peace

(some)BODY

When I think of my body, the best I can do is not think aesthetically but functionally. If I keep myself concerned with the things my body can do, I never have to worry if it is pretty or beautiful or good. The problem with this is that there are some things my body cannot do. There have been many things people have said about bodies like mine. There are so many more things I have said about my own body.

Running is one of those things that I don’t expect my body to do. All, I can focus on is excess flesh just moving and how grotesque a sight that is for onlookers. Gravity becoming the immortal enemy of my physicality. If I am still enough, then I can maneuver around slowly enough for things to stay in place. It is all one big optical illusion of Spanx and slimwear and clothing in a size too big. It is weird to see the thoughts, I have displayed on a screen, but this is the reality where I reside.

From Tuesday to Wednesday, I had a case of insomnia. It wasn’t even that my mind was running. I literally just could not sleep. At 3:30am, I decided to go to the gym. Most times, I just walk on a treadmill, but in delirium, I decided to run. I ran for 5 minutes straight. I remained on the treadmill for 35 minutes and upon completion, I had run/walked a little over 2 miles. I hoped this would tire me out, but it only invigorated me. I did squats got in my car and departed, for a 4am drive through the city. By the time I arrived at work, I was tired enough to hide behind my desk for a 20-minute nap…..but I didn’t.

Today, I took a half day. I went to the gym and consciously decided, I was going to run. I began running for 7 minutes. At the end of 32 minutes, I had run/walked a little over 2 miles. 16-minute miles are nothing to brag about. In comparison to even the average runner (maybe walker), I am slow. BUT my body ran. It ran and it felt wonderful and it hurt. It is unfamiliar and fascinating.

I don’t really have goals or expectations for my body. I have worked towards a lifestyle that serves my body best. I have made some progress. I am hoping I can remain consistent. Today was just a day, where I just finished running, breathless and sweaty and smiled.

“Damn, I got some body.”

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Lenten Prayer #8: Body Shaming

I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) at the age of 17. I never dealt with it. I have spoken about it with friends before, but for a long time, I just wished it away. I lived my life. I don’t overeat, but ate normally. As if my body would somehow just magically begin processing food normally. It doesn’t. I have been frustrated with my weight gain in mid-adulthood. I weighed myself on Friday at work. Three numbers on the screen. I quickly stepped down and recalibrated the scale. No one should see those numbers.

Shame infected me like food poisoning. I wanted to throw up. I was disgusted and nauseated. So much work has been done in the body positive movement, but I can’t feel positive about my body. I don’t. My shirt felt clingier than ever. Sticking to every pound of unprocessed meals from times before. I sat behind my desk most of the day. I began thinking of all the stupid things, I ate that week. I ate my lunch and wanted to vomit it back up. I loathed myself.

These feelings are not gone. However, I recognize this. Having PCOS is not my fault. I cannot control that. Not treating it for 10 years is my fault. I could have controlled that. I start Whole30 tomorrow for the 3rd or 4th time. Tomorrow though will be different. Tomorrow’s Whole30 begins with a complete transition into a Whole30 lifestyle. It is what my body needs. I don’t know if I care about the weight as much as I do about the shame associated with it. I don’t want to feel that shame anymore.

On my bedroom mirror, I wrote these words, “You have PCOS. Through diet, exercise, and the grace of God, you can be healed. Choose today to make wise food choices.”

Father, 

The work of Christ removes shame, right? I have so much. You know where it all lies. Currently, it sits within this broken body of mine. I have used humor and wry self-deprecation, willpower and diet plans, but nothing works. Shame comes when sin has occurred. Lord, I could justify why I didn’t do anything. Why I pretended not have a problem. You know those justifications before, I breathe them. Rather, I confess my negligence and ask forgiveness. Shame removal is a work of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit work. 

God, thank you for Your abundant Grace. You don’t see my weight or my shame as trivial, but they are of importance to You. Whole30 is just a diet, but I ask you would work on my from the inside-out. There is a brokenness in my heart about my body. Heal that brokenness. Help me become open to your healing. 

I humbly ask this, in the Name of the Risen Christ Jesus, through the Power of the Truthful Advocate, 

Amen

Lent Prayer #2: Rushed Spirit

Father, 

I’m already at a loss for time and the day is just beginning. It seems logical to ask for more time in the day to the One who is eternal. However, You give me peace. You give me patience. You remind me to slow down. Not to dwell on traffic unmoving, but the people all around who may be in need of Your Light. Slow me down to the pace of Your Son, who was able to notice a woman at a well, a paralyzed man at a pool, and me amid the billions. Let patience and perceptions be Your grace poured on me today. 

In the Name of Your Son, by the Way of Your Spirit, 

Amen

Romance Conspiracy Theorist

If you haven’t noticed lately; I am flawed. My blog posts are nothing more than reflective verbalizations of these flaws and insecurities. As much as I wish to be rid of them, I can’t. Well, I can, but not in the “here today, gone tomorrow” sort of way. All riddings are workings by way of the Holy Spirit. My most recent apparent flaw is that I suffer from being a romance conspiracy theorist. I think most women are. I think I placed a lot of blame on men that I have crushed on for hurting me, but often times I hurt myself. Women (rightfully) argue not to be sexually commodified. However, women often romanticize men, in a manner that is hurtful. I’ve romanticized men in a way that was hurtful. We place these unrealistic stipulations on them. We want them to long for us like Noah (on the Notebook), to fall in love with us like Landon (from A Walk to Remember), and to sacrifice for us like Jack (on Titanic). I am not a man, but I assume that it is a lot of pressure on them. Especially, since men are diverse and their attempts of romance may appear radically different from these fictive caricatures. We have these absurd and bombastic princess-complexes or muse complexes where we are the apple of a man’s eye and his life’s mission is to please us and love us as he carefully walks on a tightrope between romantic and obsessed.

I don’t personally think I have a princess complex. Since, I have been 13, people have described me as intimidating. As an adolescent, I was rather brutish, but as an adult I am becoming comfortable in my skin. My skin is a rich deep brown. My hair coils like springs and wires. I am size 16 (and going down btw…only to a 12 or 14 though…I never want to be skinny). My thighs will always be inseparable companions rather than rare acquaintances. I like people. I like to make people laugh and saying absurd things. I am kind. I am smart. I am important. If anything, I have a prime minister complex. But, honestly, this paragraph is unnecessary, but I am not going to delete it.

As a consumer of these unrealistic schemas, I have learned something. These films create false symbols of what to expect from men, that lead to misinterpretation of their behaviors. And eventually, leads to a sense of disappointment in men. In fact, women are taught (or maybe programmed?) to attach ridiculous meaning to things men do. I have fallen victim to this.  I say victim passively. I choose what I consume, because as we passively become victims, we actively become perpetrators. In fact, I have known I was a “victim” since 2011. I wrote this on Tumblr, 3 years ago.

Realization of the Evening #1

I have this unhealthy habit of thinking that any man who…

  • calls me
  • comments on a picture of me
  • emails me
  • facebooks me
  • talks to me
  • texts me
  • messages me
  • looks at me
  • smiles at me
  • hangs out with me
  • im’s me
  • touches me
  • sings with me
  • waves at me
  • dances with me
  • jokes around with me
  • compliments me
  • breathes in my general direction
  • or just simply acknowledges my existence

is in love with me and will be the ONE.

I know it is a lie, but all those student Disney movies and rom-coms screwed me over. This crap is ridiculous.

I know this is rather dramatic This is more than dramatic, but it is honest. I was so desperate for some affection, that I consistently allowed myself to befall the perils of false romance. I am proud to state that the one’s that are crossed off are one’s I have gotten over. As you notice, there are still a number, I am working on. Some are easier than other, but I am futile in my cognitions.

I am the perpetrator. When, I assume, “men only do kind things for me, because they like me”…I underscore their natural inclination to be kind with no ulterior motive. I don’t know why this broke my heart, but it did. Not to make excuses, but most guys don’t do things that are particularly nice for me or to me. The men in my life are cordial, but random acts of kindness are unusual. So, anything that deviates from the typical expectations, puts me on alert. I know it is wrong. I know I am wrong.

Worse than this, in taking a kind man’s goodness and derive these deep meaning from it, leads to the conclusion that he is smitten by me. As if one plus one equals ten thousand..It sounds absurd when described this way. Doesn’t it? Sigh. I think this is an imago dei issue. BOO.

So, I just want to apologize. I am sorry to all the men, that I have crushed on because you were kind to me. I am really not this awkward; I am just unfamiliar to men displaying kindness to me. Lately, I have been asking the Holy Spirit to renew my mind concerning my conspiracy theorist ways.

God, forgive me for the exploitation of men. Forgive me for placing these ridiculous standards on them and then condemning them for not meeting them. Forgive me for not seeing a Christians man’s kindness as an extension of Your kindness. Lord, You know my weakness. You know my desires; You know how polluted they are. Begin to renew my mind. Remind me that these men are my friends. Remind me to lift them up before Your throne. Forgive me for allowing my mind to wander into a sinfulness that only brings sadness. Help me to think rightly about men. Help me to have discernment in my friendships and relationships with men. God, if I brought about any hurt to a man, please forgive me and heal them.

Lord, but also allow me to be receptive without expectations. Give me wisdom concerning relationships…because I need it. Well, Lord, because I am an idiot concerning these things…we both know it is true.

Welp, there is another life lesson.

Jesus is My Home(boy)

This was the tagline of shirts made popular in 2004. Blame it on Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ or the frequently fluctuating nature of pop culture, but at church, school, and life the shirt was rather popular. Note, it was also on trucker hats; thank you Ashton Kutcher. As trends tend to do, the shirts faded into obscurity and can probably be found for sale on Craigslist or repurposed on Etsy. However, as I have had my sense of home challenged, this thought as remained constantly on my mind. Not so much that Jesus is my homeboy. In hindsight, that shirt was a bit rude. I don’t even think the disciples would have the audacity to call Jesus their homeboy. Even if they didn’t figure out who he was until after His resurrection, they knew He was a big enough deal not to refer to Him as that, but I don’t want to get legalistic. If that shirt led you into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, then praise the Lord.

Last year around this time, my friend Marianne went to Kenya on a two-week mission trip. Before she departed, we met at her house to celebrate her birthday and pray for her. I cannot remember all the words of her sweet prayers, but these couples sentences have always stood out to me:

God, you know lies in store for me when I get there. Lord, I am scared to leave the comforts of my house, but Jesus wherever you are, I am home. Jesus, you are my home.

For four months, I have attempted to procure permanent housing. Most nights, I spend on the couch of two of the most constant reflections of the hospitality of the early church. Every so often, I will give the poor couch a break and sleep on the air mattress at another friend’s apartment or on the best of days an actual bed. However, I have not had my own bedroom in 4 months. Please do not assume ungratefulness. I am beyond grateful. I could be sleeping in my car or in an abandoned building. I could be wandering the streets at all hours of the day and night. I am not. My situation is far better than many other people. I daily work with homeless individuals; I know they would rather have a couch than the shelter. Nevertheless, my situation is difficult.

It is hard to be 23 and without a place to call your own. I want to host events and small groups, but this space does not belong to me. I want to have friends spend the night and do brunch, but I can’t. After a long day at work, I want to hole myself in my room and debrief and be alone. I want to cook and have a schedule and go running. I want a bed that I can sprawl out on and roll over in. I want pots and pans and decorations that I get to decide. I want a place to call my own. I don’t want a space; I want a home.

That is what I have been so desperately searching for since April. Where is my home? I have no home. Why can’t I find housing? Why is this so difficult? Why have we been rejected again? I hear the Lord, whisper to me, “I am your home”. My heart breaks. I know He is, but have I believed it? Have I trusted in the idea that Jesus really is my home?  That when, I acknowledge His presence and dwell there that I have peace and feel like I am home? Do I even remember that this place, I am so desperately searching for, this house, this residency is my temporary residency and that Jesus is my actual home? Or that, God knows exactly how long I will be on this couch. Or even that He knows where the location of new home will be. Even further down the line, could it be in God’s infinite wisdom that He is simply preparing me for missions work in the future in which my housing will be unstable?

I don’t know? For every one thing I know, there are 17 billion that I don’t. Humph, for every one thing I know, God knows how many ways I know it incorrectly. What remains is this. Home is not your house. Home is not a bedroom or a bed. Home is not just a space that one occupies during periods of rest. Home is where Jesus is. Home centers on Him. In Him, I will find the comforts of a warm bed, the peace of my own space, the joy of freedom. Though, I will probably struggle with this come Monday, it remains true. Thankfully, truth is not based on my emotions.

It is a hard reality to come to terms with; especially, when I would rather tantrum it out or panic. The fear is sometimes still there, but it is slowly decreasing. Let my faith arise, O Lord.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”

Psalm 91:1-2

Jesus, is my home.

Also, this is my 100th post!!!!!!!!!!

The Good Samaritan

As my life continually attempts to achieve Job status, I find myself reflecting on stories and scriptures in the Bible that appear to hold some sort of parallel into my universe. Like, Job and I would be homies now. I know Paul suffered, but he was too triumphant for me. I would be in the corner crying about losing my job, Paul would probably be like, “Tosin, I have just come from my third shipwreck”. To which I would respond with “Maybe you should take a horse.” Nope, Job and I would be buddies. He complained and whined, but never did he doubt God’s goodness. That’s where I am. I love the Lord. I’m not as whiny as Job; I also have better friends. However there are days where my faith takes a beating. Even when the pulse of it is faint, I continue believing. There are also days when my faith is running marathons. Well, today is not a day where I feel like Job. Today is a day when my life reminds me of the Good Samaritan.

So, I called it an early night yesterday and spent my evening making the best ramen of my life and reading. I woke up early for work. Cooked my lunch and was leaving 20 minutes early for work. As I approached my vehicle I noticed a suitcase outside of my car. It was my car and I distinctly remember leaving it inside of my vehicle. I knew I locked my door. So, as I began pacing, dread was wielding itself into my heart. There I saw it. Broken glass where my rear passenger window used to be. I realized that evil had flooded a human heart so much to break into my car and steal. I have nothing of value. My clothes are not of fine linen. My favorite shirt is from Walmart; my shoes from Payless, and the suitcase itself was free. They took very little. Oddly, just some underwear (which is honestly jacked up). I had ten minutes to get to work. I rushed and it wasn’t until 7 hours later, I was at Kroger patching up my window with trash bags and duct tape.

As, I stood in the parking lot in the middle of the day hot and disheveled. I began the humbling experience of “repairing” my window. Shattered bits of window surrounded my feet and I became a pathetic spectacle to onlookers who were walking in simply to get spirits for the weekend. That is when I thought of the Good Samaritan.

Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him,“Go and do the same.”

Luke 10:30-37

I have heard this passage preached in churches multiple times. Often my focus has been on the Samaritan, but what about the traveling man. What happens when you are simply venturing from Jerusalem to Jericho and your life gets interrupted? See in that moment, I was the half dead man. To all those who passed by me, it was apparent something was wrong, but how easy is it to simply pass by the hurt and afflicted. It scares me that for an hour no one asked me what happened. Because the truth is, in life we will have opportunities to be the Samaritan, but it is a given that we will be afflicted and we will be in a position where we need a Samaritan to stop and come to our aid.

Another thing that frightened me about this episode was my assumptions. It is foolish to assume people around you are Christian. However, when you are repairing a windshield a block away from the largest megachurch in Houston in an affluent area of town and no one helps you that is scary, but perhaps that is part of the point of the story. The priest had an opportunity to help, but did nothing. The Levite had the opportunity to help, but did nothing. Perhaps, they thought to stop would interrupt their journey. However, didn’t they notice this man’s journey had been interrupted? The lady with the Jesus fish on her car had the opportunity to help, but she didn’t. The man with the cross on his neck and the rosary around his wrist had the opportunity to help, but didn’t. It was an elderly woman who smelled of cigarette smoke and buying a pack of beer who showed me the love of Christ yesterday.

Are you alright ma’am?

No…not really. Someone broke into my car last night.

Oh my word, bless your heart. I saw you walking into Kroger. Is there anything I can do to help?

Oh no, I have just been having a rough 2 months.

Well, just go home and spend time with your family.

I wish, my family is in Georgia. I lost my job. I lost my place to live. I miss my kids. (I start crying) I just want my mom.

(Hugging me)Oh, darlin’ it’s okay don’t cry.

Lord, wherever she is, bless this woman. I may not have been beaten by bandits, but I was hurting and she was my good Samaritan. 

Rejection: Humiliating, Humbling & Hilarious

I have had my fair share of rejection. I think of elementary school. The only thing that it worst than being last picked is not being picked at all. Never getting asked out on a date…ever. Not getting into graduate school the first time. All of that pales compared to the rejection I have faced in the past month and a half. Being unduly fired from my job. To the more current circle of no’s from the leasing offices I have called harassed.

Rejection should make you feel like a loser. Shoot I know I did. This whole weekend I felt like loser. Heck, if we are being real here, today I feel like a loser. I have a college degree. I am working on a Masters. I am responsible. I was darn good at my previous job. In fact, I would go so far to say I am highly competent. It is rare to give me a task that I cannot do. So, why is the best job that I can find one in which I am working part-time, on an hourly budget, and essentially a job I could do with simply a high school diploma?

Rejection is humiliating because to some degree, I know that I can do the job. I can afford the apartment. I can do whatever, they are telling me I can’t seem to do. It is humiliating because I am hopeful. I have had so much hope, and I now feel like I cannot spare my last few coins of hope on anything that seems too far-fetched. I cannot give it to jobs I have applied for. I cannot give it to apartments that are perfect in every way, but keep saying no to me. I am tired of telling my friends and family about potential jobs that don’t want to hire me or potential apartments that don’t want to house me. I am tired of having to share the failures.

Rejection is humbling because it forces me to self evaluate. When jobs and leasing offices reject me, I know it is not personal. However, when I hear no after no after no, it begins to tear at me as a person. It is personal to me. The are not rejecting my application. They are rejecting me. It makes me feel like there is something wrong with me. That I am not good enough. I am not smart enough. I am not competent enough. I am not enough of anything to be given a chance to prove myself. And that my friends hurts. Anyone, who struggles with their worth and value will get where I am coming from. After a month and a half of rejection, I feel like a fraction of the person that I am. Emotionally, I feel like my energy either goes to just not crying or choosing happiness.

I mean I love the Lord so much. So, I don’t want people to think that I’m doubting His faithfulness and goodness to me. I also don’t want the reader to assume I am throwing a pity party. However, I think it would be an outright lie to not also share that there is a REAL struggle in all of this. That the prosperity gospel is one written for the spirit and soul of a man and not the pockets. That the notion of God never giving you more than you can bear is downright bull. This is more than I can bear. This is crushing me. My back is broken by the weight of this. Yet, I still look for deliverance. I think that is why rejection is so scary, because I know God has not forsaken me. Because, if He had I could easily throw in the towel, drop out of seminary, go home, and forget about Houston and everyone in it. More than that, if there was anyone who could rightfully reject me it would be God. Nevertheless, I know He is still present even as all of this is happening. One of the qualities, I love most about Him is His intentionality. The beauty and purposefulness of His creation. The artistry and functionality of Scripture. The elegance in which He provides redemption for a world so vast, but so small. It is amazing and scary. Because this same God was intentional in allowing my life going this way. He was intentional in my departure of  a job knowing I had done nothing wrong. He is intentional about my living circumstances. He is intentional as I venture into the valley and the shadow of death. And, He was intentional in allowing to be the next phrase being, “yet I will fear no evil for Thou art with me.” He ALLOWS for me to pressed, but no crushed, persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed, rejected, but not forsaken.

Finally, rejection is hilarious, because for me I have to find a way to laugh at life or I’ll cry. So, I didn’t get picked to play kickball. I have saved my classmates from the embarrassment of watching me run. It is also funny because I have the calves of a horse and could kick that ball with impressive and freakish velocity, their loss. So, I didn’t get asked out on a date. Well, there is something majestically awesome about being the only senior on royal court to not have a date. Also, hilarious to interact with men, with no desire for them to see me sexually. So, I didn’t get into graduate school. I moved to a new city and started seminary. I made some major life changes. So, I lost my job and still don’t have a place to live…I’m trusting that at some moment in time, there will be a funny second half to this. It is not today, but it is some day. It is one day.

Lord, you know this is only a fraction of the emotions that I feel. You are present as I sit in silence in my car. You are there as the breeze shifts my tears across my face. You are there as my anger blends with confusion. You know I can’t handle it. You know the purpose behind this. You are purposeful in this. I don’t know. I have no idea. I am scared. You know the effort it takes some mornings to just breathe.

You have not rejected me. My Lord, You have not forsaken me. You have not turned Your face from me. You love me. Even in this moment when I feel my earthly value diminishing, You still ascribe value to me.

The Lord is my Shepherd. 
I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores me soul. 
He guides me down a path of righteousness, for righteousness is who He is and His character.
Despite, my ventures in valley and shadow of death, You, God, are with me.  
Your rod, it comforts me. Your staff, it comforts me. 
You prepare a table before me, in the presence of those who seek to harm me. 
You anoint my head with oil and my cup overflows. 
Surely, Your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.
As, I dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 
Psalm 23