Unwavering Faith

 

Life can be difficult to understand at times, even for those who are believers of Christ. I think this is the case because so much of our belief system is centered on faith~believing the impossible to be possible without any evidence present~what an amazing feat it is to truly believe! I think we all waver at times, but for some it is more difficult to keep believing when you feel as if you’ve done everything you can and yet the circumstances seem to be worse than when you started.

When someone you care about is struggling to believe God still cares, still hears them, and is still in the blessing business; it can be tough explaining that while the situation may look bleak, God is still the same God who loved us SO much He sent His only son to die for us. Or it could be that we should not be doing anything other than sitting still. I am a firm believer that if something is within God’s will, we need but take a single, simple step and big things will happen. Conversely, if we are taking gigantic leaps and bounds, only to hit several brick walls, perhaps this is not what God will have us to do.

But how do you convince a person to do nothing when they are doing what they believe to be right? The toughest lesson to accept is that our actions may not be granting us the results we would like because we are living out consequences of prior decisions. God is forgiving, merciful, and full of grace, however when we act against His commands, we WILL have to face the consequences. The most scary is knowing that even if the consequences are not seen in our lifetime, it can be passed down through our generations.

So with all of that, what is the reason to keep believing God has your back? I can’t speak for others, but when I am analyzing and looking for logic in illogical situations, I keep believing simply because God told me He wouldn’t leave or forsake me. He said He has plans for me, plans to see me prosper and do well. I also understand that during my trials, if I continue to praise Him, I can go through and come out better than before. This has been the story of my life. Many think I have it easy, but the truth of the matter is that when times are most tough, I encourage others more than ever, I smile more, I speak more positive thoughts, I give glory to God. This overcompensation has kept me sane and kept God’s magnificence in the front seat of my life, ultimately making things appear to be perfect. I become so positive it is sickening even to me but I can’t stop. I can’t doubt. I can’t waver. All because I know what God says is true.

But again that’s me and I struggle with explaining my stance to those who are going through the fire. It bothers me that I can’t make it better (even though I know it’s not my job to), however I wish I had the right combinations of words to say to comfort those I care about when they are going through hard times.

So how does one explain to someone that praying about a situation doesn’t mean you’ll get the answer that you want when you want it? How do you explain that a non-answer to your prayers doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care nor does it mean He is unaware?

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Reflections of Honor

Lately I have been reflecting, looking at from where I’ve come, where I am now, and where I want to be in the future. Not surprisingly, I recently celebrated another birthday, an opportune time for reflection, but this year was a little bit different because a short time before my birthday I received some disturbing news. This news should not have been disturbing, as it’s something I suspected, but because I allowed myself to deflect from the situation, I consequently never dealt with the issues head on.

So like I normally do, I searched myself first to discover why this information upset me and I admitted to myself that I was upset because the other parties in this situation did not handle it the way I would have. Sounds selfish, however the way I would have handled it (and had been handling it until confronted) was in a way that honored each person involved, meaning I didn’t make any disparaging remarks and whenever someone attempted to make a negative remark, I would rephrase it and make the circumstances appear more positive than they were. This is typically how I deal. Very rarely do I play the role of victim in an attempt to make others look bad. I also see the glass as half full and if I am involved in something that includes people I care about, even when they have done something wrong; I do my best to put a positive spin because I know that everything is cyclical and if I was ever confronted with a similar situation or by one of the parties; I don’t want them to have the ability to say I was involved in feeding any negativity about them.

 

I feel like I’m rambling and I hope this make sense.

 

The bottom line is that when relationships go south and dissipate and it involves people I truly care about, even if we parted ways on a bad note; I refuse to say anything negative or entertain any negative comments made about these people, especially if they are not around to defend themselves or give their points of view. To me, that honors the time we were on good terms with one another. Handling situations as such feeds the integrity of the good times that were had. It also leaves the door open to reconnect and repair should paths cross again, given the cyclical nature of life.

 

So it hurt me when I found out that not only were negative remarks about me entertained by those I once held a close relationship with, but the remarks given were not even true. Lord knows I have not always handled situations the best or responded in a way that honored the relationship, so for me to grow to this point is a gigantic step forward in my becoming a better version of Shanika. However, my opinion of these people was so high that it threw me for a loop that they would outright lie on me. Sounds naive, I know.

 

Fast forward several days and I am blessed to see another birthday, which resulted in an outpouring of love. Through several birthday messages I received, I was able to see how far I have come and I was able to again reflect on what it means to be a friend and I became even more thankful for my relationships that have stood the test of time, distance, and disagreements. These relationships were able to withstand because we never hit below the belt, even during the worst arguments~arguments that often led to lapses in time when we would communicate with one another. Thankfully we were able to see that any hurtful remarks made or actions taken were a reflection of what the offender was going through or where he/she was at that point in their journey. It was never about the person/people that received the lashing. No one is perfect, however I am eternally grateful for those people who have always accepted me for me, forgiven me for my infractions, and valued our relationship enough not to allow it to be destroyed by negativity, lies and/or rumors.

 

In moving forward, I hope to continue to get better with how I treat those I call friend. I pray for forgiveness from and healing for anyone I’ve hurt. And I pray for continued growth of the relationships I have with friends who have proven to be true. I am definitely honored to have you as such.

 

God bless.

 

The Audacity of Motherhood

I’m 33 years old and I’ve become a mother for the first time on July 10, 2012.

I delivered my baby girl after a 39 week and 1 day pregnancy.

For the majority of those 39 weeks I like many other expectant mothers, was subjected to countless amounts of unsolicited advice. However well-intentioned, it became rather annoying, often leaving me with a feeling of being robbed of my experience/my journey into motherhood. I get that mothers want to share their lessons learned, but boundaries need to be set, as each pregnancy is as different as the women carrying these babies. The eagerness to give advice often takes away from the joy of learning about and experiencing the abundant, mysterious wonders in carrying a child. Further, uninvited advice can come across as condescending.  

Even now that my daughter is a whopping 15 days old (lol), the advice does not stop (not that I thought it would) and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sick of it all by now. I’m the type of person who will ask a question and solicit opinions if there is something I want to know, therefore someone telling me what to do without provocation is beyond absurd to me. “If you want to preach a sermon, go to church” has become my new motto.

If I want to go shopping prior to my 6 week check up, I will.

If I want to spend $1000 dollars on an outfit my daughter will only wear once, I will.

If I want my child’s first language to be Cantonese, it will.

If tomorrow I want to drive myself to get some ice cream, I will.

If I want to stop breast feeding my child, I will.

If I want to home school, I will.

If I don’t want you to hold my child, you won’t.

If I don’t want my child to play with your child, she won’t.

If I don’t want my child to play with dolls, she won’t.

If I don’t want my child to watch cartoons, she won’t.

If I want my child to listen to gangsta rap, she will.

If I decide my child is better off starting a business instead of going to college, she will.

If I allow my child to watch a reality television show, that is my prerogative.

If I want to be a yellow flower in a sea of red flowers, I will.

No matter what outlandish scenario I can think of, the point is that each person who becomes a parent has tough decisions to make as it relates to the rearing of their offspring and I happen to believe most parents do the best they can for their children. While their choices may differ from yours, that doesn’t make them wrong or their decision of lesser quality than yours. Outside of her father, whose opinion I value tremendously, I really don’t want to hear what anyone has to say about the choices I make as a mother for my child. This may sound crass, however if you think about it; who put YOU in charge of telling mothers what to do? Who died and made you queen mother, hunty?!?! Lol! I’m certain that if a roundtable discussion was had, the group could think of some ways in which you could be a better mother, so think about that before you offer your two cents on another woman’s situation.

Ultimately, I’ve decided I will have the audacity to make whatever decisions I deem necessary for me and my family and I won’t allow the input of others to cloud my better judgement or make me feel as if I have to be like other mothers out of fear of being labeled a “bad mother.”

If there is an area in which I need help, I will ask. Otherwise, don’t tell me anything. This is my journey and I ask that you respect that.

Hello World!

On July 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm God blessed me with a 5lb 11oz angel. Words can’t really express the amount of emotions I have felt over this last week, however I did want to take some time to write a quick blurb to say THANK YOU GOD! Nola Rose is such a sweet little baby (and I’m going to enjoy this sweet phase for as long as it lasts ;)) and it has been a joy watching her personality develop over this short span of time. She already has my facial expressions (uh oh) and a big, bright, beautiful smile that lights up the room!

As soon as I am able to sift through my thoughts, emotions, and feelings; I will attempt to capture them in written format. The biggest feeling I have right now is one of humility from God choosing ME of all people to be her mom. I’m asking for prayers as I am certain this journey is one that will require an abundance of covering to ensure I bring out in her what God will have her to be in her life.

In closing, Miss Nola Rose told me to tell you, “Hello world, I am here to take you over!”

🙂

A Chosen People

Today, I had a very interesting conversation about why over the course of history God would allow so many bad things to happen to people of African descent. A portion of it is below:

I was asked if I believed in God and my answer was simply “yes.” Of course this person already knew the answer, however it was the segue way into asking how could God, who we believe to be so great, allow such disastrous things to happen to his people.

My response: “God said we are a chosen people. When you are chosen and separated from the rest, it puts you into a position of power. Once the enemy sees this, he becomes intimidated and threatened and will attempt to do all he can to destroy you. That doesn’t mean you aren’t chosen or that God doesn’t love you, but it does mean God has you covered through it all.”

Despite horrific things that happen in life, I believe God is more powerful than anything the enemy can throw into our paths. It’s easy to get bogged down in negativity, however we must be determined to focus on our blessings because it can always be worse. One thing that has been tremendously healing for me on my bad days is remembering that there is someone out there who would love to trade places with me.

Be encouraged through the storm and watch God show you the sunshine. He’s never failed me yet.

 

The Cost of Forgiveness

At what point do you decide when you will forgive a person who has hurt you? How do you decide who is worthy of your forgiveness?

I am amazed at the number of people who consider themselves Christians and yet they have a problem with letting go and forgiving someone who has wronged them. Well, I guess I shouldn’t say I am amazed, as some self-proclaimed Christians consistently engage in behaviors contradictory of their supposed beliefs, but that’s a different post for a different day.

Think about the worst thing a person has ever done to you. The WORST thing. Think about the feelings you felt during that time (and possibly still feel) and let’s assume because of that event or series of events, that person is no longer a part of your life (whether by your choice or not). Fast forward 10 years and this person reaches out to you. Perhaps they send you a message on Facebook or gives your their new contact information through a mutual friend and asks you to give him or her a call.

What do you do? Do you respond or do you continue to ignore them?

Over the years I have deleted several people from my life for a number a reasons. Sometimes it was because I didn’t believe they were the type of friend to me I was to them and as a result they didn’t deserve to be a part of my life. Consequently, they were deleted as an attempt to surround myself with selfless, true friends. In other cases, I deleted people who wanted to confine me to their idea of who they thought I should be. Anyone who truly knows me know I HATE that. I love being free to be who am I, despite what others think so when I am in a situation in which I feel limited by another’s complexes, fears, and/or shortcomings; it’s time for me to move on. The final group of deleted folks are those whom I simply outgrew (or maybe they outgrew me), where no hard feelings existed. It just so happens that we were at different points in our lives and needed to separate in order to fulfill our purpose. These people often have a cyclical presence, as I’ve learned they often show up again at some point. I think this is God‘s way of testing our growth.

At any rate, in the instances where “something happened,” I hold no ill will towards these former “friends” and truly hope they are happy and doing well in life. I have forgiven them and moved on. For me, forgiveness is about the ability to continue to grow and develop into who you were created to be, learning from each and every experience. In situations where we haven’t forgiven, there is a preoccupation which often leads to limitations. Ultimately, you forgive so that you can move on. It’s not about them. When we allow those feelings of hurt and betrayal to take root in our hearts and minds, then we allow the person who hurt us to have way more power over us than they should. You basically become their slave. They are the puppet master and you are the puppet, each move they make directs yours.

Ask yourself where would you be without God’s forgiveness. We have all done things that hurt others, whether intentionally or unintentionally….and yet God still forgives us. To take it a little deeper, we sin against God constantly, which is the ultimate slap in the face, and yet He still forgives us. If someone who is perfect in every way can forgive, who are we in our imperfections to not forgive?

How do you know when you have truly forgiven someone? When any interaction with them elicits none of the feelings you felt when they hurt you.

Love & Stupidity

In Atlanta‘s installment of the reality television showLove and Hip Hop,” there is a couple (Stevie J. and Mimi) who have supposedly been together for 15 years, despite the fact that Stevie has had other public relationships within this time frame. That aside, within the first couple episodes of this television show it was apparent to anyone with eyes that Stevie is the opposite of faithful, as he and his “mistress” on the show (Joseline) aren’t attempting to hide their horizontal mambo shenanigans.

I’m not surprised Mimi is choosing to remain with Stevie because many woman have taken back their men despite evidence of cheating. I actually believe in most cases the women know the truth regarding the guy they are dealing with but choose to rationalize and make excuses for hanging on to the hope he will one day “wake up and realize what a great woman I am.”

 

What I have a question about is, given that Mimi is not in the dark about Stevie, is she stupid for remaining with him? In one of the episodes they discuss formulating a contract from which she would earn a percentage of his work and the work of his artist, ironically the mistress. Does the promise of a payday trump the promise of exclusivity?

 

Perhaps Mimi has dealt with so much over the years that she has reached a point where she feels she needs to get something out of this situation and if that something isn’t total loyalty and devotion from the father of her child/the man she says she is in love with; perhaps a check will suffice? Is she the smart one in this situation? I’m certain we all know women who have dealt with and put up with similar situations, only to leave the situation (by their choice or not) with nothing more than lessons learned (hopefully). Some women leave these situations with more debt, bitterness, and unfulfilled promises than before. Other women leave relationships with more cars, condos, and cash than before. My question is: who is more stupid?