You are a walking piece of art that is completely created. You are not waiting to become into existence. I hope you feel every edge and corner of your being and discover a new part of your soul today. . I hope you delight in the wholeness you are moving towards.
I’ve been looking for this book I read way back in the third grade. I could only remember that the main character was Indian, and she went into a tent and married a man and took a bath. I couldn’t remember the details except that I knew I loved the story. For months, I googled variations of the phrase “children’s book about an ugly girl going into a tent.” I looked on lists for children’s bestseller books, yet still got nothing. I couldn’t find anything that would jog my memory, so I let it go. No amount of googling was helping me and if anything I was only becoming more frustrated with the entire thing.
Today, I was in a fourth grade class, and as I was walking around checking out the books my kids were reading, I noticed the book I agonized over on a student’s desk. I lost my cool. I freaked out in front of twenty-something fourth graders over a book I read in the third grade. They asked me if I was going to read it right then, and I told them I was waiting.
I tried, for MONTHS, to find that book and had no success. It didn’t matter what I searched or how many websites I visited or links I clicked. I couldn’t find it on my own. What’s funny is this book was probably on a bestseller book list, but honestly, I didn’t know what I was looking for, so I could’ve been passing it up all that time.
I hear so many times from different people to let certain things go. I can’t control every outcome nor anticipate every variable, yet still I hold on. Why? Because I’m a control freak, but things are really that simple. Right now, I’m in a not-so-good situation, and it’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to endure in my adult life, and I’m clenching it tight to my chest. Why? Because if I forget about it then I might actually start enjoying my life again. I hold on to too many things, and I finally understand that I can’t if I want to live a joyous life. What is the point of holding on when you’re not getting the result you desire? That whole, “Let go and let God,” adage comes to mind.
That book finding me was the reminder I needed: Most times, life finds you exactly where you end, so I’m letting go of my problems in hopes that when the time is right, I’ll gain solutions I have yet to discover.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Matthew 16:24-25 NLT
(For anyone wondering, the book is called The Rough-Faced Girl by Rafe Martin.)
I have a notecard with four quotes pinned on my Jesus board. It’s one of the few cards on it that deal directly with Jesus‘ character.
Matthew 3:17: And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
How sweet, right? God loves Jesus. Replace Son with your name. Here, I’ll try. Your name is Sarah? “This is my Sarah, whom I love; with her I am well pleased.” How do you feel? That’s how God feels about you all the time.
Mark 4:39: He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
Do you know what it means to rebuke something? It means to condemn it. What great authority He has to condemn THE WIND. Please know it is 100% acceptable and encouraged to rebuke the problems you have. (I didn’t say people. Please don’t roll up on anyone condemning them cause they’ve caused you heartache.)
Luke 2:52: And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
Now Luke is slowly creeping to the top of one my favorite books for the sole fact that it describes Jesus as a child. We see Him before He was in ministry. We see Him like us. And how awesome is it that even though Jesus is the Messiah, He still had to grow in wisdom, stature and favor with God and people? Gives me hope that I can still grow in the right direction.
John 11:35: Jesus wept.
Do you know how many articles are written on just those two words? Too many. I remember these two words when life gets hard and annoying and the little things start stacking up against me. Jesus wept over the unbelief of many, so He weeps over the unbelief of just one too. Don’t deny the power within.
So yeah, be more like Jesus. Please God with your obedience. Rebuke the wind. Grow in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and people. Weep for those who are lost in their unbelief. Go all in for Jesus because He went all in for us.
I bought my first house last May. I prayed intensely hard for my house every day for almost a year. Every moment my future abode came across my mind, I made a mental note of things to update Papa on. My requests extended past the personal into the impossible. I was specific in tree type, layout, color. Everything. Give or take a year, and God gave me more than my prayers demanded. He blessed me not with the pool I jokingly wanted, but the dragonfly wind chime, the Camellia japonica trees, the basketball hoop. He gave me the ability to run through all the rooms on the first floor without ever going back into the same room, the windows… I could go on for days. He heard every prayer. He had me wait, and then there was my house. I knew it was mine the moment I drove up the driveway.
I always knew my house wasn’t going to make me happy. It was never supposed to because that wasn’t its intended use. I moved in and still had the same issues I had at my apartment, but I stopped talking to God about them. I spoke with Papa only about surface things. It was as if He moved Heaven and earth to give me more than I could’ve ever asked for, so I couldn’t bring myself to lament to my Lord who blessed me something so big. You know what I did instead? I went out and tried to satisfy my loneliness, my depression, my dissatisfaction with work with worldly things. These things would eventually cause me to compromise my integrity over and over again.
I read a book by Lysa TerKeurst called Uninvited. It’s about rejection. Man oh man. This woman, God bless her. She is radiantly transparent, which makes almost every situation she mentions in her book relatable. At one point she writes about these tiny compromises she started making with her then boyfriend. She writes about how what started as her boyfriend sleeping over on the couch, turned into her justifying her desires, until it snowballed into something larger than she expected: an abortion. Her tiny compromises rolled into a giant.
My giant wasn’t an abortion. It was quitting. Don’t like them? Drop them. Don’t like working there? Quit. That man is unreliable? Leave him. Do what makes you happy. Never once did I stop to A) inquire of the Lord and B) fight—push past the negative. Not once did I think, “This rough patch is where I am supposed to be. Maybe me being uncomfortable is what grows me.” Instead, I manipulated everything in my power to create a pretty picture for myself. Truthfully, all I did was make myself more lonely and depressed and broke.
I Kings 19:4 says, “‘I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’” That’s exactly how I was feeling. I was ready for the rapture. Beam me up, Scottie! However, a few weeks ago, I heard that same question that God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?” Honestly, I couldn’t answer until last week. I must go back the way I came. I have to walk through every last thing I attempted to run away from, and that truth stings.
I thought who and where I am now would eventually circle back to pre-fall. I did. I’m just not where I expected. Who I was pre-fall was someone who was steadfast for God, but she didn’t want to bother her Father. The woman before the fall was someone who tried to people please God. I won’t be there again because I fell. I hurt myself on the way down, but I’m wiser for it. I’m going to push a little bit harder now because I know my footing is supposed to be in Christ, and if He’s willed it, then so it will be.
I’ve been watching Sing a lot lately, and one of my favorite lines is, “Do you know the beauty about hitting rock bottom, Eddie? The only way to go is up!” That’s so true. I might fall again. Actually, I will most likely fall again, but not in the same way and not with the same force and not as far down. Even now, there is great beauty in this breakdown.
During this almost year detour I learned I will never be satisfied until I live on God’s terms. That means loving God with all my heart and all my might, and everything else will flow from the relationship I have with Him. He has a plan to prosper me and not harm me. So, my goal in life should be to run towards Him and not away from Him. I could let my inadequacies build up against me, but I shouldn’t. Where I fall short is where God picks up. That truth alone makes the journey of life worth it.
I learned some little nuggets during my sabbatical. I hope you gain something from them.
1. When my pain is all I see, I lose sight of where God is in that pain.
2. I was created to be loved.
3. God chooses to listen. He loves to see my relationships through my eyes.
4. To see Jesus is to see man and God as one.
5. I am in the center of God’s love and purpose.
6. God can do unspeakable good out of unspeakable tragedies, but that doesn’t mean He orchestrates the tragedies.
7. Look around, Aisha. You need to enjoy the journey.
8. Even the “evil doers” are God’s children, and He’d like to redeem them too. The moment you condemn them to hell, is the moment you become the judge. You do not determine someone else’s worthiness in Christ.
9. Every act of kindness matters.
10. It doesn’t matter what you’re going through. You don’t ever have to do it alone.
11. You can’t wait for things to level out. You have to take each day as it comes. Every single day you unproductively wait for what you know what is to come is a day that you miss out on being productive. FIGHT. Sometimes that means cleaning your bathroom, doing your hair, going for a 2 mile run. Sometimes, oftentimes, it means giving a little bit more than you have to be okay.
12. Live by design not by default. Don’t ever get so egotistical in believing that you have control of your trajectory. If you judge things as “beneath you”, then you’re living by default, but if you walk into a place you can’t stand and do your work to the glory of the Lord every single day, then you are living by Design. It’s not about where you are physically. It’s where you are spiritually. Stand with Christ. Run with Him.
13. Withholding your presence cause you’re uncomfortable or something is new negatively impacts the environment. It’s selfish to not be out in the world fellowshipping.
14. How can you make your life more about someone else?
15. Life can be mending or messy. Take your pick.
16. God knows you better than you know yourself, and because He knows what you’re called to do, He’s giving you things that will strengthen your faith, courage, endurance/stamina, and spirit. But, they’re still for other people!
17. Life is happening for me.
18. You’re not going out into the world as a teacher. You’re going out as a student. That’s what a disciple is. You’re going out saying, “Hey I learned this, what’d you learn?” And you’re comparing notes. You’re not the expert. You’re not going out as the Lord.
19. Jesus tells you to go out and be a servant. That’s how you win people to Jesus. Not by manipulation or anything you could say or do. It’s by being a humble servant.
20. They lied. No relationship is 50-50. Some might feel like that, but if closely examined, you’ll see it’s 49-51 or vice versa. Sometimes relationships are 80-20, but you gotta be okay with that. Cause if you go into every relationship, friendship, or being an associate and say, “I get to do x, y, and z” then that changes your perspective and you don’t care what you get out of the relationship because you’re walking in it with the heart of Him who came before you.
21. Every struggle is a humbling experience. Don’t let your pride get in the way of making you believe you’ve got everything on your own.
22. Asking for help and actually positively receiving that help will be two different things.
23. Who were you before the fall?
24. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23
My word! I’ve been MIA for a long while.
I mentioned in a previous post that I quit my job. I mentioned how okay I was with whatever direction my life took. That was true then, but the longer I stayed unemployed, I realized how not okay I was.
I ended up getting a job working 3rd shift at a homeless shelter that was only willing to work me as a volunteer until they wanted to finally pay me. After a couple of times of being duped, I quit. Things taken out of desperation rarely work out.
Then, I was hired as a substitute for the county I live in. Great! I get to work with kids, stretch my legs as a teacher. All good in theory, but children in real life are crafty. I will admit I lost my way (and my nerve) the first week, but by the second week I was prepared. I got really good at it and was recommended often. I enjoyed it and the kids enjoyed me, but I couldn’t afford to pay every single thing that I was responsible for, so yet again I went looking for something else to satisfy my financial needs.
Now, I work as a debt collector or “professional negotiator.” Either way, it’s about collecting money from people who are probably gonna use their credit card to avoid bad credit. Oh, the irony. I digress. All of this moving and shaking sounds like what? I’ll give you a hint. It starts with an O and ends with compensating.
Since October, I have been overcompensating with everything in my life. I’ve overcompensated with jobs, with church, with my finances, with family obligations all to cover up the fact that I was freaking out about a decision I made which seemed irreversible.
Admittedly, in my self-denial and self-pity, I became self-consumed. I checked out of the blog. I checked out of my friendships. I checked out mentally because why hold a conversation when it wasn’t about me? Consciously, that wasn’t my thought process, but it might as well have been. We all have our own stories. Some stories have a lot of highs and little lows. Other stories start out dipping low and maybe a few times get high. Most stories, I like to believe, fall somewhere in the middle. Whatever the case, I lost sight of the bigger picture. I lost sight of everything that once made me love my life.
Fortunately, Christ is real. The hole that took me years (this extends way before me leaving my job in October…more like when I accepted the position) to dig, will take some time to climb out of, but it’s not impossible. Brick by brick I am being pieced back together because Christ is the Redeemer. He is the Ultimate Fixer. I’ve been trying to do things how I want to do them because I thought I had the “best possible outcome.” That’s not true when you’re walking with God. He creates the best possible outcome. He determines my destiny.
My level of transparency in this post is intentional. I do myself, this blog, and my walk with God a great injustice if I don’t paint the entire picture. Life ain’t all rainbows, sunshine, and good feels. Sometimes it’s walking through the valley and keeping a brave face. Currently, I find myself actively battling my indifference towards every situation in my life.
So, where am I now? I’m sitting in my car reciting a question prompted by my manager this morning: “What made you successful in the beginning before a slump happened?” Truthfully, I have no freaking idea. I’m on a road to finding this vocation that everyone seems to think I have, and I’ll tell you what, I think I’m not where I’m supposed to be, and that truth makes me uncomfortable enough to move in the right direction.
1. You’re already okay. An okay, put together you exists right now if you believe it and claim it for yourself.
2. When you realign with God, you receive a confirmation of your placement.
3. Humor children. Answer their questions. Don’t think they can’t handle the truth.
4. Always check your heart.
5. Always pray for your students.
6. Don’t be afraid to step into what you’ve been called to do. Welcome the new opportunities.
7. Just because you don’t see what someone else sees in you doesn’t mean you won’t ever see it. It means you’re not ready for it yet.
8. Continue to compliment Papa on His Creation.
9. Wait on The Lord.
10. When you stop reading The Word, sin becomes easier to justify.
11. It’s so difficult to hear, but even in the terrible, life-altering, traumatic experiences, God was still there.
12. People come to you saying different things like “this might seem selfish…” or “this might be rude…” or “this might be mean/racist/etc.” reply with, “If you don’t want to be selfish/rude/mean/etc. then don’t be.” It really is that simple.
13. You can’t just say you need help. You have to be willing to receive it.
14. Not judging is one thing. Not compromising your beliefs is another. Know the difference.
15. You are a sweet, gentle spirit.
16. Move past theory into practice.
17. Impacting 1 child out of 30 is and will always be a victory.
18. When you wanna quit someone because you don’t understand them, don’t. Move towards them. Watch how your perspective shifts.
19. There is beauty in growth.
20. You remember The Wiz? “Home is not just a place you eat or sleep. Home is knowing. Knowing your mind. Knowing your heart. Knowing your courage. And when we know ourselves, we’re home anywhere.” Know, without doubt, exactly who you are. You are God’s special possession before you are anything else.
21. Ask others about their dreams. Listen. Match their excitement. This is something precious to them.
22. There are no bad students. There’s bad behavior.
23. When God rains, He pours.
24. Self-care ain’t all bubble baths and Netflix. Sometimes it’s paying your mortgage before your car note.
25. “Be a thermostat, not a temperature.”
26. Listen. You don’t have tinted windows. People see you dancing. So, if you can dance in your car, then you can dance at church. There’s only a mental block because you put it there.
27. Shyness sometimes comes from never wanting to be embarrassed, which is a manifestation of pride. Cut that out.
28. Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” God’s gonna do what He says He’s gonna do because He said He was gonna do it. That’s just who He is, so don’t you worry ’bout a thing. God’s got it.
“Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:”
Hebrews 10:35-36 NKJV
Say your dreams out loud. Let the wind carry them off to the right ears.
Say your dreams out loud. Watch God as He takes the smallest of seeds and grows it exponentially. Delight in every part of the process.
Say your dreams out loud. Give specifics and be excited about them! Do not hoard them or save them up for a rainy day.
Say your dreams out loud. Appreciate those who help you attain them. Love those who doubt you.
Say your dreams out loud. Give them away freely to people on the train, in the park, or at your job. Know your softly spoken dreams are protected against all threats.
Say your dreams out loud. They are your dreams, and they are worth having. They are worth pursuing. They are worth every hurdle and every frustration. Your dreams are where you will find life’s simplest treasures, so say your dreams out loud.
This month is coming to a close, but me oh my, have I learned quite a bit about where I’ve been. Slowly yet surely, I can see where I’m going, and it’s oddly bright and filled with singing. Here’s what I learned:
1. Don’t put anyone on a pedestal.
2. You are never alone.
3. Aaron Burr was wrong. Talk more. Laugh loud.
4. Be less about “I” and “me” and more about “us” and “we”.
5. Get over it.
6. Change. You’re too young to be so rigid.
7. Fun is a thing you have. It cannot be calculated or analyzed.
8. Get to know who you are first.
9. Who cares what they think!
10. Do not respond to every reaction.
11. Give yourself room to be angry.
12. Change requires a lot of work, but it’s worth it.
13. Good friendships are hard to come by. Apply 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12 to a new one.
14. Dude, just sing. You sing all day every day. The song ain’t end cause you’re in public.
15. Never again will you dull your shine, intelligence, affection, honesty, or loudness because someone else is uncomfortable.
16. Every day is a gift.
17. Love is revolutionary, and it comes in all forms–laughs, shared experiences, songs, dances, smiles, correction, and acceptance.
18. You don’t have to be good at something to love it.
19. Put. Your. Shoes. On. And. Go. RUN!
20. Joy is something that remains. Choose happiness.
21. Give people room to be who they are.
22. Fight for your students and their education.
23. Take a new perspective that doesn’t begin with I or me.
24. You have not cause you ask not.
25. If you say no now, you won’t have to apologize later.
26. Some people just care. They just meet you and love you, and I know it weirds you out, but please let them love you.
27. You teach people how to respond to you.
28. It’s okay to laugh guilt-free again, Esh.
29. You’re a hugger, and everyone knows it.
30. You can’t be right all the time. Take the criticism cause it’s coming from a loving place.
31. Grow up, bebe.