Dear Beautiful Self
As you continue to grow you will be lucky enough to find a few people who are committed to the incredible soul that you embody. They will amaze you, they will bless you, they will impress you. But you must understand that there is a limit to the care they can extend and the responsibility to take care of you, first and foremost, belongs to you.
Take good care of your self.
You will long to be loved in ways that you know you deserve. You will contend with those who cannot be bothered to go that extra mile. Imperfection is a plight of the human condition. In many cases, they mean well and do not know how deeply it hurts you when you are loved mediocrely. But you must understand that the responsibility to love you well, in the ways that you desire, first and foremost, rests with you.
Give unconditional love to your self.
You will argue with the many voices in your head about the right way to deal with life. You will sometimes find it is difficult and nearly impossible to come to an agreement. There will be times when you will be so hard on yourself and you will find it difficult to give you the space to put you first. But you must understand that the responsibility to know when to prioritise your well being over the desire to please others, first and foremost, is yours to have.
Prioritise yourself to your self.
You will face many criticisms about who you are, how you are and what you are. You will make changes but never be perfect. You will hurt, you will cry, you will at times struggle to find safe spaces to express your deepest innermost thoughts. But you must understand that the responsibility to be the one place you need, where it is always safe to be you and where only kind eyes will stare back, first and foremost, is for you.
Be kind to your beautiful self.
When you have made habits out of the above, you will be better able to extend the same care, the same love, the same priority, the same kindness to the “others” in your life. But you, gorgeous self, must begin by seeing you.
A recent conversation with my favourite little human was an incredible teaching point for me as an adult and as a prospective parent.
During one of my ‘catch up’ calls to my family, I noticed that my niece was not being obedient when asked to desist from doing something. I called her name sternly. She did not respond. I changed my tone to a gentler one and tried again. No answer. One more time. I even included endearing terms like, “Baby.” Still no response. Though irritated, I calmly said, “Well, when you’re ready to talk to me and when you’re ready to apologise for being rude to me by not answering, you can call me back.” My mother and I carried on our conversation.
Hours later, I had to make a second call home. My niece came on:
Sorry Auntie. Auntie I’m sorry.
Hi baby. What are you sorry for?
I’m sorry for not answering you when you were calling me.
It’s ok baby. I forgive you. But why weren’t you answering though?
(pause) Because…I was scared.
What were you scared of?
I knew you would be upset because I wasn’t listening. So I was scared. You were going to be upset with me.
(My heart breaking a little)…Baby, even if you’re doing something wrong, Auntie doesn’t ever want you to feel afraid of talking to her. You could always talk to me.
And if I correct you, it’s because I love you and I want to see you do well. You don’t have to be afraid, baby. You know Auntie loves you sooo much?
Ok, Auntie. Yes, I love you so much too.
There is much that could be be said, but here’s my simple offering. Sometimes the little humans in your life are just going to be rude. Plain and simple. They will test your patience. They will be defiant. They will even embarrass the pants off of you! Children are trying to find their way in the world and it is our responsibility and privilege to lovingly guide them to becoming responsible, caring and authentically helpful members of society. But sometimes, just sometimes, they’re not just being rude. Sometimes, they are just scared.
Fear is a powerful emotion. We’ve all felt afraid at some point; and when overcome by fear, when it drives us, we are influenced to do things we wouldn’t usually do when we are feeling safe. We lie, hide, cover up wrong doing, run away from God and other authority figures. And sometimes, we shut down.
Learning how to overcome fear – fear of disappointing others, fear of causing others pain, fear of being wrong, fear of being right – is one of the most valuable lessons we could ever learn.
I don’t condone rudeness and other forms of bad/inappropriate behaviour in my little human. BUT, I am a firm believer that we should also listen to children when they speak. Don’t decide that your children are behaving a certain way before you sit with them. If they can speak, sometimes they can give you great insight into their internal world that you cannot even find in a text book. I am often amazed at how emotionally intelligent my niece is at 5 years old. Listen to the little ones – they are wiser than you know!
I know that when we do something wrong, sometimes fear is an indicator of an awareness of that wrong doing. But instead of debilitating fear, I want my little ones to experience the safety I have come to experience in Christ. No matter what I have done, no matter how terrible, I know that my best option is to run to my Saviour rather than away from Him. I go to Him with all of my fears, shame and guilt. As He corrects me, He embraces me. He takes those emotions and replaces them with power, love and a sound mind, reminding me that I am His, reminding me that His love for me is everlasting and that it will always be unconditional.
I need the grace to remember this in the days and years to come.
I have seen you in the Summer, dear
How your heart is warm to me
I have danced with you in the outdoors
I have rested ‘neath the trees.
I have seen you in the Autumn, dear
How you love unselfishly
Shedding leaves and changing colour
Making art for me to see.
Now I see you in the Winter, dear
How the rain can turn to snow
How you thrill my heart with wonder
Giving nights a special glow.
I will meet you in the Spring, dear
How my heart will know it’s you
Now your love bids seasons come and go
Promising, “I will be true.”
Dear Former Friend
I know sometimes people really don’t get you and they really give you a hard time. I know sometimes people make you out to be a really detestable creature and wish you the worst in life. But today, I really want to say, “Thank you!” (And I don’t mean one of those grudgful expressions of sarcastic gratitude where people say, “Thank you,” but really mean, “Burn in hell, you demon!”)
Really. I mean it. From the warmest place in my heart – thank you!
It would be really awkward for me to call you up out of the blue or send you an email to express this gratitude, so I’m just going to leave this here. Maybe you’ll see it. Maybe you won’t. It doesn’t even matter! I just really wanted it to be said…
The truth is, I used to resent you for how much pain you caused me. Yes, I eventually forgave you, but I still struggled with how you could be such an amazing person, and still hurt me. You were a paradox I never understood. But, today, I am reflecting on where I was, where I am, and where I am going, and I just cannot thank you enough for walking away from me. I used to really struggle with your choice to hurt me and I will not pretend to understand it. But I want you to know this day, that I most sincerely appreciate your decision.
I believe you didn’t mean to hurt me and that when you made your choice, you were just doing what you felt you needed to do. I never got to understand the true depth of why you felt you needed to, but because you did what you did, I am in a place I never dreamed would be possible.
Where I am today, is where I’ve always wanted to be. I will not venture to say that if you had stayed I would not have been able to experience such bliss, but what I will say is that I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life! I’m not trying to hurt you or to prove a point in saying that. I just know that your decision to let me go was one of the best things that has ever happened to me (I’m sure you would say the same for yourself). Today, there is no drama, no confusion and no desire or inclination to defend love in my life. This is what I have always prayed for and I am here today because you chose, and God allowed you, to walk away.
I’ve never wished you any pain or hurt. I’ve never tried to put other people against you, regardless of what happened between us. But today, I want to publicly bless you and all that you are! You have always been amazing. I’ve never changed my mind about that. Today, former friend, I release you from my heart and thank you for the lessons you taught me through your presence, but more so, through your absence. You gave me one of the most amazing gifts I could ever have asked for – the freedom to find my way to here!
I’ve never considered you to be my enemy. You will always be a significant part of my story and this is my most sincere prayer for you…
May your days be filled with love and may the Spirit of God overtake you! May your relationships prosper and your children walk in wisdom. May your cupboards be blessed forever and may you never be haunted by your past. May every curse be turned to blessing. May your strength increase with your years, and may the favour and abundance of God be your portion for the rest of your days.
So, dear former friend, thank you for being “former”, for my latter has truly been great and is becoming even greater!
Thank you! Thank You! Thank YOU!!!
I have prayed for this, begged for this
Waited, nagged and cried for this!
I have worked for this, applied for this
Third time’s a “charm”? No, I was born for this!
I was raised for this, formed for this
No backing down, I’m prepared for this!
I am here for this, came to work for this
I will not be discouraged, I am over this!
Today is the day, now is the time
I began this journey with the end in mind.
I worked for this. I applied for this.
Third time’s a charm? Just lucky I guess?
Didn’t you hear what I said? I was born for this!
Before I get started on this let me preface by saying I am by no means an expert in the game of basketball. When I started watching basketball in 2012, it was because having graduated from College, I wanted to take up the challenge of another hobby. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. Those who know me know that I have never considered myself a sports person. But around that time, I met someone who was a basketball fanatic. So I joined her and supported her team. Yep, I was a bandwagonist. In addition to the company I had, I was routing for OKC back then because I was impressed by their athleticism, passion and apparent humility! I will always have them to thank for reeling me in! They played even better this year than they did back then.
I had eased off of following the game because before cable, I hardly watched TV. There was no way I was going to stream the games online. It was too much gymnastics. But after a while I decided I’d catch up. That’s when I caught up with #StephCurry. I’ve watched every YouTube video, read every article, listened to every speech I came across. One of my problems with sports has been that athletes often seem egotistical and arrogant. Those are generally qualities I have very little appreciation for. So naturally, I am drawn to those who have a reason to boast but who choose not to. But Steph has inspired me on other levels. I am inspired because he is unapologetically Christian and because He has demonstrated the tenacity and humble audacity that the sport demands. He is perhaps the most unselfish player on the court and has never been known to make a small thing of the accomplishments of others. But more than that, Steph Curry was not “supposed” to be here. He had the odds stacked against him, but he worked hard, and here he is. The more I read about Wardell Stephen Curry and his team, the more I liked what I saw. So for the first time, without anyone influencing my choice, I felt I’d found MY team. This year, I decided I’d make the effort to do more than follow updates. I did what I had to do to figure out how the times matched mine. And today, I am #DubNation win or lose, not just because they play well, but because I respect GSW.
So I can’t help but think about how much this game is teaching me about life, my relationship with Christ, and even about ministry.
I’ve been thinking about how we sometimes force people to jump on our bandwagon without giving them the opportunity to decide for themselves who they really want to play for. We raise up bandwagonists and nurture them so that they never fully commit. They learn the basic hashtags, but never really understand the history of the team or the coach. Unfortunately, sometimes we even count them as fans. Perhaps we even threaten them out of fear that they’d choose another team. We throw stats in their faces and we show them what happens to people who back team A or B.
I am a firm believer that our job as peers, parents and partners, is to give people the opportunity to see what it’s like to play the game. Invite them to Church. Take them along for the ride. Give them a chance to cheer. Then step back and allow them to do the research. Facilitate the process, but don’t try to reason them into cheering for your team. You’ve got to let them choose who they play for, just like God lets you. You are not responsible for enforcing truth; that’s Holy Spirit’s job. Your role is to share. And as people feed on knowledge, Holy Spirit will stir hunger. And with that, comes the desire for more. And just like I did, they will choose their team.
I think this applies to Christianity, politics, education – life. People who are reasoned into something, can easily be reasoned out – Bill Johnson (my paraphrase). But when we choose to play for God, we grow to experience Him in an amazing way! You could say what you want, but you can’t contend with my experience with God.