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.

Be More Like Jesus

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.

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.

October Nuggets 

1. Salvation is for everyone. 

2. Everyone deserves a second and third and fourth and fifth and sixth and twenty-ninth chance. Everyone deserves forgiveness. No one gets to be self-righteous. 

3. Loving thy neighbor doesn’t mean a superficial love. It means if the behavior you are performing was done to you, would you like it? If the answer is no, then love differently. 

4. What you believe, you achieve. You must work to have faith of the Centurion, so when Jesus says, “You’re good,,” you know that. 

5. Once you realize who your Savior is, you’re already free from those shackles around your ankles.  

6. God has orchestrated your life perfectly. He has given you what you needed before you knew you needed it. 

7. Don’t be afraid to be honest with Him because you feel ashamed. He knows it’s there, and He wants to take it from you. 

8. You must always give. 

9. Be a fool for Jesus. 

10. Recognize all His promises—from Genesis to Revelation—and act accordingly. 

11. Don’t be afraid of your life-defining moments. 

12. Sometimes the loudest one telling you you can’t is yourself. 

13. Find one good thing about every single person you meet and tell that person that compliment. They are God’s special possession too. 

14. Love with a love that puts all other loves to shame. 

15. Those who reject the truth in public but embrace it in private need to be corrected not shamed. 

16. Dance like David. Sacrifice like Abraham. Remain faithful like Ruth. Reform like Hezekiah. Evangelize like Paul. 

17. Just do what He says. He will not force you to do it, but every single thing bends to His will, so eventually you will do what He originally asked of you. His Word never comes back void. 

18. Have a moment in your day when you welcome the Counselor (The Holy Spirit) back into your day. 

19. Know that when you are in Him, you will run and not grow weary. 

20. Seek understanding as much as you seek wisdom. 

21. Intercede on everyone’s behalf. The woman at Waffle House, your mailman, your neighbor, your distant relatives, that man you met in the park once, that woman whose car broke down at Kroger. Everyone needs prayer all the time under all circumstances. 

22. The same measure that you judge you will be judged. Do not look at someone and call them an eye sore. Do not look at someone and call them a snake. Do not look at someone and call them something other than redeemed, cherished, priceless, one of God’s special, anointed children. 

23. You always need both parents. 

24. Pray and write down your goals. Let God do the rest. 

25. Do not entertain arguments with other Christians about how you express your relationship with God. Whether those differences happen in tithing or worship, disregard it. There should not be any division in the Body of Christ. 

26. Sit and talk with your Father and your father. 

27. Don’t ever allow someone to tack on their earthly ideas to your spiritual existence. You do not govern your life by things of this world but by God and His Word. 

28. In every circumstance of your life, you are taken care of, so do not worry about anything. He makes a way out of no way. 

29. Don’t wait to give someone flowers at their funeral. Love them now. 

30. All greatest journeys begin with forgiveness. 

31. Try again. Love again. Dream again. 

“I yelled at Grandma.” 

Those were the words I uttered to my Mom as I sat next to her hospital bed. Suddenly she was awake. Her eyes widened, “What did you say?” 

I calmly recited the words I shouted the night before. However, the more I spoke, the angrier I became. My voice rose. I sat up straighter. I dug out everything. If my Grandma was in that room for a Round 2, she would have passed out. 

Like many other mid-twenty somethings out there, I lack tact. I formed the conclusion somewhere that the loudest and the last voice is the most accurate one. I tacked in past faults, unnecessary, trivial comments and gave myself the victor speech when I was done. “It had to be said!” I justified my displaced and hurtful words. 

Intimidating is a word frequently associated with me. I’m not intimidating because I’m tall and hovering. I don’t look menacing. The consensus is that I speak too fast, use too many large words, and already have a solidified opinion on an issue, person, or place by the time I speak. While this isn’t wrong, it is limiting in some areas. When I’m angry, I struggle to express myself clearly free from petulant tactics. I want blood for blood, but if I remember anything from July, I remember life is not tit for tat. 

At around 3 o’clock this morning, I woke up to a text message from my Aunt addressing my tone with my Grandma. I initially sent the “new phone, who this,” text to show I don’t even care who it was. The longer I waited for a response, the angrier I got. I started typing a follow up response. What started off as a half-baked apology progressed to probably a 1000+ word count text message outlining why I was right, what exactly needs to change, and in case someone wanted proof of what I was saying, I had receipts complete with time stamps and exact quotes. 

I eventually cut and pasted the text into my notes in order to expand, but what happened moment by moment was a reduction. I cut out the trivial, the bitter. I opened with a sincere apology. No one wants to yell at their Grandma! I cut away the fluff, the worldly, and what resulted was a plea for change and compassion. I said what I needed to say without being nasty. I took accountability for my shortcomings, stated the issue, stated clearly what the issue should not be reduced to, and offered a solution. I closed respectfully. No opinions. No pettiness. No feelings. Factual statements, which were kind in delivery. 

As I was re-reading my message, I offered up much more when I spoke out of love. I offered an overlooked perspective, closure, and a new beginning founded on truth. When those are done in good faith, you can only hope that things change. Preferably, start out that way. Don’t go yelling at old ladies about their 70 year old community effecting habits, regardless of how wrong they are. Open with the good. 

Unfortunately, I know my family well enough to know that they are a stubborn people who refuse to acknowledge when old ways are no longer good ways. As much as my heart had cleared up by the time I sent my nicer (and shorter) message, I was still met with defensiveness and pettiness. Immediately, I wanted to react. I didn’t. I shouted one, “No!” at my phone, and politely declined to continue the conversation. 

I thought my defensiveness and childish ways were something I learned from the world, but I was wrong. I learned it from my root. 

My God is a God of redemption. That extends from my salvation to my foundation. I wasn’t raised in the church, so my patient God has a lot of digging and uprooting to do. If last years Aisha was in this situation, she would have gone off. She would’ve been combative. Ultimately, the encounter would’ve ruined her day. She would’ve discussed it thoroughly and vocalized to anyone in earshot. Today’s Aisha knows that reacting is only satisfying for half a second. It’s exhausting and most times doesn’t require a response. When I do respond, all I need to do is stand on His Truth. God will do the rest. 

This morning I am terribly grateful that I serve a God who uses all moments as teaching moments for His glory. 

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬