Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Tree of Life

So I just finished reading chapter 2, "Young Lady of Diligence" of The Young Woman in Waiting. I don't know if this book is just that good or if I'm just in a place in my life where this resource is most beneficial to me. I think it's a factor of both. I believe lately I've been receiving confirmation of all things I wasn't sure of regarding my worth & purpose. Anywho... I came across the "Diligence of Ministry" section and concluded that self-doubt has limited my pursuance of ministry. Now, do I think my purpose is to be a pastor? No. But maybe a teacher, an encourager, a prayer warrior, a server, a writer, a listener, a comforter, or helper. I've always desired to do all these things in some capacity. I do believe my purpose consists of these things.

I was sharing with a friend how people seek me for advice, wisdom, guidance--even people I wasn't close friends with in or haven't spoken to since high school--and, although honored that people find me wise or mature or whatever enough to seek me out for such intimate matters, that it kinda boggles my mind why of all people they know they'll come to me. (I don't mind. I love trying to assist people through their journey of unclarity, but sometimes I don't feel worthy. I mean, I'll have a 40+ year old woman ask me about aspects of life I only have observed.) I remember the friend replying, in short, that I had influence, and I couldn't help but remember my mother telling me in recent years how when I was a child the teachers would tell her the same thing. For instance, if I wanted chocolate milk, the other kids wanted chocolate milk. (Funny, most of my life I never felt like the "cool kid".) ...I remember my teachers during my high school & college years telling me I had a gift with words & critical thinking--was a good reader, speaker, great at reasoning, connecting the dots. ...Maybe that's my gift. The gift of knowing much by experience, but mostly through observation & what I consider common sense and knowing how to articulate it. And influence people with it. I'm not sure I know what my gifts are necessarily. All I know is that I need to put use to what I'm naturally inclined to do, desire to do, what I feel a sense of purpose doing. For God's sake.

I like to think I am in some way with my nuggets of "wisdom" shared via Facebook statuses, notes, twitter tweets, this blog post, or even in communicating with people the old-fashion way, but I think I've put a cap on my potential by not qualifying myself with proper training. I mean, I'm great at using Blue Letter Bible or Got Questions, Google Search or old-fashioned searching the Bible's concordance, if ever I am moved to give a scripture of wisdom in conjunction with my words of encouragement or point of view real quick, but I believe my hesitancy to serve in ministry has much to do with my lack of maturity in knowledge of the Word. Therefore there's this fear of not being the best representation of Him. I have a lot of growing up in Christ to do. But who doesn't? That'll always be the case. One of the characters depicted in "Young Lady of Diligence" is Doubting Doris. It reads "Faith is believing what God says about you. ...Part of ministry is learning so don't let yesterday's struggles prevent future successes. (1 John 4:4; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Tim 6:12) Doubting Doris is me. I hate to admit that because I'm also that person who will encourage people publicly & privately to not doubt themselves because they're a child of God and God loves His children and is all powerful and made us in His image, dada dada da, but in all honesty, although I know that to be true because the Bible says so and I believe in it's validity, I, too, still struggle with truly acting in that knowledge, which is manifested in self-doubt. Truth is, many times when I share nuggets of truth, I'm preaching to the choir--myself.

The scripture mentioned in Chapter 2 "He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed" (Proverbs 11:25b), although I've read it before, for the first time sounded like the basis of my personal mission, vision, creed. Refreshing others has always been what I've wanted to do whether it be by singing a song, cooking a meal, counseling someone, serving someone.... And in doing so I have felt refreshed. Giving others a sense of power as best I know how is the best gift that keeps on giving. A friend of mine once told me that “[my] energy” has always lifted [their] spirit, so much, it sometimes feels as if [they] could “float off the ground.” That's an honor. And I believe such a gift is one that will help me fulfill my potential. In what capacity? I don't know. But I'm sure whatever [I] do, [I should] work at it with all [my] heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" (Colossians 3:23). In that case, I'll need the belt of truth because I have a feeling the gift of words will be applied. Now all there's for me to do is train for such ministry by "rising early to develop the tongue of a disciple". Isaiah 50:4 reads, "The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught." 

I'm not at all saying that I will start this training tomorrow. I'm still guilty of self-doubt in this capacity. It's quite sinful. (If you believe in the power of God & prayer, pray for me.) What I am saying is that more & more I am becoming more aware of who God wants me to be & I'm slowly, but surely becoming that woman. Stick around and watch me transition! Watch me make great strides (& stumbles) along the way. It's all part of the journey, the test, the testimony, the blessing.

FYI: When I ask people to pray for me I make sure to pray for myself. My prayer? That my words brings healing, be a tree of life. (Proverbs 15:4)
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Another book I LOVE is Releasing Your Potential (Myles Munroe). I'll have to share that book as I'm doing Waiting in the future. Releasing, I believe it will make a non-believer a believer in Christ & a believer a stronger believer of their God-given purposes. As well, as The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (John C. Maxwell), which speaks greatly about being a positive influence on others' lives.

Monday, May 9, 2011


I know I "rant" quite a bit, but I think a lot & like to share my thoughts, reasoning. (Even when I haven't come to a conclusion of what it is, therefore seeking answers aloud or being transparent here on this blog.) Especially when I think it can be edifying--spark some self-evaluation--which is why my topic of choice is usually relationship based (in some shape or form).

Relationships are crucial and our interaction with others is a telling indication of our own personal health. I think my stance on this has much to do with my desire to be a marriage & family therapist. From the time of conception we are in relation to someone. That conception was a result of a relationship. Relationships have been of value since the beginning of time--God walking in the Garden with Adam, God creating Adam a companion, Eve.

...So yeah, I think relationships, relations, relating is just as much a "me, myself & I" concept as it is a "world-wide" concept as it is a "spiritual" concept. Complex & yet not so intricate in that we can't gain understanding and therefore can make changes that heal the experience of which we relate with self and others in love.

The Myth of the Stolen Man/Woman

"S/he stole my man/woman."

The thinking that a wo/man can steal your man/woman is ludicrous to me. Unless kidnapped or, maybe, blackmailed, no wo/man has that much power to make a man/woman leave you. Being that's usually not the case, it's fair to say your man/woman walked away. Without coercion.

Accept that truth & stop trying to blame a third party for the actions of "your man/woman". Your man/woman, although yours, can't be controlled, caged, tucked away safely like your other possessions. Like you, your man/woman have this power to make choices--to change their minds & therefore ... their hearts. [Ouch.] With that said, a man/woman can't be stolen, but they can choose to walk away. No matter the reason for doing so--another wo/man, and no matter the circumstances--s/he knew your man/woman had a lady/wife/man/husband--it was your man/woman's choice to leave you.

You'd think this would not have to be said, but with Mashonda's "woe-is-me-Alicia-Keys-stole my man" sob story being brought back to a dismal life on Vh1's "Love & Hip Hop" and the many statistics regarding relationships being "threatened" by social networks, I just felt a need to make this public service announcement of sorts. ...The way wo/men screen their partner's twitter Timelines, Facebook Recent Activity, Wall posts, Inbox, their cellphone history is quite ridiculous. Sad. And I hate to say it, but pitiful. As if them doing ANY of that stuff is going to keep their man/woman from walking away. All that energy is 1. a poor use of energy, 2. a sign of insecurity--either in yourself and/or your relationship; deal with it head on, not by playing Inspector Gadget or thinking you are powerful enough to manipulate "your" man/woman to stay, and 3. plain ol' foolish. Stop it! ...Your maturity is showing--it's quite little--and, more important, you're doing more harm to yourself (and probably the relationship you're trying so hard to hold onto) than not.

A little insecurity is natural from time-to-time (and, some would say, healthy), but the above actions and thinking is not healthy. Or rational. I mean, do we really believe that adult men & women are being stolen from us? Stolen? Ok, not him/her, but their heart, you say? ...My answer, a man/woman has to let their guard down, put themselves in a vulnerable position in order for their heart to be penetrated in a way of which your love could be replaced, no longer a desire to withhold and for another woman/man's to take shelter in their heart. Again, that's a choice. Your man/woman's choice.

Unfortunate, but true.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Waiting for Love ...I Already Have

So today I have begun reading The Young Lady in Waiting (Jackie Kendall & Debbie Jones) and surprisingly it restated my comments I shared on another blog post, ""What Your Father Forgot To Tell You": Vol 2. Age Aint Nothing But A Number". As I read the words of Waiting I thought "Wow. I have to share this with the other blog commenters!", but decided to take this to my own blog by the time I'd finished reading Chapter 1, "Young Lady of Reckless Abandonment", because it's here where I can expound a bit more comfortably.

The Young Lady in Waiting, a book my loving younger sister bought for me, caught my attention at a Christian bookstore because truth is "[I] have longed for love so much that [I] have given [myself] to some relationships that have been outside of God's boundaries" (Soul Ties: The Unseen Bond In Relationships (David Cross), another book I'm reading these days). And I am tired. A little lost in HOW to apply what I know about waiting for love (from a man). I know it. I'd pass the written test, but when it comes to applying my knowledge in the field... I have failed one too many times. Interestingly enough the whole "single" dilemma, I believe, is rooted in a lack of fulfillment, a lack of knowing one's worth. A lack of true love for self. This "cycle of the 'American way' that exalts a relationship with a man as the answer to life". And although I have never believed a man would be my answer to life, my sense of fulfillment, worth, love for self has been ... unstable. But, I digress a bit. I'm sure I'll share my story in more depth eventually. Today's not the day. Today's the day I share with you what was beneficial to me and hope can be beneficial to not only the ladies out there waiting, but men, too.

Excerpts from "The Missing Puzzle Piece" section of Chapter 1 (as written & styled in the book; excluding the format of listing the excerpts numerically):

1. Mr. Right is not enough to totally satisfy you by [himself]. God knows that you will never be complete until you really understand that you are complete in Jesus. Colossians 2:9-10 says, "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority."

2. Incompleteness is not the result of being single, but of not being full of Jesus.

3. When two "incomplete" singles get married, their union will not make them complete. Their marriage will be simply two "incomplete" people trying to find completeness in one another. Only when they understand that their fullness is found in a relationship with Jesus will they ever begin to complement one another. You were not created to complete another, but to complement. Completion is Jesus' responsibility and complementing is a woman's privilege. A woman not complete in Jesus will be a drain on her husband. Such a woman will expect her husband to fill the gap that only Jesus can fill. Only the single woman who understands this means of being complete in Jesus is mature enough to be a helpmeet (complement).

"The Missing Puzzle Piece" includes a quote from Elisabeth Elliot's book Loneliness, "Marriage teaches us that even the most intimate human companionship cannot satisfy the deepest places of the heart. Our hearts are lonely 'til they rest in Him." It continues stating "Elisabeth Elliot has been married three times (twice widowed) and she knows from experience that marriage does not make one complete; only Jesus does." Sometimes it's best that we take the wisdom of those who have been there, done that and reap the benefits of their wisdom by using it as a guide. Ladies (and gentlemen) we will not, can not find completeness in a man (or woman). In knowing this, maybe, just maybe our idea of love and the nature of how we relate to people (a lot of times out of the order of God) will positively affect such abuses we inflict on others, but also ourselves in the name (or pursuance) of love--or, should I say, what we know love to be.

I hope the above excerpts were as a edifying to you as they were to me. Sometimes "truths" of life's circumstances, statistics found in scholarly articles regarding relationship/family dynamics, and images of "love" being imposed upon us in every aspect of pop culture coupled with our complexities, blinds us from the "life and prosperity" God has set before us. It's going to take us to live a life of "reckless abandonment". One of which we may need to reconsider the company we keep, the culture we embrace, and the truths (many of which I'm sure are false) we place our faith. Lord knows it ain't easy. I know because I've at times been recklessly bold in my pursuit of God but then grown too comfortable in my standing with Him--not feeling a need to pursue God daily (i.e. not "devoting as much time to Jesus as I would in a relationship with a boyfriend"--just to find myself bewildered by how I've recklessly lost focused, lost a hold of my spiritual & mental sustenance and therefore pursued my heart's desires--doing & becoming all that I never thought I could. All in the name of wanting to love & be loved--even when I knew full well that the conditions of the relationships couldn't foster such. Anywho, I've digressed a bit again, huh? *lol* The challenge is staying committed. And as singles what better way to practice commitment than to foster such relationship with God. It's great practice (fulfilling practice--the gift-that-keeps-on-giving kinda practice) that will be beneficial to our relationship with Mr. Right, if it's God's will, and, most important, with ourselves.

"Young Lady of Reckless Abandonment" mentions a quote of Gary Chapman that truly made me say, "A-MEN!" (No pun intended.) It's one of those quotes that I think every single should embrace. It reads, "I feel very strongly that marriage is not a higher calling than the single state. Happy indeed are those people, married or single, who have discovered that happiness is not found in marriage but in right relationship with God." Trust me, as a single who desires to one day be a wife, the idea of such manifestation not being the will of God is hard to accept. But Young Lady in Waiting really has opened my eyes a bit in stating the true sign of reckless abandonment to Jesus is "when the Lord gives you a difficult assignment, you receive His terms without resentment". So in our pursuance of God, we have to make sure that we aren't seeking Him in hopes that our doing so will result in the gift of Mr. Right (or anything else we may desire), but because "Without the way there is no going; without the truth there is no knowing; without the life there is no living,"as well stated by Thomas a Kempis (Imitation of Christ, iii, 56); for Jesus is "the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6). [Probably doesn't mean much to some reading this post. Visit Blue Letter Bible and search "John 14" and "God is" for curiosity's sake.]

Again, I believe that such a desire to be fulfilled and the idea that such fulfillment comes from "a man" has much to do with our lack of fulfillment in ourselves, ladies. A lack of knowing ourselves. (We're more wonderful than we comprehend. [See Psalm 139.]) Young Ladies in Waiting mentions a quote that is said to be found on the back cover of the book Learning to Be a Woman. I will close this post with it.

"A woman is not born a woman. Nor does she become one when she marries a man, bears a child and does their dirty linen, not even when she joins a women's liberation movement. A woman becomes a woman when she becomes what God wants her to be."

God bless us all in our journey to find ourselves complete. In God.

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