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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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All Is Meaningless (ACAD: Ecclesiastes 8)

Who is like the wise man?

And who knows the interpretation of a thing? Wisdom makes one’s face shine, and the hardness of one’s countenance is changed.

Keep the king’s command because of your sacred oath. Do not be terrified; go from his presence, do not delay when the matter is unpleasant, for he does whatever he pleases. For the word of the king is powerful, and who can say to him, “What are you doing?” Whoever obeys a command will meet no harm, and the wise mind will know the time and way. For every matter has its time and way, although the troubles of mortals lie heavy upon them. Indeed, they do not know what is to be, for who can tell them how it will be? No one has power over the wind to restrain the wind, or power over the day of death; there is no discharge from the battle, nor does wickedness deliver those who practice it. All this I observed, applying my mind to all that is done under the sun, while one person exercises authority over another to the other’s hurt.

Then I saw the wicked buried; they used to go in and out of the holy place, and were praised in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity. Because sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the human heart is fully set to do evil. Though sinners do evil a hundred times and prolong their lives, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they stand in fear before him, but it will not be well with the wicked, neither will they prolong their days like a shadow, because they do not stand in fear before God.

There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people who are treated according to the conduct of the wicked, and there are wicked people who are treated according to the conduct of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. So I commend enjoyment, for there is nothing better for people under the sun than to eat, and drink, and enjoy themselves, for this will go with them in their toil through the days of life that God gives them under the sun.

When I applied my mind to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how one’s eyes see sleep neither day nor night, then I saw all the work of God, that no one can find out what is happening under the sun. However much they may toil in seeking, they will not find it out; even though those who are wise claim to know, they cannot find it out.

Ecclesiastes 8:1-17 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Ecclesiastes%208:1-17&version=NRSV

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Think on these things…

Question: Why share false messages you don’t want people to believe? Why promote beliefs your own life can’t testify to? Why not simply preach Jesus? Why not present the gospel, the only true doctrine, to the world as it was presented to us?

Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are TRUE and HONORABLE and RIGHT and PURE and BEAUTIFUL and RESPECTED. Do what you learned and received from me, what I told you, and what you saw me do. And the God who gives peace will be with you.  ~ Philippians 4:8-9, NCV

I knew someone who was at the beginning of her walk with God. She was thirsty. She was hungry. She was passionate. She was also unfocused and easily swayed. She asked for my opinion on her Biblical studies quite often. as you can imagine, I didn’t mind sharing it at length. She also asked many others within her circle their opinions and perspectives  on her study topics at any given time.  As a result, she got as many opinions on one topic as the number of people she asked. This frustrated her. And she couldn’t understand why there was no consensus within the Body. However, having her choice of opinions to agree with, she tended to gravitate towards the harsher and darker viewpoints. So much so, that she began to focus on the superstitions of the illuminati and considered it her duty to educate people on the dangers alleged “devil worshipping” celebrities posed to the believing Christian.

I often got upset and impatient with her because she was speaking filth into my ears that I otherwise would not have been exposed to. Why was she exposing me to something she didn’t want me to believe in and be deceived by? At the same time she’s sharing with me the evil master-plans of spiritually compromised celebrities, she was not interested in hearing my rebuke that the gospel – the good news Jesus preached – was the only thing she needed to preach to others.  The Word of God is the only word she needed to study for understanding. Why? Because when people have the Word of God in them, His Word shines a light on all the darkness within them. It may be a slow process but the Word will work to eradicate all the surrounding darkness within the person believing and speaking it. That’s a guarantee from God Himself – He cannot coexist with evil.

It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, He has turned away and will not listen anymore.  ~ Isaiah 59:2, NLT

So, if you’re busy trying to understand evil things, you’re equally busy pushing God out of your heart. We are told in Philippians 4:8-9 to think only on good, pure things. This isn’t a clueless instruction given to make us feel good. It’s good instruction because the things you think about are the things you become like.

Want to become more Christ-like?

Think about Christ. Consider His ways. Meditate on His teachings. Become His disciple. Practice what He preached. Stop studying all the negative things of world and giving attention to the evil things of darkness. Don’t introduce hate to those who have not been tainted by its baleful bitterness. Christ did not succumb to the world; He came to redeem it with His goodness (obedience) and truth (the word in Him).

Be at peace. He has already overcome and made a way for you to do the same.