When You’ve Come A Long Way

I sat in the Starbucks location 10 minutes from work using my early arrival as needed time to recoup from the day.  I was meeting an old high school friend and would need the short break to gather energy for the meeting.  Not because my time with her would not be enjoyable but simply because that is what introverts do: they gain energy during down time.  When she arrived I was flooded with friendship from her smile to her perky nature.  She made it known that she was outgoing, friendly and extroverted, all of the qualities most of my close friends have.

Over my standard café latte and her sweet treat (which turned out not to be sweet enough) we caught up on life.  She advised it had only been a year since our last convo but I’m pretty sure it was longer.  I need to look up the pictures on Facebook to confirm that though…  She mentioned not having friends past certain seasons and I can identify.  I don’t have too many I keep in contact with from before college.  Most of my close friends are from that time of academic and spiritual endeavors on Miami’s campus.  I shared I think that mostly has to do with me having a shared spiritual experience with those folks.  When you become born again it changes you and sometimes old relationships do not carry over after this change.  She too is a believer, like several others from back in the day.  Our connection is always easy and comfortable probably because of our shared faith.

After about an hour of deep conversation she said, “Wow Nicole look at you compared to your high school self!”  I believe she was inferring I had come a long way.  I was too afraid to get more feedback on that statement though I wanted to ask for her to elaborate.  I can’t even picture my high school self from an outsider’s perspective and how different I am now.  I only know the process I have gone through for that transformation to take place.  I assume she sees a more polished, mature version of myself.  It is truly the work of the Father to polish and polish and polish those rough places around me and cause me to shine.

He is still polishing…

We talked about the ex and I was tickled at how distant that time frame of dating seemed.  I thought back to how deeply my feelings were for that man back then.  I thought I would never get over that breakup.  But last night I sat in front of her, experiencing a greater level of wholeness I have never experienced before.  It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get this far.  It took a lot of faith walking and fearful courage.  But some how, some way, the prophecy I received long ago came to pass:

“You have come leaps and bounds” the prophet said.  I knew at the time I had not but that the word was for a future time.  To God His work in us is already finished so His view was that it had already happened.  In my time it would take another 10 years…


Somehow the 10 years came and went.  And then another year.  And another.  Now I am here, removed from heartbreak, still developing, still learning, and still walking by faith.  But now I have something I didn’t have back then.  I have a history with God.  I have a history of Him showing out for me.  Doing the impossible for me.  And creating a masterpiece out of a life that was at one time in shambles.

He is faithful.

Psalm 18:33

“He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly and tread safely on paths of testing and trouble]; He sets me [securely] upon my high places.”

SHALOM

 

Gifts, Parties & Sacrifice

This weekend I celebrated the release of my 2nd book How To Overcome Heartbreak: Stories That Heal. It took me exactly 9 months to start this book project and publish it. That’s probably pretty quick for most but that was the gift God has offered me in this season.

I have the gift of TIME.

The most touching moment of the party was sitting in a small group discussing the topics that I now am so passionate about: healing from emotional pain, walking out extended singleness and preparing for a healthy relationship. In the midst of me sharing my testimony on these areas I said that God had made His promise clear to me, however He did not reveal that I would need to be transformed to receive that promise. After my sharing an older woman in the faith said she heard the word “transparent”. I needed to be more transparent to receive the person…I felt that meant I needed to be more humble.

Sharing such intimate parts of my story always humbles me and really it is only my desire to please the Father and help heal others that motivates me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Yeshua in the garden. That time was such a picture of His humility. He left glory and perfection to experience a darkness I can’t imagine.

And He did it for us.

Now as I walk out my own journey I relate to His suffering. Though mine could never compare to His I know it is meaningful because it is my whole heart that I have given Him. It is the very depths of me that I have offered.

I am surrounded by the faithful. I have sisters and brothers who understand the deep and the level of sacrifice He has called us to. That is another gift I have in this season:

I have community.


I can say this road is not easy.  There are many hard days and even hard seasons.  Just yesterday I shed tears on a call with a woman I’ve trusted for the last 15 years.  I shared about my deep desires and awaiting the fruit I felt I was called to.  But I guess that is the beauty in this life: in the midst of the tears there is love.  There are these people who God deeply values and who deeply value me who are rooting me on and listening quietly as I pour out my pain.

There is both loss and fullness on this path and often I feel them at the same time.

There is His hand weaving a story I never could have fathomed. 

And then there is me, imitating the Author of life and putting my hand to the keys of a computer to do the same.

Like Father, like daughter.

I hope He is pleased.

 

SHALOM

 

Navigating The In Between

I realize that I am an “all in” type person.  When it comes to relationships, work, or any other project I dive in full force and do not loosen my reins until that thing comes to completion (go me).  This character trait has helped me immensely in my career when in spite of 3 bouts with unemployment and an attempt from one company to sabotage my move to the next, I thrived (go Jesus).  It has caused me to complete 2 college degrees regardless of the battle I faced in my academic endeavors.  It allowed me to write 2 books in the midst of battling anxiety and depression.  It has helped me to be one that endures.

Well as you may have guessed, there is a negative side to being an “all-inner”.  Though my intentions have been good and sincere, I have a history of leaping blindly and foolishly into unhealthy relationships, giving my all when it wasn’t safe to do so.  Thankfully Holy Spirit intervened and pulled me out of the cycle of dysfunction many never escape from.  My ancestors never escaped from.  But there have been consequences to my over-zealousness.  Now I am in a place where I have to learn how to not be “so extra”.  I have to learn balance and boundaries.  I have to learn how to properly navigate a relationship that was so badly bruised that there seems to be no bandaid big enough to heal it.

I sat across from my good friend the other night.  She shared her relationships woes.  I encouraged her to believe God for His best.  I feel very strongly He brought us together for me to share my story on waiting on His best.  She looked at me with pain in her eyes, bit her lip and murmured what was on her heart.  “But you did wait”, she said.  You did know Him deeply and intimately and yet you are still waiting”.  She is right.  I am still waiting.  I told her about how this world is passing away.  I told her our relationship with Him has to be of the utmost importance.  I rattled off the scriptures He put on my heart and even texted her a few.  But I knew that the spiritual blessing of doing His will was not enough.  I realized that He created the earth to reflect the heavens and that means the reward that we have in heaven must be manifested in the earth.

Mark 10:29-30 (NIV)

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.

I have received the word about my reward coming 6 times thus far in a span of only a few weeks.  God is being very loud and clear: for those who have waited, for those who have endured, you will REAP.

I told my friend this as we sat across the table over appetizers and drinks.  It wasn’t enough to offer her encouragement about her spiritual reward.  She needed to know that yes, we do get blessed this side of heaven.


I am in between my blessing.  I have surrendered, I have endured, I have obeyed.  I have yielded and agreed and walked by faith but I do not yet have the promise.  I am learning how to live in between the demonstration of my faith through my works and the manifestation of HIs promise.  It is a vulnerable place but I feel His grace to navigate this area of life.

In other news…

If you’re in the area I have exciting news!  My book release party for HTOHB2 will be Saturday, March 11th which also happens to be the start of Purim!  I hope you are able to make it!

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And if you’re not in the area join the Twitter party for HTOHB2 Sunday, March 12th!

And if you have fallen behind on my Youtube videos feel free to visit my youtube site here.

SHALOM

 

Giant Slayer

I remember at the beginning of this very difficult season Holy Spirit said “fight!” and I responded “I don’t want to”.  I’m usually honest in my responses to Him because that’s what happens when you have a close relationship with someone.  And He already knows my heart anyway so there’s no reason to dabble in pretense.  He was telling me I would need to walk out this season and I knew it was going to entail some horrors that I did not want to face.  And that I would feel so very alone when facing them.  But I made my decision long ago to follow Him so even though I said, “I don’t want to” that didn’t mean I wouldn’t.  It just meant that I was once again choosing to do things His way over my own.

The real reason I didn’t want to was because I didn’t trust Him and I didn’t trust myself.  Though we had been through many battles and I had seen victory every time I knew this particular battle would be a doozy and I was tired of the fight.  I wanted to rest.  But recently I heard a sermon where the minister advised that when you are called and chosen there is usually one thing after another that is going to come up against you.  I don’t like to have that view because it seems so negative but I couldn’t refute the fact that this was what had been happening in my journey: one thing after another.

Well, I have experienced much victory in this season though I am still walking it out, and upon reflection I can see that the Father was confident that I would be able to slay this giant when He called me to fight it.  He was confident because He knows who I am eternally.  Whereas I was insecure and fearful because I knew my weaknesses.

I remember a scene from “Hook” where Robin Williams who is Peter Pan, is standing in front of the lost boys and his competition Rufio opposes him.  Robin doesn’t remember he is Peter Pan.  He thinks he’s this old man who lives for his work and doesn’t spend enough time with his children.  Instead he is the leader of a group of zealous, bright boys who seek adventures, fly and fight pirates.  So Rufio says for all who think he’s Peter Pan to stand on one side of the room and all the lost boys go to that side.  Well, Peter starts to go to that side too because he himself doesn’t believe!  But Tink brings him back to the other side and eventually one of the boys convinces the rest that he is really The Peter Pan.  Well, I see myself in that moment of confusion over identity that Robin displays.  I didn’t see myself as being a slayer of a giant of this magnitude.  I started to go to the side of the room with the rest of my naysayers.  But God (symbolized as Tink in this analogy) pulled me back to the right side.

And I’m glad He did.

I was right about the horror and the darkness.  I was even right about my own weaknesses.  But I forgot about His strength in me.  I forgot that He who is in me is greater than He who is the world.

I am thankful that He promises in His Word victory every time (2 Cor 2:14).  It may not look the way we thought it would or come about in the time frame we desired, but it is promised.

No matter how great the giant, He who is in you is greater.

You were created in His image and nothing can conquer the Creator.

 

SHALOM

Soulmates & Singleness


Last night I had a good conversation with a dear friend.  We talked about one of our most frequented topics: singleness.  We reminisced about the times spent walking out this path we never thought we’d face and how much we’ve grown since those early days.  Where had the time gone?  We wondered.  I remembered an old video on black women finding love after 40 and some who never “found love” at all.  My friend had also watched that video way back when and shared her sentiments on it.  “It’s depressing” she said.  I can see why she would feel that way though I don’t remember having that perspective as a 20- something watching it.  I only remember thinking, “That won’t be me!”  Even if I didn’t verbally say those words, I feel that message was ingrained deeply in my heart.  You see at that time in my spiritual walk I didn’t understand that God could (and would) use time to work out some stuff that would hinder purpose and identity from being manifested through me.  I certainly didn’t see the stuff I needed working out at that point so of course I didn’t think He would need to do too much work on me.  Ah, to be young and naïve again😆.  My timeline was that of the culture’s timeline and even now I struggle against that mindset.  But what I have learned in the time that has occurred between then and now is this: Father knows best.  I now understand that when God says, “no” it is in my best interest whereas back then I only saw one side of the coin (when God said “no” He was just being mean).  So watching that video back then I interpreted it through that lens.  The one-sided coin lens.

Since I’m a little older now and am actually closer to the age of the women who were interviewed, I decided to re-watch it through these new-more mature lenses.  When I did, I felt grieved for the women who wanted love and for one reason or another did not find it.  I did relate to how they cultivated a full joyful life outside of a relationship.  And I did understand their desire to please God in a life of celibacy that they never envisioned in their future.  But there was one subtle question my heart was asking as the statistics of single, black-educated women rolled on the screen. How healthy are these women?  I wondered.  You see in the last few years I’ve had a lot of revelations as to why I needed singleness and everyone of them had to do with the fact that I myself was very unhealthy.  I wouldn’t have known a healthy relationship if it hit me in the face.  And I’m sure there were good men around me who avoided me like the plague because of my red flags.  Thankfully I had the Holy Spirit who guided me and pruned me and created something a little better than what existed before.  So I watched half of the video and felt their pain and empathized with their cup that I myself am also drinking from, but I also know that we can be limited in our understanding of God’s ways…

Statistics are statistics and I can’t say that I am exempt from them.  Maybe some of the reason I am single is because black men are incarcerated and gay and not educated.  Maybe I am affected by these facts.  But my experience trumps statistics.  And my experience is that I am chosen and God has been very intentional with me to deliver me and heal me and restore me (He is such a good Dad).  He has been very intentional with me to set me apart, teach me and grow me.

I don’t know my future, but I do know my past.  He is my past.  He is Father and Maker and Friend.  And most importantly He is trustworthy.

Job 13:15 (KJV)

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him…

I hate that we are called to very difficult things.  That sometimes we don’t have the answers this side of heaven.

But sometimes we do have the answers.

I have found many answers hidden within the crevices of my heart (Ephesians 3:11).  And often, almost too many times, He has confirmed those answers through dreams and prophecy.  I have lived my life this way for the last 15 years, and I am encouraged by the Spirit of the Lord within my heart that no matter what the statistics say, no matter what another person’s story is or perspective is, I need to stay true to what I know inside.

He has intentionally set me apart for such a time as this and for my own good.  And He will give me the desires of my heart as I have first delighted in Him.

SHALOM