All posts by valeriesays3690

The Sunken Place

Hey y’all! Okay so Lent isn’t exactly going the way I expected, and that’s fine. I’m not quite sure what I expected, but I’m positive it didn’t look like this. I’m not saying it’s going bad. I’m simply saying it’s not what I expected. I believe Lent is working on me MUCH MORE than I am working through it. I’m not sure who is doing more work here, but we’re working anyhow.

Now I finally saw “Get Out” and it was AWESOME SAUCE! That means a lot coming from me, because your girl doesn’t do scary movies….at all…not even a little bit. However for review purposes, and for the sake of the culture, I went (with a friend of course because I don’t do scary movies)! So because I keep doing this expectations thing, I had a few. I expected to see a heightened awareness of cultural relevance to how society views the black community. I did. I expected to see the problematic issues of interracial dating being explored. I did. I expected to see how deception and vulnerability intertwined into the demise of a person. I did. What I didn’t expect was the conviction of unpacking the sunken place .

John 5:  1 After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. 3 In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made whole ?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.

Jesus today! This paralyzed man had been there 38 years inches away from what he thought would be his healing, and still hadn’t received it. Like the character Chris from the movie, and like myself, something had paralyzed him, and his location was now the sunken place. For Chris, it was the guilt of not aiding his dying mother as a child, even though he had no awareness or power to do anything. He never really wanted to unpack it because of the pain that it seemed to cause, and when he was coerced into dealing with his childhood vulnerability it was immediately exploited. He took on that guilt anyway, and it put him in the sunken place. For me here recently it seems to have been on every side you can think of. Between the loss of some of loved ones, some of the challenges of my job, my rigorous journey in the matriculation of my academic career, my family relationships, my weird love-life (or lack thereof), attempted assaults, and my refusal to unpack and get help that I need, I’ve been living and operating in the sunken place. I’ve been paralyzed by all kinds of foolishness, including fear of rejection, fear of disappointment, personal disappointment, bad decisions, just a hot mess. There are some proactive steps that I could’ve been taking to being made whole, but I was living in the sunken place.

One of my best friends tried to talk to me last night, and it was a perfect opportunity to take some steps towards healing and wholeness. They’re hip to most of the trials I’ve gone through with my school matriculation, except for the recent stuff. After all of the struggle to get out and pay for undergrad, and being screwed by FAFSA and the likes, I thought I had hit some level ground. I was sadly mistaken and devastated to find out that this fight was not done, and was too prideful to solicit help, which didn’t do anything but put me deeper in the sunken place. I thought I’d be able to fix these financial woes by the deadlines for this semester, and wasn’t able to do so, and didn’t tell anyone, including my best friend. Others find out, but my best friend doesn’t know, and that sucks. So I have to WAIT to get a place, that frankly everyone is POSITIVE I’m supposed to be in, except for me. It’s affected both my job, my ministry, and my integrity, and my best friend knows nothing about it. Even if they couldn’t solve it, I would’ve at least let someone in. No matter their reaction, it would’ve been a burden lifted off of my shoulders and they’d have the choice to love and support close-up or at a distance, but I didn’t give them or me that chance because I felt stuck in the sunken place. It’s like I belonged there, as though I didn’t deserve anything else.  The sunken place is not a stranger to anyone. All of humanity runs the risks of being stuck in the sunken place. Life has a way of paralyzing us physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Before we know it 38 years can go by, and we can find ourselves in position where our residential address has become the sunken place. However I do so believe, that even if it is in this mere writing of a blog alone, the presence of the Lord is in this place. It’s in this Lenten season.

Jesus is here asking me, “Valerie, do you want to be made whole?” My answer is yes! I’m not going to be trapped in the sunken place anymore! Some scholars and theologians argue that it was just a spring pool that stirred during a certain time of the year. Others believe that there was angel stirring the pool. Whichever side you stand on, I believe we all agree that it served as a healing agent. But THIS healing and journey to wholeness was not going to be like everyone else’s.

The Rev. Dr. Benjamin Kevin Smalls preached this text my junior year of undergrad at Howard University. It was one of the memorable sermons for me, because as a psychology major I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the mind. The mind is what gives the task to our motor functions to work. It’s how every piece of who we are is controlled. He argued that when Jesus spoke to the man, he did not speak to his legs. Rather, Jesus spoke to his mind. The mind is what gives the instructions to the legs. That’s good news for us! The healing and journey toward wholeness happened because of a shift in his mind. He received instructions to pick up his mat, and LEAVE the sunken place. The only way out of this paralyzed position of residing in the sunken place, was the change his mind and leave to return no more. God we thank you for the ability to change our mind!

I’m not sure how this Lenten season is going for you, but in all of the work you’re doing for Lent, I’m praying Lent is working on you to. And as Lent works on us, know that no matter how deep you get in the sunken place, your healing doesn’t have to be like everyone else’s, Jesus can and will speak to your mind, others deserve a chance to see you in the sunken place, and when he does, you don’t have to stay there anymore. Come, let us be on our way. Jerusalem is ahead and we have a work to do.

Peace & blessings!

The Voice of a Silent God

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It’s week 1 of Lent! In light of the season of Lent, I decided to share in my journey with you as we journey to Jerusalem towards Calvary’s cross. I pray that we work on our Lent journey, that Lent does just as much work on us. 

When I began praying about this Lenten journey, I asked God for a fresh word. I wanted a fresh anointing. Okay, maybe I didn’t. Maybe I was tempted to go and pull something out of the archives, but was convicted immediately to hear what is appropriate for this season. So here I am praying, listening, discerning, and the likes. Guess what I heard? I AINT HEAR NOTHIN’!!!!! I mean, its borderline disrespectful! The thing is, this isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with what felt like a silent God. What’s the deal with God’s silence? Why would God not speak? That just sounds like it’d be bad for everyone. This kind of thinking almost put me in a position to miss the blessing and miracle of God’s silence. Let’s check out 2 texts, and go from there.

Old Testament Reflection

Daniel 10: 8 So I was left alone to see this great vision. My strength left me, and my complexion grew deathly pale, and I retained no strength. 9 Then I heard the sound of his words; and when I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a trance, face to the ground. 10 But then a hand touched me and roused me to my hands and knees. 11 He said to me, “Daniel, greatly beloved, pay attention to the words that I am going to speak to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.” So while he was speaking this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 He said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me twenty-one days. So Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia, 14 and have come to help you understand what is to happen to your people at the end of days. For there is a further vision for those days.”

Whoa! Did this angel just admit that Daniel was heard the first time he prayed? Yes he did. That just happened, and that’s good news for us. It’s good news because if there was a first time, that means there were more times after that. Daniel, like myself, had asked for a fresh word, and wanted a fresh anointing. Here he was praying, listening, discerning, and the likes. For this 21 day period Daniel AINT HEAR NOTHIN’! According to what this angel says though, he didn’t need to yet. There were some demonic forces at work that had to be taken care of immediately that Daniel couldn’t see. Satan had reared his head, and God sent Michael to handle it. He was being fought for and didn’t even know it. I wonder what battles were being fought on my behalf that I had no clue was happening. God literally sent an angel to handle his lightweight, to cover me. Our grandparents would say “He kept me from dangers seen, and UNSEEN!” Amazing isn’t it? Even in the silence of God, God was taking care of the unseen! And if actions speak louder than word, God I’ll wait for you to verbally speak. In my waiting though, I’m going to thank you for taking care of my unseen!

There are some key pertinent questions that I had to ask myself in light of this revelation, that I’ll share with you: Can you consider a time God took care of your “unseen”, and you didn’t know until it was taken care of? Earlier in the scripture, it says Daniel mourned the 21 days while waiting to hear. What do you do with your “21 days”?

Okay so we’ve dealt with the God who deals with the unseen. Now let’s deal with another aspect of this here Silent God. 

New Testament Reflection

Mark 7: 31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

For the sake of dealing with this theme, let’s focus on the hearing part of this. The deaf man couldn’t hear. Jesus put his fingers into his ears. That’s weird. Covering our ears, and/or sticking our fingers in our ears is what is normally done when we don’t want to hear something. Its purpose is to block out sound, yet Jesus uses it to restore hearing. What’s the irony here? It might suggest that in order to hear there are some sounds that need to be blocked out. The miracle of this hearing came from the sound that was blocked out. Now my prayer to this silent God has shifted a little bit. It includes a request to silent the things around us that would keep us from hearing God. I have to wonder. What nouns (person, place, thing, idea) need to be silenced in order for us to hear?

I’m not sure where this Lenten journey is taking us. I do know this much though. Calvary is coming. The journey towards Jerusalem is all too real, and even God’s silence, God still speaks. Let’s silence the unnecessary around us, and thank God for handling the unseen as we journey towards the cross. Shalom!

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Silent No More!

Greetings! First of all, let me express how excited I am that you decided to stop by. Everyone in the world has a unique voice with brilliant things to say. I am just one of those voices, and so for you to consider this a voice that’s worth being heard is both flattering and an honor and privilege. Thank you. I was hesitant to start this blog and have procrastinated  greatly for quite awhile. I am not the best writer, and as I’ve said before, everyone has a voice. There are a million blogs. The world could live without mine, but after much conviction and conversation I thought it’d be best to step out on faith and write the darn thing anyway! What’ the worst that can happen? People not reading? Well, it’ll be out there for those who will. I am using the voice God gave me. God has given me so much. God’s put so much in me, and it’s borderline disrespectful to not share it with the world. People don’t like what you have to say? Who cares?!?! I’ll admit it. I used to. I used to believe that my truth was insignificant in the larger fabric of life. Depending on who you ask, it just might be. I’m not sure, but I sure am going to journey to find out. And guess what? It might not be insignificant. It might change or save a life. Who knows? I sure won’t if I don’t try. So I’m going to try. I’m going to write. I’m going to speak. I’m going to say it, whatever it is. That’s the important part. I will explain more about who I am as time goes by. I pray be able to hear it it in my writing. In the mean time, in between time though, let’s go ahead and get this party started. Read and Enjoy! Shalom!

PS. I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. Instead I am changing the things I cannot accept.-Angela Davispost