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.

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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.

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.

Dear Love: He Knows Better

Dear Love,

You hear Him speaking but in arrogance and pride you don’t listen. You think that somehow you know better than He does. That you know more than He knows and that you’re a greater judge of life and all its intricacies than He is. You snatch the very destiny out of the hands that have carefully created it and cradled it since before you were born, and take fate into your own hands. Then you push Him back to the corridors of your mind and relegate Him to your subconscious where you can ignore Him. You hear Him speaking but don’t listen. In a fit of grandiose confidence in your own human capabilities you do what you think is right rather than what He requires of you. Like a rebellious teenager, you think you know it all. You think you know better than your loving and caring Father, but you don’t.

You forget that His ways and thoughts are higher . That He sees and knows all. That the formula for the universe is in His back pocket. Of course He knows what’s best for You. He knows everything! Yet you hear Him, but you don’t listen. You hear His directions and go bolting the opposite way. You run away from His guidance so warm and loving like home, out into the cold streets of life on your own terms. But it’s hard to navigate life all alone, without His direction and the provision that comes with it.

You find yourself like the Prodigal Son, coming back home in shame after trying to manage life on your own. You heard Him but you didn’t listen. But today, return to Him just like the Prodigal Son did. Sullied and soiled by the mistakes, bad habits and hurts that came from what you thought at the time were good decisions. Return to Him covered in the consequences of your selfish choices. See that He was really right all along. Come back home to Him. Reopen the corridors of your mind and let Him slip back in to your consciousness. This time when you hear Him listen. Hear His voice now and follow. Where He tells you to go, go. The pride and arrogance that once stood in the way of adhering to His directions have now been eroded by time and the consequences of all those mistakes and now He can fill those empty spaces with humility.

See that He does know better than you do. That He knows more than you know and that He’s a greater judge of life and all its intricacies than you are. Hand back your tattered and crumbling destiny into the hands that carefully created it and cradled it since before your birth, and put your fate back into the hands that shape and restore all the things, including you very life.

XOXO,

Sarita

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.