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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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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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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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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.

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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

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Womanhood: Evidence of God’s Goodness

A Song & Verse Post: Evidence by Josh Baldwin

evidence: the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid

Every time Evidence comes on in the car I want to pull over and praise God. Today, I came to home to write.

All throughout my history Your faithfulness has walked beside me.

There is not one period of my life that I cannot identify the presence of God and His work in me. I remember being baptized around the age of six. Though I had no understanding of what that meant at the time, I can literally look back on my life to that moment and see how God has held on to me through every devastation, betrayal, abuse, disillusionment and every step of rebuilding and healing.

I remember my one-dollar lock and key diaries from Walgreens that were full of my seven-year-old pleadings for God to save me from the near daily sexual abuse I was subjected to. “Dear God, he did it again. Please make him stop!” Years of one or two line prayers. Silent screams. One day, four years later, God called me out of my house (I didn’t recognize His hand then, but I certainly do now) and guided me on a walk to a nearby police station outpost. I knocked on the door and said to the officer who answered, “I’m being molested.”

From that moment forward, I was never again forced to share space with my violators.

The winter storms made way for spring. In every season, from where I’m standing I see the evidence of Your goodness all over my life. I see Your promises in fulfillment all over my life.

I grew up in families – both sides – that didn’t acknowledge abuse or trauma. Everyone is either a victim or a perpetrator. If anyone could claim to be on the sidelines, they would act deaf, dumb, blind and incapable for standing against any wrongdoing.

A few years after I had forgiven my dad, and a few years before he died, he asked me why I act better than I am. “You’re from the ghetto, you’ll always be ghetto.” This was during the “healing and repair” of our relationship, mind you. It was also one of our last conversations.

Imagine being told by someone who should have molded you for greatness, that you were never expected to rise above his level of filth, disease, psychological, sexual and spiritual bondage. Imagine being looked upon with disgust by a man who, for all intent and purpose, murdered you as a child and then being told as an adult woman that you were expected to remain dead.

At that time, I hadn’t yet started my dedicated faith walk. I was still journaling – writing prayers to God – but the Bible remained a mystery to me. Nothing was catching or keeping. However, I can look back on that time now and see it as the beginning of release in my life. I tried so hard to reconcile that relationship, but when I stopped holding on – when I stopped trying – it was easy to see that I had been on my own the whole time.

I believe firmly that God desires willing hearts most – a desire to conform to His Word in practice and deed. However, He has never allowed me to remain open to those who intentionally harm me repeatedly. I view this as God’s judgement on the other person’s heart condition, rather than my inability to be faithful and obedient to Grace and Mercy.

Imagine telling your sire: I’m more than my beginnings. I’m more than the seed you contributed to my being. I’ve become more than a little girl from the ghetto.

Help me remember when I’m weak, fear may come but fear will leave.

It’s said that we can do anything we can imagine. Yet our imagination is limited by what we’re exposed to. What if we’re exposed to people who can’t see beyond their own dark pits?

I went into a deep depression in my late thirties. My mom died at the age of thirty-six and when I reached that age, my future dimmed to darkness. It was difficult to climb out of my second grave by letting go of the woman I thought I would have become by then. My mother began life as a sharecropper’s granddaughter in rural Mississippi, but I only ever saw her as the best of all created beings. As difficult as her life had been, she had at least accomplished the Holy Grail of Womanhood (according to society) – marriage and children. No matter that she tied herself to a rotten man and worked multiple minimum wage jobs to house and feed her children, she remained the epitome of everything to me. It was difficult to see myself as worthy of more time in this world than she had. Harder still to face the length of her lifespan without even a taste of the Holy Grail of Womanhood.

The end of beginnings is the beginning of letting go.

You lead my heart to victory. You are my strength and You always will be.

My birthday this year will put me at ten years beyond the lifespan of my mother – and still not even a lick of the traditional Holy Grail of Womanhood. Today, I can say I am completely fine with that. In recent years I’ve not only learned to embrace my solitude, I’ve come to appreciate it, honor it and protect it. There’s something being forged in me that I can’t articulate. That glimpse of greatness that repelled my dad fifteen years ago, is unfurling in a wondrous way. I’ve grown from hiding my light under a bushel to Clarkeshia Kent exposing her S with a declarative chest thrust. Yet my light is still gaining strength. I foresee beaming across the Universe.

Why settle for tradition when the Universe is already mine?

I’m becoming a Woman I never imagined I would be. Nothing about my life today was part of the dream, fantasy or hope. Everything about my life is better than all my mind and heart conjured for me. There’s something to be said about what we’re exposed to. Exposure sounds expansive, but it’s actually limiting. If we only trust what our eyes see, we will be satisfied with that view for our life. However, when we begin to let go of all the dead things – relationships, hopes, dreams, ideals, culture, tradition – we will have room to invite the previously unimaginable in. We will be able to develop into beings of light with experiences beyond the confinement of the world. Living beyond the construct breaks the paradigm. At which point, you’ll actually be able to imagine what previously seemed impossible. Thus, within your reality all things are then possible.

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth.

But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.

So when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued[d] the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.

Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.

~ Revelation 12:1-2, 5-6, 13-14, 17

 

[NOTE: More of my story is shared in Clichés: A Life in Verse, My God and Me, and Desert of Solitude. Some poems from Clichés will be reprinted in I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America. All books are available on Harvest-Life.org/shop and Amazon.com]

 

Evidence

by Josh Baldwin w/Dante Bowe

All throughout my history
Your faithfulness has walked beside me
The winter storms made way for spring
In every season, from where I’m standing

I see the evidence of Your goodness
All over my life
All over my life
I see Your promises in fulfillment
All over my life
All over my life

Help me remember when I’m weak
Fear may come but fear will leave
You lead my heart to victory
You are my strength and You always will be

See the cross, the empty grave
The evidence is endless
All my sin rolled away
Because of You, oh Jesus

Why should I fear
The evidence is here

 

See a Victory

by Elevation Worship w/Brandon Lake

The weapon may be formed but it won’t prosper
When the darkness falls it won’t prevail
Cause the God I serve knows only how to triumph
My God will never fail
My God will never fail

I’m gonna see a victory
I’m gonna see a victory
For the battle belongs to You Lord
I’m gonna see a victory
I’m gonna see a victory
For the battle belongs to You Lord

There’s power in the mighty name of Jesus
Every war He wages He will win
I’m not backing down from any giant
I know how this story ends
I know how this story ends

You take what the enemy meant for evil
And You turn it for good
You turn it for good


Sources:

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Be Your Own Best Present

2020 year-end reflection and message for those of us used to putting everyone else first and feeding into situations that don’t nourish us. Just as we try to be available supportive and our best selves for others, we should be equally, if not more so, for ourselves.

 

Related posts:

Everything I Thought I Knew About Diabetes Was Wrong

The getting-overness of it all.

 

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Video MR3.3: Culture of Subjugating Women

Why would God build a weak house for Himself? Would you build a weak, inferior house to establish your life and family? Would you raise your children with the sure knowledge that one is weaker than their siblings and therefore not as worthy in your sight? For many people the simple answers to these questions are No. Absolutely not. Hopefully not.

As much as people like to dismiss much of the Bible as being a product of its time, they don’t realize that it’s time is now. Whatever present you exist in, the Bible is relevant. You don’t need to be an ancient history scholar or a revisionist of ancient cultures to comprehend the basics. One such basic, is God did not create a “weaker vessel.”

MR Video Part 3.3

If you doubt, try a simple thought experiment. What we know:

  • God is a Builder and Creator. (Hebrews 3:4)
  • God breathed His Spirit (Life) only into Human Beings who were created for the purpose of fellowship with Him. (Genesis 2:7)
  • Our bodies are temples of the Living God. (2 Corinthians 6:16)
  • God views us as His – His Body, His Children, His Bride. We are a part of Him. (Hosea 1:10,Hosea 2:23)

What in this implies weakness?

The subjugation of women is a trigger for me. I get a bit hot under the collar during this portion of the discussion with Dorina and Glynis, who joins us long enough to drop the “weaker vessel” bomb into the conversation. Glynis is an Episcopal Minister who is steeped in traditional teachings. She’s been one of the main people I’ve gone to with my Biblical questions and spiritual dilemmas since high school. That doesn’t mean we see eye to eye on everything.

Take a listen.

Marriage & Relationship: Modern Concepts vs. Biblical Principles Series
Part 3: Adam/Adamah + Chavah/Eve Man + Woman Human + Spirit
Text: Genesis 1-5, Revelation 22

Part 3.3 Culture of Subjugating Women

  • Paul and Timothy cultural teachings subjugating women in the church
  • Lie of weaker vessel
  • Original intent of created beings
  • Longest war on Earth is between men and women = human and spirit

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Related posts:

Duality of Man: Strength and Vulnerability
Know whose you are.
Progressive Women in a Degenerating Society
Women in the Bible: WOMEN of FAITH
Women in the Teachings of Jesus

Related book:
I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America

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