Tag Archives: Love

I Am Not My Hair!

Today is my birthday!!! I’m excited about being a year older, and infinitely wiser.

As usual, my birthday has led to great moments of introspection. This led to me reflecting on my hair journey, and my own voyage into self-awareness and fulfillment.

My issues with self-esteem have already been talked about in a previous post! Yet that struggle was tied to my struggle with my hair. I was never a girl who cared about my physical appearance, mostly because I didn’t think I was beautiful. I couldn’t put on makeup, couldn’t do my hair, and honestly, didn’t care to do either. I was more comfortable playing basketball or reading a book.

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I would often tell my Mom, as early as high school, that I would love to cut all my hair off! I never felt comfortable in my own skin, or with my hair.

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The struggle continued from high school, all the way through undergrad. When I first moved to Atlanta to pursue my Masters degree, I saw all these beautiful Black women embracing their natural hair. I was inspired to do the same, as I was embracing my own inner beauty. So I did the BIG CHOP, and begin the natural hair journey!!

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While I was more free, there was still the part of me that didn’t see myself as attractive or beautiful. I was too!! Too black, too fat, too quiet, too boyish; just too!!! I discovered that no matter how I chose to wear my hair, until I dealt with the internal dialogue I would never see the real me.

It didn’t happen overnight, matter of fact it took a long time. It happened gradually, day by day I begin to change my language. I was beautiful, I was pretty, I was smart, I was created in the image of God! My language changed, my mind changed, what I saw in the mirror changed.

Eventually, I reached the point where I kept saying I want to cut my hair, and so with the encouragement of my twin and my BFFF taking me to the salon, I cut my hair again. In the chair that day, I finally made the decision that I had wanted to make way back in high school.

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This decision was not a rebellion, instead it was the final embracing of who I’ve always wanted to be. A woman free of the stereotypical standards of beauty. My hair doesn’t define me, instead it’s a reflection of my freedom to be my true myself. As I finally decided to free myself of my hair, I freed myself of negative thinking.

I encourage everyone to be free to be who God created you to be. I am, and I’m loving it!! I am free, Praise the Lord, I’m free!!!

India.Arie said it best, “I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am not your expectations. I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am a soul that lives within.

Happy Birthday to me!!!

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The Experience of Love – Howard Thurman

After a  two-year absence from my blog, I’ve decided to resume writing. I will begin the relaunch of this space with the words of one my favorite Theologians, Howard Thurman.

The Experience of Love

There is a steady anxiety that surrounds man’s experiences of love. Sometimes the radiance of love is so soft and gentle that the individual sees himself with all harsh lines wiped away and all limitations blended with his strengths in so happy a combination that strength seems to be everywhere and weakness is nowhere to be found. This is a part of the magic, the spell of love. Sometimes the radiance of love kindles old fires that have long since grown cold from the neglect of despair, or new fires are kindled by a hope born full-blown without beginning and without ending.  Sometimes the radiance of love blesses a life with a vision of its possibilities never before dreamed of or sought, stimulating new endeavor and summoning all latent powers to energize the life at its inmost core.

But there are other ways by which love works its perfect work. It may stab the spirit by calling forth a bitter, scathing self-judgment. The heights to which it calls may seem so high that all incentive is lost and the individual is stricken with an utter hopelessness and despair. It may throw in relief old and forgotten weaknesses to which one has made the adjustment of acceptance – but which now stir in their place to offer themselves as testimony of one’s unworthiness and to challenge the love with their embarrassing authenticity. It is at such times that one expects love to be dimmed under the mistaken notion that love is at long last based upon merit and worth.

Behold the miracle! Love has no awareness of merit and demerit; it has no scale by which its portion may be weighed or measured. It does not seek to balance giving and receiving. Love loves; this is its nature. But this does not mean that love is blind, naive, or pretentious. It does mean that love holds its object securely in its grasp, calling all that it sees by its true name but surrounding all with a wisdom born both of its passion and its understanding. Here is no traffic in sentimentality, no catering to weakness or to strength. Instead, there is robust vitality that quickens the roots of personality, creating an unfolding of the self that redefines, reshapes, and makes all things new. Such an experience is so fundamental in quality that an individual knows that what is happening to him can outlast all things without itself being dissipated or lost.

Whence comes this power which seems to be the point of referral for all experience and the essence of all meaning? No created thing, no single unit of life, can be the source of such fullness and completeness. For in the experience itself a man is caught and held by something so much more than he can ever think or be that there is but one word by which its meaning can be encompassed – God. Hence the Psalmist says that as long as the love of God shines on us undimmed, not only may no darkness obscure but also we may find our way to a point in other hearts beyond all weakness and all strength, beyond all that is good and beyond all that is evil. There is no thing outside ourselves, no circumstance, no condition, no vicissitude, that can ultimately separate us from the love of God and from the love of one another. And we pour out our gratitude to God that this is so!

Big Girls Don’t Cry

I have been away from this space too long. This period of my life led to a long, severe bout of writer’s block that has made it nearly impossible to even think about blogging. I have attempted several times to share my experiences in this format, but every time I attempted to do so, I would find myself just staring at the computer screen. I had so much to say, but did not have the words to say what was in my heart and mind. I have previously discussed how important and therapeutic Writing is for me, and to not be able to do so has been very troubling. The last few months have been like riding on the most exhilarating and frightening roller coaster; filled with ups and downs, highs and lows. Let me start at the beginning…

I’ve indicated before that I am not overly emotional, nor am I one known to easily cry! To be more specific I viewed my tears as a form of weakness. I was always okay with the tears and emotions of others, but at some point I stopped allowing myself the same luxury. I am comfortable being a listening ear for people, and helping them to deal with life’s triumphs and trials; yet, it is not easy for me to allow people to help me process when I’m “going through.” Starting in April I begin to really struggle mentally and emotionally. H-Town sung, “Emotions make you cry sometimes!” My emotions made me not want to have any emotions. I reached a point where it hurt too much to feel, so I tried my best not to feel anything at all. I was pretty good at hiding my feelings from even those closest to me; I appeared to be so strong but on the inside I was weak.  I didn’t want to confide in my family, and I felt that my friends could not understand. I felt very alone!!!!

Life felt unfair! I had tried to live a life according to God’s will and commandments, yet it seemed very much in vain! What had living for Christ really brought me; what had I gained from doing it “RIGHT!?” Perpetually single and lonely, unfulfilled in ministry, jobless, hopeless, and unhappy; I was at my wit’s end! I was a minister who needed someone to minister to me; a counselor who needed someone to counsel me. I had been there for everyone else, and in my most desperate hour, I was seemingly ALONE! Where were the words of wisdom I had given, where was the person on the other end of the phone willing to listen to me vent! Countless hours spent being a beacon of light for other people, and now I was lost at sea! Lost in despair! Lost in failure! LOST! People implored me to just release it in tears, but that was not easy for me to do.

From April to early June, I secretly struggled! I pretended that everything was okay, but I was slowly losing myself. The breaking point was something that happened with my best friend. In retrospect, the situation seems small and not deserving of what happened. I won’t describe the whole situation because I would like to keep somethings personal and private. However, in the midst of our disagreement I felt that what I thought and felt did not matter to a person whom I thought should care. These feelings, added to what I had been going through, led to me ending our friendship and completely isolating myself.  The next few weeks were the hardest weeks of my life, as my life seemingly unraveled. Over the next 14 days, I cried 12 of them; I just couldn’t seem to make the tears stop. I felt that God was punishing me, I felt that my friends were punishing me, and most importantly I felt that I was punishing myself for not being perfect.

I wanted to give up on everything: church, ministry, relationships, and even life. I was not suicidal, but I was at the point where if death was near I was ready! I wanted to be free of this world, and its stress; and to finally be at peace with God! I strongly considered having myself committed to a mental institution, where I knew I could receive the help that I felt that I needed.

The lowest point also became the turning point for me! I went to a service one night and heard the worship team sing “He’s Able” by Voices of Unity! I sat in the audience, and it took everything within me not to scream! My heart and most of my head knew and believed that God was indeed able; but there was a small part of my brain that kept saying if God is able why am I still dealing with what I am dealing with. I didn’t have a response to that question…my seminary training and holy ghost sought to give explanations, yet that did not change the thoughts! I left service before the preacher got up to preach. As I traveled home, I asked myself ” What did I do to deserve this?” All I ever tried to do was to be myself, and be the best daughter, sister, friend, servant I could be! Yet those efforts seemed to be for naught. I was so TIRED! I didn’t know what else to say or do; I was done!

I decided to listen to Pastor Jason Nelson’s, “Place of Worship!” The song “I Shall Live,” started to play. As Pastor Nelson declared that he would live in spite of adversity and trouble, tears begin to fall from my eyes, and hope begin to bloom in my heart! There was no immediate change to my situation, instead each day was better. The tears stopped, and I was able to smile again. I was able to laugh and feel joy and peace. I promised myself that I would set clear boundaries in all relationships to ensure that I never reached this place again. Thankfully, after some time I was able to talk things through with my best friend, and we were able to begin to rebuild our relationship.

This situation was both a challenge and a learning experience for me. It challenged my faith, my beliefs about myself, and my mental and emotional fortitude. I learned to really take the time to care for myself, and that it is okay to do so. I also learned that real friends will tell you when you are wrong, and also forgive you when you make mistakes. Most importantly this lesson showed me that my tears do not suggest weakness. Instead, I learned that there is strength in being able to release these emotions in tears. Big Girls know that not only do they cry, but they embrace this ability because those who sow in tears, really do reap in Joy!

I want to thank: my parents; my twin sister, Deandra; my BFFF, Maranda; my friend and brother, Jamil; and my sister-friends, Cordelia and Renata. These people listened to me, prayed for me, corrected me, and showed me the meaning of real family and friends. Things are looking up in my life, and I’m grateful to know that God really is able!

I’m enjoying the journey and always striving to Make It Plain!

Calvary

I’m in a celebratory mood! This is the season that has been set aside to commemorate the sacrifice that was made by Jesus for the redemption of the world!

As I reflect, I am thankful for the blood that cleanses, washes, and still gives me strength from day to day! IT WILL NEVER LOSE ITS POWER!!!! With that in mind, I’m sharing a clip of Richard Smallwood & Vision singing Calvary!

Remember His Life, remember His Sacrifice, Remember that HE LIVES! The song writer declared that because He Lives, I can face tomorrow!

Always remember Jesus!

Make It Plain

I’m Doing Me!

Happy New Year! I’M BACK!!! I’ve been away for well over a month, as I needed some time to regroup and refresh. I found myself in a new and unpleasant space during this past holiday season. I was drained: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually! EMPTY!!! I was incapable of dealing with my own thoughts and emotions, so I was completely uninterested in coping with anyone else’s STUFF! On Thanksgiving, a day set aside to show gratitude for family and friends, I let my inner circle know that I needed a break from everybody, including them.  I indicated that I needed time away to discover what had led to this weariness. I’m grateful to them for their understanding and that they allowed me time to think, feel, breathe, and just BE!!

My time away allowed me to do some serious soul-searching, and deep introspection. I learned some things about myself and what I had allowed in my life, and I honestly didn’t like what I saw. I had to come to grips with the fact that I had placed my needs and wants on the back burner to care for other people. I was no longer participating in the activities that I enjoyed, and setting aside serious time for prayer, devotion, study, and writing. I could write more about what I discovered of myself, but I won’t belabor the point. Just know that I did not like all that was uncovered, and I had come to a crossroads. I could continue down this path that was leading to my demise, or I could redirect and refocus on the path that leads to destiny. I’m not dumb so I chose the latter option, and it has been one of the greatest decisions. I have had a renewed passion for God, ministry, writing, my family, my friends, and myself! I have resolved to be focused on doing things for myself, and not just for others. If I am able to meet the needs and desires of others, I will; and I’m going to do what is necessary to meet them for myself. Basically, I’m doing me this time around…Thanks Fantasia!

So stay tuned and always Make it Plain!

Have You Ever

…Loved somebody so much it makes you cry? Again I use lyrics from a song to introduce a new topic of my life’s journey. This time the lyrics of singer Brandy tell the story of my single journey into the crazy little thing called Love! I’ve been in love only once in my life, and it was both the most exciting and most devastating of events. I will admit that I was young, and refused to see what was in front of my eyes, which caused me to linger in love longer then I should have lingered. Yet, I can say almost 10 years later, that I am grateful for the love and the heartbreak. Here’s my story…

The summer before starting undergraduate studies, I participated in a youth and young adult Gospel music retreat. While participating in the retreat I saw this young man who I was immediately attracted to. For the sake of anonymity, I will call him Z! I thought he was so handsome, and based on my low self-esteem, I knew that I had absolutely NO CHANCE with him. So I committed to admire him from afar, and considered that an infatuation that would soon pass. Lo and behold, after commencing undergraduate studies, and joining the gospel choir, guess who I ran into in the choir. You guessed it, the same guy who I still thought was cute, and finally learned his name. Amazingly, we moved from associates to friends rather quickly, and as our relationship progressed, my secret infatuation blossomed into love. My friends knew that I liked Z, and used to joke with me concerning my feelings. While I had no intention of revealing my feelings to him, secretly I daydreamed about him finding out and reciprocating my feelings. I imagined our relationship growing into something real, amazing, and long-lasting. I even dreamed about us growing to the point of marriage, and children. I had imagined all of these wonderful things without any indication or sign from him that he even looked at me as more than just a friend.

Well my circle of friends knew of my feelings, and one night the four of us were all on the phone together. We had discussed some things, and then decided to add Z into the conversation. I was most ecstatic to have him in the conversation, and so the five of us proceeded to talk about numerous topics. Well we begin to talk about an upcoming recital that one of us was set to take part in, and I indicated that I was not a fan of this particular work of art that was set to be performed. This friend, whom I will call P became offended by my presumed mockery of the upcoming performance, and blasted my feelings to everyone on the line, including the object of my affections. Needless to say, I was angry, hurt, and confused; I felt betrayed and like the butt of jokes. After sometime the conflict was partly resolved, and only I, one of my girl friends, and Z remained on the phone. He acted like he did not understand what had been revealed, instead indicating that he was happy we were FRIENDS. Several weeks later, I discovered that P and Z had entered into some type of relationship, and felt that I should be okay with that as I had no claim to Z. To say that my heart was broken, is the understatement of the year, I was emotionally destroyed. If this was the end of my tale, it would have not been so hard to tell, but alas there is more.

After the dissolution of P and Z’s involvement with each other, Z and I grew closer together. We had grown so close to the point that we spent almost every day together. At the time we were attending the same church, and still in the choir together. I would spend time with him at his job, we were basically always together. You would think that after heartbreak I would have learned my lesson and guarded my heart, but I had not. I had people telling me that he was not really into me, and that he was actively involved with other people, but I had given him my heart whether he wanted it or not. The choir went on a trip, and we of course spent a lot of our time on the trip together. On one particularly day we were standing around and some particular person started to approach Z and I. Z immediately grabbed my hand and laced our hands together; I was in awe because to me it was the first sign of affection or even attraction that he had shown. As soon as this person passed us by, he dropped my hand and said that’s enough. I FINALLY came to my senses and recognized that as much as I loved him, he did not remotely return those feelings for me.

It took me several years to get over all that I had allowed myself to feel for him. I was guilty of refusing to see what was right in front of my eyes, and when I finally recognized that I became emotionally unavailable. I felt like because my judgment had proved faulty with him, then I could not trust my own emotions regarding any other person. I would seek relationships with men, but my heart was still broken. Honestly it was not until I started seminary, almost six years after our initial meeting, that I was finally able to release all of the emotions relating to that point in my life. I was finally free from the shame, guilt, anger, humiliation, frustration, and heartbreak. I could finally sing, “I am free, praise the Lord, I’m free; no longer bound, no more chains holding me.” Now I can look back on that time in my life with new insight, and have learned lessons regarding myself and other people. Z and I still see each other from time to time, and every time we do, we have a wonderful time with each other. I don’t believe that we can ever be friends like we were, but I’m grateful for his continued presence in my life. Mostly, I’m grateful that I did not lose my mind, and I’m grateful that I don’t  look like what I’ve been through.

Make It Plain!

I’m Beautiful D***it

Don’t be thrown off by the title, I won’t be lacing this blog with harsh profanity! Those who know me are aware that I don’t use profane language in my everyday vocabulary. This title is actually taken from a song that I was recently introduced to by my bfff ! The song is one of self-affirmation that encourages all people to recognize the beauty that lies within us. Check it out!

I’m using this song to shine a light on the evolution of my self-image. When I was younger I never felt comfortable in my skin. I was more likely to be playing basketball with my brothers rather than playing dolls with my sister. My daddy is an avid fisherman, and we would take family fishing trips on the weekend. During these family trips I was most often found inside the truck reading a book; preferring the escape of fiction to actually fishing! I have a twin sister, and although we are not identical, people have always found it difficult to know who was who. My sister and I are different in many ways, most specifically in our body type. Thus, people deemed it easy to call her the skinny twin, which made me the FAT twin! While I know that there were no malicious motives behind this distinction, it worked to destroy my personal esteem.

I was not a part of the “in-crowd” in school, preferring the close circle of friends. We were all Band geeks and we loved being different. Yet, even with my circle I was still different because I was not interested in losing the big V, and instead of parties, we would most likely be found in church. I didn’t consider myself one of the pretty girls, and never thought I would be noticed by any of the guys whom I found attractive. I was not happy with any part of myself; my glasses were too big, I was too dark, and yes, even FAT!

There was no epiphany moment in which I recognized my worth; instead it was a slow progression into self-awareness. This self-awareness grew into self-knowledge which ultimately led to self-fulfillment. The more comfortable I became in my skin, the more my self-esteem grew. Truthfully, I have reached the point in life where I am so Happy Being Me! I love ME, even the things that I seek to improve upon. When people tried to question my femininity because I chose to wear my hair faded; it was cool because I was happy. I may not ever be supermodel thin, but I am so comfortable in my skin that it no longer matters. So whether other people recognize it or not, “I’M BEAUTIFUL DAMNIT!”

Make It Plain