Sundays With Rae

a blog for women by a woman who is trying to get her life together while still loving Jesus

Commitment Issues

July 2018

What are you committed to? What cause do you give 100% to? I’ve had this conversation with myself a few times this past week and I kept drawing a blank. Commitment is being involved whole heartedly and consistently giving your best. I wanted to say I was committed to church because I’m there a lot but I realized a lot of times all I do is show up. I don’t give everything I’ve got simply because I don’t want to or it inconveniences me. I wanted to say teaching but if I’m honest, I could do so much more (I know teachers are underpaid and blah blah, but in a lot of areas, I could still do better). Then I thought about my friends and peers who have similar stories, and some of them don’t even know it. Sometimes we show up and we rationalize in our head that we’ve done our part but there are no participation trophies when it comes to commitment. You don’t get anything for showing up. You must do something and do it to the best of your ability.

A lot of times we’re committed to other people; sometimes to people who aren’t committed to us. We give them everything we got to fulfill everything they need. Whether it’s a significant other, friend, relative, we are committed to them. But when commitment does not have a face or a name or a quick reward or recognition, can you still be committed? Will you still be willing to plan the event that hardly anyone attended last year, but you know impacted the few who were there? Will you give more of your time and money to make it better than before? Or will you just “support,” like everyone else did? Will you participate in the conference calls? Show up early to help setup? Make whatever amends necessary to work peacefully with everyone?

I’ve said it many times before: I love doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. So the idea of commitment is the complete opposite of how I want to live my life. But a few caring friends have let me know it’s not about me and I’ll be the caring friend to let you know, “it’s not about you.” Anyone can show up and be counted as present, even have a good time while they’re there. It takes special people to do the work and do it well. I’m the best show-er up-er there is. I can even make it look like I’m doing something well, but in the end I’m only fooling myself. I’m all about being gentle with yourself and knowing your limit and self-care, but I’m learning that commitment means pushing my own feelings aside sometimes.

Jesus didn’t just show up on earth; He did something while He was here and He did it well. We should keep that same energy when it comes to our gifts and our purpose and our church and our jobs. I’m not saying hop on every committee you can or say yes to everything you’re asked to do to show how committed you are. Doing that will actually cause you to be committed to nothing. I’m saying choose something and truly be committed to it. Don’t just get by, don’t do just enough, don’t just support, don’t throw money at it; do the work. It’s a sad case when we’re always supporting our friends and families and what they’re committed to but they can never support what we’re doing because we’re not committed to anything. You may never see the outcome of your commitment, but like I said, it’s not about you.

God: The Ultimate Event Planner

There are some people who have every second of their days planned and others who have no idea what is happening, they just show up. God is more of the former while I fall somewhere in the middle, closer to the latter. In planning events, one must pay attention to detail and be ready to deal with the unexpected. Someone is not a great event planner because all their events go off without a hitch, but when things happen, they are able to recover and still put on a great event. This makes God the ultimate event planner.

Think about it, He already knows the plans He has for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). If we would simply go with the plan, we wouldn’t find ourselves in as much mess. Of course we don’t do that, but He takes the mess and makes it beautiful. He incorporates our desires into the event we call life when we give Him control (Psalms 37:4). He allows those bad times to work out for our good (Romans 8:28). He also has the connections to open doors we need opened, if we ask Him (Matthew 7:7). In order to receive these benefits we have to acknowledge Him as our event planner and consult Him about the details (Proverbs 3:6).

Again, it’s not about everything going according to your plan. It’s about trusting your event planner (God) to still make whatever happen good for you. When I bought my house, a man who has been like a godfather to me, told me to enjoy my home no matter what happens. He reminded me that God had brought me this far and everything was ALWAYS going to work out. I have dealt with many things as a homeowner (leaking roof, being robbed, etc.) but I always remembered his words. And recently, I have been trying to be more intentional about applying those words to my life as a whole. No matter what happens, my event planner has it under control.

June 2017

Forgive AND Forget (Part 2)

My memory can be faulty at times, but if I feel I have been wronged, I remember every single detail like it happened this morning, doesn’t matter how much time has passed. So the idea of forgetting was (sometimes is) a hard concept for me to grasp. Even thinking about turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), has me side eyeing God. When I realized forgetting was a part of the process my conversation with God went like this:

“I’ve forgiven them and accepted that they’re just a horrible person and that’s how they choose to live life. Why would I forget that and end up in the same situation?”

“So forget and have people think I’m stupid?”

“Yeaaaa, not trying to do that.”

It simply did not make sense. But then I realized it did not make sense for Jesus to come down to earth to save us. It does not make sense for God to continue to love us in spite of all the wrong we do. It does not make sense for Him to show us grace and mercy. But He does. But Jesus did. And surely if God can forgive me and treat me as though I have never sinned against Him, for His own glory (Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins), I know I can do the same for His glory.  It’s not about me, it’s not about you, it’s not about the other person or the situation, it all comes back to God.

I know life is not like the movie Men in Black where we can wave a wand and erase our memory. Forgetting, just like forgiving is a choice you have to make daily. Forgetfulness will look different for everyone. In the Bible we have the example of the prodigal son, whose father welcomed him home with open arms after he had went out in the world and did whatever, losing all his money (Luke 15:11-32). Jesus instructed the disciples to shake the dust from their feet, if people refused to listen to them (Matthew 10:14). You have to figure out what forgetfulness looks like for you but it has to be from a place of love. You HAVE to consult God. And it may look different over time with different people.

People usually know when they have did us dirty and we’re feeling some kind of way about it. Sometimes it’s useful to have a conversation and let them know your feelings were hurt, and other times having a conversation with them, it’s like having a conversation with my 8 month old god daughter, who smiles at everything I say until she gets distracted by something else. Either way, it’s on you as a child of God to always choose to forgive and forget. You will be able to repair some relationships and bounce back like you never left, while other relationship may have reached the end of their season. The ending of this season will not be out of hate and anger, but it’s the path God has you both on. It’s okay to let go of things that are not good for your heart, and let me be the one to tell you, people who hurt you (physically, emotionally, spiritually), are not good for your heart (Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life).

So how do we forget after we’ve forgiven? I’m still working through this step but I attempt to live by the motto, “it’s not that deep.” Nothing is worth me missing heaven; no person, no thing, no situation, NOTHING! So if it takes me saying hello to the guy who never returned my phone call, “Hey! Hope all is well.” If it takes me liking a photo on Facebook because in actuality I really do like it, I’m click, clicking away. If it takes me “loaning” my cousin a dollar that I know I won’t get back, “just pay me back whenever.” If it takes me deleting a number and unfollowing them on Instagram, delete, delete, delete.

Forgiving and forgetting does not mean I trust that those who have wronged me will never do it again and we remain best friends while singing Kumbaya; it means I trust God enough to help me be able to treat them the way He treats them, with lovingkindness, meeting the need, doing good, and sometimes just letting them be. If a stranger were to see me interacting with this person, they should have no idea there was ever a situation. It’s not about being phony (even though sometimes I have had to fake it until I made it and I did make it) but extending the same grace that Christ offered to you; the same grace you and I might need from someone when we’re in the wrong.

I cannot be transparent enough on this post: forgiving and forgetting is still a struggle for me. I know some of my friends were reading this post thinking, “But you just called me last week about ____________.” Don’t do me lol. It is not very often that I feel wronged enough to start harboring unforgiveness in my heart, but when I do, I hold on tight. We don’t want God to hold on to our sins, so let’s start loosening the grip of others’ transgressions against us. In fact, let’s let go of it completely. Allow forgiveness to free you and forgetfulness to keep you free. And just a side note, Jesus said to forgive a person 490 times (Read Matthew 18:21-35).

Luke 6:28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

You can read part 1 here.

Forgive AND Forget? (Part 1)

I was the most forgiving person until I really had to forgive. It’s easy to go through the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors) until you have a face to put to that debtor. And not only do you have a face but you have a list of reasons why they don’t deserve your forgiveness and how right you are.

I may be the only one who’s ever experienced this but unforgiveness feels amazing for about a day. I go over the situation countless times, reinforcing to myself how right I am. I call a few people and we discuss the details, continuing to reiterate my rightness and how ridiculous the other person is. It’s awesome. Then the day goes by, and that awesome feeling fades away quickly. It becomes annoying. I obsess over the situation even though I no longer want to think about it. I go from not wanting to talk to the person to not wanting them to breathe the same air as me. People start avoiding my phone calls or if they pity me enough, they answer but keep the conversation short because all I want to talk about is this person and how wrong they are. It’s a terrible space to be in and unfortunately we let too many days, months, and years past by living in this space.

This was a hard pill for me to swallow because I truly enjoy being right; but my quest to be right was leading me to hell (Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses). And sadly I would convince myself I had forgiven a person but every time I got the chance to mentally respond to something they said, it would be filled with:

“Ask the girl who you were talking to while you were talking to me.”

“Go hang out with the friend you ditched me for.”

“Go ask your boyfriend, I’m sure he has all the answers.”

There was a point in my life where anybody could have caught this unforgiveness. Friends, family, guys I was talking to; I did not discriminate. And it wasn’t until recently that a situation had been annoying THE MESS out of me, and God finally asked me, “this is how you want to do life?” Did I really want to spend my life carrying the burden of unforgiveness and risk my soul on top of that?  Of course not!

For me, forgiveness started with praying for the person, like genuinely praying for their well-being. When I didn’t feel like it, when I remembered and got angry all over again, when I wanted to boast about how right I was, I prayed for the person. These weren’t, “God bless __________,” prayers. I prayed for their success, family, financial needs, goals, spiritual walk; I prayed for them like I would want someone to pray for me. And I really did want God to bless them but I also needed God to see my heart and break down this prideful wall I built. As time went on, I found myself not cringing when that person was around. I no longer thought about the situation as much and I was so proud of myself until I realized there was another step: forgetting.

Check back next week to read about forgetting!

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Let forgiveness free you (April 2017)

No Excuses: Get Up and Go!

So we’re a month into the new year, how are those new year resolutions coming along? I make resolutions almost every year and sometimes I do a good job of sticking to them throughout the year, while other times, I fail miserably (I have yet to take a jog or even walk around my car lol). This year one of my resolutions was to “go places.” And I didn’t mean traveling; I meant simply walking outside of my door. I never thought I would have to set that as a goal, despite the number of people who told me being a grown up was tiring. I mean, I’m single with no kids, so the only person I’m responsible for is me. I only have to worry about feeding myself, dressing myself, getting myself where I need to go, and choosing where I want to go. But after doing all of that, I would rather just stay on my couch and that’s where I spent the latter half of 2015.

I don’t have the money. I don’t have the time. I’m tired. I don’t have anyone to go with. I don’t want to do my hair. I don’t have anything to wear. I’m tired. All of these were excuses I used to feel better about spending Friday nights in front of my TV and sleeping in until noon on Saturdays. And I was okay with life… Until I was substituting for a teacher who had all these pictures in her classroom of places she had been, some with friends, some by herself. Perhaps, those pictures were from long ago and her life was as boring as mine, but it inspired me to get up and go! I don’t want to look back in my mid twenties and realize I spent it inside of my apartment. I want to create memories with myself and with my friends and family.

There are plenty of lists on the internet that will give you ideas about places you can go and things you can do. You’re only a Google search away from getting off of your couch. Some of these places, may take a couple of hours to get to (gas is going down, so you’re good). This past weekend I drove an hour and a half to sit in front of a waterfall for an hour and a half and write at a coffee shop, and it was everything I needed. Some of these places you would rather not go alone. Don’t assume no one will want to go. Sometimes we think we have our friends all figured out, so we don’t bother asking, but your friends may surprise you. And even if everyone is busy that weekend, you can still go… By yourself. Why does everyone else get to enjoy you, but you’re not allowed to enjoy you? As awkward as it may seem at first, you will thank yourself later.

For those of you who have families, get the whole family involved. Once a month, commit to doing something out of your routine, rather that’s going to the park on a Saturday morning or to the random festival they’re having in your city. It may be tiring to get everyone ready to go and even to get through the day, but this is a time in your life you will never get back. If your kids are old enough, they will remember these moments, and even if they are not, you will remember these moments and it will be worth it. It may be beneficial to leave the kids with a trusted friend, and you two lovebirds go somewhere.

Go see that play that is coming into town. Take that trip to see your best friend (as long as bills can still be paid). Go to that coffee shop you pass by every day. Go play a game of kickball with your friends. Go see a movie. Go to dinner. Take that girl out who you’ve been eyeing for the past month. Go to that comedy show. Go to the bookstore. Go jogging. Go to the mountains. Just get up and GO!

Ecclesiastes 5:18 Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.

***Going out of town for church events do not count as “getting up and going.” I enjoy going to my church’s events as much as the next person but, again I say, it does not count :)***

 

Black Boy Live

Two of my favorite black boys (my cousins)

Two of my favorite black boys (my cousins)

This is slightly off topic but it was on my heart to share.

There are many black men I hold near and dear to my heart and their presence in my life has made me very much who I am. But there is a group of black boys that have changed my life and this is for them and all of the other black boys like them:

Seven months ago I started my work as a family therapist, working with teenagers on probation. All black. All boys. I can admit this was not my first choice of populations to work with (I preferred younger kids), but this opportunity presented itself and I knew it was right for me; that doesn’t mean it didn’t come with its own set of challenges (i.e. silent treatment, getting arrested, breaking curfew, etc.). Each week I go into the homes of these boys and meet with them and their families. These boys were a few years from 18 and they had admitted to everything from breaking into people’s houses, snatching phones, to just being at the wrong place at the wrong time. By the time they get to me, their record already consist of other charges, with an extensive school discipline record to go along with it. I went to both a middle school and a high school with kids who were on probation, fitted with ankle monitors and I was scared. At 25 years old (depending on what I have on, I could pass for 20), 5’5, and barely bigger than what I weighed in middle school, I was still scared. However, after my first session with my first family, fear became a stranger. They became mine. 

My kids are hilarious, they are polite, they are emotional, they are children who made some poor decisions which involved getting caught breaking the law. They are also targets; not because of their probation status, but because of their skin color. My kids were born at risk, their “extracurricular activities” simply put them at a higher risk. At risk of dying by the hands of people who took an oath to protect, who pledged allegiance to a flag for liberty and justice for all. Many of my kids are under the impression it (dying) can’t happen to them, that is until it happens to them. Living is simply a consequence of being born. There is too much death, too much trauma to think about tomorrow. It broke my heart to hear one of my kids discuss feeling indifferent about dying because this world had given him nothing to live for. I never want my kids to use excuses as justification for their actions, but I want my kids to live. I need my kids to live. 

I know many people are indifferent about them living because they can’t possibly see them as their own. To them, they are another statistic. They can’t imagine their heart breaking into a million little pieces over the loss of them, but I assure you mine would. I promise my whole world would stop, just as it does when I see the face of any child, now dead in city streets. I can imagine they are my own. My kids are kids, are kids, are kids, and worthy of living. I’m sophisticated enough to know, I experience a different kid than their teachers and peers and victims get but my kids are not monsters. My kids were not born destined for a life on probation, with pending case numbers attached to their names. My families are not broken, they are trying, they are supportive, and often times they are hurting. Don’t wait until my kids are breaking into your homes to notice them. Notice them when they are six and telling you what they want to be when they grow up. My kids don’t need rescuing, they need to be thought of as people worthy of life. They are mine and I need them to live. 

Psalms 144:12 That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:

Tip Tuedays: 25 Things I learned in 25 years

This is 25 (I took a biplane ride around Atlanta on my 25th birthday)

This is 25 (I took a biplane ride around Atlanta on my 25th birthday)

I turned 25 this year. Initially, I wanted to say my life looks very different than what I had imagined it would be but that is not necessarily true. Honestly, the only thing I thought would be different was me being married and I’m okay with that (well, today I’m okay with it; ask me again next week lol). In my 25 years of living, I’ve learned a lot, so here are 25 things I’ve learned by the time I turned 25:

  1. Life happens

My dad died a month after being diagnosed with cancer. This was life happening and I had to learn to keep living.

  1. Write everything

I learn so much about myself by going back and reading old journals. I am able to track my personal growth and remind myself how wonderful I was and still am.

  1. Speak things into existence

If you want something, behave as though you already have it.

  1. Be yourself

Easier said than done, I know, but at least make the conscious effort to try.

  1. Talk to your friends

No matter how far away you may live from each other, a call, a text, or Facebook comment can make life better.

  1. Cherish time spent with family

Visits home are never long enough once you grow up and move away (although after a week or so, it may be long enough).

  1. Call yourself beautiful and believe it

If you don’t, why should anyone else?

  1. Trust God

Another easier said than done situation, but it makes life less stressful.

  1. Be passionate about something

It sucks to be the only person you know who does not have a topic or interest they are excited about and could talk about all day and all night. What do you do and it feels like the very breath of God is breathing through you? (I think Bishop T. D. Jakes posed this question but don’t quote me on that)

  1. Pay attention

Take in your surroundings, get out of your head, notice what happens to the atmosphere when you enter a room: be present.

  1. Have fun

Life is no fun if it’s all work and no play.

  1. Travel

This world is too big to live out life in a 20 mile radius.

  1. Take pictures

There’s nothing like looking back on old photos and seeing how far you’ve come (or where you’re trying to go back to).

  1. Take the blame

You don’t always do everything right all the time, so even if it’s not “mostly” your fault, some of it is.

  1. Stop thinking

Start doing. Again, get out of your head and experience life

  1. “What’s the worst that could happen?” is not the best way to justify your actions

I’ve gotten myself into some interesting situations because I asked myself this question. Sometimes it’s not about what’s worst, but what’s best.

  1. Your gut doesn’t lie

We’ve all gotten that weird feeling and we just ignored it and did what we wanted to do, only to later wish we hadn’t. Or we’ve listened to that inkling and been thankful we did.

  1. Emotions are constantly changing

We don’t always feel one way all the time (and if you do, there may be some underlying mental health concerns, send me an email). Allow positive emotions to be the place you always come back to, and negative emotions to be fleeting.

  1. Sleep is good but living is better

I enjoy a good night’s sleep and a nap every once in awhile, but get out and do something too (even if out means moving from your bedroom to your living room; clearly I’m still learning this)

  1. Know where you stand with people

We all have different personalities and everyone will not click with each other and that’s okay. It’s not about not liking someone; it’s about not necessarily wanting to tell them all your business.

  1. Go to the doctor

I know your grandmother told you to put some rubbing alcohol on it and it would be alright, but it’s been 2 years… Better safe than sorry (or dead; I’m so dramatic)

  1. Go to church

I know God lives in your heart and you are the church, but it feels good to be around other believers and after all, you say He’s your father, so why not visit His house?

  1. Buy quality clothing

I’m not saying go out and spend your whole pay check, but save up to get that really nice shirt or those really nice jeans. You’ll notice the difference. (I’m cheap so I’m happy if this happens every other year)

  1. Tip well

A good friend of mine told me you can tell a lot about a person by how they tip. If the service was good, let the person know with your wallet, not just your kind words. If you don’t have it, you don’t have it, but as my friends and I always say, “If an extra dollar is going to break your bank, maybe you should have stayed home.”

  1. Save

This is last because it’s something I’m still learning. Enjoy life but make sure you’re doing so responsibly, so you’ll have money to continue doing so in the future.

In conclusion: Live life.