Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

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
Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

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.

  • Barbershop Theology

    The common theme is: a strong Black Woman erases the Black Man. i.e. there’s no need for a man if a woman can live in her own strength & purpose. This line of thought usually leads to what a woman’s role and place are (spoiler: obedient & beneath a man).

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)

Posted on Leave a comment

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

 

Related Posts:

Posted on Leave a comment

People are disappointing

Black Women Stand Alone

Disappointment as a faith-builder

Disappointments by family and friends can have life-altering and personality-changing impact. My most painful disappointments have helped refine my faith and how I view my abilities and capabilities. There is no level or area of human interaction that has not led to disappointment in my life. Still I would not trade any disappointment I’ve experienced for any amount of temporary satisfaction. Even being an orphaned aging single woman without children has its blessings on the long backend of life.

Without monumental disappointments throughout life – childhood rape, death of mother, inability to afford college, rejection by love interests, lack of corporate upward mobility, threatening racists neighbors – my faith would be nothing. Without adversity faith is only a whimsical word. Without the strengthening of my faith, I would be a flimsy woman.

Count it all joy, my brothers & sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ~ James 1:2-4

It was because of my childhood abuse that I began writing regularly to God in my dairy. I wrote the prayers I cried myself to sleep with. My journaling remains a prayer and conversation with my Creator today.

My mother knew every shadowy and lit corner of my soul, yet she loved and stood with me. When she died it was truly akin to losing a part of myself. After four years of deep grief, I began looking for a way to gift her on the other side of life with all the pent up love I have for her.

It was through my conversation, prayers and journaling with my Creator that I received my first practical lesson on gifts of the spirit not being restricted to this temporal frame. I wanted to give my deceased mother a gift of love and the instruction I received was to forgive my rapists, one of whom was her husband and my dad. I put my forgiveness in action with a call to him, then spent a few years trying to build a relationship with him.

Please note: the instruction was to forgive, not to interact or build relationship. Interacting with my dad allowed for many disappointments.

Struggling to acquire a degree with the goal of accessing better employment opportunities kept me at odds with relatives who were content with the status quo of functional poverty.

As I healed my body, mind and spirit, through my teens and twenties, I thought a loving a relationship was only a matter of time. As time marched on, I blamed my inability to connect with men on the abuse I sustained as a child. Speaking with my dad after one disastrous date with an overly aggressive man, triggered me into realizing violators should not have a place of honor in my life. I could forgive him and be cordial but that didn’t mean he needed access to my intimate struggles, especially those rooted in his violence against me.

Looking for someone to love usually leads to overly accommodating users and abusers. Each time I go down the wrong road of attempting to love people unworthy of my devotion, I am reminded that I exposed myself because of my desire for the romanticized version of love the world revels in. However, what is for the world is not for me. Each rejection from a romantic interest had me burrowing deeper into God’s version of love.

The early idealism of economic freedom through education collided harshly with the American Dream of endless corporate opportunities. Even in one of the most freedom-loving cities in the United States, New York City, a Black Woman aspiring beyond a support role is not supported at all. After eleven years with the company and a newly minted master’s degree, being told that my credentials were worth less than a second-year intern for a role I applied for was a painfully stark reminder of the futility of chasing the world’s rewards.

Quitting was liberating. Being unemployed is scary. Having some resources, a great deal of experience, education, and most of all tried-and-tested-faith allows for some confidence in my ability to create my own opportunities.

In 2020, just as Covid-19 was making its way around the world, I was informed that some of my white neighbors in a semi-remote mountain neighborhood outside of Tucson, Arizona, were congregating to discuss “throwing rocks through my windows and burning my home.” Historically speaking, the neighbors were amassing a lynch mob – to terrorize me.

Disappointment as a fuel for rage

I would like to say nothing in my life prepared me for becoming a target for a lynch mob, but if you’ve read this far, you already know everything in my life prepared me for such an atrocious experience.

However, during that period, I battled most with myself. My pride demanded holding the plotting perpetrators accountable. Rage demanded I stand my ground and fight back. They burn me out, the same fire would burn them out. Sifting through such powerful emotions was hard. I knew Arizona was a transitional place for me. Staying only to fight seemed to violate my higher purpose. Ignoring the need to stand up for myself violated my personhood.

At some point I had to calm my rage enough to ask myself questions about the next steps for my life. Was I going to focus on the enemy’s latest distraction or double-down in the work God was performing in my life? What type of energy would be required to respond in kind to the ugly hatred of people who didn’t know me personally but chose to plot against me and my home? 

So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:12-13

I decided to sell my home and leave Arizona. The test in the process was giving all my rage and uncertainty to God – not allowing rage and fear to control my actions. Letting go – much quicker than in prior situations. Also surrendering all my hopes and plans for my future to my Creator.

I had been desperately trying to line up my next steps. I wanted to know where I was going before I left where I was. That’s what I had done before taking the leap to leave New York City where I had a home, employment with benefits and social outlets. I went from my home in New York to a newly built home in Arizona. Beyond that, nothing planned or hoped for came to fruition in my desert wilderness.

So in leaving Arizona for parts unknown, I was willing to set aside my thoughts for what would work for me. I admitted to not having the slightest idea beyond knowing God’s will for my life is far better than anything I can imagine.

Disappointment contours perspective

All of the major violations in my life have been by people who felt entitled to cause harm and violence against me because they considered me unworthy of my own autonomy. They thought they had controlling rights to my body, voice, time and future. They didn’t think I deserved what I had acquired or what I was reaching for. They held no value for my achievements or my personhood.

All the major non-violent disappointments result from the vagaries of life, things we don’t really have any say over – time of death, human chemistry and the overall impact of human interactions and relationships.

I share all this to say: every painful disappointment (outcome other than what was hoped or prayed for or expected) that has shaped my life (altered trajectory and reality) has driven the roots of my faith deeper into the Spirit of God. Not only am I strengthened with each attack on my life, I also increase in wisdom and confidence.

As Maya Angelou said, I wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now. I wouldn’t trade in the hard knocks and near destructions, nor the rejections and betrayals. They may not yet be seen as opportunities for joy, but they certainly make the joy I have more unshakable. Having survived my life thus far, peace is not some quiet place outside of me. Peace has become an environment within me that I am committed to nurturing and protecting.

Related Posts:

 

Posted on 1 Comment

Video: Self-loathers don’t know what love is (Pt 2)

Are you the friend you think you are? How do you see yourself in your friendships compared to how your friends see you?

I’m repeatedly reminded that people who don’t love themselves are incapable of giving, receiving or showing love to others. They are sometimes good at faking it, but fakers always expose themselves out of frustration.

One of my biggest beefs with people is their lack of understanding about love. As well as their use of the word as a tool. One truth I’ve learned is that people who don’t love themselves are incapable of loving others. Sometimes it’s best to simply step away from them to avoid being collateral damage from their internal war path.

In this video I share about a recent structural collapse in a long friendship. What resonates with you?

Read the background:

#toxic #relationship #friendship #friends #falsefriends #collateraldamage #toxicrelationships #no hate #love #mercy #grace #understanding #fakers #emotionalvampires #relationship #lesson #growing #learning #listening #ihearyou #iseeyou #wegood #bye #lifeistooshort #for #bs #drama #keepitmoving #keepmovingforward #blog #vlog #selfloathing #love #newpost #whodoyousayyouare #harvestlifer

Posted on Leave a comment

I AM Woman: A Celebration of Being

I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America is a showcase of the indomitable Spirit of Black Womanhood weaving through generations as cord of strength and wisdom.

Forget the world.

I AM WOMAN is a declaration of existence – without permission. 

Everyone is aware of their outward image. Many people spend their lives enhancing their shadow while neglecting their substance. The narratives within I AM WOMAN span five centuries of a powerfully consistent perspective. Despite habitual abuse, neglect, sexual violence, human trafficking, and a stifling minimum of economic opportunities, Black Women have continuously elevated themselves and grown in excellence.

Who Do you say you are?

I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America is a triumphant response to centuries of oppression, neglect, and abuse. It’s a tribute to the women in America who are not seen, heard, honored, or appreciated, yet are always relied upon to support every layer of society. This collection of images and words is an expression of how Black Women in America see themselves. Who they believe they are as individuals in private, in public, as a community, and as givers and receivers of ancestral grace.

Comprised of portraits, poetry, essays, and speeches, I AM WOMAN reaches back to Isabel de Olvera who swore an affidavit in 1600 declaring her freedom from marriage and slavery to the deeply inspiring inauguration of Kamala Harris as the first Afro-Asian and Woman Vice President of the United States of America 2021.

Photographed, compiled, and edited by LaShawnda Jones, I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America weaves together contributions from Women across the United States throughout the country’s history.

With contributions from dozens of women

One book, several formats

Play Video

Behind the Scenes

We are who we are.

About LaShawnda Jones

LaShawnda Jones is an independent author, photographer and publisher for Harvest Life. Her work focuses on women, spiritual growth, and social justice. She has published several books exploring the impact of childhood sexual trauma in adulthood as well as the challenges and joys of applying principles of faith in all her interactions. She has a B.A in Political Science and French and a M.A. in International Affairs. She has studied in France and Poland in addition to missionary training in New York City and Israel.

LaShawnda Is a member of the RAINN Speaker’s Bureau and is available for speaking engagements nationally. She is also available for photography assignments. Her creative work can be viewed at Harvest-Life.org.

Please email Shawnda@Harvest-Life.org with inquiries, requests and bulk orders.