Sundays With Rae

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

When Wounds Heal

Some wounds heal differently than others, the fibers take on a different pattern, making for different scars. And you learn to wear them as a badge of honor. What was once ugly, you now see as beautiful. The source of your pain, a distant memory. Every once in awhile you will run your fingers along the existence of one and be content with its presence. And every once in awhile you will run your fingers along the existence of another and forget to call it a badge of honor, you will forget its beauty, you will remember it in all its suffering. And the peace you made with it, will be a distant memory. This is to be expected because after all, some wounds heal differently than others.

I was watching Queen Sugar the other night (if you haven’t gotten pass the first season and don’t want me to ruin it for you, stop reading), and I want so badly for Darla and Ralph Angel to get back together. Even though they have had some really bad times, there have been good times, and I just want them to work out. But in watching them move as a couple and as individuals, I realize some wounds can’t just be patched up the way we want them to.

I thought about my dad and how even though most days are good days, this wound has not healed how I wanted it to. I can’t just bounce back because time has passed by. Our time here on earth together came to a sobering end, and it was followed by many dark days but thankfully some days the light drove out the darkness. The experience of it all has been engrafted to my being, just like the cells of new skin becomes intertwined with that of the old. And it is a part of me that makes me beautiful and I’m learning to see it as such.

My dad saw me just like Darla and Ralph Angel see Blue; the best part of him, the only thing he’s done good (well maybe not the only thing he’s done good, but certainly the best). Healing for me may be long stretches of tear free days coupled with moments of deep sadness bordering depression. But I’m more sure now than I was some years ago that I’m healing. And if this wound healing leaves me with a forever hole in my heart, I’m willing to see it as the most beautiful part of me.

Everything good in this world. (December 2012)

2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

 

Loved by You

i loved you on purpose

When I read these words in Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, I was taken aback. The poem was talking about a romantic love but the idea of not falling in love by accident or by chance or simply because there were no other options, but to have counted up the cost and considered the risks, and still choose love, is amazing to me.

As a teacher, I’m used to hearing children debate about whether or not something was done on accident or on purpose. It could be stepping on someone’s toe, knocking over the pencil bucket, coloring on someone’s paper; whatever it is, if it’s done on purpose, it takes it up another level. There is intent and motive behind your actions. You made a choice.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). He loves us on purpose. Despite knowing every mistake we’ll make, He loves us. No matter what we do on purpose, He loves us. And not only does He do it on purpose, He does it WITH purpose. Every day, He chooses us. His love is beyond a moment of weakness. In fact, love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). He knows the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11) and isn’t scared of our shortcomings and failures. It may be all we can see and perhaps all those around us can see, but He just keeps loving us on purpose.

April 2016

“And I’m loved by You, it’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am…”

(Good Good Father – Chris Tomlin)

Learned From My Mother

These things have I learned from my mother, buried them deep down within me, so far deep sometimes I have to remind myself to remember the wise words and life lessons

Sometimes I forget them on purpose, not wanting to hold myself accountable to such a good upbringing

But these things have I learned from my mother, buried them deep down within me:

Love well

Give everything even though the risk of hurt is ever present.

Love works hard

It gets up and goes to a job. It takes care of kids. It is not lazy. It consistently strives for better.

Even in love there are consequences for our actions

You can love someone and leave them, teaching them your love is not to be played with.

Love takes you at your best and your worst

People are who they are. If you choose to take them, you take them flaws and all and if they choose to take you, they agree to the same.

Love laughs loudly, so loudly

If we’re not laughing, we’re not friends and certainly not anything beyond that.

These things have I learned from my mother, buried them deep down within me.

Christmas 2017

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

In the Fire

As I get older, I realize I have the wonderful pleasure of sharing in the joys of my friends. From graduations to marriages to babies to new jobs to opening new businesses, just wonderful things happening. With these high highs, also come low lows. Just this past year I have had friends experience divorce, miscarriage, depression, bad break ups, death of loved ones, and the list goes on. It really just seemed like one fire after another and I’ve had to decide what I would do.

Jesus only had twelve disciples. He had many followers but only twelve walked with Him, day in and day out. So, I don’t believe we should be in the fire with everyone. It can be overwhelming to have that many people surrounding you when you’re going through, smothering almost. Sometimes we just need to be around the fire by checking in with our friends. Let them know you’re there if they need you. This is being around the fire. Now, being in the fire means consistently showing up. In fact, you don’t even have to show up because you’re already there. You’re asking the hard questions, you don’t believe them when they say “I’m okay.” Sometimes when they don’t want to, you drag them along anyway. This takes a special kind of relationship but it is necessary. How many people are willing to be in the fire with you? Better question, how many people are you willing to be in the fire with?

I recently told someone how grateful I was for my father figure (Raynard) because even at my lowest moments, he was there. As believers and followers of Christ we know God loves us and He’ll never leave us or forsake us but when we are going through, sometimes it doesn’t feel like that. But thankfully God uses people to remind us of His love.

In Raynard’s words, “You were in a pit and you didn’t want to get out. You grieved the loss of him (my father) and for a while you became your grief.” That would have been enough to make me take a step back and let my friend figure out their life. But Raynard still called and harassed me, asked me how I was doing, spoke life into me. He was there in the fire. Months after my father passed I was at church, and ran out of the sanctuary crying. Someone saw me and called Raynard. By the time I walked out of the bathroom, he was there. He wasn’t even at church (he was down the street), but when he heard where I was, he came. The fire of grief that was consuming me did not scare him. That’s a lie, he was terrified lol. But he did not allow the fear of the fire keep him from me. He stood with me in it.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about loyalty. This is an aspect of that same loyalty. We talk about going to war for our friends and loved ones over whatever against whoever, but what happens when they’re in a battle with themselves? Will you jump in the fire with them while they’re holding the torch, uninterested in putting it down? There is no water in sight and even if it were, your friend would light you up if you dare touch their flames. There is no time limit, there is no such thing as too hot, it is a temporary home that in the moment feels permanent. Will you be there in the fire with your friend?

I am sure there were many days Raynard prayed God would just send the water and quiet the flames but I learned, and at the same time Raynard learned, you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it, but you have to go through it. And in our going through, we see the hand of God. His love, His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness, His wisdom. All because a friend decided to stand in the fire with us. Just as Jesus stood in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (Daniel 3), be the friend in the fire and watch them come out, not looking or smelling like what they’ve been through.

Standing in the fire

Why Am I Single?

I know it’s the question that’s been burning on the hearts and minds of everyone lol. But in all actuality, I get a variation of this question more often than one would think. It’s usually masked as “we have to find you someone” or “so, there’s no one? Like, nobody?” Usually when friends ask I respond by saying, “because you’re not praying hard enough.” I’m (mostly) kidding, but in these moments my friends seem more distraught about my single status than I am. And honestly, I’m not bothered by people questioning my singleness. It’s not a curse or a shame I carry around with me, hoping no one notices. It’s the season I’m in and just like people ask basketball players how their season is going, people may ask how the single life is going. There are some people who ask excessively or try to diagnosis you with a mental health disorder because you’re single, but thankfully my friends and family aren’t those people.

So why am I single?

  1. Because I’m not ready. We often think because someone has a certain level of education, a career, certain material things, they have it together and are equipped to be in a relationship. Y’all, I’m a mess. And I know there may be people who are “more” of a mess and they manage to be in a relationship, but maybe they should follow my lead, and be alone too. And I know when I meet that special someone, I’ll get ready. But no one has came along to inspire me to be ready, so no, I’m not ready.
  2. Because I can’t settle. I tried, God wouldn’t let me. He allowed the man to disappear, like literally vanish out of my life. And now I’ve grown to the point where I won’t let me settle. I don’t have time to lower my standards to fit someone into a role they were never meant to play. This is not the community league where everyone gets playing time. Only the best get in the game.
  3. Because God said so. I got tired of talking back to God. “But God, he’s nice.” “But God, he’s cute.” “But God, he has a good job.” “But God, he goes to church sometimes.” God’s “because I said so,” became good enough for me. The more comfortable I became with “because I said so,” the less singleness felt like a plague. Marriage is a goal but it’s not THE goal. So until God says otherwise, single is what I will be.

I know I’ll eventually meet someone great but I’m in no rush. Perhaps if I’m 35 and still single, I may be singing a different tune but today I’m 27 and I’m okay. I get it though. As young children you are taught, you grow up, you get married, and have kids. A 5 year old told me I was weird because I didn’t have a husband or children and it was so funny to me because I kind of agreed. The older I get, and less single friends I have, the more I realize it may be a little weird. I can do weird though. I can’t do lonely, less than, ugly, desperate, unapproachable, or unlovable because I’m none of those. My single status is not the result of an inherent flaw within myself, it’s my season. And one of the things I love about seasons, they do change.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven

Seasons change.

I Love Me

I love me, I really do.

But do I love me enough?

Enough to not give the random dude at Walmart my number simply because he asked and it’s been a minute since I’ve been on a date?

To dream bigger than this world thinks possible and be crazy enough to believe I can do anything?

Do I love me enough to continue to strive for perfection, no matter how many times I miss the mark?

 

I love me, I really do.

But do I love me enough?

Enough to say no when I really want to and yes when I really need to?

To wait because as the saying goes it’s better to wait long than marry wrong (and I really don’t like being wrong)?

Do I love me enough to be everything God called me to be even when it seems out of my norm and makes others uncomfortable?

Even when it’s difficult and my actions make me seem unlovable?

 

I love me, I really do.

But do I love me enough?

Enough to smile when I am happy and cry when I am sad?

To forgive myself for stopping to get something to eat when I know I have food at home?

Do I love me enough to take leaps of faith knowing God will always catch me?

 

I love me, I really do.

And it’s enough.

Valentine’s Day 2016

Let It Go, It Doesn’t Fit

I have a friend who likes doing puzzles. Not the 20 piece puzzles, but the 500, 1000 piece puzzles. She tricked me into doing one with her, and I kept trying to put two pieces together that just did not belong. I turned them every way I could and they just would not fit. My friend finally yelled, “Jocelayna, let it go, they don’t fit.” And today, I’m your friend yelling, “let it go, it doesn’t fit!”

It could be a relationship, a job, a major, a friend, a grudge, a dress: Let it go, it doesn’t fit. You’ve reached the end of the road, you’re at the end of the course, you’ve hit the glass ceiling, there’s nowhere to go from here. You can talk about it as much as you want, you can be as quiet about it as you please, you can turn it any way you want to, it’s not going to change the fact that it doesn’t fit and it’s time to let it go. Pharaoh refused to let the people of Israel go, no matter how much Moses tried to tell him it was in his best interest to do so. He allowed sickness, frogs, and even death to come upon the land because he would not let go. What have you allowed to come into your life because you won’t let go? Sickness? Financial hardship? Stress? Weight? Sleepless nights? Low self-esteem?

You know the saying, “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.” We don’t want to let go because we know it won’t come back, we know it’s not supposed to, it’s not ours. Pharaoh knew once the children of Israel were gone, they would be gone forever, which is how his army ended up following them to the Red Sea and being swallowed up. You don’t have to get swallowed up, chasing something that doesn’t belong to you. That boy/girl doesn’t want you; if they did, being together wouldn’t be so difficult. That friend from elementary school does not want to see you prosper; she’s happy when you fail and y’all sin together. You hate what you do; I don’t care how much money you make (or don’t make), no one wants to deal with your attitude at 9am. You’re not over the situation; if you were, you wouldn’t imagine tripping the person every time they walk by. The dress is too small; if it fit, you wouldn’t feel light headed when you wear it. These are all signs you need to let some things and some people go.

We are under the impression that life now is as good as it’s going to get but I assure you that the lie detector test determined: issalie. If we would let go and let God and fit ourselves into His will instead of our own will, life would be better. I know you’re afraid because you’re not sure what life would look like without that person or without that thing. You’ve literally spent years of your life holding on and trying to make it fit but I challenge you to be free. It’s okay that you can’t see the future, God doesn’t ask us to. All He asks is that we trust wherever He is leading us and that the journey we’re taking to get there is for our good. Don’t be like the children of Israel and allow an eleven day journey to turn into forty years because of disobedience.

Isaiah 43:18-19 says Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Let go of the old stuff, the old people that no longer fit where God is taking you, so He can bless you with something/someone new.

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No matter how many times you try, sometimes it just doesn’t fit. I let go and returned these pants lol (March 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)

Too Good to be True?

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend about successful women who were still single, when all of a sudden, my friend said, “yeah, like you.” And although I had this discussion with other friends and we came to the same conclusion, on that particular day, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I am that successful woman who is still single and I’m not alone in this; many other women are in the same boat.

A few months ago I went out on a date and one of the questions my date asked was, “why are you still single?” I believe I said something to the effect of, “I don’t make time for relationships” or “it hasn’t been a major priority for me” and blah blah blah. Although, some of that was true, it wasn’t the whole truth.

Even when I had given my best effort (I’m talking prayed and everything), put in the time, made space for a relationship in my life, guess who still remained single? *raises hand* And when I asked why nothing was going anywhere, I was met with, “you have so much going on for yourself and I don’t want to mess that up” or “I’m still trying to get myself together” or “give me a few years.” A few years? Boy, bye! The moral of the story ended up being, “you’re too good for me,” and it is a fact. I am too good and any other woman who may be in this position, you’re too good too.

You’re too good to have to convince someone you’re worth their time of day. You’re too good to have to dumb down your intelligence to make them feel comfortable. You’re too good to have to sin against God to make a relationship work. You’re too good not to be with someone who is fully committed to you. You’re too good to be put on the back burner. You’re too good to have your time wasted. You’re much too good for any of those things, so let’s all agree that in 2017, when we see the signs where this road is headed (a dead end), we’re running the other direction.

God has set us apart (Deu. 14:2; 1 Peter 2:9) so not just any man will do. You keep doing you and be reminded that the last shall be first (Lk. 13:30; Deu. 28:13). We may feel like we’re being looked over, but in actuality we’re being set up (Rom. 8:28). As much as I included God in my love life last year, I need to include Him more and completely trust the love story He is writing for me. And I know I’ve said almost every cliché thing people say when they’re talking to Christian singles but let me add in: this waiting game sucks! But I know it’s worth it. I’ll be “too good” because eventually someone is going to come along and my too good, won’t just be good enough, but it will be more than enough.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

 

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And I expect nothing less than a King (December 2016)

 

Click here, to check out my post about good men existing.