The Spiritual Element of Racism

I already know this is going to go over a lot of people’s heads and I’m going to get a plethora of eye rolls and criticism for what I’m about to say. But one of the biggest lies we’ve been told is that demonic energy is not at work unless someone’s head is spinning around like a scene from a horror movie. Demonic activity can look like that, but it can also look like taking humans from their homeland and shipping them to the Americas like cattle. It looks like raping women, men and children and forcing them to have orgies for entertainment on plantations (Yes, that actually happened, and more often than you think). It looks like strange fruit hanging from trees all over the south. It looks like those screaming nigger, and wetback, and Jap, and chink, and terrorist to justify despicably evil actions. It looks like the laws and structures of society that have allowed certain groups of people to be oppressed for centuries. It looks like the death of Alton Sterling.

Racism, at its very core, is demonic and it’s time to start addressing it as such. I am not denying that racism has complex legal and social implications nor am I saying that we don’t need to continue fighting in those areas, because we do. However, we can no longer ignore the spiritual elements at play. What’s going on is just as much a spiritual war, as it is a political, social and economic one.

With that being said, it is time to start seriously consulting the spiritual realm as we go forward. I’m a Christian, so I can speak from that perspective. I’m praying without ceasing for the protection and strength of my people. I’m binding and casting the demonic forces at work back to the pits of hell in the name of Jesus. If you are a Christian, especially if you are a black Christian, I suggest you start doing the same. Interestingly enough, I’ve yet to go to a church vigil or service dealing with racism where this was actively done. We’re usually too busy praying lofty prayers about forgiving our enemies and having mercy on oppressor’s souls. Too busy trying to be cute, instead of asking for what we really need. We don’t need any more hope or forgiveness. God been heard those prayers because, considering what we’ve been through, we are already the most hopeful and forgiving people on this planet. What we need is protection from the demonic forces that have been trying to destroy our people for hundreds of years. What we need is the Almighty to act on our behalf, not someday, but today. We need to access the authority we’ve been given through Jesus Christ to bind up and cast out anything that seeks to steal, kill and destroy us. One of the biggest mistakes that Christians have made is putting the cart before the horse and praying for racist people, without praying against the spirits that use those people. People can be forgiven, but demons cannot. Let’s be clear, ain’t no mercy in heaven or hell for evil spirits. We cannot get so caught up on forgiving and loving on people that we forget to wage war on the demonic forces attacking us. Don’t get me wrong those things are necessary and essential for our healing, as a people, but one without the other gets us nowhere.
Now if you’re not a Christian, I’m not leaving you out. I suggest you do whatever you need to do to access and petition your higher power, ancestors, energy, etc. for the protection of our people and the destruction of any negative and evil force that comes against us. Burn your sage. Meditate. Pray. Vibrate higher. Do whatever you need to do. And do it without ceasing. Along with the protests. Along with the articles we write. Along with the lobbying.

All I’m saying is, let’s start focusing on the spiritual, just as much as we do on the physical and watch things start to shift.

Send me someone

baileebarber

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Lord, send me someone.

Send me someone who adores me.

Send me someone who cherishes me.

Someone who invites me to church.

Someone who wants to know how my day was.

Send me someone who wants to meet my family, learn where I came from, and why I am the way that I am.

Someone who doesn’t have to change me.

Send me someone who loves to take naps just as much as me.

Someone who is proud of my accomplishments.

Send me someone who prays for me.

Someone who builds me up instead of breaking me down.

Send me someone who will reassure my heart, and our relationship.

Send me someone who can love my heart just how it is.

Someone who is dying for me to meet their family and loved ones.

Send me someone who is so proud to call me theirs.

Someone who can communicate with me.

Someone…

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Who Is Burning Black Churches and What God Do You Serve?

I’m trying to figure out who’s behind the recent string of attacks on Black Churches. I’m also trying to figure out where everybody who was claiming to be God’s mouthpiece last week, saying God has removed His hand from our nation and the end of days are near because of the SCOTUS decision are? So the God you claimed to be speaking on behalf of was mad about consenting adults obtaining the right to marry in a nation that bases its democracy on the separation of church and state, but has no issues with white supremacists burning down His sacred spaces like it’s 1955?! I guess we must be serving two different Gods then because the God I serve is outraged at those who terrorize others by attacking their place of worship. The God I serve has a righteous anger for those who are so filled with hate that they have no regard for what is holy. The God I serve is a God that hates the iniquity of racism with a passion but loves and longs for justice. (ref. Isaiah 61:8) The God I serve is the Righteous Judge (2Ti 4:8) and the Just One. (Acts 7:52) The God I serve sent a Son that was despised, rejected and oppressed when He was on earth and can closely identify with a people who have been despised, rejected and oppressed in this nation because of the color of their skin. (Isaiah 53:3,7) If you don’t have any issues and aren’t receiving any messages from God about the racist attacks on Black Churches over the past couple of weeks then it’s clear that we DO NOT serve the same God. With that being said, I’m really uncertain about the God some of y’all claim to be speaking for and what religion you’re supposed to be a part of, but until you figure it out please stop calling yourself a Christian and speaking for a God that you know nothing of. You’re making the rest of us look bad.

Lessons from a High School Heartbreak

The year was 2009. I was senior in high school and I was in love. I had been dating my high school sweetheart for a year and I just knew with all of my 18 year-old heart that he was “the one.” He was popular and outgoing. He was attractive and was a good dresser. He came from a good family and seemed destined for success. What more could any girl ask for? I thought to myself,  “Guys like this are a rare breed.” (Little did I know that in a few months I would be right across the street from Morehouse College where 90% of the men would fit this description). But at the time I couldn’t see past the small horizon of my small town experiences and thought that this was the best life had to offer me. Over that year of dating him, I’d made him my world. Child, I lived and breathed for that boy. The least little thing he did effected me. I can still think back to the times I’d sit through class crying because he’d said or done something to break my little heart.

Well, it turns out, while I was writing his name with little hearts beside them and picking out china patterns for the wedding I just knew we would one day have, he was cheating on me. Oh, and his infidelity wasn’t a one time slip-up. I ended up discovering towards the tail-end of our relationship that he had begun cheating on me with his ex-girlfriend only two weeks into our relationship. Whomp whomp! The world that I made for him quickly crumbled and I was crushed when I found out what had been going on behind my back. I fell apart and my teenage heart broke into a million little pieces. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I cried almost everyday the entire summer before I went to college. It was a hot, Kleenex-filled, sad-love-song-singing, mess. I was the poster child for heart break.

I look back on the 18 year old me now with slight embarrassment but so much compassion. I wish I could have told her then what I know now. Boo thangs come and go and go…and go. That’s simply a part of life and growing up, but in knowing that, guard your heart above anything else. We often tell young women to guard their bodies and remain pure until marriage, but rarely tell them to protect their hearts and keep them pure. As I look back, I realize that I gave my high school sweetheart a part of my heart that was only meant for my husband. At the time I thought he was it, but clearly he wasn’t and I’m so fine with that now. When I was younger though, I didn’t understand that in the same way that it takes time for a man to earn the trust to get your body, it should take just as much time for him to earn all of your heart, mind and spirit. Oh, how I wish I could have told my younger self that. And I wish I could have told her how precious and beautiful she was. How much God adored her and wanted the best that life has to offer to her. For her to pick up her self, wipe her eyes and thank God for protecting her from what He didn’t purpose for her. I wish I could have told her that the pain was only temporary and that she’d move on one day and find new love again and again…and again. I wish I could have told her that the pain she went through held purpose. That she would learn and grow from her experience and that 6 years later she’d be writing about an experience she thought she’d never find the strength to get over.

However, I can’t rewind the hands of time and I wouldn’t even want to. The lessons I learned through that high school heartbreak showed me how resilient and strong I was, and it also showed me what a strong God I served. I got to see first hand, what a mighty heart-healer and lover of my soul that God is. I got to learn through experience that making ANYTHING other than God the center of your world is destined for failure. Boys cheat. Family betrays you. Friends talk about you. Jobs downsize. But God and His love never, ever fail. Like I said, I can’t go back and give my younger self this pep-talk, but I can tell you.

So little sister, if you’re reading this, know that your worth and value extend far beyond your relationship status. Take your time in every relationship and learn to place God 1st at a young age. God is always whispering to us through our wisdom and discernment and had I not been so drunk in love I would have been sober enough to hear His warnings. I would have saved myself a lot of the heart ache and disappointment and you can, too, if you follow Him when it comes to your relationships. Ask God to reveal people’s true intentions and character to you. People can look soooo good on the outside but they may not match up to that and still have growing to do on the inside. Trust your God-given intuition and know that it’s okay to leave whenever you feel you aren’t receiving what you should. You are a child of the King and always deserved to be treated as such. And baby girl, if you ever find yourself broken hearted from a relationship. Turn your heart over to God. Allow Him to love on you and mend your broken heart. Take the time to build a genuine relationship with Him and start making Him your world. I promise you, the younger you learn how to do this, the better off you’ll be. You’ll be able to have the strength and resilience to stand any breakup, setback or loss, because you will have the most solid foundation to stand on. Give your heart time to heal before moving on – I promise you it’s no rush and you have your whole life ahead of you to encounter “the one.” Forgive the ones who hurt you, understanding that it’s the key to truly being able to move forward and without bringing baggage into your next relationship (this is still a tough one for me at 24).

I’m telling you what I wished someone had told me when I was younger. It took me years of experience and learning the hard way to understand a lot of this, but you definitely don’t have to go the same route. Take a lesson from me, or any of the older women in your life who shares how they’ve been there and done that when it comes to relationships. You may be in high school and he may be the one (but he’s probably not *shrugs*). Either way know that when you keep God first and guard your heart, He will reveal it to you in His timing. Above all, know that you are absolutely beautiful from the inside-out and ALL of you, including your heart, is so precious and so worth the wait.

The Duggar’s, The Church and Whitewashed Tombs

“…You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” ~ Matthew 23:27-28

So just in case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard, Josh Duggar molested several young women as a teen, including his own sisters, all while being a star on a national T.V. show. The Duggar’s are often touted as a model Christian family for their squeaky clean image, which includes “traditional” family values and waiting until marriage to share a kiss. However, this scandal points to the Duggar’s being much like the white washed tombs that Jesus talked about in the book of Matthew: beautiful and pristine on the outside, but full of hypocrisy and wickedness just underneath the surface.

Now, this is not about to be a rant about the Duggar’s or how disgusting it is that they knew of the molestation but did little to protect their daughters or their purity that they placed such a high value on. I’m not going to spend the rest of my time talking about how I think the money train that TLC was chugging into their bank accounts was more important to them than protecting their own children. The heinous acts committed by John Duggar and his parents run far deeper than that family and their show. While there’s so much attention placed on the Duggar family, this is, by no means, an isolated incident. It just happens to catch our attention because of the pedestal they’ve been placed on by TLC and the Christians that have gushed over their lifestyle. Incest and sexual abuse happen in far more households than the Duggar’s. And John Duggar is not the first one to lean on Jesus to excuse himself of despicable sexual deviancy. The issue that is really at hand is an issue that Christians all over this nation need to be addressing right now.

The Church has deep issues with sex, sexuality and sexual abuse. The reason we have issues with almost anything surrounding sex, is because sex generally is not something that concerns one’s outward appearance. Sexual sin, in particular, can be hidden in the dark as a relative creeps into a child’s room at night. It can be concealed by secret trips to hotel rooms that a pastor makes with a vulnerable congregant. It can be hushed by the shame of the girl too afraid to admit that she’s been raped for fear of being told she brought it on herself for not remaining “pure.” Issues surrounding sexuality rarely get addressed in the church, unless it’s obviously apparent on the outside. And let’s just be real about it. We avoid talking about sex, because too many of us are concerned with maintaining outward appearances. Too many of us are comfortable with our lives, families and churches being filled with dead bones as long as it doesn’t look that way on the outside.

Before we get so focused on why the Duggar family handled sexual abuse in the way that they did, let’s ask ourselves why so many of us, as Christians, get so fixated over the outward appearance of people, with little to no regard over what is going on within? Because this isn’t just a Duggar family issue, this is a Church issue. This is a major issue within the body of Christ. How is it that we can be so comfortable with condemning those who openly live a homosexual lifestyle, yet remain silent about those who quietly molest children behind closed doors? How can we be so quick to talk about and “sit down” girls that get pregnant out of wedlock, but slow to address the fact that many girls who act out sexually at young ages do so because they’ve been sexually abused as a child? We love to preach the purity culture to our teens but say nothing about purity to clergy who abuse their positions to sexually exploit male and female members. We have no problem telling young women to dress modestly and act like Proverbs 31 women, yet conveniently forget to mention that 1 out of 3 of them will be a victim of rape, incest or molestation by the time they turn 18, regardless of how they dress or act. We are so busy power washing the outside of the tombs we call churches, that we can’t even see that our pews are full of the bones of countless sexual assault victims each and every Sunday. We’re so busy polishing off the outisde that we don’t see the filth of the perpetrators who sit along side us in the pews, choir stands and pulpits, often using the church as a way to target victims and cover up their tracks.

So before the turn our noses too far up at the Duggar’s, let’s take a glance in the mirror. Let’s take a look into our lives, our family dynamics, and our church culture. How many of us have defended wrong-doers, because of their “Christian” appearance? How many of us have stood up for pastors facing allegations of sexual abuse, simply because they are “men/women of God,” without hearing out the victim? How many of us get so hype about people who look the part and act the part, that we aren’t using our God-given wisdom and discernment to know when something isn’t quite right in our own families and churches? The Duggar’s aren’t the only ones that need to be checked on their disgusting behavior. They aren’t the only ones that need to sweep out their tombs and get ride of their hypocrisy and wickedness. Many of us need to take look inside our own tombs and start cleaning house. You know, I think it’s fitting that the Duggar scandal came out so close to Pentecost. It’s time to stop defending the perpetrators of heinous acts, even if they happen to be your favorite pastor or reality T.V. star. It’s time to stop patting ourselves on the back and thinking we’ve adequately addressed sexuality, by telling kids to remain pure and not be gay. It’s time to stop feeling good for preaching a sliver of the Gospel when it comes to sexual sin, while leaving out the parts that makes us feel uncomfortable. It’s time to stop using Christ and His forgiveness as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for sick individuals that cause lifelong damage to those that they abuse, while shaming and silencing victims. The Cross is a place of refuge for the hurting and the broken, not a hiding place for sexual predators. It’s time for the Church to start doing the dirty work of cleaning the filth that we’ve allowed to fill our sanctuaries surrounding sex and sexual abuse.

The Duggar’s are just one example of the problem that far too many Christians have surrounding sexuality and sexual abuse. It’s beyond time for us to start having these hard and uncomfortable conversations about sexual abuse and sexuality. It’s time to heavily examine what sexual sins we decide are important enough to preach from the pulpit and teach on Wednesday night Bible study. It’s time to start offering trained counseling and resources to the many victims of sexual abuse that sit with the hurt and pain of the trauma they’ve faced week. It’s time to finally start allowing the church to be a place of healing and restoration for those broken by sexual abuse.

One Year Anniversary

So much can change in a year. I started this blog 365 days ago. Earlier last year, I’d had a conversation with my dad about my life and where I was headed. At the time, I felt my life was in shambles. I’d newly graduated from Spelman College and gotten into the Holy Grail of post-grad opportunities, Teach for America, only to leave the program and end up back home in my small home town working two part-time jobs. To say the very least, I was discontent and unhappy. My father advised me to go and genuinely pray and ask God what my purpose was. So that night I chopped it up with the Heavenly Father and went to sleep. Lo and behold, I had a dream and the dream was about me having a blog. When I woke up in the morning, I felt certain that God had spoken to me and that He wanted me to write, but I had no clue what He wanted me to write about. What would I write about? What should my blog focus on? How in the world would I be able to keep up a blog consistently? Was I even creative enough to come up with something interesting and inspiring for anybody to read?

I had so many questions and at the time I didn’t have that many answers, but I knew that I had to start doing what God showed me in that dream. As I was brainstorming and in the beginning of creating my blog, I reached out to a “friend” for encouragement. I shared that I was feeling led to start a blog. No sooner than I told her, she laughed and said, “Girl, you know good and well ain’t nobody gonna read your blog.”

I was hurt. I felt discouraged, but I remembered the dream God gave me and kept writing and preparing. I also talked to a woman who didn’t even know me and when I told her about being led to start a blog, she told me matter-of –factly, “I don’t know what you’re waiting for. If God told you to do it, do it. When you write, don’t you realize people all over the world will be able to see what you wrote.” I felt confirmation. I felt encouraged, and I remembered the dream God gave me.

On March 30, 2014, I posted my first post. I was scared and uncertain. Would anybody read what I wrote? If they read it would they like it? Would they judge me? How will I keep posting blogs each week? The journey that I started on seemed so big and I wasn’t sure if I was prepared to handle it, but I remembered the dream and week after week after week, I keep writing and kept posting. I didn’t share my blog for the first nine months, so people randomly found my blog through WordPress or Google searches. I didn’t have that many people reading my blog. Some days, nobody read it, but I remembered my dream and kept going. I started grad school in the fall and had to juggle school work, a part-time job and an internship. I questioned if I would be able to keep up with my writing like I had been before but I remembered the dream He gave me and kept on writing. Week after week after week. It’s been 52 weeks since I started and I have over 52 blog posts to date. The dream that God gave me a year is literally just beginning to manifest and it’s far from over.

I say all that, not to brag but to say who God is. The title of my blog was intentional. My Stories for His Glory. It was more than a catchy phase, it was about me giving the dream He gave me back to Him. It was about telling God that I didn’t just want to pursue my dream for my own sake. I didn’t want to write to become famous or popular. I desired to pursue my dream in an act of serving Him. I prayed to God that every single thing I would post would point people back to Him. That He would take each of my stories, mistakes and triumphs I shared on this blog and mold them into to something to would give Him the glory. I wanted it to be crystal clear that this blog and my life were not about me, but about Him. This blog was me stepping out of the boat and walking towards Him in blind faith. I didn’t know all the details at the time. I didn’t know how things would work out or if it was going to work out. All I knew is that God called me to do it, so I answered with my actions. Despite my fears and doubts, I answered Him. Despite hearing the discouraging words of others and my own inner critic, I refused to give up on the dream that God gave me.

So, maybe the dream God gives you isn’t to write a blog. Maybe it’s to start a business, go back to school, travel the world, or be a better parent. Maybe God doesn’t speak to you in a literal dream. Maybe He reveals His dream for your life through a kind and encouraging word from someone else. Or He whispers His dream to your daily through your God-given passions. (You know the things you’d do even if you weren’t getting paid for it.) Maybe you’re not even sure what your dream is or if you even have a dream. But you do. If you’ve never heard it before, you were placed on this earth for a special and specific purpose. You were created to accomplish things for God’s kingdom that only you are equipped to do. If you aren’t sure about what that dream is, like I was a year ago, go to the Father and sincerely ask Him. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since the two of you last talked or if you feel you aren’t good enough to start going after that dream, do it anyway. Just like He answered my prayer, He’ll answer yours, too. Despite the fear, despite the other pressing issues in your life, despite the time that you think you don’t have, despite the negative things people may say, go forward and go after what God has purposed you to do.

Walking with You

Messy, fallible, falling apart at the seams.

Prone to error and mistakes.

Continuously jumping to conclusions, judging and making assumptions that I shouldn’t about others, myself and even You, God.

But the thing is that You still love me through it all. You still want to use me for Your glory despite my flaws. You still choose to pour out Yourself through this broken vessel. The more I grow in You the more I see that I’ll never be perfect enough to earn your grace. I’ll never get it “right”. I’ll always go stumbling through life and falling down into sin like a baby learning to walk. But there you’ll be like a Father calling out to me. Holding your arms out to me, telling me to keep getting up and walk again. Encouraging me to keep walking towards you no matter how many times I fall. Letting me know that walking in faith isn’t about getting it right in the 1st, 2nd or 490th time, but it’s about taking it one step at a time. It’s about trusting in you and focusing on your relentless love and boundless forgiveness rather than looking at own my own failing righteousness and faulty strength.

See, at the end of the day this walk is not about me, it’s about you. It’s about teetering and tottering back into the arms of a Father who loves us as we are. It’s about realizing that we can’t measure our growth by our own ability to keep from falling but by how close we are to You. Because the closer we get to you, the more we can reach out and grab Your hands so you can guide us and keep us from stumbling. The closer we get to you the more we can look at you smiling as we take step after step. The closer we get the more we can be comforted by your voice when we feel the sting of falling. And the closer we get to you the more we realize that this walk was never about us walking perfectly without falling. But it was all about us getting close to you as you give us the strength and stability to walk with you.

Is Jesus Your Sidepiece?

The sidepiece.

We all know what that is, either because we’ve had one or we’ve been one at one time of our life. The sidepiece is man or woman in your life you keep around in addition to your main relationship. They’re the one that you hit up after the big fight you have with your “real” significant other. The one you go see when it’s convenient to you. The one you give just enough attention to, to keep them around, but not enough attention to create a serious relationship. The sidepiece is never your main priority, let alone your only priority. And to be honest, most people keep a sidepiece in their back pocket to fall back on just in case their main relationship doesn’t work out. The sidepiece always, and I mean always, gets the short end of the stick. Often times the sidepiece gives all their love and devotes so much of their time and energy to the cheater, who doesn’t do half as much for them. They spend time relentlessly pursuing and pining away for the one who doesn’t care enough about them to make them their main focus.

In short, it sucks to be the sidepiece!

Unfortunately, I know from personal experience. But as I look back over all my relationships, I have to confess that I’ve only had one sidepiece of my own and His name was Jesus.

Wait, what?! Yep, I said it. Jesus was my sidepiece.

The thing is that I’ve always loved Jesus (or so I said). It was just that I had to get some things together before I could fully commit myself to Him. I mean, I really wanted to be with Him, but I always gave the relationships I had with men take precedent over my relationship with Him. It was hard making Him my main priority when I focused so much on other relationships. I spent time with Him when I could. In between the phone calls that lasted for hours, the dates, and the time spent getting to know whoever my bae was at the time. I would squeeze in a prayer before I fell asleep or read the Bible occasionally. I spent just enough time with Him so that He would know I was still interested in Him, but not enough time to really form a strong bond with Him. However, whenever I got into a big fight or things didn’t work out with said bae, I would run to Him praying that He would fix things. If He didn’t, then and only then, would I pull Him out of my back pocket and fall back on Him. I would promise to commit myself to Him and really spend time with Him, only to push Him back to the side whenever my relationship was mended or a new relationship came along. I hate to say it, but my relationship with Christ was that of the typical cheater with their sidepiece.

The crazy thing is, though, no matter how many times I gave Jesus the short end of the stick when it came to our relationship, He never gave up on me. I’m sure He knew that my heart wasn’t fully invested in Him. He had to know that I was only using Him as a backup plan. Despite all of that, He gave me His unconditional love to me at the very times that I would barely pay attention to Him. On the days that I barely thought of Him because I was so wrapped up in a relationship, He was relentlessly pursuing me and pining away for me. Me. The one who didn’t care enough to make Him my main focus. The cheater. The sinner. He loved me, even when I made Him my sidepiece.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I’m not the only one that has ever made Jesus their sidepiece. So many of us have. We’ve treated Him like an option rather than our main priority. We’ve brushed him to the side when relationships, or work, or other endeavors have become our first love instead of Him. We’ve run into His arms only to ask for help or to have something to fall back on when things didn’t work out with what we were pursuing. But yet and still, He still loved us and pursued us passionately and relentlessly. He has given His all to be with us, even when we cheated on Him with whatever our main focus was at the time.

Some of us have changed our ways and left the life of infidelity to commit ourselves fully to Him, but many of us still are treating Jesus like our sidepiece. Putting Him on the back burner. Spending time with Him only in the stolen moments we have away from whatever we’ve put before Him. Barely paying attention to the one that constantly and consistently gives His all to us. Forgetting that He should be our first love. But if you’ve made Him your sidepiece, it’s time to change. As Christians, we’re required to make Him our first love. Revelations 2:4-5 says, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first …”

That means that if we’ve somehow made Him our sidepiece instead of our first love, we have to change. We have to repent for giving Him the cold shoulder and then change our ways so that He becomes our main priority and focus again. And isn’t He worth it? He’s the one who loved so much that He gave up His life for you. He’s the one who loves you enough to sit at the right side of the Father constantly interceding on your behalf. No man or woman, no job, no other endeavor or pursuit can give you that type of love. So is Jesus your sidepiece or your first love? Does He hold the place in your life that He should? Do you make Him compete for a spot in your life or is He your main priority? If you’re not sure about how you would answer those questions or if you know good and well that Jesus is currently your sidepiece, it might be time to take some time and reprioritize the place that give Him in your life. He’s worth way more than being your sidepiece. It’s time to make Him your first love again.

Losing It All

What if I told you that in less than a year, I walked away from what I initially thought was my dream job. I lost several friends that I thought would always have my back and an ex boyfriend, who I thought I was going to marry. Would you feel sorry for me? Would you say I was down on my luck? Would you encourage me and tell me that things will get better? Now what if I told you that I’m happier now, then I was when I had all those things and people in my life. Let me explain.

After I graduated from college, I headed to the Mississippi Delta to start a teaching career with Teach for America. I had the perfect job on paper. I would be making close to $30k a year, which is more than I’ve ever made in my life. I was making new friends, adjusting to life as a teacher, and things appeared to be falling into place. There was only one problem: I felt miserable. Not homesick miserable. Not adjusting-to-change miserable. But something-is-terribly-wrong-with-me-being-here miserable. I just couldn’t shake the feeling, but I tried to push through it. I turned to going out every weekend and drinking way more than my 5’2” body could handle just to numb myself to how I was feeling, but I still felt miserable. I told myself to suck it up because this was an opportunity that others would die for and it would look so good on my resume. I still felt miserable. I desperately tried to focus on the fact that I loved working with kids and that I could do so much to help the community I was going into. I still felt miserable. So after Institute (training and summer school for new corps members) was over, I left feeling lower than I’ve ever felt in my life. I decided to take a break from TFA and figured it would help me sort things out and regroup. I had the option of returning within the next two years, so I planned to return to the Delta the following year. However, the weeks and then months started to roll by, and I still felt miserable.

Meanwhile, I was looking for support from those around me, including several of my closest friends from college. I’d met them at different points throughout my collegiate journey but we all hung together as a group. We laughed together. We cried together. We fought together, but through it all we stuck together. Surely, I could count on them to be by my side throughout such a difficult transition in my life, or so I thought. Turns out, they weren’t. At a time when I was looking to them for support and encouragement, I got judgment and rejection. Not having them during such a tough time in my life, made me feel hurt and lonely.

Hey, but at least I still had my boyfriend, even if I didn’t have the job or the friends. I’ve always dreamed of having a husband and a “perfect family” since I was a little girl, especially since I didn’t have that growing up. I’ve always wanting to give my future children the two-parent home that I wished I could have had. And I think in a lot of ways, I looked to men to fill the void that my dad left when my parents got divorced (We’ve been working on our relationship over the past few years, though). So when my ex brought up marriage and kids and eternal, everlasting love, I was down for the cause. Having someone there to love me through thick and thin, better or worse, richer or poorer, is all I’ve ever wanted. So when we broke up, I was broken hearted. I just knew he was “the one”.

In less than a year, it felt like I had lost more than I ever had in all 23 years of my life. However, the Lord used everything that I lost to allow me to gain some valuable lessons about life.

It was hard to walk away from a “dream job” to come back to your hometown unemployed and starting from scratch, but I did it. God used that situation to show what an incredibly resilient person He created me to be. He showed me without a shadow of a doubt, that I can start over even when I’m scared and unsure. I learned to step out on faith and take the path that God had for me, instead of sticking with the path that others, and even I, thought I should have been on. I learned that I don’t need a certain job, with a certain amount of prestige, making a certain amount of money to succeed in life. As long as I am obedient to His will, I can go anywhere in this world and prosper.

I thought I needed friends to fulfill me. I relied on them to encourage me, offer me guidance, and make decisions for me. Before all of this, I didn’t realize the power I gave to others to dictate the direction my life was going in. I look back over my friendships and I realize how many times I’ve let friends’ opinions decide whether or not I pursue something or say something or wear something. I gave my friends the power to control me. Losing them was painful, but God used it to show me to see that I am perfectly capable of making each and every decision for my life on my own. I don’t need anyone’s approval to do anything. As long as I pray about it and seek wise counsel, when God leads me to, I’m entitled to make the decisions that I feel are best for my life.

I thought I needed the boyfried, but losing him has allowed me to discover a love far deeper than a wedding and sex. In losing him, I ending up finding The One who has loved me since time began and will love me forever. The One who has never abandoned me, never given up on me, and refuses to give up on me no matter how many times I turn away from Him, fail Him or break His heart. I found an everlasting love and joy that makes me whole and fills every void in my heart that has ever been there. I’ve seen over these past months of singleness, that I don’t need a boyfriend to be alright. I can stand on my own, even when it’s lonely and painful.

So in the end, I lost it all, only to find out that I had everything I ever needed in God and in myself. That time was one of the most painful ones in my life, but I’m at a place where I can look back and see that the pain I was feeling were just growing pains. For the longest time I thought that happiness would come when I had the “perfect” job, friends, and relationship, but I had all of those things and felt absolutely miserable. God showed me that “perfect” on paper does not always equal His perfect will for our lives. You can have the prestigious job, with a decent pay check and paid vacation days, but what does that mean if you wake up every morning dreading to go to work? Are the likes on Facebook when you post pictures of your “awesome” job and the pats on the back you receive from others who approve of your career path going to sustain you for the next 2 or 5 or 20 years? You can have the friends who you can laugh and kick it with. The ones who went to a nice school like you, who dress nicely, and have equally “perfect” jobs like you, but what does all of that mean if you can’t count on them to have your back when you need it the most? Are those things more important than having people who won’t judge you when you are having a hard time or laugh and gossip about your failures behind your back? You can have the “perfect” boyfriend who promises you a diamond ring and a happy life, but is it worth it if you have to compromise who you really are to be with them? Is it more important to put your dreams on hold to have a family or is it more important to go out and live your purpose with or without somebody by your side?

I’ve learned that my joy, peace and well-being are not bound by who and what is in my life at any given point and time. As long as I have God, I have all that I need and sooooo much more. I’m blossoming in ways, that I could have only dreamed of before (including working on my M.Div, building new relationships centered around Christ, and starting this blog) and I know that I wouldn’t be at this point if God didn’t force me to let go of what I so desperately thought I had to cling to. I’m a living witness that “everything works for the good of those called according to His purpose”. With or with out the nice job, friends, or man that I once thought I needed, I’m okay. Matter of fact, I’m more than okay. It’s definitely been a journey, but I’m so grateful that God allowed me to lose it all, so that I could gain a trust in Him that sustains me no matter what my circumstances look like.

So Near, Yet So Far Away

Lord, I feel so near, yet so far away from you. I think it’s because I’m scared to submit to you because I’m afraid of intimacy with you. Submitting to you means completely opening myself up to you and that scares me. Submitting to you means I give you the power to possibly hurt me. And although my mind knows better, my heart still has reservations. I allow you to get close to me but not too close. Not so close that you could hurt me. I allow you to get just close enough so that I can feel your presence but not close enough to be wrapped in your loving embrace. And that’s an issue. Because my heart longs to be captured by the love of Your Son Jesus. My soul aches to be touched by Your Holy Spirit. And my mind needs to be molded and directed by you, oh Lord. I need you so terribly. I can’t find peace without you surrounding me. But with my guards up, I keep you arm length’s away. You’re so near yet so far away.

The peace I constantly seek but can’t seem to find. So near yet so far away.

The elusive joy that slips out of the grasp of my finger tips just as I desperately try to cling to it. So near yet so far away.

The hope that I can see clearly but can never seem to touch. So near yet so far away.

But Father! I’m so tired of keeping a safe distance from you. I tired of letting you in, but not letting you in fully. I want more of you. I need more of you and I think it’s finally time to let these Jericho walls around my heart come tumbling down. When I first was getting to know you this was okay. This was comfortable. I was just encountering you for myself and feeling you out. I was discovering if you were who so many others have said you are. I was seeing for myself that you were trustworthy, loving, dependable, and giving. But now I want more. I want a deeper level of intimacy with You. And arm length intimacy is just not enough. I don’t know how to tear these walls down, but if I tell You that I’m ready, will You step in and do the demolition for me? Will you penetrate into the depths of my being? Will you knock down every single doubt, fear and reservation that keeps us from forming a closer, more intimate relationship? Will you show me that you love me and break through all the things that I’ve been allowing to hold me back from You?

Just knowing You is not enough anymore. Just being in Your presence at church or when I find the time to pray is not enough anymore. I want to be enamored by You. I want You to be so close to me that I can’t escape You no matter where I go. I want Our connection to be so strong that I’ll never build up another wall to separate us again. My heart, mind and soul is hungry for you. And that hunger for you outweighs any fear of intimacy with you. I’m tired of being so near yet so far away. I’m ready to go deeper. Ready to grow closer. Ready to give you my all. Lord, I’m ready to submit to you.