A Word on Forgiveness

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My devotional reflection was on forgiveness this morning. I am reading Radical Grace, a collection of daily meditations by Franciscan contemplative guru Father Richard Rohr. I appreciate his take on so many things and this particular book has been an often used part of my devotional collection. The meditations are divided by church season and for the week after Easter, Rohr writes prayers to be recited by the reader. One such prayer is on forgiveness and the opening line resonates deeply with me:

Lamb of God we ask that we might be defense free people, that we might be able to live a truly disarmed life, that we might be able to be secure enough in your love, Jesus, to be insecure in this world, to let go, Lord.

The overarching theme of this prayer is about learning to forgive ourselves, but I’ve been thinking a lot about letting go and forgiving others recently. And I’m beginning to realize that forgiveness is all about vulnerability. Continue reading

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A Word to the Girl I Once Was

I write this through a watery gaze that is shedding tears for the girl I once was…

I recently watched a video from a family member’s birthday party circa 1983. I must have been 2 years old and the party was held at McDonald’s when McDonald’s was THE place to hold birthday parties. The video was recorded on a VHS and it was slightly fuzzy. It was quite entertaining to see the fashion – especially my mother’s blue tinted, big framed glasses – and hear the music of the 80’s. As I watched, I looked for myself in the chaos of babies, children, teens, parents, characters, balloons…you get the picture. When I finally spotted myself, I was surprised by what I saw. I was sitting alone at a table and I had a look of fear on my face. My hands were clenching the seat beneath me and my frame was cloaked with anxiety. No one was talking to me. My mother wasn’t around. And I looked utterly alone. That video image spoke volumes to me.

Of course, being the good therapeutic patient that I am, I brought this up during my next therapy session. And of course, being the cryer that I am, the floodgates opened. My therapist attentively listened to my sharing and when I was done, she asked that question that I hate being asked, “Rozella, what are the tears about?”

I sniffled my way through my response and finally articulated what I was feeling. “I’m crying for the girl I was; for the image reflected back to me that embodied how I felt about myself. The image that showed me how afraid and nervous I was. The image that reiterates my greatest fear to this day – the fear of being utterly alone.”  Continue reading

Music Mondays: Beyoncé

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Beyoncé released a new album on Friday at midnight. If you aren’t a fan or a music junkie or live under a rock, you probably missed this momentous event. People – both celebrities and normal folk alike – took to social media to express their shock and awe. The internet was all abuzz with a diversity of reactions. Most of the commentary was fun and funny to watch and read. Others were much more thought provoking a la this post over at the Crunk Feminist Collective and this video by the Queen of Nerdland, Melissa Harris Perry, where she hails this visual album as Beyoncé’s ‘Feminist Manifesto’. My favorite track is ***Flawless, which features the words of Nigerian feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from her Ted Talk entitled, “The Danger of a Single Story“. It has me bobbing my head, shaking my hips, puffing out my chest and singing at the top of my lungs, “I WOKE UP LIKE DIS!” As a womanist with feminist leanings, this song speaks to my soul.

I have been listening to the album non-stop since Friday. It was released as a visual album, meaning that she recorded a video for every song. I recommend watching the videos as you listen to the songs to get the best experience and to understand the context.

All the commentary and pop culture hoopla aside, I was particularly excited about this album because I am in the midst of the hardest season of the year. I have written about my struggles with Seasonal Affective Disorder and am valiantly trying to be positive and proactive during this time of year. It’s hard. I am facing my third Christmas a divorcée. I thought it would get easier, but its not. I travel all the time. I am a long distance away from my family. And I’m sad.

So as I woke up on Friday and reached for my phone, I couldn’t wait to download, listen to and watch this album. It’s hard for me to get out of bed. Like really hard. I jokingly posted as my Facebook status the following:

“Only Beyoncé can get me out of bed excited. Well, and God. But seriously God is using Beyoncé today. #FLAWLESS #thatisall”

I was only partially joking. I believe that music can be therapeutic and I believe that God uses various mediums to remind us of God’s never-ending love and encouragement. So in this instance, God used Beyoncé to encourage me and remind me of the power of love.

The album is all about love – love of self, love of others, love of home, love of life.

It’s all about love – eros, agape, philia and storge.

It’s all about love – confident and mature love.

It’s all about love, which I am desperately seeking…

I’ve struggled with loving myself. I feel like I am on an ongoing journey of practicing patience and grace towards myself. I really want to grow in love of myself because  I believe that I can only truly love others and experience love in relationship if I love myself. This album has me thinking more about what it means to not only love me, but to happy with me.

The last line of the opening track, Pretty Hurts, ask the question – are you happy with yourself? I feel like the rest of the album goes on to answer this question and it seems that Beyonce is happy – not fleetingly, surface level happy – but truly happy. And I want to experience that. I want to be happy too.

I’m inspired and for that I’m grateful. This album is going to get me through the next few days until I am home and can revel in the love of family and friends. It will get me through this season of being alone. It will get me through the sadness.

Thanks Beyoncé. Your music and vision give me life.

Love,

Me

Grief Space Part 1

griefSunday was a day – you know one of those days when the emotions bubble up and over.

I’ve been feeling untethered recently. There’s no way else to describe the disconnect and chaos that I feel. I have been struggling to identify where these feelings come from.

Life is pretty good. I’m enjoying my work.

I’ve been proactive about my mental health, seeing my therapist weekly and staying on top of my medications.

My visions have returned. In my major depressed states, I don’t have the capacity to hear from God and my gift of visioning is hindered. That hasn’t been the case recently. My visions have returned, almost to the point of being overwhelming. The creative energy is flowing and ideas are racing through my mind faster than I can account for them.

I’m nervous about the winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder is something that I deal with and being in a new city where cold, long winters are a norm scares me, but I’ve been proactive about dealing with this reality.

But there is still this feeling…this persistent, nagging emotion that something’s off.

I have been having a few days like today in succession recently and that scares me. I don’t like days like this because they remind me that the darkness is ever present. But something else happened today. I chose to reveal myself instead of hide. I reached out instead of staying in. I opened up instead of shutting down.

It began with church this morning. I’ve been feeling so guilty for not going to church. I am a leader in God’s church and I don’t belong to a regular worshipping community. I worship with many different communities as I travel, but I don’t have one community that I call home. Many have told me that I need to cut myself some slack because of the demands that my work in this season of my life make of me. But that doesn’t help ease the guilt. It doesn’t change the fact that I am disconnected from community. So today, on a rare occasion that I was in town and that I wasn’t exhausted, I went to church.

I cried most of the way there and I can’t  even tell you why. The tears just flowed. I got to worship late but I still went. This is a BIG DEAL. The anxiety of walking into places late is often times debilitating, but I decided to push through it and enter into a space that I knew God was calling me to be. It’s funny because I had these great expectations of worship this morning and they didn’t come to pass. But I realized as I left the service that me attending and getting out of my house was the first step.

From there I met with a dear friend who happens to be a pastor. I warned him before lunch that I was a complete mess and sure enough, over the course of our meal, the tears flowed. I still couldn’t explain exactly why I was so emotional but he let me babble on incoherently as I tried to make sense of the the emotions that I couldn’t seem to name. Our time together ended up being cathartic and I realized that if I hadn’t gone to church this morning, I wouldn’t have had lunch with him. I left our conversation extremely grateful for our time together.

As I drove home from lunch I kept playing the rest of my day over in my head. All I wanted to do was go home and bury myself under my covers. But I kept thinking that I needed to be out of my house. I needed to be around other people, even if I wasn’t directly engaging them. I needed to get outside of my head. And quite frankly, the thought of going home and being in my space by myself scared me. So I headed to a local coffee shop and began reading a book that I’ve been meaning to get to.

I sat there for an hour or so and still felt unsettled. At this point, I was getting tired of myself. I have no patience with myself and often wonder why things seem to be so difficult for me. I get tired of the tears. I get tired of the anxiety. I get tired of the sadness. I just get tired. In these moments I can’t imagine why anyone would want anything to do with me. I don’t want anything to do with me.

As I was having these thoughts I decided to reach out to a friend of mine who has profoundly shaped how I understand myself, my gifts and my call. It just so happened that she was available to talk. What happened over the next hour helped me understand what I was feeling and what I needed. Our conversation led me to realize that I am inhabiting what I am calling grief space. And it’s time to deal with it…

Part 2 to be published on Friday.

An Ode to David: Live Life

On February 18, 2002, my cousin David committed suicide. David and my brother Cole were the same age. He would be 26 if he were still alive. It rocked my entire family and I still can’t believe he’s gone. This suicide prevention month, my brother and I have been talking about David – about his life and legacy – and want to share the importance of each life. Everyone is precious and no matter what you might be going through, please remember that there are people who love you, people who care, people who would never want you to feel like you are alone and that there isn’t hope. Please, live life. Please, seek help. Please, love yourself. You will be missed.

David, we love you and miss you so very much…

Love,

Roze & Cole

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To: David

From: Cole

It’s a true blessing to see another day. My cousin is an angel now and watches me so everything is ok. A life is precious so live it to the fullest. My cousin’s life, though short, taught me love yourself, there’s not substitution. Think three times not just once when making decisions because life is only lived once. Even though I can’t see you, I have faith in us. I feel your presence no matter what. You will always be missed. I live through you because it’s you I trust.

Herman “David” Davis III

May 29, 1987 – February 18, 2002

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YOU ARE NOT.


You are not the thoughts that creep up and around and through you, thoughts that insist that you are not good enough. Thoughts that make you recoil in shame and wonder how anyone might love you.

You are not the thoughts that limit you and make you believe the worst. The thoughts that precede the dark feelings of despair. The thoughts that destroy.

You are not what has happened to you.

You are not what others say you are, if their words are anything short of uplifting.

You are not less than.

You are not lacking.

You are not beyond redemption.

You are not weak.

You are not insignificant.

You are not unloved.

Let’s remember all of the things we are, instead of the destructive things we think we aren’t. I will if you will…

Love,

Me

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