Thursday, February 27, 2014

Well Kept Secrets

I’ve often wondered about the thoughts that I have subconsciously. Why do I not realize I’m thinking them? What repressed emotions are there? For instance, there was one time I hung out with this girl and every time we hung out together, I ended up doing something ridiculous which ended up cutting our time together short. Once, I accidentally spilled my drink on the table which got into her lap and she had to go home to change. Another time, I mistakenly gave her the wrong address to the party we were supposed to hang at together. It wasn’t until about our billionth outing that I realized….this girl is not my real friend. Why are you trying to force this friendship? In a nutshell, I just really did not like this girl, and I began to think that subconsciously, all those things I did were intentional.
Earlier this week, Mommy introduced me to ‘Today's Seed,’ a daily bible devotional sent via email, and the passage that was referenced was Isaiah 29:15 -16. It read, “Look at them! They try to hide things from the LORD. They think he will not understand. They do their evil things in darkness. They tell themselves: "No one can see us. No one will know who we are.” In Genesis it states that “every intent of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (6:5).  Our subconscious is a manifestation of the ill intended thoughts that are created in our hearts. While my mind thinks that I have no intention to be evil and I’d like to only “think good thoughts,” I know that as a human being I have more thoughts like, “I can’t stand that b,” or “If only I could push him down a flight of stairs,” and I have no control over not thinking these things. I do have control over whether or not I act upon them. These are only the thoughts that are brought to my attention. The ones that I’m aware of, so only God truly knows what my mind is capable of, which brings me to think why spend so much time trying to hide who I am, when the only being that matters essentially knows the truth.

On a daily basis, I spend about half of my time lying to myself and others about things that don’t really make much of a difference one way or the other. For instance, truthfully….I love sex. The conscious decision to give it up may have been one of the hardest things to do in life; however, if you ask my friends or anyone I talk to about it they’ll probably tell you that I think it’s easy or I just don’t think about it. In actuality, I think about it more often than not, and sometimes I try to talk myself into getting back on the saddle, knowing that it’s not good for me. “It will feel great,” I say. I would not ever express these things to anyone close to me, but Heavenly Papa knows how I feel. He also knows the feelings of guilt, shame, and failure I’d feel if I ever succumbed to those thoughts.  

He knows it all: What drives my states of depression, my deepest fears, things that make me anxious, things that excite me, amuse me,  EVERYTHING. He knows that I’m going to lie to make a stranger feel better in spite of the truth before I even do it. It literally just happened. This Middle Eastern guy asked me if I thought Middle Eastern men were attractive, and then said me…do you think I’m attractive. I said yes. What else was I supposed to say? Well sir, I’m sure lots of people would find you attractive…I’m just not one of them? It’s so difficult to be honest all the time.
Typically, I have no issue with telling strangers the truth. It’s a lot easier because chances are I’d never see them again. I believe this is what drives most random grocery aisle personal conversations. Ironically, I find that the person it’s most difficult to be honest with constantly is myself.  We as people spend hours worrying about how we’ll be judged by others, but our own worst critic is ourselves; at least I am mine. The rest of the world could care less about what I have going on and even if they did, it doesn’t matter. So I’ve decided that because I can’t hide anything from my Father, I should not continuously hide things from myself, and when trying to figure out my motivations for doing certain things, I’m going to think twice about what’s driving those actions because the saying is true. What you do in the darkness will eventually come to the light, and if it’s something that I have to hide, I probably shouldn’t be doing it anyway.

Friday, February 21, 2014

What's your HAPPY!?

I think it’s pretty interesting the way social media trends spread so rapidly, and the type of trend that spreads. As I stroll through my Instagram feed, the theme of memes that are typically reposted are about sex, celebrity scandals, or jokes at the expense of someone else (Sharkeisha). I was surprised to see that what I would think should be the latest trend, not many people are jumping on board, (at least not in the stream of my followers).

There is a 100 day happiness challenge.  The goal of the challenge is to find something about your day that made you happy. You must do this for 100 days in a row. The purpose is to acknowledge only the good things in your life and not weigh so heavily on the negative ones. While this is something I typically try to do every day, committing to the challenge makes me accountable and regardless of how rough my day gets, I have to realize that there is still something good about it. The challenge affirms that happiness, “the state of being happy,” is a choice, so choose it.

Jeremiah 17: 9-10 states that “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” When thinking with my heart or “feelings” I sometimes overreact to situations or find it difficult to get the answers that I want, especially when it comes to dealing with relationships. There have been times when I allowed myself to become so wrapped up in my emotions that I was no longer operating from a rational place and I just felt crazy, all worked up, for nothing because the behavior did not yield me any results. Reading this verse clicked the “on” switch in my mind because it allowed me to recognize that I am the person in control of what I’m feeling. After reading that, “the LORD search[es] the heart and examine[s] the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct according to what their deeds deserve,” it was affirmed that I needed a reality check.  

Even though we’ve been granted free will, ultimately God knows our heart. When performing our daily deeds, it is important to understand the motives for doing so. For instance, one of the things that I needed to personally work on was needing to feel needed. If you surveyed 25 people and asked them “what do you think about Josephine?” Approximately 23 of those people would respond, “She’s a very nice person.” Overall, this is true, but only recently has my motive for being nice expected no reciprocity. For the longest time, being nice was my means of fitting in, being accepted by my peers.

It took me a while to realize that the only acceptance I need is that of my Heavenly Papa and that if I’m not being true to myself, then I’m not being good to anyone. So many times, I hear people say, “I just want to be happy,” and they begin to go through different transformations in their quest to find this happiness. Most people who seek happiness in the world never find it because being happy comes from the conscious decision to be happy. When depending external factors to make you happy, the happiness is only temporary; however, when your happiness comes from within, no one can steal your joy. 1 Peter 3:10-11 states that “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days,…Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” My peace is given to me through my choice to believe wholeheartedly in our Heavenly Papa. I choose to be happy.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Beauty of Death

It’s almost time for me to say “Thank you” to Heavenly Papa for allowing me to see another year. Yes, indeedy…it’s almost my birthday!!! Every time I think about this time, it makes me happy that at one point in time Heavenly Papa decided that he needed me on this earth for a purpose. I strive to become closer to finding out what that purpose is on a daily basis, but gratitude and perseverance are not the only things that my birthday reminds me of. I’m also forced to think about all those that I know will not be seeing their birthdays this year, and it softens my heart to be reminded of the beauty of death.
Many people think of death as the worst thing that can happen, but after spending some time in the word, I’ve noticed that great things happen when one dies, and that there are two types of death. The first being a spiritual death in living form, and the second being a physical death when your body returns to its natural state and your renewed spirit goes to rest with our Heavenly Papa.
The first death is to be “in Christ, [to become] a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). In order for us to become one with the Holy Father we must first take part in our living death. This is the shedding of our old self to become closer to God. Essentially, it is our awakening period when we are pushed out of our wilderness. Some may argue that when this happens, you’re not allowed to “have fun.” There is still lots of fun to be had, you’re just now being held accountable for your actions.
In Jay Z’s song, Empire State of Mind, he states, “and Jesus can’t save you, life starts when the church ends,” which to me implies that you are not living unless living in sin. I used to be a part of that world. I would go out every weekend, get wasted with my friends, hang out with random guys, living care free and reckless, not caring too much about myself or how the world perceived me, or how my actions impacted others. Not realizing my choices had consequences. Thinking back, there were plenty of times when the choices I made could have gotten me raped, killed, put in jail, turned me into some type of addict, but they did not and I have to attribute that to being protected by the grace of God. Even though I was rejecting him at the time, he saw fit to save me over and over and over again, and finally, I got it. Then I decided it was time for me to walk upright for the man who “died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:15). When I made this decision, great things began happening for me. I became less anxious and learned to roll with whatever punches life threw my way and I found myself at a greater peace. Also, so called friends that brought great stress began to fade away. Best thing ever. It became easier for me to make decisions to do good and while I’m still fumbling through trying to figure it all out, I’m grateful that  I’m nowhere near where I was. I’m also proud to say that while I am a sinner, I’m doing the best that I can to be prepared for my physical death.
There are also great things to be said about your actual physical death. Although, I clearly have not experienced it, the word tells us, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Revelation 14:13). I believe this to be true because I’ve witnessed it in my waking life. Have you ever attended the memorial service of a righteous person? The atmosphere is completely different from that of a not so righteous one. People are rejoicing and seem much more content because they know that the person they are mourning is now at peace with Heavenly Papa. Those people are also comforted by the Holy Spirit, regardless to whether they know it or not. Matthew 5:4 attests to that. At the other, we have great lament and the mourners appear to have a harder time letting go.
One must also take into account the beauty that surrounds a physical death. The death in itself brings people together. You’re reminded of the innocence of children and are appreciative for their laughter. It is a time of remembrance and the person’s story gets to be told time and time again. Time becomes valued again as the realization that it is limited sinks in and teaches us to value the time we do have and those that we have to share it with. In a nutshell, death brings about community, which is essentially what living is all about.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

We're all Protected

Nostalgia gets the best of me some days. To think of how the times have changed over the span of just a few years is a beautiful thing. Think about it, I am undergoing change as I type the words on the screen, allowing them to flow out of me to create a document that will invoke change in someone else’s life. The reality is that when I began this piece, I’m almost certain the way I pictured it ending in my mind is not the way it’s going to turn out once I’m done, but I have to trust that it will still be awesome. I have to keep that concept in perspective when it comes to dealing with my life. At times, I get so wrapped up in the way I want things to go that I forget my life has never been, currently isn’t, and never will be, ABOUT ME. It’s ultimately about my Heavenly Papa, and making sure that I do everything in my power to constantly spread the love that is Him.
Over the weekend, I was immersed in the company of children, and while I do work in the same space as them, I do not have to engage with them as frequently as one would think; so being with children for an extended period of time is something that I have not been able to do in a while. I’m grateful and really appreciative for that opportunity because in a way it helped me to continue to put my faith where it belongs.
Have you ever sat and watch children play together? They go through this cycle of tumultuous joy, to let’s share everything, to that’s mine, and finally I don’t like you anymore, repeat; all within the span of five minutes. They continue this for hours on end until the fights begin to get more frequent and the adult intervenes to say it’s time to leave. Once “the leave factor” is inserted, they enter a stage of grief and spend the next ten minutes in the most agony you’d think they’d ever feel in life because you’re separating them from their best friend, whom they themselves were just putting out about three seconds ago; it’s all quite fascinating stuff.
During this cycle, two things in particular stood out to me; reminded me of the days when I was a kid. The first, children have no concept of fear when they’re playing. The first stage of tumultuous joy is where they are completely uninhibited and ready to conquer the world with their minds unaware of any dangers that may await them; they’re free. I began to wonder at what age do we grow out of this and it hit me that I should not have grown out of this fearlessness. There is nothing on this earth that I should be fearful of. I should take a page from my inner child and continue to live out my dreams and not be worried about what others have to say or think about me because “anxiety in a (wo)man’s heart weighs [her]him down, but a good word makes [her]him glad”(Proverbs 12:25). As long as I continue to surround myself with positive, uplifting people and continue to keep my faith in Heavenly Papa, there’s no need to be anxious.
The second thing I noticed was that children are extremely resilient. They can get hurt and be back to normal in about three minutes; all a part of their cycle. However, it works for them. I began to think about how children are protected because of their innocence, which allows them to be so fearless and resilient but as they obtain more knowledge about the world and themselves in it, they become more fearful. However, because of the blood of Christ, I should have no worries. The next time my finances get low, or I begin to feel lonely, or a problem arises at work, I’m just going to keep Psalm 118: 6 in my mind “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”