UNPLUGGED

IMG_5692I was sitting in Starbucks today working on another chapter of my dissertation. This chapter has taken longer than I like to admit and requires lots of revision. Though I’m a bit frustrated by the process, I know that consistency is key. Before I got started, I plugged my computer into the outlet and connected my headphones into the computer socket. You’ll never guess what happened a short while later.

Yes, I knocked my hot mocha with an extra shot of expresso onto my keyboard. In a panic, I flipped my computer over in an attempt to drain the coffee from the keyboard as I went to grab napkins to clean the mess. When I returned, I repositioned the computer to wipe away the coffee. After I made sure that my keyboard still functioned, I resumed working. A little while later, I get a notification from my laptop alerting me of a low battery. Immediately, I looked at my charging port only to discover that it had become unplugged.  I reconnected my charger to the laptop and it was then that the revelation was made clear.

More times than not, I become unplugged in the middle of a stressful time. It is in these moments when I tend to become stagnate in my walk with God and even lose a bit of fervency. Sometimes I flounder around trying to remember exactly when I became unplugged. Maybe it was that morning that God woke me up at 5a.m to pray but I rolled over ignoring his tug. Perhaps it was that time that the Holy Spirit told me not to watch that tv show but I overruled him because it was popular. Or, it could’ve been that lonely night that I texted that guy who I knew was no good for me. Whatever the case, I have become unplugged often, and it’s not until I’m in danger of dying–one way or another–that I try to quickly plug back into the power source.

But, what if I always ensure that I’m plugged into God? What if I take those extra moments at night to pray? Perhaps I can even put my phone on “do not disturb” more often to ensure that I’m operating at my highest capacity. Whatever the case, I must do better at paying attention to when I’m on a spiritual decline. I must remember that every moment that I’m not being recharged, I am dying.

So, I want to encourage you to remember to check your battery frequently. Remind yourself daily to take the time to recharge your spirit just as much–if not more–as you charge your electronics. What a shame it would be if we looked for the power source and couldn’t reach it in time.

Advertisements

Dangers of Coming into Agreement with Others’ Perspective

As the year comes to a close, I notice that so many people are saying that 2017 was a horrible year.

Throw 2017 away!

I, myself, started to rehearse the same ideology before I knew it. It’s interesting because 2017 has not been bad to me. In fact, it’s been a great year…a season of firsts. So why did I start to feel and rehearse the same words that I heard others say? Because of the power of words!

About mid-year, I started to hear people lament about the horrors of  2017. In passing conversations or more one-on-one interactions, individuals would just pour out the contents of their hearts and I would respond with encouragement. However, what I didn’t realize is that I started to internalize some of their issues as I saw similarities in my own life.

Sometimes we don’t realize the power of others’ words. Now, I’m not saying this in an overly religious space, but in a very real sense. When we engage in conversations with others, seeds are always planted whether fruitful or not so fruitful. And, if we aren’t careful, we may allow those bad seeds to harvest. Therefore, we have to actively guard our hearts especially if we are in similar struggles.

It’s interesting though because the negative perception of 2017 did not begin to manifest in my life until September. I experienced a form of disappointment that I really didn’t anticipate and it kind of knocked the breath out of me. In November, I struggled extremely in the area of my emotions and started to say, “2017 is a horrible year.” My emotions were out of wack and the enemy used this one event to muzzle me. He caused me to believe that my circumstances were far worst than they were and he magnified my shortcomings.

I had to pray for a new perspective on my life. I had to ask God to remind me of his sovereignty even when I didn’t understand. I had to remind myself who I was in Christ. This process didn’t happen over night. In fact, I had to fast for a few day to reposition myself, but it worked.

I’m writing to encourage you not to take lightly the power of words. I want to caution you against accepting the beliefs of others and taking on their ways of thinking because they seem familiar. Instead, lean into God and ask him to give you the heavenly perspective on your situation because more times than not, we understand in part.

Flying Requires the Right Keys

The airplane had just landed in Chicago from St. Louis Saturday morning. I witnessed a wedding ceremony the day before. Extremely exhausted from the anticipation of their union and the festivities surrounding it, I sat on an airplane waiting to head back to Alabama.

When the aircraft landed in Chicago (my hometown), everyone who’d made it to their destination exited the plane. The flight attendants instructed everyone who was traveling to Atlanta to remain seated as they conducted a headcount and boarded the flight with new passengers. I sat in my seat watching people board as I prepared for the remaining two hours of my travel. Once everyone was seated, a surprising announcement was made by the pilot.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the plane will be airborne as soon as we find the keys.”

Was I the only one who didn’t know that planes operated similar to the ways in which vehicles are started? Yes, an airplane is a vehicle, but because I never inspected the cockpit, I just figured it started a different way. Perhaps with the push of a button.

After about 15 minutes, the pilot announced that the right keys were located and that we were cleared for take off. What was interesting to me about the whole ordeal was that the aircraft had just landed. The previous pilot just used the keys in the cockpit to fly from St. Louis, so why didn’t they work now?

I asked the stewardess about the likelihood of the keys being taken by the former pilot, and she said that the old keys were still there, but something was wrong with them. Meaning, while the keys had just worked 40 minutes prior, they weren’t suitable for the remainder of the flight.

It was then that I realized why so many of us make it halfway through the journey and are unable to continue. So many of us assume that because the keys worked in the last situation then they will surely work now. Sadly, we are mistaken.

See, just because a strategy worked with one relationship doesn’t mean it will work in a new one. Just because your form of communication was successful with one friend, doesn’t mean it is transferrable to another. And, because we aren’t habitual in checking on the movability of our lives, we stagnate or just stay in one place.

Have you recently checked your keys? Have you ensured that you’re still on the right track? Moving?

Having keys that won’t advance your life is like having no keys at all. Your former keys won’t open the door of your future, but in many respects hold you captive to your present, and remind you of your past.

If we’re going to fly from one place to another…If we’re going to embody the will of God for our lives…If we are going to be intentional about the path we take, and the timing in which we get there, then we have to check our keys.

Your spiritual keys, I mean. You need your feet shined with the preparation of peace, the sword of the spirit, the shield of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, and the belt of truth. You must pray and fast. You must take inventory of the things that you’ll need for the journey, and all of this is to ensure that you aren’t late for your arrival in another place.

One thing I learned from my frequent air travels is that if you are late to leave one place, it throws off the order of your final destination. Sometimes the pilot will try to make up for the lost time in the air by increasing speed, but he cannot foresee any turbulence or other issues that may arise once in the air.

The same is true for us. Don’t wait to inspect and account for the necessary tools needed for the journey. Don’t wait until it is time to for takeoff to search for the God of the journey. Instead, prepare yourself and that requires that you become so intimate with Him that you gain the insight (inward sight) for the trip.

While the pilots were in charge of the airplane, they could not move without the keys that unlocked the engine. In the same way, while we are steering our own lives, we cannot get to certain places without God unlocking the doors of opportunity. With this in mind, I ask you,

“DO you have the correct keys for your journey?”

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.

October’s Booklist

Each month I try to read a spiritual book to further encourage spiritual growth. This month, I was so anxious to read Tim Sheets’ Angel Armies and Matthew Stevenson’s Abba that I couldn’t choose between the two, so I decided to tackle both.

angel armiesSheets’ text enlightens readers about the nature and assignment of angels. It tells about their significance in the earth, why their presence is important to the believer, and how they assist with our purposes. Unfortunately, while several of us know about angels, we don’t necessarily know how to partner with them to help bring the plans of God to the natural realm. In essence, we could be missing out on instructions as well as opportunities to partner with angels. Now, I’ve heard many people talk about seeing angels materialize in church services, or relay instances when they’ve entertained angels unaware, but I’ve never studied them. And, I can admit that Sheet’s book is helping me not only understand the angelic realm, but also the protocols and nature of heaven. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about how angel armies are designed with humankind in mind.

Now this next book is taking me a little longer to work through and for obvious reasons.

Stevenson’s book directly confronts our perception of God. Now, until fairly recently I didn’t have the best relationship with my father because I was raised in a single parent home. However, as God started to mend our relationship, I noticed that there were areas abbaof myself that I reserved as “off limits” for my father. These were the areas in my emotions. In guarding against my natural father, God began to show me how I also guarded my heart from him. Because of my fear of the new relationship with my dad, largely due to our broken past, I transferred those feelings to my interaction with God. Ultimately, I didn’t have the courage to see God as Father, but rather as Lord and King. This broken relationship with my dad seriously impacted my ability to be vulnerable with God even in private. I had trouble seeing him as Father who loved me because I once didn’t believe that my dad did. I was sadly mistaken. As I work through Stevenson’s text, I notice that layers are falling off of my heart. I am aware that my callousness is dissolving, and that I am more willing to try to open my heart to receive both of my Father’s love.

In essence, I believe that it is important that we feed our spiritual selves just as much as we feed our physical bodies. We must continue to educate and stretch our spirits if we ever hope to FULLY become who God created us to be.

-B

When You Feel Like Your Work Is Not Enough

The Day of Small Beginnings-2
Sometimes I have moments where I feel like my voice isn’t loud enough. I’m not talking about the 3 octaves that my voice climb when I’m in a heated debate, or the outburst I have when someone does something unsafe in the middle of the road (pray for me). What I’m talking about is my work in the kingdom and the unique position that I occupy.

People who know me know that I’m not the most churchiest Christian. While I do believe in the assembly of believers, I don’t spend majority of my time in its walls. In fact, most of my time is spent on a college campus, or in front of a computer. I am a researcher and an emerging scholar in academia, but I am also a believer.

Due to the intersectionality of my position at the crossroads of scholar, Phd candidate, Christian, and activist, I often feel a bit insecure about my voice. Sometimes in academic settings I have the potential to come off as churchy. When I’m in church, there are moments that my critical lens turns on the congregation. These things happen without effort. They intertwine with my personality so seamlessly that I wonder about my effectiveness.

I, of course, have never seen a prophetic academic. Now, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any, but just means that I haven’t made their acquaintance. This reminds me of the prophet Elijah who laments to God that he’s the only one who hasn’t bowed to Jezebel in 1 Kings. The Lord responds to him that there are hundreds of prophets in caves who haven’t bowed.

Honestly, God’s response to Elijah is convicting for me. It shows me that because of  limited knowledge that I reason immaturely. See, I don’t know who my work is impacting. I don’t know who my positioning encourages, but what I know is that no matter how insecure I may feel about the my assignment, I must remain faithful.

God uses who he will, how he will. He decides our destinies and our paths. He knows who we were before the foundations of the world. And, while I may think that the work I’m doing is insignificant, he does not.

Ultimately, this is where we have to find our grounding. We cannot measure our duty by someone else’s notoriety. We cannot decide through emotionalism our worth, but we must stand on the truth of God.

His word says that he called you. It says that he ordained you. It says that he knew you. Do not despise the day of small beginnings. I know that seems cliché especially in our hyper saturated world, but it isn’t impossible.

In essence, we must keep our eyes upward if we hope to have the victory.