Today is such a special day for me. In it lies such a mixture of emotions that I imagine may always be present.
Today I am not only mindful of the joy that has been brought upon my life through motherhood, but I am also mindful of the grief. I’m mindful of my first born and the greatest loss of my life thus far.
It was just last year that I experienced my first Mother’s Day. Where I was recognized and honored by friends and family. Where I felt a small glimpse into that joy.
However short lived and conflicting my emotions may have been that day…
However worthy yet empty I may have felt…
While being celebrated I also grieved and I was seen in that grief. I was comforted in that grief. And I was honored.
While this is not my first Mother’s Day, it IS the first that I am able to celebrate. It’s the first that I am able to hold my child and love on them and fully embrace the joy of motherhood.
Although I still grieve, the pain is not nearly as strong and the peace exceeds expectations here.
I’m grateful for the ups and downs this journey has taken me on. A road so unexpected. A turn that has truly changed who I am as a person. I’m still learning who this new person is, but grateful to be able to experience her.
I thank God that when I needed comfort and stability and truth and love… He did not withhold it from me… even when I withheld it from Him. He is Truly so unlike us Humans.
I thank God for the people in my life who saw me and who see me. For those who loved on me and respected my space. For those who grieved and continue to grieve with me.
At a time when you can really feel so alone, God made SO certain that I knew that I was not. That I AM not. That I was seen and am forever seen. That as a family unit, this affected us in so many ways. God the Father and Most Holy Sovereign One did what He does. And I will never unsee or un-feel THAT.
There is a space for those of us who have experienced infant loss. It’s a space we can go to within ourselves as we heal. And it’s one that also allows us to see and honor the others of us who have this shared experience.
I feel blessed that I get to mother after loss. I feel blessed that I get to see so many others mother after loss. But I also feel for those who have not yet or will not ever. My heart truly goes out to you.
To all of us, I give the greatest of hugs.
And to every Mother in every form… To You beautiful, complicated, worthy, strong, souls… I honor You and acknowledge You and say…
2018 was a pretty rough year for me. Besides the realities of having to move 3 times, losing my car, and moments of feeling like I’d lost my mind, I was also dealt some pretty heavy blows regarding both of my parents.
The complexities that 2018 yielded left me in a constant state of… confusion and wonder.
I was sad but hopeful.
I was hurt but could literally feel my healing at times.
I was broken but could see each and every piece
that resulted from the breaks.
That was how 2018 was playing out for me.
I was left with SO many questions almost daily.
But then, between the months of August and October (my birthday month) with the weight of all that 2018 had brought upon my shoulders; with more than 2/3 of the year done, I began to find the answers I had been looking for. As I yielded to God and started to take that wonderful gift, called time, to listen and Hear what God was telling me and what He was showing me…. I began to understand the pieces. The pieces that were left after God so purposefully allowed my life, well what I had tried to make of it, to fall apart. After God methodically pulled out every single weed that existed in my life and showed them to me one-by-one… I saw what He was doing. I understood what He had done.
I remember a time during the summer while I reflected on this bamboo palm tree that I had. As I looked at it in my room. It’s leaves sparse, but growing, and it’s twin having been uprooted because of my initial ignorance and neglect… I reflected on my life. And how my life mirrored that palm…
How I too had slowly but surely neglected myself. How I had been unsure of how to feel rejuvenated. How I was confused about what I needed during my growing season and my stagnant seasons. How when things started to fall away, I saw the urgency of the matter but still remained uneasy about what steps were necessary to heal.
Did I need more water?
More soil (or of the Word)?
A different soil?
And as things started to die. I had to be brave enough to let them and pull those things out from their very root as not to harm what was left.
God did that part though. As I prayed for the ability to start over. As I prayed and wept and wrote and didn’t write… as I lamented and pushed through…
He saw me.
He saw what was hurting me.
He saw what was falling away and was wise enough to call it Good.
He saw what was dying and what could cause harm to me… and was strong enough to pull it out from it’s very root.
He was kind and gentle enough to wait until I was listening and showed me each and every weed and dying thing that was set up to cause me harm.
That was set up and planted in my life, to cause His Kingdom harm.
He showed me those things… and was Sovereign enough to call it Mercy and Grace.
So as I reflected on that small tree with so much potential… I knew what God was doing in me and I submitted to it.
It hurt y’all… so much. And as that last weed was picked and exposed…. I cried so much…. for my faith (or the lack there of).
For that child who was SO hurt and confused by life but didn’t know it. For my body that I had unknowingly taught to live a life of gluttony… and I cried for every mistake and seed of evil and sin that had ever and will ever be planted or grown in my life….
But as the year ended… and we discovered my Dad’s cancer… I felt the oddest and most necessary sense of peace.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:7 ESV
Not because I knew that my Dad would be okay… but because I understood, without a single second of wavering, what I needed to do and why.
I understood that it was time to go Home.
That God had not just pulled the weeds for the sake of revealing them to me (because 2018)… but he had meticulously shown me what good had grown. That, despite the enemy’s and sin’s and, honestly, my own, best efforts…
There was GOOD.
There was righteousness.
There was Faith and Hope and Wisdom.
There was His Spirit.
Fully formed and increasingly developing within me.
Rooted and Built Up.
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
Colossians 2:6-7 ESV
And that, because of what God has in store for me. That because of what He sent me to Arizona to do in the first place… it was time to take all that has grown (without the weeds) and give it back to where the first seeds were planted. It was time to give it back to MY Home.
And God, in all His beautiful Glory… whispered to me… that it was time.
“And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.”
1 Kings 19:11-12 ESV
All of this so that I could understand when it was time to move… to go… to come back Home… and so I had nothing to hold me back. No tangled roots. No people that did not understand but would desire to keep me back. No questions about this decision.
Now, in true humanly Benita fashion, I tried, a few times, to pretend like what I knew, was not, in fact, Truth. That I was to stay in Arizona for at least another season… That it was not time. I tried my best to ignore the pulling away from the place I had done so much of my growing… tried to replant my own roots… but they failed to stick.
And I didn’t even want to follow-through with the care they required… eventually I had to accept what God had revealed to me. I had to leave…
So I did. After 8 years and 7 months of living in Arizona. On March 25, 2019 I packed up my entire life into an SUV and took a road trip across the country. Traveled through 7 different states over the course of 4 days… with just me and my dog (who, to this very day I believe was created just for me and my journey) and went home.
While I’m still figuring things out… I’m mindful that there is purpose here. There is light here… there is so much beauty that I’d missed…
And although it won’t be perfect… it WILL be Good.
God WILL be glorified.
It WILL be beautiful.
“and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
Last year I posted this on my Facebook page, along with 2 images of my Mom.
There’s SO much I could say to this post.
But I won’t say it all.
I have struggled this past year, coping with the neverending loss of my mom (and I say never ending because my Mom is still alive, but I grieve, constantly, for the loss of the mother I grew up with).
As I make this transition back home, I am mindful of this opportunity to nurture and support my mom like she has done to me, my family, and others around her throughout her life.
While I am growing increasingly aware of the cyclical nature of life, I am grateful for the gift of nurturing bestowed upon me by this woman. Through the God that she so purposefully introduced me to YEARS ago.
Mothers, daughters, sisters, friends…
Take some time today and Be still. Rest in the uncertainty, the knowledge, the wisdom, the purpose, the breath, the boldness, & the potential of your Womanness.
On #InternationalWomensDay take heed of my friend, Amber Rochelle’s, advice and #OwnYourTruth.
That does not mean to simply acknowledge it, but take ownership, control, and care of it. Embrace it. Know its ins and outs and be a steward of it.
It Takes Time:
There’s a Yuna song, Timeand the chorus goes:
“It takes time
It takes a little time, baby It will be fine, yeah It takes time, baby”
That song along with watching my newly acquired bamboo palm tree growing, inspired this piece.
I’ve never really valued time. Either I was feeling as though all days were the same or, I was just feeling like I’ll always have it.
As I’ve gotten older, it only became an issue because it affected others. Not me… I got time.
That is until recently… And I started to see my “lax” internal timeline start encroaching in on itself… And my time seemed less like… time.
When you’re black, your lack of value towards time and all that it means, is simply called CPT. We’re always late.
The cookout will start late.
So will church.
And any gathering of the masses… We will be late. But it’s ok. We have time.
But as you integrate into the real world and interact with others…. There’s less… time.
On-time is actually 5-15 minutes early…?
Church runs on a TIGHT schedule.?
Parties start on-time and end… Early…?
And you find yourself struggling so much that you miss one of your best friend’s ENTIRE wedding (true story, ask her).
You find yourself not only late, but lost… And different. And… ALWAYS LATE!
I mean, in retrospect, black people have been late, systemically, for a LONG time… But dang. This time concept is… A real thing.
But I digress, because aside from being late to important things you still aren’t as phased, until, that is, you start to see that God is getting a little lax on His time with you.
(Well, specifically on the timeline you gave Him in secret, over a decade ago cuz you felt like it was sufficient time for Him to do what He does and fulfill his promises or your heart’s desires or whatever.) But Lord, why has the decade passed and I’m not really seeing you doing what I thought I told You you said you would do?
But why am I still here? Feeling like I’m actually going backwards? And why don’t I feel like I’m making progress on any of the goals that I set? Why am I not married with kids or dating with expectation? Or talking with excitement? I mean… We’re still here? Or back there because, again, I’m where I said I wanted to be a few years ago, not where I said I wanted to be now?
But then you hear poems about breaking up with God. .And you see small messages from people speaking to people like you about the importance of this…time.
This time of singleness, solitude, wilderness, desert, fire….
It is time to refine You.
Reconceived the notion, the concept, the idea, and the value of Time.
And see that His timing is not Yours. His values are not Yours.
He VALUES time.
It is with Time that he forms his most precious things.
Like babies in their mothers’ wombs.
Like some of the greatest of trees.
Like this World.
Like… your Faith.
He values Time. There is time for everything.
And He requests and requires your time as well.
You seek Him and can’t find him because you seek him as if he is hiding under your couch and when He isn’t there you give up. Like it’s a game of hide and seek. Be this is not a game but a lifestyle of worship.
This is not a game but a relationship.
You must SPEND time AND take time with Him.
Get to know Him. His heart. Learn His desires for you.
Time with Him is not guaranteed and while you still have breath in your lungs, spending time with Him to truly develop this relationship of worship is what is most important.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: [Ecclesiastes 3:1]
He has soo much for you. Plans to share. Weeds to pull. Seeds to plant. A heart to expose. A diamond to refine.
But time is of the essence.
The essence of who He is.
The essence of how you will get to know His desires for you outside of your own.
The essence of your time.
I have spent WAY too much time being afraid
And confused. And absent. And confused and afraid because I was absent.
And then one day, God reminded me of why I was struggling so much. He reminded me of a poem that brought me to tears. But really has me bawling now. Because I NOW understand where I have been. How I have been.
Learning to value time after 30 years is not easy. It requires FIRST being told that you don’t.
And then learning skills to put into practice that work for people that do.
Thinking outside of the box you created for yourself… Which often means trying things that you tried before, but felt didn’t work… And prioritizing.
And remembering that you, your time, what you focus on is of the utmost importance. Worship is of the utmost importance.
So take your time… His time, and give it to Him.
I used to do “Dates with Jesus”. It was a fairly direct and structured way to spend time with God. To improve our relationship.
The problem was, I let that be the only way. So if I didn’t put aside 40 minutes a day to do each. Or if I did and didn’t feel different… I felt discouraged.
That’s the enemy. He perverts things that way.
But that discouragement worked and over time I took away His time, out of guilt or shame.
In return I felt even more disconnected. And then more shame…. It cycled.
And to the point that the very thing that connected me to God was perverted and I could no longer believe that I was worthy or capable of connecting with Christ unless I went to extremes.
Makes me think of those images you see in movies or books about preists beating themselves when they fell short.
But finally, in pure frustration with how far removed I had become…
(That was the Spirit. He shines light into your darkness like that.)
I cried out to God. And asked Him what I needed to do. And he simply said: Give me time.
He didn’t say: exactly 40 minutes, 40 days of fasting, and 6 days a week in the gym (this was a thing for me as well)… But, simply: Give Me Time.
This is not omitting what you may need to do but, rather prioritizing what I need you to do right now. Let me show you. But I cannot show you what you are not giving time to receive.
So, basically. Read the Word. Pray. Sit in silence sometimes, but if that feels like something you’re not ready for… Read some more. Write. Talk. Talk it out. Write it out. Listen to sermons. And talk to those friends, those people that will really speak Life into you.
And then…. Give IT time. Time for the seeds I have planted, specifically, and maticulously inside of you to grow… They will. You will see them. Those and the weeds that we need to remove.
It takes time.
I’ve learnt and lost along the way
Yeah, I made mistakes
Yeah I felt all kinds of pain
And the reason why I’m here to stay
Is because my momma said
For things to be alright
“It takes time It takes a little time, baby It will be fine, yeah It takes time, baby”