What Chains Are You Breaking

There is always something keeping you from taking that big leap of faith. Is it fear, lack of faith, bills, or not remembering why you even started this work in the first place? We sing songs that say that we want to break free from our chains or that we just want to be free, but we have not identified what we want to be free from. You have to be direct about your intentions and free yourself of the bondage that may be holding you back.

I know that I can start my own successful business right now. My apprehension comes in when I start thinking about all of the money I have invested in past projects that have not reciprocated financially. Additionally, I have a large amount of student loan debt looming over my head, heart, and handwork. So when I get energized to move forward in my personal projects I forget about those things, but when I see how much I put out every month to pay my students loans, I lose that fire and start thinking of ways to work harder and not smarter.

We have to recognize situations that drain us and not allow those things to control our thoughts and actions. At the end of the day, no matter how hard I work,  I will never pay off my student loans. The only way that I can ever rid myself of the debt I incurred to get two degrees is to work smarter and not harder. I cannot let the idea of defeat resonate in my mind and drain me of all of my energy every month. I have to pay it and let go of the idea that I could use that money to build an empire. Without my education, I would not be where I am today. I may not see the full return on this investment right now, but eventually I will.

Identify the chains that need to be broken. Name them. Decide that you will no longer be controlled by the thought of these invisible strongholds. Move forward in being excellent. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms.

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I am Finally in the Place

I am finally in the place where everything is working together for my good not because I deserve it, or because I earned it, but because I endured it. 

My boss told me to listen to a T.D. Jakes message (Do It) and spoke about how it motivated him to move forward on some major things in his life. I listened to it last week and for the most part it was just a good message. But when the message hit the 57 minute mark, I knew why I needed to listen until the end. It was Jakes’ last point on triumph that spoke to my current situation. The message was so powerful that I had to listen to that message again and again it spoke to my spirit in a special way. 

I can walk through this phase of my life fearless, because even if someone attempts to take my spot they cannot take my place. Although I am careful of who I share my ideas  and future projects with, I know that this is my time and my success does not hinge on someone else’s failure. There is enough room in the kingdom for everyone to prosper, so others may replicate but it will simply be a copy of something that is not going to get you to your place. It is not my battle to worry about others and to simply focus on the task at hand. 

I can look back and appreciate all that I went through was not mere punishment, but God moving me closer to this place.  Those situations were not even blessings, but place markers that show me how far I have come.  I speak often of growing up without my mother, having no relationship with my father, struggling to pay for college every semester and feeling alone even when I was surrounded by people. Every time I asked why, I never received an answer, but I would always receive encouragement that it was all going to work out for my good. So here I am basking in the glory of His promises. 

I never focused too long on what was going on and could not even fathom why these things were going on, but this trip has made me see that Gods plans were greater than my imagination. I told my husband yesterday that no one could have told me this is where I would be at 28, and I know in a few weeks, months, and years I will be in a house that I did not build, in vineyards that I did not grow, and harvesting crops I did not plant. 

It is not always about the specific acts, but the manner in how you carry yourself through the valleys and over the mountains. Sometimes we wonder why our actions don’t lead to results, big we never question our attitude. Your attitude can be your glass ceiling. Fix it and watch how the glass begins to break before you even reach the top. 

I no longer look to be a copy of anyone else’s dream, but an original of my own. I no longer expect anything in return for what I put out, because my expectation can limit my blessing simply because my mind is thinking too small. I no longer worry if it is going to work out, I understand that it is already done, I just need to get to that place. 

Live your truth. Walk into your blessing. Get to your place. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms. 

Do Not Feed the Fear

I am sure this has been said by many great thinkers and a few books have probably been written on this topic alone, but for me this statement is personal.  I have used this as my personal mantra to step into the unknown and believe that everything will work out.  At every major turning point in my life where I had to make a major decision, I was afraid and feared what I did not know.  Despite the fear that I had or that others had for me, I was able to focus on my dreams and not feed into my fear.

When I got accepted into college and did not have a plan in place to get me from one year to the next, I focused on graduation, making my family proud, and completing what I started.  When I studied for my nursing boards while working full-time, I focused on passing, making more money, and making the past 5 years of my life worth every moment.  When I decided to leave nursing and pursue a legal career, I focused on gaining knowledge, expanding my network, and having access to different opportunities.  You have to have a focus and it cannot be your fear.

As I countdown the days to embarking on a new journey, I naturally have fears that run through my mind as I pack, but I only allow them to rest for a moment.  I think about it and push it out by thinking of all of the great things that I know are coming and can come from this next opportunity.  Many times we begin to discuss our fears with others and allow that negative seed to plant and grow roots in our minds and spirit.  That fear keeps you awake at night, it keeps you from making sound decisions, and it keeps you from stepping into your destiny.

Someone recently told me, “You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”  Although I initially thought that I hate being uncomfortable, I realized it is only when I am uncomfortable that I actually take the risks that yield great returns.  I have been in DC for 11 years and had plans on staying for at least 2 or 3 more. I had to be broken down and detached from my place of comfort, so that my heart would be open for this opportunity.  If I would have been presented with this opportunity months ago, I would have turned it down because I would have been waiting for my ideal job.  My brokenness, my desire to get back working, and my openness to my personal definition of “ideal” is what allowed me to interview for this position and move my entire family there knowing that this was the right decision for us.

What I have learned over this part of my journey is to Fear NOT.  I do not fear because God is with me.  I do not fear because my steps are ordered.  I do not fear because everything is working together for my good.  My faith has sustained me even when my mind could not rationalize my reality.  You have to grow through every season, especially the ones that are tough to get through.  Many people talk about having tunnel vision but never discuss how hard it is to get through the tunnel to the light. As you walk through the tunnel you have to stay focused on the light and not fear the darkness that surrounds you or your situation.

Do not feed the fear.  Let your faith sustain you.  Greater has to come.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Don’t Be The Hold Up To Your Blessing

Desiring to be at a certain place at a certain time, prevents us from being at the right place at the right time.  When we are not where we want to be at a certain point in our life, we turn and begin to point fingers at everyone and everything that could have possibly prevented us from accomplishing our goals.  We complain and validate ourselves instead of taking time for introspection.  We waste time defending our credentials instead of yielding ourselves to the process of being humbled and learning patience.

The time we spend refusing to listen and learn is time that could have been used to get through and to where you are supposed to be.  Our posture is preventing us from passing through this phase.  We refuse to be broken down, we refuse to cry, we refuse to scream, we refuse to get on our knees and pray, so we suffer.  Our strength becomes a barrier to our heart. We want the blessing but we do not want to change who we are, how we think, or increase our faith.  We feel as if what we have been doing is good enough and anything more is simply icing on the cake.  But if you want to get more, you have to give more.

You can’t move higher in any area of your life without increasing your sacrifice, your skills, and your stability.  Many times we give just enough and end up with more, but there comes a point where you can only exude excellence and your sacrifice to get there, remain there, and grow from there is great at all times.  You cannot be running around wasting money, time, and your talents and expect to get to the level that many others never even get to see.  You can want more but if you do not give more of yourself and invest into your dreams, you will continue to gain but never achieve your ultimate goals.

Many people are very talented.  Therefore, when you proclaim to be talented and want to be recognized for your talent, you have to continuously refine your skills, take notes from the greats, and increase your value.  People are not going to simply see your talent and elevate you, but they must see that you are passionate, progressive, and punctual.  Timing is everything.  If you don’t see the urgency in being better than other people won’t rush to ensure that you are given that crucial moment to prove yourself.  Once you set yourself apart others who SAY they are great, you will be recognized as the one who can stand among those who you have looked up to your entire life.

Being stable has everything to do with being able to focus on the prize and not being swayed by the popular or easy choices.  Being stable has to do with being mentally prepared to go through some anguish, lonely nights, and potentially a road of many failures before achieving success.  Being stable is not selling yourself short because you want more now instead of the grand prize later.  You have to possess the fortitude, patience, and drive to keep going even when people stop believing in you, stop supporting you, or start to talk about you.  Your mind has to be prepared to not begin to be consumed by doubt, fear, or negativity.  You have to be stable and be able to steadily walk the road to the end.

We are the only person that can get in the way of our blessing.  We think that it may be others that hindered us but we are the ones that allowed those people to be in our lives past their expiration date.  If someone is weighing you down, no matter who they are, you have to separate yourself from them or they will drain or deter you from getting to that next destination.  Many people don’t even know they are being used by the enemy to prevent you from reaching your goals, but it is not their job to recognize their role, but yours and you have to be prepared to remove them from your life expeditiously.  The longer you allow those to leach on to and drain you, the longer it will take for you to be able to focus on what matters.

When we look back at the mistakes that we have made, we have to be ready to see ourselves for who we are and not what others tell us we are.  People may say that you are strong, driven, and passionate, but only you know where you have fallen short.  You know where you are weak and although your strength, drive, and passion may have been good for the level that you are on, the next level requires more.  I have learned to stop allowing my past to be my reason for not having great credit, for being so deep in debt with student loans, or for not being where I thought I should be.  If I did not go through those things, I would not have met the many angels that God has used to assist me along the way.  If I would have had a different life, then my compassion, empathy, and outlook would be different.

So I am learning to embrace my past and present and use it as my stepping stone instead of my shackles.  I have got out of my comfort zone and become okay with being uncomfortable.  I have decided that my path to greatness may not look like everyone else’s but I will get there when I am supposed to be there.  I have learned that the only person that is hindering me from receiving my blessing is me, myself, and I.  I no longer desire to be at this level, so I have decided that increasing my sacrifice, refining my skills, and working on my stability is what I am going to focus on until I get there.

Stop pointing fingers at others or your circumstances.  Instead focus on you.  Do not be the hold up to your blessing.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Redefining My Relationship With Religion

I have been very vocal about my disappointment and craggy relationship with religion and the concept of church over the past few years.  My generation is one of the first to take organized religion and church off of a pedestal and examine the structure and concept against what it has always stood for.    Many of us are struggling to reconcile the idealism that we grew up believing and the realization discovered from the critical analysis of an institution that has done so much damage to so many people.  This struggle has caused many within my generation to detach from religion, church, or any type of organized thinking that may be oppressive or controlling.  This generation refuses to simply accept the church for all of its good without discussing all of the bad.

Although I felt like I had found my dream church, I decided that I was not ready to be apart of that congregation because I needed to redefine my relationship with religion, or I would eventually be let down again.  So I stopped attending church and started working on my relationship with God.  I have always had a strong relationship with God and I learned to pray very early on in life.  I pray often, I pray hard, and I pray for myself, my family and many others.  I have read the Bible from front to back and have a good handle of the well used verses that preachers use to engage his/her parishioners with on a Sunday morning.  Despite all of this, I could not understand why I struggled with the things that were being yelled from the pulpit and the things that God was laying on my heart.  This is where my relationship needed more definition.

I have discussed this struggle with a few friends and received many different reactions and commentary.  I have a few friends who are just like me and would rather stay away because church is “not what it used to be.”  I have a few friends who are still into church and are able to separate those expectations from their relationship with that church.  Then there are the friends who go for the good and leave the bad right where it needs to be, with the person who brought that mess in.  I tried to decide if I was okay with being away from church forever and raising my son as a spiritualist or become more like one of the last two examples of friends I discussed.  This is what I have been contemplating gently over the past few months and strongly over the past few weeks.

I do not know how to become apart of something, yet be detached enough to not allow any mess within the church to bother me.  I do not know how to appreciate the good things of a church and leave the bad with the person that brought it to the table.  But my lesson was God saying that He wanted me to be myself and myself only.  If my desire is to be emotionally involved with a church, then that should be how I engage and involve myself in that ministry. But before he allowed my heart to desire being in fellowship in that environment, I had more redefinition of my relationship with religion and my relationship to go.

Growing up in a very religious household with my grandparents, my life revolved around church.  Everything we did and everywhere we went centered around what was going on at church.  All of my close friends were in church and we did everything together.  Church was our life.  Religion filled our ears and heads with rules to abide by and consequences that would follow if any of these rules were broken. Most of the consequences ended in going to hell, simply put.  So we did not pierce our ears, celebrate pagan holidays, wear pants to church, not wear stockings when wearing a dress, cut our hair, sit on the front row with our legs uncovered or any of the other rules that dominated our sect of Pentecostalism.  Now that I am free from the bondage of expectation, I realize that these words were a way to create normalcy but the issue was the attitude that came against anyone who violated these rules.

I look back at how my grandfather operated and I do not feel as if he was preaching condemnation but simply setting a standard.  Although I was young, I would listen to the sermons and try to comprehend what was being said.  I helped him with his sermons after he lost his sight and even heard one recently and yearned for his wisdom.  But many of the things that went on in that church while my grandfather pastored that church and even after he got sick and later passed, I learned of as an adult and that is what broke my spirit.  I was so angry that my eyes began to see many of the other terrible things that were going on in churches around the country.

I began to ask questions about other preachers in the pulpit like, “How can a man preach in the pulpit when he cheated on his wife?” or “How can a woman be condemned for having a baby out-of-wedlock but not a man?” or “What is so wrong about wearing earrings when people spend hundreds on gaudy suits and hats” or “How in the world is everyone going to hell if we all sin and fall short of the glory, yet only certain sinners are definitely going to hell?”  These questions plus so many more had me torn because I saw the church and the leaders within the church as ones who lived by the word of God.  I saw the church as a safe place and not one in which people were raped or molested.  I saw the church as a place that built people up, not tore them down for every mistake that they may have made.  I saw the church as a Supreme Being and not one created by man.  That is where I was getting it wrong. 

God revealed to me that the Church is just a body of believers who are trying to hear my voice and follow my word.  The Church is a place to worship and lay your burdens at the altar but also a place to learn from your mistakes.  The Church is a place where you replenish your soul through the word, fellowship, and service.  The Church is greater than anything one man could destroy alone by his acts, words, or sin.  Within these revelations I began to see for myself that I allowed others to make me believe that the church was equal to God.  That I wrongly believed that the Church was the only way to get to God even though I knew I knew him for myself and had a strong relationship with God outside of church.

I know that if something is for you, it is for you and you alone, but if you are not prepared to receive it or use it for the right purposes, that individualized blessing will pass you and be given to someone else.  Missed opportunities.  And NOW for me going to church is simply an opportunity to affirm what God has already spoken to me.  It is not the only opportunity, but one that is organized and built around this convoluted concept of religion.  The purity of my relationship does not depend on the purity of the leadership of a church.  But when I feel that I am not being fed, God’s word is not being affirmed, or I am too distracted by the darkness of a church leadership then that is not the place for me to worship.

Church is simply an opportunity.  If you do not seize the opportunity to fellowship, it does not mean that you do not know God, that you are any less of a Christian (insert any religion), or that you are missing out on what God has for you.  What is for you, is for you and God will get it to you through a pastor, a friend, an article, a song or by any means necessary.  That is how He works.  I have chosen to not be apart of any structure that does not build me up or support my current relationship with God.  I have chosen to take opportunities to affirm what God has already placed on my mind and heart.  I have chosen to be myself and when I can no longer be myself in that ministry, to search for another place of worship.

I know that God has a calling on my life.  I do not think it is to stand in a pulpit and preach a word but I know that it is to spread His word.  I understand that no matter how far I run from religion or church that I cannot run from God.  I believe that this generation will get back to the relationship and stray from the religion.  I want my son to experience the love and support of a church community that I have received over the years.  I promise to protect him from the evil within and to answer the questions that stir up some sort of doubt in his mind about what has been said to him from a religious leader or teacher.  I vow to approach this church thing differently so that no man can disappoint me and push me away from something I love.  I love to fellowship.  I love to worship.  I love to praise.  I am a church lady (as my friend often reminds me) and I can be that person without being caught up in who is delivering the word and more invested in what is being delivered through the word.

I am going to continue redefining my relationship with religion until I settle in a place where I am on a solid rock.  This is literally the beginning of a series of posts about my own struggles with my faith and reconciliation with what I have been taught and what I have learned or believe is truth.  I know many people won’t understand this post or agree and I can accept that, but for those who know that there has to be a change in the way we connect with those in this generation that seek God then I welcome your comments and opinions.

I will never stop walking this walk.  Who helps guide my walk may change but where I am going will not.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.