The Comfort of Fear

The Comfort of Fear

Many times when we talk about fear, we focus on all the things fear keeps us from doing. We think about the times when we wanted to or needed to do something but was unable to follow through because fear gripped us and said it wasn’t going to turn out well/ you’re not qualified for that/ you don’t know what you’re doing, blah blah blah. For many years, I have allowed fear to stop me from doing things that I knew God put in my spirit to do but I was too concerned about what people would think of me. Thoughts like, will they like it? Will I be received well? Will they think differently of me? would plague my mind. I have come to the conclusion that it. does. not. matter.

What does matter is how I fulfill my destiny. It is important for me to share my journey with others to hopefully inspire them to seek refuge in their gifts and talents, whatever they may be. I was teased in college and was told that I was great at helping people develop a backbone. I encouraged others to challenge anyone who dared to deny their truth and attempted to diminish their value. I guess I am passionate about this because I remember a time when my backbone was none existent, when I was tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, every empty promise, every empty experience, and every time I was overlooked and undervalued. While I was reflecting on this tonight, I realized that I was resting in the comfort of my fear. 

I once heard someone say, “Well, I can’t fail if I don’t try and if I don’t have any goals.” This saddened me because I thought about how little this individual knew about the power they possessed. But when I realized that there is an even more desperate side of this quote, I wanted to weep. Not having goals is child’s play compared to having one and allowing fear to comfort you in a way that paralyzes you from ever coming out of hiding. Not only does fear hold back the one who wants to catapult forward, but it also anchors the individual who seeks refuge and security in all the wrong places. If you’re not careful, fear will convince you that it is better to you than your friends, family, lover, and your dreams. Some people are risk takers and many are not. For those who like to play it safe (like me), they often entertain fear because it gives the false impression that there is safety and security there. And you know what? To some extent, this is true because when you dare to venture out into unknown territory, you are going to face opposition, frustration, disappointment, and setbacks. 

Once I realized I was receiving comfort from fear AND it was something I did not ask for, I knew I had to get rid of it! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cloak myself in fear from time to time just to have some sense of peace from the world of unknowns. However, I know that there is something more out there, I can feel it and I know you can too. I know you feel the tug on your heart and in your spirit. No more I should’ve, I could’ve. Make the decision today that new territory and the unknown is where you want to seek comfort knowing that the Comforter has you as you go. You got this! How do I know? Because I got this too. 

Hurt.

Have you ever had a moment where you are talking to someone and out of nowhere a profound quote appears? Well, that happened to me the other day. We were talking about life and its dynamic complexities and somehow we started talking about hurt. Then the Lord blessed us with this beautiful quote, “present hurt knows past hurt, but past hurt should not impact present hurt”. What does this mean? Good question.

When we experience hurt in the present, our emotions start scrolling through our emotional rolodex and identifies past times that we have felt the way we are feeling at that moment – not only when, but the what, the where and the who. Present hurt is transported to those instances where that emotion last visited. You may even begin to see faces and familiar surroundings. It is normal to go through this at the onset of the emotion, but it may be detrimental to stay in this state because if you do, you may begin to compromise your present based on your past.

It is easier to say that past hurt should not impact present hurt than it is to execute this principle in the moment. Past Hurt showed you who you were and who you were not. Past Hurt opened its arms to you when the individual who placed you there was not available (emotionally) to help you process your thoughts and your emotions. Past Hurt is faithful and will often check in on you now and again to see if the lessons learned in the intimate embrace had any lasting impact. While Past Hurt made major contributions to your character (and for some, your self-worth), Past Hurt should be given limitations.

Past Hurt can be likened to a past lover. During the time of the relationship, you two were possibly inseparable and spent much time together. You made yourself vulnerable and opened your heart to give and receive the intangible wholeness of one another. Everything was good. You felt needed, wanted and purpose was evident and free flowing. Then something changed. You are not sure if it was you or them, but you recognized that the union that had potential to last forever had to come to an end. And it did. It was tough, but you made it.

In other words, Hurt was with you and gave you strength when you needed it by justifying your dislike for an individual or thing. Hurt made you feel secure because you were able to rely on it to be present at all times, even when genuine love and good intentions tried to get close to you. Hurt told others to keep away because you were taken and was not on the market for anyone else. Somewhere, somehow, Hurt realized that what you two had could not last forever. You began to see Hurt for what it was and had the epiphany that Hurt could not journey with you to wholeness because it could only offer bitterness. With this in mind, you either moved out of Hurt’s home or maybe you kicked Hurt out. Either way, you two were no longer together and you were free. In your present place, Past Hurt appears in an effort to reconnect and make the relationship exclusive like it once was before. If not careful, your Present Hurt can become enmeshed and entangled in the web of Past Hurt and alter your trajectory to wholeness.

I have been there. It is hard to know what to do when Present and Past are fighting over the residence of your heart. If I could offer any advice, it would be to reject them both. Past is not worthy of your Present and Present will become the past once you realize you are too good for both.

I did that… and it still didn’t work out

There have been times when I went through tough situations and no matter the advice people gave me, things didn’t get any easier. Maybe you have experienced the same. Doesn’t it seem like everyone has advice for you? Some of the advice I received sounded like:

  • Hang in there, girl
  • It’s only going to make you stronger
  • God has a plan and He is going to work everything out
  • You just have to be confident in who you are and what you bring to the table

To take it a step further, I took all of the encouragement to heart. I reminded myself daily that God is sovereign and in control. I told myself that I am a winner and the head and not the tail! I told my situation that God was going to work it out. I even said that I just need to rest in the promises of God and that if He closed this door, it’s because He is going to open another one. I did it all!

But I was still hurt. I was still frustrated. I was still confused and uncomfortable. So, what do you do when you’ve given your all, did your best, made sacrifices, and played every play by the rules of the book and things still didn’t work out? The answer to that question is complex, yet simple. You wait and endure. Yeah, I know. How anti-climactic was that? I don’t have a miracle cure, a magic wand or wisdom beyond my years to share with you. All I can say is wait and endure it.

I do believe that the troubles and hardship that we experience is not going to last forever. I believe that the God I serve sent His son Jesus to die on the cross so that we may have life and have it more abundantly. There was a woman with an issue of blood that bled for 12 years. She was depleted of her strength and resources for 12 years, so why can’t I deal with this discomfort for a month? Instead of wallowing or drowning in your sorrow, consider, “What do I need to get from this”? There is ALWAYS a lesson in the storm, especially if you can focus on the sunshine that follows the raging wind in the moment.

Be blessed and be victorious.

Now I Know that I Know

There is a difference between establishing boundaries and guidelines to work within and being too rigid. Our boundaries are usually established due to our experiences, perceptions, values and beliefs and to some degree, our biases. These boundaries are intended to keep us safe and operating in what we believe to be our maximum potential. However, what happens when we encounter an individual or situations that threaten those boundaries? Is this a time to remain firm, or is it an opportunity to expand our mindset?

Since I am going to ask you to be honest and transparent, I will go first. I am a Christian, a Believer in Jesus Christ, and I do not agree with or condone the LGBTQ+ community preferences. My faith tells me this is an abomination to God; however, I am in conflict. As a Social Work (SW) student, I am consistently placed in positions where my beliefs, self-imposed laws and boundaries are challenged and stretched. Although I have not changed my beliefs concerning the LGBTQ+ community, I have softened my approach to them. I do not believe in or condone any physical, emotional, or mental aggressions towards the community. Instead, I have intentionally educated myself by taking a course, watching documentaries, reading books, blogs, and have received hours of training on their history, terminology, and how to address and engage in a non-judgmental manner. The most rewarding education has come through conversation. I am so grateful to those who have been patient and willing to let me ask questions and better understand their culture and community. Your acceptance of my ignorance was impressive and eye-opening. Due to these exposures, I have found myself engaging with the members in ways that I have not before. I was rigid in my thinking and recognized that I needed to expand.

I was reading my SW book one day and a question popped in my head- is it possible to be a social worker and exemplify -isms (racism, classism, ageism, colorism, etc.) at the same time? How can I purposefully and knowingly be a member of a community that promotes the safety of the most vulnerable populations and treat the same population poorly? It seemed like a contradiction. So I ventured out to educate myself. I needed to know more about the LGBTQ+ community so that I better understood what I was opposing. “… because the Bible said so” was no longer an excuse or a valid argument.

One of my SW professors said something that was so profound that I continue to chew on it. He said, “learning is when you can still believe what you believe knowing the information that contradicts it”. I usually pride myself on questioning everything, but was I really doing that? Was I really questioning EVERYTHING? No, I wasn’t. I spent time questioning only the things that I was comfortable with exploring, not the things that made me avoid eye contact and shift in my seat. I was not really expanding my learning as I assumed, instead I was reaffirming what I knew. I was open to learning only the things that were within my comfort zone. And that… that is not learning. I was a counterfeit.

I have decided that I am no longer going to blindly believe in anyone or anything because of tradition, generational values or because it sounded good on the radio. I am on a quest to reassess, reevaluate and relearn what I know so that I know that I KNOW! It may seem like this would shake my faith, but actually, it’s had the opposite effect. I am now more confident as a Believer because I have placed myself in vulnerable positions for my advancement. That’s what faith is all about, right?! Making yourself vulnerable and having faith in something that is bigger than you. I don’t just think I know, now I know that I know.

  1. Now, it’s your turn :-). Reflect on the questions below and enjoy the journey.
    What do you believe and why do you believe that? Who is the provider of this belief (i.e. family, yourself, mentor)?
  2. What are somethings you’re willing to relearn?
  3. What boundaries have you set that you recognize may need to be reassessed?
  4. When do you plan to start?

 

 

Accept the Challenge, I Dare You

Accept the Challenge, I Dare You

If you’re like me the New Year has you thinking about what is going to be different. I am making a declaration that this year is going to be one of my best years yet! I am not talking about making some resolution that will fizzle out in a couple weeks to a month. Neither am I talking about making some half-hearted decision.

I have realized that true progress and transformation takes time. It’s meticulous. It’s specific. It’s sure. And it’s strategic. My church is doing a 90 Day Transformation Challenge and I am so excited about it. I could have registered on January 1st as expected, but I couldn’t. I had so many thoughts and possibilities running through my head and I couldn’t make a decision. I knew I needed to get organized.

Instead of just reacting and making an impulsive decision, I went into action. I assessed my life and the goals I set for the year. I bought a planner and made note of all my current commitments. I looked at what was on my plate and had to make some hard decisions. I picked up a new adventure and had to put a few things down. I am not interested in having a lot to do, rather I want to do a lot of what I love and what’s going to fulfill me.

After making some decisions, I had to be realistic about where I can accept challenge. You know, changing too many things at one time can be disastrous! I recently decided to go for another master’s degree so I’m taking a class. Instead of having sporadic devotion time with God, I decided to do it every morning. No longer am I going to bed whenever I want, I’m on a schedule. And there are a host of other changes that I am balancing and implementing with wisdom. Not all the changes will happen at once, but they’re planned so they’ll be sustainable.

Now that I have a few things settled and have a routine. I decided it was time to solidify my 90 Day Transformation Challenge. Some people think routine is boring, but there are certain seasons in your life when routine is needed to maintain progress and success. Last year was a season of spontaneity, not this year. Know your season! That’s another topic for another day! So what’s my challenge? No sweets (help me, Jesus!) and make healthier decisions in all areas of my life.

Spiritually– be more intentional and consistent in my devotional time and protect it

Physically– be mindful of what I put in my body and make better food choices and stop making excuses.

Emotionally/ Mentally– be aware of what I allow to affect my emotions and thoughts, ultimately my day. A dear sister of mine said, “Pick your thoughts like you pick your clothes. Ask yourself, do I want to wear this?”

I decided this year I am going to conquer and love with intention. I don’t want things to be happenstance, but I want experiences on purpose. Give it my all at all times and not just when it’s convenient.

What’s your challenge? How do you want to transform the first 90 days of 2016? The 90 Day Transformation Challenge is really just to get you started for a lifestyle change. It’s not too late for you to accept the challenge. Join me, I dare you! Register your challenge today to make it official and know that people are praying for you to succeed. Surveymonkey.com/tgcctransform90

My Memories

My family and I laid my grandmother to rest today. She was a loving woman who took no mess. Her love was tough, but effective and geniune. I’m going to miss her laughter, smile and wit. Below is the poem I wrote and recited at her funeral.  I love you grandma.

God,

Please take care of my grandmother
For she is quite the lady,
She gave us so much joy and wisdom
And we’re going to miss her like crazy.

In my younger days
I remember us sharing many meals,
My favorite was Popeye’s Chicken
And oh how those biscuits sealed the deal.

I remember riding in the back seat
Of my mom’s car when she took Granny to work,
I would listen as she shared wisdom
As she walked away, the sashay of her skirt.

You see Daddy God
She understood family and wanted to leave a legacy,
That’s why when my cousins and I would argue
She’d make us hug and kiss on the cheek.

She introduced us to You
So we would not experience that eternal scorch,
She unapologetically signed us up
To participate in all the programs at church.

I called once to check in
It was sometime midday to be exact,
We exchanged pleasantries
And then she said she was driving her cadillac.

Knowing Granny didn’t drive
I wanted to confirm what she had said,
She laughed at my line of questioning
For the cadillac was indeed her electric wheelchair instead.

Another fond memory I have
Is one where I escaped with pure luck,
When she would call while my mom was sleep
She’d say, “I don’t care, wake her up!”

God, as you can see we have great memories
And would have been grateful for more in store,
But we know Your will is greater than ours
And we understand You love and needed her more.

As we prepare to say, “See you later”
Please share with her this piece,
We love you Retha Mae Knowlin
And we are happy you found peace.

So, to my family and friends
There is one last thing I want to implore,
Know that when you whisper “l love you”
Imagine her gentle chuckle, her smile, and her saying, “No, I love you more.”