Remember Why You Began

I think it’s appropriate that it’s almost been a year since I’ve made a post on here. I stopped for so many reasons. I was transitioning out of a bad situation into a good one. I was nervous about life. I didn’t think what I had to say mattered too much anymore. I felt weird about where I was in life and who I knew, that I removed myself from anything that provided any amount of comfort. I removed myself from my daily reminder that the little things matter.

So, let me give some updates, in bullet point fashion.

  • Last August I started attending seminary, and incidentally, stopped going to church. Seminary has been a collection of experiences, some of which remind me how celestial we truly are, while others scream, “We are dangerously human!” The fragile state of human existence is rather beautiful, intricate, and complicated.
  • This year I started working steadily in a courthouse. It’s humbling and high-stress work, but I’d be lying if  I said I hate it. It brings me some odd satisfaction.
  • I started going to therapy in December. I’m sure I’ll write so many more posts about how therapy is a sacred space, and everyone should have a therapist. Right now, I will say that it is amazing what I can do when I feel understood.
  • I was honest about my job hopping, but I’m not sure if I was honest about my home. Last year, I almost lost my home to foreclosure. I’m absolutely grateful I didn’t. To be very honest, I’m not sure how it is possible that I’m still in my home. In the twelve months, I think I made four or five payments. Any other time, I would’ve said God wanted me to have my house. However, since beginning seminary, I’ve learned that it’s important what I’m saying and what I’m not saying. If I said God wanted me to have my home, then what am I saying to those who have lost their homes? Working in a court system, I meet hundreds of people who have been evicted due to nonpayment, and it’s humbling every time. Never would I stand before them and say, “Well, God just wanted you out.” I’ve learned not to speak for God. I’ve learned that there are no tiny graces. I hurt for those people who have lost their homes. I mourn for them picking up the broken pieces. I don’t have the words for what I feel, but I am grateful that I was able to stay in my house.
  • I stopped going to my heavily Pentecostal non-denominational church (that I love and miss) and floated around in my seminary education. Sometime in November I read about Pauli Murray. In the book, All Out of Faith, I read her essay “Full Circle.” I still am unable to describe what it is I felt after reading. The closest thing that comes to mind is overwhelmed. I took in a glimpse of her story and fell in love with her, with God, with how our lives unapologetically come full circle into reconciliation. That reconciliation with ourselves, our families, and our current societal positions looks so different than what we could have ever expected. Rev. Murray was the first African American woman to become an Episcopal priest. Her story inspired me to visit an Episcopal church. I was a nervous wreck. I didn’t know the hymns, when to stand or kneel, but I did know the Nicene Creed (courtesy of my Church History professor), and I knew how to receive communion. There was something completely different about communion at that church than anywhere else. The experience was golden. It was fulfilling. There is something passionately intimate about being in silence, kneeling at the altar, and receiving the blood and the body of Christ. It was holy.

There’s so much more I could list, but that would take the fun out of all future posts.

Over the course of a month or so, I received notifications that multiple someones had liked a post from over a year ago. I would read what they liked, and remembered how I believed. How and who I believed God to be a year ago is drastically different from where I am now.  I began this blog because I wanted to further the idea that we are so much more than what we believe ourselves to be. We are magical and celestial and greatly heard. Since those notifications started popping up, those are things that I felt like the Spirit is trying to remind me of. All week, I have heard a whisper, “Remember why you began, Aisha. Remember why you began.” Those notifications and the feeling of freedom I have typing this is why I began. I believed this to be a space of transparency and freedom for myself and for others. So, I am beginning again on the same blog (instead of cutting and running like I would’ve before) and hoping that my life encourages someone else’s.

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Good. And you?

I’m sitting on my front porch listening to Beauty and the Beast (the Celine and Peabo version) while reading Love Does by Bob Goff when my neighbor Nancy walks up. I won’t put an age on Nancy, but she has a nice crown of grey and white hair. She wears a gold chain, and when she’s working in her yard, she always has on a grey or white t-shirt with her work pants and tool belt. She always says hello, and she always asks me how I’m doing. Today was no different. 

Today is the first time I’ve talked to Nancy in about two months. Some time ago, she had a heart attack, which took her out of her house for a bit because of obvious circumstances. I hadn’t seen her for a while, and admittedly, I missed her. I had small talk with Jules, the other woman who lives there, but I felt a special bond with Nancy. She was the first one to come over and introduce herself when I moved into my new neighborhood. She was kind through and through with no motive except to get to know who she was living next to. I not only appreciated that gesture but also respected it. 

I look up from my book and see Nancy with her hands on her hips. We exchange hellos. 

“Well, how ya doing?” She looks up to the sky then at me. One thing I notice is she gives me time to think about how I am before I respond. She has never given me the “Good n you?” Response most people give in passing. She listens. 

While she stood there, I thought about my day and decided on it would be accurate to say I was good. “Good. I’m doing good. How are you?” 

Nancy turns away from me, looking at the direction of my back yard and says, “By the grace of God…” We both let her words coat the atmosphere. “By the grace of God. I don’t feel so bad for someone who just had a heart attack!” 

We laugh. “I noticed you were gone for a while, but when I saw you, you were right back in your yard.” 

“I love my yard.” She spoke like a true sculptor of the earth. 

We finished our heart attack chit chat and discussed our now shared backyard due to Hurricane Irma. She elaborated on how she was going to cut a tree out from my back yard, but truly all I could focus on was when she said “chainsaw.” 

“Ohhhh, okay.” She made the whole process sound easy. Woman who just had a heart attack with a chainsaw? Sounds about right. I didn’t question it. I told her to be careful in the back yard and with her chainsaw. 

She left me with a warm smile and a “take care.” I was alone again with Mr. Goff and my music. 

A lot of the time I think we ask people how they are out of habit. We don’t really want the answer, or if we do, we want to hear that they’re okay and that’s it. One of my co-workers told me, “Don’t ever ask how someone is if you don’t really want the answer. I asked a lady once and she broke down on the spot—crying uncontrollably. If you’re not prepared for that type of answer then don’t ask because there’s good and bad responses.” 

When I asked Nancy how she was, I had no idea what she was going to say. Am I glad it wasn’t a break down? Sure, but that would’ve been okay too. My how are you today wasn’t just a how are you. It was a “I’m glad you’re still here. I hope you’re feeling better. Your absence made an impact.” What I got in return was the honor of getting a bit of who Nancy is, and I think that’s pretty cool. 

We’re called to love everyone as Jesus loves us. That requires being genuine all the time, not only when it’s convenient. 

““The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.””

‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:29-31‬ ‭NIV‬‬

You can’t really love your neighbor as yourself if you aren’t loving God with all your heart. Could you really love God and hate your neighbor who is also His creation?