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.
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.
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”
1 Corinthians 16:13
Well, not the nail beds, just the calcium soaked powder that was covering them. They were a lovely mint chocolate chip. I’ve had the color for about three weeks, so I was due for an appointment. The difference between the last two nights and the end of a three week nail change was that I didn’t want to go. I didn’t care what color they were. I missed what was beneath the color. I missed my regular nails. Sure, I could’ve attributed this sudden change of habit up to “it’s hot and who cares,” but there was something else there–I never really cared.
Office politics is something serious, and the moment you open your mouth is the moment you make an unspoken allegiance with the people around you. Bonds gets even more intense once you divide people up by departments. It’s nearly almost as bad as having football rivalries. I made my allegiance a year into my current job, not because I wanted to, but because these women seemed nice enough. They are older than me, and I felt could make the day go by quicker when you have people to laugh with. That is partially true. What ended up happening, though, is that they would pick and poke at me, enough for me to question why I wore certain things and why I didn’t do certain things with my hair. Why wasn’t my nail polish lasting a week? Silly things.
Eventually, I succumbed. I assimilated and cared about what they cared about. When asked about the things I genuinely loved to do, I earned weird looks and a pretty cumulative response of, “Black people don’t do the outdoors.” As annoying as it was, I was used to it. However, no matter how normal their response was, I hadn’t prepared for the influence that followed. I stopped talking about my hobbies. I started indulging more into how these women were living. Although it made me feel a short-lived thrill, the pleasure was not sustaining. I blinked and months went by. I kept on doing less of me and more of them.
There’s a couple reasons why this is wrong. The first being I hated the habits it created. I began to gossip. I looked at people on a superficial level. I talked first and thought later. I hated who I was becoming because I knew I wasn’t that person. The second, and most important one, I was filling up on the wrong thing. I allowed these people, no matter how good-intentioned, to plant seeds on why I needed to be different and why I needed to look like them. This, although arguably incorrect, is how they tried to love me where I was at. They loved me by trying to improve me.
My interests have never truly aligned with my demographic. Statistically, culturally, and stereotypically I should fall somewhere on the other end of the spectrum, but I don’t. I never let my background keep me from the things that I love to do, like gardening, hiking, being outside. I was always okay with my interests not aligning up with who I was expected to be. However, here I was at 24/25 still hadn’t come into the woman my family, the world, and admittedly myself expected me to be. I gave into the change I thought I needed. I abided in the world.
However, last night, as I laid acetone soaked cotton balls on my nails, waited twenty minutes, then buffed away the remaining color, I laughed at the obvious: I’m too old to sit with nails I don’t like, wearing clothes that make me uncomfortable, and talking about things that have no value. Pre-nail ripping, maybe 4 or so months ago, I was able to nip some of the bad habits, the gossip, the superficial, but the nails remained. The “Them” I filled up on was running on empty.
My Pastor says, “Don’t do you. Do God.” I’d like to make an amendment to his statement. “Don’t do you. Definitely don’t do them. Always do God.” As I was so graciously reminded today, common sense ain’t all that common, and what I should’ve known, I didn’t.
I’m gonna be honest with you, I assumed “doing God” was all about reading my Bible, constantly being in prayer, going to most church events, having miraculous revelations, and not once making any mistakes. Always incorrect. I am always incorrect. Those things are true, yes, but when you abide in Him, He draws out things you have long sense forgot about. He teaches you in ways you would’ve never expected. He graces you with wisdom and knowledge of His ways that are both humbling and exhilarating.
For example, it is very well known that I am terrified of heights. I get the reward of beautiful views when I make it to the top of a mountain or down in a canyon, but you better believe I’m crying the whole way through and through. With that being said, I have an overwhelming desire to go rock climbing. This is a desire that has sparked enough interest to turn into a hobby. The act of climbing is more welcoming than the fear of heights. I get excited just thinking about the distance I can make vertically.
You see, I longed to be like everyone else to like what they like, look like they look, then maybe I could annihilate this feeling of foreignness in the pit of my core. Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Emphasis mine.) I abided in God, which meant I decided to not live in fear. God and fear cannot co-exist and neither can the endless chatter from the world exist with God.
Sometimes, God is telling me to sit and wait on Him. Sometimes, He’s calling me out on the water. But all the time, He’s reminding me to look to Him. I forget that because He is God, He is God over everything. That means that I don’t have to be fearful of heights. I don’t have to be anxious in social situations. I don’t need to fit in with everyone else. I fit in just fine with Him. So, maybe, God is telling me to get dolled up and spend some alone time with myself. But maybe, He’s telling me to trust what I’ve never known (and never liked), and in that trust, is a rich experience that will deepen our relationship. When I abide less in this world and more in Him, I grow every single time. I forget that a lot too.
So I’m looking at my nails, my scratched up, low cut nails. I think about how pretty they looked before. It’ll take some time for them to get back to how they were, and I can barely remember what they looked like when they were healthy. But, as with all things, they will come back healthier and stronger than they were before.
After all, what good is pretty if they aren’t strong?
Yesterday morning, I used my 40 minute commute to work to tell God how much I needed Him. I told Him that I missed the time we shared together. I missed how He was my refuge, my hope, my security. In the last month, I bought my first house, moved across the city, dated a man who I was unequally yoked with, and started a business. Needless to say, I’ve been pretty busy.
Instead of making time to spend with Papa like I usually would when things get heavy, I magnified my problems. I made my stressors so big that the only things I could see were my blessings crumbling to pieces. Recently, things have calmed down, but I still didn’t have Papa like I did before. Something was missing. My drive made me realize that my obedience was missing. The love and passion I had for Him had taken a backseat to the things of this world. Instead of admitting that I didn’t know how to get Him back in the driver’s seat, I tried to bend and twist my way back under His umbrella of Life. It didn’t work, so I asked for help. I asked that He move me, change me, mold me. And He did.
Yesterday, my friend gifted me a book which is everything that I prayed about. Later that night, I went to church and had the honor of listening to the father of my Apostle preach a sermon he’s held for 50 years. Do you know what that sermon was about? It was about a story of love. How John loved Jesus so much he wrote Him in 21 different ways. His sermon was amazing and ordained by God. I don’t want to be so conceited that I believe the Apostle waited 50 years for me, but I’m just saying I don’t believe in coincidences.
On the way home, I couldn’t express enough how appreciative I was, how much I loved Papa, and how awesome He really is. I promised Him then that I’m not sleeping on the couch anymore (when I’m avoiding my prayer closet, I sleep in the living room on the couch). I was the only one missing out…until I asked for help.
All the situations I put off, like bills, appointments, and studying, I collected. I asked for help one more time, and suddenly, things got easier. My problems fell by the wayside, and for the first time in almost 30 days, I could breathe. I wanted to get up and run, but it was too late and the way Georgia is set up with these coyotes, it wasn’t working out. I did the next best thing, I turned all the lights off and played Florence + the Machine’s “Shake It Out.”
For 30 days I lived in front of God instead of behind Him. For 30 days I was lost and lonely. For 30 days, I didn’t dance. Last night I did. I danced hard, and when I got to my job this morning, I was still dancing.
Some problems can only be solved by dancing it out. Dance hard. Dance in public. Dance freely with your arms out and your head back. Dance because you know that whatever is gripping your spirit will not last forever.
As Florence would say, “Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh whoa”
As my friend would say, “Dance like David.” (2 Samuel 6:14: “David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might” NIV.)