Please Listen and Understand

Hey there everyone! I’m pretty sure people were wondering what my thoughts were about what has been happening with George Floyd’s death and with the protests. What I’m posting here was something I meant to post before George Floyd’s death in response to the racial disparity with COVID-19. So I’ll be talking about both things here. There is a battle that needs to be fought and there is healing that needs to happen. This is long, but for those who know me and read my posts, I’m pretty sure you saw this coming! So, there’s a phrase that I’ve been thinking about lately in regards to race and it’s, “We just need to see each other as Christians and view others only through the lens of Christianity.” It would be nice if things were that simple. However, life does not always afford a simple way of doing things. Even for a Christian. In this immediate instance, a black Christian. 

That leads me to the discussion of why we are still struggling to this day. There are things with my race that have changed such as interracial marriage, voting, eating at certain venues, being allowed into certain universities, etc. Churches like the one I grew up in are more diverse than they were. I had the privilege with growing up with multiple cultures and socioeconomic statuses because of the Central. I will acknowledge that progress has been made. But make no mistake, just because things have gotten better doesn’t mean racial disparities have vanished and that racism doesn’t exist. The racism from the past and racism now have different faces but are still causing the same pain. Some examples of these disparities are poverty, healthcare, and  black men who make up 80% of those who are incarcerated (we make up 13% of the American population to put that in perspective). So now with COVID-19 and with George Floyd’s death more of these statistics are coming to light. 

These statistics played out for me during my travels for work. I have to be more cautious than a white traveler with what contracts I pick up and where I stay. I have patients on my travels concerned for me because they have neighbors who are racist. In certain areas where I did home health, nurses have to ask if it is okay for a black therapist to treat them before I come out there. And don’t think that this is just a Southern problem, I came across this in the Northwest as well. I don’t mention these things because of the fear that people wouldn’t believe me or being accused of throwing out the “race” card too much. Also, if you think this isn’t a thing for the generation after mine (Gen Z), there is a friend who has told me their stories of how they have struggled with racism as well.

So, back to my phrase about us viewing each other simply through the lens of Christianity. In light of what I have struggled with before COVID-19 and George Floyd’s death, I have been hurting for the disparities that I have seen. I have been crying due to COVID-19 and with the injustice of George Floyd’s death. Due to the hurt and pain I feel, it is a struggle to see everything through the lens of Christianity. A STRUGGLE. Can you really blame me for this being the case? Ephesians 4:3 calls me to make every effort to maintain peace and that is what I aim to do throughout my life. But again, this is a struggle.

Another thing I want to address are the people who are rioting. I along with many others don’t condone what they are doing and that it doesn’t help the current situation. However, understand the mindset behind the rioting. If what I posted about how intense my feelings are any indication, understand that they have feelings that are intense just like mine if not more so and some may not have what I have to turn to. Keep ALL who are hurting in prayer.

This is my last point, I know there are some of you brothers and sisters out there who don’t know how to respond to this with words of comfort. You don’t have to have the right words here. All I ask is that our pain be acknowledged and help support with the burden I and other brothers and sisters bear (Galatians 6:2). A listening ear is all I need. And, because we are family, when a struggle or burden occurs in your life, I promise to sit down and listen. Because that’s what family does. Churches like Central have done well in the area of diversity, however, I would challenge us to continue to strive for deeper unity as Christ would want us to. I’m grateful for those of you who took the time to listen to my struggles and hugged me through my tears it is appreciated. Love to my brothers and sisters near and far.

Don’t Waste The Struggle

Hello everyone! Hope you’re doing well despite all the craziness. Cabin fever is definitely real right now!

 We’re well into this COVID-19 dilemma and some are not so worried and others are pretty scared. I came across a theme from Wisdom for the Heart and my meditation app. The theme was spiritual growth. My meditation emphasized that I should always be growing as one of my mantras. Stephen Davey from Wisdom for the Heart talked about how this time of uncertainty and waiting is definitely a struggle. However, he stated that this struggle shouldn’t be wasted, which was an interesting thing to say. I can truly say that my mind has been preoccupied by many different things and not always on the One I love the most. I remember looking at what is coming up this year and just noticed how busy it was going to be. With this pandemic going on with its uncertainty, there is definitely a possibility that I will be less busy this year. But I got to sit down and wrestle with thoughts that I have ignored due to being busy. These are thoughts I didn’t want to acknowledge because of the pain that comes and showing me flaws in my thinking. But facing them allowed me to grow in this period of waiting and to be grateful for everything that I’m blessed with now. I’m especially grateful for my health with what I do for a living. Also, unexpected things are happening with me too because of this pandemic but I have confidence that God will take care of me and I will always be where He needs me to be. Even in the uncertain and painful times. So, with what’s going on for us right now we can only emerge stronger from this and discover how creative we all can actually be (like delivering tissue by using a drone). I believe the struggle we are experiencing now will not be wasted but will serve as a reminder and a tool for what is important. I’m grateful for my brothers and sisters in Christ who are checking in on me no matter where you guys are from, to my co-workers who I honestly think are laughing to keep from crying but still make the clinic a good place to be, and to my dance teachers at Arthur Murray for continuing lessons online with all their crazy antics.

To all you people spreading encouragement and kindness with scriptures, writings and quotes please continue to do so. I’m uplifted by these for sure. Also continue to laugh like my co-workers. It is still very good medicine. Love to my brothers and sisters near and far, take care of yourselves not just with washing your hands and social distancing but with your spiritual and mental health as well.

Dwindling Numbers and Dwindling Hope

Hope everyone’s New Year is off to a good start!

I’ve been having this issue on my mind for about a month. I’ve seen so many articles and heard many stories in the news about church attendance getting lower. Especially with my generation and the generation after mine. With the churches I’ve visited over the last few years, quite a few of them are discouraged with the dwindling numbers. At some places, my mere presence gives some of them hope. Another thing that gets them down as well is the direction society is going. I’ve heard people get upset over certain people and organizations not holding up their previous religious standards. The fear of Christians becoming a minority is coming and there are fewer places for “refuge”. Some I’ve talked to have so much fear and dread over this.

I wish my answer here was something as simple as stop being fearful, but that is not a simple thing to do at all. Our fear is a part of human nature. However, my encouragement is gratitude and love for God. Gratitude in the sense that we can still assemble freely just about anywhere in the US. Gratitude for freedom of speech that can allow us to share God’s message. Focusing on love for God drives at any fear (1 John 4:18). His love will sustain you no matter what passes and no matter what happens to the body. May your love for Him continue to grow to assuage your fears.

Also, know this, no matter how low the number of church attendance gets, God will never let His Love and mission be snuffed out. He is all powerful! There is no entity alive that can shut Him down. Ever. My generation and the generation after mine may be lower in number in attendance but we still exist and I’m confident we will still press on with what God has planned for us. To add to this, think of the other countries in the world that have executed Christians and have outlawed Christianity. Yet, these people still spread the gospel and meet where they can, because of the hope they have.

If Jesus worked with 5 small loaves of bread and two fish to feed 5,000 people (and that number wasn’t including women and children in the Bible) I’m pretty sure He can work with the number we are now in the US. Hope this encourages you all! Love to my brothers and sisters near and far!😘❤

Unattainable Living?

I watched “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” a week ago. Definitely a tear jerker. There was a certain part in the movie that struck me to write this. In the movie a character asked Fred Roger’s wife what it was like to be married to a saint. She then stated she wouldn’t label her husband that and also went on to say that he is not perfect. At times his temper can get the best of him. His wife said he finds ways to channel his anger so it will not be destructive. There’s more to his life, but I’m trying not to reveal too much if you plan on seeing the movie.

There has been a running theme of those who seem to have a perfect life or super spiritual life that are revealing that their lives are not so perfect. In the middle of this year, there was a preacher of a megachurch who struggled for years with depression who committed suicide. Joshua Harris, the author of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” left his faith. I had my preacher today say that he said something hurtful to his wife and apologized. I sincerely appreciate his honesty.

That being said, all of us have someone in our life that we think is perfect or have some “secret” to their spiritual life. I’ve been guilty of holding these people to a very high standard that only God can fulfill. I also am aware of how some people view me as well. But, shocker, I have my flaws as well! I’m a deeply emotional person and if I don’t keep reign over my thoughts it can down spiral into a depression for me. I’m not the only one struggling with this because I’ve talked to some of you. I’m also a people pleaser, and there have been times I’ve listened to people’s advice over God’s and I paid a price for that as well. I know some of you who struggle with this too.

So, to all of you who think that if you walk into a church and will immediately catch on fire because of how you lived your life, know that the only reason why everyone else in there hasn’t burned up is because of God’s grace and mercy. Not because we lived life perfectly. He makes us good and created all human beings in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27). And if we’re created in His image, how great is our potential!

Love to all my brothers and sisters near and far.😘❤

Dancing and His Will

Hello everyone! I took quite the hiatus from writing something since coming to Oregon, but there is something today I’ve been itching to say. I love to dance! And I’ve been taking ballroom lessons, which is so much fun! Anyway, at church I’ve also been going through a study with the ladies group about God’s will for our lives. Why am I mentioning ballroom lessons and God’s will in the same spiel here?

Well….as a Christian we want to do God’s will correct? We also want a relationship with God as well? One thing pointed out in the study I’m doing is some of us being more focused on anticipating God’s will rather than being still in his presence so we can better hear Him. Especially at times when He is “silent”. So, when I’m dancing sometimes I try to anticipate the leader’s next move, especially when the dance feels awkward. My anticipation of the next move is sometimes wrong. What my teachers have been continuing to teach me is learning to connect with them. Once you figure out how to connect, it’s much easier for you to be lead, and you don’t have to anticipate the next move. And the dance flows so much better! So, same with God, we have to practice our connection with Him and we won’t have to try to anticipate His next move, we’ll know it based upon the connection.

Practice is key here! I have to practice my connection with God as well as connecting to my partner in ballroom dance.

Hope this encourages you all. Love to my brothers and sisters near and far.😘❤💃

Forgiveness…Only For You?

Been thinking about forgiveness lately. I often hear the phrase, “Forgiveness is not for the other person, it’s for you.” In all honesty, I don’t agree entirely with this statement. I do agree with letting go of hurt that is currently holding you back. I do agree with the fact that holding back forgiveness will continue to fester bitterness inside you and make you inclined to take that bitterness out on others who don’t deserve it. You may be justified in your hate, but you’ll never be free from the offense.
Bigger question still, what about the other person? There are offenders out there that are truly evil without a willingness tho change. But some reading this know that someone whose been hurt will at times go on to hurt others, because the hurt is all they know. And the vicious cycle goes on. Truly heartbreaking how that perpetuates. I’m grateful for the One who has the key to break this awful cycle.
Last question, what is God’s view on forgiveness? Is the reason why he died on the cross and poured out forgiveness for himself alone? I highly doubt that. He offered His grace because of Love, because of the initial good he created us for, being made in His image and to restore us from being separate from Him because of sin. We are definitely worth dying for.
I believe this, because I’m created in God’s image and because of the power He gave to me, I can forgive even major offenses that have been dealt me. I sincerely believe that is possible. Also, I see how broken this world is and how the Evil One only seeks to hurt and pile lies on top of the hurt. All this hurt is definitely not what God wants for anyone. May we have compassion on all those hurting.
For those going through the struggle of forgiving, I’m right there with you and am praying for you. I ask for prayers as I work toward forgiving the way Christ would forgive and not just for my own exoneration.