Baskets of Broken Pieces

This morning I was reading the bible and came across the scriptures when Jesus fed the 5,000. Of course I’ve heard this story several times, but this time something jumped out to me. Now, I don’t want to be presumptuous and assume that you know the story, so here’s a brief synopsis:

After Jesus heard that John the Baptist was beheaded, he withdrew to a desolate place to grieve. The crowds followed him and he healed them in spite of his grieve. Evening then came and the disciples suggested that Jesus send them away because there was no food where they were. Jesus then asks what food is available and a young boy have 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. Jesus then took them, blessed them, broke them and was able to feed 5,000 people. When everyone was done eating, the disciples took up what was left over which was 12 baskets full of broken pieces.

What is telling about this story is that the broken pieces outnumbered to whole pieces in the story. They started out with 5 full loaves of bread and 2 whole fish, but as the sequence of events would have it, they were left with more pieces. Even if the loaves and fish were broken up intentionally, twelve baskets wouldn’t be filled. This is kind of how it is in life. We start off whole when we enter the world, but slowly but surely, things begin to chip away at our being. The disappointments, lies, broken promises, hurts, and pain create more pieces than we realize and when we finally look at ourselves to take inventory of the damage we are met with baskets full of jagged pieces.

You may wonder where this piece came from, or when that thing merged itself with your personality. You may start to remember the events, times, days when something happened to you where you stopped believing, loving. But, remembering isn’t enough. What do you do when you see the pieces?

In essence, the pieces are evidence that an event has happened, that you’ve been wounded. It is evidence that you’ve been in a war, that you’ve survived. However, surviving isn’t enough when you haven’t healed. When you haven’t used those pieces to overcome, to influence, to shape the world for the better. Surviving will only provide momentary gratification because the pieces will still be the evidence.

What I am saying is that we see the broken pieces to deal with them and help others deal with theirs. We see the broken pieces to encourage us to move forward with the intent of healing. We see the broken pieces to encourage us towards God.

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Guarding Your Heart

Guard Your HeartI didn’t know the importance of guarding my heart until something unexpected took root there. It happened quickly. It only took about 5 minutes for anger and I to become  bed mates, and I didn’t realize it until minutes later. And, once there, it was no easy way to uproot it until I admitted that I had been wounded.

Recently, I was put in a situation that was a bit uncomfortable. I was at an event and there were some women there that made it their point to be caddy towards me. As a native of Chicago and a teacher, my perspective on things (the way I read situations) are quite different from most. In fact, the ways in which I process things are quite complex and very internal. While in the past this has been a challenging thing for me to navigate, I believe that my introspection practices helped me to see the offense that buried itself in my heart and gave birth to anger.

The interesting thing is that I haven’t experienced anger in a very long time and it shocked me when it surfaced. I am not saying that I didn’t feel an array of its close and distant cousins, I am saying that I hadn’t seen anger itself in a while. That night, following the event, I dreamed of fighting. This was alarming to me because my spirit is generally settled and my dreams are often positively revelatory, but this time they weren’t. When I awoke I was  a bit bothered by the internal condition of my heart.

That day my heart was open and my guard was down, so the enemy had an opportunity to penetrate my life. He used others to plant seeds of anger down into my heart to hinder me from moving as quickly as I should towards the promise of God. Anger and its relatives can be debilitating. They can be staggering. They can be toxic if unchecked.

In essence, in a moment I forgot to guard my heart and was left wounded. I think it was more than wounding in this case because I  left with emotional souvenirs to carry on my journey back to my car, to my bed, to my dreams. I don’t think we realize how quickly things have the ability to take root if we aren’t careful. In everything we should guard our hearts and minds.

But, if we are sometimes negligent, I want to encourage everyone to quickly tend to the inner wound.

Trusting Your Worth

You are WORTH it!We live in a world that consistently challenges our perception of ourselves. And, this can be a tough reality for those attempting to stabilize in their identity. With so many distractions it is almost impossible to fully grasp the weight of your worth unless you are intentional.

I’ve learned that my worth is not predicated on that relationship that didn’t work, the career path I chose, or my friendships, but it is solely based in my relationship with God. In the past, it was easy for me to say that I “know” my worth even when I didn’t. See, I would give myself away to people freely and expect them to do the same. However, when they wouldn’t return on investment, I would be left shattered, but still unwilling to move. But, I “knew” my worth, right?

Honestly, I didn’t even know the weight of the words that I spoke. How can you know your worth when you don’t even know who you are? How can you know your worth when you’ve been so accustomed to settling for whatever life has thrown your way? How could you know the worth of sun when you haven’t experienced rain?

What I mean is that I knew that I should have known my worth. I knew that I shouldn’t be entertaining that situationship, relationship, chilling session. I knew that I couldn’t be content with the life I was attempting to live, but I didn’t know how to get out. I didn’t know how to get off the emotional rollercoaster (que Vivian Green), and embody the essence of who I was.

Until one day I did. See this journey that we take will threaten to kill us at every turn. It will challenge the very foundations that we’ve built, and expose us if we haven’t. Yes, we get frustrated, yes we want to quit, but do you understand your worth?

Your worth is so much bigger than your temporary perspective. It is something that you grow into every step of the way. You learn your worth, you cultivate it, you study it. Unfortunately, learning and trusting your worth isn’t an overnight thing. Even after my year journey with God, I’m still learning it. What I’m saying is that every moment I learn something new that reveals why I am as valuable as I am. I learn the hard truths that expose that there are moments that I put myself on sale to the highest bidder, but can’t stay there.

There are things that are too valuable to be taken lightly. You are too valuable to be taken lightly. Your life is too valuable to be taken lightly, but until you believe in the God that created you perfectly, you won’t be able to trust the weight of who you are.

Losing Control for the Control Freak

I am a recovering control freak. What I mean is that I’m in the process of negotiating a healthy balance as I realize that I don’t have as much control as I previously thought. See I have always been the one to pride myself on having everything together, or mostly together. If one area of my life was out of alignment then I would throw much of my efforts into that area in an attempt to tie up the loose ends. I mean I had my life under control, until one day I didn’t.

This is a tough reality for me because I thought I mastered the art of juggling various lifestyles and proclivities. I thought that I knew the answers to the tough questions and passed the test with flying colors, and then 3 months ago God showed me who was really boss.

I think the common misconception for me has been that God will not pull my “surrendered” card. Simply put, I thought that I had done enough Christian duties to fly under the radar of correction. Of course I thought I didn’t live by works alone but I did, and subconsciously I believed that I was operating very highly. Then, reality kicked in and God showed some of his cards.

He demanded a level of obedience from me that I hadn’t previously known. He asked me to trust him with an area that I’ve always controlled…my finances. In the past, the area of my struggle was relational, but I’ve since overcome that space. See, I’ve learned over these past couple months that you really don’t know how much you believe what you believe until it is tested. Until you have to say yes in an area that hurts, that will leave you embarrassed, and possibly alone. When God commands your control it is a hard thing. In fact, when he demanded this area from me it seemed like everything else spiraled out of control.

One by one things started dropping off. One by one I started dropping off and began  freak out because now it wasn’t just one thing that fell but everything. My emotions were high and at times very low. There were moments when I knew that I would just die off and be the laughing stock of my circle because God was stripping me, and in his stripping I began to see the truth about myself even more.

I used to think losing control was about trust, and it is, but it is also about discovery. It is about coming into an unsettling knowledge about yourself and overcoming it. It is about living a life that demands that you live better and choose better. It is about losing the perception of yourself in your mind.

This has been a tough season for me. There are so many loose ends dangling in the wind and it is hard not to be able to tie them in a bow. Perhaps the bow isn’t as beautiful as I once imagined though. Maybe the images in my mind have worked against me for so long that I believed them over the word of God. Maybe, just maybe I’m coming into the truth about God and the way he operates to get the most out of his investment.

Whatever the case may be, I am learning to abide even in the midst of pain. Abide even when it seems like the current cycle will never end. Abide even when I want to give up. Perhaps, just perhaps, this will be the beginning of a beautiful journey in the spirit.

L O V E that encourages towards God

Now that I’m back in the dating world I can’t help but wonder how I did it before. Well not how I did it per se, but how I could be so comfortable previously with doing it wrong.  Perhaps it was the culture that I was in that validated certain actions, or maybe it was the mindset that I adopted at the time. Whatever the case may be, what is true is that I was destructive and possibly hurt more people than I care to admit.

When we seek love, companionship, marriages and others, I wonder if we count the cost of such interactions. What I mean is that I wonder if we thought about what it might take to make a thing work, what actions we might have to abandon, what thought processes we may have to challenge. In this season of dating, I can’t help but reflect on the previous error of my ways.

I think about the times that I recklessly allowed people into my life, my heart. The moments that I cared less about the circumstance but more about the instant gratification. I wonder about the bodies that I tracked into my soul because I wanted to feel something…anything.

When I took a year off of dating, I didn’t know that I would come back with new eyes. I didn’t know that I would change. My desires would change. My heart would change. I thought that I was taking a break because I was tired. I was overwhelmingly tired, and didn’t know how to rejuvenate myself.

Now that I’m back in the dating world of getting to know people, measuring their capacities, or the lack thereof, I desire a love that encourages me towards God. A love that challenges me to be holy and upright. A love that won’t let me settle for the status quo. I believe in the love that wants me to grow in God, and not ridicule me for my convictions. The love that is sustainable because it is blessed by God. I believe in purity. Purity of thoughts, emotions, actions…

But, more importantly, I believe in the love built on Christ. Lately, I’ve been positioned to see several godly couples pursue God and each other and have found myself desiring the same thing. Now, these couples aren’t older, but they are in my age group. I hear their stories and I find myself believing all over again that I am worth the wait.

I am worth the wait of coming into the knowledge of who I am. I am worth the weight of my emotions. I am worth the weight of my destiny. I am worth the wait because God thinks I am. There is not a bone in my body, now, that will allow me to settle for a feeling. How does this interaction bring glory to God? How does me trusting an individual bring us one step closer to destiny? How is your walk with Christ? What are you believing for? Me?

All of these questions and so many more are recorded in my interactions with people nowadays. I don’t want to cheap dollar store interaction, but the one that will demand that you make  decision to risk something and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I desire a love that challenges me to act more like Christ everyday and be authentic about it.

Mended Hearts

There is a level of work that we can accomplish while working on ourselves. We can listen to the sermons, and make the messages applicable in our minds. We can even debrief about our favorite parts, things that we’ve thought about as a result, and even create scenarios within ourselves that lead us to believe that we have made progress.

And we have.

Yet there are certain areas, if we are honest, that go unnoticed until another is close enough to present against the wound. It is not that we haven’t healed, but that we’ve been hurt there before, and when they touch that spot we attack because the pain of admitting that something still impacts us seems greater. Instead of admitting that our hearts haven’t completely been mended in that area, if we are not careful we may walk away before time. We might trade the next level of our healing for comfort.

I’ve learned that praying for healing doesn’t always mean that God will personally come out of the sky and perform surgery. It doesn’t mean that I will always be caught up in a spiritual high either. But, what if the relationships around us are meant for such healing? What if the very people we fight, the very people we lash out at…what if they are the ones sent to administer the meds to heal us?

Contrary to popular belief, healing hurts if done right. If we are intentional, it means that we have to endure the pain of cleaning the wound, wiping the blood, pouring the peroxide on the cut, and watching it fizzle with reassurance that the infection is being handled. We must be willing to allow the people who we are in covenant with to see us for who we really are. We have to remove the bandages because even wounds need to breathe.

And, it is in the breathing. The long inhales, short exhales. The squeezing of our eyes and the clinching of our teeth that we realize that we need people. We need those individuals who are willing to love us back to health in the areas that we’ve hidden from ourselves.

I’ve learned that when I prayed for a mended heart, more times than not, God sent me a relationship to help with the progress that I’ve made alone. Right relationships bring restoration, but sometimes it doesn’t look like a nice spring day, but a chilly fall evening.

It is our duty to discern our hurts when they surface, and it is also our duty to choose to be healed though the pain entices you to walk away.