Sunday, March 19, 2017

A little Sunday school lesson on peace

Last night on the phone with my mom, I confided in her about a situation that had been weighing on me. I hadn’t realized it was upsetting me so much until I suddenly started to cry. I realized that it came down to grief; it was grieving my heart to witness someone close to me make poor choices for their life. As I continued to reflect this morning, I believe I got some perspective and I’d like to share it with you. Pull up a chair, boys and girls. It’s time for Sunday School.

As I was meditating, I recalled one of the accounts in scripture where Jesus wept with compassion.

When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42, NAS)

The Amplified version expands to say:

Would that you had known personally the things that make for peace (for freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as the result of sin and upon which your peace- your security, safety, prosperity, and happiness- depends)! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (v. 42, Amplified)

Think about that. How many of us say we just want to have peace? We just want to be happy and live in quiet enjoyment. Well, the Lord is saying we can have all that and more. Yet, our eyes can’t see what’s been freely given.

When I wept last night, I was weeping for myself and for all of us. Why do we insist on choosing the hard way? I believe some suffering in this life just comes and doesn’t give us a choice in the matter. We just have to endure it. But then some suffering enters because of our choices. Why add needless pain to an already challenging life?

That’s my reflection today. Instead of focusing on what’s happening with other people, I will examine myself. I will recall the times when I’ve wandered down my own path and created drama and pain that could’ve been avoided. It’s not about shaming or judging myself. It’s about preserving the ability for sin to grieve me. It sounds strange, but I don't want to lose that tenderness of heart. Besides, when you realize that the outcome for any choice is either pain or peace, you’ll devote yourself to understanding the things that make for peace.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

On being a woman

Today is International Women’s Day and March is Women’s History Month. Because of this, I feel compelled to write about being a woman, mainly because the experience of being a woman is so complex. It’s complex because there are so many demands placed on women to be a certain way. There are so many times I second guess what I’d naturally be inclined to write or post, all because I’m afraid of what others might think. I never wanted to ostracize a segment of my audience. But I’m slowly entering a place now where I just want to be authentically me. It’s never my heart to offend. At the same time, I realize, I can’t please everyone. Therefore, I want to highlight all of the dialectics (seemingly opposite truths that exist simultaneously) of who I am in no particular order. You may take them or leave them, but this is who I am.

I’m a feminist
I wholeheartedly believe that women are equal to men, intellectually and socially. Therefore, women deserve equal rights. I’m not rah-rah and extra about being a feminist, but I am.

I’m pro-life
I believe that life begins even before conception (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:13) and God has a destiny for every living soul on this planet. But I would never EVER judge a woman who struggled with the difficult choice to terminate a pregnancy.

I drink
I love wine! Growing up, drinking was a normal part of family fellowship. It generally wasn’t in excess. It made life celebratory. So, if I drink with someone, it’s almost like a familial exchange. But if, by chance, drinking seems sinful to another, I’ll abstain in their presence. Why become a needless stumbling block for a brother or sister for whom Christ died (Romans 14:15)?

I’m celibate
I’ve never acknowledged this publically, because it’s extremely personal, but I am. It doesn’t make me a prude by any means. I believe I can still be sexy and sensual. It also does not mean I am judgmental of others who are sexually active. I just choose to wait until committed love enters my life and I’m certain I’ve found my partner in purpose. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a choice, but I know it is.

I’m a democrat
Again, this has to do with upbringing. My heart gravitates toward the underdogs. As an empath, I naturally want to stand up for those without resources or a voice. If that makes me a bleeding heart or a snowflake, liberal, I’m totally okay with that.

I’m Spirit-filled
Believe it or not, I’m one of those evangelical, tongue-talking Christians. I know how to exercise spiritual authority, bind up demonic forces, and break you off on some scriptures. It doesn’t make me a perfect human. It just means I lean on the Holy Spirit a lot when things get real.

I cuss (sometimes)
I’m not proud of this necessarily because I recognize how divergent it is from the previous truth I mentioned. But yes, if I’m truly speaking authentically in the moment, you’ll hear an expletive sometimes. Don’t worry though. I try to reserve the F-bomb for truly special occasions.

I’m black
This is a reality some forget or overlook at times, but it’s a salient identity for me. Yes, I’m of the suburban, middle class, straight hair, light skin variety. But, I'm a proud black woman nonetheless. You’ll hear it in my inflection sometimes when you catch me code switching.

I’m a PhD
This is another important thing to mention that I’m usually weird and embarrassed about. But yeah, I’m super-duper educated. I generally downplay it so as not to make others feel inferior. I don’t think degrees make people better human beings. But I will break out the Dr. Gambrell as needed if I’m dealing with a jerk.

I’m 34
I realized that throughout my blog I’ve been vague about my age. Why? I wasn’t in my 20s. Why should I hide it in my 30s? Depending on your season of life, 34 might seem really young or really old to you. But hey, it’s where I am in this season. Either way, I hope you’ll converse with and experience me before limiting me to just a number.

I’m sure there are dozens of other identities or tendencies I could highlight, but I’ll close here. Why am I sharing all this, you might ask? What does this have to do with my whole wellness “brand?” What does it have to do with being a woman? Everything! When people have to put on different personas and ignore other identities to be accepted, it drains the soul. When I go before the Lord, I don’t have to be anyone other than who I am. Why should I switch it up for other people? My hope in sharing all of this is that you will be courageous enough to explore and celebrate all of your dimensions. All people, but especially women, are beautifully diverse creatures. Let’s honor all the idiosyncrasies and celebrate difference. Yes?