The Fall

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.

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March to April Mending Affirmations

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

Who Were You Before the Fall?

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.

Psalm 33

“Sing joyfully to the LORD, you

righteous;

it is fitting for the upright to

praise him.

Praise the LORD with the harp;

make music to him on the

ten-stringed lyre.

Sing to him a new song;

play skillfully, and shout for joy.

For the word of the LORD is right

and true;

he is faithful in all he does.

The LORD loves righteousness and

justice;

the earth is full of his unfailing

love.

By the word of the LORD were the

heavens made,

their starry host by the breath of

his mouth.

He gathers the waters of the sea

into jars;

he puts the deep into

storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the LORD;

let all the people of the world

revere him.

For he spoke, and it came to be;

he commanded, and it stood

firm.

The LORD foils the plans of the

nations;

he thwarts the purposes of the

peoples.

But the plans of the LORD stand

firm forever,

the purposes of his heart through

all generations.

Blessed is the nation whose God is

the LORD,

the people he chose for his

inheritance.

From heaven the LORD looks down

and sees all mankind;

from his dwelling place he watches

all who live on earth—

he who forms the hearts of all,

who considers everything they

do.

No king is saved by the size of his

army;

no warrior escapes by his great

strength.

A horse is a vain hope for

deliverance;

despite all its great strength it

cannot save.

But the eyes of the LORD are on

those who fear him,

on those whose hope is in his

unfailing love,

to deliver them from death

and keep them alive in famine.

We wait in hope for the LORD;

he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice,

for we trust in his holy name.

May your unfailing love be with

us, O LORD,

even as we put our hope in you.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭33:1-22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The Details

Do you know God thinks about you? Do you know He hears every desire of your heart? Do you believe me as you read this? Well, He does, and you don’t have to go far to know it. He hears every outcry of your heart. He’ll bless you in the littlest of details to the life-altering moments just to remind you that He’s there. He’s listening, and you don’t have to wait for the big problems to arise before you call on the Lord.

I serve as an usher at my church, and we receive our schedule Thursday morning. I skimmed the email about halfway through, knowing I wasn’t on it for that week. I sat for a moment and started thinking about all the other ministries and for a few minutes set my mind on one in particular.

I said to myself, “I’m going to serve on that ministry.” My heart pointed to it, and I put that desire away for a rainy day.

Today, I was at church, and I had to excuse myself during the Apostle’s preaching because my allergies got the best of me. I was sitting in the lobby at a table watching the sermon on the TV and pouting about it. I was disappointed I wasn’t in the sanctuary. Every time I tried re-entering the sanctuary, I would cough so hard and loud that I became a distraction.

I strained to hear the remaining parts of the sermon. Five minutes before the closing prayer, I see, Mrs. C come out of the sanctuary. I hadn’t realized I was sitting at her table. She wasted no time in saying how she’s seen me around. She asked me what else I was involved in at the church. We talked for not even five minutes before she asked me if I was interested in serving with her. She runs the ministry I was thinking about Thursday morning.

The last words the Apostle said that I could hear was, “God’s got it!” And He does. He holds your life in His hands. He has every little detail planned out. He knows what you’re going to want, when you’re going to want it, and how He’s going to get you there. However, if I was really disappointed about my lobby seat, I could’ve waited in the car or gone completely off the grounds, but I didn’t. I sat at that table and tried my hardest to focus on the sermon, and there came Mrs. C extending an invitation I knew eventually would be mine.

So, I’m asking you again: Do you know God thinks about you? Do you know He hears every desire of your heart? Do you believe it?

A Multifaceted Me

During my quiet time with Papa before church, I said, “I feel like I’m supposed to have an answer for a question, but I don’t know the question, and I don’t have the answer. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to fix whatever it is that’s broken.” I paused for a bit, waiting for a passionate response to a question I could not form. It didn’t come. The only thing that lingered in the air was my, “I don’t know.” 

I got to church a little late and sat in the back. I knew only a few songs, and I could tell by the atmosphere that it was going to be one of those nights. A night when the Apostle ditches his sermon and speaks directly from the heart–a Holy Spirit kinda night. For one reason or another, I wasn’t having it. I wanted a simple sermon where I could take notes and read around the Scriptures given. I wanted to be spoon-fed my solution. 

I typically sit in the back of the sanctuary for no other reason than I like it. I like the openness. I like that when I get there, no one’s there, but by the time praise and worship is over, a plethora of people have poured in without me noticing. I love seeing other people worship God. I think that’s pretty cool. However, yesterday, I didn’t even want to stand up. I made up my mind that praising Papa was not what I needed in that moment. But, the more I listened to the Apostle, the more I knew this night, like many other Wednesday nights, was intentional. 

Somewhere down the road I swapped seats with The Driver. I gave Papa my map made out of crayons and napkins. I doodled my potential detours in the margins. Papa in all His glory, held my map. He said nothing when destinations were smudged off. He said nothing when I asked for directions except, “This is your map, but I can drive if you want me to.” (Sounds awfully similar to: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8 NIV.) I knew a little of where His map would lead me to, and that’s in a position that I didn’t think I earned. I pitched a fit, but I still pulled the car over to reverse what I had done. 

How I see myself and how I think Papa sees me are thoughts that should not be dwelled upon. I saw myself as always doing one thing, excelling at it, but never being able to veer away from that core. That’s how I thought He saw me too. I can be a teacher, but I can also be a better counselor. I can be someone who excels at serving. I can be more than one thing. 

What I found out post church was that I wasn’t nervous about succeeding. I was nervous about not knowing what it felt like to complete what He designed. I forgot that Papa wants to make me His multifaceted giver. For a while, I was doing what I wanted and occasionally looking at Papa in the passenger seat making sure He didn’t jump from the car. Oh, how wrong I was. He drives. I sit shotgun with a pen and paper ready to write down what He points out. As much as I couldn’t admit it yesterday, it was nice being back in the passenger seat. It was nice recognizing how and where I fall short and where Papa picks up. 

My mind limited me to thinking God was rooting me into a small, grey box. A box that would only be opened for special occasions and events. I would never get happiness, but happiness is subjective and silly. Happiness is something I have in one moment and lost in the next. I was so focused on what I didn’t want to become or what I didn’t like, that I missed everything that I am. I am who He made me to be. If the driving force to His destination is happiness then I have already run out of fuel. I need peace and the patience to stand firm in the direction my life has already taken. 

My doubt was nothing more than a reminder to remain steadfast. Nothing seems to make sense right now, but I have to know it will make sense later. That’s so much easier said than done. That’s a multiple times a day reminder, which is more effort than I am willing to give. Surrendering in itself is terribly difficult for me, but at some point, I have to put effort into something. I have to put effort into keeping my relationship with Papa, and part of that is always letting Him drive. 

“Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:24-26‬ ‭MSG‬‬