The Real Problem

It’s not you, it’s me. No. I’m not just using a line. I’m being serious because I am the problem. Unless you’re reading this post after you’ve made a dumb mistake, in which case– you are the problem.

Last week I got into the Christmas spirit and did some cookie baking. I used the Sara Lee mix and followed the cutout recipe. I melted the better, measured the flour and poured in the cookie mix and I mixed and mixed. Twenty minutes of mixing, my dough wouldn’t stick. Thirty minutes went by. No matter how much I mixed and kneaded and dropped on the counter, my dough would not hold. I rolled the dough out and watched it separate before my eyes when it should have maintained its form and spread out. I stubbornly pressed the cookie cutter into it anyway and watched the dough fall apart instead of adhering to the shape of the cutter.

You know you’re doing something wrong when you’re baking cookies  and you’re so frustrated that you’re on the brink of tears and you actually start to contemplate tossing the cookie dough in the trash. No problem is too small for my Jesus. There I stood at my counter, kneading and praying. Praying to Jesus for the wisdom to form the perfect dough. God’s got this. And yet there I stood, twenty minutes after having prayed with no change. I think I started to get a little angry at God for not helping me out. Baking cookies is very simple so why couldn’t He just give me a hand?

I paused my mixing long enough to turn to the other counter in my kitchen when I saw it: the egg. The egg that was supposed to be in my bowl of cookie dough was still sitting on the counter. Oops. I felt like an idiot.

“There’s a spiritual lesson in here somewhere….” I thought to myself.

 

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It’s not You it’s me. It’s not you it’s me.

God isn’t the problem. Your friend isn’t the problem. Your teacher isn’t the problem. Your boss isn’t the problem. Your boyfriend isn’t the problem. Your parent isn’t the problem. You get where I’m going with this.

You are the problem.

How many times have you gotten mad at someone close to you because their actions have upset you? Because they’ve been ‘inconsiderate’, ‘rude’, ‘disrespectful’, ‘insensitive’, etc.? How many times have you rationalized your anger? Have you told yourself that things would be different if they just changed or if the scenario were different?

Let me be less vague and be a little vulnerable– I haven’t done that in a while.

I spent a lot of 2016 getting angry at a friend of mine. I had strong feelings for this friend and was hypersensitive to any and all of their actions. If they didn’t answer my texts, I thought they were ignoring me because they thought I was annoying. If they talked to someone else more than they talked to me, I was jealous. If they were curt and didn’t acknowledge the times when I would go out of my way to do something for them, I was hurt. If they flirted with me and paid attention to me, I was hopeful. Until they ignored my texts again or flirted with someone else or didn’t notice how much I cared for them. It was a vicious cycle.

I told myself a thousand times, “if they just (fill in the blank with any action), things would be different.”

“If they treated me like this”

“If we spoke about this”

“If we got to know each other more”

Blah blah blah, essentially, things would be different. So I thought. So I hoped. So I was wrong.

Things wouldn’t be different because the situation and the other person didn’t need to change. I did. My perspective, my actions, my attitude all needed to change in order for me to break the cycle.

When I was trying to form those ingredients into cookie dough, I used all of my strength and efforts and even called on God for help. Nothing I did made a difference because I didn’t remember that I had left the egg on the counter. I didn’t see it. When I turned around to the other counter, my perspective was widened. I could see things ( the egg) that I didn’t see before. Things with my friend and I weren’t that different. When I spend time with him or talk to him– what I text him; what I don’t text him; what I wear around him; what I say to him. With every detail, I secretly hope ingredients are being mixed together to change how he views me and to form dough, which in this case is a more solid bond between the two of us.

I keep missing the egg. The biggest detail. Without it, no matter how hard I try, that dough will not form. Love. I can work as hard as I want, but love will always be the missing ingredient that makes it impossible for the dough to form, which is why I’m the problem. I think I can will something to happen with my own actions instead of believing in The Holy One’s plans. It doesn’t matter what my friend says or does or what I say or do; as long as love isn’t in the mix, that dough will not form.

Now what about your situation? What’s the missing ingredient in your relationships?  Is it one that can be easily added? Or is God calling you to throw out your batch of dough?

 

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It’s Messy

For the past 24 hours, I’ve done something I usually don’t do– I’ve paid attention to the news and its coverage of the Freddie Gray / Baltimore situation and it has left my mind in a messy state.

I spend my days preoccupied with my writing, exercising and Jesus time; anything that doesn’t fit into these categories gets an iota of my attention. Yet, the Freddie Gray case and Baltimore protests have been the exceptions. They have forced me to step out of my bubble, take off my blinders and peek at what goes on in the rest of the world and what I’ve seen thus far is chaotic, wicked and downright depressing.

The more I watch the news, the more I remember why I don’t usually watch the news: I hate feeling such rage. From seeing Fox reporters antagonizing protestors; to hearing the details of what happened to Gray after he was illegally detained; to later seeing cops attack people who were on the streets after the curfew; to hearing Sean Hannity defame Gray’s character in order to repaint the negative portrait of him; I am left at a loss for words. It is beyond my grasp to fathom how people can behave so reprehensibly.

As a child of God, I know that my heart should be pure; that I should point people to Jesus and prayer, but when I watch the news the aforementioned things are nearly impossible. A bitterness swells up in me along with an argumentative, vengeful spirit that I can hardly contain; my emotions become a mess. I see things as white vs. black/ black vs. blue; I judge people and I hope bad things happen to those that are making these things worse. I am generally an understanding person that tries to see things from a Christlike perspective ; so if these news stories can ignite such anger in me, it’s no wonder those more directly affected and/or those who don’t care about the consequences of their actions choose violence as the answer.

My intention in this post isn’t merely to justify negative actions or to complain (though I know I’ve done both); rather it’s to share the messiness in my heart at this moment. I’m so used to having my emotions very centered by the Holy Spirit so when this type of anger wells in me, it feels strange. I don’t like it one bit, but I’ve come to accept it as a necessary evil that reminds me of the broken world we’re living in. This messiness in me also reminds me why it is so important to offer people Christ as an option because what I have felt temporarily over the past 24 hours is likely what a good many feel all the time; (I especially include cops in that statement because it must take a special anger within someone to treat human lives so callously). Note, I say “offer” Jesus because everyone doesn’t want Him in their life- I’ve learned that the hard, embarrassing way.

Well to sum up my rambling post, I just have to say: people, try to show care and love to as many around you as you can. This world is full of injustices, natural disasters, diseases, poverty and etc. and while I can’t guarantee that love is the answer to dispel the messiness in all of these arenas, I can say it’s a good place to start.

Day 11: Flashback to Day 9– Prayer Meeting

So I guess I’ve made a habit out of blogging every other day in the late hours of the night…

My commitment to biblical fasting over the past few days has proven to be quite rewarding. I’ve felt a peace and joy from The Lord that I haven’t felt in a while. Two days ago I went to a prayer meeting at my church and it was so uplifting! We worshipped to beautiful songs and prayed for different causes and burdens that came to our hearts and minds.

The service ended with an altar call for three different groups of people: those who had been feeling distant from God; those who had been suffering from depression, anxiety and etc and those who were hungry for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I felt peace because as a result of the past few days, I was no longer a part of the first group, but I absolutely fell into the third. About 80% of the attendees and I went up for prayer. The pastor then asked the rest of the congregation to join us at the altar to pray for us. Peopled laid hands on one another, embraced one another and in prayer, selflessly lifted up those around them.

I’ve been to church an innumerable amount of times, but this was my first time at a prayer meeting. I left it feeling so inspired, rejuvenated and ready to embark on a deeper walk with The Lord. And that is what has happened a little at a time in the days since. I’ve been able to see some of my faults more clearly. I’ve received confirmation from The Lord about my spiritual gift of dreaming. Most importantly, I’ve been able to take baby steps to trust in His power to do miracles again. All thanks be to Jesus :).

Day 8 – Believe

While today was technically day 8 of my fast it was actually my 1st day (during this fasting period) abstaining from food to be with The Lord and what a wonderful time it was. I prayed and worshiped and reflected on Psalm 37:4; “Delight thyself also in The Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” I’m usually tempted to analyze and over explain verses like this because at times I find them to be too good to be true and/or my flesh feels the need to play devil’s advocate to justify the times when I or others may not have gotten things we deeply longed for. This time, I won’t do either of those two things. Instead, I am simply going to believe those words and the fact that The Lord can give understanding, peace and belief to those reading this :).

Day 5

Today my mom joined me in prayer and worship for a bit and it was nice. I’m so used to keeping my connection with God a solo affair that I forget how sweet it is to worship Him with another individual. After we finished up with worship I decided to read the passage in Matthew that compares the man who built his house on a rock to the one that built his house on the sand (Matthew 7:24-27). I had a quick reflection on this passage, but it left me seeking The Lord’s guidance for the areas of my life that I’ve built on the sand because I know there are many.

That’s pretty much it for today. Today was basically about simplicity in my time with Him so it seems appropriate for my blog post to follow suit 🙂

Day 4 — There is Power in the Name of JESUS

My devotion today was incredible, but it didn’t start that way…

It started out on an upward climb as I earnestly told The Lord of concerns and fears that were beginning to plague me. I then journaled out some of those things and wrote some questions I had for Him and it felt good until I decided to wait for Him to answer right then and there. I know. I blogged about this problem 3 days ago and yet still I made the mistake– I am only human… So I sat and waited and felt/heard nothing. I was dissatisfied with this. I reflected and realized that yesterday I wasn’t just physically tired, I was also spiritually tired. Tired of asking God questions; tired of waiting on answers; tired of trying to analyze every little thing that happened around me.

In spite of my disappointment, I was determined to spend more time with Him. So I decided to listen to worship songs. I honestly didn’t expect much to come from this; it was literally my lazy way of continuing in devotion when I didn’t really feel like praying or reading my bible anymore. Yet, God always meets us where we’re…

After having listened to a few songs, I had a strong desire to listen to “Break Every Chain” so I did and I thank God! The song truly moved me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I praised God and sang out the song’s chorus: “there is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain!” As I declared those words I felt such freedom and joy and after a few nights of nightmares, feelings of spiritual disconnect, and fears for my future, they were exactly what I needed. As I kept singing them they became more than words. They became keys that were literally breaking every chain that held me captive.

All this time I’ve been thinking I’d draw closer to God by hearing His voice or feeling Him move in my life when all I had to do to feel closer to Him was praise Him.

“Let everything that has breath praise The Lord!” –Psalm 150:6

Day 2

Day 2 of my 21 day fast from my night owl ways to draw closer to The Lord.

My life is less than glamorous. My financial situation isn’t great; my family takes dysfunctional to new levels; I don’t know how to style my hair to make it look nice since I cut it off and I often feel like an outsider. (Excuse the random nature of this list. It’s merely the result of heartfelt words that are written in a hurry…)

Anyway, while some of these are foolish first world pains, they all bother me on occasion and I can be quite the complainer, which is perhaps the biggest problem of them all: I’m an ingrate.

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving; and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.” -Psalm 100:4

I’d be lying if I said this was the mindset I entered my times with God with. I usually tell Him thanks for the day, but shortly after I start to ask Him for a million and one things. Don’t get me wrong, asking God for things is fine, but sometimes we need to take a step back and stop asking so we can start thanking.

My boyfriend suggested this to me a few days ago and after coming to God today doing just that I see how freeing and joyous it is. I looked at every situation around me that I’d usually ask Him to change and instead I thanked Him for the good that has risen out of each bad.

So since I’ve publicly listed some of my complaints, I’ll now publicly list some of my praise:
1) I thank God for a family that cares deeply for me.
2) I thank God for a healthy head of hair.
3) I thank God for His provision in spite of my frugality, occasional irresponsible spending and guilt-inspired giving.
4) I thank God for using my uniqueness aka strangeness to reach out to those who are soft spoken.

When you search for the good in each bad, you come up with beautiful silver linings.