Bare Minimum Obedience

In my latest video, I cover a topic that holds many of us back from achieving our long term goals: obedience. Transparent about my plight as a creative, I reveal a question I began to ask myself that now serves as my secret weapon for whooping my fears about lacking resources, connections, and capacity into subjection. Check it out!

Like LeBron

I used to be loyal to a fault. But that was before I got sick of my life being full of people who drained me, places that didn’t cultivate me, and things that didn’t challenge me. Cutting the umbilical cords that kept me bound to spaces I’d be better off without was no easy feat though. People called me selfish and uncaring, assembled hate groups, and I heard the “but you call yourself a Christian” phrase so much it became more of a punchline to me than an insult. Nonetheless, I kept grasping at every knife, scissor, and razor blade in sight, determined to severe ties to any person, organization, or habit that honored me only when I ignored my needs.
During this time – with the world whispering in my ear and the devil taunting me in my head – my narrative was one of the most powerful tools I possessed. Now I work with clients who also find themselves pulled in multiple directions as they struggle to reconcile the expectations of their family and friends, the responsibilities assigned to them by home, work, and school, and the binge eating, self-mutilation, excessive spending, substance abuse, etc. they’ve developed as methods of coping with disappointing everyone around them all the while having no idea what their own inner voice sounds like.
Today’s devotional offers direction to people in transition – men and women still seeking other people’s permission to move forward, visionaries struggling to value (often invisible) promotion from God more than (tangible and societally pressuring) advancement from peers and supervisors, and overcomers slowly and secretly killing their futures in order to numb themselves from feeling the confusion, guilt, fear, and ironic zeal caused by adjustment.
Should you find yourself in this position (needing a little encouragement to trade your Cavs in for your Lakers), read on for three tips on how to navigate transition:
1) Refuse to play victim or bad guy. Try looking at your need to get “out of and away from” from the standpoint that you’ve outgrown the people, places, and things around you. This will make you feel less offended or guilty and change your narrative from being a story of defeatism to one of empowerment. “I was made to” and “I decided to” are a lot less liberating than “I had to.”
2) Redefine loyalty. When your loyalty is a liability, it’s no longer loyalty, it’s stupidity. Accept that you aren’t obligated to people just because they were once good to you, places because you once weren’t accepted anywhere else, or things just because they’ve become crutches you no longer know how to walk without. When you opt to remain loyal to unfruitfulness with hopes that it will one day reap harvest, you also commit to a life of infertility.
3) Demystify your decision making process. Stop justifying prolonging your stay with statements like “I prayed and will leave once God confirms that that’s what He wants” or I’ll go once the universe sends me a sign.” Waiting for direct revelation when you already know what to do is just passive disobedience.
Although this simplifies transitioning, it doesn’t make it any easier! For more help letting go and moving on, email me at dylesia@dylesiabarner.com

Picked Out = Picked On

Image result for picked out
Early in life, I was exposed to the hateful side of the world. By elementary school, I’d quit ballet at the racist academy I was being trained at. By middle school, I’d been in two physical altercations and the subject of dozens of malicious jokes for being smart, thin, and unattractive. Two characteristics of which I’ll own up to (*flips hair*). By high school, I’d been named public enemy number one by an adolescent female gang. And by college, I’d been raped, kidnapped, and outcasted.
Imaginably, processing my relational trauma as something that –  impacted me, but – was not a reflection of my character, worth, and future, rather my perpetrators’ was difficult. And the struggle persisted as I entered college, surrounded by new people and determined to make the most of the opportunity I’d been given to start over. My first few encounters were positive, convincing me that I wasn’t the issue. But, as the high energy and sociability of an incoming freshmen class slowly began to fade, I again became the target of jealousy and gossip. It didn’t help that my family had joined what we’d later discover was a Christian cult. Keeping it all together meant viewing each injustice as an isolated event instead of lumping everything together like the universe was personally attacking me, and encouraging myself that I’d one day be able to put it all behind me as I had my prior disappointments. Rationality and hope.
Even now, I still don’t have it easy socially. I have a wonderful husband, some supportive family, several awesome friends, and dozens of past and current clients who would swear by my goodness, but for each group of people who shower me with love and appreciation, there’s at least one person who doesn’t.
Today, I want to share with you my strategy for living with the fact that to some people, I’ll never be kind, beautiful, intelligent, amazing…or enough. 
The therapist in me wants to hear all the reasons you care about why the people who hate you hate you. But only so I can help you get to a place of not caring. See, I cared until I didn’t have any more care left to give. And guess what? Their hatred still remained endless. In fact, it intensified. Since they were no longer able to control me with my concern, they lay in wait for me to mess up, so they could magnify my faults and control me by ruining my reputation.
“When insecure people see you happy and unbothered, they feel inferior and will go to any length to stretch your small flaws to large ones, because they need to somehow legitimize their dislike for you by making you seem like a bad person.” -Detron Brown, PharmD, MPH
Unfortunately for them, I’d lived portions of my life with a good reputation and other portions with a horrible one, so social isolation was not a suitable means of controlling me either.
Through all this, I found that as kryptonite is to Superman, being kind, beautiful, intelligent, amazing and enough is to people who refuse to see you as kind, beautiful, intelligent, amazing and enough. Their decision to opt out of admitting how awesome you are is a tactic – to get you to stop being awesome…because then, you prove them right. By focusing on them and their opinions of you, you lessen the amount of energy you have to keep being the person they talked about and acted against in the first place. That’s why the key is to focus on you, your healing from their senseless assaults, and your life after recovery, instead of on them.
I’ve heard this a million times: “how others feel about you, think of you, and act toward you is their problem, not yours.” And despite how cliche it is, it’s true. A large part of healing from trauma involves shifting your narrative from a story of enslavement to one of empowerment. In other words, not getting so caught up living out someone else’s subjugating fantasy of you that you forget to actually live.
Realize, some people only dislike you because of the way other people respect you, some people only speak ill of you because of the way other people esteem you, and some people only mistreat you because of the way other people favor you. I know it doesn’t make sense, but…feelings aren’t science.

When you’re picked out, you have to become comfortable being picked on.

Get up Bro. Stand tall Sis.

Many times, we blame God when situations don’t work, failing to acknowledge the role that our free will had in getting us into them. We exclude Him from the decision-making process, only to blame Him for the results, deciding in our hearts that He’s somehow less God because He didn’t interfere with our choice to follow through with a plan we weren’t keen enough to His voice to hear Him advising us against. That’s not to say all failure is a result of distance from God; even those closest to Him fail. It’s a call to examine the broken areas of your life and decide to – no matter whether things fell apart due to human error or fate – pick yourself up and try again.

I know defeat is embarrassing. I know dozens of people expected this to be your end and you proved them right. And I know you’re so scarred you’d rather live the rest of your life in the shadows, staying low and making minimal noise. But I also know that while you view your failure as your biggest blemish, it isn’t – deciding not to recover is.
What if Jesus opted to just lay there after He was crucified and tombed? What if He never rose and saved you, me, mankind?
…Get up Bro. Stand tall Sis. There’s a world out there that needs your saving.