Prescribed Progression

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Areas created by internal voids, deferred hopes, and societal pressures, many of us find ourselves in spaces where we’re inclined to control our lives. Whether that means forcing commitment out of other broken people or bypassing self-care for potential career recognition, all unnatural growth has one thing in common: a source who is either unable to hear or unwilling to listen to God’s voice. Today’s devotional is for people who have deliberately or subconsciously reasoned that waiting on God takes too long and that the pain of unnatural advancement is bearable, persons who have compromised peace for progress and divine positioning for movement, and individuals who put more faith in their timeline than God’s providence…

Genesis 29 introduces us to two Hebrew sisters, Leah and Rachel. While the Bible describes the two differently (Leah as one having “delicate eyes” and Rachel as “beautiful of form and appearance” – v.17), they share something in common – a husband, Jacob. At the beginning of the story, readers learn of Jacob’s ‘love at first sight’ interaction with Rachel and his subsequent appeal to her father for her hand in marriage. Laban – Leah and Rachel’s father – agrees to give Rachel to Jacob, but only in exchange for seven years of work. To Jacob, seven years speed by, seeming only like a few days considering the love he has for Rachel. Unfortunately, when darkness begins to fall on the day of their marriage, Laban sneaks Leah into Jacob’s bed chamber and he consummates his commitment to her instead. When he wakes up the next day and sees Leah lying beside him instead of Rachel, he becomes furious. Laban explains that because Leah is older, she must become a wife before her younger sister and Jacob must work seven additional years for the woman he truly loves. Sadly, Leah spends the rest of her Biblical existence trying to get Jacob to love her.

Though the controlling space you live in may not result in unrequited romantic love, we all have a Jacob (a forced connection with someone or forced status as something). Your Jacob could be a stranger or associate who you shower with gifts and compliments in hopes that they’ll consider being your friend, a friend who – despite being bad for your emotional, mental, physical, and/or spiritual health – you keep around as not to appear lonely, or a family member whose selfish, backstabbing, freeloading nature you overlook for the sake of appearing forgiving and functional to onlookers. Your Jacob could be an idea that should be in the brainstorming stages if you weren’t so busy pretending its a revenue-producing business on social media, a business you represent at the laundry list of brand-damaging events you attend to look like you’re partnering with the ‘who’s who,’ a job you should’ve quit months ago to go back to school if you weren’t afraid of risks and too concerned about other people’s opinions to be broke for a season, or a career you’re not educationally, professionally, or socially ready to embark upon but proceed for fear of being regarded as anything less than boss. Your Jacob is the truth that keeps you up at night, the fact that would humiliate you if the world found out, and the realization you avoid quiet time so that you can ignore. It’s the reason a deep look in the mirror would arouse emotion, therapy is a dirty word, and you cringe at the thought of transparency. Though your Jacob appears to be progressing, it’s only because you prescribed it to…because you can’t imagine life over thirty and unmarried, as a man without a job, or out of the spotlight. And the only way you can overcome your Jacob is to be honest about him.

When you choose to exaggerate the reality of your circumstances instead of embracing the painful voids that their truths reveal, you subconsciously tell yourself that the authentic life you’ve created isn’t good enough to be lived. Hiding is an admission that you don’t like who you are and don’t trust who being yourself will lead you to become. -Dylesia Barner, LCSW

If you’re ready to embark upon an honest journey, start by spending quiet time reflecting and praying about the areas of your life you’ve misrepresented. Consider distorted relationships and inflated prestige. Once you’ve gathered your thoughts and emotions, create a list of your Jacobs and journal about what compels you to unnaturally advance your life and why you fear God’s timing. Because of the vulnerable position these exercises will put you in, including a mental health professional is recommended. Visit psychologytoday.com to find a therapist in your area.

 

For more Biblical study on this subject, visit mtzionanywhere.tv to watch “The Leah Complex” (Sunday, February 11, 2018) sermon by Bishop Joseph W. Walker, III.

Healthy Relationships IG Live Next Sunday!

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Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, Tameika Cheek, LPC and I will be going live next Sunday to talk not just about healthy dating, but healthy relationships in general! If you’re interested in dialoguing with us (or simply being a fly on our IG Live wall 👀), tune in on February 24 at 7p EST as we address boundaries, communication, and expectations at work 💼, with friends 🚶🏾‍♀️🚶🏾‍♂️🚶🏼‍♂️🚶🏻‍♀️, among families 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦, and with partners 💏. If you have scenarios or questions you’d like us to address during this episode of #TwoLiveGoesLive, please comment below or DM us!

For Those Without on Christmas…

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Waking up on Christmas with nothing and no one to share it with. Definitely a scenario I’ve known all to well during my adulthood… • …Being invited to celebrate the holidays with family of friends yet despite their warm welcomes feeling like the one person in their Christmas narrative that doesn’t belong….

When I sit and think about the mental and spiritual impact the holidays has on those without money and/or loved ones, strength comes to mind. A gift we too often overlook in exchange for dark thoughts about how much light our lives lack, strength is more priceless than rubies. Strength is what inspires us to choose hope over despair, what challenges us to wait for better days instead of ending our lives on bad ones, and what pushes us to dig deep into the recesses of our hearts and give when we don’t have and aren’t receiving. If you find yourself without this Christmas, tap into your strength by giving…of your time, of your talent, or of your positive spirit and energy. If you can muster up the strength to sacrifice from your nothing, I believe that God will turn it into something.

What matters more than who’s in your arms and what’s under your tree is what’s in your heart. Have a heart that hurts…but still gives.

Reacting to Other People’s Success

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With a new year literally peeking over the horizon, falling into the “I didn’t do as much as so and so did during the past 12 months” trap can be easy! Yeah, they lost the weight, started the business, got the ring, and finished the degree, but comparing yourself to them won’t make you accomplish your goals any faster. In 2013, I sent this quote to my Dolly Daily subscribers and got a ton of feedback. It’s only right to dedicate 2017’s second to last Wednesday to the age old reminder that clapping for others when you have nothing to pat yourself on the back about is congratulation-worthy in God’s book. As you embark upon the close of what you may deem an unsuccessful year, commit to achieving what most people never do in their lifetime: end your relationship with comparisons. Next year this time you may find that your weight goals are still unmet, your business plan is still just an idea, your love life is still non-existent, or you still haven’t graduated from school. But my prayer is that instead of focusing your attention on the people who have accomplished those feats, you recognize all the other achievements you’ve made, the main one being finding the strength to cheer for others when your team is losingKeep clapping, one day you’ll be the one getting the applause.

Matters of the Heart

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Though dating and making genuine platonic friends can be challenging, we make it more difficult when we over-attribute meaning to innocent actions, gestures, and statements. Realize that every inkling isn’t intuition. Chances are if we each had one friend for every time we’ve pushed one into oblivion in the name of our “spidey senses,” we’d be tied for the Most Popular superlative. Stop allowing intellections and insecurities to disguise themselves as insight and make you question people who don’t deserve to be oppugned.

Let people disappoint you. Let them prove you wrong. Let them be different from the “everyone else” you’re adamant about comparing them to. Give them the chance to hurt you, heal you, help you, and hinder you. Offer them the space to serve their purpose in your life. Let go of your addiction to predicting and controlling your future and live in your present. And above all, become comfortable with wasting time…it isn’t yours anyway.

Patience

Happy  Thursday!

Today’s pull is toward patience. The Bible scripture Habbakuk 2:3 reminds us that “the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false” and encourages us that “though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”

There’s a difference between pushing yourself and coercing a circumstance. Be honest – are you forcing an underdeveloped thing to be ready just so you can have something to showcase? Realize that more “embarrassing” than being patient and looking unproductive is producing something that you should have been patient about.

We must follow favor’s lead to avoid the strain experienced by those who value control.

Zechariah 4:6 – “Not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit.”