Living Life From a Different Point of View
"Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore!" (Psalm 105:4)
A few years ago I was asked if I was living a quality life. To which I immediately responded with all the positive words to convince that I was very close to reaching the top of my mountain. But the conversation left me confused and somewhat empty. I began to question if I had been living my life with the vibrancy foreseen in my childhood dreams. I felt a sense of anxiety that led to an attitude of defense within for the decisions or choices I made. The choices that eventually brought me to a location I never considered visiting, never mind residing.
Before that conversation, I never really thought about the quality of my living, even during the times of reevaluation. The circumstances leading to the changes of jobs or residences were just that, circumstances, which led to filling the immediate needs for survival without the whys or hows. But, to truly understand what it means to live. To go deep inside myself without diminishing it to breathing in and out each day, opened me to view me in a different light. To realizing that the sensations derived from touch, sight, sound and smell don‘t give enough meaning to what living life is all about. I just celebrated my fifty-third birthday, and because I plan on being on this beautiful planet for another fifty years, I’m halfway through my journey and have begun learning what it takes to greet each day with joy and to end each day with a sense of fulfillment.
I now find a different kind of satisfaction from turning the difficult situations around more prevalent with each moment I experience. I love asking myself why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling, whether good or bad, and reaching a conclusive answer. I grow a little bit each day, finding a new level of understanding of me. I no longer fear peeling back the layers to locate a hidden truth or past fumble that had become the definition of who I was. And what really amazes me is the need to tell. To touch pen to paper or fingers to keys to describe an event that turned my life around. The knowing that my daily experiences could enlighten someone who may be in the midst of similar circumstances and unable to find the positive in a negative situation. That’s what gives me a sense of purpose. Now, I’m not in any way trying to convey that I’m privy to some secret that bypasses the average individual. I’m no scholar nor do I believe I possess a divine power that can be passed on through a spiritual channel. I have always heard a voice inside of me, which when acknowledged, would steer me away from actions that could be detrimental. I only recently realized where the voice was coming from and am able to decipher when it is necessary to adhere to what I‘m being directed to do. I can’t tell you the exact moment when I became aware of the significance of that voice. I can’t even definitively say that everyone will experience in the same manner as I the voice working from within. All I can do is tell my stories of faith with the hope that my experiences will lead someone to having a closer, more meaningful relationship with God.
We all have our own mission on this Earth, and I believe this is what has been chosen for me. I start off every day reading 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 reminding me of the sacrifice made for me. Being committed to my daily study of the Bible and inspirational mediums such as Joyce Meyer Ministries, “Enjoying Everyday Life, Shepherds Chapel and the many resources on streamingfaith.com, I derive a level of knowledge that contributes to my inner peace which guides me throughout my day, although I may stumble at times. And with the mistakes I occasionally make, because of my close relationship with God, I’m able to quickly redirect myself to continue on my chosen path. Finding that inner peace will allow you to recognize the voice that guides you to making the right choices in your life, adding quality and substance to everything you do. Enjoy the stories, and may God continue to bless you on your journey.
Angel On My Shoulder
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
I’ve had my share of ups and downs but have found that as the years have come on, I’m much more equipped to deal with the downs. I surprisingly appreciate the dark periods due to the discoveries that result from working through them. I’ve mellowed with age and my knowledge of God’s presence in me has eliminated much of the fears that consumed me in my youth. I face each day eager to see something different enter into my world. Whether it’s a new job or career opportunity, a new friend, a creative idea for a story or a new vision for a painting I’m working on. As much as I realize the challenges facing me, I know that I have the support I need to move whatever obstacles out of my way. Negative opinions or comments coming from friends or relatives about my work or different ideas I may have, although I may consider for a moment, don’t stop me from doing what comes from my heart. I know when there is question or doubt, I’ll receive the guidance and instruction to finish the task at hand. Even the limited resources that make it difficult for me to purchase the supplies I need at times are of no concern. My faith gets me through it. I’m certain that if I’m going in the direction I’m designated to go, I’ll be provided with what I need to get there. Now you say, where does this confidence come from? How did I develop the faith that I have that keeps me strong and determined to accomplish my goals? How am I so sure that there is a God?
Well, when I think back, I recall an incident that was probably my first experience with asking for God’s help, clearly receiving the answer to my prayer, and recognizing His existence. Because of some harsh realities of life, I was forced at an early age to be on my own, supporting myself at a time when my closest friends were still at home being nurtured by their parents and family. I felt abandoned at times, lacking that family foundation I was accustomed to.What aided in my need to keep stability in my life was what was instilled from growing up attending church on a regular basis. I somehow knew that as long as I continued to fellowship, I’d have that sense of security that would keep me striving to do the right thing. Now, of course it wasn’t always easy. I’ve veered to the left when I should have been going to the right, but I’d soon find my mistake and in time, select the correct path. Along the way, special people would enter my life that offered me something to assist me on the way, even though I wouldn’t be aware of it at the time. One of those dear people was a friend who I had known for a couple of years, but never really took seriously. One day he visited on his way to choir rehearsal. He knew I enjoyed singing and thought I might be interested in joining, so convinced me to accompany him. The feeling I got hearing those anointed spirits rejoice gave me the strong desire to be a part of. Because I wasn’t attending any one church regularly, I thought this would be a good way to get back to what I was used to. I really needed to belong to something that had meaning. So, I joined. It was wonderful being surrounded by so many who truly loved the Lord. This choir embodied members from a variety of churches in the community. Although I come from a more conservative Prostestant background, I noticed I felt more at home than I ever did at the church I grew up in. I really was in my element. We performed all over the Northeast, introducing me to a multitude of faith worshipers that opened my mind and fed my spirit. I once witnessed a child touched by the Spirit begin spinning like a top and as his body traveled around the sanctuary, occasionally falling back against the pews, his back would naturally arch, protecting him from injury. That was the first time I believed in the power of the Holy Ghost. But there was one occasion that I not only bore witness to, but was the focal point of His blessing.
The choir was invited to perform at a church in New York, which because of the distance of travel, we didn’t arrive back in town until well after midnight. My friend,who I normally rode with wasn’t able to attend that night, so although I anticipated having to walk home, I didn’t realize how late we were going to pull in. I lived only about five blocks away, but when faced with pitch blackness in an urban neighborhood where any alley or doorway could present a challenge, I was subjecting myself to a multitude of dangerous possibilities. As I sat on the bus waiting for it to park, I thought for a minute about what I should do. Who can I call? There were no family members who I felt cared enough to come out in the middle of the night. And although I was blessed with dear friends that stuck by me, always giving as much emotional support as possible, it would be inconsiderate of me to call that late. I so hated being a burden to anyone, multiplied by the shame I felt because of my family situation. That pride that fed the need to not be pitied, influenced me to put on a façade. The last thing I wanted was for those who did not know anything about my personal life to be aware of the isolation I felt. The depth of my feelings were so distorted that I couldn’t rationize that I was connected to people who loved the Lord. I should have felt no hesitation asking any one of them for a ride. But, with adrenaline pumping, to avoid any questions, I made sure I got on my way before anyone noticed that I was walking, and once I rounded the corner to where I wasn‘t in sight of the bus, the fear set in. There was no indication of life around me. No sounds from passing cars. No faint voices coming from the inside of houses I passed. I was terrified! As my mind reeled with thoughts of how sad it was that I was in the position I was in, I fought off feelings of self-pity, turning my thoughts to who or what could be lurking around me, bracing myself for whatever was coming. Trying to eliminate the overwhelming fear, I began talking to God, praying for Him to help me reach my apartment without incident. I needed to not feel alone. To know that somebody was concerned for my wellbeing. And suddenly I heard footsteps behind me. They were distant but appeared to be speeding up. I thought to myself, “Uh oh, this is it!” As immediate as that thought entered my mind, I felt a sense of calm. Then I heard deep within a voice telling me, “Give it to Him”. A familiar voice I recognized that always came when I was put in a bad situation or thinking about doing something that I was advised not to do. At that moment, I put all my faith in knowing that God was going to protect me. I trusted with all my heart that I was going to be okay. As the stranger neared, the faint voice instructed me again, telling me to slow down. I heeded and slowed down, thinking to myself that I should let the person pass. I knew I didn’t stand a chance of outrunning the individual if he was in fact out to do me harm. And also from growing up in the environment I did, I knew there could be a worse outcome if I showed fear. The footsteps seemed to slow down as the person got closer. Then I felt his presence beside me, and as I looked slightly over my right shoulder, in a soft calm voice he said, “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure you get home safely.”
Now as I’m sitting here typing this recollection of the event, a new observation is revealed to me. As many times as I’ve told the story, it just now occurred that I never gave a description of the man who escorted me home. There is such a significance in that. Understand, I’m a very descriptive person. I’m so locked into giving the details of a situation that I was once told by a friend that I have a knack for making a short story long. And because of the seriousness of the circumstances, I would have ordinarily been sizing him up, seeing if there was something about him that was familiar, like a possible family resemblance of people I knew or grew with just to make me more comfortable as we walked. And as I think deeper about it, I’m not even recalling anyone ever asking if I had seen him before or what he looked like, which is unusual considering the types of conversations women have when discussing a man entering into the picture regardless of the situation. So, now that I try to get a visual of him, I’m unable. I don’t remember race, facial features, height or build. I couldn’t tell you how he wore his hair or if his head was concealed by a hat or hood. I’m not even sure if he was wearing a coat or jacket. All I can remember is the tone of his voice as he was assuring me that I would be okay and wishing me well once we reached the corner of my apartment building, which also was odd since I never indicated where I lived. I’ll never know who he was. I will, of course continue to hold in my heart that he was Heaven sent. This was the first time I had such an experience, but it wouldn’t be the last. There will be many occassions that build on the foundation that keeps me holding onto my beliefs. God is real, and this is only the beginning of the resurfacing of a spirit that had gradually begun to fade in me. I still struggle at times with the feeling of loneliness when I’m faced with adversity, but it’s not longlasting. I know who to turn. God is so alive in me, giving me everything I need that I can‘t help getting up every morning wanting to give back to Him. Because of this, I long to be a blessing in someone else’s life. And through me He continues to work.
So as you venture out today, go knowing that whatever difficulties you may face, God is always there to comfort and guide you.
Being Removed From Myself to Become Myself
"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." (Romans 8:5)
When I was a child, I was very strong willed, which of course, made me defiant at times. Especially with my mother. Anything I was not permitted to do I did, knowing the consequence would be a couple of whacks with her chosen method of punishment, an alligator belt. Now, I was obedient with other adults or authority figures, probably based a lot on not being sure of what they would do to me if I disobeyed. But because I knew my mother loved me and wasn’t setting out to harm me, that the pain and humiliation would be minimal, it was worth it to follow through with what I desired to do. I was clever enough to reason that those few seconds of discomfort didn’t amount to much when it came to the hour or two of pleasure I derived from the disobedient act.
Unknowingly, I continued to hold onto that part of my character even in adulthood. Years ago, at a time when my spiritual immaturity had me thinking that I knew it all, I had the wisdom to reason myself into and out of anything. In essence, I was being led by the flesh. One particular event that stays at the forefront of my mind is an incident where I not only was compromised, I also opened the door to self-deception. I was convinced that I had the right to pursue anything I wanted, legally and within reason. Understand, I never intentionally set out to hurt anyone. But there were times when I had difficulty discerning right from wrong by giving myself permission to judge an individual in order to justify my actions. I would then expect a positive outcome. It’s funny how I could so openly receive a lot of joy from those wrongful acts, but would never be prepared when the walls came tumbling down. And believe me, they would always, eventually tumble. I hadn’t yet understood that there couldn’t possibly be a positive outcome from inappropriate behaviors. It occurs to me now that my childhood antics developed in me an ability to turn a wrongful act into an acceptable one. If it felt good, it had to be right. You see, I had all the right answers to continue on. My skill for reasoning was honed so that I couldn’t even recognize I was deceiving myself. I would even justify that nagging feeling, that unsettling flutter in my stomach, as a sense of excitement in anticipation of the joy I was about to experience. Red flag! Yes, in all actuality this was a signal to stop. But I refused to hear the voice. I wanted it to be too badly, so there’s no way the negating voice was right and I was wrong. So, as I was in the midst of my wrongful act, something earth-shattering occurred. A silence overcame me. I mean, all of a sudden my ability to hear the sounds around me ceased. And suddenly I found my spiritual self looking down at my physical self. Observing my shell, my temple that was given to only me. The one that attracted, allured, basically put me in, the compromising situation I presently was in a few feet beneath me. I was literally having an out-of- body experience. And as I was looking down at the display of behavior that I was entering into, I was jolted back. Upon reentering my body, I buckled at the knees and had difficulty finding my equilibrium. I felt a rush and believed it to be a sign of approval. That given the ability to be in spirit form was some kind of affirmation that what I was doing was okay and even foolishly thought with every fiber of my being, was some kind of blessing. I’m sure you’re shaking your head in disbelief as you read this, attributing my experience to drug induced or some form of mental illness. I was never one to indulge in anything that would influence my thinking or get in the way of making my own decisions. So, no, I wasn’t on drugs. And as eccentric as I can be at times, I had and still do have all my faculties. But, if you truly believe in God and the power he has over everybody and everything, there shouldn’t be any question as to whether or not this was real. I guess the only thing that should be in question is why me? Of which I’ve asked myself over and over again. Who am I to have been chosen to receive such spiritual recognition? To be touched by something so unimaginable, so anointing, so unknown.
Over the years I thought about this event in my life. I even told the story to a couple of trusting friends. But until recently, I didn’t realize the full extent of what had happened to me. My whole assumption of the occurrence was incorrect. In my progressing relationship with God, I’m now being blessed with different resources and loving people who aid in developing my spiritual knowledge and also opening me up to a better understanding of who I am. With this, my day begins with visiting the Joyce Meyer Ministries website, Enjoying Everyday Life located at joycemeyer.org, a resource that provides me inspiration. A few weeks ago, I was watching one of her videos in which she was presenting a testimony about allowing God to work in people we interact with instead of trying to manipulate or change them to fit our needs. The problem she was having years ago had to do with her wanting to change her husband instead of recognizing the change needed to take place within herself. So, as she’s on stage, reenacting a day when she was hugging her commode, crying over her husband wanting to watch sports on television instead of adhering to what she wanted, God removed her from her body to let her see exactly what He was seeing. Immediately, it brought me back to reliving my out-of-body experience. And then, all of sudden I was overwhelmed with a feeling of shame coupled with a sense of relief. As tears streamed down my face, I repented for the first time over my past indiscretion. After all, until that moment, I never believed I was doing anything that warranted praying for forgiveness for a sin I was committing. Remember, at the time I thought what I was receiving from above was an affirmation instead of condemnation. But God, loving me, intervened by showing me how despicable my behavior was when I refused to hear his voice inside of me. That voice that was even responsible for the fluttering in my stomach that should have been enough to alert me that I was venturing into something beneath the standards that had been instilled in me. I was too defiant, too carnal in nature to recognize the spirit working internally as well as externally. Isn’t it amazing how although I was embracing the moment, I left without fulfilling my desire due to the distraction.
God removed me from a situation that could have had long lasting ramifications. It took years for me to see it, but as always, it was revealed when I was ready to accept it for what it was. And as much as I could have been spared a lot of discomfort over the years if I had the knowledge I have today, I appreciate my life experiences. I’m thankful that He continued to protect and guide me throughout times of confusion and difficulty. When I erred, with His knowing my heart, I still continued to land on my feet. The road may have been a little rough, but God never allowed me when I fell to hit bottom, making sure I was provided everything I needed to continue on the chosen path. The life-altering experiences matured and molded me into the person I am today. I know now that He’s watching over me the same as I watch over my children. And with this awareness of His witnessing everything I do, I’m careful about how I conduct myself. He has been preparing me for something magnificent and with Him so present in my life, I strive to reach the level I’m supposed to be, wanting to please Him at all times. With His unconditional love, my faith grows stronger everyday. I will continue to tell this story in hopes that it awakens an awareness in someone who may have been blessed with a similar event and wasn’t sure of how to define it. As God continues to work through me, I will continue to present the words to assist in a better understanding of what it means to acknowledge Him in our lives.