Many may not know this about me, but I haven’t been a part of a church community, on a consistent basis, in over 3 years.
It’s super unlike me, but, unfortunately, this has been my life for the past 3 years. Life has been weird. Between being diagnosed with and battling depression, changing jobs, and dealing with (read: avoiding) my mom’s mental illness… I have not been dealing with life…
I would say I haven’t been dealing with it well, but really, I’ve just not been dealing with it at all.
But this past weekend I was reminded of a few things:
1) God will never leave me.
I have had an underlying fear, consistently invade my mind for the past few years: I can no longer reconnect with God.
It has been this thing. This thought that, somehow, I have procrastinated too much. That I have ignored Him for too long. That because I have not been diligent in my search for a new church home or consistent with prayer or reading the Bible… That God no longer cares about me. That He no longer wants to hear from me or connect with me. That God has left me.
But these are lies. Lies literally created so that I won’t reach out to God. So that I won’t pray or read the Bible. Lies and fallacies. lol
Although it’s different, my relationship with God; God is the same and He isn’t changing. I’m the one changing. As I grow in maturity, like an infant transitioning into childhood, I am seeing the world differently. And it affects me. So my needs, desires, and how I engage, have changed. Sometimes people say for you to check-in with God and ask Him to show you who you are.
Sometimes that’s scary, but it’s necessary to see how that is affecting your relationship/worship with Him.
So, when I took just a bit of time and thought about where I was and how I was feeling, I realized the lies that were invading my livelihood. And I took some more time to rebuke, reject them.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” [Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV]
2) God desires for me live my BEST life.
About a year or two ago one of my former pastors told me “You can’t afford to just live”.
Although, I got what he was saying at the time, I don’t think I let that statement penetrate my heart like it should have. I knew that I didn’t really have the privilege of living life without focus, but I don’t think I accepted that at the time.
I wanted to live in a space that was comfortable and be with friends who made me feel comfortable and in a job that allowed me to live comfortably… but… That’s not my purpose.
As a disciple of Christ, I have been chosen the live life and live it BOLDLY. As disciples, we have to be intentional in everything, especially once we have been blessed to understand our gifts and callings. And, I have been blessed.
Not only do I understand my general purpose, I’m fully aware of how God wants me to go about fulfilling it. That is not something I should take lightly. In fact, it is something that should ignite me to live live with more intention.
There is definitely fear attached to me, more intentionally, pursuing certain aspects of my purpose, but as we know, Fear does not come from God. Just like I said above, it’s very purpose is to distract and detract from my relationship/worship of God.
But here I am, today, finally accepting that I will NOT just live. I will live the BEST way possible. Learning more about and following God’s Word. Allowing His Word to penetrate my heart and guide me in as many areas of my life that it can (which is every area if you were curious). Guarding my heart from things that do not reflect His Word. Allowing my friends who see me and my purpose, to hold me accountable and I them.
I commit to doing all of this and more in order to live MY best life. Which means being an example of Him in this world.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
[Matthew 5:13-16 NIV]
3) There is NO shame in starting over.
I’ve been here before. I’ve had to start from the beginning and learn what this worship/relationship really means to me. I have had to find a church home that made me feel like I was in the right place for where I was in my walk. I have served and gotten connected to lifelong friends. I have leaned in so much to God that I could clearly identify the person I used to be versus the person that I was; because they were distinctly different.
Yes, I have been here before.
But today, I have so much more knowledge that, I see that… I have NOT been HERE before. Not like this. I am a different person than both of those previous people. My needs are completely different because I see EVERYTHING with different lenses. There are no longer scales on my eyes.
Because of that, transitioning to a renewed commitment to Christ is different. And that’s okay.
I have things that I may have to fight a little harder to combat, but really, that’s what the Spirit is for. Despite all of MY challenges, God remains the same. And the Holy Spirit inside of me IS God… So it does not change either. The Word has not gone away. So the Spirit is still alive and active within me. And I feel it. Whenever I spend time in the Word I can feel the difference in how I think and how I act.
Starting over, isn’t really starting over when I understand this. When I accept it. It’s just committing to obedience. Re-committing. I’m grateful for one of my friend who reminded me of that this weekend.
I have to remember, also, that we are not expected to be perfect. A righteous man fall 7 times… We battle the flesh, the humanness of us daily. Although this is not an excuse to sin, we still cannot ignore that our flesh does not go anywhere. We just have to remember Grace is what helps us get up again. It is what helps us be strengthened in our weakness.
Accept it instead of running from it.
Nope, we don’t deserve it. But it was offered to us simply for believing. Embrace it. He loves us that much.
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” [Romans 8:1-2 NIV]
And because of that, I can declare:
4) I am a
Carefree Black Girl.
(well, woman, but you get it)
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” [2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV]
I don’t know why, but the idea of the Carefree Black Girl has been something I have been loving. Freely embracing who we are, flaws and all. Beating the odds. Ignoring what the world may try to tell us about ourselves and just being.
And then, randomly, it occurred to me…. I don’t really want to be Care free, I just want to be Free.
Again, we don’t have the privilege, as disciples, to just live this life. I have to care about what’s going on around me. I have to care about this life I have been given, this calling that I have on my life. I have to care.
But I am still free.
Today I am free from lies (ones I have been told and those I have told myself). I am free from being stuck in self-deprecating patterns that have caused me to be in negative relationships. I am free from feeling like I am not good enough or not worthy. I am free from the power of sin.
So… I’m going to live like it.
And I pray that you do too.
“I’m free. I can live and speak and love openly because I believe I am who God says I am. My insecurities are quieter (not gone, but quieter), my worries are lighter (not weightless, but lighter) and my heart is fuller because I know how God feels about me”
– Annie Downs
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