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The Words I Would Speak to My Younger Self

If I could speak into the gentle soul of my younger self, what words would I speak? There are times when there
would be no words, just this joining-hearts awareness, peace, and awakening of "you are known and, oh so
deeply loved as you are."

At this moment in time, these are the words I would speak to my younger self, the words I continue to speak
into my own soul.

Fear was never meant to define nor control you. The presence of fear has never meant the absence of your
strength. The deepest fear and the greatest strength and confidence can and always have coexisted.
You were never meant to be shamed for being a woman. You were never meant to ignore your own sexual
desires and needs. Your body has never been tainted nor unclean. Your natural beauty, the body you possess
has never rendered you responsible for the actions of any man. You were never meant to hide your mind nor
your body to fulfill the image of "a good Christian girl". You were never required to serve a God fabricated by
misogyny. This is not the God who has been loving you for eternity and speaking to you your whole life. Lean
into what your mind knows and your body senses. You are loved.

Doubting the Bible has never equated to doubting God and even doubting God has never made you a lesser
Christian, for what you have been told is undeniably God's word and his commands are mere interpretations
created to steer you toward who others think God is. You have never needed permission to establish your own
thoughts and opinions about everything from the most seemingly mundane to the most divine. Your heart has
always known the intricate definitions of holy. Your innermost thoughts and the depths of your being have
always known God's identity. Channel into who you've always known him to be before societal and religious
filters were allowed to cloud your vision.

Claiming Your Happiness

I think that the important thing is finding what grounds you, what gives you energy, and what awakens your
mind and soul to true joy and fulfillment.
Within our work life, home life, and our inner dialogue, we can find strength, hope, and a sense of
accomplishment that propels us forward.
In all three of these aspects, we can feel the support of our family and community, all those who want to enrich
our lives.

At the same time, what is also true is that we cannot lean fully on any of these things as our source of
happiness. Our work life and home life can change. Difficulties can surround us.
And our inner dialogue can be a source of encouragement and empowerment, but it can also take our
confidence and self esteem to places they were never meant to dwell.

A truth that has helped me is this: Your inner dialogue is not always your own. The words that have been
spoken to us, the ideas that have been drilled into our minds by others and by societal influences can become
so deeply ingrained into our minds that they become part of our inner dialogue.
What we need to be aware of is: Are we allowing the inner dialogue formed by others, the media, and society
itself to control us?

If your inner dialogue empowers you, awakens your soul, and gives you freedom, then lean into that voice,
expand on that voice, and channel into the lessons, happiness, joy, wonder, and fulfillment that you are
choosing as your own.

If any part of your inner dialogue discourages you, let those words be words that you no longer claim over
yourself.

Redefining Purity

A while ago, I was sorting through some of my jewelry and I came across a pendant I had received at one of those abstinence-save-yourself-for-marriage presentations. I felt so much freedom throwing that damn thing in the trash, in victoriously casting it away.

The pressure I’ve been subjected to all my life to save myself for marriage has done me much more harm than good. Many teachings repeated this line or some variation of it: “If you have sex before marriage, you are giving your husband trash.”

The truth is that no physical object, when touched, is immediately deemed worthless. So, essentially, what the purity culture teaches women is that, if they have sex before marriage or if they are raped or molested before marriage, they are not only an object, but they then become the most worthless object on Earth.

I cannot follow these teachings while simultaneously viewing God as loving me unconditionally, for the God that I have known and loved since early childhood would not label me as trash just because of some minor change to my physical form. What I've come to realize and what I want you to know is this. Any teachings that encourage you to associate purity or lack thereof with your physical form are and always have been wrong.

You were never meant to be pressured into fake definitions of purity that seek to control you more than to love you. You do not have to carry insurmountable burdens of fear and shame merely because of your gender. No matter what you have been taught and what you have and are enduring physically, spiritually, and mentally, know that you are not alone. I am stripping away my own layers and I am healing too.

My whole life (or most of it), I’ve associated all feelings related to my sexuality as dirty, as impure and I am going through a process of rejecting those lies and healing from the deep psychological damage they have done. I am declaring victory over my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual self, declaring that I am sole owner of my entire being and rejecting all teachings that tried to tell me otherwise.

The birth of Christ should be celebrated as the miracle it was, but as a Christian woman deconstructing and redefining my own faith, virginity is no longer associated with holiness in my mind nor does it equal more closely following God’s will. Mary’s supposed virginity should never be the reason that she receives reverence and respect. She should be respected not because of her virginity, but because of her willingness to follow God’s direction, because she is the mother of Christ. Virginity was never meant to become the definition of feminine holiness.

The truth is that women in the Bible didn’t just have to endure shame when they were living in a misogynistic, patriarchal society on earth, but countless individuals, churches, and organizations, in the name of holiness and reverence to God and his will, continue to shame these women daily.

To the women of the Holy Scriptures mentioned by name and to those known only by a judgment-bearing title, I am so sorry for what you had to endure and that our society and Christian religion continues to pile shame upon you. You deserve more respect.

May the women of the Bible, our ancestors, and even the femine spirit within Christ unite with us to echo the truth that enough is enough. You don’t have to carry the burden of shame placed on you by those who were never meant to speak into your soul. Choose what you want to do with your body, how you want to express your sexuality, how you want to think, and how you want to live your life. You define yourself in every way and yes, this includes creating your own definition of purity.

There is No Formula

Grief has no formula. There is no specific timeframe in which you have to define yourself as ok. And yes,
abundant gratefulness and deep sadness can coexist.
It is ok not to grieve. We sometimes have this picture in our minds of what mourning, what grieving should
look like. I've had moments where I've thought to myself, "I should be crying. I need to break."
We need to let our emotions be present, to feel the truth of our psyche, our heart, our mind in their present
state of awareness instead of fabricating an experience and appearance to please society's view of grieving,
processing, and being ok again.

When it comes to living according to God's will, there is no formula.

I think sometimes in life we want formulas. We want to know that certain steps lead to certain results and
sometimes we put God, how he relates to us, and our connection with him into that same box. Yet, that is not
how life works and that is not how God functions. There is no formula.
I can pray wholeheartedly, unceasingly in one situation and God will grant my request. Other times, I pray for
even simple basic things, things that, when I examine what I know about God's identity and his love, it would
make sense that he would want them too. And yet, there have been times when God has not granted even
basic necessities and I feel alone, as if God exists, but is apathetic.

There are times when he doesn't heal through restoration on Earth, but instead lifts the souls of those we hold
beloved into Heaven. We welcome their freedom from pain while simultaneously not understanding why God
did not grant the healing that would have given us more time with our loved one and them more time to
accomplish more of their hopes, dreams, and desires.
We lean into God, we fight with him, we pour our hearts out to him, we get pissed off at him, we run to him
not because he grants us everything we want, but because he is present with us.

We need to be aware of when fulfilling "God's will" actually means the satisfaction or fulfillment of one's
agenda. I'm convinced that the fulfillment of God's will has never been as linear or as formulaic as it's often
made out to be. Sometimes phrases like "God is so pleased with you", "You're doing God's work", "God is
going to reward you" are actually code for "I'm pleased you're molding yourself into my agenda", "You're doing
and acting how I want", "I will cause you to mentally and emotionally affix a divine label to everything remotely
good in your life so that you will keep doing what I want."

Do not allow others to pile shame on you and to use God's name to do it.

"God wanted to bless you, but you weren't trusting enough. You had too little faith. You fucked up and because
of that, he had to limit his blessings; he had to limit his love."

I cannot pretend that I know what God's will is or even that I know for sure that his will is unchanging, but I do
know this: When someone uses God's will to control you, to burden your heart, soul, and mind with shame and
fear, this is not and has never been God's will; this is not his identity; this is not how he has chosen to connect
with you.

We've been taught to obligate ourselves to constantly strive to aid a fabricated god in fulfilling a will that is 0%
divine and 100% agenda. Don't let others convince you to follow, please, and strive to fulfill the will of a god
they created in their own image.

When people use God's name and his words to shame you, to limit you, to get you to take down your
boundaries, to mold you, to drill fear and a loss of confidence into your psyche, you don't have to tolerate that.

You are never displeasing God when you step away from an environment that is using his name, but is void of his love.

In the Moments We're Not Ok

My soul feels heavy today, a heaviness that manifests in the physical and seems to encompass my heart, mind,
and even my breath itself.
My mind is expressing simultaneously silence, rage, sadness, and all that needs not explanation, for in these
indefinable feelings, there is unity with my sisters, with my mother, and all who support and long to empower
our bodies, minds, and souls.
Wherever you are on your life journey, I see you, I acknowledge you, and I will always support your right to
have supreme dominion over your existence physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

There is such anger in knowing that a woman's right to her body has never been her own, to know that on
both sides of my family, women have died in childbirth and that my heart is filled with justifiable fear over the
truth that the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. has and will continue to increase.
Through anger, pain, fear, and solitary stillness that encompasses the interweavings of sadness and
gratefulness, my soul unifies with all who mourn the breaking of the tapestry of meaning, of completion, of
honor, freedom, and all that the Divine Feminine longs for us to experience, know, and claim.
I am trying to find comfort in the truth that, although they seek to control my body, they cannot control my
mind, and yet, the fact that they have always sought to control the vessel in which my mind is held brings
indescribable mourning and pain.
They admire the beauty of the land, Mother Earth's ability to generate life again and again, and yet women's
identity as the ones who carry life within us will always mean our bodies and minds matter less.

I pray that you will have the courage to speak truth, that as your heart breaks and your mind fills with anger,
the processing of all that needs to be done and said will bring healing that resonates deep within and yet
beyond your heart, soul, mind, and identity.
May you be given the freedom to process, to write, to speak, to sit in stillness, to breathe, to curse, to scream,
to do whatever your soul needs within this moment.

I am broken. I am not ok. I am not alone.

Claiming Freedom, an Ongoing Process

Awaken your soul to claim all of the freedom, serenity, hope, and peace that was always meant to be yours. Lately, I've been thinking about failure, loss of confidence, and the poisonous teachings and misconceptions I've allowed myself to get boxed into. The journey to freedom is one that I'm taking one step at a time, and some of those steps I'm taking again and again.

I love the pastor and author, Nadia Bolz Weber. This week in one of her videos, she talked about her interpretation of the famous 70 x 7 verse. I loved how she gave me a new, enlightened meaning of this verse. Jesus may not have been implying the number of times we need to forgive, but rather may have been talking about how forgiveness in and of itself is an ongoing process. Even if we tell ourselves that we have forgiven someone, there is still a long process of healing, pain resurfacing, memories to process, awakenings, and within it all, healing yet again.

When you feel you have failed, when you feel inadequate, that you are not as successful as others, go deep within your soul, take inventory, and really examine where those feelings are actually coming from. When and from what source were they first implanted within you?

A while ago, I got rid of the clothes that no longer fit me. For the longest time, I had been keeping those clothes, trying them on every so often, and feeling like shit when my body wouldn't conform, wouldn't mold to their shape.

As women, we are praised for taking up less space. We are taught by society to prioritize the shrinking of our bodies over the increase of our strength and the betterment of our health physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Our willingness and ability to embrace who we are and who we are becoming should never hinge on how "well" we meet societal expectations, for expectations that only serve to limit us and speak nothing of value into our souls and minds were never meant to be part of our process.

Our strength and growth may never be society's priority, but it has to be ours.

The Myth of Failure

Be who you want to be.

Just because you are not following the path you or others expected you would doesn't mean that you have failed. Even if you do not currently work in a position that is commonly seen in society as connected to your field of study, you should not label yourself as less than or allow this kind of labeling from anyone else.

I want to invite you to think outside the box. In your course of study, there were so many other skills that you gained that fall outside of the spectrum of the assumed skill set and societally approved career paths encompassed within your degree or field of study.

Chances are you are using some (perhaps many) of those other skills today. In the midst of life with all its opportunities, hardships, joy, pain, and all that exists in between and undefinable, you came to your present path. You are working to build the life you desire. The foundation and building materials may have ended up vastly different from what you or others were expecting, but one thing will always remain the same. You deserve to be confident and to truly claim ownership of your life. You deserve respect.

Your life does not need to be defined by paths society draws for you, nor does your self confidence have to be rooted in accolade-earning formulas that do nothing to actually serve your true desires or identity. These lines have always been erasable and those formulas are but a mere illusion.

Your studies, investment in professional development, and your career building was not a waste of time. If you had not chosen that path, you may not have formed the friendships you did, gained the mentors and supporters you have, and had the experiences and stories to tell that you do.

My hope for you is that you will continue to empower yourself as you move forward, that you will be surrounded by those who are continually strengthening and empowering your soul. I hope that you will give yourself space to think differently and that those around you will support your awakenings and redefining.

Change and failure have never been synonyms. I want you to embrace that truth and move forward in the light of that freedom and all that it means to you.

Forgiveness

Your capacity to fully forgive does not in any way depend on your willingness to step back into a place of deep pain.
When you refused to return to a relationship or environment that you felt was toxic, that freedom, those boundaries, that space to heal, all of those things were completely yours to claim.

Needing space to heal or even having to create permanent distance between you and those who caused you unbearable pain has never meant that you are not fully trusting God to work in their life and your own.

Forgiveness is freedom.

You were never meant to be trapped by narrow definitions of forgiveness that completely fail to encompass the realness of your identity and the truth of God’s grace.
You do not have to step back into a place of pain in order to love as Christ loved.

People are fooled into thinking that they have not completely forgiven their abusers, that their need for safety and an environment in which they can fully heal means that they do not trust Christ enough and are not working hard enough to imitate his endless love.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
~ Ephesians 4:32

Let your own capacity for love, peace, and unity combined with a gratefulness for God’s infinite love and forgiveness be the reason that you forgive, that you move towards reconciliation of broken friendships and relationships. And hold fast to this truth: To love as Christ loved means to be gentle with your own soul. To imitate the heart of Christ means to fully love yourself.

On What it’s Like to Be the Rainbow Baby

There is both brokenness and healing, pain and joy within the facets of my identity and my heritage.

My great great grandmother died giving birth to her tenth child. The fact that I share her name gives me a sacred connection to her and I feel that connection ever deepening as I become more aware of her presence in my life.
For such a long time, the only thing I knew about her was that she had died during childbirth, that the family was so poor they had soaked her bloody mattress in the river so that they could continue using it.

Lately, my mom has been doing genealogy research and has found out more about who my great great grandmother really was. Susana was an innovative and intelligent soul. She not only took care of her farm and 8 children beside her and 1 in her womb, she was also incredibly highly respected and loved within her community. She had an entrepreneurial spirit. She was courageous; she fought with everything she had to build a life of joy and fulfillment for herself and those she loved.

According to newspaper articles, her funeral in 1910 was overcrowded, the room filled to the brim with people she had impacted, people who deeply felt her love for them, and there is profound, humbling joy in knowing that even a portion of her identity and Divine legacy dwells within me. I carry her name and, as I feel her watching over me and, as I dwell in the peace and assurity of her intercessory prayer over every facet of my being, I know that I am deeply loved. I did not know her while she lived on Earth, but I feel her presence now and I love her.

Nathanael is my brother. My mother carried four children, not three. I am the third child, not the second. I have carried this sacred truth my whole life.
There are times when I wonder what it would have been like to know my other older brother on Earth. And then there are times where I talk with him and laugh with him and our love as siblings transcends Heavenly and Earthly realms. I can hear his laugh, see his smile, his sandy blonde hair moving as he talks and laughs. I know his interests and talents. It might sound crazy to make all of these claims, but all I have to say is this: Nate is my brother. Of course I know him.
It’s hard to understand how we can simultaneously have a thousand questions and yet a deep sense of clarity, but that is what happens when someone we love dwells in Heaven and we remain here.

“You’ll have a girl in May.”
Through these words, God spoke me into Earthly existence. As my mom carried Nathanael, she carried the truth and mystery of these words.
“Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”
I have always known that this prophecy was spoken over me before my birth and I have always been told that I danced in the womb.

I have no answers as to why Nathanael was raised in Heaven and I grew up on Earth. Such phrases as “Heaven needed another angel” are, in my opinion, poor ways of explaining the workings of the Divine, bring little comfort, and are completely void of any semblance of clarity.
Yet, through all the mysteries of the Divine, there are sacred, blessed truths that I know.

Nate and I are siblings. I am a reflection on Earth of the Divine feminine. He carries within his identity characteristics and traits of the Heavenly Father who raised him.

My great great grandmother loves both of us with an intercessory love that both transcends and connects Heaven and Earth. There is something beautiful about the truth that she interceded for us both on Earth and in Heaven before she knew exactly who we were.

I have always known the deep love of my mother, her hours of intercessory prayer on my behalf, her intense love for and connection with Nate combined with the ever increasing longing to know him more. Nate has been raised in the presence of my great great grandmother. He has sat beside her as she prays, and he knows the deep love she has for him and me. I grew up watching my mother pray.

They were born years apart and they never knew each other on Earth, but oh what joy, brokenness, strength, pain, clarity, and mystery is encompassed in the truth that the love of our mother and our great great grandmother is a love that forms a bridge between Earth and Heaven.

Goals and Rest

If you want to truly claim the life you deserve, you need to realize that your life now belongs to you. Don't be controlled by others' expectations or even by their doubt. If you feel passionate about something, pursue it wholeheartedly, for the only one who needs to understand and desire your path is you.

I have a few goals that I am aiming to complete every day for the betterment of my health, the improvement of my skills, and the growth of my business. Something that I've been thinking about is the fact that today, when I thought about working on one of my goals, it wasn't the desire to see more results that motivated me, but rather the fact that I did not want to carry regret. I wanted to, even within my inner soul, celebrate the accomplishment of having completed my goal. Sometimes that has to be enough. Being able to say to ourselves that we did something, that we chose to prioritize our wellbeing and our own desires for ourselves has to be enough to motivate us to keep moving forward.

As you build the life you want brick by brick, know that you can rest. Needing to rest does not make you lazy. It does not make you less likely to succeed or give you a lesser chance of truly gaining momentum to complete your goals.

Your desire to celebrate your accomplishments and your desire to rest can coexist.

Meditation and Freedom from Fear

I grew up believing that meditation was bad, that by meditating, I was opening my heart and mind to the influence of evil spirits.

I remember in third grade our teacher had us do these daily meditation and visualization exercises.

“Picture a relaxing scene. Go to your happy place. You have a special friend who will talk with you and guide you.”

As a kid raised in a conservative Christian church, that stuff was scary as hell. It wasn’t because of anything that the teacher did or said, but I had been conditioned into believing that if I took part in any type of meditation, any kind of relaxation exercise involving visualization, that Satan and his demons could come into my mind.

So, I would close my eyes and maybe just try to relax in my own way, but the whole time relaxation never came. I prayed as hard as I could, for I was filled with fear, a fear that was never meant to exist in my mind.

Fast forward a few years (ok, fast forward a couple decades) and I am just discovering the benefits of meditation. I don’t claim to be an expert by any means. All I know is that the short meditation exercises I do have lowered my stress level; I experience more mental clarity and thus more productivity. I find the almost constant physical tension that I carry in my upper back and shoulders lessening. I am where I am meant to be.

I was listening to a meditation recently and it talked about ascending a staircase and meeting spirit guides. That familiar fear I had experienced so many times as a child resurfaced in me.

What am I allowing into my mind? Could Satan influence me?

I acknowledged the presence of that fear and now I’m choosing to acknowledge that it was not rooted in truth. The truth is that I have always felt this deep, spiritual closeness to my ancestors. I feel their presence around me and I am fully convinced that the border between heaven and earth is quite thin.

So, I choose to be open to God’s voice and, if he wants to speak his wisdom to me through someone living on earth, I choose to let my mind and soul be open to that regardless of their beliefs concerning religion and spirituality, for I know I serve a limitless God. I take my faith one step further in even being open to him using those who have passed on to relay some form of wisdom to me. In the deep awareness, and centered gratefulness of my mother, I have awakened to the truth that my ancestors were interceding for me before my very existence. They are the souls that have loved me the longest. Within their love and my realization of it is wholeness and healing and freedom from the once-ingrained fear of my youth.

Fear no longer controls me. If my ancestors want to speak to me during my meditation, let it be. If God wants to speak to me, then I am fully here to experience all that that means. In unity with my ancestors, I inhale love. I exhale peace.

The truth is that people will sometimes use fear to keep you away from the source of your own healing. You don’t have to allow that. Set your soul free.

Burning the Ropes

I’m birthing new words on a page, an existence unknown, of unraveling and redefining, the willingness to just be, to let myself process the hard things and find freedom in my own words.

Every time I have been abused, I have thought about what I supposedly did wrong.

How did I put myself in that situation? What signs did I send that abuse was ok? Why was I so naive?

And I’m processing now the reality that even defining what happened to me as abuse was a delayed reaction.

My peacemaker personality (not wanting to upset or offend) extended even to that point that, from the forced passivity programmed into my psyche by the social conditioning of my gender, religious teachings, and things and entities that my spirit cannot even begin to identify or define, there came this illusion that, even temporarily, I didn’t have the freedom to fully claim my body as my own, that in the name of passivity, I must just be still and allow my body to be used. I was being abused and I worried about offending my abuser.

I walked by a rose partially shriveled and hanging upside down yet still somehow beautiful and I thought to myself,

“It still holds beauty although it is damaged. People are like that. Even though we are damaged, there is still beauty, joy, something good within ourselves.” And my inner soul began a battle with all that is wrapped up in the illusion of seeing oneself as damaged.

I feel that my core no longer resonates with these phrases of,
“I’m a sinner. Isn’t it great that God still loves me!”
“I’m imperfect. Oh what a blessing that a perfect God died for me,”
for there is this awakening that I have been programmed into allowing my abuse, the damage done to me to even indirectly belong to the category of my own imperfection.
I have never been imperfect, flawed, or less deserving of the love of humanity, let alone God himself.

Oh how I wish I could burn the ropes of lies, of conditioning, of programming all at once, but even setting the fires is a process. There’s this juxtaposition within my own realization that I am both rising from the ashes and sitting beside the fires watching the ropes burn.

Every day is a process of burning more ropes.

Every day is a process of choosing the garments of my own self-defined truth.

Declare Your Own Freedom

Dear soul,

Declare your own freedom for you are light and darkness intertwined, undefined, the peace and chaos of your own chosen identity.

Dwell within the centering realization that you are enough for the cravings of your mind and the yearnings of your heart and soul.

You are more than potential, could be’s, and almost’s. Within you is this amazing power to reach to heights and depths of unfathomed, not yet dreamed realities.

Breathe out the lie that you are inadequate and embrace the truth of your identity as you breathe in your own self-declared freedom, confidence, and grace.

Calm your own soul. Center your own being and know that no longer will societal expectations cloud your vision. For you were never meant to be placed in society’s boxes, in limitations that bear definitions.

A defined box could never hold an undefined soul.

You are the hope and freedom you have been waiting for.

Just be.

Identity

Language is your power and light, your freedom from even your own misconceptions, from the titles and identities you were never meant to hold.

Today, I was sitting down with a bowl of fruit I had just prepared. My fork dropped on the floor and I automatically declared, “Susannah, you idiot! Why do you have to be so f**ing clumsy. Clumsy idiot!” And I thought to myself: No, my identity is not meant to be encased in limited definitions that should have never been. I am not clumsy because I dropped something. I am not lazy because I needed to rest. I am not selfish because I chose me-time today.

I’ve found liberty in striving to replace the “I am” with “I have” or “I don’t have”. Instead of saying, “I am low income”, I am trying to say, “I have a low income” or “I don’t have much money right now.” I am choosing to acknowledge the existence of, process the effects of, and set myself free from this must-be-stripped-away identity. I neglect my basic needs physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually for the sake of productivity for I have subconsciously absorbed the lie that I am still low income and have not earned the privilege of caring for myself. I struggle with a lack of confidence and have to continually remind myself that I am just as talented, my words just as worthy of being read and heard, my voice just as needed and deserving of a platform as those who have been given assistance and opportunities that I have not. My identity is forged by my own decisions and who I choose to be. It is not found in the limitations of what I do and do not currently have.

Speaking the Truth of My Soul

Your experiences don’t define you. You are not your wounds. Yet, you can use your experiences to speak truth and heal another. Our experiences are the unified truth of “we are never alone.”

I know my experiences don’t define me, but through them, I have learned my own strength, the power of my inner voice in soul healing, and the unity of my savior with the saving grace of my friends who speak “rise again” every time I need to heal yet again.

Hang onto the impossible and bask in the unexpected. Don’t worry about anyone else’s expectations, the preliminary sketches they’ve drawn of your life. They were not hired to critique your present nor to design your future. So, go ahead and strive for what others have labeled as impossible. Life will bring unexpected challenges and unexpected blessings and sometimes we come to realize that they are one and the same. There is no reason not to strive for the assumed impossible, the it-could-never-be done. There is no reason not to empower the unexpected coming alive through the resurrection and renewal of your confident soul and mind. You are new life regenerated. You are your own source of energy and hope within the striving for the impossible and unexpected. Friendship has such a wide spectrum, wider sometimes than we are willing to let our souls believe. Many of those I call friends have seemingly almost nothing in common with me; yet, our empowered unity is within our differences. Our contrast is the catalyst of our friendship. Their difference is my oasis.

I am not an athlete, but yes, I want to hear about how the experience of the runner is creating new realizations and renewal of the mind and soul. I want to know how my friend’s workout is speaking into his mind the truth of the fruition of his own strength.

Friends that have seemingly nothing in common with me in terms of tastes, hobbies, and interests are often my strongest advocates in turning the maybe-I’d-like-to into the I-can-and-I-did. Powerful friendship through the unique soul of true kindness, there’s something beautiful and amazing about that.

Be blessed, my friends, and know the truth that you are deeply loved that I am longing to continually see and always celebrating the thriving of your soul within its unique capacity to bless all within its reach and even reciprocally bless itself.

As you quiet your own soul, I will rest in the truths that you share spoken and unspoken. As you regenerate its powerful voice, I am with you unifying my soul in solidarity with your own.

Decide for Yourself

Don’t let anyone else decide how your faith should function, what it means to be a true follower of whatever religion or spiritual path you choose.

I think within religion, there is so much manipulation. People are told that if they vote one way, they are true Christians and if they vote with the opposite party, they are not embodying the true spirit of Christ. Yet, I know people who I see as compassionate dedicated followers of Christ who want to love humanity and they vote on all possible sides. Do I agree with all of them. Oh hell no, but do I have the right to judge their relationship with Christ and rate their nonexistent Christianity Brownie Points? Ok…I admit that I do at times wonder what guides people to vote certain ways and I think that is natural, but what I hate is the manipulation….when church leaders and church members equate a person’s fully acceptable committed walk with God to their willingness to adhere to the “right” political party.

I feel that even though it might not have purposely been pushed, there was this sense in the church environment that I grew up in that God’s people voted Republican. The Democrats were Godless heathens. You weren’t truly compassionate and you didn’t possess the true heart of God unless you voted Republican. I don’t know how I made the transition to being mostly Democrat, but it was a gradual process of discovering that my political affiliations don’t need to control my faith and vice versa. I am moved to compassion, to care for humanity, to live out my faith because it is a natural part of my personality. My faith and awareness of Christ keeps me centered. Those who vote opposite of me, although I don’t understand their reasoning, have shown me and others in this unity of humanity the same love and respect.

So, if your faith combined with your political opinions, affiliations etc. makes you vote a certain way, let it be your own independent voice being empowered to do so. However, don’t let anyone else no matter how “Godly” and super Christian they may seem control how you vote by using your faith against you. You can make your own decisions. You can trust God and hear Him in your own way. Don’t let others control you.

You are Enough

Just because you’re striving to be more doesn’t mean that you’re not good enough now.

As we make goals, we can be tempted to see ourselves as inadequate, less than, as if reaching some magic goal makes us worthy of our own and others’ honor and respect.

If I’m trying to lose weight, I can fall into the trap of calling myself fat and ugly, making statements like, “when I’m this or that weight, then I’ll be beautiful,” but it’s all a lie.

I’m beautiful now even in my journey to become a healthier (yes, perhaps thinner) me.

I’ve been practicing different styles of calligraphy just for fun.

Sometimes when people are practicing something new, they’ll try it a few times and automatically and wrongly label themselves with “I suck at this”. NO.

I find myself ensnared sometimes in that same cycle. There was a calligraphic letter I was trying to draw and no matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t get it quite right. I started thinking, “ugh! I can’t do this! Why can’t I just do it right?!” and my self confidence was low. I gave up and started drawing other letters.

Later I picked up my pen again and just started casually, repeatedly drawing the letter that had given me so much frustration before. Now I was relaxed and I really didn’t care about drawing it exactly right. I just enjoyed drawing, starting from different points and angles, exploring what my hand was capable of.

I looked at the examples I had previously cast aside as failures. None of them looked exactly the same and none were an exact copy of what I had been trying to imitate, but there was a certain beauty and playfulness in my art and I liked it.

There’s truth to be found in this simple experience, the realization that just because what you make or produce is not an exact copy of what you were attempting to imitate doesn’t mean you failed. It just means that you created something unique and that’s a wonderful thing.

I think that’s a lie people need to let go of, that success, being good enough, is rooted in imitation. It’s not.

A person might look up to a certain author and wrongly view themselves as a failure, their accomplishments not having worth until they sell just as many copies as that author or are invited to speak in just as many cities.

By all means, try to sell a million copies. I’ll be cheering you on as you fill venues. Shoot for the stars. I’m rooting for you.

But also realize that exact imitation is not and never will be the definition of success.

Focus on the fact that you are enough now, that you are succeeding just by making the journey itself.

Make your journey your own, not another version of someone else’s.

You are Not a Burden

You’re not a burden.

I’m not sure if anyone struggles with the same thing I do, but I’m realizing that I often view myself as a burden when I shouldn’t. I have someone do something for me and I feel bad about bothering them about taking time away from them. I talk to someone about something that I am going through and although they are totally willing to be that listening ear, I feel bad for burdening them with my problems, for putting a weight on them that I should have carried alone.

I have times where I actually really want to talk with someone, but I don’t message them thinking that I might take time away from something more important. I have times where I have a question and I don’t ask and instead, subconsciously and wrongly absorb the lie that I don’t deserve people’s attention.

I don’t know how this started or what the root of it is, but I’m finding myself having to push against it constantly.

And one of those ways is through gratitude, through realizing that people are talking with me, writing to me, etc not because they are trying to just get me out of their way as if I’m an item to check off on their list, but because they actually want to spend time with me, because I have something to offer in our connection, friendship and that I am valued in the simple wonder of my own humanity.

That’s what I want you to know. You are valued not because of your capacity to produce something, to generate something, but because of your own unique humanity. Your presence is an offering to humanity and the Divine and I am grateful for you.

Gratitude. I read something a while ago where someone recommended instead of saying “sorry”, say “thank you”.

I tend to go to apology mode right away. “I’m sorry to bother you.” “I’m sorry you had to take so much time answering my question.” “I hope I’m not being a burden, but would you mind….would you help me with….?”

I’m rewiring my brain to say “thank you”, to show gratitude, to know that I am being chosen again and again, that I am not and have never been a burden, that I don’t have to cower away in the shadows hoping my existence doesn’t bother anyone, but that I can thrive knowing that I am surrounded by those who love and support me and want to see me empowered into my best self.

Empower your soul through gratitude and trust that there are people around you who want to make sure that you are thriving in the complete unique wonder that is you.

Vulnerability in Wholeness, Hope in Healing

I hold memories I would rather not for memories are not of our choosing and can resurface unwanted, but needing to be processed.

The week or two surrounding Valentine’s Day has always been hard for me because, instead of memories of being loved and treasured, memories may resurface of being harmed, abused, treated like trash.

It was years ago now, but I vividly remember someone I thought was my friend (or at least a trusted acquaintance) soliciting me for prostitution. My “no” prompted him to refer insultingly to my family’s poverty implying that I should not turn him down because my family needed the money. That happened a few days before Valentine’s Day. So, memories resurface, but they are just that…memories. I am not defined by my past.

I attended a conference for language educators. While at the conference, I was molested. I did nothing wrong to deserve what happened to me. I did not invite or entice the harm done to me. I was not “wearing the wrong clothing.” That whole line of dialogue needs to be purged from our society. There never has been and never will be a situation where a person deserves to be abused, deserves to be hurt…never.

I’ve had to go through this whole process of healing, breaking, putting myself back together, acting like I’m ok, and then breaking again. I’ve been hesitant to speak of these experiences for fear of people asking me or talking behind my back, “How did she get herself into these situations? What was she wearing? Did she invite their advances?”

Here is what you need to know:

I am in the constant process of healing for that is the rawness of our humanity. I am not flawed. I speak healing to my broken spirit and let it fully embrace the process of setting itself free. I am deeply loved.

I embrace my own wholeness within the spectrum of the broken pieces of me. I am building my future while healing my past. It’s not easy. I am changing. I am remaining. Let it BE.

I am speaking into and about the broken spaces, places, crevices in my life for there is hope in the vulnerability of healing open wounds.

I am metaphorically bandaging my own wounds while simultaneously awakening to the trueness that is “You are not alone.”

And that, my beloved ones, is what I want you to know. You are not alone.

I meditate upon our healing and the healing of our world as a whole. I sit with and hold the brokenness in me as it resonates with the brokenness in you.

You are loved. You are not alone.

Jesus Paid it All

For some reason, I woke up this morning with the song, “Jesus Paid it All” in my head. “Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain….” You know the one.

Although it may never be directly stated, it seems that some people view themselves and the ones in their inner circle as being in some sort of privileged cleansed class who are themselves alone worthy of God’s love.

If they or someone close to them is facing a difficulty or stumbling through an addiction, they talk of God’s grace, God’s forgiveness, the fullness of His love. However, if it is someone else who is struggling, suddenly that person has brought all pain upon themselves by not following and trusting God. They have set their destiny as doomed to remain forever flawed and to endure God’s punishment. Everything that goes wrong in their life is because they messed up too much to be loved by God.

And we do that to ourselves sometimes. We label ourselves as not deserving the grace that we pray to be extended to others. For others, we might pray confidently to a God who always forgives, but for ourselves, we struggle to drown out the lies of “You’ve messed up too many times. You’re not worthy of God’s love.” That’s the beautiful thing about love though. You don’t have to be worthy of it in order to receive it. God doesn’t look at us and label us as flawed, as beyond hope and we should not do that to others nor to ourselves.

Honoring the Not-Done-Yet

Sometimes I feel like the accomplishments, the finished products are all that matters.

We are a society that thrives on results, certificates, degrees. You are nothing without a piece of paper in your hand even if you have spent long hours in grueling self study going above and beyond what university classes could possibly teach.

We honor the finish line, but we don’t always honor the journey. This worship of the finish line is something that humans do to each other and to themselves.

“It’s all or nothing.” If we don’t accomplish some goal we’ve put on ourselves or that another person has put on us in the form of expectations, we have failed. We have and are nothing.

But, as I’ve worked on various projects and towards various goals, I’ve found that it’s not “all or nothing”, it’s “all or lessons learned”, “all or progress made”, “all or knowledge gained” and that “all” and how it’s defined changes in the process.

At times, I feel that transformation as an entity free flowingly forming almost like a story that writes itself or a character that emerges of their own will and comes to life. Other times I feel this sense of control over that redefining. I choose a different “all”.

Honoring the journey also means honoring the changes. There are times when we can mistakenly speak lies over ourselves or allow others to place the burden upon us of: “You had to change your goal because you weren’t smart enough to realize the first one.” “You had to settle for less because you’re not capable of doing more.” “You had to give up. You failed.” No.

What I’ve found is that sometimes all those changes are meant to be. They take us to where we are meant to be.

When we work on something, we must not allow our worth to be defined merely by the realization of a predetermined goal. Instead we must allow ourselves to see and express an abundance of reasons to take pride in our journey as we navigate our way through the in-between, as we come to love and admire the not-done-yet.

Rituals are Not Our Access to God

Rituals are our response to God. They are not our access to Him.

When I was younger, I was taught to pray what’s commonly known as the Salvation Prayer.

“Jesus come into my life. Forgive my sins…” and so on as a symbol of my commitment to God.

However, it became more than just a symbol. It became a cause of anxiety and pain. Every time I was in a church service or other event where someone prompted people to say the Salvation Prayer, I would be filled with fear and anxiety.

What if I’m actually not saved? What if the first 200 times weren’t sincere enough? What if sins I committed caused God to be angry and reject me? I’d better pray this again and again.

And it wasn’t about my commitment to God, but more about fear of God’s rejection if I was not perfect.

God does not require the Salvation Prayer at all. Yet, so often Christians use it to validate their own faith and the faith of others. We have been taught to view this prayer as the official beginning of someone’s walk with God, like the utterings of this prayer itself prompts God’s love and forgiveness.

So often heartstrings are pulled more by testimonies of people who remember the exact moment they said the Salvation Prayer. People are more excited to share, to relay the details of these types of testimonies.

I don’t have a testimony. I don’t remember ever making a decision to follow Christ.”

Christian culture has taught us to value the knowledge and realization that we have always walked with Christ and He with us below that of the specific memory of the application of human formula known as the Salvation prayer.

Am I saying that we should not say the Salvation Prayer? No.

However, I do think that we should rid our minds of the idea that it is required to validate our own faith and the faith of others. It’s not. It never has been. We have always had access to God’s love and forgiveness. The Salvation Prayer is not access to God. It is merely human response and nothing more.

If you choose to profess your faith by uttering the Salvation Prayer, if you have cherished memories of when you said it for the first time, I respect you, I honor you, I share in your joy.

If you have always felt God with you, but have never felt the desire or need to say the Salvation Prayer, I join you in celebrating your walk with God and I will never tell you what you have to and don’t have to pray.

God doesn’t care if we stand when we worship, if we kneel when we pray, whether or not we have uttered the Salvation Prayer.

Respond to God in the way your heart leads you and don’t be controlled by the rules and opinions of others even if our Christian culture has always allowed this control.

Your relationship with God must be defined by you and God alone.