What Did I Do To Make Him Give Me A RATING?

IMG_0169I remember it like it was yesterday. We were driving back to my apartment from a museum tour and he was mainly silent. Granted, we got into a small disagreement that morning, but nothing that warranted his extended silent treatment. We were newly reconnected, and though God warned me that someone from my past would attempt to re-enter my life, I dismissed that the warning was about him.

Until the moment that he rated me.

Ok, I was in the wrong because I allowed him to stay in my home for a few days because he said that he missed me. And, the curiousness as to why I had never given him a chance in past kinda fueled my decision.

We were enjoying one another…until we weren’t.

For some reason, our long nightly conversations on the phone did not equate to the real time we spent together in person. We were on two completely different pages and while it was obvious, I still wanted his company. I was lonely.

While he was a guest in my home, I made sure that he was taken care of. This was hospitality, right? Ha. Farthest thing from it. I was petitioning for the place of girlfriend in his life and I purposed within myself that I would cater to, and anticipate his every need.

I thought that I was doing good…until. Fast forward.

As we were driving back to my house, I asked him to talk to me. He said a few words to me before he pulled out his phone. (I cannot recall the beginning of the conversation). When he opened the note app, he started to read me my report card. What I mean is that he said, your life is too planned, you are not spontaneous, your cooking is a “B,” your attitude is a “B-,” etc, etc, etc. Negative. Negative. Negative. He seriously had letter grades that dissected any possible weak area that I had.

I was stunned. I never had anyone rate my efforts in the manner in which he did. (Well not to my face). It was an insult to everything I worked hard to make happen for him. It didn’t matter to me that he came during the busiest part of my academic semester. It didn’t matter that he was a bit inconsiderate for the things that were happening in my life. All that mattered was that he proved to me that I had not measured up to his expectations.

That moment still sits with me because I allowed him to do it. While I think that constructive criticism is helpful and heed should be taken, when it comes out of a spirit of destruction, it is problematic.

I didn’t stand up for myself. I actually took it and I felt myself sink lower. I didn’t have words to counter his observation of me. I let myself down. I was not who he wanted, but I allowed him to finish out the rest of his trip with me.

What type of woman would do that? A broken woman.

Now, this is not a post to bash the individual in this experience. In fact, it is to point you back to my dysfunction as a result of a flawed identity. I didn’t know who I was and as a result, I allowed him to start to attach meaning to my life. Labels. I allowed him to measure my worth by the stretch of sight, but he didn’t have true insight into who I really was. (I didn’t know this then).

I internalized his rating. I started to pick at my self-confidence–the little that I had–causing it to become even more infested with lies. It took me a while to rebuild after this experience but it all made sense after I discovered my identity.

In my upcoming book, Woman of Royalty, I provide 10 practical steps for how to find your identity. It is not enough to just want to be better, but you must put your desire to action. You don’t have to be alone on this journey.

Pre-order your copy today on www.brianawhiteside.com. (I will personally sign your copy).

WOR flyer

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Why Your Preparation is NOT Enough

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I prepared for a year. I did the hard work. I thought that I was ready. I learned the hard way.

You may know the story of how I didn’t date for a year. After a 7-year relationship ended, I decided to focus on inner healing–which is a job within itself–because I was tired of being a victim. Not only was I tired of being a casualty of war, but I was tired of making casualties. I guess it is true when they say that “hurt people, hurt people.” During the year of introspection, I looked back over my past and saw the bodies sprawled behind me. How didn’t I see them before, but saw them while healing?

Healing does that. It puts a magnifying glass up to your life and shows you the TRUTH. Unfortunately, I thought I knew the TRUTH before my year sabbatical. I thought that I was God’s gift to His sons, but I wasn’t. More like an emotional terrorist running in and out of people’s lives as I dropped bombs of tension. I was a broken girl who was trying desperately to walk in a woman’s shoes. I was lost. But, God found me.

This post isn’t to recant those experiences though. In actuality, it is a post to tell you that your preparation is not enough for your next season. Hard reality, right? Let me explain.

Focusing on inner healing is the first step to freedom. It gives you the courage to face yourself, your experiences, and your fears. It allows you to begin the process of moving forward but that’s it. You’re only able to face what you can see, and that’s why it isn’t enough.

Now, this is a bit contrary to what we are taught in church, on webinars, and in small groups. When I realized that Christians were overlooking this very real reality, it shocked me but not without teaching me first-hand just how short-sighted we can be.

Friend, when most people say that they are focusing on healing, they often mean the things that they know they struggle with: low self-esteem, rejection, patience, emotional dysfunctions, anger, loneliness, worry, [insert the 5 things you may have on your list]. And, these things are good to work on, but that’s not it.

If we hope to qualify for the next level. If we hope to get married one day. If we wish to overcome our circumstances then we must allow God to prepare our preparation. Yes, PREPARE OUR PREPARATION. We can prepare all we want, but when it is time for God to deliver on a promise, He is not going to give it to the unqualified. He will not give you passing credit on a test that you didn’t study for. But, you did study…for the wrong test.

Have you ever done that while you were in school? Study for questions that didn’t appear on the exam? How did that make you feel? Unprepared? Like a failure? Nervous about your grade? This is how many people feel when they enter into God’s preparation. His study guide might look foreign to the things we remember going over in our lives. As we stare at His questions, we may wonder…how will I ever pass this test? I need more time.

Indeed. You do. When God starts to prepare you for the next level, He will not always come after the big things in your life–you’ve already done that–but He will shed light on the minor details. You know, those character flaws, that thing you do once a year, your secret thoughts, your subconscious self, your running personality, your simmering attitude. Those are some of the things He starts to mess with.

And, while I know that you may think that since you can handle the “big” issues then the little things won’t matter much to your comfort, that’s not true. The Bible says that it’s the small foxes that ruin the vine (Song of Solomon 2:15). It’s those hangnails that cause the most discomfort. It’s that corn on the little toe that impacts the entire foot. It’s the hair in the eye that disrupts your sight.

God will come after the small things, and you may think that you are going to lose your mind when He starts preparing you, but I encourage you to study the lesson. Go over your notes (life). Look at what He’s showing you.

What might seem small in this season, could ruin you in the next.

Insecure, How I Discovered This Shortcoming

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I thought that I had it all together. I was living my best life. I was finishing a degree program. I was in a relationship with the person of my dreams.

People always told me that I was attractive and outwardly I believed them, but something just wasn’t right. Somehow, deep down inside, I was still unhappy and very hurt.

These feelings caused a deep-seated insecurity within me that no one knew about. My emotional turmoil often surfaced in a bad attitude and a low tolerance for people. I was often snappy and held people at bay, why? Because I was insecure and insecurity often kept me lonely. Even around others.

I didn’t find out the truth of my positioning until I cut all of my hair off in 2013. I did a big chop (the process of cutting all of my hair’s relaxed end off), which left me with 3 inches of hair. When I looked at myself in the mirror I didn’t recognize the woman looking back at me. She was ugly. She was unsure. She was me.

It was a hard journey, traveling from insecurity to security. In fact, there are still moments where I negotiate between the two. One luring me to come back to the past while the other beckons me to move forward. But choices had to (and have to) be made and in that moment and the years after. I decided to try to love myself out of the insecurity that I was once bound to…and I did.

When we are insecure, we lack confidence in ourselves, which we then project upon others. This, more times than not, is when we put ourselves in prison to serve hard sentences that we were never intended to complete.

I discovered mine just by cutting my hair off and seeing myself in the mirror for the first time.

What about you?

Healing Does Not Always Happen in the Church

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I was driving on the back roads of Alabama when I realized the danger of my body. As an African-American woman living in the South, I’m prompted to think about my body more readily than when I lived in Chicago.

Perhaps it’s the legacies of oppression attached to blackness. While I’m not completely sure, I do know that  my awareness is real and my experience still sticks out in the front of my mind.

Let me explain:

In 2015, I was headed to teach in African-American literature in a maximum security prison in Birmingham, Alabama. My trip required that I exit the main expressway and drive through some unknown territory where I usually lost cellular service. On one particular morning, I was stopped by a police officer who asked me, “What are you doing here?” By “here” he meant in the white community that I was driving through. In that moment, for the first time in my life, I knew what it felt like to fear my body.

I told the police officer that I was headed to the prison to teach–my active duty as a responsible citizen committed to social justice. The officer asked for my license and insurance information and went to his vehicle to run my info through the system. When he left, I noticed that my hands were shaking. Just a few weeks prior, Sandra Bland was killed.

Now, as a Chicagoan from the inner city, I thought that I was accustomed to policing. However, I realized that I was used to black men being policed, and now that women were being targeted and killed it caused me to be unsettled even more.

When the officer came back, he must’ve noticed my parking decal in the rearview mirror because he asked if I were a student. “Yes, I go to UA,” I responded. He then asked if I could produce my ID as proof (ultimately, I need to show my “freedom” papers). After he saw my ID, he handed me all of my identifiers and asked me two disturbing questions:

Will you be traveling this way often?

Do you need an escort?

Whether the officer was showing concern or extending protection, I do not know, but what I do know is that I was made hyperaware of the fragility of my black body.

As a Christian, I struggled with the moment, and if I’m honest there are times that I still do. See, I was taught that if I got an education, stayed out of trouble, pursued God, and was a responsible citizen, certain things would not happen to me. I was told that I wouldn’t be subjected to certain treatments, but that is a lie!

And, I didn’t know where to turn because in that moment, the church house was the last thing on my mind.

Yet, as a student of African-American literature, I had an arsenal of books at my disposal. I needed validation and quick so I looked to the authors who readily spoke to this struggle–this policing of black bodies. The words of Angela Davis, Octavia Butler, James Baldwin, Martin Later King Jr., and Malcolm X brought my solace. Their words confirmed that what I experienced was traumatizing and that I wasn’t alone. In essence, their words helped me cope.

Now, this is not to say that I couldn’t have found this in the church, but this is an admittance that I’ve discovered that healing is not a linear process but takes place in multiple forms. And, more times than not, my access to education has helped me in more ways than I willingly admit. In essence, education has caused me to create community with individuals that I may never meet. It has helped me learn from their experiences, and in using discernment, I am able to figuratively take the meat and leave the bones.

I’m able to stand on the shoulders of the people who fought before me, while still being rooted in God. What I noticed in that moment, and what many Christians don’t like to admit, is that God called me to a mountain of influence and not just a pew. He gave me an experience to which many can relate, but equally put me at the intersection of christianity and social justice.

Ultimately, the words of the activists before me performed a sense of textual healing, and my personally cultivated relationship with God helped me to not grow bitter.

 

 

Defeated!: One Reason Our Decisions Don’t Stand A Chance

My decision didn’t stand a chance. I told myself that I wouldn’t do it anymore. I said that I wouldn’t put myself on sale. We agreed–me, myself, and I–that I wouldn’t go to the highest bidder.

I was tired of the cycle.

I was tired of crying alone–over and over again.

I didn’t realize then, but I do now that the decision to do better was always counteracted by my last name. In essence, my DNA carries the weight and memory of various forms of bondage. On one side, there is a lineage of strong single mothers. On the other side, there is a lineage of highly successful single women–some mothers some not. Now, this is neither a dig, nor shade, but my reality. This is a commonality. This is my normal. With this in mind, it is no surprise as to why I am highly successful in several areas but fail miserably in others. In essence, I had to look to my family to find out some reasons why.

Sometimes you are fighting an inherited battle. This battle may have been going on for maybe 2, 3, or even 4 generations, and as a result, with every person it defeated, it grew stronger. Therefore, no matter how many times you make up your mind, there is a possibility that you will find yourself in the same position time and time again. The odds have always been against you.

Kryptonite!

Kryptonite is a dangerous thing! It lies dormant until it is ready to slap the taste out of your mouth. Yet, once it reveals itself, you have the opportunity to move beyond it’s reach, but it’ll take a major commitment on your part.

Genesis 1:26-27 tells us that we are made in the image of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This means that we have similar mannerisms, thought processes, and moral proclivities to our Father in heaven. In the same way, we are born into a family that has a history, creed, and order of operation that can be destructive to our lives. Ultimately, just because it’s common doesn’t mean it is safe.

So, I invite you to take the first step in breaking the cyclic nature of your familial lineage that may threaten your destiny.

Over 10,000 people have signed up to start living a life of freedom. Will you be left behind? I hope not! Join me and thousands of others as we invest in living a successful 2018.

*Click the photo to sign up! It’s free!!!

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We Can Break Our Own Hearts

I asked God not to request this blog. In fact, I had another idea for a write-up for this week and it didn’t contain any of my secrets. It was an encouraging one that everyone might relate to. It was one filled with inspiration that allowed me to withhold parts of my story from the world. From myself.

I was laying in bed when He gave me the topic of this post. He asked me to write a post on how we break our own hearts. Namely, he wanted me to write about how I break mine and know that I’m doing it. He asked me to reveal to my readers a truth that I’ve tried to hide from myself for a long time, but somehow it keeps surfacing. The truth is that the way that I break my own heart is how I’ve always done it. Putting myself on sale for the highest bidder then settling for the grey area.

I don’t believe we are designed for the area between where we are and where we want to be when it comes to relational ties. I don’t believe that people are really ok with getting a fraction of what they desire either. However, sometimes we do settle. We do put ourselves on sale. We do break our own hearts. And, it has less to do with the other person and more to do with our insecurities.

Situationships are one of the most common ways that we self-destruct. I’ve had a lot of them in my life. Situations where the individual would pursue me so intensely until I was finally interested. After a while, they would switch on me. Lose interest. Change their minds. Say they weren’t ready. Realize my weaknesses.

Those moments were never easy for me. Internally I would beg the person to see that I was worthy of their time and their love, and that I would be an asset to them. I would raise them up on my shoulders to prove myself. I would hurt every time they didn’t call, text, or reach out.

But, I couldn’t get mad at their negligence because “we weren’t together,” right? I shouldn’t have expectations for the person if we never established clear boundaries for our interactions. The seduction of love can be so lethal that it can destabilize you.

I was a willing participant in these interactions and every situationship that I entertained pushed me further and further away from God. I knew that God called me to be a wife and not someone’s stand in. I was called to permanently occupy a space and not just keep a seat warm until they found another…someone better. But even knowing these things I stayed. I stayed because feeling something, anything, let me know that my heart still worked. Even if it worked against me. Their lack of commitment to me reflected my inability to commit to myself.

Having someone to talk to everyday became important to me until it wasn’t. Until I saw my own disappointment surfacing in the conversations. Until I took inventory of my emotions. Until I saw my smile fade. See, there are things that we can’t settle comfortably in, and there are things that we tolerate for a small amount of time; however, when the time is up we leave casualties of war who once had good intentions for us. The road to hell is paved with people with good intentions.

Even my intentions turn on me without notice. This is why situationships were so easy to fall into even if we know the outcome. Walking away from them can be even harder, but at some point we have to stop building the person in front of us and return to building ourselves. We have to make the decision to stop tearing ourselves down for the hypothetical love of another. For the thoughts of how our lives could be, and accept our reality. Even if we break our own hearts in the process.

I know what’s it’s like to have to choose yourself and the pain of doing that is perhaps one of the greatest hurts that I’ve experienced. Yet, each time that I’ve looked back on a decision to choose me–no matter how hard–I’ve been grateful. No matter the pain of the process.

If you’re going to break your own heart, do it in an upward way.

XOXO

 

Building While Waiting

Last week I had a conversation with a friend over dinner. I was talking about new projects that I’m starting and the vision that I have for my life. While explaining my ideas, I’m sure I had that goofy look on my face that happens when I’m excited about something. The look does not surface often, but when it does it is forreal. I noticed my friend looking at me puzzled as I was speaking, but I was too caught up in my vision to address it. When I finished, perhaps a bit out of breath, he looked at me intently and asked, “Briana, if you’re doing all this now, what will your husband do?”

I was shocked. There it was. The question that I’d hoped no one would muster up the courage to ask. Was I doing too much? Truth be told I thought about it earlier that day.

My response to my friend was simple, “I don’t know!” Honestly, I don’t. I wasn’t being smart mouthed or defensive either. I really can’t afford to wonder about that at this moment. The truth is that I am not dating and don’t have any prospects right now; therefore, I choose to think about myself. It’s not selfish!

Unfortunately, so many women get caught up in the hype of “building with someone” that they refuse to build with themselves. I am not talking about in the context of marriage, but in your singleness.

We have a purpose before God brings anyone into our lives. We are responsible for the gifts that he’s entrusted unto us. We have to live the life that he has designed for us whether he sends someone or not.

While thinking about the ways in which we and our spouses will one day mesh is great, we cannot afford to trouble ourselves with false imaginations. In essence, we have to live in our present reality and move as God leads us to move. We cannot afford to waste time not bearing fruit because we waiting on a man.

No honey!! Whether I get married or not, I will walk in my purpose. You should adopt this mentality if you haven’t already. If you know who you are called to now,  why would waste time waiting on someone who isn’t here? This is what the enemy wants us to do. He wants us to get so caught up in our emotions and the possibility of your lives that we forget to make the necessary decisions to get us there.

Women, we have a plan to fulfill in the earth. We have to be intentional about building while single. We have to take up our burdens and be confident in the things that God has called us to do. The enemy is after your life and the lives of everyone connected to you.

Please hear me, do not put your life on hold attempting to run after a Hollywood fairytale. Do not take the risk of not living up to your full potential because you don’t have anyone to cheer you on. You must be intentional about your growth and build while you can.

Though I believe Deuteronomy 32:30, if you don’t have the second person now then you put the 1,000 to flight, and in due time God will bring you someone to help take the 10,000.