Categories
Selah

Doing vs. Being

I think a lot of today’s culture emphasizes “doing” at the expense of “being.” But what good is it to accumulate a beautiful list of accolades without being settled in your soul? Without being who God has called us to be, can we truly do what he has called us to do?

I think the being comes first, then the doing. Though often lived out simultaneously, the inner work takes precedence over the outward deeds. I even believe that the inner work fuels the outward deeds.

When I say “inner work,” I’m referring to heart and character, all the things that cannot be seen. Addressing things like motives and intentions make our actions more impactful. When I think about acts of kindness that have been shown to me, the motive and intention has often resonated with me even more than the actual deed.

Does God feel the same way? I think he does. Though he wants us to bring him our best, he also doesn’t desire sacrifices that are not produced from a clean heart.

You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Psalms 51: 16-17

God is more concerned with what the world can’t see. He looks at the heart.

So why are we so concerned with what the world sees? Is it for significance? Is it to keep up with what others are doing? Is it because we are trying to earn our worth by doing enough? Is it because we aren’t sure what would be left if we removed the surface level stuff? I’d say all of the above, but I can only speak for me. As some of my “stuff” has been stripped away, some voluntarily and some involuntarily, God is teaching me that what I do may be different, but my worth is still the same to him. Everything has changed, but at the same time, nothing has changed. He loves me no less, but I love him more.

In my doing, I also have permission to be. Be settled. Be peaceful. Be intentional. Be who I’m called to be.

My worth isn’t connected to what I do. It’s connected to who am I, which is connected to who he is. And because of that, it will never change or diminish. It’s settled. I can exhale.

Selah ❤

Categories
Selah

Don’t call me strong

I don’t want to be strong anymore.

I’ve decided that the popular definition of strong is something I no longer want to identify with. When black women like me are labeled strong, it often refers more to how much pain we can tolerate, how much mistreatment and stress we can handle before breaking. (Bonus points for breaking privately, while maintaining a polished exterior.) It seems to be some sort of badge of honor, a consolation prize for pain unjustly endured.

I think that subconsciously, labeling someone strong can dampen the labeler’s empathy for the “strong person.” Example: When statements like “I’m hurt” or “I’m struggling” are met with, “you’re strong” as though the latter negates the former. It can feel like your strength disqualifies you from help or compassion. Because you can bear something, does that mean you should have to bear it without help?

No.

No one  should  be pushed to their capacity, just so that others can marvel at the vastness of their capacity. So for me, strong is over.

Strong is over.

But shouldn’t Christians be strong in the Lord? Strong and courageous?

Yes!

I’m not saying that I’m not strong. I have witnessed my own strength in situations that threatened to overwhelm me. Make no mistake, I am strong and I know this. But I am not strong in and of myself. God’s strength is perfect in my weakness. He gives me strength for the battle. He makes me strong.

You have armed me with strength for the battle.

Psalm 18:39

But strength in society’s context lends to a more toxic definition and the true understanding gets misconstrued. It even tangles my own expectations of myself. Because of the way the label “strong Black woman” is weaponized against Black women, my choice is to distance myself from the burden, not the character trait.

If God remembers my frame, recalls that I am only made of dust and has compassion on me (Read Ps. 103)–I’m going to follow His lead and have some compassion on myself.

So for me this looks like asking for help, acknowledging my uncomfortable emotions, not feeling guilty for crying when something hurts. It looks like softness. Taking off the superwoman cape. Surrounding myself with people who handle me with care and extending the same grace to others. It looks like realizing the fullness of my potential, while fully respecting my limitations as a human.

Human. Resilient. Powerful. Graceful. Creative. Capable. Brave.

Call me any of these things, do not call me strong.

Selah❤

Categories
Prayers

A prayer for clarity

Father,

You know that I’m an overthinker. Left to myself, I’ll be immobilized in a cycle of anxiety and second guessing. My own thoughts and rationale can’t be trusted sometimes, but yours can. For that I am always thankful. When I don’t know what to do, instruct me. When I’m wrong, correct me. When I’m weak, strengthen me. When I’m stubborn, humble me. When I’m confused, give me clarity. Let my thoughts align with yours. Help me to see what you see. Teach me not to lean on my own understanding, but to acknowledge you in all my ways, knowing that you will direct my path.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

Categories
Prayers

A prayer of acceptance

Father,

Thank you for a being a safe place for us. When our hearts are overwhelmed, we can always come to the Rock. Thank you for being a solid foundation, never turning away from us in our times of weakness or vulnerability. We’re never too much for you. We’re never too heavy for you. You delight to come to the rescue of the ones you love. You desire to keep us safe as we dwell in the secret place of the Most High. Help us to bring all of our cares to you without hesitation or shame. Thank you for showing us that your love is one we can never be separated from, you’ll never withhold it and you’ll never take it back.  Thank you for full acceptance in you.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.