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.

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.

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?

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.

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

Almost a diary entry: My identity Isolated Me

Best all around.

It was my senior year of high school, and I thought I deserved that superlative because I knew some of everybody, even the outcasts. But of course, Superlatives is a popularity contest, so you don’t win it for knowing the people who aren’t popular. In the present, I still find myself befriending the people no one hangs around. It seems like there’s this magnet inside of me that draws the outcasts to me. These friendships, by the way, have become some of the most rewarding friendships of my life. We’ve endured through each other’s hard times and celebrated each other during our accomplishments. But there was a time when I couldn’t see the good in all of that. There was a time when I thought I deserved a certain type of friend. I remember feeling slighted because I thought I was “good enough” to have “cool” friends. This was before I began to reap the benefits of those relationships. At that time, I was still sowing and all I knew was that I wanted something easier. It took me some time to realize that what was happening with me and through me had little to do with my personality, but it had everything to do with my identity and purpose.

Jesus was known to hang out with the untouchables of his day and the Pharisees called him on it, quite frequently.

In Matthew 9:10-17, Jesus was having dinner with some tax collectors [the equivalent of our present day bill collectors, whose calls we ignore and block] and sinners. The Pharisees asked the disciples why Jesus was eating with the sinners and tax collectors. And before the disciples could say anything, Jesus answered, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I desire compassion and not sacrifice. I’ve come for the sinners, not the righteous.”

This passage gave insight to my experience with friendships. I realized that, popular people don’t typically need more friends. And “well-tribed” people don’t need more people to join their tribe, because they’re already surrounded. Who then needs the tribe? The loners and the outcasts. I know, “There’s a reason no one talks to them.” and “They seem weird.” so you wonder what you two would have in common. These are the thoughts we usually have about befriending outcasts or more generally, someone who isn’t “our type”. We often cling to people and things we can relate to, but on the flip side we find ourselves with a narrow worldview, unable to accept lifestyles or choices that don’t mirror our own. But one thing I’ve learned from experience is that befriending someone different than you gives you the opportunity to grow in patience, love and acceptance.

As humans trying to be Christians, we have the tendency to mark off things for our own pleasure and enjoyment, instead of seeing every part of our life as God’s property. For me, I didn’t want friendships to be my form of “ministry” or something that would require more pruning and growth. “At least let me choose my friends, God!” It seemed I didn’t have control of much of anything. God wants that part of my life as well, for His glory. Instead of holding on to who I wanted to be, I had to surrender to the design God fashioned in me. God gave me the ability to see the diamonds in the rough; the precious jewels that had yet to be discovered. These are my type of friends.

The only reason, I felt isolated was because I stepped into the world of a person who had been isolated. As my life aligned with theirs, I felt what it was like to not be invited, checked on or understood. But I was only isolated as long as I felt like I belonged elsewhere. You can either take what’s handed to you or you can work to create what you want. It’s like the difference between starting a business and becoming an owner of an already successful chain restaurant. If you join something that’s already successful, you have a ready made reputation and guaranteed clientele. But when you start a business, you have to identify your market, build your clientele, and you gain a reputation by the opinion of those who experience your product.

I said that to say that there’s nothing wrong with building friendships from the ground up. It’s not always easy but it’s definitely worth it. One thing I know for sure, is that we all have that something, that makes us different and separates us from the majority. Don’t be afraid to lean into that; It’s who you are. And you have the ability to surround yourself with others who understand and appreciate what you have to offer, by just being YOU!

I’d love you to share your journey of identity. Let’s have a Konversation.

Loving the outcasts for the Kingdom…

The Ugly Phase

The ugly phase is most often associated with hair styles. I’ve cut my hair short several times and the moment I decide to grow it back out, I know I’m in for it. It’s just something about the time it takes for the short areas to catch up to the longer areas that is just…aggravating. It really exposes my impatience and inability to accept and adjust to the natural process of growth.

In a world of over night success stories, sometimes we fail to realize that nothing actually happens overnight. There’s work and preparation that happens to turn average people into celebrities. During that preparation, there are some wrong notes, rejected projects proposals, bombed performances, low grades, [Insert your ugly phase here]. How often to we give up during the preparation phase due to the difficulty or weariness that comes with trying and not being perfect?

Let endurance have its perfect result so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:4

(A different version may say patience in place of endurance)

The E word

Endurance has been wearing me out for a few years now. I used to quit things as soon as they became difficult and stressful until it was impressed upon me to stick it out and tap into a different strength source. I’m better at it now, but it’s still hard sometimes not to just quit to avoid the pain. What this scripture appears to say is that enduring actually perfects you. It seems the only route out of the ugly phase, is through it.

It sounds simple, but it’s not always easy to apply the principle in the moment when you feel like you can’t take anymore. When your embarrassed at your skill level and want to just skip to the part when you’re as good as your favorite artist or musician.

Here’s a secret: They’ve had ugly phases too.

This most recent time I decided to grow my hair out, I remember wanting to just cut all my hair off so that it could all grow together. It seemed logical at the moment, until I considered what my actually goal was. I wanted to keep the style I had, I just wanted it to be a little fuller and longer in each section. Therefore, getting a fade would actually prolong the process to meeting the goal.

I decided to continue on, not getting hair cuts and just working with what I had and suddenly, one day it seemed like my hair was the perfect length! It obviously didn’t happen suddenly, but when I began to focus on other things, and keep my goal in mind, the in between time seemed to fly by.

May you find the patience necessary to embrace your current stage, no matter how ugly it feels. And may your beautiful stage come sooner than you expected.

Endure for the Kingdom,

Kiana ❤️

To Be Continued…

Happy New Year Kingdom Konversationalists!

I almost let January get by without posting a new entry, but then I thought about how it would feel to see the previous months listed in archives, and for January to be missing. I don’t like gaps, having to start over, or anything like that. As weird as it may seem, that was my motivation for posting today.

I know most people are posting New year goals and encouragement around this time, but I’ve found that life is about continuing even when it feels like you’re starting over. No shade to people who choose a new year as the time to begin a new habit or get rid of an old one. I just think that maybe we’d feel more accomplished if we framed it as continuing rather than starting over. Just think about it, people who are on a diet, have a cheat day, and the next day they continue. They don’t consider it an end to their diet or regimen because they did something different for a day or so. I’m not usually one to look on the bright side of things, but I’m beginning to realize that you’ve got to do whatever it takes to keep yourself motivated, and in most cases, my realism has not motivated me, but has often landed me in defeat. So, I’m trying this new thing of being positive and having a mindset of redemption and resilience rather than finality and failure.

I guess you could say my new year’s resolution is to continue.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog called The refuge of the mind in which I explained that I had allowed my past traumas to dictate what I would allow God to use in me. I had decided that I wouldn’t get close to people anymore because I didn’t want to continue getting hurt and healed over and over. (How prideful is that?) But, along this journey I’ve been humbling myself before God and allowing Him to walk me through life, as difficult as it is in moments.

This morning, as I shared my heart’s concerns with God, I found myself back at that place of vulnerability, in regards to the kind of person He made me, and what’s required of me in life. Long story short, I told Him, it’s lonely out here being who He called me to be. It can get lonely adhering to the boundaries He has in place for your life. It’s lonely when you are made to give so much of yourself and are expected to only be refilled by Him, at times. Thats why most of us don’t; because it’s hard! And although people don’t always treat us perfectly, if we have someone, at least we aren’t alone.

My Pastor said something yesterday that stuck with me and is relevant here. He said,

“Our response to God should not be about what’s good to us, but what’s good for us.”

The things God expects of us may not always feel good to us, but over time, we learn that it is good for us.

Therefore, saying yes to God is less about acknowledging a calling but more about trusting His path to fulfilling it. We can’t take the job and decide how we’re going to do it. There is a job description, duties and responsibilities that he has written for us. That’s the yes I believe God is looking for; our trust in His way.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 NASB

Trusting God and following Him, is not easy. It will often lead you down a path where you will encounter yourself. You will be challenged to abandon your self-constructed ideas and apprehensions. You won’t be able to move forward with fear; you’ll either pause within the fear or step through it into faith. You won’t know where you’re going at all times, but you’ll know that you’re right where you should be. You’ll be secure, anchored, planted and sure.

This year, I’m taking one day at a time to surrender myself and say yes to God’s way. I understand that some tasks seem so overwhelming and intimidating that we cop out with an “I’ll try” for fear of falling short and disappointing ourselves or others. All we have to do is make a commitment each day, and when we mess up, vow to continue at the next available opportunity.

Say yes for the Kingdom,

Kiana

Check out:

Still Yes by Lamar Simmons + Love & Faith Community Church Choir

The refuge of the mind

Advice for giving….advice.

People mean well.

They really do!

But, I’ve learned that people have to live their own lives and choose their own paths. As much as we don’t like to see the people we love suffer, contrary to popular practice or belief, there isn’t much we can say or do to ensure they don’t make the wrong decisions. We can only be there for them on the other side.

It all started in the garden. 

Since the tempting of the serpent in the garden of Eden, we as humans have a hard time “Taking your word for it.” We now have to see for ourselves. Which is why just telling someone not to do something seldom stops them from doing it, children and adults alike. Then, we tell our anecdotal stories about how a similar situation didn’t work out for us, hoping that those stories will be the proof they need to decide against it, and it still doesn’t work.

One person’s experience doesn’t equate to someone else’s understanding. 

For whatever reason, the person you’re trying to warn, often thinks their situation is just different enough from yours, or someone else’s, that they’ll have a different outcome. Who knows if that’s actually the case, but the more important point here is that everyone is different, including the comparable participants of each of our lives and situations.

We all have separate lives to live and be accountable for, and we can only love people regardless of their choices.

I remember once trying to talk a girl out of dealing with a guy that had done me wrong. Obviously,  I was scared, but I thought I was doing my duty to warn her. Long story short, she didn’t listen to me and now they’re married. (How’s that for a lesson in advice? Ha!)

I don’t know the details of their relationship, and that’s just the point. We seldom know all the details required to make a judgment. Who knows what made her different than me? Who knows what made him settle down? As similar as it seemed in the beginning, her experience wasn’t the same as mine.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to offer advice and guidance, just keep in mind there are many factors involved.

So, if you’re the type that likes to save the world through advice, here are some things that maybe you should consider. (The irony is that this is advice that you may or may not choose to accept. I understand that, and I’m okay with it.)

  1. Make sure the person you’re talking to actually wants advice.
    1. Sometimes, we just want a listening ear, not for someone to make a judgment about what we’re thinking, feeling or doing. Before your personal experience bubbles up into a “DON’T DO IT!”, ask them if they’re open to advice at that time.
  2. If you feel like someone has made a bad judgment, be careful how you express that.
    1. People do what they think is best in the moment, and at the end of the day, they are the ones who have to deal with the consequences of their decisions and actions.  Judgment is not our job, especially because we don’t always know the inward motivations of actions.
  3. Try not to look down on people who decide to take their own path.
    1. It’s very likely that someone may make the mistake you warned them of. They may go through with it, even after agreeing that the decision wasn’t in their best interest. Don’t shun them for walking out their path. The same experience you gained after your mistake or learned lesson can happen for them as well.

We can only hope and pray that people gain the lesson in their choices. And if they find it was a mistake, we can only hope they don’t become bound by regret.

Change should be facilitated.

I hope this helps the advice giver and receiver, which ever side you may find yourself on.

Thoughtfully,

Kiana