“I spent three years of my life chasing after a married man. Prior to that, I spent the majority of my life chasing a romanticized version of true love. That is not to say that “true love” does not exist; but it is to say that it does not exist in the context that I thought it did.
“When I thought of true love, I envisioned it in the context of two people who were destined to be together. Though, what I did not realize was that my vision of love was only the surface layer of something that went much deeper—the true love of God. You see, I sought true love with another person rather than setting my sights on the Source of that love within me.
“Consequently, God used my tireless search for love outside of myself as the basis for a resource intended to help me and others find love within. Thus, my book, How to Love Yourself, was based more on Divine inspiration than my human experience. Though I wrote it with good intention, the book reflected the mindset that I desired much more than the mindset that I actually had. Ultimately, I was tasked with practicing what I had been given to preach.
“So here I am, four years later after writing my book on self-love – and chasing after love – with an addendum, featuring what I have learned and am still learning about self-love. These lessons provide deeper insight into what I originally wrote and come with a dash more practicality since they are steeped in my experience of trying and failing to love myself enough.” (Reprinted from the introduction of How To Love Yourself More.)
The following are the titles of the aforementioned lessons – and lesson supplements – that are featured in How To Love Yourself More.
“…But now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’ Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.” ~Hebrews 12:26-27, NKJV
In the rhythmic words of songstress Carole King, “I feel the earth move under my feet, I feel the sky tumbling down (tumbling down)…”
No, I’m not a doomsayer. Nor are these lyrics a declaration of the end of the world, just the end of the world as we knew it. And with our former knowledge of former things coming to an end, we are entering a new world with ‘new’ knowledge about what we thought we knew best–ourselves. Boy, there’s nothing like a pandemic to put yourself in perspective. Sure, the outcry of the outside world is deafening, but it’s actually only an echo of the seismic shifts taking place within our inner worlds.
“See that you do not refuse Him who speaks.” ~Hebrews 12:25, NKJV
God’s presence can move mountains. Yet, when speaking with His prophet, Elijah, on a mountain in 1 Kings 19, God is moved with compassion and communicates with him in “a still small voice” (v. 12). You see, Elijah was on the run. And though it appears that he was running from someone else, who he was really running from was himself.
For those who don’t know, Elijah was a bad man–in the best sense of the word. Chapter 18 tells the story of his and God’s glory when Elijah stood toe-to-toe with 450 false prophets and proved the falsity of their false god. And then he executed them.
No doubt, anyone who could face down as many detractors as Elijah had greatness within him. Yet, when faced with a threat by a demon-possessed woman, Elijah – no longer feeling self-possessed – lost sight of his greatness and the God who gave it to him, and “ran for his life…” (1 Kings 19:3). Thus, when God meets him on the mountain and asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:13) we encounter a man who is not only physically lost, but who has also lost his sense of self. In essence, Elijah was shaken to his core.
But there’s good news! Elijah’s core is what carried his calling. (Amen, somebody.) So, the shaky circumstances that threatened to do him in actually served him by leading him back to God, who revealed what was in him all along. As a sign of God’s redemptive recollection, He put Elijah back on his anointed assignment and even assigned him an assistant, Elisha, to help ease his load.
Like Elijah, we, too, are shaken by things – e.g. heartbreak, disappointments, pandemics – that seem to threaten our very existence. And yet, our very existence is made secure by what exists in us–our knowledge of who we truly are. While we’ve contained this knowledge since before our conception, the shaky emergence of our new world has re-introduced us to ourselves in a whole new light. Consequently, many of us are meeting the real us, as God intended us, for the first time. So, as we become reacquainted with ourselves, let us also remember that this is really not the end; it’s just the beginning…
If you’re beginning to remember who you truly are and you could use some assistance and/or camaraderie along your journey ‘home,’ then click the links to find and fellowship with us on Facebook and Instagram. It’s a whole new world…for you and me!
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” ~ 1 John 3:1-3, NKJV
If I was Julia Child, I’d give you a recipe for a casserole. If I was my Aunt Von, I’d give you a recipe for sweet potato pie. Maybe. If I was Oprah, I’d give you your own culinary school. But I’m me, and I can only give you what I got. And what I got are ingredients for digesting cereal serial heartbreak, thanks to a dollop of tear-stained experience with a pinch of hard-won wisdom mixed in.
Surrender. Instead of fighting against the tide (that is, the sovereign will of God and the freewill of others), we can choose to give in and give our freewill, attachments, and broken hearts to the One who calms the raging seas within and around us. (Mark 4:39-41)
Divine order. Yes, individuals and incidents break our hearts, yet – in the God scheme of things – this breaking provides breakthrough to better versions of ourselves, living our best lives. (Romans 8:26-31)
Forgiveness. We can accept who and what hurt us as ‘human’ when we acknowledge that no matter how hurtful humans can be, we are ultimately loved and cared for by a superhuman God a.k.a. Papa. (Genesis 50:15-21)
Faith. Faith is trusting God to heal our hearts His way, i.e. attached to Him, rather than desiring Him to heal our hearts our way, i.e. attached to someone else. (John 15:1-8)
No, my ingredients list is not extensive, but it is exhaustive and, for that matter, exhausting–especially when I try to shake and bake – and manipulate – in my own strength. Further, it’s a hard meal to swallow when we get what we want and we’re still hungry because, aside from what we wanted, what we needed was God all along and all alone.
Thus, the heartbreak.
In order for God to position Himself as *Steffany Gretzinger voice* the King of our hearts, our stubborn attachments to others forces Him to forcibly remove whoever we put in His royal place. However, when we make God “BAE” and put Him before anyone else, then He will make us whole and put everything else in its rightful place in our lives.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” ~Matthew 6:33, NKJV
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Several years ago, I seriously contemplated writing a book about having ‘daddy issues’ and how to overcome them. But Doreen Virtue beat me to it. Plus, in all honesty, I couldn’t write that book from a place of sincerity as my daddy issues remained firmly within my grasp. Since then, though, I have taken a considerable amount of time, conscious energy and continuous effort to loosen my grip and my gripes against my dad, namely, by learning to accept him and his – perceived – limitations as grounds for grooming me to love without limits.
Oh sure, it’s easy to love people when they fit within our ‘love-limits,’ i.e. our conditions of how love should appear. But loving those who smash our limited ideas of love into limitless pieces is where our real work lies and, moreover, testifies to what real love is: Unconditional.
Thank God for a God who loves us without conditions and can, therefore, teach us how to really love others–if we let Him. Although He is all-powerful, God will not force us beyond our limits to forgive. If we are committed to holding on to conditional love and grudges against those who fall outside of our conditions, then we cannot fully behold God’s unconditional love for us.
That’s not to say that we should force ourselves to suffer conditions that abuse our love. No. With God’s grace, we can bypass such abusive conditions – as well as our conditional love – by passing it all over to God for healing.
By passing over nearly 30 years of anger, bitterness and condemnation toward my earthly father to my heavenly Father, I am healing and I am free as a result–healing with the understanding that how people treat me is less about me and more a reflection of how they feel about themselves; free to receive God’s unadulterated and unconditional love, and pass that love on to others, including my dad. Just as important, me healing from my daddy issues frees me to replace that label with the mantle I secretly always wished I could wear: ‘Daddy’s Girl.’
You see, when I finally accepted my dad for all that he can and cannot give me, I was then able to accept God as my “Papa,” whose powerful love gives me what I need and more. Two years ago, Papa hand-delivered the following note to me – at Wal-Mart, of all places – as a testament to how He dotes on me. Now, I’m sharing His love note with you as a testament to how much He loves you too:
You may not know Me, but I know everything about you. (Psalm 139:1) I know when you sit down and when you rise up. (Psalm 139:2) I am familiar with all your ways. (Psalm 139:3) Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. (Matthew 10:28-31) For you were made in My image. (Genesis 1:27) In Me you live and move and have your being; for you are My offspring (Acts 17:28) I knew you even before you were conceived. (Jeremiah 1:4-5) I chose you when I planned creation. (Ephesians 1:11-12) You were not a mistake; for all your ways are written in My book. (Psalm 139:15-16) I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. (Acts 17:26) You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14) I knit you together in your mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13) And I brought you forth on the day you were born. (Psalm 71:6) I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know Me. (John 6:41-44) I am not distant and angry, but I am the complete expression of love. (1 John 4:16) And it is My desire to lavish My love on you, simply, because you are My child and I am your Father. (1 John 3:1) I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. (Matthew 7:11) For I am the perfect Father. (Matthew 5:16) Every good gift that you receive comes from My hand. (James 1:17) For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. (Matthew 6:31-33) My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) Because I love you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3) My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. (Psalm 139:17-18) And I rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17) I will never stop doing good to you. (Jeremiah 32:40) For you are My treasured possession. (Exodus 19:5) I desire to establish you with all My heart and all My soul. (Jeremiah 32:41) And I want to show you great and marvelous things. (Jeremiah 33:3) If you seek Me with all your heart, you will find Me. (Deuteronomy 4:29) Delight in Me and I will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4) For it is I who gave you those desires. (Philippians 2:13) I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. (Ephesians 3:20) For I am your greatest encourager. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17) I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. (2 Corinthians 1:2-4) When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. (Psalm 34:18) As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to My heart. (Isaiah 40:11) One day I will wipe every tear from your eyes and take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. (Revelation 21:3-4) I am your Father and I love you even as I love My Son, Jesus. (John 17:23) For in Jesus, My love for you is revealed. (John 17:26) He is the exact representation of My being. (Hebrews 1:3) And He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. (Romans 8:31) And to tell you that I am not counting your sins; Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. (2 Corinthians 5:15-19) His death was the ultimate expression of My love for you. (1 John 4:19) I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. (Romans 6:22) If you receive the gift of My Son, Jesus, you receive Me. (1 John 2:23) And nothing will separate you from My love again. (Romans 8:38-39) Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. (Luke 15:22-24) I have always been Father and will always be Father. (Ephesians 3:14-15) My question is: Will you be my child? (John 1:12-13) I am waiting for you. (Luke 15:11-32)
Love, Your Dad
If you want to experience a love like no other and you’re ready to lay your daddy issues at the Father’s feet, then click the links to follow and fellowship with us on Facebook and Instagram. He’s a good, good Father!
And no, this is not a work of fiction; this work is very real. In fact, this work is my work.
Admittedly, I still have work to do when it comes to me owning my sexuality outright and out loud. (For me, the written word often picks up where spoken word leaves off.) Yet, I am undaunted in my mission to possess and profess my sexuality. I even wrote a mission statement:
“I am a Divine sexual being. I fully embrace and express my sexuality in ways that are fully aligned with the Spirit of God. I am free from all sexual guilt and shame. I know that my sexuality is a gift from God, and I love, cherish and enjoy my God-given sexuality. And so it is, in Jesus’s name, amen.”
Actually, it’s an affirmation. And, actually, I’ve done more than write it–I’ve been reciting it to myself two times a day for a year.
To give you some context for these words and my intention behind them, allow me to indulge you in a snippet from the book’s introduction:
“…In reference to my past, the concept of positive self-talk was first presented to me in church – before I was ever introduced to Louise [Hay] – as speaking over yourself. While I was not born in a manger, I was practically born and raised in church. Therefore, the predominant attitudes that I was exposed to in church dictated much of what I defined as positive and negative.
“On the subject of sex, I found the church’s general attitude toward it to be, ‘Just say no.’ So, I generally defined sex as negative, along with alcohol and other drugs. You can probably imagine my surprise when, years later, I first heard Louise – a beacon of positivity – speak freely about sex over herself: ‘I am at peace with my sexuality.’
“Actually, I saw Louise’s words written on a Facebook post, but seeing the statement printed so boldly made me feel like I heard her shout it from the rooftops. Louise’s affirmation startled me greatly and affirmed within me what I could no longer avoid—I was not at peace with my sexuality. On the contrary, I was frightened and ashamed of it…”
 History. “Just Say No.” History.com, 2017. Web.
 Hay, Louise. “Gay and Lesbian Issues.” LouiseHay.com, 2018. Web.
I then go on to reference the rock-bottom of my sexual fear and shame, and the winding and wordy way that the experience led to my Divinely sexual manifesto. Further, I give five points that outline my healing journey as well as the chapters of the book:
Lesson 1: Connect your mind to your body.
Lesson 2: Embrace your body.
Lesson 3: Understand your body.
Lesson 4: Restore your body.
Lesson 5: Enjoy your body.
Why are the chapters presented as lessons, you ask? Because as a student of life, I teach others what I learn as a means of teaching myself. (I told you I still have work to do.) Consequently, I Am a Divine Sexual Being is not just a book, it’s a workbook.
If, like me, you are also working to rest, rule and abide in your Divine sexuality – as Divinely afforded us by God – and release sexual repression, guilt and shame – as erroneously cast on us by people – then get your copy of I Am A Divine Sexual Being today! (Now available via Amazon Kindle. ) Live! Love! Learn!
I don’t need to watch the hit HBO series Insecure to know what insecurity looks, sounds and feels like–I have front row seats for “The Stephanie Rochelle Redd Show” all day, every day. That’s not to say that I spend every second of the day dissecting and reflecting on my character defects and comparative ‘drawbacks’. Nonetheless, I do spend enough time to know better.
I know better than the tales of unworthiness that I tell myself. I know better than the judgments about my beauty and body that I feed myself. I know better than to terrorize myself with my terrific imagination and terrifying what-if scenarios. I know, I know, I know.
Though, in the immortal words of G.I. Joe, “Knowing is half the battle”. What, then, is the other half? Believing. *Journey voice* “Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world…” (She took the red-eye plane going to Maaaauuuuiiiiii.)
The journey from knowing to believing is not for the faint of heart, my friends. The twists. (Ooh!) The turns. (Aah!) The heartbreaking/ego-shattering/limited belief-collapsing travails – and triumphs – that shake us to our very core. (@#$%^&*!) Yet, it’s in these core-shaken places where we are forced, again and again, to confront our inner-knowing of who we truly are.
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” ~Genesis 1:27-28, NKJV
Thus, when my humanity – toward myself – is severely tested and I feel twisted, turned and torn, it is then that my Divinity within arises and the God in me is reborn. (Hallelujah!) At the times when I see myself as least valuable and most unlovable, God, through the Holy Spirit, reminds me of my value in Him and of His love for me.
As I allow myself to feel the warmth of God’s love and receive His superior validation, I then steadily recall the truth that my true self is not lacking in any way, despite what my human self may do, think and say. What’s more, in the Spirit, flesh and in truth, I am one whole being.
So, this I know as true–again. But how do I believe it–for real? Well, as I’m learning, it’s really a matter of believing God.
“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” ~Genesis 1:31, NKJV
See, I’ve found that if I take people’s word for my worth, then my value in myself will drop just as soon as they drop me. Even if I try to invest my worth entirely in myself, my stock will still waver due to the volatile nature of my personal insecurities exchange. But(!) when I invest all of who I am in the One who made me, knows me and calls me His own, then – and only then – am I truly secure.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” ~Jeremiah 29:11-13, NKJV
If your estimation of your worth is off balance and you could use a new perspective to see just how valuable you truly are, then click the links to find and fellowship with us on Facebook and Instagram. Treasure, that is what you are!
Fear would have us believe that our flaws are our curses when, in faith, they are the foundation of our callings by which we can bless others and, ultimately, ourselves.
That written, I can’t tell you how many days and nights I cried, how many heavy breaths I sighed, and how many times I berated my brain and heart and beat myself up for being a ‘head-smart/heart-dumb girl.’
English, algebra and social studies–A, A, A.
Dating, relationships and self-love–F, F, F.
I was so f’ing tired of flunking life’s classes on love that I didn’t know what to do. Until one night – prompted by my and a guy’s discourse, which would’ve surely led to me failing another love-course – something within me clicked and I heard myself say:
“You know what? I’m going to write a book. And I’m going to call it, Just Because He Says You’re Beautiful…”
That was six years ago. Little did I know that that book was just Part 1 of my story. In the time since then, I’ve learned a lot more, which is not to say that I’ve learned it all–hence, Parts 2 and 3.
More heart-dumb mistakes? Check.
More excruciating heartache? Check.
More lessons to teach the masses and myself? Double check.
The Apostle Paul was another person who made a lot of mistakes. He caused and suffered his share of disheartening experiences. What’s more, he wrote several books’ worth of lessons to share with the masses. Moreover, Paul shared a personal lesson about the proverbial “thorn” in his side.
“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.” ~2 Corinthians 12:8, NKJV
What was the Lord’s prescription for Paul’s pain, you ask?
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” ~2 Corinthians 12:9, NKJV
At first glance, God’s response to Paul may appear more on the side of tough than love. But with a second look, we see that God’s grace not only soothed Paul’s pain, but saved him from his own self-righteousness so that he could rest assured on the righteousness of God–the only One whose righteousness has been cross-tested and Christ-approved.
And guess what? God’s grace and Self-sacrificial righteousness can soothe our thorny issues too. (Even if those “issues” can be transcribed into multiple volumes.)
So, by the grace of God and the goodness of His righteousness, I offer you the ‘thorn in my flesh’ in the form of this book. It contains prickly points I wish I had known sooner, practiced more recently and pray I won’t repeat–again.
Being perfect is one thing; being “perfected” by the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ is another.
While our thorns may be tenacious and our flaws a fact, I believe in the power of prayer, surrender and the name of Jesus to break every chain over our lives. So, go tell somebody – on the mountain, in the valley or at the summer school nearest you – that there’s hope for the hopeless romantic and help for head-smart/heart-dumb girls and women everywhere. Live! Love! Learn!
As I was dreaming up this post, I could hear Parks and Recreation’s Donna and Tom exclaim, from within a luxury retailer dressing room, “Treat yo’ self…to an affirmation!” While I can hear and heed this imaginative advice today, prior to 2013, I couldn’t have imagined it nor did I have any idea what an affirmation was.
That year was a huge turning point in my life. I turned 30. I turned into an author and life coach. And I turned my Christian upbringing on its ear by turning my attention to a trio of celebrated New Thought teachers: Alan Cohen, Doreen Virtue, and Louise Hay.
Well, they weren’t celebrated by me – not at the beginning of that year, anyway – because I really didn’t know who they were. But honey, by year’s end, what I didn’t know was how I had made it that far in life without them.
Alan taught me the essence of God and the metaphysical quintessence of Jesus Christ. Doreen taught me that I wasn’t crazy for believing in signs, angels and other mystical and ‘mythical’ beings. And Louise, well, Louise taught me love.
In the Bible, God the Father and God the Son are noted several times as commanding those who believe to “love your neighbor as you love yourself“. As one who believed church to be a second home – as I was there all the time – I heard this commandment all the time as well.
But that doesn’t mean I followed it, and I didn’t, to be honest. I went to church religiously and was just as spiteful and unforgiving as I wanted to be. I tried to be nice to people and, really, I was – and am – a nice person. Nevertheless, despite my nicest efforts along with those times when I didn’t give a flying effort, there were just some “neighbors” who I believed were just too hard for me to love.
And so, because I couldn’t locate the loophole to this ‘impossible’ command to love, I eventually left the idea of church at the open door in hopes of opening a window to a world where love was always on my side.
What I actually walked into was a brick wall of self-loathing, which was illuminated by my lack of self-love. Enter Louise…
“If you have had experiences in your life that are not comfortable, on some level, they’re mirrors of you. We don’t always like to hear that, but everything in our life is a mirror of us. So if something’s happening out there that’s not comfortable, we have to look inside and say ‘How are we creating it?’ ‘What is it about me or what is it within me that believes that I deserve this experience?’ ‘Cause otherwise, we wouldn’t bring it to us. So, perhaps, I would say a little more loving yourself would help because when you get that flowing, you won’t bring in uncomfortable experiences.”
~Louise Hay on “Receiving Prosperity”
In my errant search for a loophole to Universal love, I stumbled upon the wisdom of Louise Hay and was thrown for a loop. When I finally came to, I saw that the bitterness I felt toward my ‘unloveable’ neighbors was really just a reflection of how bitterly I viewed myself. Moreover, I learned that my lack of love for others was in direct response to a lack of love within me for me.
Well, in the years since first stepping foot into Alan’s, Doreen’s, and Louise’s classrooms, I’ve had plenty of occasions to put this theory to the test. Upon concluding each experiment, I’ve confirmed that while it can be trippy, it’s always true: Only love for ourselves equals love for others, not vice versa.
This consistent result has since resulted in my constant use of affirmations–a domain in which many ‘New Thinkers’ deem Louise its queen. Though I, too, hold Louise in this high regard, I admittedly regard my paraphrased version of Alan’s definition of an affirmation as my favorite:
An affirmation is a statement about yourself that just reminds you of who you are.
In other words, an affirmation isn’t aspirational, it’s actual. Of course, an affirmation that states “I spend money wisely…I always have what I need” can seem a little far-fetched when we seem to have only a little amount of money to spend. But if we can suspend our belief in what we seem to see long enough to really remember that the Source of our abundance is infinite and owns “the cattle on a thousand hills“, then we will really start to see that abundance materialize in our lives. (Amen to that.)
And amen to the teachings of Alan, Doreen, and Louise, which have all had such profound impacts on my life. As good teachers do, their teachings have also taught me to prize the profundity within. So, I bring this post to a close with five of my personal affirmations that I use to remind me of who I am.
1. “I am a Divine sexual being. I fully embrace and express my sexuality in ways that are fully aligned with the Spirit of God. I am free from all sexual guilt and shame. My sexuality is a gift from God, and I love, cherish and enjoy my God-given sexuality. And so it is, in Jesus’s name, amen💖”
2. “I am abundant in all areas of my life. I trust God easily and follow where He leads me. I fully trust God to take care of me, my finances, my material needs and wants. I am rich in love, peace, beauty, and emotional strength. And so it is, in Jesus’s name, amen💖”
3. “I am healed. My mind and my body are at ease. I am free from all distressing thoughts and my body is free from all forms of distress. I love my body and my body loves me back. I love my mind and my mind loves me back. My mind and my body are united as one in love. And so it is, in Jesus’s name, amen💖”
4. “I am whole. I lack nothing. Everything that God says I am, I am. Everything that God has for me is mine. I am a child of the King. Only good is my inheritance. I walk in God’s goodness now and I see it everywhere I go. And so it is, in Jesus’s name, amen💖”
5. “I am pure and as innocent as the day I was born. My purity is not earned, it is already mine. I am light in the darkness. I am warmth in the coldness. I am love in the midst of fear. I am kindred with God. I bless others and receive others’ blessings. And so it is, in Jesus’s name, amen💖”
If you’ve forgotten who you are and you’d like some help in reclaiming your identity, then click the links to find, follow and fellowship with us on Facebook and Instagram. I know your name.💖
I know in whom I trust – no doubt, that is God – but I do doubt how well the things I trust Him with will turn out. I mean, I know they’ll turn out for my good; Romans 8:28 tells me that. I just don’t know what God’s idea of “good” looks like when what I’m feeling as I’m ‘trusting’ Him does not feel good to me.
Of course, now that I’ve written that, it appears ridiculous to me that I am not only comparing my and God’s ideas of good but, actually, second-guessing the goodness of God. However, as ridiculous as that may be, I do it more times than I care to admit, especially when it comes to my idea of money.
When God told me to quit my job last year and set sail on SS Entrepreneurship, I thought that meant He would provide for me, mainly, by providing me with a lot of money. (Besides my fantasies of luxuries, the fact is that I live on Maui, and there’s nothing fictitious about this island’s cost of living.) But don’t get me wrong, “all I have needed, Thy hand hath provided“…just not in the way I hath expected.
God fed Elijah with the use of ravens. God has fed me with the use of food stamps.
Jesus said that He would prepare a place for me in His Father’s house, which contains many mansions. To date – and for two years – I’ve dwelt in a neatly-prepared bunk…in a dorm…in a hostel. (Albeit, a pleasant hostel.)
Now, let’s review:
Have I gone hungry? No.
Have I gone without shelter? No.
Have I gone broke? Close, but no.
When I feel worn and weary, and wonder whether or not I heard God correctly, these are questions I ask myself to help me put God’s goodness in my life in perspective. Here are some others:
Do you have a family that loves you? Yes.
Do you have friends that love you like family? Yes.
Do you have a vehicle and daily access to a hot shower and Netflix? YES.
Man, I’m starting to feel better already. While I know – in my head – that gratitude is an important ingredient in manifesting God’s promises, it can be hard for me to be grateful – in my heart – about what I have when I’m so focused on what I’m without. (Well that’s an epiphany if I ever wrote one. )
So, to round out this epiphanic post – it’s a word, I checked – here’s something else for me and you to ponder when we consider God’s promise to provide His goodness, in various forms, in our lives:
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These are my favorite “F” words. I love them individually and together, though I do prefer the latter.
I also prefer peace to war, love to hatred, and happiness to sadness. However, living in this world mandates the latter in each ratio if its opposite is to also exist. So, what is this existing neo-flower child to do?
Well, after I finish picketing ‘The Man’ and hugging my fair share of trees, I must then pick the man that hurt me the most and hug him–namely, forgive.
“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?'”
~Matthew 18:21, NKJV
To live harmoniously in a world of hurt is one hell of a feat. As such, I completely understand Peter tallying the toil others’ hellish behavior had taken on him.
Over the years, I kept my own tally of the injustices others committed against me. My tally-taking, however, was much less forgiving than cut-your-ear-off-Peter’s. (Imagine that.) Rather than seven times, it just took several strikes against me, and you – and your ear – were outta there.
Fortunately, I’m a nice person, overall, so not too many people have experienced the full measure of my displeasure. Unfortunately, for a small group of people who have witnessed my wrath firsthand – a few dozen students, one or two guys, and one family guy, in particular – let’s just say that Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire, would’ve been proud.
I’m not proud, though, looking back on those fiery events. Yes, there was a lot of pride involved, but it was of the ego variety. And where there is ego – a lot of ego, in my case – there is also a lot of room for forgiveness, even though it may not feel like it and we may not feel like forgiving.
Admittedly, I didn’t feel like forgiving for much of my life. More accurately, I hated the word “forgive” and any variation of it with a volcanic passion. I felt forgiveness was wrong because I thought it made those who hurt me right. Of course, it was perfectly fine for others to forgive me in the very – very – rare cases where I hurt them. (Ahem.)
Clearly, my sense of justice was warped, with the odds of me being the victim almost always being in my favor. But in my defense – You saw that coming, right? – I was actually a victim for a significant period of my life–childhood.
Yes, I hear you:
“Well, who wasn’t traumatized as a child?”
Sadly, that is one question with too many replies. Yet, there is only one answer that I’ve found that has allowed me to triumph over my trauma: Forgiveness.
I know, I know.
“How can someone who once hated the very word now show it so much love?”
Well, when “someone” is increasingly showing herself love, the ease of showing love to other things – and people – increases in kind, even when that “someone” was very unkind to those things – and people – before.
While my glasses are not rose-colored, these days they are tinted with love, particularly of the self variety, which allows me to look back on my past with love as well. That is not to say that I am looking pass my past trauma, but I am seeing it in a way that makes me revere God and respect myself for getting through it.
This is me at 3.
This little girl, like many small children, are often called “resilient”–meaning that they can take a whipping licking and keep on ticking. However, there are only so many of life’s lickings that a person, let alone a child, can take until their heart’s ticking loses momentum and eventually comes to a screeching halt.
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men [and women].”
~Frederick Douglass [and Stephanie Rochelle Redd]
In my past, things were done and words were said that I thought were unforgivable. And in reserving my right to forgive those who trespassed against me, I also restricted my ability to receive forgiveness–from myself. But why would a person, a child, a three-year-old cherub need to forgive him- or herself if they were the victim?
Well, I can’t write for you, but I needed to forgive myself for just being a victim, period–for not having the serenity, courage, wisdom, or wherewithal to see, understand, or stop what the hell was happening around me and to me in the first place. In retrospect, it was that hell that I could not fathom as a child that I fired upon others as an adult. Thankfully, though brutally, I have been brought to a place in my adulthood where I am forced to grow the hell up.
In the magical land of ActualAdulthood, there is no blame, only mirrors. These mirrors are other people who appear to be different from us, yet are able to magically show us ourselves by the ways we respond to them and they to us. Also in Actual Adulthood, there is nowhere to go but within.
It was only when I began intently searching myself for the panacea to my pain did I find it in love. In other words, self-love helps me accept my past and myself presently. Further, my increased love and acceptance of myself increases my love and acceptance of other people, especially the people who hurt me. (What? That’s the magic of actual adulting and actual love.)
This “magic” has also transformed my idea of forgiveness. Rather than seeing it as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for my persecutors, I now understand forgiveness as the freedom for which I am given. Forgiveness frees me from the weighty job of passing judgement on myself and others, and gives that responsibility to whom it rightly belongs: God.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'”
~Matthew 18:22, NKJV
No, Jesus did not want Peter to keep a tally of the 490 times his brother mistreated him, neither does Jesus want us to count our brothers’ and sisters’ wrongs against them. Instead, He wants us to count on God the Father to mete out justice as He sees fit, trusting that God’s rulership in our lives means fair rulings for us as well as others.
Now that I am armed with my new definition of forgiveness and deeper faith in God, I willingly surrender my victimhood – and my addiction to it – to His Higher Power in exchange for a victorious life for me and for generations to come. I am also willing to make room on my “Favorite ‘F’ Words” list for at least two more.
Feel free to click the icon above to flow in the feeling of forgiveness and frequent our Facebook page.
(See what I did there?)