Holy, Holes, Whole~Part II

Given the imperfect nature of life, the process of being poked, prodded and left filled with holes, reconnection with God, and subsequently made whole again is something that occurs during the continuum of a lifetime. Therefore, in my opinion, the goal shouldn’t be to attain a staunch position of holiness, but an ever-growing, ever-evolving posture of seeking to pour out the negative and refill with new vision and insight into the nature of God. Our stance should be one of earnestly seeking to know more of Him, to become more and more like Him daily with a humbly submissive, dependent nature that won’t allow us to become so Biblically elite that we turn away those who need God most.

So how do we do this?

1. Never forget from where you come. Remembering how much you’ve learned and grown over the years will allow you to remain humble, and thus open to learning and growing more. This will allow your spiritual nature to continually evolve.

2. Tell your story. By allowing those who may be struggling alone in the dark stumbling over the same lessons over and over to hear your personal story, it will normalize what they are going through and they can feel more confident knowing they aren’t really alone in their struggles. It will also give you a feeling of accomplishment knowing you were able to help another person begin the process of becoming whole. Sharing is healing.

3. Don’t get caught up in memorizing the text. Regurgitation by definition is a natural release of all that is bad, so why would you merely want to vomit out a scripture given the valuable nature of its content? Take some time to go deeper to understand the meaning and apply the meaning to how you live your life. Everyone who comes in contact with you should come in contact with the Bible through normal everyday interaction, not simply because you are “preaching a sermon.” Actions speak louder.

4. Throw out the notion that you have to be perfect. I’m not certain where this theory came from; perhaps it’s a twisted view of the concept of being Christ-like. While striving for perfection is perfectly okay, remember that the beauty of life rests in our ability to continually develop. Once that halts because of achieving nirvana, we die. In order to truly live, you mustn’t ever stop learning and given that there’s always something to learn; accept that you won’t ever be perfect.

5. Love more, judge less. To my knowledge, God hasn’t died (and remained dead, depending on your beliefs), which means His position isn’t vacant. If you focus more on loving your brothers and sisters as is (the way God loves you), then there will be less time to pick apart their faults. We all come up short at some point in time, so give a little grace and focus on loving the person despite their holes. Besides, how can you judge someone when you aren’t, nor have you ever been, or will ever be perfect? A wise man once told me, “I’m going to do the loving and let God do the judging.”

Through it all we must be thankful for grace and mercy because without it, we would have less bullet points on our list of achievements. The process of spiritual development is one on which many of us long to progress. Progression can be very difficult because rigid belief systems are by nature prohibitive. We must remember to remain open to new perspectives, new experiences, and new insight, as they all have a place at the table of righteousness. Your whole-self will thank you and before you know it you will be surrounded by wholesome people.

goodpeople

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Holy, Holes, Whole~Part I

The Process of Spiritual Development

I’d be willing to bet we all know people who can recite Biblical scriptures as fluidly as they can say their names. Many times these people are also able to eloquently explain their interpretations of those scriptures. The ability to accurately quote scripture is held in high regard by many, as it is the expectation of those who choose to live according to this text to fervently study it daily, with the assumption they will be able to communicate what they’ve learned to others.

If you aren’t as well versed on the Bible, inadequacies can creep in during conversations with the Biblical elite, even when you know the message you’ve verbalized is well thought out, logical, and accurate in terms of the meaning and application of the Word. In some communities the inability to quote scripture is something that is frowned upon, and voice of those unable to do so discredited. There are others who are more concerned with living out the essence of what it means to “treat those the way you want to be treated,” as opposed to merely spewing the words. Of course we know those whose regurgitation raises more hell than heaven, which often times contradicts any good intentions, leaving many disenchanted with all things holy.

The last year of my life has been somewhat of a metamorphosis as I searched to reevaluate and make sense of my purpose and direction. For those who are looking to live a life of meaning, I’ve found we often reach a crossroad where we want to evaluate and reevaluate to make sure our lives continue on the right track and on task with the reason for which we were created. During my self-assessment, one of the most transformative lessons I learned was that God can’t use perfect people. A recent conversation birthed this message to me: “This isn’t for the holy. This is for people with holes who need to be made whole again.”

This was liberating for me because it allowed me to see the purpose in my pain, the value in my voids, and welcoming of my wounds. Sometimes we have to be broken down to absolutely nothing so God can show us how miraculously marvelous He is, all by Himself. When we have so many holes that all guilt, pain, disappointments, unfulfilled promises, closed doors, misunderstandings, abandonment, neglect, abuse, misuse, manipulation, lies, deceit, tears, loneliness, depression, stagnation, unanswered questions, and every toxin that poisoned our body can finally be poured out. After this purification occurs, God refills us with love, forgiveness, resolution, fulfillment, open doors, surplus, honor, integrity, enlightenment, renewal, joy, truth, smiles, laughs, security, forward motion, answers, and healing, thereby making us whole.

Given the imperfect nature of life, this process of being poked, prodded and left filled with holes, reconnection with God, and subsequently made whole again is something that occurs during the continuum of a lifetime. Therefore, in my opinion, the goal shouldn’t be to attain a staunch position of holiness, but an ever-growing, ever-evolving posture of seeking to pour out the negative and refill with new vision and insight into the nature of God. Our stance should be one of earnestly seeking to know more of Him, to become more and more like Him daily with a humbly submissive, dependent nature that won’t allow us to become so Biblically elite that we turn away those who need God most.

holyholeswhole

Transparent

To my former students and anyone who ever looked up to me:

I knew at some point I would have to address this issue, however I wasn’t sure exactly what words to use to convey across the most critical points in a way that accurately explains the points I want to get across. There comes a time in every person’s life when we have to stop making excuses for ourselves and own up to the decisions we have made and now is my time. I am writing this letter to alleviate any confusion or mixed messages sent by the life I live. Of course, I have more life to live, however I am living out a circumstance in which I never thought I would find myself, and I believe in order for me to do justice to my life’s purpose of motivating young people to live their best lives; I need to put words around what I think about where I’ve found myself. I hope renewed strength to continue to make tough choices is the result of this letter. I hope God‘s glory can continue to shine through me as I become as vulnerable as I can at this juncture. I hope someone is set free by my truth. So here it goes.

Countless people were (and still are) surprised by my getting pregnant, given I am not married. Those who know me knows my desire was to get married prior to having children, as it wasn’t something I was secretive about. God is not pleased with sex outside of marriage and while I have not been a virgin for some time, I had taken a vow of celibacy where I promised God I wouldn’t have sex until I was married. Shock waves rattled many opinions of me upon finding out about my unborn child, given I had gone years without having sex. During those years I was fortunate enough to mentor several young ladies who looked up to me and the choices I had made in life. They were able to witness first hand someone who was able graduate high school, college, and build a career despite the hurdle of a less fortunate background. I was able to be a living testimony that it was okay to be beautiful, smart, and abstain from sex. Often times they had the ability to hold steadfast onto their virtue because they had an example that not everyone who is saved is stuffy or living in a holy bubble, detached from the realities of today. I was proud to be that beacon of light for these young ladies.

So how do I reconcile becoming a single mother in the face of my beliefs? I’m certain my excitement over my precious baby girl and the countless public congratulations and words of encouragement and support paints a happy picture that can leave those who have known me for years confused. Make no mistake, I am in love with my daughter and am prepared to create the type of environment in which she can grow to become a better person than I am, however it is equally important for me to publicly acknowledge my disappointment in myself. It is critically vital I say that I know what I’ve done is wrong and I must face the consequences of my decisions, my broken promises to God. Often times we present a one sided picture of life. Either we are making all of the right decisions or we know we are living in sin and we bask in it. We may even gloss over and justify our bad decisions, making them sound “not as bad as they are” in an effort of saving face. Very rarely do we hear the testimony of someone who was living right and fell during their fallen moment. We usually hear the testimony after they’ve gotten back up and are praising God from the hilltops for bringing them out of the valley. In a time where social media is reality to some people, it requires little effort to create an image of ourselves that may not be an accurate depiction. As happy as I am at having a healthy, beautiful baby, I know I am currently in a valley moment of my life. I know, because of the choices I’ve made, there are less than favorable situations ahead in which I will find myself. I am not blind to the fact that my child may even witness these situations.

I think the natural question is, “Are you saying you regret your child?” My resounding answer to that question is NO! While I made a choice that is outside the will of God, God doesn’t make mistakes. Her life has just as much purpose and meaning as the next life and I will always love her unconditionally as she is the innocent party in all of this. What I will say is I regret not living up to my promise. I regret the impending circumstances that could have been avoided had I held on to those promises (obedience is better than sacrifice). I wish I could have brought her into a healthy marriage filled with love, but I don’t regret her and I pray she never feels as if she is to blame~I will work my hardest to ensure she doesn’t. What I’ve learned for myself is God’s ways aren’t like our ways. He doesn’t condemn us to hell for all eternity for falling outside His will. When He says “My grace is sufficient, for my power is made perfect in weakness” it means His grace can withstand all of our dumb decisions. He will forgive us and although bad things may continue to happen, He will keep us through it all IF we go to Him, confess, repent, and ask for forgiveness. Notice I said go to Him, not go to your friends. I think we mess up going to other imperfect people when God desires an individual relationship with us.

Additionally, this blog entry isn’t about me wanting pity. I am not seeking validation of any sort. We have to stop coddling people when they fall short. I am not saying cane them, but I am saying stern correction is in order. Otherwise, how else would we grow? For clarification, I am not saying there should be blanket-statement correction given to every single mother there ever was. I am saying, for those who are directly connected to you, it is your responsibility (for those who are believers) to give them tough love and the intent must be that they become stronger in the Lord~not to make them feel stupid or less than, because honestly; if we were all as willing to highlight our valley moments while they are happening, we wouldn’t have so much confusion as it relates to living a Christian life. We put forth sooo much effort to make things look perfect, we miss many opportunities to bring people to Christ. We quote so many scriptures we forget we too are human and fell short more times than we are willing to admit. It has gotten to the point where we have communicated one must be perfect in order to receive the favor of God. As a result, imperfect people are afraid to come to Christ because they feel as if they are not good enough, when the truth of the matter is there are countless examples in the Bible where the people who were called by God were less than desirable. God can’t use perfect people.

As a woman who preached the abstaining sermon only to get pregnant the first time she had sex after years of celibacy (yes, it really only takes one time), I feel it is my responsibility to tell the other side of the story. The side where I did something wrong, fell short, and still praise God because I know His love for me is unconditional. Even in His disappointment of me, He still loves me. Even when He allows the process of my bad decision making to unfold, He still loves me. At my lowest when I don’t know where to turn, I can still turn to Him. And I will still give Him the glory.

Don’t allow another person make you feel as if you aren’t worthy of forgiveness from God, as it is only through His grace and mercy that any of us are able to sustain and thrive.

There are other things I wanted to discuss in the piece, however I will save them for another time, as this post took a different turn from what I initially intended. As I learn and grow from my mistakes, I submit to additional opportunities to share my experiences in hopes they can help someone else.

Be blessed and be a blessing.

Sincerely,

Shanika

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?

If God is Love

If God is love, why do we use Him to justify hate?

Do we believe that God will love a person less because of his or her sin?
If so, are we ever able to regain His love or is it gone forever?
If He loves us despite our sins, why do we believe some sins are more lovable than others?
If we disappoint Him, will He forgive us?
Does He only forgive certain people?
If He forgives all, why can’t we emulate that?
Who decides on the line between what is forgivable or not?
Is it God or is it man?
What happens if we choose to love the person but hate the sin?
Is that stance more God-like?
If it is, why is there so much hatred for people?
 
Are we really trying to be like God? Like, for real, for real?
 
Or do we only want to be like Him in matters that fit within our worldly boxes and limited thinking?
 
How do we pick and choose who we’ll accept and love unconditionally?
 
If God were to come to your house tonight for dinner, what would He say about your rationale for the choices you make?
Will He still love you?
 
Will He see Himself in you?
 
Or would you be a stranger to Him?
 
Will He love you less if you are a stranger?
 
Or will He bestow to you the same level of love He bestows to all?
 
Is loving people really that hard if we are following a God-laid plan?
 
How would you feel if a loved one told you, “I only love parts of you?”
 
How would you feel if the way you loved others was the way God, in turned, loved you?
 
Would you still love the same?