Today, is perhaps, the most beautiful day in Houston I have experienced. The sun that scorched my skin during summer has dulled into a smile with glimpses of its ferocious teeth. The wind has been my dear friend today with its cool reminders of friendship. Even the air has easily been inhaled. It is October 7th and it is wondrous my friends. However, the year is winding down, and I feel it necessary to reflect on all the wonders and mystery that revealed themselves to me. This will be an ongoing series until 2015 commences. Let’s begin with Lesson 1
Lesson 1: My Strength (when found in Christ) is Boundless
When, I look back on my life 2011 was perhaps the most difficult year of my life. I began that year at Passion 2011 in Phillips Area with 19,000 other college aged Christians who were all pursuing a Savior who was equally gracious and just. After four days on the mountaintop with Moses, I descended back down to where the people were. My people. Namely my family. I haven’t written about my family in a while. Part of it for privacy reasons. I know my mom and sister sporadically read this thing. Other times, I think I don’t write much about them, because of the distance. Houston and Atlanta are too far apart for normal visits. All you need to know is that my family was not in a good place. Therefore, upon my return, I was quickly reminded of the evil that I physically lived in. I think of it today and my stomach turns at what I endured that Friday night. Then, I am reminded that I indeed endured it. All glory be to Christ. However, what happened in a day shaped my entire year. Worn and so profoundly broken, I considered leaving the church. Not because of my lack of faith in Christ, but because there became this dissonance in my mind that was so great, and I could not reconcile it: How can God be so good–how can I have known and experienced His goodness–and evil be so rich in this world? I love God. I will always love Him. Even with my best efforts, I cannot help but give Him my heart. In the words of Gungor, “I have tasted and seen and now I want more. Cause You breathed Your fragrance on me. Late have I loved You. Late have I loved You”. I digress though. By the summer, I began counseling, but was so profoundly hopeless that after 3 sessions I gave up. All my struggles with suicidal ideation resurfaced and became a prominent aspect of my summer. Fortunately, I was able to refocus much of my energy into working with the Incept office. As the year concluded, I found myself one grain short of obsessed with a guy that literally had NO interest in me. Now before you peg me as Ali Larter in Obsessed, note we did spend an enormous amount of time together one evening talking and flirting. However, what was one simple night in September began a 4-month obsession.
I have quickly synthesized (in 412 words), what was previously held as the title of the Most Difficult Year of Tosin’s Life. While, the year has not finished, I am pretty sure by August, 2014 was taking the grand title. If you follow my blog or walk with me through life you know what has happened this year. If not allow me the opportunity to rehash it for you. For the Lord knows rehashing events in MY FAVORITE!
I decided in September 2013, to return back to Houston and do Family Based Care with my mother/sister/wife, Claire. I started seminary, in January 2014. I was a full time mother and a full time student. My life revolved around my children and the community I lived, with my studies closely bound like the nucleus of an atom. March 31 my nucleus was destroyed. I was fired from my job, forced to abandon my children, and evicted all on the same day. My world and my safety collapsed. My family is not with me. I moved to Houston on my own, and this year was the first time I have felt alone in this huge city. I took residence on a couch of two of the best people God could bless me with. I thought, that in a month I would bounce back. Apparently, I am a weighted ball. When, I met gravity I fell and laid there with NO BOUNCE, but I did roll. I rolled into the Gap; I rolled to Star of Hope.
Much of what panicked me in the first 3 months are resolved. I have a FANTASTIC JOB. I do not use this term loosely, but I do believe God has intentionally ordained for me to work at Star of Hope with teenagers. When working with teenager, there is no, “I think I like them”, and even in liking them it is only by God’s grace that one knows how to handle them. And if one likes them and can handle them: can they form relationships with them? I do not do all 3 perfectly. I barely do all 3 decently. But I desire to do all 3. I spent a month in a beautiful rented car that cost me $1,000. It came with its perks. That lovely lady was fantastic on gas. In time, Beulah came. Beulah is my car. I call her Boo. She is not perfect, but she is mine and I love her. More than that, I know two amazing men, who have cared for Boo. Thank God for good men.
Since much has been resolved my focus has shifted to one last piece of this jigsaw. Where am I going to live? I have spent the majority of this year without a permanent address, bedroom, or bed. I have lived out of the trunk of my car. I have had the same articles of clothing in rotation since April. I do not have a space to place all my stuff. I have slept in my car in the heat of August. I have spent the night in a diner because I had no place to venture. I might have poisoned myself with coffee that night. I have developed an empathy towards the guests at Star of Hope that only comes presently walking through the experience. Homelessness changes a person. Whether you are traditionally homeless or functionally homeless there is a process that occurs that breaks you down to a place of depravity. Where you see who you are when a basic need is taken away, and all you have to barter with is one’s integrity.
I found, I have none. When my heart is weary. When my soul is weak. When I feel, I can’t traverse the world before me. I survey the glory of your agony, and I find the will to fight for what’s before me. Cause You ran the race enduring for Your glory.” Actually, it might be better to say that I don’t have any without Christ. My lowest point was once again in my car at 1:17AM in August. I wasn’t seeking Christ. I was attending church and playing the church games. However, I was not seeking Jesus. I desired Him to provide me and apartment or private shelter, but it was turning up for naught. My strength was already low and the night in the car not only emptied me, but put me in a deficit. I was not simply weak anymore. I was weak and damn near dead or at least at a point of self-destruction.
I like Paul for many reasons, but one of my most favorite at this moment is that his life was hard. He struggled. He loved Jesus, but He prevailed. And, I read scriptures like Philippians 1:19-30 and Philippians 4:10-13. I weep over 2 Corinthians 10:1-10. There is pain in this life, and according to my standards it is unbearable. I cannot handle it. I don’t want to handle it. The evil in this world is done by humanity, but it is inexhaustible (until Jesus returns), I am not eternal. I am human. So when I read of my brother Paul prevailing, it makes me wonder how?
It was God. It is God. It will be God.
Paul was a man, who allowed himself to be a vehicle for the Holy Spirit. It is the same with me. O Lord let it be the same with me.
The truth is, I am so weak. I don’t understand how it is possible to daily rise, but in tribulation and struggle I see God is all His majesty and glory. I am humbled. I am humbled that, He would even consider being my strength. Then, I remember that I was bought with a price, and I am a vehicle of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit ministers to me in my times of weakness. It was never up to me to determine if I was strong. I am not. However, my life is in-serviced to an all-powerful ruler for His bidding and choosing.
More than that, I look to who I was prior to this, and I see Christ being formed in me. I am not perfect by any means, but I count all the crap I have gone through this year as worth it.
When I lose myself, I reflect Your image
When I break, I break my will, then I am whole
When I give, give my all, I find life everlasting
Then Christ is formed in me
Awake my soul, prepare an entrance for Your glory
And let my heart become a throne for You to dwell
And when I need Your Holy Spirit more than life itself
Then Christ is formed in me