I’m Sorry

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There’s no excuse…

I have been dishonest with you all. Not blatantly, but by omission. And I say it’s dishonesty because I deliberately haven’t told y’all what’s going on, because I hate being fawned over or worried about.

Let me start from the beginning…

In the past few months, I’ve spoken to so many friends who think I have it all together. People who applaud me for how great of an attitude I have had and continue to have throughout all the crazy things that happen in my life. At the same time, I have a ton of friends who have told me they want to know more about my journey, about the things life throws my way on a consistent basis.

I usually just don’t respond because I talk to who I need to talk to – myself – and I get over it and keep it pushing. I take a dance class. I do my hair. I go shopping. I write. I get over it.

But this past week, I have felt something I have never felt before: alone.

Yes, I know I have friends and family. Yes, I know I have Jesus. But with certain things in my life, the loneliness comes from the fact that I am surrounded by people who will never understand what is going on because they will never have to go through it. It’s one thing to fall ill, it’s an entirely different thing to have your body betray you. You have diabetes? OK, watch your sugar intake. You have high cholesterol? OK, watch your fat intake. But I…I exist, therefore I have these illnesses. And this is something that is always in the back of my mind. I have a LOT to think about, and sometimes, it’s like…can I just have some normal problems? Can a man just cheat on me? Or like, can I not be able to make rent? Literally anything else??

So as a friend put it yesterday, what I thought was me just dealing with things has actually been a sort of veiled high-functioning depression. Speaking to another friend, one who told me she saw how together my life was, she mentioned that she was scared to know what was underneath it all. Smart girl. There’s a lot under here, and as people who have been so great to me, you deserve to know. So coming soon, I’m going to be letting you in on it…

For someone who has the gift of communication, I sure have not been communicating well for myself. I have been able to tell everyone everything about everything else but me. I realize some of you didn’t even know I had this personal blog lol. Well, it exists. And I’m going to be using it, and the other means of communication through which I have told others’ stories to tell my own. Finally.

So yeah…talk to you soon.

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Bruh. Chill. 

Hey y’all! Cheesy McCheeseface but also just true encouragement moment (and weird vulnerability thing I’m trying): I had a huge anxiety attack Thursday in the hospital because, as expected, I’m sick and freaking tired of dealing with my health. I just started freaking out about crap that I haven’t done (that no one asked me to do lol), people who have left me (who probably were never a part of my destiny), and how no one understands me (Jesus definitely does), and I just lost it. Thankfully, my mother and a super wise African male nurse were there to calm me down. 

That’s not the point of my story, though. The point is that this week, I got a pretty big deal contract as a ghostwriter, and two people with a lot of influence have taken particular interest in mentoring me and fostering my writing. All those emotions and that fear from Thursday seems so extra now, and I’m actually pretty embarrassed at my lack of faith. See, the enemy isn’t just trying kill us – he’s trying to shake us. His whole plan involves showing God that His experiment – us – is flawed. That once things get too hard, we’re gonna forget that God has never and can never fail, and we’ll forget about Him. Satan knows his future, and misery loves company. It’s OUR job to stand on the Word, no matter what life looks like in the natural. That’s why it’s so important to read your Bible. Put it in you when you don’t need it and it’ll come out when you do. 

If you happen to be going through something that looks bleak, please remember that everything is OK in the end, and if it’s not OK, it’s not the end! God is always on our side. It’s our job to chill out and let Him work. Life is a fight, but the good news is, if you know Jesus and rest in His peace, the fight is fixed! 

That’s all. 💞

Kicks

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” – Isaiah 52:7

I love shoes and I hate that I love shoes because shoes cost money. However, there is no better feeling I have found in my adult life that when someone compliments my shoes. It’s a little sick – When I get a new pair of shoes I sit there and stare at them all day, and I usually take a picture of them either on Snapchat or Instagram, just in case someone didn’t get to see them. I’m also the girl who will forgo saying hello or even acknowledging your entire presence to point and gasp and go, “SHOES!” if my friend or acquaintance has on a cool new pair.

When I was really sick and in the intensive care unit in the hospital, shoes took on a new meaning. In the ICU, there aren’t solid walls – there’s glass everywhere so nurses can easily keep their eyes on patients who may not be able to communicate because of how ill they are. The most you can do to get a semblance of privacy is to close a long curtain that hangs along the glass wall. Thus, when people are walking by, all you can see is their shoes.

The last time I was in the ICU before I got my transplant, I distinctly remember seeing and acknowledging three people’s shoes: my father’s work shoes, my best friend Andrew’s white tennis, and my pastor’s brother’s loafers. All three of those meant something great but also very different. My dad meant comfort and that my mom would get a chance to go get some air. Andrew’s shoes meant comfort, fun, and probably some kind of delicious food he’d smuggled in (a pack of Oreos, most likely). And Dr. Paul’s….that was special. Dr. Paul spends half of every year as a surgeon in Kenya. He’s a career missionary who had a successful practice in the United States but felt the calling – and answered it – to go provide healthcare to people in underdeveloped countries. He has performed surgery on probably thousands of people in Kenya, and helped establish a hospital there. He’s the biggest deal. And he made time to come see me. To this day, thinking about watching his shoes walk past the curtain makes me incredibly emotional.

Honestly, it makes my hurt do something weird when I think of all three of those men coming to see me. When I saw their feet, I always knew things were about to be good for about an hour. I wouldn’t be scared anymore for a while. I would feel special for a while, and not like one of many patients in big, cold, sterile hospital. It made me feel a feeling that you don’t usually associate with being in the ICU. Seeing their shoes made me feel good.

What if when people saw us coming they got excited? What if, in a time when so many people had a terrible last year, when there are so many fearful, depressed, and hurting people, they got excited to see us coming because for however long we were with them, they were smiling?
It’s really an amazing feeling to have my nephew light up and run to me when he sees me. It’s as if he was waiting for me and didn’t know it. Like, I’m just who he wanted to see every time he sees me.

That’s our job, y’all! We have the awesome privilege of knowing the Truth that has set us free. The Church should be the place where there are a ton of happy people, all loving life and wanting to share life with those who need it most. Instead of being the ones who are bringing judgment and opinions, we’re called to be the ones who bring the Gospel, which simply means “good news,” to people. Look around you: We’re needed more than ever. I was just telling my friend’s dad that everyone I knew who was complaining about 2016 being horrible was outside of the realm of my church family. It’s poppin’ in the Church! So our job now is keep the party going when we leave.

What if my three guys would come to the hospital happy and then immediately become as somber, sad, and scared as I was in my hospital bed? I sure would have been fine with them turning right around and not passing that curtain. I was doing bad all by myself!

It’s the same for our loved ones and the people we come across every day. Make sure you’re carrying the news that there is hope, joy is possible, and freedom is here to everyone in your path.

I had a friend tell me that she had no idea I had ever been sick in my life because my “soul is always glowing.” I’m so thrilled that she noticed my shoes!

This year, let’s remember to shine our shoes before we leave the house.

That’s all.

The Sweetest Thing

IMG_8979When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
Psalm 8:3-4

I didn’t make a post-camp blog this year because it was kind of overwhelming. I had a bunch of people from the lifegroup I used to lead come to camp without being coerced by me, which was such a blessing to see. The girl from last year’s camp blog came back and brought her sister, which was really cool. One of my nephews came to camp(!!!). And just the experience in general was pretty humbling to be a part of.

The only thing I was pretty bummed about was the loss of one of my favorite earrings. Now, this is super vain, but I wear a certain pair of earrings when I work out because, although I’m intentionally getting sweaty and gross and all nasty-looking, I refuse to not wear earrings and further risk looking like a little boy.

The thing is, I didn’t realize I was so attached to these little purple studs until I lost one. I legitimately went home so sad because I couldn’t find one. I emptied out every bag, checked every crevice of the cabin and everything I could have possibly dropped them in and found nothing. The worst part was, I remembered thinking I shouldn’t have put my earrings where I did immediately after taking them off at camp – but I couldn’t remember where that place was.

The other day, I was yelling at my dog to not eat a piece of trash on the floor and thinking about how badly I needed to sweep, and I stepped on what I thought was one of many pieces of lint laying on my floor – and it was my other earring! I was ecstatic that I would no longer have to look male in the gym, but more than that, I was blessed by how sweet of God it was to align that for me.

I began to think of the many things that could have gone wrong: I could have given up and thrown away the matching earring; my dog could have eaten it; I could have swept/vacuumed and thrown it away unintentionally. But God seemed to know even more than I did how attached I was to those little fake earrings.

To me, that spoke to how faithful God is even when we’re trifling (because I still haven’t swept my place smh) and to how HE knows our hearts, even when we don’t. He’s protecting what we love, even when we haven’t done the right thing and taken our losses to Him first.

This was such a seemingly frivolous event, and such a seemingly unimportant deed, but it was a sweet nothing from my Father. He does the sweetest things to bless us, just because He can.

What a Wonderful Creator.

That’s all. I’m gonna go sweep now 😉

In Light Of Recent Events….

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

I’ve been very hesitant to write a full blog about this, but not because it might offend someone. The recent events in our nation: the Orlando shooting, a woman killing her two daughters, the constant, systematic purge of black men and women, the Dallas police officer shooting…those things are offensive. You should already be hurt by them. There is no reason for me to be afraid to hurt someone’s feelings by writing a blog addressing those events.

 

The reason that I have been so hesitant to write a blog about these things is because I would have to immortalize forever through writing the extreme fear and anxiety I have waking up every morning and going to bed every night. I do not fear for myself. Quite the contrary. I have a black father who, in fact, hung the moon. I have a black brother who, in fact, is the most loving person on the face of the planet. I have black nephews who make me wonder if I should bother having children because I don’t think I could love anyone more than them. I have black cousins who are the hardest, toughest men alive…except when it comes to me. I have black uncles who are crazy about me and I don’t even think I could express how much they mean to me. I have black friends who make me wonder what kind of magical man I am going to marry that they will approve of…or that I will respect as much as my friends. I have gay friends who tell me something about Jesus I didn’t know every time I see them. And the list goes on…

 

I can’t say much about what’s going on because there are no words to describe it. I can’t say much about what’s going on because what’s going on isn’t a series of events to me; it’s a question: What’s going on?

I have that feeling where I just want my mommy. I have been through an awful lot in life. But this is so different. And the most different part about it is that I wasn shocked and disappointed in so many people I’ve known for years. The lack of grace and compassion has deeply disturbed me. Suddenly Christians no longer believe in grace, but rely on someone’s criminal record or Facebook posts to rationalize why the person was “probably a bad person” because “your past says a lot about you.”
I don’t believe they’re not Christians anymore, I just think it’s time for a Churchwide heart check. A reality moment where we all come to terms with what we believe, about both secular and societal issues.

 

Mostly, it hurts me because I feel that in friends’ unexplained quests to objective, they’ve overlooked the fact that someone they claim to love  (me) is just as black as the person whose murder they are trying to justify. It makes me feel as if they have been purposefully overlooking the fact that I have been black this whole time in order to be friends with me. Suddenly, when I say #blacklivesmatter, they think I am a racist? Since when have things been so cut and dry? Why are people reading things I didn’t type?

 

I remember in college wanting to get an apartment with a friend. She was white, and told her parents that I was “black, but not black black,” because otherwise her parents wouldn’t approve. I think about that every time something like this happens and people who say they love me have something idiotic or insensitive to say online. Is it because they think it won’t apply to me?

 

With every tragedy that’s happened, people spark up a gun control debate. Have we become so desensitized to death and grief that our immediate response is to reason out why or why not this is happening? What happened to being sad?

 

You know how atheists always argue and try to convince people there is no God? For what? At least religious people are trying to save souls. But nothing happens if there is no God and I believed there was my whole life. In the same vein, what’s wrong with being sad that a human life was lost, and that people across the nation are scared for their lives? One of my friends put it best when he said, “You have nothing to lose by acknowledging injustice.” A life was lost. Grieve with those who grieve. It’s almost biblical.

 

I might seem all over the place with this post. But if I don’t make sense, it’s probably because nothing much else does to me right now. Trusting and believing in God is all I have right now, and I’m praying more than ever for protection for me and my loved ones. Every time, though, that thought just creeps up, “Did the people killed not have someone praying for them?” The most powerful thing I can do – praying – feels the most helpless.

 

But friends, this is where faith becomes faith, and not just hope. Do we really believe God is in control? Do we really believe that we should be taking care of our neighbor and loving like Someone who died for us when we were criminals? It’s time to act like you believe there is more to this life. If this was the end, if this was all there was to it, then I could see the concern. I could understand why we’re up in arms. But this isn’t real life! This isn’t what our hope is in. Our purpose is beyond this. We’re supposed to be showing people Jesus – not our opinions, not our knowledge of the law. Just Him. He’s the only One that can give us Peace, and the only One who will still be standing when everything else fades.

 

So what’s it gonna be?

My Illnesses Absolutely Define Me

If you’re the sum of your life’s experiences, then illness has been a big part of mine…and has taught me a lot.

Up until this year I hadn’t realized how much being sick for so long had taught me. I was lowkey (read: super high key) mad at God for making me so “different,” and for shielding me from the bad decisions I would have inevitably made. That might sound silly, but it’s exactly what I mean. I listen to all my friends’ stories about how much fun they had doing stupid stuff, and I kinda wish I would have had that opportunity, rather than being stuck in the house or afraid I’d be made fun of if I got sick in front of friends.
According to doctors, I have ulcerative colitis, sickle cell, and up until three years ago I needed a liver transplant. Thaaaattt’s right. Alladat. I’m passionate about dance, but had to miss a bunch of practices. I’m passionate about leading and serving in church and doing community service, but I couldn’t do too much activity without getting worn out. I’m passionate about food, but I could never tell when I was gonna able to keep it down.
I hear people with diseases and challenges say those things don’t define them, and it’s never really set well with me to say the same. I have accepted that as a truth in my life, though, until recently, when I realized my mind, soul, and body are just now figuring out I’m not as sick as I was anymore. A couple of years ago I wondered what the point of all of that grief was, but now I think I’m slowly beginning to figure it out:

My experience with illnesses taught me about who I am and who others are – especially who they are to me.

Let me explain.
You’ll never meet anyone who chills harder than I do.
Being ill, you learn that you have to listen to your body. If I feel like I absolutely cannot get out of bed and work out, guess what I’m not doing that day? I’m not slacking off; I just don’t want to overdo it and get sick. I used to laugh at people who threw up in the gym because it seemed like they thought they were invincible and would be able to push themselves to whatever breaking point they’d set. I learned to accept that I can’t do everything, and when I can’t I just gotta chill.
You’ll never meet anyone as adaptable as I am.
Of course, everyone hates being disappointed. I hate seeing disappointment on the faces of people whom I love. But I’ve dealt with my fair share of it. Nowadays, when I get disappointed I tend to think, “Well, at least I don’t need a liver transplant.”
You can’t tell me who I am. I’ve spent a lot of time with me, and I know me very well.
I will be the first to tell you that I know a lot about who I am, even the fact that many times, I try to deny it when other people tell me truths about who I am. That’s not to say I don’t learn more about myself with each new situation I encounter, it’s only to say that I have no desire to “find myself,” and I’m not defined by what others think of me or want me to be. I can say “no” to things and situations because I got very comfortable with being alone and having time to myself. Loneliness doesn’t scare me, and neither does nonconformity.
I am sure there are other ways in which being ill for a lot of my life has defined me – even negative ways. While I know I can change who I am at will, my experiences have made me who I am, and while I do wish some things would have been different and question why they didn’t change sooner, I appreciate the person I am because of what I went through.
So far, that’s enough of an answer for me.

That’s all.

Don’t Let the World Outdo You

In the past few months, I’ve been doing some introspection on who my real friends are. Having been ill for much of my life, it used to be very easy to gauge that – it was all the people who stuck around, visited me in the hospital, and put up with the special conditions I needed to adhere to in order to stay healthy and in a good mood.
One of the first lessons I learned as a fully functioning adult with the ability to move around freely was that not everyone is on your side. There were people – inside and outside of the Church – who would smile in my face and stab me in the back. It was much harder to deal with from people inside the Church because I knew they knew what I did about how to love people, so I expected them to do it. Alas, that wasn’t always the case.
I don’t want it to come off like all my church friends were horrible – that’s not the case at all. In fact, my very best friends come from my church. I just found out some surprising behaviors from my church friends that I would expect from my “unchurched” friends and vice versa. Let me explain:
Every now and then, people decide to go to different church services, different churches, or opt out of certain services to pursue other passions or career opportunities. I find no problem with this, as long as they’re being spiritually fed in a healthy way. However, there’s this weird, icky trend in churches where if you’re not choosing that specific church or service anymore, people don’t ask why, they just speculate whatever reason they feel you aren’t around anymore.
Now, that’s not always the case, and I’m not saying it doesn’t happen out in the world. But here’s the thing that actually made me laugh about the whole situation:
I was one of the people who chose to go to another service at one point, then I opted out of an entire service (working at a church and attending every service gets to be a lot, as you can imagine). Only very few people directly asked me why, and then some people just would randomly walk up to me and go, “Hey, so what has God been teaching you lately?” as if to insinuate I couldn’t possibly still be hearing from him only going to 3 out of the 4 weekly services I attended. I realized I could literally just fade away from church altogether unnoticed.
But let me miss one night at the turn-up…
When I stopped going out on the weekends to clubs, parties, concerts, etc., just about every one of my “unchurched” friends contacted me and asked why. LOL. Every call, every text was like, “Hey girl, you OK? Your car working? You sick? You depressed? I’ll pick you up!” HAHAHAHAHAHA. It was so intense!!!
While that was hilarious to me, it was also incredibly sad. Shouldn’t we be that way with our friends who we see aren’t coming around as much? Shouldn’t we be doing everything in our power to make sure people are going to the one physical place they can get healthy? If someone switches churches and your church is so great, why not ask them if there was a problem, how you can fix it, and how you can get them to come back instead of speculating and making up stories about whyso-and-so is “backsliding?”
It’s time to stop assuming people are OK and are just rebelling when you don’t see them anymore. It’s crazy how hard we work to make sure people who don’t know Jesus get to church, then when we get them there, we don’t take care of them anymore to make sure they stay there. What good is having tons of people come to church and then retention sucks?
The difference between my two sets of friends, I found, was that the unchurched friends realize that we’re all out here on our own, and they don’t know that there is a Savior to help us out, so they feel that we need to help each other. Guess what? Since we have the privilege of knowing there is a Savior to help us out, we also need to realize that what He did as a human on this earth is what we are to do: take care of people.

That’s all.