Monthly Archives: October 2016

The Desire Of My Heart

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Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. ~ Psalm 37:4

Psalm 37:4 is one of the many passages of scripture where many take what they want and discard the rest. We want God to give us the desires of our heart……and that’s it. It reminds me of a quote I read recently that said, “We really don’t want God’s will, we just want him to do what we want.”

But this blog isn’t about how we sometimes pimp God. This blog is concerning the desires of my heart. Anyone who knows me or follows me, know that I desire to be a wife. I have not always had this desire however. As a teenager my cousin and I dreamed of living our lives as single career women who traveled the world. We had no desire to be tied down playing wife and mother. But not long after joining the military I met a man who would change my entire perception on marriage and make me want to purchase my ticket for the exciting, thrilling, sometimes tumultuous ride called marriage. His love, not only in word but in deed as well, made me want to be a wife…his wife.

As fate would have it, I would not become that man’s wife and I prayed, “God, I want to be married. I thought we would be married.” And I heard God say, “You will be married; just not right now.” I heard the voice of God just as clear as I heard the melodic song of the birds that warm spring morning. God told me that I would be married, just not right now.

That was May 2001, and as I approach the half century mark I find myself questioning if I really heard God’s voice. Did God really say I would be married? Or was that what I wanted to hear and so I convinced myself that it was God? I will admit I was new on my Christian journey. I was still feeding off milk. But I had heard God’s voice one or two times prior so I was certain that he had spoken to me that warm spring morning, reassuring me that I would be married. Yet here I am no longer sure. And oftentimes struggle with whether or not God’s plan for my life includes marriage. I know he has a plan for me because he told me in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and hope.” But I’m just not sure….questioning even……if God’s plan for my life includes being a wife; and I find myself on the cusp of peace and frustration, praying for the grace to accept that marriage may not be God’s perfect will for my life.

Let’s be honest, fifteen years is a long time to wait for something. Fifteen years is a long time to maintain hope for something you have desired. Psalm 13:12 says Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life”. And what I have also come to understand as I have graduated from feeding off milk to now feeding on meat is that God has no concept of time. At least not how I understand time. Fifteen years to me is a very long time to wait for something. But the Bible says in 2 Peter 3:8 that, “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”.   And so I wait. Waiting for the manifestation of the promise I believe God made to me. Waiting for God to bless me with the desire of my heart.

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Image by Tiny Mathew

Recently, a woman of God that I am growing to admire, and whom I am gleaning a lot from, challenged my thought process that maybe marriage is not God’s will for my life. That maybe I am destined to live my life as a single woman.  I have been challenged on this before.  My pastor said on many occasions that not every pot has a lid.  And I would become so angry when he would say that because I knew what God had told me!   But time marched on and now this woman of God said to me, “God gave you the desire.  And therefore the desire shall manifest itself in your life. If God did not intend for you to be married, he would not have given you the desire”.  Her statement breathed life in my dying hope.  It was the oxygen I needed to continue to believe that God’s will for me is marriage.  It simply is not time.  And so I have a renewed sense of hope.  I’m holding on to the last thing God said to me concerning marriage and standing on his word that “When the desire comes, it is a tree of life”!  A tree whose root digs deep and trunks establishes a strong foundation, allowing the branches to reach out for sustenance, the leaves to collect strength, bearing fruit that gives of itself (universe of symbolism).

 

And so, though I am unable to see it right now, when God sends #DearFutureHusband, it will all make sense. The experiences, the tears, the heartaches, the time spent in the fiery furnace, are all part of the Master’s plan to ensure that me (the tree) is rooted deep in God and his word that I may bear fruit within in my marriage.  And so I wait.  Waiting on God to manifest in my life the promise that he made to me.  The promise that I will be married.  God gave me this desire and because he did it shall come to pass because God never breaks a promise.

Hotep

 

 

 

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It Is Well……..

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It Is Well……..

During spin class the instructor reminded us that riding with resistance, which felt like running on the steepest incline, was in fact good for us as we are building our endurance. As I fought to maintain my breath and spin through the burning sensation I was experiencing in my quads and glutes, I considered that word endurance.  What does it mean to endure?  Webster’s Dictionary defines endurance as, “the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way; the capacity of something to last or to withstand wear and tear”. There are also many scriptures throughout the bible that encourage us to endure and persevere. One of my favorites (and one that got me through many a rough patch) is found in James 1:2-4, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing”.  The common theme here, being able to withstand a difficult circumstance or activity.

As a long distance runner I spend a lot of time building my endurance. Training to run 10 miles or a half marathon requires a lot of endurance.  I learned quickly that it’s not about speed, but can I endure the race to the end.  Life is the same way.  As children we could not wait until we reached adulthood only to arrive and wish we could go back to being a child.  We were moving too quickly.  But life isn’t a race.  It’s a journey.  A process.  One that is full of difficult circumstances.  On this journey called life we will come against obstacles and challenges that will test our endurance.  From the most tragic, to the not so tragic (such as the onset of depression because of menopause) but difficult nonetheless.  It’s all a part of the journey.  And how we go through is as (if not more) important than how we come out.

James tells us to consider it an opportunity for great joy when troubles come our way. Seems crazy that joy and trouble would be used in the same sentence and even more crazy that I should see my trouble as an opportunity for joy.  But when you trust God and have faith that all things are working together for your good, you realize that it’s not crazy at all.  Trouble tests our faith.  And the bible tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God.  So it seems only logical that because my desire is to please God then I should consider it great joy when trouble comes my way because my faith is being tested!! My faith is being tested and developed! And when my faith is developed I will be perfect and complete, needing nothing!

My beloved pastor, Dr. Alyn E. Waller, wrote a book titled “Enjoy Your Journey.” This is an awesome reminder for me as I endure challenges on my journey.  Trials are sure to come.  God never promised me sunshine every day.  But through it all, I must maintain an attitude of gratefulness to my God.  Through the difficult and challenging times I must continually give God praise.  Why?  Because God is good…..PERIOD! Not just during the good times.  But also in the bad times.  God is good!  Praise God while going through a difficult time. Trust God to do exactly what he said he will do. And have faith that it all works out for our good!

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

“It Is Well With My Soul” ~  Horatio G. Spafford

Hotep

 

 

 

 

A Right Of Passage

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Levi’s has a commercial featuring singer and songwriter Alicia Keys. In the commercial Alicia Keys says, “All women are natural bad asses.” She says it with conviction and confidence; and I approve this message! 
Women are natural bad asses! Dr. Maya Angelou says women are Phenomenal! From the “reach of our arms, to the span of our hips, to the stride of our step, and the curl of our lips. It’s the fire in our eyes, and the flash of our teeth, the swing in our waist, and the joy in our feet. We are women. Phenomenally“.

Yes, women got it going on. But what also makes us natural bad asses as Alicia Keys says, and phenomenal women as Maya Angelou proclaims, are the stages in a woman’s life that are rights of passage, which we handle with all of the grace and strength that our Creator gives us. From the onset of puberty, to the start of the menstrual cycle, to childbirth and menopause, women flow through these rights of passage like the natural bad asses we are!! 

And it’s no easy feat. At each of these stages our bodies seem to turn against us and rebel against us, sending our hormonal levels into a downward spiral causing all sorts of unwanted chaotic friction within us that we can’t even explain. And yet, we handle it….like the natural bad asses that we are! 

I entered this final rights of passage at 35. Doctors call it perimenopause. Perimenopause begins several years before menopause and is the time when a woman’s ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen. There is a slew of symptoms and not every woman has all of the symptoms. I experienced a few, with the most prominent being those dreaded hot flashes. I can be in an air conditioned room and suddenly feel as though I have been transported to the Sahara Desert. It is annoying on top of annoying on top of annoying! I have also experienced mood swings though not as prominent as the dreaded hot flashes. I have literally gone from nice to straight (fill in the black) in 0.2 seconds! It scares me how quickly that can happen. But the scariest part of all is having no control over it. Especially at the onset of perimenopause and menopause because I had no idea what my body was doing to me. 

Now fellas, this is not a slight on you, many of you just don’t know. But when a women’s estrogen levels drop, there is bound to be a change in her behavior. Why? I’m glad you asked. “Estrogen is a hormone. A hormone is a chemical substance. It’s secreted by one tissue and travels by way of body fluids to affect another tissue in our body. In essence, hormones are “chemical messengers.” Many hormones, especially those affecting growth and behavior, are significant to both men and women. The amount and levels of hormones change daily. The sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, are secreted in short bursts — pulses — which vary from hour to hour and even minute to minute.” (WebMD). And because I know God does all things well and he was masterful in creating the human body to function optimally, then he also made sure that women would receive just the right amount of estrogen to ensure that we were in balance. 

So fellas, can you now see how a woman can be affected by mood swings during these stages of life? Her body is not producing enough estrogen therefore sending everything into a chaotic state. It’s not that she’s crazy. It’s not that she’s angry. It’s not that she’s mad…well maybe she is mad, but mad because her body is under siege and she doesn’t know what to do. 

Just this past Monday I didn’t know what to do. Not only did I feel like my body was under siege, but my mind as well. I started feeling “strange” last week. I could feel a cold trying to come on so I attributed that “strange” feeling to a cold. I was drinking green tea like it was water. But as the days rolled on, the more “strange” I felt. By Sunday night, I felt depressed. Low level depressed but depressed nonetheless. I could feel myself withdrawing. I wasn’t answering the phone and I just wanted to stay secluded in my home. I was having thoughts of doing harm to myself. 

Monday morning, not more than five minutes after waking up, I was crying uncontrollably. Something wasn’t right. The last time I felt this way was when my mother died. I’m sitting on the side of my bed, hugging my pillow, crying like my mother had just died. I honestly felt like I was losing it. I started doing the one thing I knew to do, call on the name of a Jesus! So here I am, sitting on the side of my bed, hugging my pillow, crying uncontrollably, praying, “Jesus help me! Jesus help me!” 

I forced myself to go to work that day….and the next. But I was withdrawn. No real interaction with my colleagues and I felt on edge. I could not continue on this way. And so I reached out to my friends through social media seeking guidance. 

After reaching out to friends, I was relieved that (1) I am not crazy (well, that’s debatable) and (2) I am not alone. One of the many tricks of the enemy is to convince us that we are alone or the only one that has ever gone through something. But the devil is a liar! My friends stepped up and offered sound advice and I appreciate them for that. There were even a few friends that reached out to me to share their personal stories. They armed me with knowledge that not only empowered me but also brought a sigh of relief. Relief in knowing that I wasn’t losing my mind; feeling depressed is a symptom of menopause. Relief in knowing that others have traveled this road before and survived. Relief in knowing that I will get through it as well. It’s simply the final right of passage. A right given to me as a woman. A right that makes me a phenomenal natural bad ass! 
Hotep 

Note To Self…..

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Recently a friend asked a series of questions regarding marriage that got me to thinking. She asked, “Do people marry who they want or who they got? Meaning, is everyone marrying their first choice? Are there folks standing at the alter wishing it was someone else? Or do people come to a place where settling isn’t really settling, but a solid choice based on the options and circumstances presented?” 

When I read the questions that my friend posed the word that stuck out for me was settling; Do people come to a place where settling isn’t really settling, but a solid choice based on the options and circumstances? I shared with my friend that the thought of settling terrifies me. It terrifies me to think that as the days, weeks, months, and years continue to roll on that at some point on this proverbial road I will become frustrated and tired and just settle. Settle for Mr. Good Enough rather than waiting for “the one” (for lack of a better term). Settling for something less than what I want because I don’t think I can get what I want.  Will I become so tired of my singleness that the next guy who proposes, I will jump head first into “YES” without taking the time to do my due diligence and seek God’s direction? And ultimately….possibly….wake up one day and regret my decision? That is a terrifying thought for an almost 50 year old woman who has longed for her life companion since her 20s. 

And, it’s not so far-fetched. Recently I shared with my sister that if my ex said let’s try again, I would. I asked her if that was as crazy as it sounded and she said, “yes.” I appreciate her honesty because it sounded completely and utterly ridiculous to me too for a myriad of reasons. But it caused me to pause and be honest with myself that I am terrified of reaching a place where I settle just to have someone.

Now, let me be clear, I am by no means living under the misguided notion that there is this absolutely perfect guy out there who is going to come in and sweep me off my feet and we will live happily ever after in a far away land.  My expectations are not such that I am disillusioned in thinking that in marriage skies will be blue and birds will be singing their sweet melodic tune every day.  I’m not a 20 something still wet behind the ears (no offense to my 20 something readers) who hasn’t really experienced life and heart break to the point of not thinking you can go on another day.  I get it.  Its work.  Its hard.  And some days it makes you question if it was all worth it.  But still, settle?  Settling?  Its terrifying.

I’m reminded of a minister that I was introduced to, who after one telephone conversation with me told me I was his wife. Immediately my antenna went up and I said, ‘Really? Well he hasn’t told me that.’ This minister said to me that God wouldn’t tell me, he would only tell him because he was the man. (press pause) a wise man once said when someone tells you that God told them that the two of you are suppose to be together, run…don’t walk….as far and as fast as you can away from them!

Now, at the time I was still considered a babe in Christ. I was learning. But what I wasn’t was a fool. And so the street side of me said, “yeah….ok.” The Sunday following this conversation, I had a chat with my Bishop. Told him the whole story and he looks at me and says, “Please tell me it was not a minister at this church.” I assured him it was not. After breathing a sigh of relief he says that while there are occasions where God may reveal information to the man first, in this situation he doubts it. I thanked him and before walking off he said, “keep walking in that discerning spirit. A lot of women would have run right to the alter.” I said Bishop, I want to be married but I’m not desperate. I will not settle. 

That conversation happened in the year 2003. Thirteen years later and I still pray, Lord, give me the grace to wait on you. Give me the wisdom to make the right decision and not a decision based off fear, loneliness, or frustration. 

Hotep 

Am I What I Am Praying For?

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Am I What I Am Praying For?

Don’t pray for anything you are not‘. That’s what I was told once upon a time. In other words, don’t pray for a husband if you are not a wife. But how could I be a wife without a husband? It didn’t seem logical to me at the time. But now I understand I was being told that I should not wait to become a wife before I became a wife.

Fast forward a few years and my pastor in Philadelphia said the same thing. But sadly I took that to mean I should play the role of a wife to my boyfriend. I should practice in the role so I would be ready when the “day” came. In essence, what I ended up doing was giving husband privileges to a boyfriend and that was a mistake.

Fast forward to October 2016. My pastor hosted a Ladies Night CAYA service. CAYA means Come As You Are and is a bible study/discussion for young adults on subjects that are important to them. Ladies Night was all about the single, saved woman and the challenges and frustrations that particular demographics face and how the church over spiritualizes the challenges of being single. Pastor Wesley asked a question that was very similar to what had been said to me once upon a time and again while a member of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church. Pastor Wesley asked, “Are you exhibiting what God says a wife is?” Sounds eerily familiar. But thankfully through lessons learned I know what he didn’t mean. And so I did some self reflection. Am I acting as a wife should act? Do I possess the qualities God says a wife should possess?

Of course the first thing that came to mind was the infamous Proverbs 31 Woman. We all know the story:

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.

Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.

She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.

She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.

She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.

She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

She sets about her work vigorously;
 her arms are strong for her tasks.

She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.

In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.

When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.

She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her.

This woman, The Virtuous Woman, is bad to the bone!! We’ve all read it at some time or another and thought, “I want to be like her!” And then some of us quickly thought, “Who is like her? She is unattainable.”‘ But when you read about the Proverbs 31 Woman certain qualities stand out: She is trustworthy. She is a hard worker. She makes sacrifices to care for her family. She is generous. She is strong. She is wise. She is kind. And so I asked myself, “Self, do you possess these qualities? Are you what you are asking God to give you?”

Another point Pastor Wesley made is that marriage is not a solution to make you a wife. You begin to exhibit those qualities along the way. Now, as I wait on the Lord and his timing, am I also allowing God to develop/strengthen these qualities in me while I wait? Am I submitting to the work that God needs to do in my life so that I have a foundation for when the husband comes?

As I considered those questions I can honestly say I am. I can honestly say I started….or began to take it seriously…..some time ago. And maybe I’m not quite there yet. But God is still working on me. He is still working out some kinks. He is preparing me to be a wife to the man he presents to me. And I am fully submitted to the work he needs to do in me because when that “day” comes….the day I become #MrsFuture, I want to live every moment thereafter being the best wife I can be.

Hotep

It’s Like Moving Mountains

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I love social media (i.e., Facebook). I really do.  I stop short of calling myself a Facebook junkie, though some might disagree.  But I really do enjoy Facebook.  Of course I’m aware of other social media platforms such as Twitter.  However, it took much longer for me to accept Twitter.  I heard a lot about Black Twitter, but it wasn’t until earlier this year when I really began to investigate what Twitter was all about and now, dare I say, I love Twitter too! I follow people on Twitter that I don’t follow on Facebook. One such person is Dr. Antonio Borrello.  Dr. Borrello is known as the @eDatingDr on Twitter and is providing me with tons of material for my blogs.

Today while perusing through Twitter I read a post by Dr. Borrello that said, “Seeking intimacy with someone who is emotionally unavailable is like talking on the phone without realizing your call dropped.”  My jaw dropped because that was me!  I was in a relationship with someone that was emotionally unavailable.  Or better yet, would run hurriedly in the other direction when he felt that he was becoming too close.  This was emotionally draining for me.  In the beginning it left me confused.  Sad.  Bewildered.  Had me thinking that something was wrong with me.  Or I didn’t do something right.  But then it happened a second and third time and it hit me…..it’s not me.  It’s him!!  He is afraid to allow himself to get close.  He is afraid of losing control.  And at any moment that he felt as though he were losing control, he would run.  What a load off my shoulders.  I was thrilled that it wasn’t me.  But mad that no matter what I did he was never going to be emotionally available.  He was never going to allow himself to be emotionally available.  And no amount of romance, kindness, or anything else was going to change that.  He was broken.

I saw a meme on Facebook that asked “Are you strong enough to love a broken man?” And many women professed proudly that they were.  I say malarkey.  Trying to love a broken man will take a woman out.  It will deplete so much of her that she will have no idea if she is coming or going.  In the words of Usher, “it’s like moving mountains.”

We (women) are often told that we have to love ourselves before any man will love us. And that is true.  But ladies, that man also has to be whole before he will ever be ready to receive the love you have.  Recognize that.  And should you encounter a broken man, pray for him, but stop yourself from becoming involved or you too will be on that call that has long dropped but you have yet to realize it.

Hotep

 

I Ain’t Never Loved A Man…..

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“If toxic love is so miserable, why is the thought of losing it more miserable?” ~ Dr Antonio Borrello, @eDatingDr

Today’s blog post is inspired by Dr Antonio Borrello and the Queen of Soul, Ms. Aretha Franklin.

In the opening stanza of Aretha Franklin’s hit song titled, “I Never Loved A Man”, she sings;

 “You’re a no good heart breaker

You’re a liar and you’re a cheat

And I don’t know why

I let you do these things to me

My friends keep telling me

That you ain’t no good

But oh, but they don’t know

That I’d leave you if I could.”

 That, my friends, is clear evidence of a toxic relationship. The Queen of Soul goes on to sing;

 “Some time ago I thought

You had run out of fools

But I was so wrong

You got one that you’ll never lose

The way you treat me is a shame

How could ya hurt me so bad

Baby, you know that I’m the best thing

That you ever had.”

 Toxic, Toxic, TOXIC!!! We have all been there right? In a relationship that we know is not healthy for us. In a relationship where we are abused emotionally, physically, financially, and even sexually. We know we should leave. And yet we stay. We stay for a myriad of reasons. I stayed because I never loved a man the way that I loved him.

I thought he would change. I prayed he would change. I hoped he would finally see and understand the depth of the love that I had for him. I wanted him to be so overtaken by the love I had for him and was showing him, and that he would finally come to his senses and profess his undying love for me and we would sail off into the sunset and live happily ever after. Ok, that’s a bit too Cinderellaish. But I honestly wanted this man; the one that I exposed my heart for and every bit of my soul, to love me as I loved him. But it never happened. At least not right away.

When I read Dr Borello’s quote it resonated with me. I was in a toxic relationship and yet I couldn’t imagine being without him. The relationship wasn’t toxic to the point where I was in danger; but simply because I felt sad, anxious, lonely, and hurt more than I felt anything else; and that alone made it toxic. And yet, even though I knew God was telling me to walk away, I could not on my own strength. I was paralyzed by the thought of life without him. I was a slave to the love I felt in my heart for him. And no amount of toxicity was going to allow me to simply walk away. I knew this. I recognized it in myself. But I had enough sense to know that when I call on the name of Jesus, HE will do what I was unable to do. So I did just that, and I prayed “Lord, I am not strong enough to walk away. You are going to have to remove him.” And God, in his infinite power and wisdom, and the depth of his love for me, did just that. He removed what was toxic.

It hurt.  It hurt like hell.  I was so deeply wounded that as I processed the stages of grief, I became angry.  Angry at him, yes.  But I was more angry at myself.  Angry for being so weak that I was unable to walk away from a toxic relationship.  But then I remembered God’s promise that His power is made perfect in my weakness. 

And so my road to healing began.  God massaged my heart.  God bound up my wounds.  God gave me peace in the anxious moments.  God held me when I cried and wiped away my tears.  And when I said I missed that man, God asked me why?  What did you miss?  Do you miss feeling lonely?  Do you miss feeling sad?  Do you miss the hurt and pain?  What exactly do you miss?  And in that moment, I humbled myself and asked God to forgive me. I praise God for healing.  I praised God for restoration.  I praise God for doing for me what I often struggle to do for myself.

And that man?  He did come to his senses.  He did realize exactly what he had in me.  And he did profess his love for me and how stupid he was.  But as my mother would say, “You don’t miss your water until your well runs dry.”  Its a shame.  But its no longer my concern.

~ Hotep