A Tale of Two Journeys

Just because you will make mistakes doesn’t mean you should quit before even taking a step.

I’m writing this because one day I had an epiphany: my natural hair journey and my spiritual journey are alike.
Me--Pre Natural

I quit the first time I went natural. I went to comb my hair after going without a perm for a month…and suddenly I had to reconsider as I found it EXTREMELY difficult just to part my hair. It was easy when I had that perm…now I was strugglin’!

So I quit.

But as I continued perming my hair I began to notice that my once thick, long head of hair (the hair I had hated all my life) was starting to thin out. I was also having to cut it shorter because I wasn’t taking care of it—though the funny thing is I wasn’t taking care of it because I hated it…

But as much as I hated my hair I didn’t want to lose it.

So I decided when I permed my hair and got my bob for my 21st birthday that it would be the last day I would get a perm.

And it was.

I began growing my hair out and once again it was discouraging when I went comb my hair, challenging even. But I was determined this time to get my hair back to its original thickness and length, so I sucked it up and relearned how to wash, condition and comb my hair. I developed patience while growing it out—I never mastered the hot comb and my mom had more or less retired herself as my stylist—so I’d pull it back in a bun and slap some gel in my hair.

Finally, I had the last of my perm cut off in December of 2010. I was officially all natural—I DID IT!

During christmas break I washed my hair again and come January I had an afro! All that patience, hard work, dedication, education and adjusting to relearning how to do my hair and learning new ways to take care of my hair had PAID OFF.

Well…

The same trials I faced going natural, I also faced spiritually. First time I tried the “Jesus thing” I quit. The enemy has a way of making us feel like we should settle for being where we are because when we try to do better things go wrong. “What’s the point?! I’m better off where I’m at!”

But as I continued going on trying to do things my way, continuing down that same destructive path, I became emptier, lonelier, depressed…when I was broken, hurting and couldn’t take it another second longer I came to God and prayed,

“Lord PLEASE! I’ll do ANYTHING—please take this pain away!” Because as much I didn’t too much care for my life, I didn’t want to lose my life.

He led me to a church where a seed was planted, and later helped me to find the church that I would go on to claim as my family.

I originally went because I wanted to “get my life right” so I went every Sunday. The more I went, the more I began to see I needed to get a Bible and start reading it.

I was 19 when I read the Bible for the first time.

I had to develop patience in my growth, I had to relearn a new way of speaking and walking and carrying myself, and as I began to take on this new role of a sinner saved by grace something began to change.

I didn’t see the progress then, was even tempted to give up a couple of times (just like with my natural hair) but my mind was already made up that one way or another I was going to live for God, because going back to that hell hole I was in before was not an option.

It paid off.

The things that used to fire me off and have me snap on people in a heartbeat don’t set me off like they used to. Do I still have those bad days? Yes, of course. If someone tells you everything is peachy keen—they are LYING, do you hear me? LYING!

But I’m no longer in that dark place that I used to be.

I am saved, my hair is healthier and longer and both journeys were CHALK FULL of haters on every side, “Why you wanna do that?” “I liked the old Jackie better.”

At the end of the day—you gotta do what’s best for you. And what I discovered is that while doing me made me happy, the joy that Christ gives just doesn’t compare. The confidence I developed after going natural I never had when my hair was permed.

So…what am I saying after all that?

I don’t care what it is—if it’s your first time trying it out—it’s SUPPOSED to be difficult, it’s SUPPOSED to be hard, because you’ve never done it before. You’re NOT going to know what to do, how to do it and all the other interrogatives because YOU’VE NEVER DONE IT BEFORE. It’s all a new experience for you.

But…

Just because you will make mistakes doesn’t mean you should quit before even taking a step.

My advice to you: give God a try. He showed me that if my super impatient self could push myself to keep going and continue in my natural hair journey, then I most definitely could push myself to keep going for Him…

Because again…in the end…it ALL pays off.

Me--Now 2 and a half years Natural

Say No…To FAKE

They say that whatever you ask God for He will give to you, that includes your spouse. And through the couples in my church, they all say their spouse was exactly what they asked God for.

So…after God showed me that I was shallow…He began to ask me what it was that I REALLY wanted.

Truth be told, I had no clue. Deep down all I had were these shallow, superficial wants in a man (tall, built, fine) and if he had some sort of talent or whatever…cool. So, I finally decided to sit down and actually consider myself: where I’m strong, where I’m weak, and what I need–instead of what I WANT.

God says done and lets me know that when the time is right He’ll send that man right to me. But first I must be prepared for the blessing I’m about to receive, because in all honesty where I was spiritually, mentally I would have made a HORRIBLE wife. I still need a bit of work, too…okay A LOT of work…but I’m getting there.

Here’s the thing though. Satan heard that prayer, too.

And he’s been trying to pass off frauds to me ever since.

“Look at him! He’s nice looking, God-fearing…why not give him a shot? He seems pretty interested in you, after all…”

It’s funny…because if you’re not careful you’ll get yourself caught up in some mess because of impatience. Satan will have you looking at your “potential spouse” when God already said He has someone on the way, to hold true to Him and wait on Him in the meantime…

But here comes Satan…and he totes something that looks “kinda close” to what you wanted, and it’s “sorta like” what you asked for, and it could work…maybe. He’ll trip you up by pointing out some of the similarities that person has that you asked God for your mate to have. Unfortunately though they don’t possess ALL of the qualities.

I said all that to say that Satan has been trying to run game on me man. And each fake he sends looks so good that it almost has me convinced.

But then I remember His promise, and I shake my head and say, “Hah..nice try. I already know what God told me. And that thing you trying to pass off on me right now ain’t it. GET OUT HERE WIT THAT!”

I also had to learn that instead of trying to prepare for a husband, I need to find myself preparing myself for the harvest.

Did you miss that? I said I’m preparing for the HARVEST, when God calls me home and says “Well done,” and not for a husband. I can make heaven without a man, but what good is having a husband if I still go to hell anyway?

By preparing for the harvest I will be ready to receive my dream job, my house, my car, all the desires of my heart.

And…my husband.

Before you just say yes to that fake, seek God first. Oh and by the way, if you gotta ask if he’s the one—HE ISN’T. But always see what God says first…trust me…I had to learn that the hard way.

And—it always helps to know what it is that you need in a mate/want in a mate when you go to prayer to ask God for them. For me, I realized this meant getting to know myself in Christ to figure who I am and what precisely it is that I really need…

Not what that shallow, broken, and self-loathing little girl wanted…

POEM: 6/14/13 Turn Your Cheek (Col. 3:13)

Part of this poem is featured in my church’s newsletter, the Temple Of Refuge Ministries Safe Haven (which I write every week, comes out on Fridays) http://www.ktorradio.com/templetalk/ But I decided to put the poem in it’s entirety on here.

This poem came to me today as I was holding resentment and anger toward how one person and as it festered, God led me to write this week’s Safe Haven poem on Colossians 3:13, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

As I began to write, a flood of emotions began to take over, as God reminded me of all the things He forgave me for–all the things He helped me to forgive and let go of. The love of God has truly changed me for the better and it’s days like these that I’m reminded just how powerful and impactful that love is, and I couldn’t be anymore grateful for it.

There are 2 responses in this poem, 2 different people and the connector is God saying “I forgave you/You can forgive them too” Imagine tuning in to a program and you catch the tail end of the conversation. Flip forward, then flip back again to the middle of a new conversation. That’s what’s going on here.

So, I pray that you are blessed by this poem and that you receive a message from it.

TURN YOUR CHEEK (COL. 3:13)

Forbearing:
The root word being
Forbear
Meaning
Patient
And restrained
Forgiving:
The root being
Forgive:
To stop feeling angry
Or resentful
Towards a person
For an offense, flaw,
Or mistake

These things Christ says
We should partake
When dealing with one another
That is what walking in love
Is
Because
“even as Christ forgave you,
so also do ye.”

“They hurt me, Lord!
They broke my heart
And they said they loved me
But they never did,
Not really.
They just used me
Til they got what they wanted
Then went on as though
They never even knew me!”
You did the same unto Me
I gave you life
Gave you all you needed
But you chased after other idols
The only time I heard from you
Was when you got yourself
Into a jam
Then suddenly
You needed Me
And I got you out
Then you’d go back
To all those false things
Forgetting it was Me
Who held you in the night
It was Me
Who was there to wipe those tears
When you were clutching
That broken heart in the dark
How many times do you think it is
That you broke My heart
When you committed adultery
Taking forbidden glances
And making everyone
And everything else your god
I forgave you
You can forgive them too

“But I can’t stand them!
They’re not a real parent!
Why can’t You just make them behave?
Why can’t You just make them change?
Why did I have to have a parent like them
Anyway?
They’ve never done right by me
And now I’m just suppose to let it go?”
Careful how you speak child
For you are talking down on yourself
When you talk down on them
Since when
Have you ever been in position
To complain about someone
Wronging you and being in err
When you are often in err with Me
Everyday
Long as you hold hate in your heart
You are walking contradictory
You rebel against Me
Did I force Myself upon you
No I did not
I gave you freewill
To come to Me on your own
If you want to see real change
Pray for them to come home
And I will do the rest
I have never
Not once
Criticized you
Nor hated you
For not being the best
They may not be the best parent
But they’re yours
And they are a part of you
And I made it that way for a reason
There are things you have done
Sins you have committed
That you have yet to ask Me
Forgiveness for
Yet I forgave you for them all
I forgave you
You can forgive them too

God says let it go
It doesn’t have to hurt anymore
Let it go
For when you hold on to unforgiveness
You are killing yourself
That much more
We don’t ever stop to consider
That while we hold a grudge
Against someone else
Of all the wrongs we have done
To our Lord and Savior
Like all the times
When I placed Him on the shelf
Turned my back on Him
Denied Him around my
So-called friends
Told Him I’d live for Him later
When I committed adultery
In my heart
Every time my eyes stared down
Another guy
When I made everything else
Top priority
But God never got my time
When I acted a fool with Him
Then shrugged it off
Thinking
Well
God’s forgiving
So He forgives me
But never repented or even gave Him an
I’m sorry
That’s all I had to say was
I’m sorry
And in spite of it all
He loved me
Anyway
Forgave me
Anyway
But I dare to say
“I can’t forgive her, Lord.
I can’t deal with him, God.”
When it took a sacrifice
Just for me to see this day
And the day before that

He forgave me
I can at least do that
He forgave you
You can at least do that
You’ve been forgiven
For so many things
If you truly love Him
The way you say you do
Then you can forgive

Because He’s forgiven you

6/12/13 POEM: Overflow V (Eccles. 2:4)

Overflow poems are poems that come to me while studying my Word. It just started happening one day that sudden pings of inspiration would come to me while studying a verse, but when I chose to wait til I was done the poem would disappear from my mind and I couldn’t remember anything. So now I make a point to immediately begin writing the words down as they come until God gives me nothing else to put to the page.

This is the first time that I’ve started putting what verse it was when God inspired me to write. Overflow V is based on Eccles. 2:4.

As always, I pray that you are blessed by it and you receive a message from it.

OVERFLOW V (ECCLES. 2:4)

Just because you’re blessed
Doesn’t make you any less
Of a mess
Than the next man
Everything works according to
–God’s plan
So be patient
Give praises
Be thankful for what you got
Because as quickly as He gave
–it
He can take it all away without
–a second thought
And in case you forgot
You didn’t do anything
You didn’t make it happen
God did
So if you don’t mind
He’d really appreciate it
If you’d stop taking all the credit
Thanks
And whatever you have
Be content with it
It is a blessing from the Lord
So rejoice in the fact
That each day you see
Even the very breath you take
Is a gift
All on loan because of grace
And He gave it willingly
We don’t deserve any of it
God owes you NOTHING
But He gives it
And He gives it to you daily
So be thankful
Be content
And give thanks
You didn’t make these blessings
–happen for yourself
He gave you everything
Be grateful
Give thanks
You are more blessed than you
–think

Regifting the Gift 2: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Ephesians 4:2, 8

Hold on to this one:

“Do you trust God to do what He said He’s gonna do, even when you fail to do your part everyday?”

Yup–it’s back again. My morning chats with God in that good ol’ WORD! Today we’re gonna focus on Eccles. 4:9-12, KJV:

9“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.” 10“For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” 11“Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?” 12“And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

The thing that I had to deal with this morning was my lack of trust. I tend to get hesitant or resistant to move on things God instructs me to do, then make up some excuse for why I didn’t move on it. I used to tell myself that it was because I was afraid of the unknown, fear. And it was…but I’ve grown up some since then from when I first started this journey. God informed me that my hesitancy had nothing to do with fear because He had already taught me that fear comes from the enemy–it’s not of Him, nor from Him. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (II Timothy 1:7, KJV) So that was not the problem.

The problem was that I didn’t trust Him the way I should. (This is where stepping out on faith comes in) And the funny thing about that, is that we usually ask God to increase our faith and He’ll present us with an opportunity to increase it by having to walk through some situations where it seems doubtful and the chances are slim, because that’s where real faith is found. That’s how we increase our faith.

And I knew that—but I kept freezing up… (Remember that quote from earlier? Keep holding on to that)

So the Lord stresses to me in His Word that everything I need to achieve the assignment He’s given me is laid before my feet. I have everything I need—so all these excuses I keep digging around in the hat to try and pull out: ELIMINATED.

“God did not intend for us to be alone. A lot of times He already has someone in place up ahead waiting for your arrival, all you have to do is walk forward.”

Whatever you don’t know how to do, God has someone in place who’s strong in the areas you’re weak at. Whatever you don’t have, God has something or someone in place to provide you with what you need to accomplish the task. If more than one person is needed, God will make a way for you to have the group of people you need to do what needs to be done. “Even the disciples were sent out in pairs. Christ has made you a disciple–He has someone in place for you.”

Now this is where I got cut deep, “Hesitancy shows lack of trust. Do you trust God to do what He said He’s gonna do, even when you fail to do your part everyday?”

Ouch…! 😦

That means when I go to sleep without thanking Him for the day, He wakes me up anyway. And when I choose to neglect studying my Word and leave the house without asking Him for traveling grace, He protects me anyway. The times I act I fool with Him and act like I never knew Him, want nothing to do with Him, and act like He owes ME something—He still loves me…ANYWAY.

“Distrust comes because you know you aren’t doing what you’re suppose to do.” Kinda like a cheating spouse who suspects the one they’re cheating on is doing the same, that’s where my distrust came from. “Man…I know I was suppose to do XYZ…and I didn’t do it…what if He sends me out and everything goes up in smoke?”

The Spirit had this to say to me on that, “God doesn’t operate like you—He doesn’t stop loving you because you go astray, He doesn’t take back promises because you didn’t keep yours, He doesn’t turn His back on you when you act like you don’t know Him. He’s not like you.”

God is not spiteful. He is just, holy, exact, straightforward, awesome and a lot of other great and wonderful things—too many to even name—but He is not spiteful or mean. A lot of us would willing sabotage someone and bring the ship down with us in it if they crossed us the wrong way.

We mess up, but grace was put in place so that we could get that second chance on top of second chance to get it right…but don’t get it twisted—grace does run out at some point.

“That feeling you feel is conviction and you would be wrong to ignore that.” So when you step out of His will and that voice whispers, “You know better. God made you better than this.” That’s what I like to call my tap on the shoulder. God is tapping us on the shoulder and reminding us He designed us to be better than what we settle to be, but often we ignore the tap.

Ignoring the tap is like driving down the freeway, you see the wrong way sign but keep going—driving 100 miles an hour and swerving in and out the lanes. Eventually you’re going to hit someone and seriously injure or kill yourself.

“Listen to what God has for you, be obedient and walk in FAITH.” What God whispered to me right after that was, “The thing about faith is that at some point you have to take a step.” If I’m sitting around worrying and doubting about every little thing, then that’s not walking in faith. That’s standing still and looking at God like, well—You gonna prove it or what? Cuz I’m not moving til You do.

You want to increase your faith? Take a step.

Three things I pulled from studying this:

{NOTE} These are 3 things I got from studying Eccles. 4:9-12; doesn’t mean you’ll get the same thing from studying it, because what God had to say to me may not be the same thing He has to say to you, but I assure you if you seek Him you’ll hear Him say something

  1. God already has the people in place to help you. Move forward.
  2. God is not spiteful, but you have to do right by Him for your sake, because God’s gonna do right regardless.
  3. You don’t have to do everything yourself; you choose to.

#StayTuned for part 2! And feel free to follow me: @jSSberry

Regifting the Gift: Mt. 6:28; Eccles. 9:2-3, 8:9 (PART III)

(My apologies for doing this last part SO LATE!! But here it is. Hope this series has been a blessing to you; there will be more in the future so #staytuned)

 

Part III, the last and final part of “Regifting the Gift,” ends with Ecclesiastes 8:9:

9″All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.” (Eccles. 8:9)

The first question that popped up was, “Have you truly applied yourself to this Word?” And the answer was no. Usually when I go to study my Word, I stop at just that. (In one ear, out the other)

The next question was, “Have you applied this Word to your works, to the way you carry yourself, the way you live? Or are you an adaptation of what you consider saved to be?”

I recently finished a segment on my notes (FB) on “Me, John & Nicodemus.” One of the things I noted when I studied over John was that Nicodemus (as well as the other Pharisees) lived a concept of what they considered saved to be. So after God hit me with that question, I had to really stop and think about it…

Looking back I can say that it all makes sense now. I was like Nicodemus in some ways in that I lived a concept of what I thought saved to be, instead of just doing as God said in His Word. I tended to take on a chameleon approach: the Jackie at church differed from the one around her friends, that differed from the one at home and again around family, at school, around sorors…

God always has a way of bringing me back down to reality…

“You don’t have it together, and you don’t have all the answers either. That’s why Jesus came.” He then added, “Jesus is the ONLY way, because your way DOESN’T work.”

Huh–did you catch that? Jesus is the ONLY way, because your way DOESN’T work.

“So stop trying to use a game plan designed to fail you and walk in the way that is right. Stop trying to be a chameleon and be yourself.”

For years I tried to do it my way, but my way didn’t fill that void inside of me that told me I was missing something. It didn’t erase the pain and the anger that I carried around for all that time either. It didn’t help me to overcome the things I struggled with, if anything, it dug the grave that much deeper…It was not until I gave my life to Christ that things began to change.

So no, our way doesn’t work. And it doesn’t make sense to keep beating your head against the wall when Jesus is right there waiting to deliver you with arms wide open. And you know what the best part is?

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT!!

You don’t have to know every single scripture, be a full fledged member of the church and all super saint up–if that were the case, Jesus would have never came, because we wouldn’t need Him. All you have to do is accept Him and believe on Him…

And know that Christ likes YOU, not the pretend person everyone else sees, but the one He designed you to be. (No better way to rediscover you than through His Word)

“When you truly, absolutely start standing for those things that Christ stands for, you’ll see a change in your surroundings. Your surroundings ought to change before you do.”

When I actually did start being me in Christ and standing for what He stands for, I didn’t have to do a lot of extra stuff or acting all super holy around people–the people themselves changed. I still spoke to those people who I knew liked to smoke/get high and when I came around they stopped smoking around me. I still spoke to those who swore…A LOT…and they changed their language around me. I still spoke to those who really weren’t into that “Jesus stuff” but their conversations and how they conducted themselves around me changed because they knew that I wasn’t about that life–not anymore.

It’s when you try to force Jesus on folks that they begin to resent you…however, you shouldn’t let how people view you dictate how you walk in Him, which is something I tended to do because the friends I knew for so long I didn’t want to lose.

“Stop worrying about losing people and things you don’t need anyway and concentrate on doing better for yourself.”

I found that I like what’s familiar, and familiarity is comfortable for me…which leads to complacency. I kept those who were bad influences and a hinderance in my relationship with Christ because I already knew a handful of people as it was…and it’s difficult for me to make new friends…and most of the places I like to go to they tag along…I mean, I can’t go somewhere by myself!

(Blah, blah, blah…some other random excuse…blah, blah)

“God is the only thing that matters. Don’t worry about those other folks; your salvation is more important that your popularity.”

That last line did it for me, “…your salvation is more important than your popularity.” I cared too much about being liked, more than I even wanted to admit to myself.

Because in truth I still hadn’t dealt with my issues of loneliness…even now. And it affected me to the point where I was willing to tolerate and deal with certain people that I was cool with. They were fun, they knew all the best jokes–but their lifestyle and the choices they made were taking them down a different direction than where I wanted to go.

So, I took a stance today. It started with my FB friend’s list.

I have a ton of people that I added because of D9/Greek affiliation, went to PVAMU, WHS…but in actuality I don’t really know them, haven’t spoken to them a day in my life or haven’t spoken in several years. So I removed them.

And I need to do the same with my Twitter…a lot of the things I see on my TL are things that I really don’t want to read/see…and I’ve been hesitant because “Well…I mean…but it’s SO AND SO! I can’t let go of SO AND SO!”

But if I want to go higher in Christ, I gotta let some things (AND PEOPLE) go. Doesn’t mean I stop speaking to that person…if I happen to actually know them and see them in person…but life is bigger than FB, Twitter–this BLOG.

And frankly my salvation matters more.