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Mirror Mirror on the Wall

I will never forget June 25th, 2009. It was the day that Michael Jackson died. But that’s not the reason that date is etched in my mind. It was the day that I realized that the man I loved so very much did not love me at all.

It was a horrific day for me. I had given him everything. Probably much more than he deserved. And when I tried to fight for our relationship, he told me that I was a ‘pest’, that I was ‘harassing’ him and that he would call the police if I didn’t stop bothering him. I sat on the floor in emotional pain… a pain that could not be felt but felt like the worse pain ever, as I flashed back to the day we first met, the many adventures we shared over the years, the talks of getting married… and now this conversation. How did it come to this? What did I do to deserve that?

Within split seconds, I felt hatred. Not for him. But for myself. How could I let this happen to me? How could I let him into my heart. It was not the first betrayal I had. And it was not the last, unfortunately. But it was the experience that first made me feel ugly and unwanted and that gave the enemy an opportunity to whisper death into my ears.

After crying for about 11 hours that night, I remember crawling to the bathroom. I had been too weak to walk. Dehydrated probably. But I heard a voice say “get up from this place” and so I did. I positioned myself in front of the tiny bathroom mirror, only to see that the 11 hours of crying had made my face look swollen, my eyes red, my complexion darkened and my lips chapped.

There was that still small voice again…

I want you to look in this mirror and convince yourself that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

It was asking the impossible. Clearly my boyfriend didn’t think I was beautiful enough. Why should I? Clearly I wasn’t wearing my makeup. How could I say that to myself? It wasn’t true. Clearly , at that present moment, I did not feel like pepping myself. How could I? But here was the Holy Spirit and He wanted me to play this ‘Mirror Mirror on the wall’ game?

Out of reluctant obedience, I muttered “I’m fearfully and wonderfully made”. Even as I said it, more tears strolled down my face. But I know I had to say it. And so I said it a few more times and then out of exhaustion, I fell asleep on the bathroom floor.

My hurt, my pain…did not end that day or even that week. It probably took years to be honest. But I learned something very valuable throughout the process. And that is in order to move forward and receive God’s best for me, I have to love myself.

I think the hardest thing for some of us…is not loving the God we cannot see, but loving the person in the mirror. We know the person in the mirror. We know all of his or her mess-ups, the mistakes that were made. We are the first to criticize him/her for being the way they are. But the truth is, it is impossible to love anyone else, until you have fallen in love with you.

Before you could give yourself to anyone, you have to be able to give yourself to you. Can you look in the mirror on your worst day… The day when you look as crappy as ever and say ‘I love you’?

You might have done a million things wrong. But just as God is gracious with you, you need to be gracious with yourself. It doesn’t matter how bad things were. You need to forgive yourself for the past mistakes and begin to see yourself from God’s lenses.

It wasn’t until I got this revelation that my perspective on life and love changed. An inability to love yourself is actually an insult to the person that God has for you. Essentially we are telling that person (and probably each person that we go out with) …”well…I don’t really love me. But hopefully you can love me.” How wrong is that?

I think that’s probably why a lot of relationships/marriages grow cold. We get married thinking the other person will love us enough. That they Will make us happy. And then after a few years… Reality catches up and we find that we are unhappy. Many people say that they are no longer happy in their marriages. That they are no longer in love with their spouses.  While that might be true, I believe that many of us are just not happy with ourselves.

It has not been easy, but everyday despite how I feel, I look in the mirror and tell myself that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. That I am beautiful. Yes, I have imperfections. But the Potter who created me knew that this Clayed vessel he made would have a few kinks. Still there is not another vessel quite like me. So everyday in my mirror, I get up and say… ‘You rock, Darlene’. I might not be perfect , but I am reaching towards perfection as the Holy Spirit shows me how. And while in that process, I continue to love my evolving self.

I challenge you today to come to terms with who God has made you. Ask God for help to Search yourself. Identify all the things that you hate or dislike about yourself, whether those things are experiences or mistakes or actual physical attributes. Once you’ve identified them, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what you can learn from having those experiences or features. You see, in every experience there is something that can be learnt. And every physical quality is an opportunity to fall in love with God  and the uniqueness of being you.

I encourage you to daily grab a mirror and confess your undying love for…you.

Psalm 139:14 (NKJV) 14: I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

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Let’s talk about relationships…

In the last few weeks, I’ve felt a tug in my spirit to talk about something that I don’t even know if I am qualified to talk about. But I feel I should talk about it. That subject is  ‘relationships’.

Now before I begin talking about this subject…  I want to say a few things…Disclaimers really:

  1. I am not married. I want to be some day… I think. But not unless God connects me to someone who is worthy of me. Yes… I said that.
  2. I am a single mom. That pretty much reiterates the first point. But I say that because I need to admit that I’ve made some tragic mistakes in the dating world. And there are times I feel as though I should be the last person to talk to people about relationships or love or marriage. But I feel I have something to say.
  3. I don’t and won’t pretend to be an expert on this subject. I am not. But in the last few years, all of the ‘tragedies’ I’ve experienced have led me into the haven of God’s arms only to ask the question, “Daddy, what was I suppose to learn from that experience?”. I won’t lie. There have been a lot of negative experiences. Painful experiences. Experiences that have forced me to seek counsel both in the world and in the church. Experiences that have made me want to give up on life and question why I was still on this earth. But this is exactly why I feel I need to talk about this. I have gone through some of the worst experiences I think any woman could go through, and by the grace of God, I am still here.
  4. I don’t want anyone reading my blog to take what I say as gospel. It’s not. But as I’ve sought God time after time, I’ve asked God to give me wisdom about relationships. I’m not perfect. But I do believe that my wisdom is increasing.

For tonight/today, I want to start simple.

Oh. Wait. There’s one more thing. I can’t promise that I will write to you every day. I can say that as the Holy Spirit leads, I will jot down points and then as I find time (i told you about my single mom deal, work, charity, business venture, etc…), I will sit down to write… probably at the 11th hour of the night. So if you find what I have to say interesting, I’d encourage you to subscribe so that you can get the notifications about posts in your email inbox.

So for tonight, I want to start by asking a simple question. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your satisfaction with your current relationship? And if you are not in a relationship, judge your past relationship. How would you rate your satisfaction with your past relationship/s.

I want you to be honest. Not with me. But with yourself. Don’t put this off. But rather, take a moment on your way home, or as you go through the grocery store… and ask yourself this question.

Then ask yourself, why did you rate the relationship the way you did.

If you rated it 9 or 10…. congrats. You don’t need this blog.

But if you rated it as anything less… I suspect it’s because you feel that there is a void. You feel it could be better… because something is missing. You can’t put your hand on it. But you just feel something could be better. Once you’ve rated your relationship and figured out why you rated it the way you did…hold that thought.

I’ll be back soon with a few tidbits.

Forgiveness

I often wonder why God felt it was so important for us to forgive people who we feel have wronged us. In His Word, Christ Himself said-

Forgive your brother seventy times seven… in one day.

My flesh thinks that this is utter madness. But my spirit has grown to know that the longer you hold on to the wrong or wrongs that someone has done to you, the more you intoxicate yourself.

Have you ever noticed that when someone has hurt or offended you, you mull over the offense for hours…Sometimes this turns into days, and then days might turn into weeks and months and years. The silly thing is the longer we mull over the offense, we create a movie in our heads that is actually far from the truth. And the sad part is, we believe it.

It’s like watching Batman. Have you ever watched Batman so many times, that you think you’re Batman or the villain in the movie? In your head, the character and the words that they say become real. ( I have by the way. I thought I was Catwoman).

I think we do the same with our offences. We plug them into our Little brain DVD/Bluray player and we replay it over and over… Until we seemingly have memorized each aspect of the conflict by heart. But the unfortunate thing with going over offenses in real time, is that all you have to rewind the conversation is your memory, which is quite fallible at replaying events in its complete accuracy. In fact, I think each time we replay an offence in our head, we add on pieces or take away pieces to make our story justify our anger a little more. But this is exactly what the enemy depends on. And he will use it to make sure we become bitter as possible and unforgiving to our brethren.

Unforgiveness is a powerful toxin. It dictates your life if you don’t address it. It can lead to bitterness if you don’t deal with it.

Bitterness will defile if you ever get to that point.

I’ve recently had to deal with a situation that could have led me straight into a path of unforgiveness and then bitterness. While I had every opportunity to be hurt and go over what the other person had done, I decided to just let it go and trust God to heal my heart. Notice what I said… “Heal MY Heart.” Not ‘fix the other person’. Not “make them realize what they did wrong”. Just heal my heart. You know what? I feel so much better. I have no malice in my heart. I have no bitterness towards anyone. And while I know there might be residual hurt there… I am trusting God to heal ME from that, rather than point fingers at others for their shortcomings and how they offended me.

I really believe that unforgiveness in one season of your life, if brought over to other seasons, can dictate the outcomes of those other seasons. I don’t want that for myself. In fact, however God chooses to move forward in my life, I don’t want to have to look back on my past experiences and be fearful and angry at others He will place in my future. I think this is why God is so big on forgiveness. Unforgiveness binds you. It’s can be a long lasting hemorrhoid if you let it. And so Christ urges us to let the offence/s go. Don’t let them stay. Don’t mull them over. Let them go. Let mercy reign in your heart for people who you think have hurt you.

Have you had an experience where you held on to a wrong someone or some people did to you? Have you released them? Or are you still mulling over what they did to you? I can tell you right now… that will get you nowhere. RELEASE them. It doesn’t matter if you think they were wrong and you were right. Everyone has a perspective which makes pronouncing judgment very complicated. When you’re hurt and offended (especially when you’ve been offended in the same area more than once), your perspective is thwarted to satisfy your own defence. To vindicate you even. So your best bet, is to let it go. And trust God to bring healing to your OWN life.

The Secret to a Great Life

To close off this week, I want to talk about one last thing I got out of the Encounter Weekend.

At the end of the Encounter, I watched about 70 women get up and testify about what God had done for them that weekend. They all had different stories. And while I could empathize with each of these women and what they had gone through in their lives prior to the encounter, I realized something…

Everybody has a story.

There are days when I think that all hell is breaking loose in my life or that things are just really crappy. But when you listen to these women, if you truly want to compare your pain… you will realize that ‘you got it good’. No matter what you are going through, someone always has it worse.

For every testimony I heard, I couldn’t help but realize how blessed I am. I might not have a perfect life, but I am blessed.

At the end of all those testimonies, I was truly happy for each of those women and what God had done in their lives. But I was also had a deeper appreciation for everything that God has done in my life.

I am grateful for every time He blocked me from dating people that were going to be the death of me (even when I didn’t think they were).

I am grateful for every time He protected me from harm.
I am grateful for every time He provided, He healed, He delivered.

I am grateful for the things that He has done, that didn’t make sense at the time. And perhaps still don’t.

In this very moment, I realize that the reason why we are always so cranky and we feel so crappy is because we allow the mirrors to be focused on us and all on the negatives in our lives.

Turn the mirrors outward and let it reflect on someone else and you will start to feel a little more grateful.

The secret to a great life? It’s not necessarily found in a self help book. It’s not in buying more stuff and getting more money. The secret …is continuous gratitude.

Have you forgiven ‘you’?

One of the more dramatic experiences that I had over the weekend was about forgiveness.

As ‘good Christian people’, I believe that we should always strive to get along with everyone. I think that is what the scripture means when it says:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Roms 12:18

Living peaceably with people means that we should always operate in forgiveness. That means, we should never let the wrongs that people do harbour in our minds.

Well, I’d like to think that I have been pretty good with forgiving people. I mean, a year ago, I made a list…a very long list of all the people that were on my mind. And I surrendered all of them up to God at my first Encounter. Man I can’t tell you how light I felt after.

During this last encounter weekend though, after listening to the message on forgiveness, I felt that I needed to go to the foot of the cross and forgive someone. I didn’t think there was anyone on my heart, but out of obedience, I knelt at the cross, trusting that God would just reveal it to me if there was.

After two minutes, I started to go through the list of people I had. And I truly couldn’t find anyone that I hadn’t forgiven.

Then I heard the Holy Spirit say to me as clear as day “Forgive yourself”.

I love having these audible voice moments with God… because you can’t question them.

It dawned on me right away, that although I had forgiven everyone for the wrongs I felt they did to me. I had not forgiven myself.

You see, if you can get to a place of forgiving people, you’ve achieved a lot. But very rarely do we ever realize that part of the process of forgiveness is forgiving yourself.

Have you ever dated the wrong person? Married the wrong person? Yelled at someone? Done something contrary to what God would have you do? Then sooner or later it all blows up in your face. When it all goes ‘south’, whether or not it is beyond your control, deep down inside you blame yourself. You know you blame yourself when you make statements like “what was I thinking?”. Or you condemn yourself for what has happened.

I can’t speak for you, but often I have done things that made me look back and go “What did I do wrong?” or “What is wrong with me?” or “what was I thinking?” or “why am I so fat?” or “I shouldn’t have done that!”

I had not even thought of how much of that I had been doing over the years…which inevitably led to me trying fix things in me that either were never broken or were not meant to be fixed by my flesh.

But God knew and saw. And so He decided that it was time for me to forgive myself.

I can’t tell you what a load has been lifted. I now know that even if I do things that I am not proud of, or that would grieve the heart of God, I need not come down hard on myself. I can simply acknowledge that I made a mistake, forgive myself and ask God to give me the grace to not do that again. 

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1

Selah!

He is concerned about the slightest detail

And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows Luke 12:7.

I love the way that God works in my life.

Last Thursday, I woke up feeling a little sore in my throat. Before the end of the day, I started having a fever and all the body aches that go with it. I knew that the flu virus was going around. And it had not affected me for almost a year. But I was hoping that it would pass over particularly because it was an encounter weekend that I could not miss and one that my sister was visiting for. I couldn’t afford to stay home.

By Friday night, which is when the encounter started, my body was so sore, that I could hardly turn my head. I struggled through the encounter sessions that night simply because everywhere hurt. That night I wanted to go up for the altar call. It never dawned on me that I should go up and get prayed for, so that the fever and pain could leave. Instead, I went up to the altar to ask God to do a work in some other areas of my life. It took two minutes of trying to kneel and pray before I realized that the pain was in fact way too distracting to pray. So I lied down on the floor (letting God know that I just couldn’t kneel that long) . Out of the blue, I heard an audible voice say to me ” you are not going to get anything this weekend like this. I’m taking this fever away… . There!”
It was so random a phrase, I knew it was God. I was praying for something totally unrelated. But He knew what I needed most. After hearing that, I was so bewildered about what the last five seconds was about, I laid there trying to figure things out. Then I heard “ok get up now!” I did. And there was absolutely no pain in my body. I had the mucous in my throat and I could deal with that. But the pain… Gone!

Isn’t that just like God to do something totally unexpected? That was not what I was asking for. But it was what I needed. And God knew.
From that moment, I realized something…

God is concerned with the littlest detail about me

You see there were 88 other women there, and He had to minister to all of their needs too. But He still took the time to minister to me even though it was just a fever.
If He could minister to that minor of a need, how much more would he be concerned about the major things in our lives? If He could heal a fever and some body pains, is He not also able to heal the major illnesses?

Take heed of the small miracles that God does in your life; they are in fact proof that God is concerned with both the minor and major things in your life.

He’s brought you this far

The Israelites left Succoth and camped at Etham on the edge of the wilderness. 21The LORD went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. 22And the LORD did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.- Exodus 13:20-22

I was meditating on this tidbit of scripture this morning.

My mind wandered into other times when God ‘showed’ up for the Israel before these Pillars of fire and cloud. And yet, every time after that, the Israelites questioned if He was going to bring them out of trouble. It’s like they didn’t even stop to think of all He had done before.

Do you ever go through that? …Periods when you are just not sure that God would bring you out.

In the midst of our unbelief, His promises are still yay and amen.

He who has brought you thus far on your journey, and given you great blessings thus far, is the God who will bring you into your next victory and rest.

Always remember:

God has brought you too far to leave you now.

He has brought you too far to just quit on you now.

He has brought you too far to just decide not to help you now.

That reminds me of a song…(and yes. I probably have a song for everything I write). This is an oldie but I love it!

Encourage yourself

This morning I woke up to some news that could have easily put me into a slump. I quickly decided that I wasn’t going to let it get to me.

And encouraged myself with these words.

Lord I thank you for the things I do have.

I’ve probably said this in some other blog before, but I don’t think a reminder will hurt.

Instead of looking at the things you don’t have… Give God thanks for the things that you do. This is how you encourage yourself…

Your mood will change when your perspective and your confession changes.

Always on time

He is an on time God. Yes He is.

This morning, I was rushing for work as I had some other things to do. So I did not get to do my daily devotion and prayer as I would have liked to. But despite the busyness, this song came to mind.

No matter what phase of life you are, and no matter how long some things seem to take to get to you…know that God is an on time God. That means, He will get to you whatever it is that He knows you are in need of, at the exact time you need it.

 

 

A true love story never ends

This Christ that we talk about so often…He is a Living Person. He loves us with a Personal Love and He looks everyday for the personal response of our love. Look into His face with trust, till His love really shines into your heart. Make His heart glad by telling Him that you do love Him.
…That’s what people who love each other do. They continually remind each other that they love each other because a true love story never ends.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.- Jeremiah 31:3

Have a great weekend.