What’s Beneath The Surface? (Aug 2007)

What do you have beneath the surface?

What motivates you to keep on doing what you do? Why do you say the things you do, go to the places you go and even wear the clothing you do?

What lies within your spirit?

What I’ve discovered with many of us is that we’ve been taught principles, “ten steps to this or that”, creeds, recited prayers, declared promises and borrowed beloved phrases and sayings from other gifted orators and writers. But after you’ve internalized all of that, what’s next? What do you do with all that information? What types of decisions do you make based on what you now know? Do you use what you know to take you to another level?

I know I’ve asked a lot of questions within the last few seconds, but these are questions I’ve asked myself time and again. A few blogs earlier I spoke about being real. Now this is where the “realness” begins: What do you do with what you know?

Many of us were raised on tele-evangelists, powerhouse sermons and real-life examples of the Christian faith. Others of us saw just the opposite: Maybe our parents were never married, maybe we have uncles who molested nieces and nephews, maybe our dads beat our moms when under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But what I’ve learned about life and people is this: No matter what we’ve been exposed to, no matter where we came from, no matter what others may have said to us or about us, we choose what lies beneath our surface. We choose what we believe. We choose whom we follow. We decide whether we’ll go with the flow or stand out in a crowd. We decide to live a mediocre life or soar into the heavens (literally or figuratively) and make a difference.

So what lies beneath your surface? Hate? Self-disgust? Anger? Mistrust? Pretense? Deception? Unforgiveness? Bitterness? Pride? Hurt? Jealousy? Or is it the wish to make a difference in the lives of everyone you meet? Or do you have love just beneath your surface? Genuineness, maybe? Forgiveness? A softened heart? An open mind?

What’s beneath the surface? Whatever lies beneath your surface helps to decide where you end up in life. So if you are pretending to be who you’re not, look into becoming the real you. Don’t be ashamed of yourself, because there is only one of you. There are no other “you’s” out there, even if you are an identical twin. So if you hate or are envious, get that handled by asking Jesus to come in and heal your spirit. Hatred and envy twists everything. Again, this is as a result of you not loving the real you. Admit your shortcomings to God and make the decision to love you – and even love others! It is very hard at first (I know – been there, done that), but it can be done!

If you have love beneath your surface, keep loving. Some may think you are not real, but with time they’ll see the truth in your life and your witness. Because I’m a giver (in every way) I find that many try to just take and hope I won’t notice that they’re there only for the handout. I see it, but I still give. Why? Because of who I am below the surface. I must give, and I also protect others from unnecessary harm. Things I could do to hurt or “mess others up” I pass it by because within my heart is love, forgiveness and a heart of giving. I can’t help it….

So, my friends, check what’s beneath your surface. What makes you, you? What motivates you? What do you think about when you are alone? What types of friends do you keep? Do you have any who will speak the truth? Do you have any who will push you on to greatness? Or do you have a whole crew of “remember when” friends? Your old pals may not fit where you’re going! Think of that….

So, look at the environment you grew up in, look at the experiences you’ve had and look at the impact you’ve made in the lives of others. Are you happy with it? Can you change anything? Whatever you have control over, you can change. Don’t ever think that because you’ve messed up, because you were born and raised in the projects or because you are ‘slow’ academically that you have nothing to offer to the world. Consider this: Dr. Ben Carson, one of the world’s renowned brain surgeons, was raised in poverty in a single-parent home. But because of his mother’s sacrifices and his wish to change the world, he is where he his today. Today I heard a bit about the history of George Foreman. He too was from a life of abject poverty where nobody in his family had ever amounted to anything. But we know him, right??

In that same way, we can get to know you too. Do you have a life-dream beneath the surface? A song waiting to be sung? A poem, rap or play in your spirit that has to get out there? One person’s autobiography I am waiting to read is that of Tyler Perry. He’s hinted here and there of his struggles from being totally unknown, impoverished and facing many obstacles to becoming one of the most famous writers and actors of all time! Do you have a story to share with the world? I know I do. I’ve been asked many times about writing a book, and I must do so soon.  (Update: It is written! Editing stages at this time.)

What’s beneath your surface? A sermon for the world to hear? A choreographed dance that others need to see and appreciate? A business venture that will tap a little known market? Are you ready to show what’s beneath your surface? Don’t be shy! God has made you one-of-a-kind, so don’t expect to see the same thing out there already. Your story, your style, your writing, is different from anyone else’s. Don’t be afraid to show who you really are!

We’re all waiting with bated breaths, expecting to see what you’ve hidden beneath your surface!

High Value and Honor (Dec 2007)

 

I haven’t written in a long time (I’m usually your weekly blogger type), but I felt the need to share something that isn’t new news, but just something that stood out for me this week.

A gentleman with whom I work was discussing with his peers his complex plan to impress his girlfriend of two years with just the right diamond in the best setting he can afford. He knew from almost the beginning that she was “the one”, but he just wanted to confirm it. Over the couple of years they’ve been together, they’ve vacationed, visited relatives from both sides and added many miles to automobiles to visit each other, etc. I remember conversations where he’d say to her, “I know you want me to come over, but you’re exhausted. Why don’t you rest tonight then I’ll stop by tomorrow.” I would sigh when I heard that…..

Now do not think for a moment that I’m endorsing everything I just mentioned; it was highlighted for me to make a point. Whatever and whomever we value, we will endorse its value with our honor. We will cherish it and make sure it has the best treatment. If what we value is a person, we will give him or her the best we can offer (financially, emotionally, physically and so on). Do you know what is the best you can offer to someone else aside from your money and taking them to the best restaurants or on the best vacations? Your time and your undivided attention.

Yes, your time. Your undivided attention. Honoring and respecting someone is best demonstrated with how attentively we care for the other person’s needs. We will bend over backwards to surprise our lover or our children (or our bosses) and just to see smiles of surprise, satisfaction or excitement on their faces is enough.

The absolute best situation is when this is a two-way street. Nothing hurts more when someone values another more highly than they are valued in return. Another thing I’ve realized is this: When we love ourselves and have a lot of self-respect, it is easy to love others unselfishly. The opposite is also true. Many who do not know how to show love and how to give respect and honor on others are usually having a difficult time loving and respecting themselves. When we love unselfishly then we don’t have to be on an intense search to find this honorable love for ourselves – it will somehow come to us. I think of a magnet when I state this.

As I am healing (both inside and out), I am preparing my heart for the love that places a high value on me. Of course, God already loves me in that way, but as I heal from my previously painful life and begin to love myself as I need to do, that love will come to me; I won’t need to search for it.

I will wait.

 

Turn Your Pain Into Ministry (Aug 2007)

Lucinda Moore, one of my Facebook & Twitter friends, sings “Turn Your Pressure Into Praise” and is actually writing a book on her life at this moment. (Blessings, Lucinda!)

My theme in this blog is turning my pain into a place of ministering into the lives of others. As I’ve written over the past several months, I’ve received many encouraging messages via email and even via phone saying “You should write a book.” I believe I shall, eventually, but I don’t think the time has yet come for that to happen. There is so much more that I need to experience and work through, so much so that I know the book would be considered unfinished if I attempted to take that on now. (Update: My manuscript is being edited now!)

But anyway, my reason for writing again is I wanted to share this: I am beginning to understand the reason for my pain. This is why I’ve written publicly and sharing it with anyone who will listen. Why, because my pain is not just for me to endure. My pain is meant to help someone else. I strongly believe that, and in fact, nothing else makes sense to me than other than that. This is why I stated in an earlier blog that it is useless to hide our pain, our past and our mistakes, because others are watching and learning (or if we’re hiding it they’re not learning) from those of us who walk this Christian pathway. I know my fellow employees, family members and friends are seeing these crazy things happening to me and are wondering “Why?” but my attitude and my thankfulness to God in spite of it all makes all the difference.

I remember speaking with a friend of mine several years ago. She went through an abusive marriage, a horrendous divorce and even has repercussions from that divorce until this day. As she was being publicly humiliated by her ex-husband and as many people sided with him because he was such a slick person, a couple sat on the sidelines then eventually turned against her without a proper explanation. Later on when the truth came out that she had not fabricated any of what she was experiencing, they came to her and apologized. Then they made a confession. Years before, their marriage had many bumps as well, but they worked through their issues and today there are no visible reminders of their past experiences. Immediately my friend lashed out at them (and I couldn’t blame her). Why? Because they stood by and watched her suffer, knowing that they had the tools and the experience that could have helped her through her pain, but because they labeled it “their” pain, they did not step forward to help her. I felt badly while I listened to her recount the story and I made a promise to myself never to do that to anyone else.

This is why I write.

Many times we say to ourselves when we experience pain, humiliation or some other situation, “Why me?” But do you know what we should really be saying? “Why NOT me?” I’ve found myself telling God on several occasions, “Thank You for the vote of confidence, but I wish You’d stop putting so many of these burdens on my shoulders!” But then I reflect on Job, a man discussed in the Bible, who lived an upright life and who tried to do the right thing every day and still lost it all.

But who remembers the last chapter of Job? He received double after it was all over! His last 10 children were the most handsome and the most beautiful in all the land, even more than the first 10 who died, and if he was rich at the beginning of the book of Job, he was FILTHY rich by the end! Now I don’t dwell too much on riches as I believe it’s going to happen for me based on the fact that I have to help people, and I must be free to help as many people as I can in any way that I can. Financial prosperity is the only way I’ll be able to do so unhindered. But that’s really not the point in all of this. Job was tested, tried and stretched in ways unimaginable for any human, yet he passed the test.

I too will pass this test, because I must be able to recount to the world how God healed my body, delivered my son from his issues, placed us in a new, wonderful family and how He is actively using our lives to minister in His name. What better testimony is there?

So as I go through my time of forced solitude, I must reflect on where I am in life, where I’ve been and where I’m going. I’m getting there. I’m already there in the supernatural; I am just waiting to see it manifested in the natural.

I’m so excited, I can hardly contain it. Will I be healed completely in every way? I absolutely believe it, and I will believe nothing else. God’s plans for me need complete healing, or how else will He be effectively glorified through my life?

So I turn over all my disappointments, my painful moments and memories and even this current physical situation over to God, Who has every situation in His hands. Let’s all stand back, and see God work wonders as He turns my pain (and yours too, if you allow Him) into effective ministry for His glory!

Classified! (Sept 2007)

I’ve been classified.

Please allow me to explain….

I am not your typical woman. I have a strong personality, yet I am quiet for the most part. Independent and cautious; inquisitive and caring. (Quite a combination!)

I will do things and say things from my heart with the best of intentions, yet be misunderstood and CLASSIFIED.

Classification is a very confining thing; its purpose is to pigeonhole you into someone else’s thoughts or definitions of who you are, how you think, what you do, how you do what you do, and WHY you are the way you are.

For much of my life I’ve been misunderstood. I’m not popular and I don’t have a large following. This used to bother me, but not any more. I have been told I tend to intimidate others – I am still not sure why that is the case, but I’m coming to accept that I am just different.

So when I am kind to you, when I offer you favors, when I try to accommodate, don’t think I’m trying to get something from you. My heart is really in the right place. I commune with God daily, several times a day. My mind is made up that I’ll serve God until I die. My testimony is clean, but if you don’t know me very well you may think otherwise. I’m beginning to understand that the spirit of discernment is not present in many lives, even in the lives of many in ministry. We will call the good bad, and the bad, good. We gravitate to what is flashy, what gets the most votes and what is most popular. But how about what is kinda off-beat, and what doesn’t seem very “normal” or usual? Could God be involved in that? Or not?

I think of Jeremiah many times. My plan is to begin a study on his life to understand what he endured as a prophet of God. He was soundly rejected by almost everyone he was sent to prophesy to. He was abused for what he was sent by God to share with the Israelites. And this went on for years!

Then I reflect on the life of Jesus. He was only understood by his disciples, and even one of them betrayed Him. In fact, all except John deserted Him in His lowest moment – His crucifixion. John took Jesus’ mother home with him when Jesus commended her into his care.

So my thought is this: If I’m being labeled and rejected, I’m in good company already, just listing those two names. Actually, Jesus is my Savior, so just reflecting on His life alone puts me in great company. It’s tough when those who you wish could see your heart see something else……

I cried throughout the entire Sunday service about it. I just couldn’t stop…. The tears just kept on coming. I know God has great plans for my life, so I just have to keep walking circumspectly, keep my heart clean, my eyes open, my mind pure and my hands ready to do His will and His work.

As I walk this path, I realize I’m being prepared for something bigger than I’ve ever experienced. Loneliness is the way of preparation, as you must do self-evaluation, cultivate a close relationship with God and doing only what He desires and not what I want or what the crowd wants.

So, here I surrender my mind, my heart, my soul and my spirit into His hands. Do what You wish, dear Lord. And show the world that I belong only to You. I want to be a beacon of light that guides others into Your Kingdom.

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.