Blessed Be the Ties that Bind…

“Blessed be the ties that bind all hearts together in Christian love.”
How many of you all have heard that little benediction before?
Growing up I heard my mom and aunts repeat that to one another in moments when there was disharmony, but I didn’t grasp its significance.
I’d chalked it up to Christianese, one of those things we just say like “To God be the glory”, and “Bless your heart.”
But what does it really mean,
“Blessed be the ties that bind all hearts together in Christian love?”
What are the ties? How IS Christian love different? What does it look like to carry this out in the 21st century?
There is clearly a blessing associated with true unity in Christ’s Body:
An Anointing, Grace and favor, and life!
Psalm 133 says
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for  brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron,Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord Commanded the blessing—Life forevermore.
What ought to unite us is Christian fellowship, more than socioeconomic position, or childhood experience, or education, or national origin, or speaking the same language, or even social media.
We know that God has called each and every one of us to the ministry of reconciliation, according to 2 Corinthians 5:18-19:
Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
The gospel has the power to draw men and women to Christ, to His unfailing love and His eternal Kingdom! To repair the broken relationships between parents and children, among siblings, between friends. To heal and transform our surrendered hearts in order for us to love others as He loves us.
It has the power to unify even a divided, hateful nation under God indivisible with true Liberty and justice for all.
We know we are commanded to love one another: 1 John 3:23 NKJV
And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
This radical love is marked by grace and mercy, humility, serving, submission to authority, speaking the truth in love, unfailing constant hope… It is through the Holy Spirit that we are able to love this deeply and supernaturally, because by nature human love is fickle and self-preserving. By nature I might hold onto an offense, let the sun set on my anger. But God’s love endures all things, believes all things. It never fails.
In this hour, the enemy has released a torrent of fear, hatred, envy, strife, violence and absolute disregard for life, all over this country.
In this hour, it’s not easy to be a proud Black, female, Christian. It’s easier to use blanket statements about police, non-black people, protesting, Black Lives Matter, than to engage hurting communities one on one. It’s easier to let Twitter and Facebook lead/dictate conversations than to press in God’s Word, or pray for direction. It’s easy to be a passive leader.
In this hour, I believe God is calling us, the least of these in this nation, to activate our faith, to stand in the gap and represent this unshakeable Kingdom! To demonstrate, not just March with our coworkers, family and friends in coty streets, but live it out loud! To be on one accord with His Word.
This is a time when our ties, our loyalty, our connections, our friendships, will be tested and shaken–or proven to have a solid foundation.
Philippians 2:1-3
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

Blessed are the ties that bind. Powerful are the ties that bind.
Victorious are the ties that bind.

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#TherapyThursday| Going up from here

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Welcome to #TherapyThursday. This is a safe space, so get comfortable. Inhale, exhale.

Today I’m doing things a little differently.

I woke up this morning heavy hearted, weary and retraumatized re: Alton Sterling, Dylan Noble, Phillante Castile, India Kager…the list goes on and on…the films, the outrage, the mind numbing rage… The past 48 hours (really, 3+ years) have raised more questions than anything.

How can we pick up and continue life as we know it within hours of an onslaught of evil?

How can we protect our sacred spaces when the sanctity of our very lives are in question?

Who can bear up underneath this burden? being set as sheep to be slaughtered? How do we keep from developing cynicism and hardened, apathetic hearts? How do we rally and support one another tangibly, substantially, impactfully?

Where and to whom may we turn to trust to process continual trauma at the hands of law enforcement and the media?

How might we produce a grassroots network to call in family, friends, and established mental health support groups for us?

It is officially Minority Mental Health Month, and Jubilant July unofficially. As a proud Black woman, visual artist, an empath and a mental health advocate, I sincerely believe it’s my duty to help the black community in particular to safeguard their mental health. To comfort us in the wake of fierce brutality, to reach out and touch.

So this is more of a check-in than anything.

Hide yourselves for a little while, My people, until the indignation has passed.

Take time to self-care. Make sure you can still breathe. Engage on righteous terms today.

Gentle reminder:

I know it’s beyond tough to move out of bed today. *hugs*

Joy is our strength. Joy is not happiness; not conditional upon ideal circumstances, not temporal or subject to the temperament of a person.

Joy is intentional, rooted in the reality that this world we live in is not home, that Christ guarantees they can cut down our bodies but cannot kill our souls. Oh but they try. It is grounded by the fact that Almighty God is close to the broken hearted. He is father to the orphan, friend to the friendless, and our only hope.

Lord make Your presence known and manifest to us. Minister to us. You said blessed are the poor and needy in spirit, blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Grace us with Your supernatural strength to go forward, grace us with Your peace that’s personal and surpasses understanding, and Your joy. Make it bubble over from within us and comfort and heal from the inside out. We trust You. Amen.

I will defy the odds and expectations by cradling and protecting my precious joy.

be well.

Father’s Day: We Do Listen…

This is my 24th Father’s Day. Today we honor all dads, stepdads, uncles, grandfathers, guardians, mentors, cousins, friends, father figures who have raised/are raising children. Bravo and kudos to all who try daily; grace to those who are separated from their kin for whatever reason, and my heart goes out to those whose fathers have transitioned. Peace to you.

Quick shout out to my brothers S, Y & Z who became fathers this year–I love y’all, and you’re doing a tremendous job already.

Earlier this week, Ashley prompted us to write about the best relationship advice we learned from our dads, or what they showed us. I’ve been blessed to be shaped by quite a few men in my life, who dropped pearls of wisdom on all types of relationships. Here’s my faves:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.–God the Son (Matthew 22: 37-40)
😀 Jesus obviously gives the utmost of relationship advice! HE is The Mediator, the Living Word of God, the Prince of Peace, the Way, The Truth and The Life, the Messiah Who reconciled man to God. Yeah, He knows best how we are to operate.

“All game stops when the truth emerges.” –Q
I rank this in the top 24 lessons of my life because it applies to a swath of relational issues. Whether business, casual, or filial, platonic or romantic, the truth does eradicate all nonsense, manipulation and deceit. Period.

“At the end of the day, if something happens to me, all you’ve got in this world is one another.”— D
One day when my twin and I weren’t seeing eye to eye (ahem, fighting), Dad sat us down and taught Kia and I to stand up for one another instead of constantly butting heads. He did so in a stern and albeit morbid way, but it resonated. We always go to bat for each other now, us against the world–including sometimes, our parents!

“You will never regret having standards about how someone ought to treat you…
A man who respects your mind and your house is worthy of your respect.” –Q
Nuff said, yah?

Family–whatever you make it to be–has your back. Don’t doubt that.–Z
I’m understanding this more as the days go on, to trust and let folk help me.

“Allow a man to be a gentleman to you. You don’t have to nag him into that. Chivalry is not dead; it’s delayed.” –Uncle A

Uphold your word and your name–[righteousness] is all you’ve got.–Uncle R

AS for ME and MY HOUSE, we will serve the Lord! –Uncle P
Technically, Joshua said this to Israel before they crossed the Jordan (Joshua 24:15), yet my uncle reiterates the value of not compromising spiritually. This slips into the occasional rant/ disciplinary lecture 😀

Don’t hook up with the first knucklehead to approach you when you get out of school. You’ve got your entire life ahead of you to get married and have children; you ought to use this time to explore, travel, make mistakes. Go and make plenty of mistakes! –T
How refreshing to be told not to rush through my twenties. Thank you.

“People are funny, fickle, and fake–they change like the weather.”–J

I have my moments where I wrestle with approval and rejection, but then I recall this from many days in Tha Brickhouse. 🙂

There is nothing wrong with apologizing first.–C
My brother-in-law has “the patience of Job,” as my grandmother puts it. He also readily demonstrates a lot of humility and grace–I’ve never really seen him confrontational. He diffuses conflict incredibly poised and composed–probably because he admits when he might be wrong, even when he clearly is in the right!

When you love someone with even a piece of your heart, you had better tell them! 
You make time for who and what really matters to you.
You see who truly has your best interests at heart when your back is against the wall.
One pays a high price for being selfish: loneliness, bitterness, and blocked blessings.
Communication within relationships must be reciprocal, not one-sided. 
–D
Observations…

How to safe guard respect: Be neat and tidy; learn to cook, clean, change a tire, speak Spanish, whatever you got to know to take care of your own self without depending on another.
Know your role: your responsibilities and what you are accountable for. Accept your partner’s role: their responsibilities and what they are accountable for. You are in no ways ever responsible for someone else’s happiness. That is their job.
–Uncle A

A man that isn’t ready for a relationship with you right now will not be ready for a relationship with you later…
Either it is or it ain’t. And you can’t make it what it ain’t. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s not a goose, is it? –Uncle J

Befriend your daughters. Make sure your daughters feel as if they are the most precious thing in the world to you. Prioritize them; lift them up, and they will never bow down to accept anything less than. – J. W. Johnson
My mom still raves poetic about my great-grandfather and his outstanding headship and kindness. Biased, I’m sure, but esteem bears much weight.

You can’t make anyone like you. You just be you, and let them come to you.–Coach R
Ah, middle school.  Back when my ultra-sensitive self cried real tears over crushes slighting me, this guy set me straight.

Someone is going to come along who is going to recognize your greatness. Til then, know
you’re brilliant, sis. –Y

Knowledge is power–boys and friends will come and go as you grow, but what you learn no one can ever take away from you.
Make sure you pour into younger generations what was poured into you.
You can correct sternly and still be gentle.
Time you can never get back so be wise in how and with whom you spend it. –A. H. Jones
My grandfather showed us what to value…I love you Grandpa and I miss you all the time.

Just hang in there. If you really care about this person, hang in there through the rough patches. You got to go through seasons together to see if y’all work out over time, test more than chemistry. –M
My cousin really has a lot of wise things to say for someone only 10 years older than me.

Seize the opportunities–you’ve got nothing to lose. You can’t lose.–S

I could probably fill a book with all the relational advice I’ve gotten–and still more sure to come as I go!

What’s the best relationship advice you’ve gotten from your father/ father figure? Tweet me! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#TuesdayTea| Chapter 24

Welcome to TuesdayTea! Let’s get cozy.

 

4Happy birthday to ya, happy birthday to ya, happy birthday!!! 🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🎓🎓💁🏽💁🏽🙋🏽🦄🦄🙏🏾😂☺️😘😉😭☺️👏🏾☺️😁😚🐼😚🙌🏽😃

Jordan Year is over with. *cue noisemaker*

God has graced us with another year of life.
It’s highly likely my mother will recount for us for the umpteenth time, with tears, just how my sister and I came into this world, that we were miracle babies, born so prematurely that doctors said we wouldn’t last 2 months. And now here we are, 24 years healthy!

I digress.

Here are 24 of the most important lessons I’ve learned while walking this Earth:

  1. I was created to make God’s praise glorious. That’s my intrinsic purpose–I do so when I create, when I serve, and when I live righteously.
  2. It is a good thing to be sympathetic to someone’s plight. It is a better trait to be empathetic, to walk miles in their shoes and even carry them.
    Enduring pain primes us to be more compassionate to others who are suffering.
  3. I hurt myself and others connected to me when I act selfishly. Disobedience and disrespect always lead to some type of destruction.
    Be community minded.
     
  4. Every penny counts. Do not bypass loose change. 
  5. My relationships are vitally important because they shape the person I’m becoming! Mind my connections; nurture the right ones. Money is not more important than people.
  6. Comparisons steal joy and kill friendships. There is more potential in collaboration than competition.
  7. The fear (read: reverence, love, obedience, respect) of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. Pay no mind to those other fears. 
  8. Stealth mode is truly an art form–you gain far more by quietly observing and listening than you can by running your mouth. Only your ego needs you to announce your presence, when in fact, your presence will speak for itself. 
  9. All game stops once the truth emerges. 
    The truth is much simpler than we devise it to be. It stands on its own merit and requires no carnal defenses.
  10. I need God, I have always needed God, and I will always need God. Thankfully, He loves me to wholeness, is always with me, and His presence will always astound me.
  11. There is no time like the present moment to let someone know how much you care for, love, appreciate them. Hold yourself to conveying that constantly.
  12. Quit quitting. Quit being emotionally led and press in and through the valleys and plateaus in your life. You only delay the magnificent destiny laid out for you when you procrastinate. On the other hand, commitment is liberating and diligent execution is satisfying.
  13. No one can help you when you haven’t asked. No one can come alongside you when you haven’t gotten up to do the work. Ask, and keep on asking. Seek, and keep on seeking. Knock, and knock continuously, and the door will be opened.
  14. Mercy triumphs over judgment, every single time.
  15. You get to choose how much access you give to the people who want to be attached to you. Ask for discernment and sound judgment, to operate in honor, and to speak the truth in love.
  16. How your family treats you is how you anticipate the world will handle you. 
    So allow your family to fluctuate with the seasons, to become unconventional, and to grow–spiritual kin will enrich you.
  17. Rejection is okay, and necessary. You cannot make anyone love you, or accept you, or choose you over their own interests, no matter what you do, say, or refrain from doing/saying. We don’t recognize how we are being protected from things that could distract our minds, derail our purpose or disrupt our character.
  18. Always be generous, especially to folk who can never pay you back. Generosity and gratitude are always excellent attitudes to have. 
  19. Align yourself with God’s divine will; then you will have peace. Execute justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, and you will be blessed. Love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.
  20. Know the state of you at all times–your faith, your relationships’ statuses, your bank accounts, and your personal value:
    (a) Your worth is not bound up in your academics, or your career, or your talents, or your material wealth. Not in your mistakes, nor in your triumphs
    (b) Your value as a human is bound up in Christ, in your legacy, in your community. How many lives did you touch? How many hearts did you give wise counsel to? How many hugs?
  21. Love grants us the courage to dare to dream on a fantastic scale. I love people immensely, like the Ntozake Shange poem–I’m currently learning to love myself just as gently, patiently, fervently, unconditionally. To give myself second chances. To take care of my #mentalhealth and extend that knowledge to others–to have a ever-expanding vision of fulfilling God-given purpose.
  22. Get out of your head. 88% of the negativity/worry in our self-perception comes from getting stuck in our heads. Surround yourself with folk who can help you get out of your head. If you think you’re overthinking things, you most likely are.
  23. Let go and LIVE. Do not hold on and stagnate, linger, and die. You are stronger without it than you can realize while attached to “it.
  24. Learn the practical things, during the fitting season. This minimizes regret, having to go back to redeem time and make corrections!

Happy birthday to me,  happy birthday to me…

Hey, May!!

Announcements (cue the confetti):
It’s Lupus Awareness Month!! Wooohooo!! Purple ribbons all around!
It’s Mental Health Awareness Month!! Wooohooo! Green ribbons for everyone!

My Personal Challenge this month: Become a louder, stronger, better advocate.
Are you wondering how to be a good supporter of family and friends living with lupus or a mental illness/disorder?  No sweat, here are some advocacy tips for you! Below are my favorites:

  • Demonstrate empathy first and foremost. Always be much more willing to listen than to say, “Oh, it’s not that bad; just pray about it”–similar statements are dismissive of their experiences.
  • Create a safe space for easy-going conversation. Everyone’s friends here.
  • It’s the little things. Assist in the everyday things, like picking up groceries or helping someone having a breakout get dressed.
  • Be encouraging.

And, here go some additional resources for you, as well (Note: this is not an exhaustive list):

National Alliance on Mental Illness– Family and Caregivers:
On this page are articles for helping your child and family, finding a missing loved one, supporting recovery and maintaining healthy relationships, preparing for a crisis, taking care of yourself, dealing with police, and suicide.

OK2TALK.org:
A Tumblr account dedicated to youth experiencing mental illness:
“The goal of OK2TALK is to create a community for teens and young adults struggling with mental health problems and encourage them to talk about what they’re experiencing by sharing their personal stories of recovery, tragedy, struggle or hope.”

Anxiety and Depression Association of America:
Want to further advocate by learning and sharing the benefits of treating anxiety and mood disorders, OCD, and PTSD in American children and adults? Spread the word!
End the stigma with BringChange2Mind.org! 

Mental Health America:
This website is loaded with information about mental wellness, mental health screenings and other services, policy & advocacy, learning about specific disorders from anxiety to psychosis, eliminating stigmas, and getting involved!

A personal fave: 31 Tips to Boost Your Mental Health

MHChat:
Of course, I couldn’t close out this list without this huge resource.
“@MHChat is an online open access community with a weekly mental health twitter chat every Wednesday at 8:00 PM GMT / 3:00 PM ET / 12:00 PT. The hashtag for the twitter chat @MHchat is #MHchat.”
Join in and share your views with us tomorrow, won’t you! I’ll be right there, catching all the gems and major keys. 😉

We are dedicated to promoting and advancing a holistic interdisciplinary and psychosocial understanding of mental health and mental ill health.
We’re getting up close and personal this month! This year’s theme for Mental Health May is “Life with Mental Illness.” Share your experiences on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, IG with #MentalIllnessFeelsLike! 

#WYAOApril| Heal

*This post is for Write Your *** Off April, a Twenties Unscripted writing challenge. Today: Musings on Healing. Enjoy!*

“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” Malachi 4:2

I Am the God who heals you. Exodus 15:26

What happens when you suffer an injury?
Capillaries break and blood rushes to the surface of your paper thin skin.

You experience the sensation of pain; your brain synapses fire, your body indicates that something traumatic has occurred. Homeostasis disrupted, security breach. Must seal the wound and block from infection.
That’s bites, bruises, burns, lacerations for you, in a nutshell.

Healing: sealing the breach, repairing the brokenness, replacing with new tissues, restoring to a strong condition. It is rarely a comfortable process–in fact, it can be stiff, acute, tingly, and downright itchy. Even mending fractures requires setting, casting, fusing, and rehabilitation. Alone, without intervention of antibiotics, salve, and bandages, our wounds may become malformed. Bones misalign, muscles ache or atrophy, we end up long-term requiring others’ assistance when we don’t acknowledge and accept short-term help.

God often facilitates our healing through key people that He places on our path.

Addressing psychic wounds is no less messy, collaborative or informative.
To heal an impaired mental state takes lots of time, patience (literally long-suffering), trusting in God to carry you with joy and peace through the process, interdependence within a family and a community.
Isolation is devastating, but genuine fellowship in love uplifts and empowers. We heal faster within groups, shouldering one another’s burdens, carrying our weights. I speak life over you; in turn, you encourage me. There is more to sharing honestly than merely exchanging the most exciting parts to our journey–that’s just broadcasting. To dig deeper, we must five below the surface, sand off the veneer, make an incision to medicate that raw flesh underneath. The aim of group therapy is to access an open, safe space for you to be held accountable, to give your testimony, to commit to trusting and sustaining the souls within that circle.

Confess your sins to each other, praying for one another that you may receive healing.

I heal when I can touch your life as creative, as sister, as confidante. I receive healing when I humble myself long enough to become vulnerable, to be meek. Meekness, strength operating under self-control, draws and frames the support you need. When you are meek, you are not loud, boastful, resistant to seeing yourself reflected in others, but quiet, embracing the flow, the critique for necessary change.

Healing occurs in waves and stages, like grief. It is not always instanteous, nor is it so glamorous: when the breach is mended, this process leaves scars. Unpretty, discolored, awkwardness, raised patches & paths. Keloids, stretch marks, incision lines. It’s about what exits us as much as what remains and enters. Reminders of past injuries and afflictions will surface from time to time, and in the locus of your memory, you may relive the trauma, fool yourself into thinking, This presently affects me.
You know you have healed sufficiently (completely) once the once aching places no longer hurt when you touch them.
Hearing their name or passing that house doesn’t make you wince; you don’t downward spiral recounting the offense. You barely remember why you were so upset. You can recite the facts, and laugh out loud at how less wise you were; looking back yields gratitude in place of bitterness.

Therapy requires constant stretching and strength training.
We are susceptible to injury, to fracture, suffer repeatedly in the same places. Thankfully, we’re being renewed in the inner man day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16)

I am growing.
I am recuperating. I am rehabilitating. I am healing.

#WYAOApril| Complicate

This post is for Twenties Unscripted writing challenge, #WYAOApril. Today’s Musings: how we Complicate our faith by walking by sight. Enjoy!

Pending: Sonrise

At night, the darkest clouds roll in to drench us in anxious thoughts
At night, the enemy plagues us with air raids firing into the canopies
Incoming
seeds of self-destruct to kill our faith, steal our joy, wreck our connection to God.
At night, as we relax and recline, seductive demons slip into our wild dreams and torment us out of sleep
The accuser of the brethren dons a sheer facade of light to pace the Father’s throne room, citing all his petty grievances
At night, the questions arise–anticipating daybreak–
Lord, when shall You come through for us?
O wretched person that I am! Shall my Beloved deliver me?
At night we rail against the Most High with clenched fist and indignant tears, daring He prove He’s concerned about us.
Tossing at the sky our presumptions, our meaningless resolutions, screaming desperately at pitch midnight indigo silence.

At night we double over clutching our stomachs in agony.
At night we cry and howl in type as we slice paper thin skin with serpents’ fangs
Hoping our neon gods will supply us an answer.
At night we can catch the faintness of resounding truth if we would only wait
the stirring of the still small voice, if we would suffer long
For, He waits
for our tantrums to subside

before cradling us in His everlasting arms,
calling forth the moon and the stars to show forth His handiwork
To quiet our much vexed souls

At night, the Redeemer rebukes the storm and walks the waters.
At night, He strides the mountain tops and weathers the valleys with us
He doesn’t slumber nor sleep,
for night
is as day
to Him who is able to keep you from falling.
At night wonders never cease, Adonai centering in the midst of it all.

#WYAOApril| Love

This is a part of Twenties Unscripted Writing Challenge, #WYAOApril. Musings on love. Enjoy!

Memory no. 24:

The texture of tepid mists that ripen the tomatoes and make okra lilies bloom
Make me blush shades of the rose quartz near my womb
Your nails firmly pressed into my palms
keep calm in fits of laughter
delighting in fresh picked strawberry arugula salad
duck attacks by quiet manmade creeks
How many birds have we frightened now by being genuine
but my favorite feeling is a tie between
reverberating effervescent silence warmth vibrating in my blood
and the cadence of that knowing watermelon smile when you chuckle at my feigned ignorance, my melodramatic silliness

I’ll remember, I’ll remember, I’ll remember
When love paused on a damselfly’s back and illuminated her lacey wings
I’ll remember reciprocating with tea and witty banter & closed eyes
what three words in English verge inadequate to communicate:

This remains new.
***********************************************************************

She calls us the most likely least likely duo. Ha. I recall having sentiments that really defied any particular label toward you. Song of Solomon made a bit more sense–you know, when she says she wishes her beloved was her brother so she could shower with affection without judgment? Yeah, I overstood then. At the same time, I just really desired to be your best friend–we flowed pretty well; I processed my thoughts quicker and more accurately; i recharged, and so did you. Vibes flying and curiosity building–I think I probably always loved you, but ego, denial ran interference.

Love, I learned, we learn in context, sharing ourselves with other people, who are also flawed, temperamental, capricious, rough around the edges; they polish and refine you. Those people that break you down have the potential to show you the depths of your own compassion, resilience, and faith in the midst of immense pain.

No, I am not advocating for Stockholm syndrome. But you haven’t truly lived until you’ve been betrayed. Passed over and around, kicked to the side in favor of the pursuit of riches, status, sex, their own interests.
And given the opportunity to repay the evil, I didn’t kick back.

Are we least likely because we can’t see it coming? Are we most likely because we are so alike, we mirror each other?

I realized while you deliberately broke me down, as acutely as it hurt, that I HAD to feel more than just arbitrary fondness or infatuation. Self-preservation instinct screamed at me to retaliate. Finish him! Ruin him! But I couldn’t dare be so hateful. I realized as I braced the flaming sword above your head, I couldn’t lop off your head. Oh, no, I thought, you are actually this significant to me; your mind, emotions and will matter to me. I mean, maybe I actually love my mortal enemy?

Even while unpacking that,

Love is quieter and more conventional now, haha. I have a range of exuberant expressions (gifts and lyrical declarations) and some practical things, like bringing a sick friend soup. Love isn’t just good morning texts or liking the same music, not that cut and dry,  as five hour phone calls. Love is praying together for one another. Love is studying Scripture, then waxing poetic about how awesome God is. Love is protecting even when it’s difficult, and telling the truth at the risk of being on someone’s “bad side.” In fact, love is risk-taking, trusting, believing the best, hoping in the middle of worst case scenario, reconciling, humbling, transforming.
I loved at deeper levels, more profoundly, after I understood “unconditional” as without condition, clause, extenuating circumstance, or time limit. Desiring the best for someone’s physical, social, mental, spiritual well-being, even without being a part of their lives. Love is generous, hopeful, unwavering, as strong as death.

I love others, and you. Love is so much for than what we attempt (and often fail) to describe, signify, or settle for. It is healing inside out, refreshing, resplendent, radiant, transcendent.

  • You can continue to love someone without being reconciled to them. What a glory ache it is to love somebody from a distance! But it’s a protective measure.
  • You can love someone exponentially more, appreciate, value, demonstrate, and persist in love after you’ve gone through the testing, the forgiveness and restoration. You accept (not merely tolerate) the endearing and the not-so-cuddly aspects of their person, and decide to literally love the hell out of them.
  • If Love lifted me when nothing else could help, then by electing to love when I don’t feel like it, I lift, uphold, empower the “irredeemable.” That is radically great power. That is being godly.
  • I not only wield, possess, and embody that restorative power within myself, but I have great responsibility to love unconditionally.
  • Don’t dilute the strength of true, pure, noble, righteous, praiseworthy, excellent love with the impure motives of lust.
  • Love is holy, of one, sacred–not because it’s associated with an edifice, or chubby winged babies, or splashed with Florida water and anointing oil, or fueled by mere passion alone.

Holy is love, because it plunges in deep waters and goes through fire, yet emerges intact, purer and truer than 24-karat gold.

#WYAOApril| Roar

This post is part of Write Your A** Off April, a Twenties Unscripted 10-Day Writing Challenge.  #WYAOApril

AHC, I Indict You, And So It Stands:

How’s this for an impoverished narrative?!
What business have you getting fat from widows’ pain?!
Dishonest gain will burn through your linen trousers
you may not sweat before the altar
does that make you less unclean
When He said It’s a house of prayer but here’s the huddle around the King of 40 thieves
You bleed the anemic dry and deny water to desert-dwelling orphans
Why they get a ziplock bag when you sprinkle thousands of gallons on your great lawn
No coincidence that in the sole independent black nation in the west
You take bread from babies’ mouths

and line your pockets in blood trusts delight to bake their withered corpses in tropical sun
Ki lè yo chache lavi.
If the Cross is where justice kisses mercy why does your Crimson stain stand devoid of meaning

as drained of “life giving life” as your backdoor profiteering politicians            puppets stringed up out on the wayside
How’s this for an impoverished narrative?!
When the first will be last and the last shall be first
Pray you won’t have to beg all these poor Lazaruses
To relieve your thirst.

#WYAOApril| Ignite

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I caught a ride on a snow flurry in the span of an eyelash

my mind whirred and clicked many lenses multiple shots of lavender sky how I wanted to relax and get as quiet but I couldn’t help blurting whispers

Lord send Your angels of fire to wrap their arms tight
Around the homeless
Huddled beneath highway bridges or crammed in pissy doorsteps clutching rotting newspaper
I liked the image of the seraphim touching a coal to Isaiah’s lips
How comforting
To be so warmly fiercely purged from the uncleaness of our lips and my thoughts snagged on those several white lies I’d told stretching the truth to insulate my listeners in false security or
Protect me from facing the music that I was more self absorbed than faithful
The air hadn’t been so frigid.
My goodwill could shatter in an instant from sheer annoyance.
How did the toothless elder in the parking lot know she requested divine blessings over a sanctified head? And I count myself among the least.
Buried under a once crisp white blanket
In silence
The city
And I
Just
Exhale slowly.