People + Pleaser = Self-deprivation

I used to be a people pleaser until it landed me in a position where all could watch and no one could help. Meaning, I would push myself to conform to what others expected of me, whether it was healthy or not. People pleasing is taxing, it pushes you aware from you are at your core. It forbids you to live authentically but bend to the wants of other people. What people pleasing got me was months of lack of sleep and eventually anxiety.

In a previous post I spoke about self-care and depression. The reason I wrote that post was because in an effort to live up to the expectations of others I put myself in a bad place. However, I didn’t know it was bad until it was too late. Being in a Phd program, tutoring, teaching courses, and everything else outside of school, I became stressed and I knew it. But, what I didn’t know is that I had exhausted myself this time. I would wake up tired and go to sleep tired. I would be so weak and nauseous but I kept pushing because I wanted to be the best.

Well what that got me was medication to help with anxiety/sleep and depression pills. Now, while I never needed to take the depression meds I did need something to help me sleep because I couldn’t turn my brain off. I had pushed myself, in fact over 5 months, trained myself to keep going and naturally because we are creatures of habit, my body got the memo. So why self-deprivation?

Self-deprivation is defined as voluntary denial or suppression of one’s own interests or desires. While in fact school was once my desire, it’s demand was not. And, because I wanted to be what other people said I was, I pushed myself to the max. In retrospect, I realize that those compliments were not worth it. The bragging rights and yearning to be great isn’t as grand as expected. Now, when it comes within its right season then yes, but how many times have you tried to conform to others and lost yourself?It isn’t worth it.

It’s kind of what literature people call double-consciousness, originally coined by W.E.B DuBois–a great public intellectual during the Reconstruction Era. He says that double consciousness  “ is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of…measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings…” In essence, there are two dark souls trapped in one body. The moment we realize how we are internally and how the world perceives us to be, we have experienced double consciousness.

However, what DuBois fails to realize is that, he is putting the chore of choosing on the individual experiencing double-consciousness, not drawing attention of the error of the outside structures that superimpose one to feel this way. Here is where you come in. Don seek to please other people, because you will always disappoint someone or someone will always have something negative to say. Instead, focus on living a life that is pleasing unto God.

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Removing the Binding Ties

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

This passage shows us that we are not alone in our struggle, in fact we have a cloud of witnesses who are cheering us on. The witnesses are those who have struggled and gone before us, who are now seated in heavenly places cheering us on. Or so I like to think. But the thing that really got me was the part that says “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that entangles.” What are those things that hinder you? What are the sins that you keep finding yourself tangled in?

For me, the thing that hindered me was my outlook on relationships. Now, relationships aren’t bad but if we have the wrong perspective of them then that have the potential to hurt us and others. Growing up in a broken home, I witnessed my mother work two jobs to support us as a single parent. In fact, she did a great job because we all grew up well and with morals. However, in her hard work, subconsciously I internalized that I would always have to exert myself to the point of exhaustion because a man was undependable. While my mother never outright told me this, witnessing her life taught me to believe. As a result, I took on the mentality that men could not be trusted and that they will never stay, so I must be super independent and a strong black woman. What a tragedy to think this way.

If we base our relationships off of the images we see while we are developing, we are stabilizing on rocks. Have you every tried to run a trail with a lot of rocks?It’s not as smooth as a fact surface is. Basically, you expend more effort not to fall, and try to depend on nothing but yourself because you know that the ground you’re on cannot be trusted. Well, that’s the same thing that happens in relationships. We grow up with unrealistic or in many cases amplified ideas about relationships and people and we hold them  hostage to them while simultaneously pointing the gun in our own faces because deep down we really know that this thinking is wrong.

Due to my past relationship mentality I used to task men with the duty of making my life better. Since I didn’t get this growing up or that growing up, you must do it. I would reason that it was their rightful duty if they wanted to be with me. In essence I was being needy because I never took the time to heal from those past wounds and traumas. Now, I have to work actively to throw off the old mindset and renew my mind with what the word says about relationships. If you don’t know what the bible says then I suggest that you take the first step and start studying it because you can’t have a healthy relationship without it.

As far as the sin that easily besets us. This means that sins that we almost willingly fall into. So, for instance, because my hindrance was relationships then the sin was sexual immorality. So if a bad relationship mentality were a frame, then the picture was sexual sin. Get it? Generally the hindrance and the sin are linked, if they are not already one. So I urge you to examine yourself and your life for those things that seem to rule over you. You’re more than a conqueror and you can win!

Single? Why Me?

Sooooo I’ve entered into an ever lively conversation about singleness. Now, I must admit I used to be the person who has always been in a relationship. If I were not in a relationship, I was talking to someone until I got into one. However, things changed drastically after I got out of along term relationship last year. Granted, at first my cycle picked up again: I went looking for someone to occupy my time (i.e waste my time). Eventually I got tired of having my time wasted because I desperately wanted to be in a relationship. However, needless to say, that didn’t happen and I wasted much of my 2015 in tears.

So, in 2016 I decided to stop allowing others to waste my time and start to adamantly wait on God to send a relationship when he saw fit. This is no walk in the park, especially for someone accustomed to steering her life. However, it has saved me a lot of tears thus far and has also given me a clearer perspective on life and my worth.

Here are some things that I’ve been doing to stay productively busy while waiting:

  1. First and foremost waiting is not a passive act. In fact it is very much an active act. Waiting does not mean that you sit by and look out the window singing the sun will come out tomorrow. No, you have to do work! Work starts with you. Take inspection of your life. Examine the actions that have gotten you to this point and work to change them. For me, I grew up in a family of dominant black single mothers. Naturally, I can be outspoken and controlling. My task has been to practice relinquishing control as well as maintaining my mouth. Because the women in my family have fierce words, I have some of the same traits. Proverbs 14:1 says that a wise woman builds her house, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. Well my own hands would be my mouth.
  2. Financial freedom. Now this might not be everyone’s struggle but it is definitely one of mines. I generally like to shop and my tastes aren’t very cheap. Ultimately, overtime I’ve accrued some debt that is unnecessary. So, take this time to get out of debt because it can be embarrassing. Also, think about it: when you’re married, your debt becomes your spouses debt, right? So, do you really want to share that you are financially irresponsible? I mean I wouldn’t. Especially if you have debt from student loans. Romans 13:8 says let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another. So lets go ahead and do what we have to do. Now, if you aren’t in debt maybe you can start to save money towards your future or start investing.
  3. Live healthy. So, in my singleness I’ve started to workout about 4-6times a week. At first the gym was such a chore but overtime it has become a necessity. In addition to gym time I also try to cook more. Now, I know the 21st century women are adamant about being career oriented and I’m not saying you should be Betty Crocker but you do need to know how to survive. Eating is such a necessity and cooking is a stress reliever, it helps you become more creative, and it’s just a good skill to have. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Don’t you want your temple in good shape?
  4. Educate yourself. Now if you’re like me and in school, education is a task within itself. Sometimes it is tiresome. However, if you’ve finished school or just don’t have time, you can self-educate. There are plenty books out there for you! You don’t have to sit in a classroom to learn, you learn everyday.The bible reminds us in Ecclesiastics 7:12 that the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it. There’s nothing wrong with picking up a book and reading.
  5. Speaking of reading and knowledge, this is a great time to delve deeper into the word of God. In Psalm 119:105 is says that the word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. How will you know which direction to take, which mate to choose, which position to take if you don’t read the word? Now, when I first started reading the bible I would fall asleep on it because it was boring. However, I soon found out that the bible is better than reality tv, literally. Seriously though, if you want to live a life leasing to God, you have to know how, and it guidelines are in the book. In the past, my friends and I would comment that there’s no rule book to relationships, however we were sadly mistaken. The reason we felt this way was because we disqualified the bible…it is THEE rule book.
  6. Develop your prayer life. Now, sometimes my prayer life consists of venting about things I feel are unfair then I would get up. However, I learned that prayer is not a monologue but a dialogue. So instead of unloading on God and getting up, I would wait for him to answer. And, if I were focused enough he would answer clearly, speaking in a still voice that only I were aware of. This drastically changed my prayer life honestly. I didn’t have to wait for an intercessor to pray, nor wait days for a response, generally I get it right on the spot. The bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing. Now this doesn’t mean every second of the day, but to include God. Sometimes I pick up in a dialogue with God about something that crossed my mind and keep going about my day. While others may think that I am talking to myself, I am talking to my father.
  7. Learn a hobby. So, this is something fairly new for me. I bought a guitar in January and started to teach myself to play slowly. However, it is definitely a task. While I don’t have a scripture for it, I believe it is a great thing to do. So, when I get bored with my time and start to get down about not having a companion, I’ll commit my time to my guitar.
  8. Volunteer. In a world consumed with attention to the self, it is good to help other people. Honestly, I was appalled that they came out with a selfie stick because it reiterated the selfishness of our hearts. Needless to say, I refuse to buy one. How many times have you been in a relationship with a selfie stick mentality, seeking what someone could do for you? Philippians 2:4 tells us to look not only to our own interests but the interests of others. SO many relationships are destroyed due to selfishness. We cannot be so consumed with ourselves, thinking we are God’s gift to the world. Sisters we are called to be helpmeets, meaning you have to learn how to help. So, get out of you feelings, feeling some type of way, and add value to someone else.
  9. Validate. Now, this seems to be an easy one. However, it’s not. And, many people who do it generally do it falsely. For instance, if I just got out of a relationship and I see my ex-boo with some one else, I’ll probably be petty. I’ll try to critique her based on my attributes, I’ll draw attention to everything she is not but secretly I’m just hating. When you’re hurting, it’s easy to camouflage pain with confidence. You’re not confident you’re salty! Validation means sitting in your truth, acknowledging you’re broken and doing the necessary steps to recover. In essence, during this time, you are validating yourself to yourself. Knowing that you are enough and not having to broadcast it. I love Colossians 3:10 which says put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. When you know whose you are, you will know who you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made!
  10. Travel. Ok, so because I’m a Phd student I have to travel a lot for academic conferences, right. This summer I’m going to Amsterdam to conduct research. I didn’t have to consult anyone about my pursuits. Nor did I have to make provisions. I was able to go because I’m single. Being able to travel on a whim is great. However, we have such a negative mindset on singleness that we miss the beauty of its freedom. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do want a mate, but I also want to complete the tasks that God has for me now. If I rush to get into a relationship whose life am I devaluing my attempting to short-circuit my process? Go see the beauty go God’s creation and one way you’ll look up and your mate will be standing right in front of you, in God’s timing.

Remember, your trials are not all about you boo, they are actually about someone else and God is using you to one day save them. How many people are you risking by trying to satisfy our selfish desires. Be content with your portion and you will be trusted with more.

Peace and love sistahs!

Let’s Talk about It: Sex

So I was on Facebook this evening before I prepared for bed and I stumbled across an article that was on someone else’s timeline. The subject was sex and it spoke about what happens to your body when you are abstinent. The premise of the article was to inform readers about the issues of not having sex: less bladder control, depression, and erectile dysfunction. It encourages people who are active to keep up the “good work”  it tells people who are taking break to get back active soon, and those of us who are choosing to abstain until marriage, well too bad.

Now, I try to be silent on things like this because I’m trying to master my thoughts and urges but something was irritated by that post. Here are my thoughts:

  1. While sex is important, it is important in its proper context. In this stream between married couples. Because sex is so powerful and causes such binding between two people it is the only safe way to do it. Now, I’m not talking about being in a “committed” relationship with your boo or booette but married. Tied to someone who cannot just walk away spiritually, legally, financially, emotionally.
  2. The article speaks about bladder control. Come on now, really? Bladder control? Ok, unless something is medically wrong with you, and I mean like from infancy you don’t have an issue with your bladder. Do you urinate all over yourself overtime your bladder fills up? Probably not. Do you get the signal when it is time to release. Probably. Even if you have a problem with your bladder such as light tinkles when you laugh hard, or maybe some medical issue at night, there are fixes for that which are practical.
  3. Depression. Now this was the most appealing to me. It appears that the article is saying that if you don’t have sex you will ONLY be depressed. Well it can be inferred that it is saying this. However, how many times have you had sex outside of marriage and the relationship ended? Were you depressed or even hurt a bit? Maybe. How many sexual encounters did you have that left you feeling some type of way? A couple? How many times have you let yourself down by engaging in sexual activity when you knew better? All of these can ultimately lead to depression as well. What about sexually transmitted diseases? What about potential pregnancy?
  4. Erectile dysfunction. I have no words for this but…stop it.

What people don’t realize is that sex outside of its proper barriers is dangerous and can ruin your life. Think about it, has it ever been hard for you to leave a relationship after you had sex with the person? Have you ever thought that things would turnout differently because you had sex with them? Sometimes we create these imaginations that are exalted in our minds and we allow them to grow until they become reality.

Your body will not hold a man, love. At most, it will be a temporary fix to a long-term issue. When women release their bodies they are looking for permanence. We are not created to be a dumping ground for men’s old outdated toys. You are worth more than that.

Now, I know some people say that they can be “friends with benefits” or people who can have sex “with no strings attached.” Sadly, there is always a string attached and you aren’t really benefitting from your friend. Women, our emotions are inextricably linked to our sexuality, and the problem is that the world has tainted our minds with so many false images that we’ve believed them. However, dysfunction takes on many forms, and as the bible says that sexual sin is the only sin you commit against yourself. You are choosing your reality. When you lay down with a person, you not only release a binding hormone, but you open your spirit to that person. Spiritually, we are making deposits into the soulic realm of another person. Have you ever wondered why your feelings or even emotions are still tied to a person months after the relationship has ended? Well it’s because they’ve made deposits into you and until those deposits are withdrawn you will be tied together.

So you really want to be tied to a person that has seemingly moved on? Someone who you doesn’t seem to be worried about your feelings on social media? I don’t think so, now that can definitely lead to depression.

Choose to live differently and what you’ll learn is that in doing so, your mentality will shift. You aren’t looking for companionship in that man, you are looking to feel a void that sex cannot cover. Don’t be conformed to the world, for its ways will certainly lead to death; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, presenting your bodies as a living sacrifice unto the lord. I believe that you haven’t really experienced sacrifice until you’ve said no to your sexual desires.

Don’t believe me, try it!

Positioning Yourself to be Used

In society today no one wants to be used for real. Honestly, we want to use other people to fulfill our own desires. We want the promotion to live a comfortable life, we want the man because we are lonely, we want the vacation to post on social media, etc. But we are called to be servants! We are called to lay down our lives to help other people. We are servants of the most high and he seeks to use us in the earth.

Unfortunately though, a lot of us are unusable. Not because he made us that way, but because we aren’t interested in it. We want to use the world to advance our wants and needs. I believe African-Americans especially struggle with his point because of our cultural heritage. However, in positioning yourself to be used, you must declutter your life. Think about this:You want to wear your favorite shirt, you go to the closet but you can’t find it because you have so many clothes. You’re searching through the rack only to not find it and have to rethink your whole outfit. Days later you find the shirt crumbled on the floor of the closet because it has fallen off a hanger.

That’s how we are when God wants to sue us. We are in the right position but we can’t be found, because we’ve fallen off the radar. Not that God can’t find us but because our lives are covered up by so many other things that we cannot emerge. When positioning yourself it is crucial that we declutter our lives. And, generally what’s happening on the outside is a reflection of what’s going on, on the inside. Are your insides cluttered? Do you need to get rid of some stuff both internally and externally?

Now I know this looks like a hard task and it is, but it is the necessary step to being positioned clearly.

Knowing Your Worth

marleyI often hear people say that they want to be the Proverbs 31 or the Titus 2 women. They strive to be these women who stand at opposite posts in the bible but miss the women in between them. Now aspiring to be these women is noteworthy, I’m not taking away from that. However, I want us to realize that while we are waiting to arrive or live up to their reputations, we must strive to uphold our worth in the meantime.

It’s always good to have aspirations to be better in the future, but when we lose sight of becoming better currently, we miss the beauty of transformation. What I mean is that look at your life now, are you content in your own skin. You may be, now examine your finances. Are you out of debt or living life as a slave to creditors? What about education? Are you satisfied with your learning? And, education does not just mean schooling, people can become educated on a variety of things that are outside of school.

Most importantly, what about your relationship with God? Now, I know God gives us these two women to look up to, but what does he say about you? In what ways does he hold a mirror up to your life and say it is good? Now the Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 women are great, but they are personas. They are nameless women who’s character is amazing. However, you are not nameless are you? You have a birthdate, a social security number, and a fingerprint. Knowing who you are in Christ is far more important than trading your life in for a persona.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t aspire to these women but I am saying to believe in your being just as you believe in theirs!

 

Covering Empty Spaces

It’s very interesting that I’m writing this post. First off, it’s an area that I’ve been challenged in the most as it pertains to excessive spending habits and the issues it causes. Some people look at me and swear that I have it all together, I mean swear. However, what they don’t understand is that I don’t and though my outward appearance might scream one thing, internally I’m having a different dialogue.

I am a chronic shopper. Well, after today I will have been a chronic shopper. By this I mean that I am putting away those horrid spending habits that I have. The reason I have those habits is due to unresolved inner conflict. It seems that I still struggle with value issues somewhere in my life. Spending money when I really don’t have it to spare indicates that I have an issue and it needs fixing. I love shoes and clothes, and though I’m never late on bills, I do accrue more debt each time I spend and don’t pay off immediately.

I know this, I know that this must change because when one becomes a slave to debt then they are also a slave to other things. Being in debt is immature and agonizing, and I have to do better. So many people spend for various reasons, and some debt such as student loans are considered good debt. But I’m speaking about unnecessary debt. Debt that is built by attempting to impress people who you don’t like and who don’t like you. I’m guilty.

So, starting today I’m making a commitment to myself to get out of debt, whether it takes 6months to a year to aggressively pay it off. Pray for me.