Growing Apart

Sailboat

It’s interesting how backsliding works. One day your seeking Jesus’s face; the next day you’re out in the middle of the ocean. You don’t know how long you’ve been out there; you haven’t even noticed that Jesus isn’t within view anymore. It just happens to be that you catch yourself staring out at nothing, wondering how long you’ve been out of touch with God.

You start asking yourself how much time has passed since you were last with Jesus. Has it been a day, a week—two or three months?

I would say it’s been months, and yet somehow, I think it’s been longer than that.

At least, that’s what it feels like.

I saw all the signs, but it didn’t become real for me until I read the verse Psalm 40:8,

“I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Ps. 40:8 KJV)

As the Lord had me meditate on the verse, I began to see that my passion for God had dwindled, if not died. I recall a time when I used to be excited to write poems for Him. I had a bad habit of waiting until the last minute to do the newsletters, but I gave it everything I had. I pushed myself to get the latest issue out even if that meant having to release it late because I missed the date.

I remember having a desire to read and study His Word—a need to study His Word. I can think on those mornings when I started making point to begin my day with prayer. Or when I took my ministry seriously and the assignments the Lord charged me with.

Then somewhere along the way the poems became fewer and fewer. I studied and read less and less. Other things became more important to me; other things were more interesting to me.

And eventually Christ became irrelevant altogether.

Going to church and listening to the message was the highlight of my week. Now they seemed to be dragging. Bible study was a must until it became a monotonous routine that didn’t seem to hold my attention. I struggled to take notes for both Sunday and Wednesday nights.

Even now I recognize that I’m under attack, but I haven’t grasped it because it doesn’t feel like I’m under attack, “I mean, I’m not really suffering; I feel fine…so…”

But that’s one of the devil’s best tricks, isn’t it? The power of deception and making you feel like everything is okay when it’s really not. The house isn’t burning down, so you’re good. Meanwhile the largest hurricane is on its way towards you and you aren’t aware because you’ve been lulled to sleep.

It’s time for me to wake up now. Time to wake up and get back into the fight again.

I need to rediscover my joy for God, to reset and focus back on my purpose, my calling, my ministry.

I need to get back to what’s important. Right now, that is God and my relationship with Him.

If you are in a place right now where serving Jesus seems more like a chore or seeking righteousness genuinely makes you roll your eyes, consider the scripture and what it says. Be honest with yourself—where are you really spiritually? Are you still in love with God?

Or have you found yourself pushing Him away?

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Fantasy VS Reality: Part IV (FINAL)

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Photo source: Google Images

Why can’t you grasp it?
I kept asking myself this
You know it’s poison
Slowly killing you from the inside
Out
Like buying the sweetest candy
Known in the world
Hard, crunchy shell
Soft, delicate center

Its glimmer makes every mouth
—water
Its shimmer so appetizing
You feel compelled to take a bite
And you bite
Only to discover it’s rotten
Down to the core
But still,
You continue to eat it
You keep buying that garbage
Even though you know
The result is you reeling in sickness
Head stuck in the toilet
As you upchuck every bit of that bag
Of false delights you wasted time,
Money
And energy on…
You know this
And yet
You still keep doing this
So
Why?
Why do you keep doing it
If you know it’s only going to make you
Sick?
Yeah,
I keep asking myself this
Why do I continue to buy into the lie
When I know it’s only going to result
In heartbreak, heartache
And more and more grief
Why, oh why, O’Lord
Do I keep doing this
To me?

I remember sitting down one night and I began writing to God. I wanted to better understand why it was I kept falling victim to romanticism. Why did I continuously catch myself up in a snare when I knew the result would mean disaster? I knew ahead of time that runaway fantasy would never come true, but I continued to by into the lie anyway. I went through an episode of this about a week or two ago. I began to grow fond of one of my language partners; it was so nice talking to him everyday, and eventually I started entertaining the thought of “what if.” It didn’t take long before I got ahead of myself (for the infinite time) and had thoughts of us as a couple…until I found out he had a longtime girlfriend.

This is constantly happening to me
I wind up breaking my own heart
For putting all my hopes and desires
Into something
That is non-existent
Like taking all your precious
Treasures and riches
And throwing them straight into the
—abyss
A black hole that devours it
Void of any emotion or sympathy
You can’t even say it enjoys it
Because it’s just simply doing
What a black hole does

—Snippet from “Dark and Twisted Nature”
by Jacqueline S. Sadberry

I was hurt like I had been in times before, but this time was somewhat different. I was extremely angry and bitter, too. I felt myself spiraling into a dark place, thinking, “I just want to be happy…why do I have to go through this crap again? How do I always manage to do this to myself? Why? At this rate I’m always going to be alone! I don’t get it—not again, not again…” After getting everything off my chest, the Lord told me I’m addicted to the fantasy because “everything is perfect. You’re complete. Real life isn’t like that; it’s messy…”

Sometimes the truth is hard to swallow, and ultimately, we don’t want to believe it. We just can’t accept it for what it is so we continue to wallow around in denial. We keep eating that poisonous waste disguised as something delicious. “This time will be different.” “That happened with the last, but this one is sure to work!” “I know I’ll find love this time around. Just wait and see.”

Even when the truth is right there in front of us, and Jesus reveals the devil’s deceptive tactics—detailing every move—we fall for the trap again and again.

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Photo source: Google Images

I wish I could say that I’ve conquered my battle with romanticism, but I can’t. Right now I wrestle with embracing the truth; God’s Truth.

I have moments of clarity from time to time, “God’s love doesn’t hurt like this.” “The love of God will never deceive you.” “There has to be more to life than fairytales gone bad.” As of late, I realize that I can’t reach the root of the issue for walking in circles around it. Part of that is because I want to know, and then again, I don’t. I’m sure if I can handle it… Somehow I sense once Jesus reveals it to me, it’s going to send me flying.

But I know that I desperately need to end this. This isn’t something I want to take into a marriage…

I can’t un-see
What I’ve already seen
He made his choice
He made it well
I must now go back to waiting
For someone to make that choice
For me

I want to be the one a man chooses
Not out of convenience
Or because it felt right at the time
Or because we’re both two single,
—good-looking people
With nothing else to do
But because
He actually fell in love with me
When he looked at me
He saw me right away right as his wife
And he somehow knew
That I would be

I will be
Someday
I will, you know?

—Snippet from “Dark and Twisted Nature”
by Jacqueline S. Sadberry

Over the time I’ve been writing this series, I’ve come to see this isn’t something that will affect me and my future husband. My friendships and relationships with my family have been affected to a certain degree, too. It takes; it has taken away so much from the people in my life who deserve more from me. This self quest for self-gratification has damaged me in more ways than one. Therefore it’s highly important that I do something about it TODAY, rather than bury myself in the façade once more.

I may not be completely delivered of this—I honestly didn’t expect this series to go in the direction it did—but I’m glad that I finally listened to the Lord and wrote it. It’s helping me to come to terms with what’s going on with me. I’m not in denial about it anymore.

Time to stop walking in circles and looks towards gaining a healthy future, both naturally and spiritually.

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Photo source: Google Images

Fantasy VS Reality: Part III

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“Ye Olde Lock and Chain” by Fraida Gutovich

If you’ve been keeping up with the series (Part I, Part II) then you know it’s been getting increasingly more intense. This one is no different.

Needless to say, it becomes harder and harder for me to continue this so I earnestly ask that you pray with me for courage to face the things I’ve been avoiding. To remember that this is all bigger than me. When people need a word, I don’t have time to waste on waiting until I feel ready to go forward. That’s not right and we shouldn’t do that.

I wrote a poem today, and in a way it sums up how I feel right about now, but I’ll share it later.

Remember what I said last time about still born children?

Eventually we all have a day when the fantasy comes to an end. It begins to crumble piece by piece, and while the high you’re on is amazing, once it comes crashing down it’s the worst experience of your life. No matter how great those fluttery, passionate waves of desire felt, they were unimaginable to the blows I received when the mirage vanished.

 

So what happens when you come down from the high?

Pain is right there with its arms outstretched to greet you. They are metal, sharp and pointy blades that slice you up into several pieces. Sometimes you’re chopped, other days you’re minced, and on rare occasions you get sliced so fine you almost like like a whole person from a distance…

Almost.

Before the pain catches you, however, your thoughts begin to drift in the fall. I have constantly and consistently wonder every time: Why do I always do this to myself? Why do I always have to make myself feel like this?

And for a split second, reason comes to mind. The Holy Spirit speaks to me through this reason and helps to rationalize things, “Jacqueline, this was never real anyway. It wasn’t meant to turn out the way you hoped for because this was not meant for you. It was never meant for you. There is someone else better in store for you—just wait,” but once I hit those blades at full speed all those dark thoughts come creeping back, “You’re going to always be alone. Did you really think this time was going to be any different? You’re so pathetic. There’s no one out there for you.”

Shattered Heart

Since there’s no solid foundation I accept all that nonsense. Truthfully I am impatient and impatience leads to disobedience. Disobedience lands me in a world of trouble and I end up hurting myself. When Jesus is not what you’re standing on, and you are tormented by the agony you feel, you go right back to what got you there in the first place.

“Oh well—he has a girlfriend. Time to find a new guy to pine over.”
“Dag, that didn’t work out the way I planned. Back to my celebrity crushes.”
“Hmm…maybe I’ll stick to thinking about my dream guy then…”

As I’ve stated before, romanticism is a pacifier. It’s used to distract you from the fact that you’re slowly dying inside, that you need healing and Jesus Christ is the only one who can give it to you. All you know is that the pain is unbearable and you want it to stop. All those sweet thoughts and fantasies become idols—it all causes you to ignore what’s going on inside. You ignore the fact that you are hurt, angry, confused, shattered.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I haven’t fully received the report. I’ve heard for a long time now that Jesus is better than any arousal I get from lustful thoughts, what I sought after when I masturbated. He’s better than what they sell on TV and in film about sex, better than any man will ever be to me. Jesus is better—I’ve heard this more times than I can count, but I don’t believe it because I have yet to fully experience that for myself. I experienced His goodness in the midst of depression, in the midst of my fits of rage that skirted on the edge of violence. I know how good He is when I’m sad, when I’m dealing with the loss of a loved one. What I have failed to experience is His goodness and how infinitely great He is in the parts of my love life, in my singleness.

Though even now I think I’m beginning to catch a glimpse of it. While I have fallen off into those blades again, the Lord reminds me of His grace.

I fell down earlier this week, and I told myself today what I said then, “Not again…not again…not again.”

But for the first time in a long time I’m finally embracing my wounds. I’m acknowledging the hurt. I still wrestle with confronting the issue and going back to pretending like everything’s fine, but still I’m learning to embrace it.

Slowly, but surely, I am finally positioning myself to let Jesus heal me.

Surgical Tools

Photo source: Google Images

Fantasy VS Reality: Part I

FANTASY VS REALITY: PART I — THE DANGERS OF ROMANTICISM

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Photo source: Google Images

Who knows why I chose to keep pushing this off for an insanely long time. Perhaps because I still wrestle with this a lot, even being as old as I am.

And I also suppose it’s because most of the time I like writing pieces about things I’ve overcome rather than things that are current stumbling blocks.

Although, isn’t that the point of being an effective witness?

It shouldn’t always be about looking picture perfect or being spot on, but helping those struggling to know that you have your shortcomings too. It’s a necessary reminder that even the best of us need Jesus.

Frankly, If we’re being honest here, even among the best of us, no one is truly the best. We’re all broken people being rebuilt by the Savior and each of us is doing the best we can to get better.

So I shouldn’t be ashamed of that. I’m just simply doing my best and that’s what counts.

And truthfully I haven’t been myself lately…mostly because of this thing I’m going to talk about:

Romanticism.

What does it stem from? Where does it come from? What does it evolve itself out of?

The simple answer is loneliness, but for some of us it isn’t quite that simple is it.

There’s nothing like going through life thinking you’re the most content you’ve ever been until certain things come and tamper with that belief. I blamed being around people complaining of being single and desperately wanting to be in a relationship as the cause. I pointed the finger at my recent obsession with K-Pop music (both of which did play a small part, but ultimately were not the true factors for what I am about to share with you.)

You see, it’s easy to make romance songs, movies and books the scapegoats. “Man, I need to stop (reading/listening to/watching) this stuff! I was fine until I started entertaining all that!” Perhaps you are right. All the things mentioned, including those things listed above, can be triggers for loneliness.

But were you actually fine? Were you really okay or did it take those things to expose what was already there?

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Photo source: Google Images

These are things I’ve had to ask myself recently.

Romanticism in of itself seems straightforward, but in actuality, it’s more complex than you think. As it is defined, romanticism is described as something that borders on imagination. An idea that is impractical or unrealistic, and eventually, becomes belief. In a way this is true, but I think it’s even more than that. Romanticism not only can cause you to lose touch with reality, but it can also cause you to objectify people. It has you lust over traits and characteristics that you either attach or associate with that person while simultaneously stereotyping them. Romanticism can be quite disrespectful when you think about it because once the thrill gets cold it moves on to the next well of desire. Then once that well dries up, it moves on again, and again, and it never takes the person into consideration.

In some ways, I think there are some of us who have not only been victims but have created a body count of our own through romanticism…

Still, we have something like romance right? Romance between two people—scratch that—two MARRIED people isn’t a bad thing, is it?

I would say (going off of what I’ve heard from married folks in healthy, strong marriages) that romance without God in the picture is nothing more than lust. It’s fickle. If the romance is birthed from false pretenses and/or does not have Jesus Christ as the foundation then it’s an infatuation and a relationship that will soon be short-lived. Romance is nice, it lights the fire, but it takes Jesus, work and love to keep it going (and to get it going again when it’s burned out.)

We all know where lust leads us…but back to my point.

I remember all those times I fell into a whirlwind of, “Oh my goodness…(sigh)…If I could have a guy just like that…” every time I saw my celebrity crush in some film, saw his music video, etc. I recall watching Stomp the Yard and desiring a man who was a mixture of Brian White and Columbus Short. He’d be black, in a BGLO (Black Greek Letter Organization), and attending an HBCU.

Do you know how many Black men fit into that category?

LOTS people, LOTS.

And when I ran into a guy who happened to fit into this makeshift, spellbound wishlist, red flags were sure to follow. Here’s how it would usually go down:

Holy Spirit: He doesn’t believe in Jesus. He doesn’t believe in commitment. He’s got a different girl almost everyday of the week
ME: “…eh—I think I can make it work. He just seems like such a CATCH you know?”

To be clear, there are PLENTY of Black men who DO believe in Jesus, commitment and aren’t playing the field. I kept missing them though because that what Satan does. Through romanticism, he leads you to what you EXACTLY wanted for yourself. You miss out on the good ones with flaws but are great and decent men because they don’t fit into the stereotype of what you think he’s supposed to be.

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Photo source: Google Images

Yeah…I could go on about that for days…

Flash forward to today.

Somewhere down the road, I started doing the same thing with Asian men. I’ve done it with every man in every race, each having their own separate category of unrealistic expectations and—as I’ve said before—”romantic” stereotypes, but Asian men specifically have become the new well. The more I think about it though, junior high is possibly the earliest time this fantasy began. Where I live we didn’t have a lot of Asian guys around, so to come across one was like witnessing an amazing sight (for me, at least.) “Oh my goodness—he’s Asian! And he LIVES here?! He kinda cute too…” I think the only reason my first crush was Asian (still to this day we don’t know his exact ethnicity because he didn’t either) was simply because he was something different from the usual. “What would it be like to date an Asian guy? Oh the possible possibilities!”

And now that I take all that into consideration, I think it’s partially been my motivation for learning Japanese…

GEEZE—I can see why I didn’t want to talk about this now! It’s humiliating to admit this kind of stuff…!

I thought it was rude for someone to say they “loved” Asian guys but didn’t know anything about the culture or had any real respect for it. They just were basing it solely off of dramas and music songs from that culture. Taking a hard look at myself I’m really no different. If it weren’t for studying the Japanese language and learning about the culture, and reading my issues of the Inheritance magazine (which talks about Christ and Asian/Asian Americans and their testimonies, experiences) I still wouldn’t know much about Asian culture.

It’s contradictory, because as an African American woman, I hate when we are objectified. I hate the idea of a man solely approaching me because of my race—not my personality, not because of my character, not even because we share similar interests—but ONLY because I’m Black. He sees me as an opportunity to go exploring and see “what all the fuss is about.” I hate when that when it comes to romance and dating, there are all these superficial, stereotypical and degrading things associated with women like me. In fact I’m angered by it because I’m not a person anymore; I’m a conquest and he became interested because he was bored, I guess…

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Photo source: 68.media.tumblr.com

However that is the same level of disrespect I have shown to my ALL my brothers, not just Asian. Regardless of what race he is or what he looks like, he’s still a person. At the end of the day, he’s a man and a human being like me. I need to recognize that; to treat him or view him as anything less is a disservice and a slap in the face of all men.

What I’m beginning to realize is that my issue was never with watching too many YouTube videos, or listening to too many K-Pop songs, or entertaining too many “someday my prince will come” conversations.

The real problem is, and has always been, that I became entranced by a warped idea of what I think love looks like and what it’s supposed to be.

And rather than addressing the problem, I chose to bury it instead.

Well, I can’t bury it anymore.

It’s grown too big and I’ve run out of dirt.

To be continued…

(In)dependence

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Artwork “Tired” by Tim Baker

“Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3 KJV)

We came crawling to the altar pleading, begging, God for help. A cry birthed from the desperation for change, tormented souls knowing that change was in order and we needed it ever so badly… So all that considered, why is it that we get so far in Christ and suddenly think we don’t need Him anymore? The flesh rises up, our pride gets in the way because we’ve been saved so long that it almost seems needless to go asking Him for help. Then again, why would we? We’re not that same weak, pitiful scrawl of existence that came to Him before. We’re stronger now; we can handle things all on our own.

But that’s just it…we CAN’T. We can’t handle it by ourselves, we never could. It’s what got us to such a lowly state in the first place. We were never strong enough; it was always Him, always Jesus, bearing and shouldering all the weight from all the burdens we placed on ourselves…

And when He reaches out to try and take it away, we dare to snarl at Him like wild dogs. Insisting that He stay back.

Because…because we can’t stand to be reminded we’re not the mighty superhero with the cape. We’re not the ones in control, but yet we have the choice.

So why not choose freedom?

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The Editing Process

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I don’t want to be here next year.

That’s what I keep thinking to myself as I look back over the year thus far and all the other years prior. I’m tired of constantly finding myself in the same situation—the exact same situation—every year.

However, I’m also tired of making excuses for why I’m not where I should be.

I’m tired of being disobedient.

I’m done with not putting the Lord first in all things, submitting and giving Him complete and total control over my life.

And most importantly, I’m tired of making false promises to myself (and to God really) about how I’m going to be better next year, or even today.

I’ve been thinking to myself how I want true growth; I want to see an all around change in my life. Not just today, or next year, but every day I’m alive.

The Lord has shown me recently the biggest reason for why I continue to find myself going in circles is because of my heart. There are so many holes and scars over it, and I keep trying to find other people and things to fill and repair it with, but only He can. Only God can fix it, only God can repair hearts. Hence why you can do all the right things, say all the right things, but if you’re heart isn’t right then things continue to remain in a jacked-up state.

(SONG: Big Daddy Weave, “My Story”)

Listening to this song reminded me today that there is still victory in my life. I still have hope and promise because of Christ who lives in me. That is VERY real, regardless of the countless promises that were broken or times I was foolishly set on doing things my way. I consider all of that and I glance back over these some odd 28 years I’ve been on this earth.

Jesus is showing me that change IS happening.

It has not been easy, but for the first time ever I set a goal and I’m finally sticking to it. Midway this year I decided to teach myself two languages; the experience has been wonderful naturally and spiritually. I have the determination in me to keep going despite the days when I don’t feel like going over verb conjugations for Spanish verbs or practice writing the entire hiragana and katakana syllabaries. I’ve made a few acquaintances, and dare I say, a friend or two. It has brought about a desire in me to think beyond my four walls, to consider going out and exploring a world beyond my own.

God has shown me that He’ll use you most when you are least expecting Him to. There will always be an opportunity for your light to shine; doors will open right up. You don’t have to parade around with a flashlight and shine it in everyone’s faces. You don’t have to go banging on doors and try to force your way in. Just be patient and be ready for Christ to use you.

Through many pains I’ve suffered this year, in the hurt the Lord has revealed so many weaknesses I have. He has also shown me I have many strengths as well.

This is bigger than just making a New Year’s resolution. This is about commitment.

So, I want to pray with those of you who are like me. For those of you who keep finding yourself in the same rut or facing the same dead-end despite taking a different route…

Every. Single. Year.

Let’s pray today:

Lord, the year isn’t over yet but we thank You anyway. We thank You for keeping us throughout the year. We thank You for the things You have done and are doing in our lives each day. We are more blessed and fortunate than we could ever fathom, and for that God, we give You thanks. Jesus, I am asking to You to come in and transform our hearts so we can have a complete transformation. We desire a complete transformation not just in us, but in everything and everyone connected to us. We know that can’t happen though until we become submissive and obedient to Your will.

So Lord, help us to surrender totally and fully to You. Remind us that Christ still lives and change is already taking place. It began by recognizing we are in desperate need of something different. Things can no longer stay the same, so Jesus help break the cycle and guide us. Aid us in committing to You and only You. For Lord if we commit to You then we know there are so many promises and blessings we shall see. Not just monetarily or physically, but from within.

Once again, Jesus, thank You. Thank You so, so much. We ask all these things in faith because we know it’s not over. We may be tired and thoroughly exhausted with ourselves, but You have told us when we come to You in faith it WILL be done. When we ask of things that are of You in Your name, it WILL be done. It is already being done right now and for that we say thank You.

Lord, thank You. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

peace-be-with-you