Protect Your Dreams

I remember when I told someone, who I considered to be a very close friend of mine, that I was thinking about starting a blog. I wasn’t sure what my blog would be about, when I would start writing it, or if I had the dedication to maintain it over time. I told her about my idea because it had been on my mind some time before I mentioned it to her. I told her about my dream because, in all honesty, I was uncertain about if I had what it took to make that dream come to fruition and I wanted reassurance. I wanted to hear someone tell me to get over my fears and go for something I was passionate about. I mean, because after all, isn’t that what best friends are for? But do you know what the first words out of her mouth were when I told her? “Girl, you know ain’t nobody gonna read your blog!”

I laughed it off but inside I was hurt. It wasn’t that crushing hurt that’s enough to make you lock yourself up in your room, crying while listening to old Mary J. Blige songs and eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. I felt the hurt that you feel when someone says something that’s just enough to chip away at your self-esteem. The hurt that you might not notice or will disregard if you’re not really paying attention. The hurt that will slowly kill your dreams, choke out your confidence and stifle your purpose if you don’t stop it. Have you ever been hurt like that before? Maybe it’s your boyfriend who constantly compares your body to other women or constantly criticizes the things you do. Maybe it’s that parent or sibling who’s never satisfied with any of the choices you make in life. Maybe it’s the frienemy you have who smiles in your face but constantly talks behind your back. They don’t ever hurt you enough to make you leave them, or if they do, they’re back in the picture before you know it, but that’s exactly what makes them so dangerous to your dreams.

God created us to have a need to feel acceptance and validation from sources outside of ourselves. God knows that we have an innate desire to be encouraged, uplifted and loved by others. However, the enemy knows that too. The enemy knows that if he can surround us with people who only partially accept and validate us, while they constantly chip away at our self-esteem over time, then he has us right where he wants us. He knows that if he can surround us with those who provide us with a false sense of security and acceptance but really doubt us and our potential, then after a while we will begin doubting ourselves, too. And once we start doubting who God created us to be, that leaves the door wide open for fear, shame, depression and other issues that prevent us from seeing our true worth and value. And when we don’t see ourselves as the “fearfully and wonderfully made” creations that we are, then that will keep us from doing what we are truly called to do.

That’s why we have to be careful with who we allow in our circle and who we share our dreams with. We have to be careful who we turn to for unconditional love and acceptance. Looking back, I realize that the “friend” who told me nobody would ever read a blog I started, was never really a friend to begin with. That wasn’t the first time she’d made negative remarks about me or the things I was passionate about pursuing. Since the beginning of our friendship she’d made countless comments that took shots at my self-esteem and chipped away at my confidence, but they were so subtle that I rarely noticed it. On the rare occasions that I did notice it, I brushed it off, or even worse, actually thought that what she was saying held truth. Thankfully, God brought me to a place where I could truly see the how detrimental her presence in my life was. Needless to say, we’re not really friends anymore. It’s not that I hate her or anything, but that day I realized that I loved and valued the dreams that God gave me more than I valued being accepted and validated by her, or anyone for that matter. It definitely hurt to let go of someone I considered to be a close friend, but I know that it would have hurt me far more, in the long run, to hold on to a friendship with someone that makes me doubt my own purpose.

I can’t lie. I still want to hear encouraging words from friends when I’m feeling shaky about stepping out on faith and pursuing one of my dreams. I still long for acceptance and validation from others, but I’m learning to seek God before I seek anyone else. I’m finding out more and more that He is the true source of the unconditional love and acceptance that I crave. He’s the only one who can give me the reassurance I need when I’m filled with doubt and uncertainty about my dreams and my purpose. And who is better to consult about my purpose and potential anyway? He is the One that gave me my purpose in the first place and who knows all about the potential I hold far better than anyone else.

So I said all of that to say this, take some time to evaluate the people that you’ve been sharing your hopes, dreams and goals with. How do they typically react when you share the things that you are passionate about with them? Do they uplift and encourage you to go after you dreams? Do they pray for you and with you as you step out on faith to pursue you passion? Or do they belittle and criticize your dream? Do they discourage you or create doubt about whether or not you can be everything God has purposed you to be? If you have people in your life who seem to be tearing down your dreams more than seem to be building them up, it may be time to remove them from your life. Also, take some time to evaluate yourself. Do you depend on people whenever you need reassurance or do you depend on God? When you feel uncertain about pursuing a endeavor, do you get down on your knees and seek counsel from the Father, or do you pick up the phone to hear the opinions of people? If you find that you rely on others more than you rely on God, it may be time to seek Him, repent for putting people in the place where only He belongs, and ask Him to build your dependence on Him. You may have to make some adjustments to yourself, your circle, and your relationship with God, but it will all be worth it in the long run. Your dreams and the purpose God has given you are far too valuable and precious to be chipped away at and discouraged by anyone. You owe it to yourself, and most importantly to God, to surround yourself with those who will help you build up your dreams, instead of constantly tearing them down.





Throw Me to the Wolves…

Throw Me to the Wolves...

Little did Joseph’s brothers know when they left him for dead that they would one day have to ask him to save their lives and give them food, because he would become the 2nd in command of an empire. When people intend to harm you, God ALWAYS intends it for your good. So the next time you get thrown to the proverbial wolves in life, don’t worry or get upset. Praise God and thank Him in advance for allowing you to be in the position to come out on top, leading the pack.

Is It Really Dead?

Mark 5:21- 43 tells the story of Jesus waking up the daughter of a synagogue leader. Of all the miracles that Jesus performs, I find this one to be one of His most interesting ones. I mean Jesus comes to the house to find a girl that her father thinks is dead, only to see that she is sleeping. The miracle here isn’t that He raises her from the dead or heals her from some debilitating disease. The miracle is the fact that He realizes she is just sleeping and wakes her up. Doesn’t seem like much of a miracle, right? Couldn’t the father or any of the many people that were in the house crying and grieving over her have done that? As a matter of fact, why didn’t they do that?

When we look at verse 38 in this chapter, it says that there was confusion throughout the house when the little girl was thought to be dead. Confusion. The thing that is of the enemy. (1 Corinthians 14:33 tells us God is not a God of confusion, so that means confusion has to be a product of the enemy). Confusion. The thing that will make you think things are that really are not. See, the devil will have you in circumstances believing that something is over, done with and dead, when in actuality, it is still full of life. The miracle here was that Jesus could see past the confusion and see what was really going on.

The same thing applies to our life. Jesus is the only way to see through the confusion that life throws our way. When you feel confused and don’t know which way to go. When your circumstances seem bleak and past the point of no return. Stop listening to the confusion and start listening to Him. Stop getting confused by your circumstances and start looking to the One who can see past your circumstances. See, the author of confusion and lies will have you thinking something in your life is dead, when it’s really just sleeping. He will have you thinking something is dead and gone, when it’s really just gone into hibernation. Sometimes things in your life need to appear lifeless so they can rest and rejuvenate during a harsh season in your life. It has to lay low for a while in order to survive and come back during its proper season. Some things in your life will need to rest for a season so that they can consistently replenish themselves to sustain you throughout your life. If it was around all year long it would not survive. Think about a bear that hibernates each winter. It goes into a deep sleep, and almost death-like state each winter in order to survive the harsh temperatures and lack of food that normally sustains it. If it didn’t hibernate each winter, it would die because the season cannot sustain the bear if it’s functioning at full capacity. The same rule applies to certain things in your life. God knows when the seasons in your life change and He knows that if He doesn’t allow that thing to hibernate for a season, it will die. Every season cannot sustain every blessing. Some blessings that you receive are so great that God has to let it go into hibernation because the current season you are in cannot sustain it.

That’s also why it’s so important to consult Him in everything that we do. Let’s think about what would have happened if Jesus hadn’t have been there with the little girl. In the midst of all the confusion, the father and the crowd of grieving people would have kept on thinking she was dead. They would have wrapped her up in burial cloth and put her in a tomb. They would have buried that little girl alive. Essentially, they would have killed her because when she finally did wake up inside of her tomb, there would be no food or water there to sustain her and continue to give her life. In confusion and hopelessness, they would have killed what was alive, simply by thinking and saying she was dead.

Let that sink in for a minute.

She wasn’t dead, but because they already thought she was dead they would have killed her and caused her death. If this is not one of the best examples of how death and life lie in the power of the tongue, then I don’t know what is. When we speak on things in the midst of confusion and stop speaking life into every area of our lives, we kill our blessings and any possibility of our situation turning around. We literally bury our blessings alive. That’s not to say that some things in our lives don’t die and are only meant to last for a certain period of time, but until you get an autopsy report for God, don’t declare anything in your life to be dead. Keep speaking life into every situation, despite the current circumstances, and continue praying until the Lord gives the final say. Speak life into that child that is strung out on drugs. Speak life into that spouse who seems to have given up on your marriage. Speak life in your finances when money is low and bills are due. Speak life into yourself when you’re overworked, stressed out, and depressed. Keep speaking life into any and every thing that seems hopeless until you hear otherwise from God. Just like Jesus and the little girl, He can see what’s really going on despite the confusion and He has the final say. What you’re thinking might be dead but it really might just be sleeping.

Birth and Transition

Can you imagine what it felt like when you were born? Imagine what an incredibly scary and uncertain event that had to have been. Here you are, just minding your business for nine months. You haven’t been there an incredibly long time, but the place you’re at has become your world. You’ve found solace in the darkness. The sound of your mother’s heartbeat lulls you to sleep every night and the sound of her breathing comforts you throughout the day. You’re fed, you’re warm, and you’re safe. You have everything you need. Sure, your world is tiny and has grown increasingly uncomfortable the past few months, but it’s all you’ve ever known. You couldn’t imagine yourself anywhere else. It’s what you’re used to. It’s your comfort zone.

Then out of nowhere, the world that has been so peaceful and comforting for months, suddenly turns on you. The same world that has embraced you peacefully, is now contracting violently and pushing you out. The heartbeat that has lulled you to sleep now is pounding and the breathing that has comforted you has now been replaced with gasps, screams and crying. You don’t know what’s going on, but you’re scared. Really, really scared. You’re being pushed out of the only world you ever knew and out into the unknown. You have no idea where you’re headed but it can’t possibly be good if things are happening so quickly and dramatically, right? You don’t have time to gather your thoughts, or come up with a game plan on how to survive outside of the world you knew. You don’t even get a heads up about where your going next and you’re confused. Really, really confused. You keep getting pushed further and further out of the world that you grew to love and thought you’d never leave. You can’t turn back, even if you wanted to, because the world that embraced you so much has suddenly rejected and turned on you. Your only option is to leave. The next thing you know, you’re in a completely new world. One that is nothing like the world you left. The darkness you knew has been replaced by glaring lights. The sound of your mother’s heartbeat and breaths are now replaced with the sounds of oooh-ing and awww-ing, cheering and shouting, chatter and laughter. You went from a world where you were warm and safe to one where you feel cold and vulnerable. Really, really vulnerable. You cry and scream out into this cold, strange world because your scared, confused, and vulnerable. Life as you’ve always known it is over and you can never, ever go back.

Little do you know, the world that you’ve just entered is a world where you will flourish. It’s a world where you will do things that you never knew were possible. It’s a world where you will grow and learn beyond your wildest dreams. You will learn to crawl, walk, and run. You will one day learn to talk and read. You will achieve things that people in this strange, new world will marvel at. You will face challenges you didn’t face before but you will also accomplish what was impossible to do in the world you just left. The world you’re scared you can’t live without. The world you’re confused about having to leave. The world that shielded you from the vulnerability that comes with staggering growth and change. You’ll look back one day to realize that the world you were pushed out of was only necessary for those nine months. That world helped you grow to the point where you could handle all the things that awaited you in this new world. That old world had to push you out, not out of rejection, but out of love. In infinite wisdom, it knew you had exhausted all the resources it had to offer and even though you didn’t feel ready to leave, it knew it was time for you to go so you continue to grow.

Sometimes life treats us the same way and we go through major transitions that feel a lot like we’re going through the birth process all over again. We get pushed out of our old world and we’re separated from the people, places and situations that we’ve grown so used to. Often times, those transitions aren’t calm and peaceful either. We often feel rejected and completely forced out of our old world. Maybe we lose the job we had for 20 years or go off to college in another state. Maybe our closest friends turn their backs on us or we experience the death of a parent. Maybe we’re going through a painful divorce or dealing with an unexpected pregnancy. Whatever that transition is, we often feel like a scared, confused and vulnerable baby pushed from the world of its mother’s womb. We don’t have time to gather our thoughts or come up with a game plan. We often feel like we have no idea where this new world we’ve transitioned into will take us. We were so comfortable with our old world because it had become our comfort zone. It’s what we knew and what we were used to. It sustained us for so long that we can’t imagine how the new world we’ve been pushed into could possibly be any good for us. However, just like that baby will flourish in incredible ways that it couldn’t in it’s old world, we have to trust that when God pushes us out of our comfort zone, it’s because He’s knows we’re ready. He knows that the environment that surrounded us before sustained us for months or maybe even years. However, we’ve finally grown to the point that what once sustained us will now stifle us if we continue to stay there. He forces us out into a new and strange world, knowing that even if we don’t feel ready for the change, we are ready. He knows that coming into a place that is completely out of our element will allow us to grow and learn in ways that we couldn’t in our old world. He knows we’ll accomplish things that were simply impossible in our old environment. He knows we’re not going to be bound by the confines of what once was and we’ll now have room to reach more of our limitless potential. Yes, making huge transitions in life are scary, confusing and often leave us feeling vulnerable, but they are absolutely necessary for growth. Trust God as you face your transition and know that He will never push you out of your old world until He’s absolutely certain that you have everything it takes to flourish in your new world.

Dear Love: You’re Still Here

Dear Love,
I don’t care what you’ve been through or how much you’ve been hurt, the fact that you can read this means that you can recover and heal from the pain. The fact that you’re still here despite all of the hurts. The fact that you survived every single struggle. The fact that you were able to push through the pain means that you’re ready to be renewed and restored. You might be barely holding on, but YOU ARE holding on. Don’t give up, love! Know that God has seen everything you’ve been going through. Every tear you’ve cried. Every time your heart has been broken. Every time your trust has been abused. Every time you’ve been tossed to the side. Even when you didn’t feel His presence or think that He cared, He was there. He was there bringing you through hardships that others couldn’t make it through and that’s a testimony all by itself. And now He’s ready to restore you and make you shine like never before. What you thought was Him abandoning you when you were at your absolute lowest. What you thought was Him forgetting you when you needed Him the most, was really just Him refining you in the fire and making your faith pure (1 Peter 1:7). Continue to hold on and rest assured that you’ve been through the fire and your faith has been tested but your “praise, glory and honor” is coming sooner than you think.



Just Saying: Criticism

There’s a difference between constructive criticism and condescending criticism. People who truly love you WILL point out your flaws, but they will also offer guidance and wisdom on how to overcome those flaws. If there are people in your life that can recall every mistake you’ve made over the past 6 months and judge you like it’s their part-time job, but can’t back it up with tough love and encouraging wisdom for your situations, then it’s time to seriously evaluate their motives. Are they really trying to help you or are they trying to hurt you and disguise it as “helpful feedback”? True constructive criticism will give you a reality check and may hurt your feelings but it will always come from that person’s heart. What they tell you may initially knock you down, but true friends will make sure they are still building you up in the process. If what you’re constantly hearing is tearing you down and offering nothing else, you have to stop and ask yourself if they really have your back or if they’re just trying to stab you in it?