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…
My mom met my son for the first time the other day.
I, honestly, didn’t know how it would feel. And I still don’t. I wasn’t sure what to expect and that made me anxious.
This past week had made me anxious.
It has taken its toll. Not only because of the George Floyd verdict, but the visit and I returned to work after 4 months…
It was a week.
I was thinking that I hadn’t been able to see her or hug her in over a year.
But with my mom, I had been thinking that my mom may never get to meet my son or that he would end up being a toddler (or older) by the time she did.
COVID has truly taken so much from us.
But it’s something you’d think I’d expect. After all, mental illness has taken so much from my family, from my mom…
But, with my mom having moved placements, however, there is a light. And soon we’ll actually be able touch. 🤗
See, although we got our visit, we had to socially distance still. I guess I just hadn’t thought about that part (although it makes perfect sense that we would). All of these visions of my being able to hug her and her finally being able to hold and hug my son… and it wasn’t so.
Soon it will come though. With vaccinations… Soon come Mom.
Until that time, I’m grateful for the hugs and smiles and words that my baby boy receives daily. I’m grateful for everyone that loves on him in a way that my mom has not yet been able to. In a way that, if I’m honest, she never will.
Man, mental illness has really taken so much from us.
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.”
Not in relationships… well, I guess in relationships, but not the kind you’re probably thinking of.
You see, I have a problem with committing to myself.
With committing to changing myself fully; with committing to accepting my purpose; and really, with committing to my personal relationship with God.
I’m a faster… as in, I fast, kind of often… well, at least I try to.
In 2012, when I did my first fast, I must say, although it was a challenge, once I got the hang of it & made it a habit with purpose, I was good. At one point I fasted for 40-days. I’m not bragging, because the circumstance kind of required it, but I’m just saying…that was me over a year ago.
But then…2013 came. Last March I wrote a piece on “No Compromising Season”… that was the season I was in. During that time, it was my intent to fast again because I’d noticed a few things and I felt my flesh getting too strong. I had started to lose control.
Before I move on, I feel that it’s necessary to reiterate that when it comes to my relationship with God; my physical health is pretty much my visual indicator of how I’m doing. (And on a funnier note, I’ve kind of used my natural hair journey as an indicator too).
So last March when I noticed my weight gain + my hair breakage I was perplexed. I had felt that I was doing the right things in my walk to at least maintain a healthy weight (and healthy hair), but my body said otherwise. So when I wrote “No Compromising Season” I had a few revelations. The biggest one being… I was allowing myself to be content with mediocre efforts.
The reality was, although my eating wasn’t horrible, I was inconsistent. And didn’t go to the gym. And when it came to my relationship with God, I went to church, but had stopped meditating on God’s Word as soon as I felt that His Spirit was no longer responding to the effort.
I had become lax… I had started comprising during the process. RIGHT when I had to start making a little more effort, I fell off. And that is how I became vulnerable. The minute I let go of what worked was the minute the enemy crept in and presented me with opportunity after opportunity to forget where I was going and why. And with some of the smallest of thing. God had continued to tell me I was in a season where I couldn’t compromise within the journey, but the longer I ignored that voice the easier it was to give in and indulge in things that weren’t good for me. I, in essence, started cheating on God. I couldn’t see it though because it was nothing “major”. I still attended church & served, & listened to Christian music every morning. I just listened to my secular music the rest of the day and had stopped making efforts to improve my service or even make sure I did it to glorify Him instead of myself.
As a result… eventually I couldn’t even tell whose voice I was hearing; who I was really devoting myself to; whose spirit I was really walking in.
And I’m still in the struggle. It’s better, but after a year of compromises, I’ve found that the things that I used to do, like fasting, take 4x as much effort a day than it did that first time. And that’s a scary place to be.
I said a while ago that I will never give up on my fitness journey and this goes for maturing in Christ as well.
He didn’t create me to be mediocre. He created me to glorify Him. He created me to be His child. He created me to be set apart. And for a God that loved me so much that He died for me… I can never give up allowing my flesh to die for Him. And for the God who rose from the dead for me… I will always take each day to rise out of my failures for Him.
It won’t be easy, and that’s ok. Because I am His I receive victory. Because of His Spirit in me & His grace, I have strength & wisdom. Because of His Word I have all the weapons I need to be an overcomer.
And the same goes for you! Today you may not be the best “Christian” you can be or life may generally suck; that doesn’t mean you can just do the “fade away” with God. One, He’s good for chasing after you. Lol. And, Two, He deserves better.
How can you get re-committed?
Seek His face… get to know who God is; how he operates; for yourself. Take a little time (5 minutes never hurt anyone). Read His Word & pray. Keep a verse in your head for the day. Learn who He is.
I personally love Psalms 119… longest book in the Bible, but probably contains something for everyone. One verse from that can reveal your heart. Give it a try… you have to start somewhere.
And trusting God will only come when you forgive Him…
Being in a relationship with Christ isn’t always easy.
People tend to have this perception that once you get Saved or reborn or whatever that life is grand from there… but the reality is… it’s tough. Maturing in Christ is probably the epitome of “The Struggle Life”.
As a case manager a lot of the teams I work with get extra excited when I get assigned to them. Not because of me, but because of what I do. They have this idea in their head that life will be grand from that first meeting on…
And then… several months later when things are either the same or worse I have to have that conversation that “things will likely get worse before they get better”.
Coming to Christ is sometimes like that. At first the sheer thought of finally accepting Christ builds you up & holds you over for a few months. After all, the weight of un-forgiveness is heavy so being able to accept God’s forgiveness and having that load removed makes everything “feel” better.
But then… reality starts to set in. Change isn’t happening as fast as you thought it would. In fact, you find that you’re having to put in a little more effort just to feel peace. You start to see things within yourself that you never noticed before. You start noticing that some of the people in your life aren’t who you thought they were and you notice some of the hurt you either hadn’t remembered or hadn’t realized.
This is when forgiveness and trust start to become an issue. Not that you need to forgive people, but you have to forgive God (not because He did something wrong, but because we feel that He did).
In the midst of your hurt, you start to feel even greater hurt because God didn’t stop the pain or because God allowed you to experience a time in your life that you would have rather been omitted from your story.
And that causes some bitterness.
And… you hit a wall.
The moment I realized I had to put an effort into trusting God was after I hit this wall for the first time.
All my life I was taught to love God & worship Him and have faith, but no one ever taught me that these things aren’t instant. And trusting God will only come when you forgive Him…
And the easiest way to forgive is to understand His Word & KNOW that ALL things work together for the good to them that Love the Lord & are called according to His purpose.
And remember that OUR purpose is to Glorify God & bring people to Him.
So… even if you don’t know WHY that particular something happened. Know that it is in the benefit of you. Either simply to give you a reason to come to him or as complex as being a testimony for someone you may never meet.
I started a devotional today. I’m always starting devotionals… But since I finished one, I started another. It’s started off pretty good because it got me writing. I love devotionals that encourage mindfulness; especially ones that encourage you to write down answers to questions or thoughts…
This one did that.
It had me read scripture passages and write down what they revealed about God’s purpose for me.
Specifically: “As you read today’s verses, write down some of new perspectives of purpose for your life as seen from God’s view.”
I immediately wrote down the following:
For God desires me:
-to be free
-to be faithful/to be Faith-filled
-to follow His Word, His Will, His Ways
-to honor Him
-to have peace
-to be light
-to be bold
-to be strengthened by His Word
-to Love others
-to Love Him (with all my heart, all my soul, & all my mind)
-to grow in Faithfulness, & Love, & Patience, & Kindness, & Self-control, & Goodness, & Joy, & Gentleness, & Peace
(Fruits of the Spirit)
If you noticed, I didn’t say God’s purpose or my purpose is…
That’s because, honestly, I’ve been struggling with remembering my purpose. Or rather, with believing my purpose, the one specific to me. That’s one of the reasons I’ve taken to devotionals so hard (I read about 3 a day). I want to remember. I want to believe. And this helps guide me into scripture a little more consistently.
It’s helped a little. The general practice of spending time in God’s Word is really the key.
However, I’ve noticed a trend:
Oftentimes there’s this discussion (especially throughout these devotionals I have been reading), to “remember God’s promises to you”; “hold on to His promises”… But as I’ve been transforming, it has been difficult to remember or, really even discern, God’s promises that are specific to me vs the desires of my own heart that I just HOPE He has for me.
As such, I feel like I can’t ‘hold on’ to those things as assurance of anything…
God changes our hearts. Gradually but He does. So I’m feeling that the things I wanted aren’t things I necessarily need. And, ultimately, they have been weights in my relationship with Christ. Not that they were sinful, but just that they were becoming significant pieces in my resentment or indifference towards God.
Because I didn’t have what I wanted, I was starting to doubt Him. And me. And seeds were planted and became confusion and fear. So much fear.
So I can’t hold onto “promises”… I have to hold onto His Word. And God’s DESIRES for me.
There’s a difference. I’m not saying that being aware of God’s promises isn’t nice. They can bring assurance. But when you understand the ROOTS of those promises… When you understand that His promises are simply symptoms or results of His DESIRES for you… THEN you have something to hold on to.
God’s desires and plans for us are how we can truly experience confidence and peace in our purpose. Because they expose His heart. And there is NOTHING stronger or more dependable than the heart of God.