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Not My Hometown’s Gospel

September marks five years since I left Georgia. Most of my Facebook friends are still from back home. Of those “hometown friends,” many of them are from the church I grew up in. I don’t go home often enough to keep in touch, but it wasn’t until a conversation today, I realized my belief of who God is has changed.

On any given day, I can scroll on my newsfeed and see people charismatically speaking things over their lives. I’m not against a godly exhortation or prophetic exhortation. I just remember often times sharing my brokenness with people and being met with a good ol’ “encouraging word” or reminding me that my negative thinking and speaking got me feeling so low. Those actions painted a picture of God for me, that I have quietly dismissed for a while, but now openly reject. It’s my hometown gospel.

In this gospel, this god wasn’t concerned whether, I was genuinely okay. He was so busy trying to fix me, He never knew how broken I was. He was more concerned about actions and less concerned about me. He looked on the outward appearance, but not on the heart. Most frighteningly, He was a god who was not able to handle how bad things can actually get. Who was not ready to see my shambles. One who kept telling me about if I just had a better perspective, I’d be better.

This is a rather cruel gospel, and not a god worth serving at all.

I look at Jesus, remembering He is God. I am amazed at how he handles human suffering. The recognition He offers to the woman with the issue of blood. The weeping He does with Mary at Lazarus’s grave. The care He provides, His mother at the foot of the cross. The concern he has for the widow whose son died. The way he creatively deals with blindness on three separate occasions. Jesus was mindful of suffering. Dealing with each person individually and personally.

God gets my shambles. He doesn’t slap me with a, “Buck up Buttercup”. He joins me in them. I think that is part of redemption. I don’t have to face the worst of life alone. Instead, I believe in a God who has faced the worst of life and can lead me in the valley and the shadow of death. Who mindfully hears and understands my shambles and responds individually and personally…

I don’t know where these thoughts have come from. I welcome them after a season of sorrow. To end a song that has been a generous reminder of God’s great love in the midst of my shambles and doubt.

He knows the name of my sorrows

He knows the names of my fears

Why should I let them bother me

For I know that He is near

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Ticks in the Timeline

I was sixteen sitting in my high school psychology class. Our assignment was to create a timeline of our lives projecting ten years into the future. Bless our teacher, he must have thought us foolish. For he had the knowledge that adolescent plans rarely come to fruition.

I’m twenty-six in 10 days. Ten years from psych class and light years from my expectations of adulthood. I dreamt of meeting someone at 19 and marriage at 26. Now, I have succumbed to my singleness. One part blessing. One part burden. I have the whole world in my hands, but no hand to hold. I battle (albeit rarely) with the same tensions of adolescence. Am I pretty? Am I worthy? Is something wrong with me? Why will no one cast me a second first glance? Am I even good enough?

I believed, I would be sitting on this mountain of success as a psychologist. Counseling people into wellness, uncovering the depths of brokenness, being a conduit of healing. Now, I don’t even know if I agree with modern psychology, and it’s ability to “help” people. This is even more frustrating, because I am working on a Masters of Counseling and have invested too much to just walk away. The idea of meeting with someone one-on-one makes me anxious and bored. Now, concerning vocation, I am doing well. My work is my heart. The teens I work with make daily life enjoyable. They fill me with hope and light and excitement and laughter. I could not be more consumed with them than I am.

Then, there were my finances. Wealth knows few men, but poverty is popular. I’m floundering. I feel like a slave to my bank accounts. I don’t control money; money controls me. It is an abusive relationship. Where in the good times, we can enjoy each other. In the bad times, it places stringent limitations on everything. I am closer to my teens in that manner than they could imagine. I look to my next paycheck with dread. For a brief moment, there is hope. I awake to a text to see income has been deposited. By Saturday, bills have been paid and I have nothing. I greet fear as we will be acquainted with each other for another two weeks.

Nothing goes according to plans. I look on Facebook and Instagram. Everyone seems so happy. People are in love and getting married. People are getting their Masters and experiencing success. People are saving and buying homes. Is everyone this happy? How are you all doing it? Let me in on your secrets. Don’t leave me out please. I know we all have our different paths, but sometimes I just feel left behind. As, I tend personal injuries people pass me joyfully, effortlessly jogging, as I struggle just to walk. Comparison you are the bloody original thief.

Then there is God. Whom, I never wrote into my plans, not even on a subconscious level. He just interrupted everything. Whose to say, maybe if He hadn’t interrupted, I would have been a married psychologist sitting on wealth, posting pictures on Instagram with trite hashtags, but I am not. And even in this low with continual descent and lament, I know God well enough to know this is not the end of my timeline. It is just the beginning of a hard tick.

Here in this Place

If you read through a couple of my blog posts (like the previous one) or have a heart-to-heart conversation with me, you will know I have had my lot of daddy issues. From hating the man to ignoring his existence to being here in this place with him, I have struggled greatly with the way that I relate to him, but all of that has taken an interesting turn recently.

September 17th, my and my dad had a conversation, where I let it all out. Many times, I have unsuccessfully attempted to do so. All ending in failure and frustration, but at the end of the conversation I said something to him that gripped both him and I. He often makes references to being the spiritual head of our family and how I should respect that. He talks about how he is without honor in his own home. Knowing God, intimately and personally, I take offense to both statements. One, because I honor him. My lifestyle brings honor to him. I am an African-American women, who has graduated from college with honors and without loans. I moved to Texas to work with people I have never met in my life and did extremely well. I was accepted into one of the top seminaries in the nation. My whole life revolves around how I can please the Lord. The one time I was drunk (and before some of y’all get ya panties in a bunch I realize bad choice), I kept screaming, “I’m so sorry, Jesus! Jesus is so ashamed of me.” So, the no honor thing just pissed me off. More than that I hated it, because that scripture (Mark 6:4) was used in a way to belittle me. And they did. I felt so little, but worse than feeling little I felt insignificant. I felt like everything God created me to be was pointless. And folks, that is a hellish place to be. But back to the conversation. I ended it with this phrase,

“If you want to have a relationship with me, you need to pursue me! Because that is exactly what God did for us. He didn’t ask me to meet him halfway or to pursue him. Because, HE is my Father and HE wanted a relationship with HIS child.”

After letting the tension settle, my dad agreed. He FREAKING agreed with me. I went into my room that night and bawled. I turned on a song called When I am Afraid by Laura Hackett and just cried. I don’t know why I was crying. The conversation ended as good as it could, but it was just one of those where I was overwhelmingly (and frighteningly) emotional. I haven’t thought much about it until today. Because, I realized something: I am worth pursuing.

I jokingly boast with friends that I am awesome, but oft-times I think of myself in relation to my deficits. I look at my left hand holding on to all the things that I assume make me lesser than some fictional other person. The biggest of them all being my body. Not simply just weight, but health issues that are out of my control. I would focus on them and just imagine, “How in the world am I going to present this to anyone? I’m so ashamed. Why would anyone even waste their time?” But in this time off I have had the time to concentrate on the abundance in my right hand. Oh my GOD (literally to God), the perspective. I don’t want to list them off, but the ways the LORD has blessed me far outweigh the pitfalls of being me. And it didn’t see that. I never noticed that and for that reason I am worth pursuing. Let me tell you why this is important.

I am the WORST at liking guys. I pick out guys based on my deficits. I say I don’t have a type, but I do. My (previous) type are nice guys with terrible decision-making skills. Typically, he is a well liked guy in a group of people, but he makes really really stupid decisions. More than that, I have always pursued these “nice-ish guys”. But I am not a tyrannosaurus looking for a partner so I don’t miss Noah’s Ark. I am a woman and I am awesome. I ain’t no Halle Berry, but let me tell you something Halle Berry ain’t no Tosin Akande. GOD has brought me to a place in our relationship where I am understanding myself a whole lot better, because I am understanding HIM a whole lot better. I am worth being pursued. I am worth being pursued because if God pursued me, then a man (the right man) can too.

I can’t believe that took 23 years to figure out.

So, if you are wondering about me and my dad. He is actually pursuing a relationship with me, but pray for me y’all. My heart very easily falls back into the bull it did before. I have forgiven my father. Forgiveness is a purposeful decision, but reconciliation is a whole new battlefield. Can I ask the readers of this blog to leave a prayer for me in the comment section or a message on Facebook that my heart would just soften towards my dad and I would just give him a chance. The way God is constantly giving me chances knowing I am a screwball.

Lord Jesus, here I am in this place. It is such a funny process walking with You. I always ask You to take me deeper than I could ever wander and You do. By the way, I meant physical location wise. However, this is much better than I had in mind. I never seem to know my destinations, but I get there and then everything just makes sense. I don’t ever think I said this before, but thank You for pursuing me. Thank You for thinking me worth the journey from perfection and holiness to sin and folly. Thank You for always loving me even when I never noticed and even when I didn’t love You back. You are so good to me. Thank You for this amazing journey. The past six years walking with You have been epic. Thank you for this month of reflection and recharge. Whether You send me to Mozambique or Sevilla or to Iran or Venezuela or to remain in Houston or return to Atlanta, thank You. My trust is in You alone, and as long as You are in my heart then I am home. I love you and Amen

Bunnies, Racism, and All Things Cute and Cuddly

***This blog post while not vulgar may be offensive. Please know it was not written for offense, but for clarity and understanding. My intentions were not to harm, but to open up a discussion with a stating of my perspective*** (more…)