The Pathway of Destiny

I wish someone would have told me that pursuing my purpose would put me at war with myself. What I mean is that I didn’t know that it would cause such conflict within me emotionally. Before pursuing destiny I lived a pretty predictable life. I knew when I would be emotional, I knew when I would be angry, and I even knew how I would respond in most situations. However, when I embarked upon this road of purpose my temperament changed and I shocked myself.

Walking a destiny walk can be lonely. In fact, in many respects there are times when it can be outright discouraging. There are moments when you just want to give up and go back, but you realize that there is nothing really to go back to. You’ve come too far to be satisfied with your past but that doesn’t stop you from thinking about it. Interestingly, while you’re vacillating over the past you start to feel guilty for wanting it. You start to question if God really created you to be, and why he would give you such a heavy weight.

Contrary to popular belief, destiny is heavy and uncomfortable. Sometimes we crave the end result but abhor the process. We run through classes of training using the cheat sheet of someone else’s process. I mean, if it work for such and such then it should work in this situation, right? But, what happens when you find yourself in a situation that doesn’t yield you the same results as it did your friend? What do you do when you did what the preacher said to do, but your circumstance didn’t change? You danced. You shouted. You prayed, but still have to endure.

If you’re anything like me, you may start to doubt yourself. You might wonder if you’re really saved and if so then why must you endure? You might measure yourself by other people without realizing that you have made them the god of your life. They become your idol, and you flirt with the possibility of their reality becoming yours. You become discontent as a result. You waver and question your destiny. What happens when you stop believing before you believe?

This thing called purpose will challenge you in ways that you didn’t know possible. It will strip you of identities that you once put on and it will leave you naked and vulnerable before the Father. It is like a chair being snatched from under you and before you know it you are on the floor. The mistake many of us make, myself included, is that we don’t want to bear the pain of destiny. We don’t want to evolve because that would require that we bow in quicksand and allow God to bury us. Gasping for air that destiny has snatched we have heart attacks in the emergency room of heaven as we pray, “Our Father.”

But, destiny has a purpose. It has a mystery that can only be unveiled after you have walked its cold path. It lends itself to you in the margins of your mind as it seduces you to keep moving. Tired. We keep moving. Crying. We keep moving. Cold. We keep moving.

Destiny will demand that you move even when your feet won’t. It will teach you how to walk on burning coals. It will sing to you when you are weak. Destiny will speak to you once you are on her road.

Once you are on the road to destiny

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What Were You Taught To Require?

As I reflect on the events of last week, I can’t help but wonder how much time I wasted attempting to acquire things that I didn’t really need. Specifically, I think about the moments when I allowed others to rob me of the simplicity of my life under the belief that I needed more to be happy. I used to think that I had to be in the latest, the most fashionable, or have specific things/people in my life to be content.

Culture teaches us this. While we generally think about it in terms of media, culture is also your surroundings. It is the family you grow in, the friends you surround yourself with, and these environments shape you to believe certain things. However, when you leave the culture and are introduced into another, you will notice that there may be great conflict within you. Things that you thought you once needed may seem silly. Things that you vowed within yourself to never do might happen, and all of this is for a reason.

When we are taught to require things because it is “normal” we might come into agreement with things that strip away our happiness. And, our willing participation could serve as confirmation of an inner vow.

When I was trying to figure out what a successful relationship looks like between a man and a woman, I heard lots of women say “he should open doors, he should treat you like this or like that.” As a result, I reasoned that if a person did those things then they were “treating me like a woman is supposed to be treated;” however, I didn’t realize that I didn’t require many of the things I heard other women speak of. If he opens doors, ok, great, but if he doesn’t, does that make me less of a woman?

Hear me, I am not speaking against certain actions because I do realize that there are specific things that I expect my spouse to have/do, but I’m drawing attention to the fact that holding doors, every time is not one of them. Do I appreciate the gesture? Yes. But, what I’m saying is that I used to cancel people out of my life because they didn’t completely perform in ways that other people said that they should perform. This was bad behavior.

I’ve since realized that I don’t have to ascribe to the ways that people see the world and relationships. I’ve learned to value my own opinion and stay true to myself. I’ve learned to trust my voice and my calling, and challenge systems that don’t work for me to live the life God created me to live. While all things have the potential to stretch you, they should also solidify who you are on the inner most parts.

It is unfortunate that we live our lives dictated by outside forces that manipulate our actions. It is the subtle things that we hear or see that move us in various directions, and cause us to think, experience, and feel that we require things that are designed for others’ lives.

your silence on a matter could be solidify your position

There are moments when I sit and reflect on the sphere of my influence, my interactions, friends, family, and associates. I wonder about the moments that my actions don’t align with my words, and the times when I know that I am acting less than perfect. I contemplate the moments that I’ve missed because I didn’t feel the need to pick up the phone, and even about the slight emotional changes that happen under the radar. In essence, I think about those silent moments. You know, the ones that only happen in the corners of your mind because the waves of your thoughts wash the evidence away.

It is those still moments that I’m thinking of. The times when people around you don’t notice that there is an internal war going on inside of you because you’ve mastered the art of being ok. The marginal thoughts that play in the background of your soul because you’re reluctant to offer them lip service. They keep playing over and over and over again.

I wonder if we miss moments with ourselves because we are so concerned with how we are perceived. Do we fail to show up when the alarm rings? Are we simply silent because we don’t have the verbiage or is it that we fear that if we speak then we will give life to a situation? Whether we speak or not speak life has been given.

Is there ever a point when our lips don’t lie on our hearts by whispering, “Of course, I’m fine!” (laughs nervously). Is there ever a time to avoid a situation because you fear the pain on the other side that threatens to kill you with a slow death? What happens in those silent moments? Those silent moments scare you. They hurt you. They strengthen you. They weaken you. They break you. You surrender.

This is not a picture that I’m trying to create nor is it a figment of my imagination, but it is a reality that so many of us hold daily. Silence, I’ve heard, signals strength. But, perhaps those who spoke those cliché words didn’t believe it either. Perhaps I, and so many like me, bought into the idea that if we are silent about it then we can overcome it. Maybe. But has that worked every time?

There are instances when your silence on a matter, and yes it matters, solidifies your partnership with it. In fact, you could be orchestrating the situation and not even know it. What we fail to realize in this world where we like to stay in our lane, is that nothing is black and white. Oh, how I would love for it to be, but the complexities of our lives and experiences prevent the fairytale.

And, by being silent you might, you just might, side with the opposing members.

The Courage to Take a Risk

I’ve learned that the effort to remain in comfort and to take a risk are one in the same. They both exude a level of strength if done effectively, but what makes us choose one over the other? What makes one decide that they will rest in the comfort of their today and not seek after tomorrow? What causes one to refuse to dream in spite of the wooing of their potential? I think unrealized potential is perhaps the most frustrating but it is also the most painful.

We devalue ourselves every time we choose our past experiences over the visions that God gives us. We put ourselves on sale every time we allow the pain of our heart to overrule the fragrance of our future. We tend to think that it’s easier this way, to remain this way, but it’s really harder because the perception of yourself becomes skewed. We flirt with the risk, the feelings of euphoria, but when they lend themselves to us we turn our backs on them. Maybe we thought we were ready. Maybe we knew that we weren’t. Whatever the case, it is clear that sometimes the unknown is just as paralyzing as the past. Even though we don’t have context, language, or experience for this new place of belonging we carry we us the baggage of our yesterday.

Recently, I read an article entitled 4:43 written in response to Jay-Z’s album 4:44. The woman lamented over very real emotions linked to her ex-boyfriend and I found myself agreeing with majority of the article. I cried with her as I could see myself in the lines of her truth. I cried because I know the pain of which she speaks. I know the mental cycles of wonder, re-wondering, and re-re-wondering if there is something we could have done in our past that could have changed our present, our future. I know what it’s like to replay old conversations at night to candlelight and darkness. I know what it’s like to gain weight, lose it, and regain it when a certain season creeps upon you. I know what it’s like to stand in the vestibule of your emotions and ring the bell of your own heart only to have you not show up to answer. I know what it’s like to cry to God and ask for the feelings of inadequacy to leave as seeping steam under the restroom door and nothing happen. I know what it like to give yourself completely over to a situation, a person, a dream and it not return on investment.

In essence, I cried with the author, I cried for her, and all the women who have been plagued by experiences that cause them to stagger, become stagnant, and immovable. I cried for their (my) hardened-hearts, the tears they refused to shed because they felt that they should be over it, their worries, their minds, their emotions, or the lack thereof of. I found myself wondering why I had such a visceral reaction to the article. Why I felt the need to open the valves of my heart and let the liquid flow. Why I understood the pain of those words. Why was I crying?

I was crying for me. The ME who internally gave up on the feeling of love because of heartbreak. The ME who wanted someone to see her for the mess of a person that she was but still choose her. The ME who didn’t know how to receive attention in its proper context. The ME I pretended to be. I cried for the layers of myself that I shed and the ones that I am shedding. I cried for the present woman and who she would become. I cried for the acknowledgement that a part of me is still fearful of being dropped by someone who doesn’t realize the weight of who I am. I cried for the future tears. I cried because I now know my worth. I cried because I thought that knowing my worth would prevent the tears. I thought that once I came into the knowledge of myself everything would be easy. I thought that taking a risk on myself would restore ME in my sight.

But tears and taking a risk don’t stop everything. The risk itself opens the emotional flood gates. The risk you take or not take shakes the foundations of your stability. You will not be stable and you cannot be. You cannot stabilize in the quicksand of your transition but the pain hurts so good. It hurts. Yes. It hurts. Yes. But will you go afraid? Will you go crying? Shaking? Schizophrenic?

I cannot promise you that the risk you will take will always yield the fruit of your expectations. I wish someone would have told me that. I cannot say definitively that you will be strong as you walk through the doorways of your future, but what if you don’t? Do you allow the essence of your past to dictate your future? Do you pass your comfort and courage down to your children? Contrary to popular belief, it takes courage to stay in your comfort.

The risk may not be a risk at all but merely a decision. A decision to do better. A decision to choose better. I decision to be better. What does that mean anyway? Sometimes we ascribe words to things that we cannot describe. We place meanings on things that we don’t understand.

The author of 4:43 identified the women who somehow missed the mark with a man and stayed. She identifies them as the women who bore a man’s dreams only to allow another to reap the benefits. But, what about the 4:42 women? You know, those women who gave up on themselves long before the men decided that they weren’t good enough. What about the woman who the 4:43 women mourn for? These 4:42 women who were broken long before they became 4:43 ladies? Where is the space for the 4:43 women to nurture the 4:42 women into believing that they are better? Is it in the risk? Inside of every woman there is a girl and inside of every girl there is a woman. Inside of every 4:43 woman there is a 4:42 woman screaming for acknowledgment.

I do not have a conclusion for this post, or wrap up with a pretty bow because I’m still moving through this myself.

Would You Recognize an Addict?

One day I walked into a facility as a volunteer and the women at the front desk greeted me with such pleasant attitudes. They asked me about my meeting and complimented me on my appearance, and as I sat down waiting I thought about how nice the women were, and how welcomed I felt. Afterall, the building was gorgeous, the people were gorgeous, and what I was about to embark upon would be life altering.

I sat for about five minutes in the waiting area, then the woman who I was meeting came in to walk me to her office. We then toured the facility, which was purposed towards providing me with the background of the organization and their aims. We spoke outside briefly, and then walked back to her office.

As we headed back to the meeting room, she mentioned that the facility is really run by people who went through their program. Meaning, the women I met at the front desk were ex-addicts and I had no clue. They were so pleasant to meet. They were very very kind and to the naked eye one would never know.

It was then that I realized that I could not recognize an addict or anyone with an addiction, but how many people could? How many people do you know could point out a recovering addict? What exactly does an addict look like?

The common misconception is that we think we know how people with addictions look. I blame Hollywood for this. We think that they will be individuals with hair all over their heads, smelly clothes, and bad teeth. Rarely, if ever, do we think about the corporate executive, the married woman, or the college professor. We think we know what addiction looks like, but what we really know is how to identify its aftermath.

With this in mind, I wonder how many people knew that I was an addict. While I wasn’t a hard substance abuser, I was one with an addiction. My drug of choice was dysfunctional relationships. I was addicted to people who would feed my insecurity and I would use them to inject the substance of their attention into my body. I would receive a euphoric high and be happy until they couldn’t inject me again.  I would then dispose of them like dirty needles that were no longer of any use to me.

In retrospect, my drug was also pain. I moved to make room for it, I nursed it, I made excuses for it, I worked hard to get it. In essence, I built a life around it and it became my normal. If pain wasn’t present then I wasn’t either. I needed a quick hit of it. I needed it to survive while denouncing its presence in my life.

Interestingly, no one thought to ask me if I needed to check into a rehab center. No one asked me if I was ok. Maybe because I was functioning well. Maybe they thought that a strong person as myself didn’t need help. Maybe they couldn’t spot an addict either.

Honestly, it takes a special kind of person to identify an addiction before the impact becomes visible. Maybe I should say that it takes a recovering addict to identify a present one. I can spot out a woman who’s struggling with the same drug that I once struggled with. I can smell the seduction of it in her speech, her body language, her heart. The reason I can identify it is because I had so much practice with it. I’ve toyed with the idea of it, I’ve flirted with the momentary fixes, I was once her.

Addiction is not just what we see on television, and it isn’t only what people admit to. In fact, it’s much deeper than that. It is heavier than what we think, but many of us refuse to pay attention close enough to save someone else from overdosing. Well we say we care, but refuse to go out of our way to prevent their demise.

This is a charge to you! If you see someone struggling with your drug of choice (insert the thing that keeps you bound) help them.