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Three Things Fear Helped Me Accomplish

Fear is an emotion often associated with feelings of uncertainty, danger, shame, and rejection. It is a dark room where creatures wait to prey on me, a dangerous journey towards the unknown. But every emotion, good or bad, has its purpose, and fear is no different.

Where love brings me joy, warmth, and connection, fear drives me out of my comfort zone. It forces me to fight against my inherent nature to run away from what is unfamiliar. 

Fear is born out of change, and progress cannot exist if we do not accept change. Therefore, if we live trying to avoid fear, we ultimately limit our progress in life.

If fear is designed to hold me back, why did God give me the emotion of fear? And how do I manage my fears and reach my destiny in life?

I’ve asked myself these questions countless times when fear was not my friend when fear caused me to miss out on opportunities in life that God meant for me to experience. But now, after years of learning that every emotion carries good and bad energy, I look back and know that I was better equipped to accomplish my goals when I embraced my fears.

The three biggest goals accomplished in my life were done with love, fear, and change in the passenger’s seat. Below is what fear helped me achieve:

1) Open my life to others.

I am a closet introvert who refuses to hide. That means I love being alone but don’t choose to be alone. Most days, you find me in front of a television clicking back and forth between the news, Lifetime movies, true crime, and Family Feud. I enjoy the sound of my heartbeat in a quiet room and listening to the noise the keyboard makes when my fingertips tap against it. But my fear of true isolation forces me to live out loud. To fight against anything that prevents me from being who God said I am, “the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).” Despite my love of being alone, my life cannot be lived in isolation. Therefore, I live in the open. I write in the open. I love in the open because fear inspires me too.

2) Find true love.

As the story goes, true love is hard to find. This is not only factual, but it is humbling. When the greatest gift God gives us is hard to find, fear, and the anxiety and isolation it often creates, can kick in. Before I met my husband (over twenty years ago), I feared I would never find true love. I’d watched people struggle with fading, wavering, and conditional love, but true love was still a legend. Then I met my husband, a military officer who lived a life that was foreign to me. He was moving around every 3 to 4 years. From city to city. Military base to military base, and he wanted me to be a part of his life. Instead of doing what fear called me to do — stay within my comfort zone, say ‘no,’ remain in my hometown and continue pursuing my career; I pushed against this and instead used my fear of the unknown as my motivation. I decided to join him on his journey, to be his wing-man, his rib, his family. I found true love because my fears allowed me to.

3) Become a mom.

I never played with dolls. Honestly, I never liked them. As a young girl, I would rather play football with my cousins than play dress-up with my friends. So, when I reached my late twenties, and my girlfriends were becoming mothers, I didn’t know how to feel about it. By the time parenthood became an essential part of my dreams, I discovered I could not get pregnant. This sent my husband and me on an 11-year infertility journey with fear and uncertainty. Eleven years! But in the end, regardless of the tears and frustrations, I became a mom. Fear forced me to trust life’s process and gain the patience I needed to overcome longsuffering. It taught me to move in ways that celebrated wins before they became a reality. The day we adopted our son was the day we understood that even in the darkest hours, fear propels us towards our blessings.

Do it afraid. That’s the message. 

Fear should never stop you from moving forward; it should empower you. Let your fears be a beacon of light on your path; let them motivate you to live life out loud, seek greatness in every situation, and trust the process. Because what’s on the other side of fear is true love and achievement.

Today, I pledge to love myself.

Burdened by contrasting views about beauty and likeability, too many of us (women) suffer from feelings of worthlessness.

Based on the world’s standards, we are expected to be authentically ourselves AND entirely acceptable to others. We are to live in virtue of man AND pleasing of God. We are to expect our beauty to be fleeting YET never rest on mediocrity. We are to seek perfection in everything we do YET know it is an unrealistic pursuit.

The bar is set too high. Perfection is a fantasy.

But for those of us determined to play the game and achieve our badge of excellence (at the detriment of our sanity), we are often forced to give up one key life-empowering attribute – self-love.

Self-love inspires true greatness. It is the confidence to be kind to ourselves even when the world is not. It allows us to love the parts of our mind, body, and spirit that are different and unappreciated by others. Self-love is knowing that we are strong, courageous, and fabulous even when no one else thinks so.  

When our self-love is depleted and destroyed, we cannot feel authentic, virtuous, or beautiful. We were never born to hate ourselves; self-hatred, or feelings of inadequacy, are the results of engaging with hypercritical people, seeking perfection, and setting standards of acceptability based on the world’s demands and not our own.

Negative feelings and unhealthy thoughts easily damage the road towards true self-wholeness, self-love, and self-respect. To maintain self-love, we must embrace feelings of worthiness daily by reaffirming that who we are, regardless of our physical beauty, weight, intellect, or economic status, is acceptable. We must release the burdens of perfectionism and celebrate everything that makes us unique and extraordinary.  

Therefore, regardless of the past, I have decided to reclaim my love for who I am and who God made me to be. So, today, I pledge to love myself unconditionally.

The person in the mirror versus the person in my heart

When I look through the distorted lens of an unbridled world, I see a broken vessel, an incomplete soul, and a queen with no crown. I worry about my looks when no one is complaining. I wonder if my femininity and blackness are good enough. I question my intellect and talents. I look for reasons to be ordinary when God made me extraordinary.

Over the years, I realized that my self-love and self-talk didn’t match how I felt on the inside. On the outside, I am an overachiever who struggles to be who God created me to be versus what the world expects of me. Yet, on the inside, there lies this fantastic person with no insecurities who is filled with power, fearlessness, and uncontrollable joy.

See, in my heart, I’m a writer wielding the pen like a samurai. Crafting works of art like glowing brown faces placing limestone at the foot of The Great Sphinx of Giza. Masterpieces churn from my soul like poetry dripping from Langston Hughes’ emancipated mind. I’m a great writer, by no measure set by man, only the heavens.

In my mind, I’m a beauty queen twirling towards the sky. My white chiffon dress is covered in diamonds, and my Jimmy Choo’s have wish-granting powers. When I click twice, a harem of handsome admirers rises to greet me. But when I click three times, the world becomes my playground. 

In my soul, I’m a warrior shuttered in the trenches, strapped head to toe with armored gear, preparing to protect what I love the most. I’m a female warrior with no fear of insult or failed expectation. I fight for what makes my soul stir and gives me peace that no man can control.

So, why doesn’t the greatness I feel in my heart, mind, and soul match my self-love and self-talk? 

Unlearning the misguided lessons of self-love

Humility teaches us to stay grounded and never brag. Self-respect leads us to behave in honor and dignity. Integrity encourages us to have strong moral principles. But why is self-love untaught or considered contrite and arrogant?

Why am I taught to love others but not to love myself? Why am I left to believe that what I see in the mirror cannot reflect what I feel inside? Why don’t we tell our little girls they are beautiful even if their looks don’t match what the media defines as beauty? Why can’t we stop comparing ourselves to other women and trust that there is enough acceptance for everyone? Why aren’t we taught to battle against the negative thoughts in our mind that leads us to hate ourselves?

Today I accept a new truth. For it is not arrogant to love oneself; it is magnificent. It is feeling the cool waters of the Nile River on my face. It is standing at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro and watching the world beneath me. It is all things good, kind, and wonderful. It is accepting that my looks don’t define my self-worth, and my accomplishments don’t determine my status in life.

I’m good just the way I am.

So, I pledge to love myself today and every day. I promise to live like the warrior nestled in my soul, the queen twirling in my mind, and the writer wielding greatness in my heart.  From this day forward, my self-love and self-talk will start with happiness and end with joy. I will live, love, and linger in my extraordinary self. I will bask in the greatness and beauty of God’s imagination. I will give back to the world more than it expects, and I will love myself while working to inspire others to do the same. Today is a BIG day!

We Will Vote!

Check out my latest poem, We Will Vote! I wrote this while I stood in line for over five hours to vote during the first day of early voting in Louisiana. There were hundreds of people standing with me. It was inspiring and well-worth the wait. #makeaplantovote #wewillvote

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we heard you

U.S. Representative John Lewis we heard you

Reverend Dr. William Barber we heard you

First Lady Michelle Obama we heard you

Your voices sung like wind chimes on a still and lonely night

Chattered like the hate that rose against us

Stuttered like hymns hovering above the cotton fields

Your forceful words swung like tattered rope around a lynching tree

Tarnished leaves with blood and tears

Unscathed ground tested by hate and fear

You called us out of idealistic virtue

Where fairness thrived and no color dwelled over man like God

Where rights were assured, and voting was revered as an act of civility and pride

You rocked us from our comfy places to our rightful position

Your words carried us to the warring ground

Stirring us to stand guard over what is sacred to a blessed life

We heard the echo of your crying souls

Banished for its impassioned quest to seal our fate of liberty

We heed the call to move forward and stand firm

We replicate your solid demand to know who we are and why we fight without fault or fear

Martin, we heard you say, “Give us the ballot”

For in the belly of the ballot box are the gems of democracy this land stands for

We believed your conviction and live to make your dream our rallying cry

John, we heard your call to act

And now our commitment is to “get out there and push and pull until we redeem the soul of America”

Your words exemplified your greatness and a stern eye of righteousness

You were a force to be reckoned with

Reverend Barber, we heard your demands

A push for unity from a true Conductor of Peace

“Forward together” we march. “Not one step back!”

Your words embody our fight to fill the coffers of those in need

Despite what the wealthy claim is there’s

It is why we move in unison, hand-in-hand towards equality and justice

Michelle, we heard you sing proud and loud

Words now imprinted on our minds, “Vote like our lives depend on it!”

You spoke to a generation of youth

Pushing for the seeds of justice to be our proudest possession

Teaching grace to angels with warring souls who needed you most

And now we stand, side-by-side, soul-by-soul waiting for our turn to strike a fatal blow to what threatens to make our freedoms no more

We heard you and we accept this challenge

We embrace the dream you set forth into the wind, the purpose of your mission and the thunder behind your words

You stood for us; we stand strong with you

We will vote like the day has no promise of a dawning sun

Like the rights of all men have slung stars into the sky and created the bond that holds our universe together

We will vote because those who died in the blistering cotton fields could not

We will vote because our patient soldiers for peace marched, sat and endured jail to see us through

We will vote like our lives are tied to every ballot, even when our rights are being auctioned to the lowest bidder

We will vote because your words are burning in our soul and drumming songs of victory awakening the better angel in us all

We heard you. NOW, WE WILL VOTE!

By Michelle D. Jackson

I am protected.

I am protected.

Secured.

Armored.

Guarded.

God does not leave me alone or lonely.

God does not leave me unequipped or ill-prepared.

God protects me because I am His most precious possession.

The enemy must defeat Him FIRST before he can touch me.

I am protected.

Secured.

Armored.

Guarded.

I AM GOD’S CHILD.

By Michelle D. Jackson

The Reset: A Poem of Restoration during the COVID Crisis by Michelle D. Jackson

God promised us many things.

A life of glory and merciful meaning.

Purpose, love, and righteousness.

Peace, grace, and selflessness.

He granted us abundance that far reached what we could embody. He blessed us with the power to rise above sickness, hurt, and melancholy.

He gave us his most precious thing, His love transcended in an earthly being.

He loved us so much He left to the world a priceless deed, the life of his son, His only seed.

And now, in the wake of what we can not control, God performs the most sacred role.

He does just what He said He would, He renews, restores, and protects the poor, humbled, and spiritually good.

Through the uncertainty of a sickness we struggle to cure, God resets the world, creating a new, blessed universe, holy and pure.

Our sinking earth ravaged by ego and greed, now has a fighting chance to succeed.

Starting with what He loves most, God fights to unify the family with His heavenly host.

Then seeking to end what is destroying our earth, He uses a virus to remind us of our godly worth.

Replenishing the sanctity of things we can not comprehend, God empowers our fears to bring us back to where He intend.

He reduces pollution while we debate climate change, using His strength to break us out of illogical mental chains.

Seeing to the elderly, who created the path for which we follow, God promotes them to a heavenly home, while our pride fall to an earthly bravado.

Those who die, die strong with fearless faith, as a reminder to the living that death brings God’s ultimate grace.

He has put in motion, The Reset.

A time of prayer, redemption, confession, and reflection.

A time to reconnect, reassess, and redress.

A time to rekindle, remember, and reminisce.

A time to learn to love again with complete fearlessness. A love that doesn’t require touch or feel or tenderness.

But one that consumes the heart and reverberates from six-feet apart.

What may appear final, is far from the end. Only God controls how this world will ascend.

No sickness, no greed, no leader-less land, will destroy what is safely secured in God’s hand.

So stay-in, stay strong, believe what God says is real, but never give up on His power to heal.

Embrace The Reset. You know in your heart it’s time to start again. To put what is important first and make God’s love and kindness transcend.

By Michelle D. Jackson

Poetry Showcase: You in Us by Cambrin Daniel

We are excited to add another poem by writer Cambrin Daniel to our Poetry Showcase.

We are looking for original poetry by new poets and spoken word artists who are passionate, thought provoking and honest. To showcase your work and register to win cash to help launch your writing career, send your poetry or spoken word video to events@prsolutionsllc.org.

Well Done

A Message from an Overachiever with a Restless Heart for God

So often my friends and colleagues ask me, “Do you sleep?” This question is understandable because I can sometimes appear to be constantly working on a new project instead of enjoying my life. Therefore, I always pause before answering because I don’t know if the person is applauding my effort to accomplish my goals, questioning my ability to find peace and contentment in this life or if I look tired and weary from my work. Either way, the question ultimately leads me to think about Christ and his time on earth.

In only 33 years, Christ healed the sick and fed the poor. He counseled people in need and taught those who sought knowledge and understanding. He worked miracles that changed lives and fought for what was right. He loved people who didn’t love him back and he sacrificed his life for our sins. In 33 years on earth, Christ accomplished more than I or anyone could ever accomplish.

So, do I sleep? Yes. Comfortably. Because the things God has asked me to do with my time on earth is worth the sacrifice. It’s worth the long days writing, running my business and nonprofit, and taking care of my family. It’s worth the hard times when I’m unsure of myself but refusing to quit. Don’t misunderstand my work ethic or the work ethic of people in your life like me. I have an amazing life that I want to live like Christ. I’m just focused on one thing, and one thing only – hearing God say to me, “Well Done!” Then I will rest with him in peace for eternity.

Michelle Jackson is an entrepreneur and nonprofit leader and author of fictional novels The Heart of a Man and From Darkness to Night. To learn more about her work, visit http://www.authormichelledjackson.com.

NOW

We are excited to announce the launch of 1stmorningthoughts.com Poetry Showcase. Designed to highlight the work of indie writers who are inspiring the world around them, the showcase will periodically post work that speaks to the heart, mind and soul of poetry enthusiasts. Our first poem is called NOW by writer Cambrin Daniel from Birmingham, AL.

To submit your work, email events@prsolutionsllc.org.

He Called Me ‘Momma’ – The Testimony of a Mother in Waiting 

I sat on the edge of my seat during the last church service of the year staring at the oversized cross above the baptism pool. Painstakingly at peace, I’d turned off the hundreds of undone tasks that ran through my mind before entering the sanctuary and hit pause on the demands the world had thrown at my feet. I was present and without distractions. Surrounded by my loving husband and twelve-year-old son, I was ready to be engulfed in the word of God and unusually giddy because no matter the difficult times that came my way during the past year, the cross – the very one Christ carried for my salvation through the streets of Jerusalem  had been my refuge, and I was thankful.

As the packed choir bellowed the second verse of the song, ‘I Got A Testimony’, my son tugged at my blouse sleeve. He asked, “Momma, what is a testimony?” A bit caught off-guard, I sat with his words for a moment before being reminded of all the wonderful things – including my son – God had given me. See, it wasn’t what he asked that made me reminisce; it was what he called me. He called me “Momma,” a title I’d prayed many days to hear, and looking into his beautiful face; I knew it was time to share with the world how God had transformed our lives.

My testimony started when the first of seven doctors told me that I would never give birth to a child; the countless nights I cried when I thought of all the bedtime stories, pillow fights, and Christmas mornings I would never share with my own son or daughter, and when I was forced to accept that I may have to give up on my desire to have a family. I felt rejected, excluded, and pushed aside. Despite my desires and prayers, God had other plans for me, and it wasn’t motherhood.

For a while, this reality severed my faith. I was different and not because I wanted to be, but because God believed I had the strength, patience, and fearlessness to overcome the challenges of infertility. However, I didn’t agree at first. I wasn’t fearless or strong; I was hurt and confused.

Being a mother was important. My mother was wonderful, but God took her too soon, and I was surrounded by caring women who were blessed to raise a generation of children. I wanted to be like them and to experience motherhood. I wanted to give back to this world and I thought becoming a mother was the best way to do it. But when infertility struck, my husband and I had to re-think how we would create our family. And in our darkest moment, someone special in our lives reminded us that it is not the blood that builds a family, it’s the love. 

What I learned during this challenging period was the importance of trusting God and not leaning on my own desires. I also learned that God gives us what we need and creating a family through biological means isn’t the only way to do it. 

God has each of us on a path  the destination is the cross, and the journey to get there is as unique as a fingerprint. Throughout our lives, we often find ourselves at a fork in the road that forces us to decide whether to walk with Christ and let him lead us in the right direction or turn away and go down an opposing path.

For years, I thought I was making all the right moves. I got married to a wonderful man and had a great career. My health was good, and my spiritual walk seemed solid. The next step was to have a child. That was the path the world wanted me to be on, but God had other plans. God selected my family to be an example to other families struggling with infertility, and to remind the world that each of our journeys are stepping stones towards his greater mission to save mankind. His plan for how we created a family was never only about me or my husband. Infertility wasn’t a burden we were cursed to live with nor was childlessness; instead, it was our journey to find and help a beautiful little boy who needed a home. A little boy like thousands of children around the country who are looking for parents to love and care for them. Our son was brought into our lives to give us the meaningful purpose that God wanted us to have.

FINDING PEACE IN GOD’S WAITING ROOM

For eleven years I waited for God to show up in my situation unknowing that he had been there from the start. When I look back, I realize that for eleven years I’d paced the floor of the hospital waiting room anticipating good news from the doctor. While I was waiting for man to give me a positive report, God had already given me the victory. Although I wore down the sole of countless shoes and troubled myself with fear and anxiety over my infertility, it wasn’t until I stopped worrying and started trusting God that things changed.

When I stopped wanting what other people had and started asking God to give me what he desired for my life my journey took a positive turn. I walked out of the waiting room, fell to my knees, and opened my heart to Christ. And what did he do? He delivered, restored and healed.

I didn’t get the time back that I lost. I didn’t give birth to a child. I didn’t get all the answers I wanted but what I got was an adopted son. One that fills my heart with joy. He calls me “momma” and he loves me, although I didn’t birth him, or rock him to sleep when he was a toddler. I never saw his first steps or heard his first words. Nevertheless, I’ve now had years to hug, hold and love him. We’ve shared a million good times and expressed our happiness for finding and creating a beautiful family.

So, when he asked, “Momma, what is a testimony?” I hugged him tightly then explained that a testimony was our proof of God’s presence in our life; proof of his unwavering love and sacrifice. It’s our story of victory – we have a story of victory.

Michelle D. Jackson is the author of the inspirational novel, The Heart of a Man. Follow her on Facebook @AuthorMichelleDJackson.

My husband and I would like to thank the Three Rivers Adoption Council for helping us experience parenthood and giving us a beautiful testimony.

To download the Winter 2019 issue of The Mount Magazine, go to https://mt-ararat.org/buy-the-mount..

#1stMorningthoughts

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