No One Gets to Make Me Be Someone I’m Not

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I have to resist the urge to stop people midsentence every time I hear them say that something “made” them react a certain way.

Example: “You made me mad when you…” “He made me yell at him cuz he yelled at me first.”

Ya’ll with me? The reality is this, no one can MAKE you do anything.

I have heard this sentiment expressed by my therapist and professors innumerable times since I’ve been on this counseling journey.

As a result, I find myself taking more responsibility for my decisions. No one makes me do or feel anything. Everything I say, do and/or feel is a direct result of a choice I have made.

And I’ll be honest and say that I’m a better person because of this new awareness. When I could blame my reactions on others, it was easier to excuse it. Now that I’ve decided to take ownership of my choices, I tend to make better ones.

It has been hard because not going with my first mind leaves me feeling like I lost, but then I realize what I actually won. I won my life. I am in total control of me. It feels good to not be anybody’s puppet.

Vote With the Spirit

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But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭16‬ ESV)

I had someone give me a new way of understanding how to “walk in the Spirit” last week and it finally made it click for me. So I wanted to share it with you guys.

She explained that we are made of three parts: soul/mind, spirit and flesh.
By receiving The Lord, our spirit is saved.
The flesh will NEVER be saved.
We have to renew our minds daily.
Reading the word and getting an understanding of how to apply it is what renews our mind.

When our flesh is tempted we always have the option to vote with our soul/emotions/mind or vote with our saved spirit.

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By renewing our minds daily, we have a greater chance that our mind and spirit will be on the same page and subsequently we walk in the Spirit.

So now I find myself saying to myself “vote with the Spirit.” The change of verbiage made it make sense for me. “Walk in the Spirit” was too vague I guess. Vote makes me conscious that I’m making a choice. Hence, I make better choices.
Before I felt outta control of myself so I was just letting things happen. But now I am keeping myself accountable by voting with the Spirit.

A few years ago, I was meditating on the scripture that says “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” And I thought about it then “if the flesh is weak then the spirit should be winning.” Now I get it. The spirit wins when the soul is on the same page. But that only happens when your soul is filled with knowledge of the Spirit (the Word.)

We sometimes go through situations where we feel like we’re not saved and/or the Spirit isn’t working in us. She gave an illustration using her frayed iPhone charger cord. She said “You see this end? It’s all messed up, but there’s nothing wrong with this end that goes into the wall. There’s nothing wrong with the power source, but the part that produces that power needs to be fixed.” Y’all understand that or naw?
The Holy Ghost is still alive in you. His power still works, but the part that needs to produce the power (your flesh) needs to be fixed.

OhCAE?!

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Not *JUST* One, Just… One

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A friend of mine offered to give me tickets to a game before.
She offered to give ME ticketS to a game.

A couple years ago I won a contest. I sent in my application. People voted for me. After voting results came in I was given TWO passes to a festival.

When I was a kid, my friend called the radio station at the perfect moment and she won a PAIR of tickets to a concert.

I thought about all these instances recently because I have been trying to figure out why is that when I go to restaurants I get the strangest looks when I request a table for one. “JUST one?” they ask. “Yes,” I reply with a gentle smile. “YES!! Isn’t that what I said?Why is that so difficult? I’m only one person. Can’t I go eat by myself?” I scream in my head.

outside inside(google didn’t have a better picture conveying happy on the outside, irritated on the inside but anyway…)

I guess it’s not so weird when I consider the fact that our world clearly expects us to come in pairs. I think that’s why we see so many people who battle sadness and depression that is brought on by the fact that they are *cringe* single ESPECIALLY as they get older.

This year I turned 25. Someone called me on my birthday and said “Wow, 25 huh? You’re about to have a Master’s. You have a good job and you’re living on your own. You go to church. Now, all you need is a man.” #SideEye

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Why do we accept a world that tells us that we are not enough alone? Think about some of the language we use to talk about significant others. “Other Half” is my newest favorite. That basically communicates that at my very best, until I am in a relationship with someone else, I can only be HALF of who I really am. Um… whet? It took a while for me to realize it, but truly I’m a pretty awesome person, by myself.

Starting from my childhood days, I’ve been Claricha and somebody else. I’ve always had cousins and friends by my side in every social situation. It was great, but I’m learning to get used to being by myself and still being happy about it. There are plenty benefits to being by myself and dating myself. I always want to eat what I want to eat. I always want to see the movies that I want to see. I only want to go where I want to go. I only stay as long as I want to stay. Honestly, it’s a pretty good set up.

So, no hostess at my favorite restaurant not JUST one, just… one.

Give Me the Green Light

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September 2013

“Hey, Claricha! You can leave early if you like today. We don’t have many kids here so you can go.” Said my boss at 4:00 pm one Tuesday afternoon.

I popped up from my spot and bolted to the door. I had a smile a mile wide as I got on 496 E heading home to East Lansing. That smiled quickly faded as I got off on my exit and drove into a major traffic jam. Stop/go traffic all the way down this major street. I sat at one light for three cycles. (One of my driving pet peeves is sitting at a green light because it’s imbedded in everyone’s brain since early childhood that green means GO!) So here I am at a green light with my foot easing off the brake when the car behind slams into me.

We exchanged info and called the police and all that jazz. A broken bumper is all it cost me. The other girl’s hood was all messed up and she got a ticket for being at fault.

Fast forward to the other day (March 2014) when on my way to work I was sitting at another green light because of the traffic in front of me and I looked in my rear view mirror and saw that someone was about to hit my car. The driver threw his hands up and quickly switched lanes just as my heart stopped beating momentarily.

Later that evening, I was in Detroit and the two cars in front of me were sitting at a green light. The first one had hazard lights on. So I was sitting there waiting to get over when a car came driving really fast. I swerved quickly and I could hear the loud screech of their brakes. I shut my eyes tight and desperately prayed aloud “Please, don’t hit my car!” Luckily they stopped JUST in time.

I prayed and I asked God why that kept happening to me, but it wasn’t until today, May 10, 2014, I heard the answer.

Green means go. Most preschoolers in America can articulate that.

Sometimes we get the go ahead in life. All of the major signs are telling us to go for it. “It’s my legal right. I’m just doing what I’ve been taught to do.” But the reality of things is this, even if everything says go, there may be real reasons that prevent us from moving forward. And when you decide to charge forward and ignore the obvious things in your way, you cause a collision.

You have places to go, but don’t be so concerned with your agenda that you aren’t paying attention to the people around you and how their lives will be directly impacted by your decisions. They’ll get hurt, scared or upset and you’ll have to pay for the damage.

Update:
You’re an individual. You have rights. You can do what you want. Others shouldn’t be bothered by or pay attention to your choices. (See conversations about Raven Symone, Ray Rice’s wife, Tiny, same sex couples, cigarette smokers, gun carriers, abortion… Blah blah blah)
And I’m not saying there’s no merit to the individualism argument, I’m just a firm believer that no man is an island and we are all impacted the choices everyone makes.

Sometimes life causes pain. Sometimes pain is good.

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I have a faint scar on my hand and it’s been there most of my life. I got it when I fell off my bike as a kid. I was riding with no hands and I simply fell, but it was a pretty hard fall though. I blacked out for a second. Shortly thereafter, I decided that I was done riding bikes and playing outside because I was tired of getting hurt. Today, I am still struggling to overcome obesity which became a part of my life as a result of inactivity and poor diet choices.

Today, I looked at that scar and asked myself, what else am I dealing with today because of a decision I made years ago based on the idea that I want to avoid hurting?

It was a legitimate hurt, but hurt happens. I’ve learned that being afraid to hurt can sometimes cause more pain than the isolated incidents.

India.Arie has a song that says
“Child it’s time to break the shell. Life’s gonna hurt, but it’s meant to be felt. You cannot touch the sky from inside yourself. You cannot fly until you break the shell.”

You may be preventing yourself from reaching the next level because you’re anticipating pain. I totally get that. Seriously, who goes and does something knowing it’s going to be painful? Someone who understands that suffering is always temporary and things always get better and there is always something valuable to be gained even through pain.

The beautiful thing is that pain heals and it leaves a perceivable scar.

You can look at a scar and remember the pain that caused it. Or you can look at it and realize that it’s there because the pain has been healed.

Sometimes life causes pain. Sometimes pain is good.

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