Broken Open

I’ve been feeling this urge to write more frequently over the past few weeks. It’s like I’ve been broken open; all the parts of myself that I’ve tried to censor for as long as I can remember have all come rushing out and I’m completely uninterested in trying to block that out anymore. Now it’s not all good but it’s certainly interesting and in many ways, I feel like I am in the eye of the storm of a breakthrough.

For a long time, I’ve had this idea in my head of who I was expected to be and how I was meant to carry myself in the world. I’ve always been extremely sensitive to the emotions of people around me and I try my best to put myself in their shoes and respond or address them in a way that I would appreciate if I were in their position. Looking back and reflecting on wise counsel, I now understand that a lot of it comes from my childhood. I grew up the first child and grandchild from my father’s family. A lot was expected of me and so I expected even more from myself. I allowed my expectations of myself to be informed by the expectations of those closest to me. It wasn’t until very recently that I realized there are very few people that I feel free enough to be my most authentic self with. And it was because of fear.

I was afraid of not being accepted, of constantly being on the outside looking in and most of all that I would be called a fraud. At the core of it, I was afraid that I never really belonged. And so I allowed some things to happen; nothing serious, just a “not great” comment here or there, a snide remark or a rude tone. As long as I felt like I belonged, failing to set the right boundaries felt like a worthy sacrifice to make. I gloried in conformity. And that was a shocker to me because I often spoke about how I embraced the fact that I was different.

And it has hampered me in many ways but I think I can finally say that I am done with that at this stage in my life. I am a grown woman and I have a responsibility to God first and then myself to express all the gifts and wonderful aspects of my being that I have to offer. I have learned that I cannot be selective about the parts of myself that I try to suppress; it doesn’t work that way. If there is a flaw that needs to be addressed then it needs to be explored. It cannot be explored when it is suppressed and denied in a bid to be “perfect”.

More and more I am coming into myself. It’s not always pretty but it’s truth and that is way more important now more than ever. This life is to short and I honestly have too much to give. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude because I never imagined that I would get to this place.

Scars

I was just watching the TV show, “This is us”, and I was particularly drawn to the story of the daughter. Understandably so because I can relate to the struggles that come with being overweight and how we live in a world that is unforgiving towards people that are different.

It reminded me of when I was a teenager and how all I ever wanted was to be someone that wasn’t me. It was torture; I could see what I wanted right in front of me and I kept trying my hardest to get it, but it remained out of reach. There were brief moments where it seemed like I was on track towards getting there, but those cravings always won.

Many people think that losing the weight means you finally have all those struggles behind you and the pain of your “old life” goes away. But there’s a deep fear that takes its place; despair at the thought of ever putting on another kilogram and going back to that place. I remember a moment last year when I was in tears because I had put on about 4 kilograms. I was so scared that I would go back to where I was coming from and I didn’t think I had the strength to do what I did to lose 21 kilograms again. I don’t know that I have that in me anymore; that was a couple of years ago and a lot has changed since then.

This isn’t one of those posts where I talk about how I overcame and how God came through for me so that I don’t have to deal with it anymore. This is still a struggle for me and I carry it with me everyday (even on the good days when I’m happy with my weight). I’m in a place where I’m at my heaviest since I lost weight. I’m not as heavy as I was before but there are times where I worry that I won’t get to where I want to be. It has made me depend more on God, not just for the strength to do what needs to be done to lose the weight. But more importantly, the strength to keep being myself and not let my joy be dictated by my ability to fit into a certain dress or seeing lower numbers on the scale.

Each day I wake up, I am reminded that I have to fight for my joy and peace. The strength for that battle can only come from the Lord. My focus is to take it one day at a time and remember two things (1) It will always be a journey; I will never “arrive” and (2) I am not competing with anyone; my responsibility is to be the best possible version of myself.

GD.

Zoe

There is a certain quality of direction that comes from tragedy; it originates in a quiet manner from unchartered parts of the soul and eventually encapsulates your entire being. Its potency is not overbearing but its strength is undeniable. Like the love of a mother, it just is and cannot be dismissed or mistaken.

I gave my life to God some 7 years ago and have since been waiting for the other shoe to drop. I heard stories of people who had gone through unspeakable horrors and was amazed that they could still stand to speak of the goodness of God. There was a part of me that wanted to be one of those women but I remained afraid of the price to be paid.

Not too long ago, I became one of those women – and the fear is gone. I know now, that even more than a mother’s love, is the certainty of God’s love for me. It is just is. I have relied on my feelings for validation, but no longer. I may not have ‘felt’ loved but two things kept reverberating in my soul and spirit:

  1. God loves me
  2. God will never leave me alone.

I am now more aware than ever of the strength I carry and the fact that the calling I once felt upon my life still remains. Perhaps I veered off the path, searching for things in the wrong places but my Father has guided me by my hand and set me back on the right track. I still don’t know where this road will lead but I now understand that I no longer need to. He provides daily bread for a reason – to teach us to look beyond the gift to the giver.

And so I continue to lift up my eyes to the hills. Now more than ever I understand that is where my help comes from. I am not alone on this journey and of a truth it is well with my soul.

Evolver

About three and a half years ago, I started this blog. I was in a place where I had finally found the source of all wisdom and the answers to my most burning questions. The truth is that I had found the answers, but what I did not understand was that I had just set sail on a journey that was not going to end on this side of eternity.

I was super excited in the beginning…..I felt like I was sharing things with people that I wish someone had told me when I was younger. I was so relieved to no longer feel like the only person in the room that had not attended the class on how to live life. With every post and every comment came renewed zeal to keep charging forward.

But eventually I started to burn out. Writing became a chore; something I felt I had to because it was expected of me. In may ways, it mirrored my relationship with God – I would pray because I had to, and look at the clock to check how long I had spent. I would read my Bible because I had to, not because I was genuinely interested in what God wanted me to meditate on for the day. And I would judge my “performance” by the length of time spent in prayer or the number of chapters read. My attention had shifted from the heart of the work to the work itself and what it said about me as a “good Christian”.

This isn’t one of those posts where I end with how I made the right decision or did things better. It’s not one where the story ends “happily ever after”. I haven’t completely figured it out yet; it’s still work in progress. But what matters most is that progress is being made. Day after day, I’m doing my best, by the grace of God, to renew my mind and change the way I think. There were moments where I felt I needed to shut this whole operation down because I was a fraud, making people think that I had it all figured out when I was actually struggling.

But it was in that place that I received a new direction for this blog. The initial vision was for it to be a place where I could be honest and share this wonderful thing I had found which was my relationship with God. I now believe that the next step in that journey is to share more about myself, to be more honest about my struggles and where I am with them and to share my victories as well.

There are a number of ideas I’m thinking through on this but the first one is GD Chronicles, where I put up journal entries that I’ve made over the years. My hope is that it will encourage anyone struggling with similar issues.

I’ve also set out to be more active on social media – Grace’s Daughter is now on Instagram (gracesdaughter.ng) and twitter (@GracesDaughter1). You can also reach me via email on gracesdaughter.ng@gmail.com.

So that’s to guys. Let the journey continue….Lord help me!!!

Grace & The Folly of Comparison

Human logic is somewhat incompatible with grace. Sayings like “You get what you pay for” and “Earn your keep” make sense from the perspective of rational thinking but in those times when you get more than what you pay for or earn more than your keep, human logic tends not to be pleased. More often than not, this tends to be in the context of comparison.

In the parable of the vineyard workers (Matthew 20:1-16), a landowner hired people to work for him at different times of the day. The first batch of workers resumed at 6a.m, the second at 9am and subsequent batches at noon, 3pm and 5pm. When the time came to pay wages, the landowner started with the last workers, paying them a day’s wages (the same as those who had been working since 6am). Now you can imagine that the earliest workers were not pleased with this at all and they did not hesitate to make this clear.

What struck me about this passage was the fact that the 6am workers had agreed with the landowner on the wages they would be paid. They were satisfied with it until they compared it with the wages of the 5pm workers. I reiterate, in the context of human logic and rational thinking, the 6am workers had a valid point, especially where fairness and equity are concerned. However, the Kingdom of God is not one of fairness alone but one of grace as well. If God was just interested in fairness, we would all be deserving of death. That is why grace is such a beautiful thing.

Now I’m quite sure the 6am workers would not have had an issue with the situation if they had been 5pm workers. But imagine if they could have been satisfied with their own portion and maybe even happy for the 5pm workers. The 6am workers didn’t know where the 5pm workers were coming from; perhaps one’s child was sick and needed tending to the whole day, maybe another was helping a friend in dire need. The reason is irrelevant; what matters is that the landowner (God in this parable) saw it fit to give the 5pm workers that wage. In the context of Kingdom thinking, that should make the situation okay for everyone.

Many times, we compare ourselves with other people thinking we deserve better. Sometimes we are correct as far as rationality is concerned. But we become ungrateful when we see them getting more than what we think they deserve, especially when it’s the same as our portion. I think this means that we don’t have the right perspective. When we do our work as unto the Lord and live according to our God-given purpose, the need for comparison lessens and we may even be free to celebrate the grace of God in the lives of others.

Understand that this message is as much for me as it is for you.

Love,

GD.

Thought of the day

I was reading Matthew 3 today and was struck anew by words that I had seen and read many times:

In those days, John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of heaven is near.” The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him’”. – Matthew 3:1-3

The chapter goes to describe John in a manner that could only have been perceived as weird at the time. But what hit home for me was the certainty with which the author confirmed that John was the fulfillment of a prophecy. I was about to go on reading but I felt a check in my spirit to pause on this and reflect.

John the Baptist knew who he was and what he was called to do. Yes, he probably came across crazy to the people that knew (of) him. But that did not matter to him. I believe he knew the weight of what was required of him. He must have understood the import of his calling, the fulfillment of God’s word to his ancestors, was to take place through him. There must have been times when he was discouraged, lonely and close to quitting (to settle for an ordinary life) but that was not his calling.

Many of us are living lives that are incompatible with who God has called us to be and the assignments we have been tasked to complete. Society preaches conformity, safety (staying in your comfort zone) and political correctness but we have been called to be light in a depraved world. Light cannot shine in its fullness and be appreciated for the illumination it brings if it does not first acknowledge that there is darkness. Imagine if John tried to conform. He would never have called out the Pharisees or let the people know that there was sin in them to repent from.

What prophecies are hanging over you? How long have you kept God waiting to use you? What shall be said of you by generations to come?

 

 

What Do You See?

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,

For the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that the captives will be freed.

He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time for the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of the Lord’s anger against their enemies.

Isaiah 61: 1-2 (NLT)

Over the past week, the Lord has opened my eyes to see as I never have before. And this has caused me to make moves that I never knew I could. To many, it might not seem like much but I know where I am coming from. There are things I have done this week that I wouldn’t have let myself even think of doing two months ago. But like the Word says in Isaiah 61, the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me. And I can’t help but share today and encourage someone to make that bold move.

We live in times that require immense faith to believe that things can be different for us. Everyone who is anyone is spreading tales of gloom and doom everywhere. The Naira is tanking, the nation is bogged down by corruption and life here is so difficult. Why should we even waste our time hoping that our story could be a good one? Because that’s what the Lord would have us do in this season.

About 2,000 years ago, the Angel of the Lord appeared to a priest called Zechariah. The guy was just minding his business, attending to his priestly duties in the sanctuary. Out of nowhere, the Angel came to him and told him not to be afraid. Zechariah is informed that his wife will have a son and finds it difficult to believe. So he asks the angel for proof. He is made dumb because he found of what he could not see.

I watched the movie “The Big Short” yesterday and was reminded that there are huge opportunities for us in the face hard times. Christian Bale’s character predicted the burst of the housing bubble two years before it happened (true story). He bet about $1.3Bn (in 2005) on the demise of the housing bubble. The people around him thought he was crazy. His business partner asked for his money back (wrong move) and while he waited for the bubble to collapse, his company was even losing money. I won’t spoil the movie for you if you haven’t seen it, but most of you know about the financial crisis of 2007/08. Just know that while many people lost a lot, others made stupendous gains.

Yes, times are hard and things seem difficult. But it is in these times that we are required to rise up in faith and dare to believe that things can be different for us. What has God laid on your heart to do? Is it time to start that business? Make that move at work? Stand up to that member of your family that has intimidated you for a long time? Finally ask that girl out on a date? Whatever it is, do not let the logic of the world determine what you will do. What has God told you concerning that matter? That is the TRUTH!! And that is what we are called to cling to.

Blessings,

Grace’s Daughter.