Archive for the ‘Devotionals’ Category

Running from pain

We are always running.

 

Okay, let me try this again.

 

trapped

 

I have spent most of my life running. Running from suffering. Avoiding loss. Trying not to get hurt. Afraid.

 

But Jesus wasn’t afraid of suffering. He embraced it on the cross for us. For me. He lived His entire life knowing how and when it would be over. He knew that He would be separated from all those dear to Him. That no one would fully understand Him, or His purpose. That though surrounded by disciples and the multitude, He would still be alone because they couldn’t fully understand His struggle. Only He knew that He was going somewhere they couldn’t follow.

 

I’ve been so afraid of losing that sometimes I held on to things more tightly than I should have. I lived trapped in a box of fear. Always afraid of getting a text, a phone call, a message that spelled doom for myself or my loved ones.

 

But to live in fear of suffering, loss, sickness, or death, is to prevent yourself from fully living. Negative circumstances and pain is unavoidable. But we don’t have to let hurt change and cripple us. All we can do is pray for strength.

 

Recently I went to go watch a movie that displayed the relationship Jesus has with those of His children who are suffering. In this movie the protagonist not only got to meet Jesus but he got to meet God as well. He began to accuse God of leaving Jesus when He (God) let Him (Jesus) die on the cross. But then God showed the protagonist of this story, His (God’s) own nail-pressed hands. God too was wounded by Jesus’ sacrifice. God told him (the protagonist) that He (God) never left Jesus. Just like He (God) never leaves us.

 

Yes you will face overwhelming circumstances, but God will never leave you. Jesus will never turn His face from you. There is no one better to have on your team. God is more than a mother or a father; he is also a brother, a sister, and a friend. He has your back. He will carry you when you are weak. When you forget Him He will still remember you. I have turned away from God. I felt like He had deserted me. But even as I turned from Him: He kept me, protected me, and He drew me back to His side.

jesushand

 

Overstimulated

How much of our life do we spend searching for, seeking, or desiring the companionship of others? Whether family, friends, or lovers, oftentimes we are searching for someone to share our life experiences with. We use the presence of others to keep us from feeling the full force of the burdens we carry from day to day.

companionsh

The problem comes however, when we are so dependent on other people that we are unable feel content when we are alone. We automatically equate being alone with being lonely so we avoid embracing time spent in solitude.

SOCIALaddict1

Even when we do find ourselves isolated from society even momentarily—we reach to our phone, tablet, or laptop to plug us back in. It is priceless to be able to find peace in solitude, to quiet the voices of doubt, regret, stress, pain, and loss, and to see life as a gift without feeling the need to drown yourself in outside voices.

solitude

 

#firstworldproblems

fwp-pic

I tend not to complain out loud about my problems unless I am talking to my mother– since we all know it’s every mom’s duty to listen dutifully to just about everything you have to say regardless of whether you are 25 or 40. If I complain about my issues to anyone else it might sound overwhelmingly like #firstworldproblems, an impression that may only be partly wrong. I called my mom once… –just last week if I’m being honest–in the middle of the night after I hadn’t been able to sleep all night for 3 nights in a row, plagued by my own mental demons, and she picked up. She picked up– even though at that time she was with a patient who would be taken off life support soon.

 

She was just reading a few bible verses to him, and I am pretty sure he couldn’t hear her and was totally unaware of his surroundings or anything else for that matter, but I was shocked that she as a physician was taking time out of doing her rounds to read some verses for a patient that couldn’t hear her and to pray for him before he passed… and also that amidst all this that she picked my call because she was worried about me. I proceeded to tell her I was completely fine, she should get back to work and after I hung up I began to cry. The perspective that the call gave me forced me to tell myself that: hey you should be happy and grateful you’re not deathly ill or dying, and that your problems are so small, and in the grand scheme of things– probably even meaningless.

 

But the truth is minimizing our problems by comparing them to someone with bigger problems can be both helpful and at the same time hurtful. It can invalidate your hurt and your pain and trust me it is incredibly hard to heal from something you don’t fully let yourself feel. If you don’t come to terms with pain in your life because ‘hey there are people starving in Africa and you have it much better than them,’ which may very well be true, but that doesn’t mean that your suffering, albeit privileged suffering, is any less real or any less hurtful. Much of our own life is shaped by our mind–our thoughts, and thoughts can be powerful enough to cause a person to pull a trigger, jump of a bridge, or prevent them from trying to achieve something they have always wanted to achieve.

 

It is good to be grateful and to see life from a perspective other that your own. Be thankful for your privilege. But also be gentle with yourself. Know that it is okay to let the small things sometimes get to you. It’s okay to not be invincible all the time. To feel weak, overwhelmed. It’s okay to simply just let yourself feel. Now it’s another thing to dwell, to sink, to never move forward. But just for today I want you to be honest with yourself about the emotions you’ve been keeping bottled up, the frustrations laying there right under the surface of all the pretense and fake smiles and cheerful demeanor. If you can’t be real to people at least be real to yourself, because honesty takes you to a place where true healing can finally begin.

 

Refusing to pray 

(Please excuse the formatting and any typos in this post. I’m writing it on my phone, which is all I have right now. But that is a story for another post.)

When it rains it pours. And tonight it is pouring. To the extent that I felt the urge to pray but then almost immediately I dismissed it. But I was/am desperate so I prayed. After I finished praying I asked myself if God would hear me. I doubted whether He is moved enough by my cry to change His mind and let His will be subservient to my will. 

It’s been almost two years since I prayed. How is that possible you might ask. Especially if you know me; I’m very active in the church, always preaching, teaching and ministering to others. So maybe I should qualify my statement. It’s been almost two years since I’ve genuinely prayed for myself. I can easily pray for others and know God will hear me but a part of me thinks that God doesn’t hear me when I pray for myself. Or that my prayer won’t change anything about my circumstance. 

As soon as I think these thoughts I’m reminded about the words: “prayer doesn’t change God, it changes us.” Or I think about the fact that we are supposed to pray for “God’s will,” that somehow, some day our will, will align with His. And I truly want all those things. But sometimes I find myself reluctant to pray because I wonder if God cares about the things I care about. If they bother Him the same way they bother me. I think about mothers who lost their children to sickness, they must have prayed. God must have heard? But what did that change? Miracles happen. But more often than not they don’t. Those are the stories that don’t get told. The testimonies that don’t get sung. 

I think about my own prayer two years ago, I was night and day on my knees. I prayed in faith. Knowing God would do it. Trusting Him, claiming the victory. A victory that never came. I have since come to terms with that loss and even now see the gain in it, but today when I really needed God to step in and do something for me I found myself hesitating. Hesitating to ask God to do any miracles on my behalf. Why would he? Why should he? There are a million people more deserving, with more pressing issues they’re facing. 

But somehow I managed to pray for my own miracle. I don’t know at this moment if my cry will move God. But I am reminded of stories in the Bible when Jesus said, “your faith has made you whole,” or when Jacob fought with God and said “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Thus I will hold on to God a little longer. And whether or not this prayer is answered, my tiny prayer has already changed me, and my will is slowly learning to become subservient to His. 

Lemonade

i don’t care if you don’t love me.
when my intelligence intimidates you.
and my quirks make you smirk.
you don’t know how to fight for me.
you’d never die for me.
you won’t even say hi to me.
you only care for me when its convenient.
say sweet words when you don’t mean it.
chase me when your phone is dry at the end of the night.
i don’t come to mind in the daylight, when the suns high.
no i am reserved for the dark times, your down times.
i’d race to be where you are.
climb every mountain scale every height.
but you wouldn’t even turn the corner
cross the street
look down
and reach.

 

i don’t care if you love me.
i used to wonder if i’m not the right form of thick.
or if my skin tone isn’t the right level of rich.
sit up at night, heart hurting eyes burning,
restless tossing turning, hating myself for knowing you weren’t right for me.
you never tried for me.

 

but i don’t need you to love me,
i’ll love me,
i’ll try for me.
cry for me,
laugh at my own jokes,
tell myself it’s okay to hurt.

 

i’ll sing a song, not our song, but my song,
it may be off key, but i’ll sing it for me.
i’ll tell myself to be strong,
breakdown when I need to,
but stand up when i’m done and continue on.

lemonade

Thank you for loving me

Thank you for loving me.

Thank you for giving me such a high standard of what love could be.

Thank you for when you looked upon me with loving eyes.

The moments when you thought I could do no wrong.

You were vulnerable with me,

You believed in a future with me.

 

I failed you and watched your love for me die…

I see the remnants of it in your eyes.

The ashes of what could of been.

Sometimes it tries to escape but it is no longer what it could be.

 

You’re with me but you’re really gone.

You stand in front of me but you’re somewhere else.

Your arms are cold.

There is a space between us.

You say you love me but your actions tell me different,

your body tells me different,

your heart screams something different.

 

I watch you sleep, and feel incomplete.

But more so, I see it is just me.

That the world is spinning,

time is finishing,

and I realize the half I am is as whole as I will ever be.

man-in-shadow

You are strong

I’m only doing this whole writing thing again because multiple people have told me I should start writing again. So this one is for all of you who have encouraged me, thank you.

 

I try to be honest when I’m writing, and the honest truth a lot of times isn’t really inspiring or encouraging or even pretty, so I previously had decided to kind of keep quiet. I figured if I couldn’t encourage anyone with what I’m saying, I shouldn’t say anything. … Ehh maybe it’s more than that too though. Maybe I’ve been afraid to be fully vulnerable just in case people I actually know read this. But forget them(!), I will continue to speak whatever comes to my mind. But for those people who do know me personally, just a small disclaimer: not everything I write about fully describes me, some things are about those close to me or things I’ve observed and learned from others. You could waste time trying to find me in everything I say, or you could sit back, and enjoy what is relevant to you, and ignore what isn’t.

 

There is value in honest reflection I think. Today I did read something interesting that someone shared on fb about how a lot of times people are fake in their marriages etc. pretending everything is perfect, and how that can lead to mental health issues, suicidal thoughts, etc. which I think is very true. That’s not completely relevant to me or anything. I’m not married or divorced even (yet lol), so I can’t claim much wisdom there. I have gotten my heart broken-shattered- but I don’t really have much wisdom to offer on that. I don’t believe in regrets so I don’t regret anything in life that has happened. The people who entered my life, the things I’ve done, or whatever in my life that has happened, has happened. At many points in life I may have done foolish things but with the limited wisdom I had at the time I did the best I could. To spend time in regret is to make yourself miserable. Learn from the past and improve. But stay away from the “if onlys” and “what ifs.”

 

In terms of the whole getting your heart stomped on and recovering from that, or in fact recovering from any grief in your family, school, losing a loved one- my advice would be you are stronger than you think. Seriously. YOU ARE STRONG. Yeah at some point you’re gonna feel like the pain is gonna literally kill you. But you gotta fake moving on until slowly you find happiness again. Like at first you won’t even be fooling yourself. But give yourself time. My mom says it takes twice as much time to recover from something as the time you were in it. If it took you 3 months to put on the weight, it might take you 6 months to get rid of it. If you were in a relationship for 1 year it might take you two years to get over it. I must say that’s the most depressing ‘ish’ I’ve heard in my life but I kinda think it’s true. We humans are fragile beings, especially mentally. Literally most of the battles we face in life are internal. Learning to love yourself, looking in the mirror and liking what you see, learning to find happiness in yourself, being self confident, and not being so affected by the things people say–those struggles are things no one sees. But also too, another thing my mom always says is that if something is for you, it will always be for you. Some things are meant to be, so you hopeless romantics out there, don’t give up hope.

 

Okay, I’m done talking about love/relationship/(weight loss lol) issues. Seems everyone has them but eish we don’t have to waste all our time talking about it. Lets talk about you, you as an individual.

If you lived on this planet by yourself, I mean no one else but you. No significant other. What would you do? You don’t have to work, there is an ample supply of food. You have the means to do and go anywhere, what would you do?

 

Your answer to this question will tell you what things in life make you happy. Maybe it’s traveling or reading, or hiking, or whatever. And if you don’t have an answer for this question maybe you don’t know yet what makes you happy. Friendly advice- figure it out.

 

Okay lets try that again, but this time there are people in the world. You have your fam, a lover or two, some friends, whatever, but still, no work, no concerns as to where you are gonna sleep or eat, and there is no money, so wealth is not a goal. What would you do with your life?

 

I really want you to think about this because it’s extremely important. Your answer to this question will address: WHY ARE YOU ALIVE? Seriously, why are you here? Work, money, is a means of survival yes, but are you working to live or living to work. I feel like a lot of people are living to work. Living to get that education, then to get that job, then to get that retirement, and before you know it you’re dead, and you’re still waiting to achieve something before you can be happy. But if on the other hand you feel that you are one of the few that are in fact working to live, then when you aren’t working, how are you living?

 

Here is a test I have used on myself this past year to push myself to figure out if I am really living.

I ask myself “Are you ready to die right now, in this moment?” If my answer is no, then I know that I haven’t been living in this moment. I’m either stuck in the past – what could have been, or the future, what will be, and I am missing out on right now – what currently is.

 

Okay, that’s all folks. I’m off to school/work so y’all have a good day!

Don’t miss me too much. I’ll be back soon this time, I promise.