Surviving The Storm

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I think we could all agree that storms are uncomfortable. Not only are they uncomfortable, they are also an inconvenience, especially when you are trying to get somewhere. The torrential rain, the boisterous winds, and the loud thunder can sometimes be a deciding factor in if we choose to move or stand still. This can easily be related to life. When we experience the storms of life, we tend to let that particular storm be the deciding factor of if we will continue to move forward or not. This should not be.

God has equipped us with everything necessary to not only withstand but to also keep moving during a storm. Think about your car. Your car doesn’t have the option to say, “I only drive when its sunny.” The car was made to drive through any weather conditions. The body of the car can take the impact of rain and hail without falling apart. Not only can the car continue to move during these conditions, it also protects what’s on the inside. The riders or contents on the inside of the car is shielded from the storm that’s going on outside. This can also be related to life. We must protect the purpose and the contents that have been placed on the inside of us. Don’t allow the situations to drown out your gifts and ideas. Don’t allow the winds to blow away your passions.

One area the enemy specializes in is blurred vision. He makes the path look cloudy and dark because he knows that instead of walking by faith as we should, we often times walk by sight. And if we can’t see, we become discouraged because our human senses are limited. When we become discouraged, we tend to stand still. Now think about the car again. What are windshield wipers? They clean the windshield from things that blur your vision. Your windshield wipers have the capability to perform faster or slower, depending on the level or storm you’re facing. You also have a defrost feature in your car. This function controls the humidity and the visibility on the inside of the car. Without this feature, the windows would be foggy and visibility would be limited. But when you pair the defrost and the windshield wipers, you’re able to continue driving through the storm without fear of crashing into the unseen or the unknown. This is how God is with us! When we acknowledge Him, He directs the pathway for us. Not only does He direct it, He also clears it. He shows us why our faith in Him is so much more important than our human sight. He is waiting to direct your path, even in the stormy conditions. But you have to acknowledge Him in all of your ways. Your 5 senses are not able to give you the navigation that you need. Let Him direct you.

God has given us every thing needed to survive the storm. Even if it looks scary and it seems unending, you have to know that storms must pass over. But while you’re in it, don’t fret. Don’t stop driving. Don’t stop moving. You’re protected. You’re covered. And your direction is clear. Sitting in the storm waiting for it to pass only prolongs the rain in your life. Make a decision to move out of the storm. Just like the car, you were built to withstand the conditions. True, it may bang up the shell a little but what’s on the inside of you will still remain protected and the manufacturer can repair any and every piece of damage.

Storms eventually die and you were not made to die in it. You were made to outlive it!!

The Fear of Judgement

I had a conversation with someone recently and we discussed the reason why this person felt insecure and scared to take the next step in life. This person shared how excited they were about the path that God was taking them on and how they’ve long awaited to have the relationship with God that they have now. But there was one issue. This person stated that they sometimes resented talking to some people about the “great change” that has taken place in their life. The reason why was because they felt as if people would over shadow their new found life with the past mistakes and decisions they had made. This person even shared with me their passion for reaching out to younger women and men about the street life and ministering to those who have been involved in drugs and gang activities. But once again, the fear of being judged was determined to be the factor in holding them back. At first this didn’t make sense to me. I was thinking, if God had done such a tremendous thing with me and had blessed me with another chance at this thing called life, why would I even care about the opinions and judgements of others.

Then I asked myself….how many times have I backed out of an assignment or not showed up to an event because of the fear of the judgement of others? How many times have I started typing a Facebook post about something that God had given me but deleted it because I felt like someone wouldn’t receive it because they know who I once were?

Maybe it’s the thought of that one person or even that one group of people that won’t see the good in you but will magnify your “used to.” You know, those people that love to say “he used to steal” or “she used to lie all the time” or “he used to curse everybody out.” Those people. Yeah, they make change and decision making difficult but the reality is this, they’re not going anywhere! You’ll always have those people who point to your “used to’s” because that’s all they have on you, is the person you used to be! Which is a good thing for you because that’s not who you are anymore. So their judgement can only be based on who you once were, not who you are now! And if you know that all things have become new, the “used to’s” don’t bother you as much.

So I say, go for the gold! Chase your dreams. Activate your faith and step out on it! Speak to those people. Start the organization! Start the ministry! Follow the voice of God! Eventually, the “she used to be something serious” will turn into “I used to go to school with her” or “we used to live in the same neighborhood”…because now their proud to even know you! Even if it’s only based on a “used to.”

No one is saying they’re ashamed of the Gospel but simply not wanting to be reminded of their short comings. It can be quite embarrassing. And let’s not mention the unspoken pressure of trying to explain the transition. This can definitely make a person feel not qualified for a task. Especially if you’re young in Faith. But however……

It’s time to get passed the fear of judgement. After all, we’ll all be judged one day, anyway. Right? The main difference is, on that day, we’ll actually face the judgement that really matters.

It’s time to be the person that used to be afraid but is now going for it all!!!!

Start With Me; One Year Later

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This is more of an informal blog. More like a journal.

Today makes one year that my blog has been published. Looking back over the last 365 days, it hasn’t been easy. I know some people may say “You’re just writing a blog. It’s not a complex study.” This may be true. But the difficult part for me has been discipline. Some days I don’t feel like writing, some days what I write doesn’t make much sense to me, and some days I just can’t think of anything to write about. The main thing I’ve learned about myself during this journey is I have a long way to go with being disciplined but I have proven to myself that I can do it.

Over a year ago, I remember God telling me that I needed to start with myself. Meaning, before I could correct or encourage anyone else, I needed to do a self check to make sure I was taking my own advice. Not only that, but before I pointed out anyone else’s short comings, I needed to make sure I was upholding the standard myself. Even if we don’t admit it, self-checks don’t feel good. Mainly because, we like to feel as if we are okay. Not that we are perfect, but to us, our issues are minute, or very small. This was my mindset, as well as some of yours I’m sure. However, God wanted me to see that just as others are a work in progress, so am I! As I began to grasp this concept, not only did this help me to show love differently, it also helped me to see God differently. He showed me, me! No, I didn’t like it because there was so much in my life that was not pleasing to Him but He showed me so I could change it! I realized at that moment that God loved me so much that He gave me a mirror! And in this mirror, I had the ability to see only me! I couldn’t see through the mirror and look at others, I could only see me and my reflection! He loved me so much that instead of killing me, He gave me a tool to correct my flaws! As I was correcting my flaws, I found it easier to show compassion to those around me. I found it easier to practice patience and forgiveness because the mirror showed me areas that required the patience and forgiveness of others towards me! The mirror saved my life and it kept me from hurting others. As I stated, the use of a mirror for some may be difficult to accept and acknowledge but the mirror is much needed.

I am excited about my journey as a writer and I am anxious to see where this takes me! My mission and my purpose is to spread hope to all that I can reach. Hopefully within this past year, I’ve written something to encourage my readers and spread hope!

My prayer is that my writing never magnifies my struggles but my strength to overcome them, as well as the same for my readers.

 

 

The Wounded Warrior and Her Friends

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To all of my friends who refused to let me die in the struggle, I thank you! Transparency has always been key to me. So in order to share todays blog, allow me to paint a picture for you!

Just like a wounded soldier, I was shot on the battlefield, as many of us has been. The wound didn’t kill me but it disabled me. It kept me from functioning as a healthy soldier. I was still able to report to battle but because I was partially disabled, I wasn’t as effective as I once were. The smart thing for me to do would have been to take a leave in order to recover and then continue my battle.

I didn’t realize that I was holding up the progress of my fellow soldiers because instead of focusing on the battle itself, they were busy attending to me; one who should’ve been helping in the fight. But being me, I kept trying to fight. By now, my breastplate is hanging off and my armor isn’t properly secured because my injuries are preventing me from suiting up as I should. So instead of taking a leave, I’m still showing up crippled and half-functional. However, since I was still showing up to battle unarmed and unprepared, I suffered harder blows that only crippled me worse!

Finally, I decided to take a leave, I had taken all I could take and my health was beginning to fail. I accepted the fact that I needed to rest up if I ever wanted to fight again. I needed to be healed and regain my strength. While I was resting, I had friends who not only continued the battle but they fought on my behalf as well! The enemy saw that I was weak so he attacked even harder, but my friends held up the shield and blocked the fiery darts for me. They prayed and sent encouragement constantly! Even though I wasn’t able to help them fight, they still pushed me to recover because they knew I would be back! They refused to let me die on the field. They carried me off to safety when my enemies were overpowering me. They nurtured the call. They pushed my purpose and they kept me covered. Now, that’s what friends are for!

Truth be told, there are plenty of wounded soldiers out there. Some have been left to die on the battlefield. And some were saved by friends and fellow soldiers. I am blessed enough to have people around me who genuinely care and they came to my aid! They didn’t let me die in the battle. They cared for me during the struggle.

What about your friends? Do you have any fellow soldiers that will refuse to let you die in your struggle? Are they willing to carry you to safety? Or will they stand by and watch you bleed to death?

Mutualistic Interactions

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One thing I’ve learned is everybody is not assigned to you! There will be some who will cling to you because of the idea of you or because of the benefits you can bring to them but ultimately, they are not for you.

For a long time I struggled with that. I thought I could help everybody and I actually tried until I found out that some people didn’t genuinely want my help. They just wanted to be connected to me! I quickly found out that this was dangerous because they didn’t have my best interest at heart. This showed me that they really didn’t care about my well-being or my purpose but at any cost, they just wanted to be able to say we were connected some kind of way. It was more of a leech relationship than a mutualistic interaction. After all, all leeches need is a steady supply and a ride to the next destination.

I realized that more drama and confusion was being created in my life because I was subjecting myself to this one-sided relationship! I’ve never lived a drama-filled life and I didn’t like it. I hated the fact that my peace had been disturbed and I constantly felt drained. It was because I allowed leeches to suck the life out of me. Not only that, but I noticed how I had began to lose focus and distractions started multiplying. This was because I was giving all I had to help the leech but I wasn’t receiving anything to replenish what I had given out. I had developed and harvested way too many one-sided relationships and it was greatly affecting me. So I released.

I shut off the valve that was supplying fuel to the leeches. And I realized that once I shut off the valve, the leeches didn’t die. They simply found another place to draw fuel from. And from that, some continued to drain others and some actually developed mutualistic interactions. Those that developed mutualistic interactions puzzled me. I wondered why wasn’t it a mutualistic interaction when they were connected to me. As time progressed, I realized that I had become comfortable with supplying and that’s all they were searching for at that moment, a supplier! But the next place demanded that mutualistic interaction. This meant that the leech would either grow up or die because the supplier demanded it!

Outside of the biology world now, think about the leeches in your life. Have you lost sight of your vision due to constantly giving your all to one specific area? Is it a one-sided relationship?

Important question: Can the same people you are pouring into, pour into you?

Conscious effort time. Are you okay with being a supplier? Is it that important to you just to be connected to someone but not experience a healthy growth from it? You decide.

Off-Season: Part 3- Knowledge VS Endurance

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One thing I’ve learned about the off-season is that emotions change constantly. One day training may make you feel like you’re ready to tackle the battle. Another day, the training may be so intense until you cringe at the thought of facing the real challenge. However, on a good day of training or a bad one, you can not deny the fact that training makes you better. And if nothing else, training reveals! How? I’m glad you asked! Often times, we are caught unprepared because we simply rely on our knowledge. This is not enough. My God-Sister plays professional basketball. She has great knowledge of the game. She will probably be one of the greatest coaches of all times but her knowledge of the game isn’t enough without the strength to endure. Even though she knows how to win the game, she also knows that she has to complete the game to earn the title as a winner. One thing I’ve learned from her is endurance is developed year around. When she’s not on the court, she’s still training and she’s still active. Why? Because we don’t win by just knowing, we win by being able to finish!
There’s an article on ‪stack.com‬ that says “In order to effectively perform at your peak during the season, you can’t slack off once regular practices and games end. Keep game ready all year long!” This is so true. We must be ready at all times. Not just to pick up the microphone or to be in the spotlight. We must be ready for the tough times. We must be ready for the unexpected. Now we know that being ready for the unexpected means conditioning, planning, and preparing at all times.
Think about taking a test. When we were preparing to take the ACT, we went through several rounds of training. There were days when we were made to study only science and there were days when we were made to work tons of math problems over and over. It was tiresome and boring! It was tedious and exhausting. Some days I wanted to take a nap. Some days I felt like I was being forced to re-learn something I already knew but the instructor still made me sit there the entire time and say awake. She knew my potential but she also knew that I could be lazy. I was always a bright student and I’ve always been pretty intelligent. In many areas, I was above the average student my age and I knew it. So I was lazy and sometimes self-reliant. I was easily distracted and I hated to read or study for long periods of time. My instructor could tell the moments when I got distracted and she would make me refocus. She knew when I got sleepy, I would just select any answer just to finish and lay my head down. So she would push me harder. She fussed constantly and if I finished early, she would give me another test to take.  I didn’t understand why until the actual test day. While I was taking the ACT, I noticed that while I was in the middle of answering questions, I got terribly sleepy. I knew the score I needed to make in order to be accepted into the college I had chosen so I did all I could to stay awake and alert. My body was saying “just lay your head down for a minute and then get back up and finish it before the time runs out” but my brain was saying, “You knew this was coming and this is what we’ve been preparing for. REFOCUS!” My instructor was not only teaching me the knowledge I needed to pass the test, she was also training and conditioning my brain to stay awake and alert in order to complete the test.
Don’t be like me. I thought that because I was a little smart, I would be okay. Turns out, the ACT was a little smarter than me. We think that just because we know the right answers to some things, we’re able to master all things. This is not true. We don’t know it all and the time will come when you will have to show what you know. And when this time comes, it won’t be a question of knowledge only but it’ll also be a display of your endurance based on your off-season training. Once again, don’t be caught off guard. Be prepared to play year around!