emergingfree

Christian and Socially-Conscious…One Woman's Expression

Archive for the tag “self worth”

Excuse Me Little “Black” Girl—Part 4

Ponytails.  Afro Puffs.  Hair Clips.  Barrettes.  Beads…with foil tips. 

Yes, you know! 

Braids. Jheri Curls. Candy Curls.  Hair Rollers.  Hot Dryers. Hot Combs. Ouch!  Protect your ears!  Wash and Press.  Perms.  Just Wash?  Nah! Excuse me little “Black” girl, let’s talk hair.

little girl smiling

Since I was your age I knew I had good, thick hair.  Hair dressers would routinely tell me that my hair was a lot of work, but it was what other people wish they had.  Thank God for hair dressers who have loved on my tresses!  My reward for sitting hours in those styling chairs and sweating under those roasting dryers were tons of compliments from the awaiting public.  

“Mom,” I recently asked, “why did I start getting hair relaxers?”

perm on girl

“Convenience,” she simply said, and with that I remembered the words of my many stylists.  Your hair is a lot of work, but it is what other people wish they had.  Convenience made sense.

Sad Girl

An interesting thing happened to me in exchange for this convenience.  It took a while, but I can now realize its onset shortly after my first perm.  You see, while waiting for my mom to blow dry my hair I would let my towel hang down and pretend that my hair was longer and stringy.  I wanted it to shake when I moved my head like I saw girls hair move on television.  I wanted to wrap it into a ball and tie it back.  I wanted one side of it to tuck behind an ear and hang down my back.  How convenient it must be to just wash your hair and it be naturally straight?  I did not have that luxury, so I pretended.  Have you ever done that? 

press girl

At the time, I did not realize that I was buying into the idea that the desired look was long and straight and movable.  I did not understand that obtaining this look came with a cost, a cost I could not afford.  So in my naiveté, I would prolong my mom blow drying my hair by leaving the towel on my head and walking around the house imaging that it was my hair.  Oh, the innocence of a child’s imagination.  Convenience.

Shhhh

It is only now that I realize the importance of the honesty and the positive messages I received from my stylists which preceded the hair compliments I frequently received from the public.  I never stopped loving my hair no matter what state I choose to wear it and a lot of that unwavering love is because of the hair stylists I have had over my lifetime.  In their own ways, they have always and without question instructed me to love my hair.  Unfortunately, however, I had begun to devalue it.  Make sure, no matter how you wear your hair that you never shortchange its value.

me upside down

As you can see, I have returned to wearing my hair without the addition of relaxing chemicals.  Go ahead! You can smile!  It has been an absolute joy rediscovering the texture and behavior of my hair.  And to think, I last saw it when I was your age.  Oh boy have I missed it, and the messages that it reinforces within me.

What messages, you ask.

Oh, we will talk more about them later.  I need to go and wash my hair.

Just wash?

Yes!  Just wash.  I am about to do a wash and go…and in case you are wondering…I still receive numerous compliments, from all shades of people although now I don’t actually need them.  My hair is a constant reminder to love and value my whole unique self, even in the face of convenience which may convey otherwise.  

me hand up

Love yourself little girl!  In short, that is what my hair messages me.

Who Do You Say I Am?

Today I did something sooooooo incredibly awesome as a result of accepting an invitation to be a Guest Messenger at a church.  Listen to the message I delivered earlier today.  No worries—it’s less than 18 minutes. (LOL!)  I hope it is a blessing to you!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YKJDy3sae4&feature=youtu.be

Conversational Focus

The older I become, the more I am realizing how I spend time and the conversations I am having with those whom I spend time.  It is an interesting awareness which I am finding, more and more, makes me conscious of my part in dialogues.  Let’s face it:  We, each of us, have a responsibility when communicating—as the listener and the talker.

Yeah, yeah, yeah….I know you’ve heard this before.  I had too, but recently I had an experience which reminded me that people will use you as their audience to justify their point of view and how easy it is to be that audience for them when you lose your conversational focus.

Brittney Spears Clapping

A second time they summoned the man who had been blind.  “Give glory to God,” they said.  “We know this man is a sinner.”  He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know.  One thing I do know.  I was blind but now I see!”  —John 9:24-25

People will see Truth in you.  They understand the value of your concurrence.  You better understand your worth—spiritually.  It has physical manifestations…and you better believe an audience that tunes in nonstop.

Women watching tv

  • A second time they summoned the man….”  Don’t sleep on this!  Just because you think a conversation is over does not mean that everyone has let it go.  Isn’t it funny how gossip seems to go on and on and on?  Truth will stop it every time though.  Don’t Get Caught Up
  • We know this man is a sinner.”  Note:  Words spoken with authority are not always words of certainty.  Truth is Truth.  It does not need a majority vote.
  • The man’s response, however, impressed within me an “Aha!”

Woman Standing On Rock

Here, I saw a perfect example of the application  of conversational focus.  In short, he was not persuaded by the excitement surrounding the discussion.  He was not influenced by the person speaking to him nor his entourage.  Fear was secondary.

Instead, this man did two things.  He listened and when he spoke, he spoke only Truth.  When you speak, do you only speak Truth?  Were you blind and now can see?

My 2015: Back To Loving ME!

Here I am again reflecting on the year—smiling, fully conscious of the joy I have in my heart as memories flood my thoughts.  I entered the year with a list of goals AND A PLAN.  First, however, I knew I needed to commit to being whole.  I was finally tired of holding myself back.  I had reached the point within my self where I had intentionally settled on uncompromisingly growing into my best self.  To do this, I had to return to the basics.  In 2015 I returned to loving me and it feels oh so great!

2014

Have you ever been afraid to be great?  I have.  Thank God those days are over!  How can I say that I want all of the blessings God has for me and then await them with closed hands?  It seems silly now, but it took a while for me to see my self.  I wonder how many people are like how I was, wanting better but not wanting greatness.  (Is that you?)  How many people are denying their uniquely-made brilliance and settling for mediocre because that is now the accepted norm?  Guess what, we are not normal! We are supernormal!  We are exceptional!

As I go forth in claiming the promises God has given me, I do so in humility.  This is a good thing as I have discovered the difference between being humble and having low self-esteem.  Oh, how fine that line can be, especially in a world where lowering the esteem of another seems to be a sport.  (Why does “Hunger Games” come to mind?)  Loving your self, however, is the counter to the world’s punch.  Admittedly, I could not love myself without growing closer to God.  It is a continuous process.  How exciting!

About ten years ago or so, a woman told me that the Lord is going to do great things in my life but I would have to learn humility first.  I remember this like it was yesterday because her words confused me.  I thought, “Who is this lady?  She has me all wrong.  I am already humble.”  Although I was woolly, I knew she was prophesying to me.

Had I known then what the lesson plan looked like for me to learn “humility”, I probably would have said, “Never mind.”  I may not have cried out for God to bless my life in ways only He could.  I may have settled.  Sometimes, maybe more often than we care  to realize, the blessing is in not knowing.  His ways are not our ways.

Having gone through the coursework and passing the test, I have now invested in the blessings.  They are already a part of me.  They have always been.  I just needed to return to the basics to locate them.  I just needed to love me, my humble self.  The world offers many temptations to that which it defines as “success”.  Humility provides balance.  Yes, “balance”–something to remain upright and steady.  Won’t He do it!?!?

3.26.15 Instant hand on neck - Copy

 

Book Review: YES!

Shonda Rhimes?  Private PracticeGrey’s AnatomyScandalHow To Get Away With Murder.  Yes, you know the one!  YES!  The one who has ABC‘s Thursday nights on lock!  YES!  THAT Shonda Rhimes.  No, I don’t watch them either.  Well…maybe Grey’s Anatomy…maybe.

WriterCreatorVisionaryShondaLand.  Shonda Rhimes?  Yes, you know the one!  College graduateMotherSingleDream CatcherHistory MakerYES!  The one who is not afraid to address “controversial” matters in honest, educational ways!  YES!  THAT Shonda Rhimes!  YES!  Sign me up!  I’m a supporter.

So, she wrote a book?  Really?  Shonda Rhimes?  Yes, you know the one.  It’s entitled, “Year of Yes”.  (See:  http://books.simonandschuster.com/Year-of-Yes/Shonda-Rhimes/9781476777092)  Interesting….

OK.  OK.  I LOVE THIS BOOK!  It is a great balance of honesty and humor.  I enjoyed how she intertwines her experiences, explicitly including reflective examples of race and gender.  (YES, this is her life.)  Rarely have I seen that done in such a matter-of-fact, I’m-simply-saying, the-world-through-my-eyes way.  Through the chuckles, you realize that she is growing and that you are too.  Shonda Rhimes?  Yes, you know the one.

I’m glad I made time (specifically three days) to read this book.  In its pages, I discovered glimpses of myself.  It helped that like her, I am a writer and can relate to the solitude of the craft.  Finding inspiration, it did not take long before I began to say, “YES”, to more invitations and to facing fears.  After all, have I loss pieces of myself in the safety and security of the “No”?  Maybe.

You know, I have a strong sense that a lot of amazing things are coming my way.  Life is what you make it.  I am saying, “Yes”, to new opportunities; to working to achieve greatness; to being happy, healthy, and whole; to being unapologetically abundantly blessed and great beyond measure.  I am saying, “Yes”, to living!  What about you?  Need some motivation?  Check out Shonda Rhimes’ book!  Yes, you know the one!

3.26.15 Instant hand on neck - Copy

Stirring

Something is stirring…..

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.  And how much more valuable you are than birds!  —Luke 12:24

Have you ever had a thought that lingers…and lingers….and lingers?  Out of the blue, it is pressed upon your spirit—first coming as a whisper then growing into a statement, increasing into a yell and settling as an authoritative instruction?  The more pronounced it becomes, the more certain you are of its manifestation.  Well, this is where I am.

Through a storm I came.

Strong,

Yet dazed.

I survived.

Rest,

I requested.

Refuge,

Granted.

Now the time has come to adhere to authoritative instruction.

beach bw

So now,

How much more valuable are you than birds?

God feeds them.  And how much more valuable you are!

I was reminded of this just the other day while sitting at the beach.  Out of nowhere came a woman, with bread.  Out of nowhere came birds, who ate.   “And how much more valuable you are than birds,” God reminded me.  “Do not worry,” God comforted me.  “I am with you,” God assured me.  Things will not be easy, but there will come things of ease.  Something is stirring.  Let’s do this.

Talent Wasted?

Have you ever experienced a time when it felt like you were down to nothing?  Maybe you were counting your change because your dollars had run out.  Maybe that relationship you thought would last forever had a deadline and you were left with your tears and wounds from what could have been.  Maybe you took a professional risk which left you holding the liability.  It is times like this when you may be motivated to reflect the most.  There you are.  So, what now?

Woman Praying

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!’  —Matthew 25:21

Lately I have been thinking about the lazy servant who, because of his fear and self-centeredness, did not multiply his talent.  I do not want to be like that.  I want all of God’s blessings for my life!  Don’t you?

Now, you know like I do that some days feel harder than others.  Likewise, some hard days feel harder than other hard days.  Then, there are those times —although such seasons may be rare— when it may feel like you are down to nothing.  I have felt that way.  It creates the perfect environment for self-doubt to take residence in your thoughts.  If not careful, it will become a long-term inhabitant.  Fortunately in my case, I was not looking for such tenant.  The idea of living in fear versus the notion of wanting to be a blessing to others and to receive all of the blessings God has for me are not one in the same.  I became clear about that quickly.  (Thank God!)  In doing so, I was able to enjoy faith’s oxygen.  I was able to think clearly as well as appreciate the complexity and simplicity of my unique make-up.  My soul was able to rest assured, knowing that many things would come if I remain faithful to the few.  I just needed to continue to be faithful to the few, and do so with the wisdom and peace that only God’s grace provides.  I just needed to follow God’s instruction for my life, no matter how it may look or feel.  I just needed to remember God’s work, past and present.

My Christian family, don’t you want to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?  Are you conscious of this desire?  Are you investing wisely the time, talents, and other resources that He is giving to you?  Are you doing what God has called you to do?

Listen, I am still learning.  I am still growing.  I am still making mistakes and falling short, but this I know and accept with certainty: I am the holder of talent.  It is in accordance to my ability.  It is to be multiplied.  It will continue to be. 

Remember, that lazy servant was conquered by fear.  He did not put his talent to work.  Don’t be like that.  Talent wasted.

Got Faith?

I have decided to be more conscious about my faith.  As a result, I am discovering that I am doing more things when my initial reaction is to say, “No”.  Every single time, I walk away from these experiences with at least one blessing.  Without exception, I reflect while smiling and say, “Look at God.”

Face

“…. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.”  —Matthew 17:20

Recently I heard a Project Leader speaking about a societal problem.  I found it interesting when he said, “I don’t believe we will solve this problem in my lifetime.”  Maybe we won’t, but his statement alone suggested to me the possibility that he should not be leading.  Lack of belief often times result in a lack of passion.  A person of passion is a person of conscious purpose.  A person of conscious purpose will work for resolution when one who lacks belief will not.

How many people are following people who truly do not believe that which they profess?  It could be in the areas of faith, love, profession, and/or as it pertains to social issues.  Being led by those who lack faith can be contagious and in fact a waste of our precious time.

As I work on growing conscious in my faith, my ears are sensitive to those who speak words that demonstrate a lack in theirs especially from positions of leadership.  I am a visionary.  Hence, I know that it is not in my best interest to congregate with a bunch of people who are not committed to having a strong belief in the manifestation of that which the natural eye does not yet see.  As a Christian, such association could be dangerous.  We may forget that our God routinely does the impossible.  Nothing is too big—or too small—for Him, if we believe.

It is easy to be misled when you do not know yourself and when you are unsure about that which you serve.  Many Christians struggle accepting that God has great things for them because they do not feel worthy and they do not believe He is the great I AM.  Many Christians say that we have faith, but never step outside of that which is comfortable.  Thank God mountains can be moved with mustard seed sized faith.

You know, there are SUPER talented Christians afraid to let their light shine brightly.  Far too many are walking around with dim light, if the bulb is working at all.  As I grow more conscious in my faith, I find it hard not to share God’s favor upon me especially when I have ventured into uncomfortable territory.  Know that there are times when you will receive your biggest blessings by believing in those things that others have in fact given up.  Know that your belief will motivate you to pursue things that others may doubt.  Know that even naysayers watch, but they too will respect His work.

Got faith?  Share your blessings.  Share how you have witnessed God’s movement of mountains.  Spread the Good News.  If he did it for you, He can do it for someone else.  Bless someone with that knowledge.

The Silence of Being Victimized

There I was walking in downtown Jacksonville when it happened.  It was in the mid-morning hours.  The weather was mild; skies were clear.  I was wearing a business suit, carrying court files as I was returning to my office from the courthouse.  Mentally, I was thinking about the tasks that awaited me that day.  There would be many.  My thoughts, however, were interrupted by sounds coming from across the street.  I turned my head to look.  It was happening.  The construction workers across the street were catcalling me.  How embarrassing! Mentor Needed At that time, I was only one year out of school.  I was still learning the landscape of my profession and new environment.  The family I had in the city, I did not really know.  At times it was lonely, but I was making new friends while trying to balance the stresses of adulthood.  The last thing I needed was to be sexually harassed, publicly humiliated, and degraded for being a professionally-styled woman.  My feeling of embarrassment quickly turned into being livid.  What was their point, really?  Was such attention really supposed to entice me to scurry across the street, distribute my telephone number, and wait anxiously by the telephone…or was I supposed to ask for their numbers and call them?  What happened to being my knight in shining armor?  Oh, the stories little girls are told.

While looking forward, I acted like I did not hear them.  They continued.  There were a couple of gentlemen walking on the same sidewalk as me.  They did not challenge the construction workers though, nor did they say anything to me.  I would soon be in my office building.  I would soon be safe.

You know, I never shared this experience with anyone prior to this blog entry.  When I entered the building that day, I went about working as normal.  Although I wondered if such thing had happened to any of the other women I was working with, I never asked.  I bet it had and we were just not talking about it.  The silence of being victimized does not negate the experience.  The memory is already impressed.

Hometown Experience

What do you do when people have a love-hate relationship with your spiritual gifts and talents?  “How dare you operate in your divine essence,” is what their rejection is actually stating.  Can you handle their repudiation and still be great, or are you going to allow naysayers to define your worth and in turn wither like a dried flower?  To my surprise, this predicament is more common than I first realized.

Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed.  “Where did this man get this wisdom and these powers?” they asked.  “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?  Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?  Aren’t all his sisters with us?  Where then did this man get all these things?”  And they took offense at him.

But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” 

And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.  —-Matthew 13:54-58

A couple of weeks ago I met a fellow Christian woman who is pursuing avenues to introduce to the world her artistic talent.  We had a very candid conversation about how she has noticed that she receives significantly more love and support for her work from people in cities, not her hometown.  Isn’t that interesting?  Not really!  Such behavior dates back to biblical times.

You know, God has a way of orchestrating a meeting amongst His children to meet a need.  My newfound friend spoke in truth, not in bitterness.  It was refreshing to hear her honest feelings about this and how she has grown to handle it with grace and humility, as I have too struggled with understanding this very thing.  You see, what many people fail to grasp is that when we (specifically, Christians) are operating in our spiritual gifts and using our talents as a service to people, we are doing so by faith.  The sacrifices we make are by faith.  The decisions we make are by faith.  The discipline we exhibit is by faith.  Things you can see and those things you do not see are all connected by faith.  We know that, but those who lack faith discourage. As a result, such continues the self-fulfilling prophecy and mentality that nothing good can ever come from a place such as this.

Woman Praying

That day, my friend and I departed not knowing when or if we would see each other again.  God, in his beautiful style of communicating with me, placed us again in the same place at the same time.  This time, however, I was able to see her work with about two hundred other hometown people.  They were impressed and gave her a standing ovation.

Knowing what I know, she is prepared to offer her hometown more of her gifts and talents.  There may continue to be missed opportunities, not because of her desire but because of the rejection of gatekeepers who refuse to allow her in.  By faith she is not afraid to step into unknown environments to share what God has given her.  By faith she will continue to be blessed.

Don’t let the heartbreak of your neighbor’s envy or their lack of faith deter you from being a blessing to others.  We are spiritually gifted and talented to share these things with and to serve others.  Don’t consent with those who devalue your gifts and talents.  Know your worth.  If the audience before which you stand cannot see your value, or do not want to accept that you are valuable, don’t be bothered.  Someone’s trash is another person’s treasure.  Know that you are treasured.

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