Places of My Spiritual Foundation and Development
Educational facilities, religious institutions, and work environments are some common places of preparation where many of us encounter both positive and negative experiences that help shape us into the people we become. These places serve as formative opportunities that can lead to self discovery and teach us how to persevere and overcome, turning the negatives of our lives into positives. The places of my spiritual foundation and development encompassed several diverse organizations as categorized above. Journey with me as I reveal how these places prepared me for and guided me into the life I was born to live.
I invite you to also identify and examine your own places of spiritual foundation and life preparation in the hopes that you will achieve a clearer sense of self as you experience new or deeper revelations of your weaknesses, strengths, relationships, lessons, victories, faith, and anything else that surfaces for you to explore and heal, release, or celebrate.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10 NKJ)
Meeting God and Restoration
Before I knew God personally, I had a strong sense that a lot of the occurrences in my life were not happening to me just for me, but for other people. I didn’t fully understand it at the time; I just had to believe that some of my experiences must be meant to help somebody else, sometime, somewhere. Through it all, God has provided some “places of preparation” along my journey that helped me become a lot closer to Him and clearer about my experiences.
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT)
In college (between 1977 and 1981) I experienced emotional and sexual violations that caused me to cry out to the Lord, “Help me Lord! I can’t live in a world where I have to watch my back all the time. I need to love and trust people. I don’t know how to not be me and don’t want to become like them. Protect me, teach me, and keep me Lord before I lose my mind.” During my time at New York Institute of Technology (Old Westbury, NY campus), a divine relationship with a Christian brother-friend, Ouemonde, led me to my first Christian fellowship group. There, the soil of my heart was furrowed to receive the seeds of God’s word. God introduced Himself and maintained my sanity in this Place of Preparation.
First Church of God (FCOG)
In 1981, Oue’ also led me to my first church home, where I surrendered my life to Jesus and developed a personal relationship with Him. At First Church of God (Far Rockaway, NY), I obtained a rich spiritual foundation that taught me how to live by faith, trusting Jesus for everything-- the small things as well as the big things. I learned: how to stand up for myself; to face my fears and do it anyway; to be a leader; that I have gifts; that my one vote does count; and that I can make a difference, using what I have wherever I am. During my 14 years there, I was exposed to divine relationships that acknowledged, confirmed, and encouraged my writing gift. I became the resident poet, writing for all church occasions and for one of the Church of God State publications (The Shining Light). To develop my gift and strengthen my confidence, I completed a correspondence course in Basic Journalism and Poetry, and an Entrepreneurship Program, and I started a home-based writing business that specialized in personalized poetry. God resurrected my value in this Place of Preparation.
Spiritual Security and Professional Creditability
St. Paul Community Baptist Church (SPCBC)
In 1995, I was led to my second church home in obedience to my former husband. During my 10 years at St. Paul Community Baptist Church (Brooklyn-ENY), I learned how to facilitate my own healing and the healing of others. I was spiritually and emotionally liberated as I healed from ministry burnout, an ill-fated marriage, and awakened 20-year old traumas that I had not dealt with previously. I experienced an immeasurable level of God’s love for me in my wretchedness that sustained and held me when I was too weak to hold on. I found my voice, learned how to speak my truth, be true to myself, and that I am a gift. I discovered my purpose, my passion, and a sweeter intimacy with God through praise in dance, song, writing, and healing- touch techniques. In wrestling with God, I learned that retreat and stagnation are not options, only pressing forward in Him to fulfill His revealed plan and purpose for my life and to testify of His faithfulness. I also learned that God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corin 12:9) and that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13, NKJ). God sealed my salvation in this Place of Preparation.
In May 2003, God orchestrated me into my first corporate workplace and a newly created position (Procedure Writer) that paid me well for doing a job I was gifted in and enjoyed doing. I was awed by God and interviewed for the position because it sought after me (I didn’t know about it or apply for it; I received a message on my answering machine to call if interested). I knew God had provided the opportunity by making my resume accessible at just the right time before the right people, so in spite of my inexperience, insecurity and fears, I stepped out and said yes to God and the job offer. I learned how to surrender my gifts to God and trust that His grace and unlimited creativity would be sufficient to help me grow and excel in skill, job performance, and professionalism; and that whatever God calls you to, He has already equipped you to do it. God gave me a new professional level of confidence, experience and creditability in this Place of Preparation.
A Higher Call and Intimate Level
Crossroads Tabernacle. (CT)
In July 2005, the Lord physically separated me from all that was familiar and orchestrated my move to the Bronx and my third church home, Crossroads Tabernacle. I visited 2 other Bronx churches with one more on my list before coming to Crossroads on August 7, 2005 and settled there for a season of 4 years. God prepared a safe place for me in my beautiful new physical and spiritual Bronx homes. As a member of the church, I basked in the purity of the love, praise, worship, and preached Word. I learned to make God my circumference as well as my center and I was challenged to a holier and humbler walk in Him. During my first year there as a writer in the Living Letters Spiritual Formation Group, I bonded with kindred spirits and learned how to identify the moments, work through the memories, and write my story to be shared for the edification of God’s people and for the comfort and encouragement to others in need. God called me to come up higher in this Place of Preparation.
Inner Visions Institute for Spiritual Development (IVISD)
In 2006, I applied to and began attending the Inner Visions Institute for Spiritual Development (Silver Springs, MD), a Spiritual Life Coaching program that I had wanted to experience for 6 years. There I understood that: acknowledgement is the first step toward healing; overwhelm is the indication of trying to convince yourself you can do something that you don’t really believe you can do; the enemy was the inner me; undesirable traits in another is sometimes a reflection of ourselves and when their behavior triggers a negative reaction in us, it is often about an inner aspect of ourselves that needs to be healed. At IVISD, I learned: how to attune myself, listen to and honor the language of my body; identify and heal affected emotional areas in the core of my being; implement a living vision action plan to press pass fear and procrastination. I also learned that I can create or obtain the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual elements that appear lacking in my life instead of waiting for someone else to provide them for me; and that my creativity is unlimited and accessible because God is my ever present co-creative provider. God ushered me into a more intimate relationship with Him and revealed to me who I am in this Place of Preparation.
Major Discovery and Decision
In March 2007, after seeking God’s direction and spending time examining and healing emotional issues that plagued me throughout my life I experienced some deep revelations and made the choice to end my enrollment at IVISD. The following narrative describes what transpired in my quiet time with God:
Sitting At His Feet
Sitting at the feet of Jesus revealed a lot about the life I lived.
I realized that my acts of kindness evolved out of a childhood need--
treating people the way I always desired to be treated
was the motivation behind why I give.
I desired a life of fulltime ministry since 1998, blindly striving, and doing, and running toward that goal.
Instead of sitting at His feet, awaiting instructions and letting my journey naturally and spiritually unfold.
Out of fear, self-doubt, and insecurity,
I would get busy trying to find my way.
Until I finally got where I thought was the answer
and found that I did not want to stay.
As I studied Spiritual Life Coaching, learning to heal and develop myself,
internal issues came to the surface that needed to be addressed.
Sitting at the feet of Jesus, I realized
that mentally and emotionally I was a mess.
I was so busy taking care of others, and trying to
catch and keep up with the responsibilities of my life.
I started to lose myself in the process,
crashing heart first into an emotional wall.
I discovered that the life I envisioned to experience
was not the life that I desired at all.
I was striving to live a life I thought I was supposed to live,
but it was a self-imposed prison of my own.
Sitting at the feet of Jesus, I realized
that who I was and what I wanted, I really did not know.
I chose to end my studies and slow down the pace, realizing that
in order to move forward I needed to be fully present
in the personal and professional relationships,
and responsibilities that I then faced.
Sitting at the feet of Jesus, I realized that
I was right where I was supposed to be
and what I had was sufficient for where I was.
Sitting at the feet of Jesus, I realized that
although I am a work in progress, I Am enough!
And even the little things I do in His name
are significant to Him and the people whose lives I touch.
I do not have to make things happen in my life;
I daily surrender my whole self and all my attachments,
trusting God to do the work in and through me,
as I sit at His feet.
(Psalm 138:8, Amp) “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy and loving kindness, O Lord, endure forever- forsake not the works of Your own hands.”
Pentacostal Praise and Prayer
Greater Faith Temple (GFT)
On July 5, 2009, I joined Greater Faith Temple (Bronx, NY) after feeling the tug of Spirit to move on and a few visits to various churches across the boroughs. I bubbled with excitement about the amazing things God had in store for me moving forward. Greater Faith is a Pentacostal church with a non-denominational mentality; rightly referred to as Church of the Living God and Dome of Praise!. I got to freely praise and worship to my heart's content, by the time we were done I was physically spent. God perfected my praise and prepared me to soar on eagles wings in this Place of Preparation.
Apostolic Temple of Jesus Christ (AToJC)
In 2012, after visiting churches for a year, I moved back to Queens and joined Apostolic Temple of Jesus Christ (Springfield Gardens, NY). It has been a love affair of people, preaching, teaching, prayer, praise and worship, encouragement and support. I am walking out my faith and vision for ministry as Spirit guides through this season of surrender and obedience. I was re-baptized on Good Friday, resurrected with a mind to go all the way with, for, through and in God. His will be done. God is deepening my commitment and stretching my faith in this Place of Preparation.
Summary Questions To Explore
Places of Preparation, Spiritual Foundations and Development, such as schools, churches, and jobs are formative environments that can provide self discovering opportunities of growth and victory for those of us willing to ask, be available, allow, and receive.
My places of preparation enabled me to experience a deeper understanding and appreciation of God and myself on every level of my being. I beseech you to take time to answer the following questions for your own self development, discovery and the edification of others you will encounter along the way who need to know what you have learned:
- What are some of your spiritual foundation and preparation places?
- What discoveries have you made in those places?
- What negatives encounters have you overcome or turned into positive experiences?
- How has your story evolved through your journey?
- What old issues are still present that need to be healed?