Hey y’all! I know it’s been a while! Between school and prepping for graduation season, Own Your Peach, and other major life events…I haven’t had a chance to share my writing with you all as much as I would like. But, I’m here! God willing, as I prepare to celebrate my 30th birthday tomorrow (July 23rd) …or my #FlirtyThirty as I’ve deemed it…I’ve been doing lots of reflecting (as usual) and wanted to share 30 things I’ve learned in my 30 years on this Earth. It was so difficult winding down to 30. But, I pray that they’re useful!
I must warn you…this by no means suggests I have MASTERED any or all of these. This quick read is meant to get your wheels turning (get you thinking) about all the life lessons you have received, whatever stage of life you’re in.
Think about the last time something happened to you and you found yourself wrecking your brain trying to figure out why it happened (or why it happened the way it did)? We’ve all been there more than we would probably like to admit. Maybe your relationships are failing? Maybe God is trying to answer your prayers of bringing genuine relationships into your life. But you’re having trouble trusting and embracing the process because you’ve been burned in the past? Maybe you find yourself making plans but they KEEP on failing to go the way you THINK you KNOW they should go?
Well, guess what? You’re in great company!
A few weeks ago, I was in a ladies Bible class at church, and we were discussing different aspects of the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). See Galatians 5:22-23.
Part of the conversation included how challenging it can be when we’re going through difficult seasons in life, to still have a heart and attitude that reflects this fruit. Specifically, joy and peace. It got me to thinking about the term “pruning.”
Before we continue, I want you to get familiar with the word “pruning.” Pruning is a gardening term. Pruning is a careful, intentional removal of unnecessary parts. Pruning encourages and supports healthy growth. The concept of pruning can also be applied in a spiritual manner.
Pruning is not only beneficial…but it’s essential.
How often do we hold on to things that, if we really take the time to think about it…aren’t helpful to our spiritual walk. I’ll wait. Too often, right? Now, I am not referring to this new-age self-serving approach to life that says, “if something isn’t serving you anymore, let it go.” That’s actually far from what the Bible teaches us. But…that’s a post for another day! Anywhoo, instead, pruning is an intentional process in which God may ‘shake up’ our world to get us to draw near to Him. Because you know, life, tends to cause us to drift.
If we are to be representers and followers of Christ, we have to learn how to embrace the pruning process.
Perhaps God is pruning you. Pruning you of the expectations you have for your life. Pruning you of unproductive habits. Pruning you of the need to have an explanation for everything (I’m guilty). Pruning you of the need to receive approval for what GOD has called you to do. Pruning you of bad habits that hinder your growth and influence in the world. Pruning you so that He can make you new. So He can use you for His will and His glory.
Pray this prayer
God, I don’t know why…but I’m going to trust You. I can’t SEE it yet, but I know that You know what’s best. And I’m going to start by trusting You because you have the best track record. I’m going to walk by faith instead of reason because I know the enemy wants me to take matters into my own hands. I don’t like being pruned…but I know that it is necessary. Please help me to find joy in this season. The enemy wants me to think that I am in control of my life…but it is You. I will not live my life based on my feelings because they are fleeting. Your word says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11). Because of this, I know I have nothing to be worried about. Help me to walk in Your perfect peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
What to Do When You’re Being Pruned
Now that we have taken it to God…we do know that faith without works is dead, we know that we can’t just twiddle our thumbs and expect to grow during this season. While we rest in His peace, there are some things that we can do while we are being pruned:
Prayer is one of the most important components of our walk with Christ. The purpose of prayer isn’t to tell God something He doesn’t already know. He knows everything. It is what connects us with God. It is how we speak to God. It is how we make sure we are in-tune with Him, His will, His Spirit.
We meditate on His word first by reading his truth, His inspired word each day. When we mediate on HIS word, we become armed with facts that help us to cast down/counter the lies that we tell ourselves. Lies from satan.
When we decide to be intentional about living life from a place of gratitude, instead of a place of lack or want; we can full embrace the pruning season because we know that God has already worked everything out for our good and for His glory.
What are some other things that you can do to make sure you GROW through the pruning season? Let me know!
Wait…do you even realize that you’ve lost it? Well, ask yourself the following questions:
Do you ever find yourself changing who you are because of the actions of others?
Do you have a laundry list of expectations of others?
When (not if…but WHEN) they fail to meet these unspoken and unwritten expectations…how often do you find yourself storing up resentment and keeping score of just how many more chances they have to get you ‘messed up?’
Is your ‘cut-off’ game so strong that you aren’t even open to the possibility of God bringing and creating valuable relationships in your life?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions…let me just say…I GET IT! Totally. People will have you ‘messed up’ throughout life. But if we are quick to change who we truly are because of the failures of others…we can’t really expect to reach our full potential.
You see, we are called to be the light of the world.
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven” Matthew 5:14-16
This verse is alll the reminder we need that we cannot allow ourselves to be changed by our circumstances. In this case, giving our power (light) to other people by acting off of our emotions. Cuz…y’all know that’s what it is right? I mean, we are human. We have feelings. We are not robots. We can’t always ignore the things that are going on around us. But, what we can do is approach the questions I posed initially from a different place.
Instead of changing who you are because of the actions (or lack of action) of others, I want to share
5 practical steps you can take to start taking back your power today:
1. Give them grace and understanding.
Don’t get me wrong. This does not mean allowing people to treat you all kinds of ways and you just sit back and take it. Nah. I just mean…perhaps. Just perhaps, they mean well. They genuinely want the best for you. But, they aren’t quite equipped to offer you the best you desire or feel like to deserve. Sometimes, that’s just life. So, be the example. You may be the only example that they will witness of what it truly means to be a Christian. That doesn’t mean you’re perfect. It just means that you are willing to put aside being right or angry…for the sake of Christ. Shoot, as much grace as we receive everyday from God…I’m sure we all have some to spare.
2. Release your expectations
I promise you will be less disappointed. And you will be better equipped to meet people where they are. Which is just an extension of giving grace and understanding. You can have expectations for how you will be treated. And you should NEVER settle for less than the respect you deserve and desire. God don’t make junk and you shouldn’t allow yourself to be treated as such! Instead, when they fail, just remember they are human…just like you. And if you can see they truly are doing their best to do right by you…cut them some slack. 🙂
3. Initiate and have those uncomfortable conversations
You’re probably saying to yourself, “girl no, I hate confrontation.” Well, welcome to the club! lol Most people don’t “enjoy” confrontation. Okay…MANY people don’t enjoy it. But, it is necessary if we want to grow, build more intimate relationships, and release that tension, stress, and burden that often comes with not having those conversations. That’s why I shared release your expectations. Because when you do this, you operate and communicate solely in your truth. And it isn’t dependent on anyone else or how anyone else response. Do you know how much power is in that alone?!
4. Discernment: Necessary boundaries vs being a cut-off champion
I’m going to keep this part as short as I can. Because I could really go all day discussing the term boundaries, how it is OVER-USED, mis-used, and often mistakenly taken out of context. If we really think about it…even Jesus had ‘boundaries’. Yes, He was available to everyone in terms of salvation, healing, preaching, teaching, etc. But, when it came to His day-to-day living…His disciples were His people! His tribe. While the church should be our tribe/community. It doesn’t always look/work out that way. Because…again…humans are flawed.
So, when you find yourself experiencing conflict…losing your God-given power…pray for discernment. As God to increase your self-awareness. Ask Him to help you understand His will for every relationship in your life. Now…I say this because I used to be a cut-off champion, ok? As soon as something made me uncomfortable…I WAS OUT! Lol That’s a post for another day. Anywhoo, seek God’s will. Ask Him if it is time to have a heart-to-heart? Is it time to cut-off dead weight? Or, is it just time to create necessary boundaries that are helpful to your spiritual walk? Trust and obey His answer.
5. Pray for a heart like God’s
In the self-serving society that we live in…it’s sooo easy to have a hard heart. It’s easy to refuse to let anyone in. It’s easy to walk around with a chip on our shoulder. HUNTY. I know first-hand. But…guess what? There is sooooo much freedom in taking. back. your. power. Don’t allow the world to make you hard. If you have a gentle heart…remain that way. Do NOT…I repeat…DO NOT give others the power to change who you are deep down. Do not give others the power to change who GOD created you to be.
What are some other steps you can take to begin taking back your power? Let me know!
You may or may not hear this phrase a lot. But, being in the social work field, I’ve been hearing it referenced more often than not. The term is often used to express how important it is for women of color, specifically, African American women to be represented in spaces that typically exclude them. This may include the beauty industry, media, STEM fields, leadership roles, and so much more. Most recently, I learned the significance of this term when several people pointed out the cover of Reflections from the Kitchen: A 31-Day Devotional Cookbook.
The Reflections from the Kitchen Gratitude Journal is here!
This gratitude journal is perfect for anyone who is ready to become more intentional about living life from a place of wholeness and gratitude. Instead of a place of lack or want.