Hope Is Painful

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…But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 

That scripture convicts me to think bigger and increase my willingness to believe in what I haven’t seen. But can we just take a second and be real about how painful it can be to have hope?

Have you ever wanted a job really badly? You feel like it’s yours so you share it with a friend? Then you don’t get it. So then you find another one and the excitement comes back, but you don’t get that one either. So next time you keep it to yourself so that your hopes aren’t up and you can take your loss quietly.

Have you ever wanted to see someone be healed from a life destroying disease? You pray for them. You pray for healing. You continue to watch them suffer. You pray harder because you have hope. Then, it gets to the point where you see that it’s not getting better. Against all logic, you press beyond the cognitive dissonance and you continue to have hope. You see them hurting and realize that they need and want rest, but you continue to believe. The hope helps your mind rest, but makes your heart ache because your heart acknowledges the reality.

Have you ever decided to open your heart to someone new only to find that they’re gonna break it too? Part of you wants to try again, but the other part just wants to admit that having hope sets you up for disappointment.

After so much hurt and disappointment, life teaches us to be pessimistic or unmoved so that the bad doesn’t damage and the good comes as a total surprise. But I just want to say that no matter how much it hurts, have hope. Believe only the best things are coming for you and your people. Somebody has to see the glass half full. If you can recall the hurt that all the above situations caused, you can also recall life going on and eventually getting better after them.

Hurt happens. So does healing. Keep hoping for the best.

OhCAE?

It Was Never Just About You

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I had a conversation recently and while we were talking, I immediately felt more peace. Because in that moment, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me “It was never just about you.”

That was an insanely profound moment for me. One of my repeated prayers has been to just understand the purpose for some of the things I have dealt with. I’ve let the scripture replay in my mind that “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” But I lived in a constant place of wondering “Where is the good?”

Then suddenly, after a decade of asking, I received and experienced the purpose. In that moment, a life of pain and 10 years of prayers made sense for me. It all made sense when I understood that the situations were never about me.

I can’t get my time back and I actually don’t want it. I have my peace and I have made a difference.

Dear White Jesus…

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Last night, we watched President Barack Obama give his heart-wrenching farewell address in Chicago. Along with many of my Facebook friends, I found myself reminiscing on my college days. The first time I voted for president, I voted for a Black man. Even then I was aware of how big of a deal that was. But coupled with those feelings of nostalgia was the ever present nagging of the knowledge that I know a lot of people who are planning a party for his last day in office. They’re  planning a parade for Trump’s election because they are actually excited for these next four years.

You see, as a pro-Black devout Christian I navigate a complicated existence. I live by Proverbs 31. Not the part we quote about what a woman should be and do, but the part that talks about how it’s our responsibility to defend the defenseless. (Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Proverbs 31:8) My life’s work is to serve children who live in urban areas, as well as their families. I am a Black person who’s aware of what it means to be Black in America. I work daily to awaken other people to those implications. As a Christian, it is important to me that people understand truth. I understand how oppression is lifted by accepting truth.

I’m an advocate by nature, trade and calling. So it’s a struggle for me to align myself with a brand of politics that makes its name based on oppressing others who don’t believe what Christians believe.

A few nights ago, I watched Meryl Streep’s viral speech where she expresses something that reminded me of sentiment I heard from a conservative Christian figure.

They both expressed that when the leader of the country does something it permits citizens to do the same. The concept is that when a leader does something it conveys the message that the behavior and/or belief is a new societal norm. Meryl Streep was referring to Trump’s overall childishness and his mocking of people with differing abilities. The religious person referred to President Obama’s allegiance to LGBTQ people.

So… what does this have to do with the title of this post?

White Jesus is the guy  in the pictures we grew up believing was Jesus. Only perceived white supremacy could make it okay to depict a god with skin that light to represent someone born in Bethlehem.

White Jesus is the one who has pushed many Black people away from Jesus and church because his followers beat White Jesus into some Africans and their descendants through slavery. Then those White Jesus followers used the bible to explain why slavery was just. The bible has stories of enslaved people. It doesn’t condone it. The scriptures that speak about slaves obeying their masters are instructions to help people live in the society that existed. They don’t say the society was right.

White Jesus is the ultra privileged guy who validates conservatives’ beliefs that they are justified in their practices of blocking and hating legislation that benefits LGBTQ people and that supports people’s ability to choose what happens in and to their bodies. They do this while simultaneously hating refugees, poor people, people of color AND Muslims (and any other religious group). All of their anger about policies and support of policies that ostracize people groups are all in the name of Jesus.

In the name of Jesus… Jesus, the man born in a place that wasn’t his home. Jesus, the Middle Eastern man who hung out with sinners. Jesus, the man who crossed the ethnic and societal lines and offered living water to a woman at a well. Jesus, the God who came so that EVERYONE could have access to life and that more abundantly.

I don’t have a problem with him, per se, but White Jesus has a whole lot of followers though and they make it really hard to go to church or want to get to know the real Jesus.

White Jesus makes me aware of the social privilege I have because I’m a Christian living in Western society. Having privilege is almost uncomfortable for me as a Black woman. However, living with identity markers that are historically oppressed makes it impossible for me to not use my agency to speak out against wrong doings by others in my group.

Believe Just Because You Can

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I have learned something recently that it so simple that it’s hard to comprehend. If you want to believe in something, just believe. Did you get that? If you want to think something is true then just think it. And when you are convinced that it’s true, you’ll start to act as if you believe it. 

I really wanted to believe that God’s word is true when it says ask and it shall be given, but in order to show I believed it I had to ask and expect that I’d get what I asked for.
It’s hard to believe God will give you something you don’t even want. That’s why it’s important to meditate on the Word. The Gospel according to John tells us the God is His Word and Jesus is the Word wrapped in flesh. When you meditate on it, you meditate on Him. Before you know it, His thoughts are yours. Your desires are His. 

You’ll be able to move past wanting random things and getting disappointed because you can’t have them. 

As you meditate, you’ll learn to wait. I don’t just mean sit idly, I mean to really wait on God. You’ll know the difference because the bible says that waiting on God will increase and renew your strength. If waiting is making you weaker, assess yourself. Are you being purposeful or doubtful? 

It’s hard to believe God for some things, but He knows that so He gives us faith. So believe because you can. 

OhCAE?

He Is Listening

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In high school I was very depressed but I kept it a secret. So I secretly cried many nights and that was my only relief.When I got to college, I got saved and everything changed for me. One day I was sitting at my desk in my dorm and out of nowhere I could feel the same overwhelming sadness come over me and I almost cried but I stopped and reminded myself that I am new. 

I wasn’t sure what the appropriate response was, but I opened up a New Testament Bible (with Psalms & Proverbs) that was on the desk and randomly flipped it open and I read the first scripture I landed on. It said “Why am I discouraged? Why am I restless? I trust you! And I will praise you again because you help me, and you are my God.” (Psalms 42:11 CEV)

That was the first time in my life that I REALLY believed that God heard and listened to my silent cries because He said to me exactly what I needed to hear in that very dark moment. All I had to do was turn to Him (His Word). 

I’m grateful that God reminds me of that moment from time to time because when life gets difficult some days I can’t help but wonder where God is when I can’t perceive Him. But I’d like to encourage every reader by letting you know that God knows and sees all and He is concerned about you.

  

Waiting For Tomorrow

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Tomorrow I might die. 

Tomorrow might be the best day of my life

Tomorrow I might meet my spouse

Tomorrow I might decide to look for a house 

Tomorrow I might watch a movie

Tomorrow I might take a class 

Tomorrow I might read a book 

Tomorrow I might take out the trash

I have some plans 

But what tomorrow holds I don’t know

I will make an agenda, but I’ll put my real focus on today though. 

I’ll get some things done now because today I have for certain

I spent my life waiting for tomorrow and honestly it hasn’t be worth it. 

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Footprints

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 There was a day back in March when we had a really big snowfall here in Michigan. A couple days later we got rain and sleet and it made a really weird shimmering sheet of ice to cover the snow. The ice was kinda thin. When I stepped on it, it gave way and it had a sound and sensation that reminded me of how it probably feels when someone is ice skating on a frozen lake and they there’s a thin layered spot. 

Anywho, I was walking my girls to school one morning after that rain came. We walked across the lawn because the driveway was pure ice. With every step I’d hear and feel the ice give way as my foot sunk down through the 8 inches of snow beneath it. My oldest kiddo, who’s 8, was just trudging through it ahead of me. My little one, who’s 5, was falling with every step. She had on all her winter gear and she was having fun so I didn’t trip. But eventually, I noticed that she was catching up to me. Just when I noticed she called out to me and said “Claricha, I’m walking in your footprints.” 

I could hear the Holy Spirit talking to me through her words. After I dropped them off, I took a moment to ask the Lord what He was saying. He took me to this scripture

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (‭John‬ ‭14‬:‭6‬ NLT)

He began to explain to me one of the things He meant there. My little one was falling because she was trying to create her own path, but she was ill-equipped. When she looked up, she could see the a safe path was already made for her. All she had to do was walk in it. And that’s what the Lord is saying to us today. Just as He told His disciples that day, He’s the way. He has already paved the way. If we would stop trying to do things in our own strength and look up we will see that the way has already been made for us. All we have to do is look up and walk in the footprints. 

The funny thing is when we came back she started making her own tracks again and falling again. Then I reminded her to just walk in my steps. She got back on track and she was fine. The Lord is saying that to you today. Even if you’ve made a misstep, you have time to get back in line with Him. 

OhCAE?