That Thing – Part 1

I just looked at the title of this blog and I am like, woah… that is so original….Not…. Ok, granted it is a follow-up on I am DOING.A.THING!!!! so I guess it counts? Please tell me it counts… *insert kneeling and begging emoji here*

I am about halfway through my negativity fast and I thought I’d share an update. I have been keeping a “fasting journal” of sorts and, maaaaan, this is seeming harder than I thought it would be… Needless to say, I am going to tuck my tail between my legs and share the journey… There’s grace and freedom, right?

 

Woah there pessimism!!!

I learned a new word over the last couple of weeks… Pessimism. I’m just kidding, it is not really a new word. I did learn, however, that pessimism can be the root of so much negative talk. Let me explain: We constantly see the glass as half empty or, worse yet, we see the glass as an additional thing that the system is using to prevent us from moving forward. Just think about that for a second.

Pessimism is HIGHKEY the root of bitterness. Nothing amplifies this more that the writer of Hebrews.. No, seriously, look at this:

“See that… no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment” – Hebrews 12:15 [AMPC]

Lesson 1 of the negativity fast: Pessimism breeds negativity which breeds bitterness, avoid it at all costs!!

 

Freedom = No judgement zone

If you know me, you know Freedom is probably in the top five list of my most used words! Yes, I believe in freedom! I believe in one’s ability to be who they are without fear of judgement whatsoever. One of the practical guides for my fast was, “do not criticize others for being negative. Not everyone will be where you are.”

I thought this would be, by far, the easssssiest part of the practical applications. Boy, was I wrong!!! I am learning, in this period, what it means to create a safe space for those around you. Avoiding criticism does not just come from merely declaring your space a safe – and judgement free – space. It is starts internally! It starts with the thoughts you have, the internal analysis of the situation and that, friends, is easier said than done.

Lesson 2 of the negativity fast: Create a mental space of freedom. Cultivate a mind that is welcoming of all… Let your thoughts create a “safe space” before your words say it

 

Self-Introspection is key!!

Keys, keys, keys!! I’ve got the keys!!! Well, just one key!. Y’all, on day one, I did so good during the day and basically blew up in complaints when evening came… On day two, I typed a text and had to delete it… On day 6, I just couldn’t do it and – if you can read my journal entries – I pretty much just wrote “can we restart tomorrow.”

One of the biggest lessons from this month will be the importance of being aligned with your inner energy for sure. I can say, without a doubt, that I have become more introspective over the last couple of days. I pay more attention to my words, and thoughts, to ensure that what I say is uplifting to myself and those around me. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that there will always be an element of negativity. I will also be the first to admit that a vent here and there is healthy.

 

Lesson 3 of the negativity fast: Self-introspection, self-introspection, self-introspection!!!

 

First half, done… Second half, loading

LET IT BE KNOW THAT DAY 9 WAS THE FIRST DAY OF A 100% SUCCESSFUL FAST DAY. I had to put that out there just so y’all know life is a hit or miss. I made it out of day 9 alive, I was so proud of myself – you couldn’t tell me nothing… Day 10 was also the same. I am learning to celebrate the small victories through this. It is proving harder than I thought it would be… It takes 21 days to create a habit though, right? Which means, by the time this month ends, I will be the queen of positive vibes!!!

“But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way” – Hebrews 10:39 [MSG]

#Lessonatthemovies

So I thought of calling this post “Expectations- where’s the fun in that?” then I thought nah…I mean, hashtags are waaaaaaay cooler and the “expectations” title would have been too long anyways.And who likes long, right?

I am learning, daily, that there is so much to learn from each and every moment that I get to live, that each experience, action and even random small occurrences are opportunities to grow. That being said, how many times have you watched Mockingjay yet? I’m at 2 – and counting – and let me say, I’m en route to learning all the words the actors speak.hahaha

I got to watch the Mockingjay for the second time a few weeks back- if you are unaware, the Mockingjay is a movie in the Hunger Games series. While it was still fun, the fact that I had seen it already meant that I knew what was going on. I knew what scene would come next, when to close my eyes, and when to prepare for a laughter or a tear. More the laughter than the tear though, the tears were all gone by the time I got done watching it the first time. Knowing the plot also meant that there were some scenes that I was looking forward to, which meant that in some parts I was bored because I knew already there wasn’t much “drama” in those parts. On the flip side, I may or may not have started singing the song two seconds before Katniss did… You are very welcome movie theater people, you can hate me now…

In those moments, the Holy Spirit laughed at me hard, in the nice way that only the Holy Spirit can. I truly felt like he was like, hey, that’s how your life would be if you had answers to everything or even if God showed you the whole plan from the very beginning. I felt like a couple of things were highlighted for me…

1. Sometimes I want to know what will happen.

This comes in many forms: Relationships, friendships, school-focused decisions, the future – where I will live, will I have kids, those kind of things. I always feel like I need to know exactly what it all looks like before I take a leap. Just like in watching Mockinjay a second time, it downed to me that if I was given the opportunity to know every nitty-gritty detail of my life story then there will be parts that I just won’t embrace as much because I know exactly what they will look like and I am not excited about that. Like, where is the fun in that? I realized that there is so much to be enjoyed from jumping off the cliff and letting the wind take you where you are supposed to go. I realized that, being the person that I am, it wouldn’t be fun to go through the motions knowing exactly what it all entails. It is fun to discover things as you move along, to learn and unlearn things, to walk a certain direction and then figure down the road its better to turn left than to keep going straight on. I have realized and now, I am in the process of embracing that notion.

2. It is important to say yes

One of my friends usually says “don’t over think”. For him, it’s more about going for it, without letting your mind over analyze every situation. Two claps for him, he has the idea right there. In looking at the second play, it is very easy to refuse to say yes to parts of the story. You already have an idea of it, you know what you like and what you don’t like. There are parts to it that you realized you didn’t like the first time and so are not willing to give it a second chance. Imagine living your life like that. Imagine God being like, fine I’ll play out your life for you and then you will get to live it after that. There will be things that you will refuse to entertain because you know already what that would look like, you would miss out on opportunities, and failures, that would grow you and mature you because “they were boring and weren’t worth your while”. That would kill the faith and, more than anything, would limit the number of yeses your give – it’s hard not knowing anyways, why make it harder? So for me, it is appreciating that not knowing allows me to say yes to the adventure, to say yes to pursuing a friendship that has uncertainties and that may die off down the line. It’s taking every moment fresh and allowing everything to be new and living a life that is unpredictable. Now that sounds like fun to me!!

3. Say no to fear!!

In the Mockingjay, Beetee makes a very powerful statement. He says, “Fear is the most difficult emotion to overcome- we’re hardwired to remember fear.”…Imagine watching the movie of your life before you actually live it and then getting so scared that you do not want to relive those moments ever…Or even, imagine living through your life RIGHT NOW and being so scared of what your decisions will entail and what the results will bring that you don’t get to live it to the fullest!! Fear is real, but fear need to be broken…I am deciding to say no to fear in my life and to make decisions, acknowledging that they may not be successful but also knowing that I will get to enjoy the adventure more if I let go. I am DECIDING to live in he moment and allow everything to happen organically, with Jesus in charge of course, and allowing myself to negate fear and embrace opportunity.huuuzaaaah!!!

All this was a reminder to me that, sometimes I feel like I want to know exactly how things will turn out, I want a reason not to be afraid, to keep moving forward. I want something to hold on to. But really, the knowledge that the Lord is on my side should be good enough for me. In fact, IT IS good enough for me, and that’s that!!

“And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him. There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!” – 1 John 4:16,18 [AMP]

Reflections of a 22- year old!!!

So I have been 22 for a full day now and I am feeling like such a grown up!!hahaha… I woke up with a pimple even and I’m sure that was God letting me know I’m getting older…Older and wiser, right? Birthdays, I think, are the best times to reflect, to see what God has done in your life and where you are headed. As I was reflecting, there are a couple of things that I was reminded of about 21 that I felt like taught me some of the biggest lessons of my life, so here goes FIVE REFLECTIONS OF A 22 YEAR OLD…

1. It’s not about you.

The past year has come with a lot of changes, a lot of decisions and a lot of redirection that I had not initially planned on. It was a year of “testing God” in the things that He challenged me on. One of the biggest things was growing in relationships, learning how to put every single interaction and friendship in His hands. I was challenged last summer to be more intentional in seeking Him at a deeper level and the year of intentionality with Him really exposed a lot of selfishness on my part. There are times, in listening and walking with the father, that we assume that everything that happens is for our own edification. I was (and probably still am) very big on asking the question, “what’s in it for me?” Everything has to affect me right? I need to gain something out of whatever is happening, if something goes wrong it is all my fault and I probably have to fix that. If I am not satisfied then why bother? If I feel like a failure in life, go through a few days of anxiety or exhaustion then it’s all me. I learnt this year that, sometimes – in fact, many times – my journey is not just about me. That sometimes the Lord wants to give me a new level of exposure, a new level of growth and a new experience. I learnt that, if I change perspective, I will realize that every single season that I go through is intended for a different theme, a different lesson and a testimony for the future.

2. It is not about anyone else either

I love the song “Jesus at the center” by Israel Houghton. It is such a declaration of who Jesus should be in my life and, every time I listen to it, I am reminded that everything revolves around him (see what I did there, ha). This year, in many ways, I learnt that my go to character is people pleasing. I learnt that my emotions are largely affected by how people around me feel, what they think. I also learnt that saying NO is hard for me, and I am sure I am not the only one who would say that. I learnt, also, that sometimes I worry about people’s emotions when I shouldn’t and that I do the Lord’s job for him when I shouldn’t. It was a big lesson for me, and it really changed the way I view a lot of things. The central focus shifted so much!! I re-understood (if that’s even the right way to say that) what it means not to conform, what it means to thrive and move forward. I learnt that there are things that you have to do without thinking about the responses from those around you. Actually, scratch that, I learnt that if you have conviction about an idea, a dream, a way forward, then there is no reason other people should hold you back from it. Don’t get me wrong, accountability, council and advice are all good but sometimes our go-to is thoughts such as “what will others think?” “how will this change how other people view me?” versus asking God what He thinks and whether He approves and then going for it.

Both 1 and 2 reminded me of what the central focus of my life should be and that, I will be cliche here for a bit, “only dead fish go with the stream”. They, I will not lie, boosted my confidence in so many ways where I struggled with appraisal and finding identity in the opinions of those around me. Yes, I still need to work on these, but sometimes when I feel like I am doing things out of expectation (or not doing things out of expectation) I take a step back and declare, “IT’S NOT ABOUT ME, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU, IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM!!!”

3. Complacency is not an option!!

Complacency, according to the Webster dictionary is:

“a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better : a complacent feeling or condition”

There are many times when I have been comfortable in a specific situation. For different reasons, I get really comfortable and decide I don’t want to move forward or backward and just want to be at the same place. I learnt this year, in some hard ways, that once you get comfortable in the same place you start sinking. I’ll make an analogy: think of a sofa (or couch) that is always in use, you sit the same way in the same spot all the time. After a while, there is a sort of hole on that couch that develops because of that. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what complacency does. It fixes you to the same spot, stopping you for making those failures that will propel you forward or getting those victories that will push you upwards.

4. You are ALWAYS in transition!!!

I think this follows nicely. I remember, sometime this past year, I was struggling with something and I got so frustrated with myself and with the Lord. I found myself asking him, “why is it that I always feel like I am struggling with something?!?”. I am grateful that He can take all of my complaining because He simply told me, “it’s because you are always moving forward, calm down”. And of course I ranted on for a little bit more until I didn’t have any more ways to say the same thing to Him. I learnt that there is nothing lifegiving about going through a routine, and that the father knows that. I realized that transitions mean hard times, they mean challenging times and the struggles might look the same sometimes but they are so different. So I decided, I will always enjoy the ride, seizing the moment and riding along when the next transition happens.

5. Celebrate the small victories.

I was listening to a teaching by Joyce Meyer recently that enforced this lesson for me and I thought to myself, “thanks Daddy for aligning things so perfectly”. It is so easy for me to beat myself up about failures, mistakes, shortcomings or lessons that I fail to learn the first time around (hence lesson number 1). The Lord taught me over the last year that, in as much as it is important to anticipate the big successes and the milestones, it is super important to celebrate the little jumps and leaps as well. I realized that we get so focused on where we are going and how hard it will be to get there and we do not think of where we are and how hard we have worked to get to that place. So here’s to lots of celebrations for the small things in life. Also, being a sentimentalist, this spoke volumes to me because He was like, “you know how those small things resonate, why not indulge in them?”.

So here’s to another year of learning. A year for me to embrace the changes, to fail over and over again and then to succeed. Here’s to a year of zero stive!!! Bring on TWENTY TWO!!!

“Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations. Ask your father and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.” Deuteronomy 32:7 [AMP]