It’s so easy to get caught up in the culture of a community, a family, a social circle, a work team, etc. and forget that your ability to relate to other group members is temporary. While you’ll never forget where you come from, remembering where you’re going and behaving, communicating, and emoting accordingly is critical if you ever want to reach your next destination. Avoid getting caught up in petty patterns of using gossipy, woe is me statements to convey your frustration for your current circumstance. Venting is one thing, but sharing your observations and opinions as if where you’re at is where you’ll always be only further associates you with the place, making deliverance a more involved process because God doesn’t just have to move you, He has to purify AND move you. From here forward, live on the brink of your breakthrough by first recognizing that you’ve been anointed for ‘next’ even though you have yet to be appointed there. Secondly, walk in ‘next’ before it’s your reality, using your actions, attitude, and speech to force it into manifestation. Third, instead of being a member of the disgruntled group, be an inspiration, constantly reminding others that they too are just passing through, but how long they stay depends on how long they dwell.
You aren’t a bad person; you are a person who happens to have the life those who call you a bad person desire, but instead of looking to you as a vision of hope and viewing all you have accomplished as inspiration, they have perverted your existence, blaming you for their failures and internal dissatisfaction. There is no cure for their misplaced criticism (no way they will ever welcome you) other than for them to either become honest with themselves about what life choices led them to where they are today or for you to abandon all you’ve prayed, sacrificed, and worked (mentally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally) for, becoming as miserable as they are.
Stand strong in the knowledge of your own character & personality, refusing to allow their emotional manipulation to lead you to ruminate whether or not you’re “good.”
You ARE good! – your presence just happens to be a reminder that they aren’t who or where God called them to be, and because they can’t handle that truth, they substitute the conviction they feel inside for rage toward you. Respond with too much sympathy and you will become moved to meet needs for them that God has not called you to meet, causing you to become trapped in their cycle of drama and distracted from your own peace & stability. Respond with complete rejection and you will also be rejecting God’s attempts to use you as a change agent. Balance is key! – respond with prayer, a willingness to (with boundaries) help them in times of duress, and a commitment to continue building a life worth desiring, recognizing that when God chooses to use you to inspire others, the devil will choose to use others to envy you.
“When the devil speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” -John 8:44
Satan finds pleasure in our derision. He enjoys arousing panic in us by making us think he knows something about our future that we don’t. He loves to observe us read the Word, attend church, and feed our Spirits through self-help books, podcasts, and conversations with like-minded Believers, and then taunt us by filling our hearts and minds with doubt strong enough to snatch all we’ve learned away. Because he can’t stop our futures, he tempts us to fear them. Because he’s jealous of our potential, he specializes in making us question it.
Oh, but there’s a silver lining! – today’s Scripture reminds us that EVERYTHING the devil says is just as invalid as he is! It also reveals to us that he doesn’t possess the insider knowledge he manipulates us into believing he does. Not only do his lies derive in his kingdom, they can only exist there! It makes me happy to know that where I live – in Christ – Satan has no jurisdiction!
At any given time, there is usually at least one subject threatening to plague or actually plaguing each of our minds. Whether it’s regarding the safety of loved ones, our lack of resources, our health or the health of a family member or friend, how to navigate a challenging relationship, other people’s opinions of us, our capacity, our future, etc., thoughts of “it” become intrusive, overwhelming, and eventually paralytic. And because it’s all we can think about, it becomes all we discuss. Our relationships become dominated by conversation revolving around “it.” We drain ourselves and our confidants and are exposed to a number of health conditions: anxiety, headaches, depression, and the list goes on. During those times, it’s as if we forget that we can opt out of it all. That’s right – the ruminating, the stress, the sleeplessness, it all revolves around the act of CHOOSING. And anytime choosing is involved, we must remember: there are other choices.
Today, let’s commit to laying aside these weights…burying them and refusing the temptation to dig them up. Today, let’s get back to peace.
“There’s something wrong with your character if opportunity controls your loyalty” is a quote most of us have either heard or read at some point in our life. But what about when circumstances control your consistency? Is that also a character flaw? In today’s devotional, I’m addressing people who – like me – struggle with steadfastness: people who have difficulty rising above current chaos to look at the brightest side and who more often than not allow the discomfort of the situations they find themselves in throw them off from being consistent in their attitude and progressive action. More specifically, I’ll use work – a place most of us spend the majority of our time either at, preparing for, or driving to – as a foundation for guiding readers through the process of recognizing and treating their issues with consistency…
If you label your work as “work,” more than likely, you don’t enjoy it. This seems to be the case with most people who juggle their job and their passion – emotionally, mentally, and spiritually wrestling with the characteristics of traditional employment (imbecilic superiors, contradictory policies, annoying co-workers, low pay, etc.), all the while on the hunt for the energy and free time to cultivate their dream. Unsurprisingly – having never truly found satisfaction from non-entrepreneurial pursuits – I’m all too familiar with this balancing act and have found myself in the throws of a depressive reaction all too many times as a result of it. As a reader I’m sure you can relate to how easy it is for a demanding job to overshadow a vision that doesn’t necessarily have to be attended to, but I’m also sure you’re familiar with the nagging feeling of dissatisfaction that comes along with abandoning your ambition. Chances are work has been the reason you’ve deserted your life’s objective (and copped an attitude with loved ones) more times than you can count. It’s also likely cost you more in distress than the long-deserved raise you’ll probably never get is worth. Last year, I too found myself in a very dark place because of work. I couldn’t afford to be as whimsical as I like to be, because well, adulting, but I also felt suffocated as a result of being pigeonholed and knew my health was at stake. I spent months living the “complain about having to go to work, complain about being at work” cycle and my progress suffered. Weekly devotionals became once every two months devotionals. Cooking healthy meals after work became eating fast food and taking naps that lasted until bedtime. I spent all of my waking hours debriefing my occupational woes only to fall asleep and have dreams about work. I even emotionally and physically neglected my husband. Things had to change.
Whether circumstances at work, school, or within family or social circles are the reason your mood and behavior fluctuates, recognizing there’s an issue is the first step. Using the reactions of those closest to you to gauge your need for change may be the easiest way to do so. If you notice your partner, children, or close friends complaining about how irritable you are or how little time you spend doing the things you enjoy, investigating the root of your depressive reaction is necessary. Ask yourself what in your life is getting progressively worse, but is seemingly out of your control? Once you determine the irritant(s), creating a list of its impacts on your life is next. How does focusing on it affect your energy, creativity, and ability to be compassionate? How is it causing you to treat your family, regard your finances, and spend your free time? Realizing all you have to lose by remaining absorbed may be the wake-up call you need. Next, develop a plan to decrease your stressor’s impact on your livelihood. What can you start doing or do more of in an effort to limit how much damage the next blow your aggravation throws your way is able to cause? (Being more spontaneous, adding morning meditation and prayer to my schedule, and starting private practice were some of my methods of fighting back). As you strive to make your life bigger than work, school, family drama, social problems, etc., you’ll notice those areas begin to feel less stressful. Don’t be fooled – what you ignore always improves. Continue on your journey to a more consistent you, taking no notice of your stressor(s)!
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.
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!