as the end of an autumn season. There’s been vibrant change, amazing color, and opportunities for joy, but the whole season has been about transition. From changing leaves to winds of change. The shaking loose of the dying leaves from trees can be traumatic with its suddenness. Sometimes, all it takes is one good storm to leave you shaken, naked and barren. Ferocious gusts of wind to take away the glory of your foliage. An overcast darkness to usher you into a season of dormancy.

As we transition deeper into winter, we lose light and heat. We become grateful for the few leaves that weren’t shaken loose when one storm became many. We cling to those resilient leaves for as long as we can. Until the light becomes brighter and the heat starts to warm our roots again. Transitioning from winter to spring reminds us that adorning ourselves with dead things hinders growth. That storm we hated for shaking our beauty and comfort loose was necessary to prepare us for new life, new possibilities, for our next season of blossoming. The storms also deepen our understanding and sharpen our sight.

I still don’t know the full purpose of this extended return in Milwaukee, but I recognize the need for purging, clarity, and rejuvenation.

There will always be questions. What if my past hadn’t been what it was? How different would my life be? What if I had made different choices? What if I had stayed and not sought to chisel my identity from the harshness of the world? All those what ifs would still be what ifs with the addition of “who am I” – the question that sent me out into the world – if not for the path my life has taken.

One thing my solitary existence has taught me is the firmness of my identity. I’m not fluid. I’m not unsure. I’m not scared to ask hard questions. I know I’m created in glory as a Child of the Most High. I know my will and moral compass bends towards the Word of God. I know I will achieve all the purposes I’ve been created, prepared, and positioned to achieve. I need not chase or worry. I need not torment myself about who is with me or for me. It is only me and My God as it has always been – even when I wasn’t aware. I am confident in proclaiming my name, and my determination to fully develop into My Creator’s purpose for me.

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ACAD – Faith & Pleasing God: Hebrews 11

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable[e] sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death, and “he was not found, because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would approach God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance, and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith, with Sarah’s involvement, he received power of procreation, even though he was too old, because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”

All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better homeland, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, of whom he had been told, “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead—and, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked blessings for the future on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, “bowing in worship over the top of his staff.” By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions about his burial.

By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered abuse suffered for the Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the king’s anger, for he persevered as though[k] he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.

And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death; they were sawn in two; they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented — of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains and in caves and holes in the ground.

Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.

Reference: New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Footnotes
11.1 Or reality
11.1 Or evidence
11.2 Gk by this
11.3 Or was not made out of visible things
11.4 Gk greater
11.4 Gk through it
11.11 Other ancient authorities read By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered
11.22 Gk his bones
11.23 Other ancient authorities add By faith Moses, when he was grown up, killed the Egyptian, because he observed the humiliation of his brothers and sisters
11.26 Or the Messiah
11.27 Or because
11.28 Gk would not touch them
11.31 Or unbelieving
11.37 Other ancient authorities add they were tempted

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What I Know about Coaching

Coaching is a build-up process.

If someone is tearing you down or making you feel less-than, they are not coaching you. They are attempting to deconstruct you to better acclimate you to their nature and tolerances.

What I Know About Coaching

Criticism is not coaching

Last week, I was pulled into an impromptu meeting at 8:30am by my manager. He called it a “coaching” session, yet began by telling me I had gotten into a full-on argument with a client on the phone and was condescending, combative, and argumentative. I interjected with, “I did not argue with anyone.” He then told me I was being defensive and he wasn’t going to battle back and forth with me.

I’m rarely in the mood to be called names, but nonsense at 8:30am before coffee by someone who had none of my respect due to their lack of management skills made for a very succinct and direct rebuttal.

I didn’t appreciate having my character, personality and tone mischaracterized. Most definitely not in words commonly used to stereotype, demonize and dismiss Black Women. And absolutely not by the only Black Male manager on the open floor he was dressing me down on.

He didn’t appreciate me speaking up for myself. He actually said he was stunned at my response. Meaning he was stunned that I didn’t quietly accept what he called “criticism.”

He claimed that the caller had called back to complain. He said he had listened to the call and heard me sounding argumentative, condescending, combative and defensive. Because he seemed so surprised that my voice was calm throughout the call when he played it back for us both, I concluded that one of the white women sitting near to me flagged the call time because they took offense at my confidence (the caller had hung up while I was transferring her to a colleague). I did make comments about the call with the person I was transferring to after I realized the caller had hung up.

While the manager listened to the call for what seemed to be his first time, he said with surprise, “I agree with everything you’re saying. It’s clear she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” However, he eventually clung to my drawling the word, “Yes.” As a very condescending inflection.

He kept asking me, “You don’t think you’re being condescending?”

I kept replying adamantly, “No, I don’t.”

I’ve been in customer service for 30 years. Birthed and bred in McDonald’s customer care where the customer is always right and when they’re not, we refer back to rule #1, smiles are free and listed as such on the menu. I matured on executive floors with extremely entitled personalities and received compliments on my professionalism, discretion and diplomacy throughout every level of service.

The only people in all these years to ever call me “defensive” are who were set on diminishing and silencing me. Managers and teachers who didn’t want to be questioned or corrected. Those who didn’t want any standouts or freethinkers in their ranks. 

The 8:30am critical “coaching” session is now viewed as a marker in my life.

Building Self

One of my favorite self-esteem boosting quotes in high school and college was, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” by Eleanor Roosevelt.

One of my favorite affirmations when I began Bible Study years ago was, “This is my Bible. I am who it says I am.”

There have been many times where I have simply bit my tongue to allow a conversation to end with no fuel from me. Most of those times I would ruminate on what was being said and come back the next day with a calm measured rebuttal or follow-up questions. The time I took to think was also a cool down period. For most of the last twenty years, I’ve had managers I’ve highly respected… with a job I loved at a company I wanted to stay with. It may go without saying, but I’ll say it: my former managers did not call me names. If they needed to correct behavior, they spoke their mind plainly – told me what the issue was, what my actions were and what they should have been for their desired outcome.  

If I go further back in life, there were very few points during my formative years when I spoke up for myself. I looked to my parents and elders hoping they would speak on my behalf. At an early adolescent age, I realized my parents were not interested in defending me with their words. They didn’t really value words as defense or guidance. Mostly because they stayed in scrappy survival mode.

In my early teens, I began to actively reject words people tried to forced into me. My way of rejecting at the time was telling myself I was not what they were calling me. I would then tell myself who and what I was. It was an internal process.

Back to now. Here I am in my late forties, finally speaking up in the moment, telling someone they can keep their negative words about me. All while he’s basically begging me to agree with him that I’m a difficult and unpleasant person.

Honestly, as unpleasant as the experience was, it is an absolutely amazing illustration of how the enemy cannot destroy us without our complicity. What is someone trying to get you to agree to that is counter to who you are?

He pseudo-manager fired me. Of course, he didn’t tell me directly. I got a call from my agency thirty minutes before the end of my shift. He told them the reason was because I couldn’t handle criticism. I told the rep, “That’s a lie. I literally just finished an hour of coaching with another manager who knows how to speak to people and got a good amount of guidance from him.”

That being said, I don’t think there’s been anywhere God has allowed me to stay that did not benefit my spirit. If a place is turning me dark, He cuts the cord. I always think I can hold on for my material goals, but my goals have never held any weight with His will and plan.   

Good coaching makes all-stars out of novices

I ran track and trained in field sports throughout my youth. I played basketball throughout high school and into college. I understand teams and individual performance. I appreciate coaching and training.

I started playing basketball at the age of fourteen. Prior to trying out for the freshmen squad, I had never held a basketball. I was made to feel very awkward in my skin. I was tall, skinny and often tripped over my long limbs. My family called me clumsy and uncoordinated. I believed them.

During the first two years of high school I lived with an aunt. During freshmen year, shortly after I joined the basketball team, she attended one practice game. Afterwards she told me she wasn’t going to bother coming again since I couldn’t play anyway. She never saw me improve. She never witnessed the athlete I developed into. She wasn’t a coach.

My coach didn’t believe what my aunt said I was.

My three coaches turned me into an all-star by junior year. Senior year I was co-captain of the Girls Varsity Basketball Team.

I know what good coaching will produce. Good coaching creates results previously unimaginable.

Praise God always. We don’t have to know or see anything as long as He is in charge of our lives. Give thanks and be blessed as you go.

#allihavetosay #thankyoulord #morningreflection #fired #job #woes #toxicworkplace #keepmovingforward #harvestlifer #harvestlife #joycomesinthemorning #love #peace #joy #nofucksgiven #zerofucks #unshakeable

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IAW: Author Chat w/Abena Amoah

In February, I spoke with I AM WOMAN contributor, Abena Amoah. It was meant to be a 15-20 min conversation highlighting the poems and essay she submitted for my anthology about Black Womanhood. It became an hour-long conversation we both deeply appreciate.

The overarching themes in our conversation were womanhood (naturally!), motherhood, family, childhood sexual abuse and its carryover impact on adult development, freedom, writing process and personal joy.

I had wanted to do a shorter video for easier content breakdown and management. I will cut this into shorter segments for later uploads, but the flow of the conversation was so seamless, I decided to post the majority (the whole video was 103 minutes) first as a reference video.

You can order your copy of I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America here or on Amazon. Your online review is greatly appreciated.

Check out Abena’s other work on her site https://www.abenaamh.com/home.

“I’m not telling you that you have to tell your story. I’m telling you that you can.”

Abena Amoah
  • Work discussed (with approximate time marks):
    • To My Daughter inspiration (beginning to 7:45)
    • Scabs (7:50-13:15)
    • Writing process and recovery (13:15-18:00)
    • A Sermon Stands Before You (18:00-19:00)
    • What is womanhood to you? (30:25-33:00)
    • Setting boundaries (50:00-53:50)
    • Abena reads To My Daughter (53:50)

“Family does not have to go everywhere with me.
They aren’t angry about what happened to me. They are angry that I’m telling my story.”

Abena Amoah

A Sermon Stands Before You by Abena Amoah

1.
They did not tell you?
Women who break themselves
out of cages
fly with a hunger only their God can feed,
and you are no manna.

2.
She woke up one morning
and vowed to bathe herself daily in love.
Intentionally.
Softly.
Kindly.
Selfishly.
Loudly.
This, too, is her daily prayer.

3.
The woman of your dreams
is already in you.
Seek her.
Boldly.
Softly.

4.
A sermon stands before you

Those that remove each layer
revealing beneath scars that cause you to sit,
watch and listen.

~ Abena Amoah

To My Daughter by Abena Amoah

Because God has a way of letting us birth ourselves,
skin of my skin,
blood of my blood,
I have named you,
saved you a seat next to the sun,
light and warmth is inside you.
This is for the coldness of the world.

You will taste inside me
pain embedded in this skin.
You will feel the force of a push to
erase memories that have been my redemption.
You will touch dead skin
shed to keep others alive,
to keep men alive.
You will hear questions
that I have yet to find answers to — but this, I know.

You are of raw love —
the kind that breathes into you every day a new life.
You are of passion that burns —
the kind no one can put out without your permission.
You are made of strength —
the kind that leaves you standing tall
at the image of your scars.

You are of tears —
the kind that baptizes when your soul needs a savior.
You are made of beauty—the kind that is untouchable,
the kind that reflects the continent.
You are timeless.

You are made of God—
a kind that you won’t find anywhere except within you.
You are of God.
You are made of blood—
the kind that flows in your mother and her mother
and her mother’s mother,
the kind that births in you everything you
need in your falling and blooming.
And this, you will know.

~ Abena Amoah

“Some parts are ugly, but some parts are very beautiful.”

Abena Amoah
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Making a home in hostile places

In early November I returned to Arizona for a couple of days. On my drive from Phoenix to Tucson I had some revelatory moments. I share them here.

There are no safe places. True peace is never of the world. I’m learning that my life has been about escaping all the ties that bind my heart, mind and spirit while freely and ecstatically seeking God/my Creator. The bonus is coming into a fuller understanding of being in the world, not of it.

Hard times may come but times aren’t hard for always. Keep moving forward. The only person who can stop your progress is you.

Much love. Happy New Year.

Remember each new day arrives with new mercies. 😘

~ Shawnda

#life #spirit #journey #lessons #keepgoing #keepmovingforward #arizona #theworld #creator #godisgood #newyear #newmercies #space #grace #opportunity #nosafeplace #home #hostileplaces

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Excerpt: Journal, August 9, 2019 (Desert of Solitude)

Since publishing Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace in 2018, I’ve been revisiting the manuscript to edit and clarify the text. This year, I’ve spent quite a bit of time actually rewriting and reorganizing it. The below excerpt is part of the epilogue and seems like a timely share for the holiday and the space I’m in.

  • Harvest Photo Brochure

    Time to update my Harvest Photo brochure from real estate to more personal offerings. Download now.

  • I AM Woman Cover Work

    Below are some steps I’ve taken to get to the cover for I AM Woman: Expressions of Black Womanhood. Now accepting pre-orders for a limited number of copies. Place your order at Harvest-Life.org/shop.

  • AMC Special Shareholder’s Meeting 3/14/23

    We hope you will vote as soon as possible. You may vote by submitting a proxy over the internet or by telephone, or by mailing the enclosed proxy or voting instruction card pursuant to the instructions provided in the accompanying proxy statement (as applicable), or by attending the Special Meeting in person.

Journal: August 9, 2019

New York, New York

My mind is all aflutter with clamoring thoughts… but first I give thanks.

Father God, thank you for all You are! Thank you for keeping me, for providing for me. Thank You for looking out for me when I’m ready to give up all semblance of hope.

My closing is scheduled for next week and now I can think. I can breathe. I wish I had planned this time because it’s a good point for a fast. The last two sermons brought up a lot in me. A lot of thoughts about rejection and how different my life would be with people in it.

I’m recognizing trauma for what it is and what it has done to me.

My sister avoiding me for over a decade has been the most deep-seated, hard-to-face rejection of my life.

One of my best friends from high school treating me as a second rate, after-thought option to fill in for her white best friends from middle school and college has changed my commitment to female friendships.

Three older women I’ve long thought of as “second mothers” each telling me in their own way I had no real place in their lives crippled me emotionally.

Remembering how I traveled across the country to visit my paternal grandmother in the hospital shortly before she died, how I sat patiently at her bedside for four hours, hoping to have one last conversation as she kept her eyes closed and faked sleep, is still painful nearly a decade later. Watching her stir herself and engage with her children when they arrived felt like a betrayal to the special relationship I thought we had. She had no words for me even when she knew she was dying. Her son, Peewee had also refused to acknowledge me when he laid dying two years prior.

Then there was the time my youngest aunt had security escort me out of the hospital my maternal grandfather was dying in simply because she could.

And the time I was the only relative at my uncle’s wedding and he acted like he wished I wasn’t there.

Basically, I was flooded with thoughts of all the disrespect, emotional, psychological and spiritual harm inflicted on me in all my important relationships.

The footnotes of harm can go on and on. Though the rejection has stung each time, the disregard and dismissal have always been unexpected from each of these people.

These instances and more have each happened in their own space and time. Separate and unknown from each of the actors. After each incident I dealt with what I could and buried the rest or thought about what I couldn’t ignore, then filed it away as another great emotional injustice in my life.

This week I realized the anger – deep seated and ferocious – stemmed mostly from the trauma accumulated over the years from these relationship abuses. I’ve endured habitual emotional violence in all my major relationships throughout my whole life.

What a revelation!

Suffering from accumulated pain while thinking my anger stemmed only from the state of the world. Dealing with the little I could handle left a whole bunch of stuff to fester under the surface in years of layering. That’s how I keep getting pulled in fast and deep. My darkness is a quagmire.

Sadly, I asked to be able to love people. From prior experience I should’ve been ready for the worst. Reflecting from a longview, I can understand how many fall to the wayside. How giving up can be perceived as a road to comfort. Yet and still, there is no doubt there is literally nothing and no one waiting for me on the other side of You, Father God. You’re all I have. So despite my trauma and uncertainty, I keep plodding ahead as I’m able. After all, if I’m in You and You’re in me, then I’m already all in, right?

My sense of worthiness was wrapped up in all the hurt, anger and rejection. Reasoning that if the people who know me best don’t love me or care about my well-being, then how can some newbie care about me?

What man would love a woman whose own dad didn’t love or protect her? What kind of wife can a woman be when she’s never had an enjoyable voluntary sexual encounter? What kind of friend can a woman be when her own sister disowns her? I am the common denominator in all my relationships therefore there must be something inherently wrong with me.

My reasoning concluded it’s my fault no one loves me. What is it about me that’s so utterly unlovable? What a sad irony that an unloved person prayed to be a lover of people. No one can give what they don’t have. All these debilitating, shame-filled thoughts loop ceaselessly in the background of my life.

Perhaps kernels of pride rise from rejection. An understanding of being created in greatness and being rejected for Who I AM. Knowing my higher self is rejected more often than my personhood, doesn’t lessen the sting. What is it about the person I am that makes me so disposable?

Despite airing these rhetorical questions, I will continue on the path I’m on – searching and seeking You in my fullness and emptiness. Should my life remain one of solitude, then so be it.

By Your Grace, I am able to remind myself I am blessed and highly favored. My life is good. I offered only the best of myself to all these people. The best of my understanding and intentions. I am not lost without them. My existence is not lacking. I know all this.

Having identified the deeply rooted anger and trauma has lightened me immeasurably and made space for a more vigorous pursuit of healing.  

Thank You for giving me this week to gather myself – my thoughts, my frustrations, my pain and trauma. Thank You for the time and space to explore, examine and itemize the roots. Thank You for making me sit and rest. Thank You for giving me the time to be creative and work on my art forms. It’s so hard for me to stop moving, but when You cause me to pause, it’s a full stop that’s never regretted or resented.  

Thank You for caring for me, Abba. Thank You for keeping me and guiding me on Your path of life to a greater life in You. Thank You for the gifts and talents You have blessed me with. I am nothing without You, but without others I remain one of Your masterpieces. Thank You for Your Grace, Mercy, Love, Character, Nature, Joy, Understanding, Provision, Faithfulness and Guidance. I appreciate You, Father God. I honor You. I bless You. I surrender fully to You. I am Yours. I receive and embrace You as mine. Thank You, Creator, for making me the way You have. Designed to be who I am – salt, light, flesh, spirit – a blessing in this world.

I breathe in and out knowing Your Breath and Spirit flow through me. Thank You, Abba for sharing Your breath with me. For counting me worthy to bear and represent Your likeness in the Earth. Thank You Abba for the mind, heart and spirit that pants after you daily; that aches when I get off track. Thank You for continually reeling me back in, turning me in the direction I should go. Lighting my fire to motivate and encourage action. Thank You, Abba, for all You do and all You are. In the name of Jesus – Your Son, my Savior –  and by Your Most Gracious and overwhelming Holy Spirit, my Guide, Amen. Amen Amen.

Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace (2018)

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Video: Becoming What You Hate

Notes from the video

The ability to commit violence (by word or deed) is not a strength. True strength is exhibited in our self-control. How we maintain discipline over our own tongue and actions. Not how we curtail other people.

Avoid becoming stuck as your worse self by:
Reimagining who you are
– Who have you always been?
– Who do you want to be?
– Who do you want to be nothing like?

Reimagining your environment
– How did your surroundings impact your character and personality grieving up?
– What aspects do you want to cultivate in your space moving forward?

Reflect on your actions and reactions – good, bad, ugly, & embarrassing.

Thought experiment: Project the idea of your best self into the idea of your best environment. What’s the first step in getting you there in reality?

If you are striving to be the best version of yourself but you keep surrounding yourself with people who bring out the worse in you, you will find your strength when you walk away from the people and environments that keep you at your worse.

You have a choice in how you live. Are you going to grow consciously in the direction of the person you want to be? Are you consciously releasing the person you don’t want to be?

Video, Parts 1+2

#self-control #discipline #growth #life #family #abuse #childhoodabuse #childabuse #elderabuse #eldercare #counseling #listen #findpeace #selfcare #selfimprovement #selfreflection #growth #betterthanyoushouldbe

 

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