pray for me

Imperfect Love

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

I have reflected on this verse often over the course of the past six months. I hear its refrain as I ponder on those whom I love and those who love me. I know imperfect love. It looms. I know it’s imperfect. It is fear-inducing and creates unnecessary risk. Fear-inducing love is not loving at all. Imperfect love is an oxymoron as it does not exist; love can only exist in complete perfection.

I got a glimpse of perfect love today. I saw it over breakfast and a coffee two hours afternoon. It was not a fear-inducing love, but one that feels freeing. One that assists in letting go. I pray for more of that love.

I pray I find it in the Lord.

I pray I find it in friends.

I pray it is found in me.

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!!!!!!!!!!

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