Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tales from the Hibachi Table

In celebration of my sister's birthday, we went for an early dinner at her favorite hibachi restaurant. It was the 4 of us, my little cousins, aunts, & my sister's boyfriend.

This was my first time meeting this young man, although I've heard about him for a while now. In my mind, we were already friends; seeing each other visually was just the last puzzle piece.

We tried to joke with the dude a little...get him to relax. He's nice enough and I could see the warmnesss between he and my sister. However, we were strangers. I was new to his world and he had to put his feelers about there. Fair enough.

We all gathered around the hibachi grill, ready for some firery fun. We all picked up our menus. Sis's boyfriend read it and asked a few questions; this was his first hibachi experience. We all tried to assure him of what would happen- let him know that it's going to be good no matter what.

He was unsure.

And that's ok.

What a wonderful lesson and reminder that we all have to step out of our comfort zones sometimes. What seemed like a simple dinner celebration exposed differences in culture- even among people of the same ethnic group (oooohhhh, we're not all the same- it's true!!!)- and class. It also reminded me of similar situations in which I felt uncomfortable, but looked to others for guidance, assurance, or just a little info to help me navigate the new experiences.

Whether it's a big deal like a new city, community, or romantic interest; or a small deal like a hibachi dinner, at some point you will face a new experience. It may be minor, like ginger or white sauce....or it could be big, like a career change or dating beyond your culture.

Be open. Ask questions. Listen for the answers. Most of all, don't forget to try the good stuff. It may be scary or unfamiliar....but it's worth a try.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day 6: Camoflage

"These flaws I've got, they're a part of who I am...take me or not, now I finally understand..." - "Camoflage", Brandy

----
Better.
Peaceful.
Introspective.
Thankful.
Humble.
Receptive.

Despite this yucky weather that Sandy is dumping on us, today was a good day. I did something today besides stay in the bed. So what I had to go to work? I did something else too!

I took myself to the movies. I've probably been to the movies 3 times by myself in the past year and that's a high estimate. The irony is that he wasn't particularly interested in this movie, so I automatically moved the movie to my "future Redbox rentals" mental queue. I really did. Pleasantly, I laughed hysterically, rolled my eyes on the corny parts, and enjoyed my own company. I feel like I'm learning who I am all over again.

Today is the last day that I'm dedicating a blog to this past that I've mourned. Like I've been saying all along, you don't love someone for a year & do nothing without them only to separate "peacefully". Man, listen...I AIN'T GOING NOWHERE PEACEFULLY! ::cue "And I Am Telling You":: I'm a fighter in everything. I literally came out of my mother's womb fighting for life. I fight hard, I love hard, & I don't quit on people that I care for. I feel like he quit on me. I feel like I've failed.

That's that. Moving forward.

All I can say is that I've been in my bible so deep this week and prayed so hard that I physically FEEL like someone new....like someone I've never known. I've been shown some really interesting things about how the enemy has infiltrated small things, areas in my life that are "just for fun" or "not a big deal". I asked for the wisdom & it's amazing to see it come to me.

I am so humbled by the people who have shown me compassion, kindness, and true love this week. I'll look back at these blogs and chuckle in a few months (weeks hopefully), but there have been some very dark, unintelligible days that I've spent feeling lost, abandoned, flawed, and "less than"....like damaged goods. My friends have lifted me up in prayer; my aunt has read with me and helped to decipher some of life's riddles; and my mom preached to me the best sermon I've heard in ages.

The resounding message has been that I was uniquely crafted this way for a reason. I possess character, moral content, and kindness. Most of all, despite distractions and wrong decisions, I TRULY seek God's Will in my life and on earth. I welcome correction and ask God for the wisdom and instruction to come into my heart and change errors.

On the flip...

There are some absolutely wonderful things about me that don't need changing, many of which had been neglected or gone unnoticed.

Uncovering the camoflage, one moment at a time....

Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 5: Tipping Scales

re·gret
/ri╦łgret/

Noun
A feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.

-----
I don't know if what I feel today is regret or what. I guess....When I think of "regret", I think of wishing that something had never happened at all; I suppose that's the "repentance" aspect And boy have I been repenting, of a lot of wrong doing! Obviously sadness is going to be present- I lost something very unexpectedly with little explanation. Certainly "disappointment" is here, too- life as I've lived it for the past 14 months is done.

It's overwhelming. Let me preface this discussion by saying that my life has felt overwhelming for a while- I just had him to keep me company and lessen the burden. I felt encouraged. I felt like I wanted to be a better person. All of a sudden, the things that tormented me & kept me up at night were overshadowed by having someone on whom to focus my attention.

I changed. Some people say "oh, you shouldn't change for nothing or nobody!". If you see the opportunity to improve yourself, improve others, or have an overall better quality of life, wouldn't you change? And isn't that what friendship and love are about? I don't mean "change" as in got completely brand new; I mean "change" as in I did new things, explored new ideas, and tried my best to compromise & be open to a new world that he showed me.

I stopped going places that I would go to on a normal basis. I went to his gigs every week so that he would feel supported. I spent my days off and free time with him; I work 3 jobs, so that time was limited. Y'all, I cooked. Real food. I ain't never cooked in my life. Gravy, mashed potatoes, dessert, steak, most often from scratch. I took the southern sentiment that "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" SERIOUSLY!

I didn't see this stuff as a sacrifice- I saw it as building blocks to a future. Right or wrong, that's what I thought.

So it's hard today to not feel like it was in vain....like I was disposable...like it didn't matter.

Besides feeling disposable, another source of regret is that we revealed very important things to the other after the break up. That's devastating to me because I feel that this could have been alleviated; we could have nipped trouble "in the bud" before it came to this. A seeming paradox lies in that we each say that "if we'd known", we could and acted....but even after the revelation, he says what's done is done and we can't act on it now. To me, that is fallacy. That is giving up. That is not even attempting to try.

He says that Sunday was the coup de grace- it was bound to happen, had it not occured sooner or if it happened months in the future. I say that Sunday was indeed thwartable- it was the result of not using wisdom, not being vocal when needed, and not listening when hearing the other was vital to the survival of us.

On one side, the inevitable: that which can not be avoided.

On the other side, the escapable: that which can be changed.

The scales wobble back as forth...and I have no idea on which scale we- or the "us" as we knew it- layed.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 4: Progress

"It's like I'm falling from the sky...and I need somebody to catch me when I fall down..." - Fallin' From The Sky, R. Kelly

~~~

This is the only song I could do today without bursting into tears. It rocks, the melody is nice, and I can handle the lyrics...I'LL TAKE IT.

It also explains how I feel.

I ate food today. That's a really big deal. In other abnormal Rah activity, I've been taking an excessive number of showers, as if I'm subconsciously "cleansing" myself of something bad. Atleast I smell good.

I laughed. I laughed a few times. Earnestly. That is also a big step.

Baby has a name now- his name is Davis!!!! He does have Down's Syndrome, which was a little damper, as we didn't expect it. He's got loving-TRULY loving...people who won't desert him or turn their backs to him- people in his corner and most of all, God's got his back. He'll definitely need Cousin Sheeda's advice from yesterday :).

Strengthening and lengthening my strides in this walk with God a little more each day...

~~~

Final (and true) words from "Fallin' " :
"I don't know how to make it stop..."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 3: Dear Baby

** We have a new baby boy in our family whom we welcomed to the world on today. His conception was not planned & some things about his body are unclear right now, but we love him and are happy he's with us. I haven't learned much in my 28 years of life, but here's what I want him to know and I hope that he will take to heart.**

~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Baby,

I love you so much. Love means so many things to different people. Besides love being "patient" and "kind"(I Corinthians 13), love means being there and honoring one's agreement to stand with you in spite of shortcomings.

Sometimes love is easy and sometimes it's hard. Sometimes it smells like freshly buttered dinner rolls, and other times it smells like nasty sewer water. That's where courage comes in. I hope with all of my heart that you will be courageous; that you will be compassionate; and that you will zealously do what is right. You're human and humans make bad choices sometimes, especially when we don't ask God to help & guide us. It's ok...that's life.

Although I love you, Mom & Dad love you, your brothers love you, and your entire family loves you, there will be others who will love you too. Contrary to what the world tells you, those people CAN love you unconditionally; "unconditionally" means without a reason and notwithstanding any flaws. It may seem scary sometimes, but that comes with the territory. Those people don't HAVE to love you, but indeed they will. Some of the greatest family you will have will be people not of our bloodline. They may be orange or have spots; they may speak a foreign language. They may have lived in a land or experienced a culture completely dfferent from your backyard...but guess what??? Love transcends all of these differences as long as you always honor God and allow him to be a part of your relationships. And guess what else, Baby!?! You can love those people back wholeheartedly! Even YOU may be the "odd ball" out- may be different to them- but "different" is OK. God made us all different and Christ came to show us all how to live despite these differences, uniting us as God's sacrificial lamb of salvation.

Baby, to whom much is given, much is required. You have been given physical life, spiritual life, free will, and the opportunity to learn and grow. Along with these blessings, you are also given wisdom & knowledge. Your job is to freely share this wisdom & knowledge with all who will have you- ESPECIALLY those whom you love. If someone you trusted had a secret that would make you better, wiser, or stronger, wouldn't you want to know? Of course you would! Love them relentlessly, without ceasing, and without turning your back on them. Why? Because Jesus teaches you how and it's your job to follow His lead.

I know this is a lot of info for a little baby, but I wanted to get you started early. May you always see Light in others; may you never be afraid to give of yourself completely; and may you always, ALWAYS feel and KNOW that you are loved, valued, special, and important.

Love with courage.

Cousin Sheeda

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 2

Delirium.
Abandonment.
Remorse.
Loneliness.
Embarrassment.

In general, I'm a mess. Yesterday was difficult in that I realized where I erred in not inviting God to the party. Today is difficult because I feel like I possess some unforgivable flaw that makes me unworthy of love & therefore unworthy of the life we'd been planning over the past 14 months.

Not good enough. Not pious enough. Not holy enough. Not caring enough. Not giving enough. Not good enough.

Apparently, I'm so wrong in my beliefs and approach to life that a person who says they love me can't find a reason or way to make it work. I can't reconcile that in my mind.The questions are taking over. I don't even know if I could even recognize true from false, love from fear, right from wrong. The past year is like an apparition that only happened on the inside.

Did you really love me?
Do you know what love means?
Do you know how love manifests?
Why didn't you tell me when you first had apprehensions?
Why did you tell me that you accepted me & would't judge me?
What happened to you that has made your heart hard?
Why don't the words and actions add up?

It's hard to be in a scenario like this and not feel used, abandoned, mocked, and mistreated. I have to hope that perhaps he loved me the best he knew how. Unfortunately, I can't even see how he loved me at all, let alone "best". The point keeps rising that "we don't believe the same things" and that "it could never work". Maybe I don't know enough about the world or how things work, but it seems to me that if we both believe in God as supreme ruler of the universe, that he sent his son Jesus to rescue us from sin, & that as believers in him, we must lead lives that glorify him...HOW DO WE NOT BELIEVE IN THE SAME THINGS?

How do we not believe in the same things?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Restore vs. Reset

Today is very easily one of the most difficult days that I've ever experienced.

How do I feel?

Lonely.
Failed.
Grievous.
Helpless.
Inadequate.
Guilty.
Confused.
Remorseful.
Disillusioned.

These things that I feel are things that I should feel.  That's what happens when you blatantly disobey God and resort to living a lifestyle that isn't lived in accordance with what is right and true.

For the past several years, I've somehow managed to morph into a person that I myself don't even recognize.  I often lamented that I miss the "old me"- the brilliant, vibrant girl who dreamed big, loved hard, and believed in the impossible.  That version of me was replaced by someone who hung with the wrong crowd, made the wrong decisions, and put their faith in the wrong things.

These aren't just the delirious cries of a someone who wants that old thing back.  I had, even before now, come to the realization that I needed change, but I never expected it to come about in this manner.  Well...this is what happens.  Where did I fail?  Is there redemption for me?  Is change even possible?

When I first moved to Greenville 5 years ago, I was nervous, but I knew I was in physically (I came specifically to study with my professor) in good hands .  At that point, I had gone out on a limb, pursuing grad school and moving here on a wing and a prayer.  I literally had nothing here. No furniture.  No money.  No financial aid.  No clue what would happen to me.  No nothing.  No nothing but faith and hope that I'd made the right choice.

I started off on the right foot.  I actively sought to join a church.  I read my bible.  I prayed.  I communed with God.  I was ok.  However, somewhere along the way, I veered from the path.  Church was not important.  Prayer wasn't important.  I failed to be responsible in all areas of my life.  I still believed in God, but I didn't honor my commitment to actively pursue a growing relationship with Him.  Before I knew it, I was waist-deep in mess.

Enter darkness.

I stayed in this darkness for months...years.  It seemed like every time I caught a break and could somehow get ahead, I took several steps back.  Eventually, I got enough ahead that I could make out some semblance of a breakthrough.  Almost 4 years to the day that I began my life in Greenville, I met him.  I'd broken through and somehow managed to exude enough positivity that someone wanted to know me!!!!  Talk about scary! I felt all of the things that people in new relationships feel, but I was willing to try...to give...to invite someone new into the deep caverns of my heart that had never seen light...

Rose-colored glasses.  I wore them proudly.  I knew that we would each shed them eventually and that we would have to deal with our "true selves"...but I had no idea that my true self wasn't...well...wasn't good enough.

Of course not.

But that's what happens when you go on a journey and don't invite God along.

I've always prided myself on my ability to see past differences, accept people for who they are and what they bring to the table, and to love - TRULY LOVE- without contempt or judgment.  It's funny how no matter what dirt I did and bad decisions I made, this part of my moral fiber has always remained strong.  I loved hard and only did my best at uplifting him, trying to meet his needs, and make it work.  So...why hasn't it worked?

I never invited God.  I never asked Him to make it work.

Restoring my relationship with God and building a relationship with another is hard to do separately, let alone  simultaneously.  I lost myself in dreams.  I lost myself in false hope.  I lost myself in false intimacy.  I lost myself in the fantasy that I'd created in my mind & in the utopia that he now deems "unrealistic".  I lost myself.

But...

Jesus came to find me.  That kind of sounds corny as I type this, but that is the truth.  His entire purpose on earth was to rescue me from the sin that swallowed me and consumed my life and to glorify God.  I truly believe that God has the power to change hearts, to heal, and to make new that which has been torn, sullied, and defiled.  Yep...even lost ones like me.  The Word calls on us as believers to be hopeful, to endure, and to believe that His best for us far supercedes the greatest success we could ever fathom.  Paul wrote about these requirements...these gifts that God has freely given to us.

So what does any of this have to do with "restore vs. reset"?!?!!

After spending a futile hour and a half of my life trying to salvage my relationship and petition for (at the bare minimum) us to take inventory of ways in which we could grow together, he gave me his answer.  Spitting was inevitable; the issues that we'd "swept under the rug" have come to finish us off for good.  Left to my feelings of inadequacy, failure, and grief, I did what anyone would do- I tried to erase it.  Now, see, my "erase it" was simply going to delete our text message history so I would't have to see it when I go in my inbox.  I lost my best friend.  I lost the future to which I was looking forward.  I lost the plan.

Well, while doing that, my phone froze.  Completely.  After Googling all of the remedies I could find, that bad boy refused to budge.  Ok. I could do a restore and my phone would be return to the same settings it had when I last backed it up, right?

Nope.  This phone, the same phone that I've never had any issues with in the 2 years I've had it, never had to reset, from which I never lost any information was now being RESET.  I couldn't turn it on/off or make it perform any commands; I had absolutely no control at all.  Resisting the urge to go outside and run over the phone with my car, it all became clear: this day, this time in my life, is meant for reset.  I needed to be completely reset and made new and not restored to some old half-baked, distorted, disillusioned version of myself.  This is my opportunity to get back to basics- to recenter and start fresh in my walk with God.  I can not change my beloved's heart or his view of me & my beliefs, but I know without a doubt that God has the infinite power to change hearts, minds, and lives.  Even if our relationship can not be restored, MY relationship- my kinship with Christ and most importantly, my faith and hope in God's will for me is made new.


1 Corinthians 13: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  8 Love never fails.


I am protected.  I trust. I hope.  I persevere.  I may have failed in the past 5 years and have been failed in this relationship beyond comprehension...but true love never fails.  This is the love to which I am entitled as an heir of Christ.  This is the love that I am required to show.  Human nature will fail me, but God will never fail me.  He wants my best.  He requires my best.

I shall give it to him. This time, I invite God along.

...to be continued...