Monday, August 23, 2010

Self-Realization, Acceptance and Appreciation

I LOVE my hair....no really, I DO. I love the way I would get deep waves in it when I would wet it and pull it back.  Right now I'm going through a process with it...accepting and appreciating what God gave me.  It's curly as all get out and even when I would take a flat iron to it, it was STILL not completely straight.  I remember (and so will most of you who've known me for the past 10 years or so) changing my hair every month.  Long short, curly, straight, black, brown, auburn, red.....I've done it all. Aside from my love of hair in general, not just my own, and being able to do so many things with it, I started to think about my natural texture.  I realized that all that processing is WAY too much for my lovely locks, no matter how my hair texture was.  So I got to the point where I decided no more relaxers, straightening combs, flatironing, etc. (I still like to dye it every now and then.) I had to accept that my hair would never be blond and that it would never do exactly what I wanted it to do among other things.  After months of thinking and doing tons of hair research, I made the decision that I was going to appreciate my natural hair and loc it...let it do what it wants to do...man, did I get some flack from some people for that...but I don't care.  (Side note: If they didn't like it, they would have to take that up with God.) Measuring one strand of hair untouched was only 1", stretched out it was just under 4"....that was what made up my mind... I was breaking it off by managing it too much.  Some wondered if I had some major lifestyle change and my answer was no. 

Was I a pot smoker? No...(never been a smoker)
Was I looking at becoming involved with Rastafari religion? No...
Was I gay/butch? No...(most definitely not, I love my husband...and I believe it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve)....
Was I trying to be more Afro-centric? No....
I can still keep it clean and style it and (most importantly) it will be ALL MY NATURAL HAIR.

*Now to many of you who wonder what my hair has to do with my title, humor me and just keep reading...

As I was coming to realize the beauty of my hair I started thinking about the rest of my life. There are many things that contribute to me besides my hair: my mannerisms, my attitude (the way I try to be optimistic when the flood waters of life are about to drown me), my hobbies (sewing, painting or make handmade cards) and my interests (natural hair care for specific reasons, volunteering/mentoring, remodeling/interior decorating).  I've come to realize I'm turning out just as God intended.  He already knew but it was on me to figure that out with his help.  I'm starting to understand what my God given talents and gifts are and now I'm in the process of figuring out how to use them properly.

In figuring out what I was halfway decent at I've come across stages that all of us cross: Realization, Acceptance and Appreciation.

1) Realization
When we realize certain things about ourselves, we go through a "fact-finding" stage.  God put certain things in us to do and to not do.  He gave us personalities, interests, likes and dislikes. This is where we see ourselves in black and white and come to admit certain things to ourselves whether they are good or bad things.  We don't count the bad things as things that can't be changed, we just see that we have some less than great things about us, and possibly areas where we need to be strengthened in.  At this time we usually make decisions about what to do about the negative things and how we can further or maintain our positive things. No matter what our reasons are for changing or not changing, we will encounter these two things: Opposition and Support.

  • Opposition:  People WILL talk about you...and if they don't talk about you, they will think badly about you, Facebook about you, gossip about you, do anything they can to shed a bad light on the things you are trying to accomplish. They will "forget" goals you may express to them, dissmissing them as trivial or not important because your goals don't benefit them.  They won't try to aid you in understanding them, they won't because they would have to actually CARE (even if it's just a little) about you to HELP you.
  • Support:  You will find that those who really take the time to understand you and your goals or at least take the time to value that you are coming to your self-realization and setting goals for yourself will support you in any way they can (or at least feel comfortable doing). You may have to find clubs or online groups that have the same interests to support you in your endeavors if you don't find a large number in your circle of friends or acquaintances.  If there is something that you have an interest in, there is support out there, you just have to look for them sometimes.

2) Acceptance
This is where we accept the things about us that we realized before. God isn't going to chnage things about us that He put in place because we don't like them.  Example: cosmetic plastic surgery....people change their noses, lips, bodies to make them how they want...God didn't give us all lipo'ed bodies and botoxed facelifts.  He made us how He wanted to. Whether the things are good or bad, up to this point we haven't been able to change those things about ourselves. We have to accept most of the time that there are things that we aren't great at doing, while there are other things that we are good at doing.  When you realize things about yourself (especially when you see there is a pattern of it going on/not going on) then you can't deny it. I accept the fact that I have issue finishing some books I start. The realization behind it is that I sometimes pick out books/magazines to read that are genres that I have very little interest to me because they have nothing to do with my interests (People vs. Real Simple...Real Simple will be read, read and read again....)

3) Appreciation
When we've gotten to the point where we realize and accept differents aspects of our lives, we can begin to appreciate them and how they work together. We realize that all our interests, traits, likes, etc. all work together and help us in the areas where God has put us to use in. While others may not understand or like what you're doing it doesn't matter.  You have to appreciate what God has given you or placed in you and learn how to use it for His glory and that's all that matters.

So after going through these 3 stages, we will be able to see and experience that when we go through them we are so much more "free" afterwards....Free from haters (cause they won't bother us as much anymore), free from self-denial (we've learned to appreciate the good things more and to find the good in what we thought was bad about ourselves), free to help others (since we've gotten past ourselves and the "I/me me me" attitude to where we can benefit someone else).

Why don't you start your own path of self-realization and learn some things about yourself? It's rewarding and fulfilling to live as God made you....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Do You Like My Ostrich Shoes? ~Satan

So I went through a really tough time where I had been done wrong and in a conversation I had with someone (while only saying that I had been done wrong and the offense was unwarranted) I told them I wasn't going to worry about it, I had given the issue to God.  The remark I got was "What?! but if you don't address it, it's like you are burying your head in the sand! You should not just let the issue continue, cause it's like you're condoning it (the offense)." I responded to them that I'm not burying my head in the sand but rather giving the control over to God to fix it.  I trust God's judgement call more than my own reasoning, ANY DAY.  I started thinking about how so many times we bury our heads in the sand because of how hard a situation seems and willingly act oblivious to everything going on around us.  We give up and just let things continue as they are and before you know it, the Devil's played with our minds enough to the point where he has us where he wants us. We let him ruin our lifestyle, testimony, ministry, whatever we're involved in. At that point he has our hide at his disposal!  If your head is buried in the sand, who is looking after your body? (**Side note: Ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand, but actually just lay their heads on the ground, they're camoflauged by the sand/ground.**)

If your head is "buried in the sand" you have no way of making sure that the rest of your body is safe.  The Devil can batter and bruise us so bad to ruin us and then he will wear us like a pair of ostrich shoes, talking about, "Yeah you see these??? I just got these off the shelf TODAY! They're hot! I've been checking these (us) out for a while and wasn't sure if I was going to get them, but I finally did."  Nothing like the Devil to show us off to our saved friends in a (now) helpless state to diminish our use for God.....but wait, remember we had our head in the sand, so we're of no good use AND DON'T EVEN KNOW IT. In our minds we've still got it together, but we are actually so far from that....

There's only one place we CAN bury our heads....in the sand of Jesus Christ.  He'll take care of us even when we're not going to take care of ourselves.  When we bury ourselves in him, we allow him to transform us...but even then He won't let us bury our head, he'll take our WHOLE being....mind, body, and soul.  When He's done with us we won't be ashamed, beaten, bruised, abused.....or be  fashioned as a pair of ostrich hide shoes. We'll be made over with a new (better) mindset, with a new walk and talk, a new purpose and a deeper relationship with Him.  He'll wear us like a badge of honor for the way that we represent Him well....it pleases Him when we do right.

So what happens the next time I'm done wrong or offended? I deal with it the way I should and with the best attitude I can.  If it passes and is resolved easily, GREAT! If not, I can always go to Jesus and spill my heart and mind out to Him and know that He (already) has everything under control....The Devil ain't getting a pair of shoes (or a matching clutch) off of me....

Be Encouraged!!

Love in Tact or Love Intact?

Something I was reminded about....

When speaking the truth in love we have to remember to use tact.  Now we can say "oh well I'm just BEING honest" and meanwhile we are stomping on the emotions of others.  We must remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you want others to tell you undesireable news and soften the blow with tact then we need to make sure to make our own efforts to do the same.  Let's just say you don't care whether the person uses tact or not.....doesn't matter.....WWJD?....he'd use tact..

On the other hand we need to be sure to speak in love (not out anger, envy, jealousy or deceit).  We should not make it a point to be a meddler and cause contention.  We should always guard what we say because we can never take back words after they leave our mouth. What we say can either build someone up or let them down and we may never know how what we say affects someone's life.

Just as having Love in Tact and Love Intact, it's not just something that concerns our verbal communication, but it also includes our actions.  We need to be careful in all that we do.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What fork do you choose?

**Thanks to (you-know-who-you-are) for your email....you got my gears turning...

Many of us have gone to a banquet or fancy restaurant and sat down only to see that there's a large amount of silverware per person. We see many pieces of flatware but the most important ones are the forks...those are the main eating utensils we will use..(unless the meal is soup..haha).  Now as we consider all the pieces that make up a place setting all those things are complimentary.  They won't help you eat.  The knife is for cutting although you could just pick up a chunk of food and bite off it and the spoon can help you pick it up, but not securely since it's rounded with no pointers to "stab" the food. The glasses are for refreshment and the plates/bowls are to hold the food.

So back to the forks....you have your dinner fork, the main fork...the one we scan for first.  It's job is to maneuver food around the plate, hold food while we cut it, then to pick and secure the food to get the right amount of it into our mouths without dropping any (hopefully).  Then you have the salad fork, it's only job is to handle that salad with a pointed prong and you have your dessert fork.  It resembles the dinner fork but is smaller for desserts.

Just as we have to choose the appropriate fork to eat with, we reach different forks in our life and we have to choose which one is appropriate path to travel.  We have forks in our life with our jobs, relationships, and careers.  We have to be sure to look to guidance from God as the main source of wisdom and not be intimidated, distracted, or surprised by the differences we notice.  Sometimes we see a path that looks clear and easy, only to find that it bends out of the way and is a dead end while the path that may look problem prone just looks that way but was actually a breeze and got us where we needed to be.  I know I have come to some forks in the road and the choices were clear....give up or keep going.  I know I had times I wanted to give up, and start from scratch...no fixing what is broken, just throw it out and start again. Don't like this job? no problem, just quit....don't like these friends...no problem, just remove them out your life.  But I have had to look to God and ask Him, "God, WHY in the world am I here....and even better what in the WORLD do you want me to do?" Sometimes I felt like doing the right thing would cause so much pain....and yes, I won't say it was easy to get through, but I know I'm glad I did. Life is so much smoother when you just do as God wants you to....but you have to look at that fork and choose as you think he would have you choose.  Nothing like getting on a path to find out it's not where you should be.  If you find yourself in that position, take the next side street and get back to where you need to be.

Try not make a decision based on that first look, cause looks can fool you.....think about how the end will be....weigh the ending...not the beginning....God WILL guide you and protect you as you travel the path you're on.  He has promised us to keep us if we do His will and if you have chosen that path, then don't get discouraged. God will have your back, and if your friends are true friends, then they will too.