Decisions, Decisions…

Toxic relationships is a hot topic for this generation. From what I gather, people are tired of giving passes to the people that have damaged them mentally and emotionally. Relationships are ending left and right because of the trauma and pain individuals have have endured in them. It seems very logical to cut someone off who has quite possibly stunted your growth. I mean, who wants to be around the person who has contributed to their emotional instability?

While I understand the rationale, my heart bends toward conflict resolution and reconciliation. I cringe when I hear about someone cutting off a family member or long time friend. It’s not from a place of judgement, but sadness, that they couldn’t figure out how to make things work. I understand that we do the best we can and we do what’s best for us, most of the time. I understand that relationships won’t always be perfect. But my hope is that there’s someone involved who is resilient enough to withstand the trials of the relationship so that it has a fair chance at succeeding. However, going separate ways may be the best thing in certain situations. Who knows? Each situation is different.

This is a conversation about challenging relationships and how we can have them and our sanity, too.

First of all….

What is our obligation to people who have destructive behaviors?

Part of me feels that we determine our obligation to someone based on what the relationship means to us. Some people feel more obligated to family than they do friends, while others have no problem with being estranged from family, but couldn’t imagine walking away from a close friend. We’re probably more driven to make a decision about a strained relationship with someone our lives are tied to. We’re less likely to feel strongly about a co worker or someone we see once or twice a week at church.

What the Bible says about it

The other part of me believes we should feel compelled to make peace with all men, regardless of how we have come to know them.There are many scriptures that teach believers how to interact with the people who mistreat us, but ultimately we have to make a decision on our own about how we proceed in relationship.

As a believer, there’s this unspoken expectation to be a peace maker and to have patience with people, based on our understanding of the concept of love (See 1 Corinthian 13:4-7). It seems that we interpret the concept of “turning the other cheek” as a commandment give people the opportunity to hurt us over and over, without a fight. And because we aren’t often shown an alternative, more practical reaction to being mistreated repeatedly, we seem to choose the polar opposite response to it, which is some form of ending all communication and contact. The unfortunate reality of that is, both options end up being damaging to at least one, if not all parties involved. There has to be a middle ground though, right?

The thing about love

Love tends to be abstract in expression. At times, we claim “love” is the reason we remain in a situation that is harming us and not bettering the person we’re trying to love. I’ve recently learned that loving someone who hurts you isn’t wrong per se, but its the lack of self-love that gets us in trouble. Self-love allows us to set boundaries that protect both people involved. It also gives us a little bit more room to extend love to the other person in the challenging relationship. Self-love is not easy, especially if it wasn’t emphasized early on in life.

More on self love

A personal belief of mine is that we are the second person responsible for loving ourselves, God being first. I stated that in a previous blog and I said I’d talk about it later. (Here goes.) When it comes to authority figures, parents, family, church leaders, etc, they are responsible for guiding us and caring for us, but to a certain extent. Many of us remain in a broken state because we never pick up the responsibility to care for and protect ourselves, while harboring bitterness and resentment. As a child, pouting never got me what I wanted. And as an adult, grudges don’t either. Please don’t get stuck there. You have the power to establish who you are, what you will accept and what you will reject. You don’t have to believe the negative things that were said to you and about you. You don’t have to remain broken from emotional or mental trauma. It may take work, but it’s possible to rise from those ashes.

Sometimes, we have to step away from those difficult relationships for a moment so that we can settle ourselves in truth and love. A fragile object in a hazardous environment, more than likely will lead to more brokenness than healing. So, if you do intend to remove yourself, I encourage you to do so with the intention of healing and with reconciliation in mind, even if it seems afar off.

I spent years frustrated about relationships that were strained because of decisions I was subjected to as a child. It wasn’t until I took it upon myself to be available and show interest in the bond, that things started to come together. All it took was for me to come out of my pity party and make an effort. Pride told me not to go out of my way, but love said otherwise. Love helped me to identify that the relationship was important to me and worth the work.

Take time to find out where you are. If you can’t handle the relationship because you’re still hurting or fearful of possible pain, do your best to communicate that and help yourself. Perhaps you’ll come back with the strength to love that person in spite of what was. Don’t forget that everyone is on a journey, and 9 times out of 10, at any given moment, they’re doing the best they can.

A Turn of Events

2020 was supposed to be OUR YEAR. It was supposed to be the year of clarity, and “20/20 vision”. Instead, we seem to have been blind sighted by unfortunate events. We’ve seen the unexpected deaths of friends and loved ones and a pandemic that has recently brought the world to a screeching halt. What we once anticipated about 2020, has dissipated, and at this point, we are simply trying to adapt and survive. We’ve only completed one quarter of the year and as a people, we are ready to throw the whole year away.

Let’s be honest, obstacles will always find their way into our paths so it’s unrealistic to think that even the best year ever won’t have any challenges. How do we still have that winning year in the midst of circumstances beyond our control? Two concepts seem to be invaluable in overcoming life’s challenges: flexibility and resilience.

Responding to the crisis

The moment restaurants had to shut down their dining rooms due to the public health precautions, having a delivery or takeout option determined who would sink or float as a result of this unexpected crisis. The restaurants who primarily do dining service had to make some quick changes if they wanted to continue bringing in revenue. In part, their survival came down to strategy and a desire to stay relevant and productive.

It took some flexibility to work out how a mostly dine in restaurant would become a take out restaurant with a few days notice. No more plates and silverware, no more waiters and waitresses. Napkins, condiments, take out containers, delivery services, drive up orders. But they had to make a decision about how they would respond to the situation they found themselves in.

Having Resilience

Don’t get me wrong, restaurants, schools, and families alike have so many moving parts that make sudden changes difficult to navigate. Also, depending on the crisis, other elements such as grief, loss of income and lack of resources can play a part in how quickly the changes can be implemented. This is where resilience plays a part. Fear presents itself and will take up as much time as one allows, but you’ve got to be grounded in the truth that you can overcome anything. Think back to the things you’ve overcome in the past. Be reminded that if there’s a will, there a way.

It doesn’t matter what year or what crisis, life will come with its challenges, and the people who make it are the ones who get back up and keep moving, by any means necessary. You can claim each of the next five years as yours to win and be successful, but what’s going to make it a reality comes down to your effort. Were you working and building when everything suddenly changed? Did you get discouraged when all the plans you had were canceled? I am learning that sudden changes affect me on an emotional level. In some cases, I have felt the energy drain out of my body and I’ve stopped moving. No Bueno. When you’re resilient, you’re not easily discouraged, and you keep moving.

Consider this (post) a check up for us. This (pandemic) is an opportune time to reflect on what we’ve done so far and what we plan to make of the rest of the year, even in the midst of a crisis that is like nothing we’ve experienced before. Some of us do need the rest and many of us need to refocus. Find your place in this, but don’t give up because things aren’t what you imagined they would be right now.

Closing Thoughts

What if 2020 isn’t everybody’s “year”? What if it belongs to those who work for it? Not even a pandemic can stop a person who is determined to win. It can still be your best year yet. We’ve got eight more months in this year and the rest of our lives to be great.

Too Far Gone

A few months ago, I asked my Facebook friends if there really is such a thing as “too far gone”. I got a lot of the proper Christian answers that there is no such thing because of the love of God, but I wonder how many of us actually demonstrate that it in our lives. It seems that in one breath, we declare that God can do anything and in the next, we judge that someone has found themselves beyond help. It’s interesting to me that we want so much time to change but don’t always have the same amount of patience for others.

It’s time to have a Konversation about Redemption. A konversation that will hopefully restore our belief in the possibility of redemption even in the worse situations.  For those of us who know what it is to make a come back in life, you may already know where I’m going. If you don’t, follow along anyway.

In life we have limits. As people, our patience wears thin and we frequently get down to our last nerve. (Somehow that nerve just keeps on hanging on though.) Somewhere along the line of repeated disappointments, we get fed up, and lose hope. We are limited here in the earth realm, and it shows.

I think it’s fair to say that we usually have an expectation for how long trouble should last. Our life experiences usually determine our tolerance, but we all get to a point where we begin to expect a breakthrough. After that time has come and gone, our hope begins to dwindle and we cease to believe that the situation will improve.

It’s really over when we start stamping “lost cause” on people. Perhaps, the changes needed are more than what we feel is possible to achieve. Often it’s our limited capacity to endure with a person that convinces us to write them off. But, in your core, do you actually believe people can get beyond the point of redemption.

Sometimes we give up on people so quickly, not even realizing how many times they’ve been given up on already. Redemption is the opportunity to restore value to something that may have been deemed worthless. Through patience, you could be the one to help restore that value in them.

I’m a believer!

Call me crazy, but I believe in redemption!  I do not believe anyone can get too far off track to be redeemed from even the worst of situations. In fact, one thing that inspires me is transformation stories. I love a good tear jerking testimony! But my head is not in the clouds; I know that everybody doesn’t make the full 180 turn toward better. That doesn’t stop me from believing it’s possible though, and it should’t stop you!

Protect your peace, they said.

I’m protecting my peace sounds a lot better than saying, “I can’t work through this with you, so I’m cutting you off.”. Sometimes we choose to withhold love, in the name of protecting our peace, but only you know your reasons. Does it feel good to be mistreated? Of course not. And we certainly do not want to make concessions for repeated destructive behavior. But there is a way to protect yourself, and still be used to display the love of God.

Love is the gateway to redemption.

Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].

1 Corinthians 13:7 AMP

Love, should always be available through those of us that believe. That’s the right answer, but it’s not always the easiest one. I will admit, I’m working on perseverance and endurance myself. To me, emotional pain is the worst, so I totally can relate to doing what it takes to avoid it. When it feels like my effort or love has been mishandled, disconnecting is a lot easier than I’d like to admit.  In that moment, I can’t imagine having the desire to do anything but avoid the situation. But I’ve learned to take time to reflect and heal. There is a soberness that comes with being healed, which makes way for a better perception of the person and/or the relationship.

Don’t try this alone

I’ve experienced the burn out that comes with loving and working through a broken situation and trying to carry it all alone. That’s how I found out that redemption is not an individual job; we do not have the strength within ourselves to independently restore anyone. Redemption is a work of the Holy Spirit and it’s a team effort. Our role is to be vessels that God’s love can move through; to be the one to keep believing when everyone else has given up.  The truth is, redemption is a risk, just as love is. So the question is, is it worth it?

Quick Konversations: A Narrow Search

I was shopping online recently, looking for something specific. Although I knew exactly what I was looking for, I typed in a related item, hoping I could find the item amongst the results. It took quite a bit of scrolling through that vague search for me to finally come across one version of the item I was looking for. My rationale was that if my search was too specific, it would bring back no results. Ultimately I was worried that I wouldn’t find what I wanted. And rather than being specific, I thought it was best to look for what I wanted among a large group of related items.

Fear of disappointment can cause us not to be specific in our requests and search of things we desire. We don’t actually want to settle, but perhaps we are worried that what we actually want can’t be found. If you’re sure of what you want, there’s no such thing as being too specific. You may have to search more diligently or be patient in some instances, but I believe what you want does exist.

The store I was searching was only the second one I had checked, and I was already concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find what I wanted. Perhaps we are narrow in our search, but in the wrong way. Maybe we should be specific about what we want, but be more open about where it may come from. Let’s imagine, you’re searching for your dream job. Typing in “Social Worker” will bring back many results. You’ll get less results if you search “Hospital Social Worker”, but if that’s exactly what you want, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Now, if there are no Hospital Social Worker positions in the hospitals near you, are you open to expanding the search to a different city? Moving isn’t always the change we must make, but it’s our openness to change that sometimes brings us closer to obtaining the thing we want most.

If you’re wondering how my story ends, after scrolling more than I desired, I finally decided to type in and search exactly what I was looking for. Lo and behold, the predictive text brought up what I wanted as a search option, so I selected it. There were only a few items to choose from, but I found one that was just what I needed. It was in stock at the store and in my hands before the day was over.

Recap: “I Don’t Know the Difference”

On Facebook live, we had a konversation that was inspired by a scene in the movie “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel.” In the scene, Twinkie Clark had a dialogue with her mother regarding her decision to move with her new husband and leave the group. Twinkie felt that up to that point, everything she did was for the group and to please her mother. Her mother told her that she should be aiming to please the Lord. Twinkie’s response was “I don’t know the difference.”

Here are a few points we discussed during the konversation regarding life decisions and our relationship with parents and leadership.

Parents are the first people who are responsible for making decisions for us. When is it appropriate for the child to begin to take some of that responsibility and develop decision making skills?

It is important for parents to take the time to build up decision making skills in their child, so that they aren’t naive once they receive their independence.

While a child is learning how to make decisions, if they make a mistake, supporting them and helping them learn from it will produce more positive outcomes than reprimanding them to a point of shame.

The same can be applied to an adult in a subordinate position with leadership.

Lead Them to God

When in a leadership or influential position in someone’s life, it is important to give your disciple the space to establish their identity and autonomy when it comes to their decisions. While you impart wisdom and guidance, they should always be led back to God for the final directive.

Growing up in Christian households, many of us were required to go to church and participate in the youth department without protest. We simply didn’t have a choice! But once you get out on your own, you begin to realize that following God is a choice we have to make for ourselves.

A Mutually Beneficial Arrangement

In terms of mentorship and leader/follower relationships, it is important for the follower or mentee to be discipled while they serve. The relationship should be equally beneficial for both parties. The goal should be to help cultivate the gifts, talents and skills of the mentee/ follower, by giving them access to the leader’s life and responsibilities for the sake of learning. When there is a lack of balance in a leader/follower relationship, the follower can get burnt out. Serving to what appears to be a dead end can be disheartening for the follower. The pain of depletion can cause us to leave a place or assignment before it’s time, or under the wrong circumstances.

Lead and Teach

If we look at the example of Jesus and the disciples, Peter particularly, we see that Jesus did not expect perfection as they followed him. Peter chopped a man’s ear off because he didn’t want Jesus to be captured by those trying to kill him. Instead of Jesus kicking Peter out of the group, he healed the man’s ear. Jesus taught and led by example, so that when he left, the disciples were equipped to carry out their own ministries. It does not mean that Jesus was never disappointed in their actions, but when they failed, he taught them what they needed to know to succeed in the future.

How Do We Deal?

As people, we have to be discerning and able to identify the thin line between being obedient to parents and leaders and pleasing man. We must establish our own relationship with the Lord so that we are able to follow Him, first and foremost. When you are aware of God’s plan and purpose for your life, you will be able to see whether or not what someone is asking you to do will serve to prepare you for what’s next.

Share your thoughts on this in the comments!

To view the live Facebook broadcast or listen to the podcast go here: http://linktr.ee/kingdomkonversationsxkiana

Quick Konversations: Surprise!

Lately my internal konversations have been around overcoming the mental trauma from disappoints and bad experiences. I’ve learned those things continue to affect you if you don’t address them. Many of my friends know I have hated surprises for the majority of my adulthood. Not feeling understood and known has made it difficult for me to have a positive outlook on the possibility of them. There’s a lot of pressure to be grateful, regardless of how much the surprise speaks to who you are and what you love and enjoy.

The last time a surprise was planned for me, I spazzed out because it didn’t go as I would have liked. I remember making specific requests about my birthday and I felt they were ignored. After that fiasco, I’m sure my friends didn’t want to find themselves in that predicament ever again. Although I was very forthcoming about my disdain for surprises after that experience, I secretly coveted other friendships where surprise parties and activities were planned for someone. I would conjure up thoughts about not having “real” friends, because I didn’t have the experiences I wanted. I later realized that my unrealistic expectations, entitled attitude and isolation separated me from what I desired. It took me about six years, to identify my error so that I could be positioned to receive what I truly desired.

This year, because my best friend gets me, she gave me the option of being surprised or knowing what she was planning for me. I told her to keep it a surprise. I believe it was the Holy Spirit that whispered to me to allow those who love me the chance to express that love, their way. In my experience, some of my greatest disappointments were linked to passing up one opportunity for another, which ended up being a bust. Low key, I didn’t have a real plan to celebrate my birthday because I feared disappointment. Naturally, I could have planned an independent activity, but in reality I didn’t want to spend it alone. So instead of rejecting the unknown from a promising source, I obliged. There’s a saying that goes, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”, which attempts to protect us from disappointment. It’s not a bad thing to put all your eggs in one basket in every situation. To that I would say, it pays to assess the capability of the basket you’re putting your eggs in. If one basket has failed you in the past, you have a decision to make keeping in mind the risks involved in using that basket again. My point is that I’ve learned that the eggs, my happiness, in this case, is precious cargo and my responsibility. I plan to discuss how to navigate track records in relationships, in an upcoming post. Long story short, the surprise was dinner, an amazing live jazz performance and an impromptu photo shoot. I’m happy I gave surprises another shot.

Comparison Culture

To listen to the audio version of this blog, follow the link. https://soundcloud.com/kiana-mc/comparison-culture-blog

Comparison is a way that we have come to determine the quality of people and things, but do we actually need to compare one thing to another to truly appreciate it or measure its value? Take life for instance. Why are you happy to be alive? Is it simply because death is its alternative or do you find worth in life itself? What about your car? Is it valuable to you because it gets you from point A to point B or do you not find value in it because it isn’t the one you want?

I know. Lots of questions to start, but I’m just wondering how it serves us to make comparisons or if it’s even necessary.

When We Compare Ourselves

In a bible study I attended years ago, the pastor pointed out that social media had become a means to measure our progress in life. At the time, I wasn’t being affected in that way, but there was truth in what he was saying. As the years passed on and my Facebook friends began to reach the major life events of getting engaged and married, moving to a new city and emerging in their career field, and traveling the world, I began to feel the effects of the “social media ruler”. My life paled in comparison because I was struggling in so many ways. It looked like they were having a much better go at life than I was. But as I became determined to regulate my own happiness and mental stability, I’ve chosen to take a break from scrolling sometimes, to guard my heart, because discontentment can creep in at a moment’s notice.

What’s dangerous about comparison is its ability to rob us of our contentment. This is a society in which we will second guess our happiness based on what someone else has that seems better. We find ourselves questioning everything about our lives because it doesn’t look like someone else’s. It’s one thing to see what someone else is doing and be motivated by it, but if we aren’t careful, we will begin to chase things we never actually wanted while depreciating what is actually valuable in our lives. With comparison, we tend lose sight of our desires and covet lifestyles for status and external validation.

When Others Compare Us

I realize that comparison did not originate with social media and at times we aren’t the culprit. Some of us experience it within our families and social groups. We are identified as the only one who isn’t married yet, or our freelance career path is compared to our hot shot brother’s corporate job. But if you’re content, what people try to exalt as the standard will be identified as an option you didn’t choose or something you can’t control. Don’t let comparison kill you! Be sure of your plan and your progress. As long as you know where you’re headed in life, that confidence will be evident and speak for you. If you find yourself discontent, hopefully you are working to seek out those things you desire or you have a support system that can help you navigate that part of your life.

When We Compare Experiences

Another form of comparison is the minimalization of an experience. In life, some of my painful experiences were brushed off because the listener didn’t think they were that bad. I was told that the situation wasn’t worth crying over because it could be worse. Once someone did it to me, I began doing it to myself. So when something came up, I played it down, no matter how much it hurt me. This can be detrimental for several reasons. When we’re forced to compare our situation to a seemingly worse situation, it diminishes our experience and can create a sense of self doubt and insecurity. Suppressing the issue holds up the healing process. While discussing this topic, my co worker said that we can’t compare our hardships because someone is always going to have it worse than you. It isn’t selfish or self absorbed to acknowledge your pain and experience.

Ponder what role comparison has played in your life. Is it having a positive or negative effect? I challenge you to find value in the things in your life without comparing it to the best or worse of something similar. Also, take time to identify your desires and goals without considering social standards.

I’d love for you to share your experiences of comparison or how you have learned to take your life and circumstances for what they are.

Trust God

To listen to an audio version of this post follow this link: https://soundcloud.com/kiana-mc/trust-god-audio-blog

It’s no mistake that during one of the toughest seasons of my life, I’ve been on this journey to understand what it truly means to trust God. I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t find anyone to trust with my weakness. In my darkest hour, I couldn’t bring myself to trust even the people who I know had good intentions. I was alone and all I could do was trust God.  Believers say “Trust God”  when your situation is “above you” and out of your control. In saying it, I’ve never heard anyone explain how to do it though. Is it prayer, fasting, consecration, being still? How do you and God know that you’re actively trusting in Him?

Trust is one of those abstract words like love, confidence, sadness, etc. Everyone has a different way of expressing it. Trust by definition is to rely on a person’s or thing’s ability, strength or integrity. For instance, when you sit down, you trust that the chair will not collapse but that it will support you. And when you do the trust fall, you lean back, believing that the people behind you will catch you and not allow you to fall flat on your back.

Nowadays, trusting people is a difficult task. Many of us have a small group of people that we feel we can actually rely on when it counts. Maybe you’ve tried to confide in someone and your business ended up in another conversation. That can be devastating in the midst of an already difficult situation. I hate to say it, but trusting people can be hit or miss. There may never be a time when you’re completely safe with someone. That’s kind of scary…

Enters God.

We are encouraged to trust in God in several scriptures. The Bible says to obey and honor many people, including your parents and spiritual leaders, but as far as I can tell, trust is primarily to be placed in God. There are certainly benefits to trusting people, but the amount of trust we try to place in people can damage our dependence on God. God will lead us to meaningful relationships where we can place a healthy amount of trust in others. The truth is people can only do so much for you, even when you do trust them. Ultimately, you have to go to the one who is the most trustworthy.

The How

Trusting God requires that you know him. Our claim as believers hinges on whether we trust that God is who He says he is. There’s a scripture that says that faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of God. If you’re unsure how to trust God, reading about him is a great place to start. There are several scriptures that describe who God is and how he interacts with humanity. It may also help to hear the testimonies of trusting God from the people you know.

I have found that this trust isn’t as action packed as I thought. Relying on someone or something, is less of an action and more of a demonstration of a mental move. I’ve found that trust is a kind of yielding. In a situation that feels out of control, trusting God brings about peace in that chaotic situation and says “I believe everything will be alright, even if I can’t fix it myself.”

Help! I’m a control freak

This is a real thing! I struggle with fear of the unknown. At times, I find myself tip toeing toward the future, solely because I don’t always know what to expect. When what you had planned begins to fall apart, you tend to stop moving forward until you can plainly see what is before you. But when you trust God, you can confidently move forward, trusting God to establish your new place. 

Help! I’m a fixer

It may be difficult for you to be still while things are chaotic in your life. You may move too quickly and try to change things so that the pain, the frustration, or that in between feeling doesn’t last too long. Trusting God eliminates the hasty decisions we make trying to calm life’s storms ourselves. Trusting God requires humility and acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty over your life. 

Trusting is a process

You need not be perfect along this journey of trust, the objective is to believe. Trust seems to be established in the midst of our tribulations. They present an opportunity for us to see the faithfulness and sovereignty of God. It’s hard to really know that someone is trustworthy without being placed in the circumstance that requires you to trust them. Seeing things work out in someone else’s life may give you the gall to try God, but only your experience with God will produce trust in Him.

One Man’s Word, a Woman’s Bondage

The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

1 Timothy 2:11-12

For years I struggled with my calling in life because of these scriptures. I felt that God had given me the gift of teaching and I was told that leadership is in my future, but these verses suggested that I could not be used to teach or lead. What was even more confusing for me was that I grew up in churches that had women in every tier of leadership. Could they be out of the will of God for pastoring a church?

I had only found these verses in my adult life, while I was trying to establish what I believed based on personal study and the leading of the Holy Spirit. This particular belief would make or break my future. What if the plan I thought God had for me isn’t scripturally supported? Then what would I do?

Several years ago, I debated with someone who believed the principles of the scriptures above. I was told that I could teach, but it had to either be children or a women’s group. I didn’t see myself leading a women’s ministry for the rest of my life. What I had didn’t feel specific to women. I had already seen women operating in ministry at large, so I knew it was being done, but I was more concerned about God approving what I did. I didn’t want to be disobedient, regardless of what everyone else was doing.

My day of liberation

A year or so later, I sat in a Bible study where a guy was sharing his interpretation of the scripture we were studying. For so long the Bible was known to me as God’s word and I believed it was all true and flawless. But on this day, I was introduced to a new concept of the Bible. It is simply a book of stories and letters, written by humans about humans, inspired by God. I still believe the miracles and stories found in the Bible are true events, but my eyes were opened to the “God inspired” aspect. The people in the Bible weren’t perfect, but their God is, and that’s what makes it a good point of reference. That’s why if you read the right parts, you’ll see those humans committed many errors.

A Brief Bible Background

Much of the New Testament is comprised of letters from the Apostle Paul to the churches he oversaw and people he mentored, like Timothy. The letters were his words, his perspective, and his instruction. Paul’s words aren’t necessarily “God’s commands”, they are principles inspired by words God had previously established, made relevant for the situation. So, Paul’s letters are equivalent to a sermon we might hear today. God’s inspiration has to come through the channel of the mind, and spirit of that spokesperson, and we can only pray that God’s inspired word is not tainted by their view. We trust that the speaker is being led by God, but sometimes their own ideas are offered in the mix.

My Liberating thought

So if God didn’t say that women should be quiet in church, that means, if I did teach a group of people about God, it wouldn’t make me disobedient, unless I was trying to do something God didn’t lead me to do. What a relief that was for me. I love studying God’s word, pulling out life principles and sharing them. I would have felt so stifled if I had to live my life without the freedom to share my God inspired thoughts.

Then, who was Paul talking to?

If God didn’t say that women should be silent in church, why would Paul say that? I’m sure Paul had a legitimate reason to give that instruction, which was relevant in the culture of that time and place. Perhaps Paul was reinforcing the social structure at that time within the church. Women were not of equal status to men during that time, and still aren’t in many places. That system may be based on this.

For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.  And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

1 Timothy 2 : 13-14

Man was first and woman was second, so the man leads and woman follows. Woman and man mess up, woman is silenced and man continues to lead.

Me: Who makes these rules!?

Adam and Eve were put out of the garden. It seems to me that God would remain the leader, and the woman and the man would follow God. That’s seems fair and logical to me.

The idea that the fall of man was Eve’s fault is oppressive in nature, especially considering that God told Adam what to do and he was a victim of peer pressure. I didn’t come to place blame though.

I believe in order and I do believe that men are supposed to lead. However, it is hard to believe that God wouldn’t want women to lead at all, but would allow for the mental capacity and capability to do so.

Oppression vs. Ability

Ability is determined by skills and knowledge, thus inability would be the lack of those things. Oppression however, restricts a capable thing from doing what it has the ability to do. It’s not that women do not have the innate ability to lead, they were restricted from doing so, perhaps to prevent any further “falls” or misleading. Men are just as capable of misleading or abusing power. Men don’t have a lesser chance of misleading than women. We’re more than likely pretty equal because we have to go through the same process of building character, which prevents the bad leadership.

Women have great ideas, too. Women have people skills, too. Women have vision, too. Women can lead and can do so without oppressing or dishonoring the man.

However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.

1 Corinthians 11:11-12

So let’s have a conversation about women in ministry and other positions of power. Let’s talk about the pros and cons. Let’s talk about oppression. Let’s talk about the scriptures that have us bound. Let’s get free!

Let’s build the Kingdom!

Almost a Diary Entry: Am I DOING this right?

Recently, I felt like I needed to take a break from “sharing my walk with God.” As I sat one day and did some introspection, I realized that I’m quick to share a revelation of the scripture, but I don’t as quickly follow up with action. I tend to identify the problem and the solution, but I don’t always put the solution into practice right away.

Many of my posts are adapted from real life situations that I am presently encountering. So, as I reviewed the Kingdom Konversation Live discussing “Too Smart for Your Own Good” and forgiveness, I felt bad because I realized that I’ve only done some of what I shared. I identified the solution but the whole issue hasn’t been resolved, at least not in my eyes.

I started to just suspend the blog for a while until I got myself together. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I’m a hypocrite, but I do think my eagerness to share sometimes interferes with me taking my own advice. If my wisdom from God is hot off the press, I have to make sure I’m implementing it before I hop on and start typing.

My Challenge

I’ve been told several times that I am “Wise beyond my years”. That sounds great until you start sharing wisdom and solutions about situations you’ve yet to work through in your own life. I like being able to help others and I honor the gift God has given me, but sometimes it’s challenging. I may know a thing or two, but it doesn’t excuse me from the work we all have to do.

So in light of those thoughts and feelings, I took to the scriptures and found new insight in familiar place to help me walk this one out. I’ve studied James 1 before, regarding being slow to speak when angry, but as I revisited that scripture again, I found that perhaps I need to be slow to speak, (or write), not just in moments of anger.

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;… But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

James 1:19,22-25 NASB

My Biggest Concern

I want to make sure I am a doer of the word. I don’t want to forget that the foundation of this blog is my walk with God, which includes learning to be more like Him. This isn’t just content for people to read and enjoy, this is me studying to show myself approved and sharing it with others. This blog may not be a pulpit, but it is a platform and I want to do right by those who subscribe and follow my life in this way. I know we all have to make our own decisions and be accountable for them, but I just want to be the best influence I can. Therefore, the expectation of fruit.

 Living and Leading

Leading or having influence is so much easier when it comes from a place of action and not just knowledge. It’s not good enough to know the rules or principles and enforce them, you should to be abiding by them, too. At a previous job, I helped my clients with financial management and creating budgets. At that time in my life, unbeknownst to them, I was in over my head financially, too. They didn’t know because I knew what to tell them, but when I got home, I didn’t know what to do. One day, I went to see a financial advisor as a resource to my clients and ended up being advised for my own finances. The financial advisor said to me, “You’ll be able to help your clients better if you have your own finances in order.” He was right. So often we prepare to lead and teach others and we fail to lead our own lives properly. So maybe this is for you, leader. Your life is the wealth of wisdom to pull from for the people who look to you for guidance. You can’t testify from a book you’ve read, but you can testify from your life, once you learn the lessons. (Then, maybe you could write a book.)

Don’t be so Hard on Yourself

After talking about this with a friend, I was told not to be so hard on myself. Sometimes I can only see what I’m not doing enough, but it’s important to be able to take a well rounded assessment of ourselves. I can now see the effort I have made toward using the wisdom God shares with me. And I can identify that part of the work is seeking a solution. What caught me off guard in the situation I mentioned in the beginning, is that the moment I identified what I needed to change, the situation itself changed and I didn’t end up having to do what I thought. I had finally trusted God enough to do what I feared, and the “mountain” was no longer there. Part of me felt that God honored the work I did between Him and I, but the other more critical part of me felt like I could have done more to initiate a conversation about my offense. This was just another lesson in our limited understanding of God’s ways. I thought the point of it all was to be bold enough to initiate a conversation with someone I thought wouldn’t receive it well. But as it turns out, the point was to seek God about it. Apparently, that’s always the point.

While James 1 talks about being a doer of the word, the metaphor of looking in the mirror also highlights the importance of us focusing on ourselves. Sometimes we try to manage all parties involved, when the simple and more beneficial thing for us to do is to judge ourselves by the word first and work on what doesn’t line up. In life, we’re never completely right and without fault, in any situation. We can always extend more compassion, pursue peace quicker and listen longer before we speak.

So in light of those thoughts and feelings, Kingdom Konversations with Kiana continues, hopefully, in a more effective and impactful way.

Be a doer of the word for the Kingdom,

Kiana