Aspire: Fighting for Victory

This weekend I had the honor and pleasure of seeing my little cousin, who isn’t so little anymore graduate from college. As I watched her and the other graduates receive their degrees, my heart smiled. I loved being in the stadium as family and friends shouted and whistled their celebratory cheers. The air, thick with positive energy and joy was rather exhilarating.

 I had experienced many challenges as I prepared to travel to my hometown, in fact at one point I thought I was going to have to cancel, I’m glad I didn’t.

 I was excited for the weekend to arrive. I was eagerly anticipating being with my family for such a special occasion. Especially, since pomp and circumstance usually inspire and excite me.  However, the day before I prepared to leave, it seemed as if “all hell” broke loose. Suddenly, it seemed as if chaos manifested out of nowhere. I began to feel overcome with despair. Except, chaos doesn’t just happen suddenly. Or, does it?

Sudden Chaos

Does chaos just happen suddenly? No! At least that’s my opinion. Now, I’m not talking about events that are truly beyond our control such as terrorist attacks, or illnesses. I’m specifically referring to things we can control like, budgeting, or household needs, time management, etc.

Truthfully, we plan for chaos when we fail to plan. We also invite chaos when we don’t seek to properly inform ourselves. Honestly, I created the chaos because I failed to pay attention to the small details of my life. Which oddly enough, has been the story of my life……. Until Now!

Here are the main three reasons chaos found its way into my life this week:

  1. I’m used to Chaos- It’s a residual effect of the lack mindset that once ruled the way I saw the world.
  2. Failure to Plan- Disorganization and a busy lifestyle are a recipe for disaster.
  3. Procrastination- Is a real thief. Putting off important tasks for later.

From Chaos to Calm

I really can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. I can have the life he purposed for me to have, if I am bold and courageous enough to ask him for what I want and need. And, what I want is to see order, joy and peace permanently restored in my life. I want to pursue and accomplish goals. I want to be a blessing to others every time the opportunity presents itself.

 In order to achieve these blessed outcomes, misaligned values and priorities must be synergized with the Godly principle which governs that value. The word of God declares that as long: as the earth remains there will always be seed time and harvest (See Genesis 8:22).  

Very plainly, the Lord advises us that whatever a man sows, the same is what he shall reap (Galatians 6:7-9). If I don’t plan for success, then success will elude me. If I don’t enhance my skill sets, then I may miss a golden opportunity to increase my income. If I want to lose weight, then I must follow the laws and principles which govern health and wellness. I must plan healthier food choices and exercise. If my finances are out of control, then I must adhere to the rules of economics and finance if I am to regain control of my financial health. The point is, you get from life, what you put into it.

Aspirational Contentment

I want MORE! I know, I’m a Christian and I’m supposed to be content with whatever station of life I am in, or at least that’s the way I used to think. And, yes, I am content only because I know GOD is with me, even when chaos comes rolling in. But I have seen God’s original vision and plan for my life, and it’s the life I want. So, unashamedly I AM saying, I want More! I want MORE of his Spirit. I want MORE freedom. I want MORE time with my family. I want MORE Peace.

As long as I live, there will always be challenges, threats to my life of abundance and peace. “Because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me” (1 Corinthians 16:9).  The struggle simply creates the opportunity for me to experience Christ’s victory. I’m thankful I have been taught the principle of re-framing my thoughts to change my perception of whatever reality I may be experiencing at any given moment. Even as I was crying, I was praying and giving thanks to God for making a way for me even when it seemed to be hopeless.

I will never again be so willing to throw in the towel, to give into despair.  I’m aspiring to greater levels in my life.  Because of God’s grace, I can make plans and present them to him for guidance and words of wisdom. I don’t have to stay in cyclical chaos, because I host the presence of Christ, and where he is, there is freedom and peace. I don’t have to be a slave to procrastination, because I have what it takes to resolve any issues that may arise. I AM prepared to fight for the life Christ died for me to have. Thankfully, I don’t really have to fight because Christ fought for me, and He WON!

Leaving chaos behind like….
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Unrestrained: Anxious, For What?

I’m a dreamer. Today, I take delight in this assertion. Admittedly, this was not always the case. I’m also an empathic, romantic idealist (which basically means I sometimes I prefer to see things the way they could be, rather than what is).

Trust me, this is not always as endearing as it sounds. I hated these labels because people often mistook me for being weak, naïve and emotional, as If being mindful of your emotions and the feelings of others somehow makes you incapable of being rational.

Nevertheless, today I take great pride in who I am, and in the person, I am becoming. I fully confident in Jesus, who is the author and finisher of my faith.

I Had a Dream….

Last week, I dreamt I was 9 months pregnant, and I was once again in a relationship with my Ex. I was so happy, then I began to go into labor. However, rather than go to the hospital, my ex began speaking into a microphone in front of a crowd.

As he spoke about another woman, I was embarrassed. I remember being astounded at his lack of empathy for how his words and actions were affecting me. I was hurt, and I no longer wanted to be in a relationship with him. Then, my contractions ceased, and my labor stopped. So, the dream ended with me being way past the due date, and unable to give birth to the baby I was carrying.

I knew the dream was a message from God for my life (Yes, God still speaks to people see Acts 2:17).  So, I asked him to give me an interpretation, and he did!

Restrained Affections

For me, 2019 has been a year of intensely seeking God’s will and plan for my life. While I was keenly focused on seeking the Kingdom of Heaven (see Matthew 6:33), I enjoyed:

  1. Increased peace
  2. Increased self-awareness
  3. An enhanced ability to hear from God

As the year progressed, several distractions began to surface. These external influences threatened to erase the growth I had attained and attempted to keep me from growing any further.

Some people are afraid to enter a relationship with Christ, because they are afraid of living a restrictive life. For many years, all people ever heard about the Christian life was what they “can’t do” where they “can’t go”, or “what they “can’t wear.” We tend to blame God for our unhappy situations. However, as the Apostle Paul expressed in 2 Corinthians 6:12, it is not the gospel which restrains us, but we are restrained by what we highly esteem and value. It is not that we should not aspire to accomplish goals, but we should be careful not to consider our own self-ambition over the plan and will of God.  We should always remember God’s primary plan is to prepare a Bride for his Son, Jesus. And, we our lives should be aligned to accomplish this mission, everything else is secondary.

The Message

In my dream, I was pregnant. The pregnancy was symbolic of the gift the Lord has paced within me, meant to be shared with the world. However, when I allowed my focus to be redirected to my ex, my labor ceased. My ex was on a stage and speaking into a microphone. This meant I had placed or was beginning to place a higher importance on my own desires. I was beginning to serve my own needs, rather than serving others. Therefore, the gift God placed in me was being hindered.

I am not going to let this happen to me or to you!  Below are four ways to live an unrestrained life:

  1. Know your own Limitations and put the proper boundaries in place.  When we are being tempted, we are being tempted by our own desires, not by God. (See James 1:14)
  • Be Anxious for Nothing, make your requests Known. Pray About Everything.  Be patient in hope. Waiting only increases the Joy you will experience when your desire is fulfilled.  (See Philippians 4:6)
  • Be mindful of the company you keep. Surround yourself with people who are honest and encouraging. Form the right alliances, can light have fellowship with darkness?  (See 2 Corinthians 6:14)
  • Serve God faithfully and with all your heart. God will give you your reward. You don’t have to strive to force things to work in your favor. (See Colossians 3:23-24).

 I love the new life and freedom I have found in Christ. Yet, there are times when I am reminded of my own shortcomings and desires.

I don’t always respond to every situation in the most Christ-like manner, and at times I still wince at an engagement video or wedding photo from time to time.  However, I believe the Lord was telling me not to allow myself to become too wrapped up in the things that I want to accomplish.

Perhaps, you too are waiting to receive the promises of God for your life. Or, maybe you need a resolution to a very difficult problem. Well, take heart God sees you, and he knows exactly what you need. Seek Be anxious for nothing and PRAY about everything. May God’s grace and peace be upon you, and I hope you all are empowered to DREAM BIG.

Authenticity: Take the Filters Off

Almost, every image-centric platform such as Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook lets their users post filtered photos. Millions of new images are updated daily, and these sites let users filter, edit, and crop out any undesirable aspects of themselves. Interestingly, it usually takes about 4 to 6 selfies, before a person usually decides to upload the one photo deemed to be upload worthy.

Unfortunately, this constant, secret visual manipulation creates an unrealistic portrait to onlookers of what other people and their lives look like. Consequently, this fixation on what we look like has led to decreased self-esteem, and increased anxiety. Now, there are studies being conducted to gain insights into just how much these unrealistic portraits are contributing to a mental health crisis.

Sadly, there are many people whose identities and self-worth are attached to the number of likes, and thumbs they receive underneath their photos. Unfortunately, those same people are left disillusioned by the social media world. And increasingly, as a society we are more concerned with creating the right illusion, that we are forgetting how to create meaningful real-life experiences.

So, it’s no wonder this disillusionment has spilled over into
the dating world……

Dating, whether meeting a person online or organically requires the dater to assume a level of risk.  So, when we decide to take on the daunting task of getting to know someone, we naturally and instinctively will put our “best foot” forward. Our desires to make a good impression intensifies as we inwardly ask, “Could this be the one?”

As a result, we often will withhold certain aspects of our lives and personalities from our prospective beaus. This is a completely normal and acceptable act. After all, you shouldn’t “expose your hand” up front. Especially, since the first date may be too early to know where the relationship is heading.

However, the problem arises when you are six months to one year into the relationship, and you still have not shown your true self to your beau.  This is what I call the “Filter Dating Syndrome.”

Filter Dating Syndrome

The truth is, falling in love, is scary!  Unfortunately, many people use filters in dating. We hide our true selves to make ourselves seem more attractive. We inherently believe that if another person knew all about our imperfections, then they couldn’t, and wouldn’t want to love us. This is caused by having a low self-efficacy. It means that the way we see our true selves is so low, that even if another person were to see your true value, you would distrust that individual.

On the other hand, there are those who are so afraid of being hurt, that they have imprisoned themselves behind a wall of hardheartedness. These people pretend not to care and keep people at a distance. This too is a filter.

Sadly, the root cause of our inferiority complex runs so deep, that it goes unrecognizable even to ourselves. So, we wear masks to hide behind, we put on the rainbow, flower filters, and just smile for the camera. All the while, we’re crying on in the inside and repelling the one thing we truly desire……. Authentic Love.

“We long to share our best selves with the person who would be trustworthy of receiving our best.” Shawn Bolz

 Authentic love requires vulnerability. Vulnerability is defined as the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. No one likes to be vulnerable. No one wants to be in a position where they must give someone else the power to hurt them. Yet, until we do so, we will not receive the deep, satisfying love our heart desires, and that Our Heavenly Father desires for us to have.

Three Ways to be YOU!

  1. Guard your Hearts

Scripture tells us in Proverbs 4:23, “above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” What we think, feel and believe about ourselves impacts our behavior. Take time to pray and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance on identifying the toxic, root cause of your faulty thinking. Seeking help from a Professional Counselor will aid in restoring a healthy self-concept.

  • Start Where You Are

According to Psalm 139: 14, You are fearfully and wonderfully made, so praise God!  Your journey is a God filled journey, and who you are right now, as you read this is so full of value. You are worthy, you are ENOUGH! The person who is meant to love you will celebrate your achievements and your failures, because it made you the person you are today.

  • Practice Being Vulnerable

I love Lamentations 3:40, which says “Let us examine our ways and test them and let us return to the Lord.” Ask yourself, how did you get to this point. Practicing vulnerability simply means, to be honest.  You only need just one person within your sphere of influence with whom you can be comfortable with sharing your story. Tell them your fears, your hopes and dreams. There is so much safety in the multitude of counsel and sharing our thoughts with people helps to provide a fresh perspective. Also, it forces us to consider points of views we may not have considered on our own.

Pouring out our grievances help to strengthen our inner worlds, so we can see God in the outside world.  If you don’t have people surrounding you that you can trust, then I pray the Holy Spirit aligns you with empathetic, and trustworthy people who can listen without prejudice.

In closing, I just want all of you to know that who you really are is worth loving. So, be free in the Lord’s presence.

Be free to show them who you really are. Take the filters off!

My face when I’m trying to see the Real YOU!

Expiration Dating: Knowing When it’s Time to Leave

We are often willing participants in our own victimization, and I hate that. I equally abhor how we stay in disappointing relationships longer than we should. So, the question is “Why do we stay in relationships long past their expiration dates?” So, to better understand this behavior, and why I engaged in such self-defeating behavior for so long (and on more than one occasion), I prayerfully began to explore this topic and discover my own truth. 

My most recent relationship lasted for about 6 ½ years. He was unlike anyone I had ever dated before. However, early in the relationship he told me that he had no peace in moving forward in building a long-term future with me. Granted he was guilty of sending mixed signals, but this isn’t about him, this is a self-examination of my own defeating behaviors. And self-examination is the starting point for growth, (Soooooo, two times for growth! WHOOP WHOOP!).

What is Self- Defeating Behavior?

Self- defeating behavior is any behavior that takes you further away from anything you truly want. It is sabotaging your own health, well-being and happiness. It is doing what you know is not good for you to do.  According to Practical Recovery, some common self-defeating behavioral patterns include:

  • Stubbornness: needing to always be right
  • People pleasing: at the cost of your own happiness or health
  • Obsessing about perfection
  • Blaming: inability to accept responsibility for your own mistakes
  • Procrastination
  • Inability or refusing to ask for help
  • Fear of taking healthy risks
  • Negative Self talk
  • Self-guilt and feeling undeserving of good things in life

More on these behaviors can be found at https://www.practicalrecovery.com/prblog/recognizing-and-changing-self-defeating-behavior/

After examining this list, I realized that I possessed and demonstrated ALL these behaviors at one point in my life. Thank God for his Grace and mercy which allows for growth. But, for years I was bound, I was a prisoner in my own mind, and I didn’t even know it. These worldly, and inferior mindsets robbed me of the opportunity to have a healthy and viable relationship. Don’t let this happen to you!

Why I Stayed?

First, I used to think he was way out of my league, that he was a person that I should aspire to be like. While, I don’t think it was wrong of me to admire his good qualities, it was WRONG that I believed I possessed no good qualities of my own. So, the issue was that I was blind to my own value. I was oblivious to my own loveliness.  Honestly, because I lacked Identity, I shouldn’t have been trying to date anyone. I believe, this is one of the reasons why the bible tells us not to awaken or arouse love before it’s proper time (See: Song of Solomon 8:4).

Secondly, I had low expectations and I failed to set standards. I was hopelessly short-sighted, and I had no real vision for the type of relationship I wanted.  In conjunction with the first reason, if you don’t know who you are, it is IMPOSSIBLE to know what you truly want or Need for that matter.

Lastly, I thought I could change him. Now, this is more difficult to admit. Of course, there are other reasons, I stayed, (but Whew, Chile we only have time for 3 today 😊).  I should have listened to him when he first told me, he had no peace in moving forward. I ignored the flags. In hindsight, I really believed that he would see things from my perspective, and we could move this thing along. However, all this did was force the both of us to live a lie, and not living according to your conviction is hypocrisy. And, hypocrisy murders your spiritual life, and diminishes your peace and your credibility.

Truthfully, this isn’t the first relationship in which I adopted such grandiose delusions of erroneously thinking, “I could change” another human being. Especially, since it is the work of the Holy Spirit to change an individual. I am convinced that we grossly overstep our realm of authority when we attempt to change or control someone, this is manipulation. Manipulation is as witchcraft; IT IS NOT OF GOD!   I have been guilty of this before, I’m sure we all have at some point. Thank God for Grace and Mercy!

The point is, staying in a relationship past its expiration date does more harm than good. I wish I had exited the relationship 6 ½ years earlier, then maybe today we would still be Friends. Now, if you find that you are currently in the same situation as I just described, then I encourage you to be honest, and seek help with moving towards transitioning out of your unhealthy dating situation.  

Today, I am more content with my singleness, and learning to be more content day by day. I still desire a Godly marriage, but that desire does not rule me. I know the next time will be the right time, and the right time is God’s best time for my life. I Trust you LORD.

3 Ways to Move towards Wholeness:

  1. Examine yourself: Examine your ways and your circle of influence. Are you seeing good results? Are you growing, or are you diminishing as a result of your actions? Your interactions? (See Lamentations 3:40 and Matthew 7:3-5)
  • Set Standards For yourself: You teach people how to value and respect you based on what you tolerate from them. You must know your value, which means you must first pursue inner healing, and renew your mind. Stop the negative self-talk. Be honest, kind and compassionate to yourself first. Be Authentic. (See Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 10:5)
  • Accept that you can only change YOURSELF: Take responsibility for your life. You can’t force someone to love you no matter how badly you may want them to. Let them GO! You only want people in your life who will Celebrate you, edify you and people who will have your best interest at heart. You want people who will give you Honest feedback. (See Matthew 10:14)

Be Blessed!

For Marriages Check out this resource.