My friend Melissa has been doing a 30 days of Thanks journey in which she shares her reflections on her life. It is with her permission that I have created this blog post. Her writing is powerful. Be prepared to cry, laugh, be confused, get frustrated, and be caught up in deep hopefulness. And, she gives suggestions on where to direct your financial activism.
Day 26: Kind, Thoughtful, Inspirational Words
Happy Twenty Sixth Day of Thanks Everyone!
I don’t know what it is but, I have always had this special kind of mojo which attracts senior citizens to me. I’ve come to conclude that there may be a long list of things responsible for this attraction which range from my big, bright smile (which you already know radiates light) to the kind check-in on how they are or their need for some medical advice. Whatever it is, the attraction is always strong. (Now if I can just get that mojo to attract me to my amazing, intelligent, God-fearing, loving, worship-the-ground-I-walk-on chocolate prince, I’d be set! I’m just saying!)
I’ve known an elderly gentleman who works at a senior citizens center close to my job for about four years now. We met, initially, on our daily commute to work on what you know I call the God forsaken bus, the Bx19. After seeing each other for a while and coming to the conclusion that we were basically going to the same place (our work is literally right next door to each other), we struck up whole conversations about our lives and how we were, our relaxing weekends, books that I was currently reading, and our families, without even knowing each other’s name.
It was probably two months or more after our initial meeting that I realized, I had no idea what his real name was. (I felt horrible!) Can you imagine! I was having in depth conversations with this person everyday for months and we didn’t know each other’s name. His morning greeting was, “Hi beautiful” (it still is) and mine was “hey love” and the rest was history. I finally asked him, “what’s your name?” and he replied “Gypsy.”
Gypsy is such a sweet soul. He is really shy (at least around me) and a little anxious. He has a little feistiness to him on occasion but overall is so unassuming and quiet that you could almost forget that he is there. He is very humble and never complains. He is very observant and pays very close attention to detail. He has such an impeccable work ethic and works so hard (like a slave), all the time, for him and his girlfriend’s dream house down south.
If I’m being honest, I’m always a little worried about him. First, it was the chain smoking, which I always pestered him to quit. (Thank God he finally got rid of that habit!) Now, it’s more of his general health that worries me. Each time I see him, he looks more and more fatigued and weary, although he still musters up a big smile for me. I worry that he, who is such a deserving person of a great retirement, will never get to enjoy it because he has worked himself to the bone (and probably doesn’t know anything else).
Sometimes, I wish I had Oprah money and endorsements so that just as she says, “you get a car, and you get a car, and you get a car!” I can say to Gypsy, “you get a house and you get a car and you get rest and you get retirement!” All just to ease some of that worry and weariness I see on his face. I pray for him all the time, asking God to preserve his strength and make him a Caleb so that he can see, have, and enjoy his mountain before he takes his final rest.
What Gypsy lacks in his short stature and frame, he makes up for with his big heart, his kindness and thoughtfulness. One day for Valentine’s Day, he bought all the women at my job these beautifully hand-crafted and scented artificial roses and lunch (so sweet!). We both have birthdays in June about a week from each other. I don’t know how he knew my birthdays are so important to me, but he has never missed a beat!(He has to teach some of my other friends some things!) On my day, he is always waiting outside for me to get off the bus, and with a smile, hands me the most breath-taking, thoughtful, awe-inspiring Blue Mountain cards. (I always tell him to take back his money when I find it because I don’t want him working harder on my account.) They are amazing cards! (Whoever owns this company, i would love to buy shares!) The words in those cards speak so much life to my soul. It’s almost like the person who wrote the card had a magnifying glass to my life and new every detail about me or knew exactly what I needed to hear. And knowing Gypsy, I’m sure he stayed in the store and scoured every card until he found the “perfect” one just for me. He always has this genuine way of doing his best to make me feel special. (Some of you should take notes and learn a thing or two!) What he doesn’t and can’t say on his own, the card says for him. And his words are the most thoughtful, kind and inspirational words that anyone has ever said to me.
For the past three years, his words (once you buy something it’s your to claim) in those cards have prophetically declared career moves and choices, provision, complete shifts in my life and the best well wishes ever. In some of the darkest moments of my life, without him even knowing it, Gypsy’s cards and words have given me the hope to endure, pierced light through the darkness and brought the ultimate joy, making me smile. Getting my birthday cards from Gypsy has become one of the most anticipated moments of my year.(I’m sure he has no clue just how much his simple gesture means to me, although I convey my thanks and try to do double for him the following week for his birthday.) Each year, I feel like a little child on Christmas day opening my most prized and desired gift, anxiously waiting to read the new card’s content. And each year’s card surpasses the last one and completely blows me away. I smile so big for weeks, knowing that someone cares that much about me to be kind and so thoughtful enough to speak life into me. (Gypsy is my unsung hero!) I’ve held on to each card like it is my most prized possession. I only hope that my presence, my words, and my acts of kindness toward him come nearly as close to the joy that his bring to me.
I give thanks for Gypsy and those like him in my life who are kind, thoughtful, warm, and awe-inspiring with their words. If you have people like him in your life, you know just how much of a treasure they are. (Make sure that you appreciate and value them. Go back to Day 15!) If they work as hard as Gypsy does, be mindful to make sure they have real rest; do your best to make sure their loads are much lighter.
Today, I also highlight the organization, Random Acts(www.randomacts.org/), which is a nonprofit that is dedicated to random acts of kindness worldwide. The work that they do and the projects of kindness that they fund are incredible. Just reading the stories on their website of the acts of kindness that people have done through them will inspire you to do more to conquer the world with one random act of kindness at a time. Please support them in all their endeavors and donate. If you have a cool idea for a random act of kindness, they are willing to fund it up to $499 for first time applicants. Go for it! You’ll impact a life or lives for an entire lifetime with just that one act of kindness.
Have a Great Day of Thanks!
Day 27: Creativity
Happy Twenty Seventh Day of Thanks
I am so thankful for creativity and the many ideas that God has given me to financially sustain my family, bless others, and provide balance when the scientific and more analytical portion of my brain tries to encroach upon and dominate the artistic portion of it.
I don’t know how to explain it but God created me to be both heavily scientific and artistic at the same time. When I do more of one at any given time, I feel so imbalanced and have to do the other activity to bring me back to an equilibrium. (I’m not sure if anyone else is built like that or if it’s something that’s unique to me.) So from an early age in life, not only did I create with my hands and my mind, I was also a critical thinker and heavily into studying sciences. I am always looking for ways to combine those two passions of my life.
I have created songs, poetry, and short stories that have filled my childhood and adult journals. I created choreography for talent shows and cultural nights. When Lilah was little, I sewed her several skirts and a pair of pants by hand. (I can’t wait to take sewing lessons with a machine. Watch out world!). I create essential oil mixtures for different medical ailments.
I usually make earrings and other jewelry to match my shoes, bag and outfits or to make as birthday or holiday presents. Delilah and I have just about every craft tool and item in my house and we get busy on a frequent basis to create our own masterpieces. I created what I call a “Love Box” for married couples who participate in the “A Love Affair: The Ultimate Date Night Experience” event. I crocheted pendants for Breast Cancer Awareness for the Uniquely Abled Girl Scout Troop. Just recently, I made her a money cake for her sixteenth birthday.
One year, I saw a lady on the bus crocheting a blanket and I asked if I could watch her. She taught me the single and double stitch and I came home with some yarn and crochet needles determined to create my own scarf and blanket. I did it! (Little did I know that I picked up a skill that relaxed me and bought me so much peace of mind.) One Christmas a friend told me that her co-worker volunteered in the hospital and was collecting toys and gifts for children who had HIV/AIDS in the hospital. The young man commented that there were always toys and gifts given for the young children but the teenagers usually went without gifts because most people didn’t donate for their age group. So with my single and double stitch skills and no pattern, I set out to crochet several colorful bags and scarves for those teenage patients. (If I say so myself, they came out really nice. I almost wish that I had kept one from that batch just to show you how my skills have perfected over the course of time.) I was able to give bag and scarf sets to six teenagers with HIV/AIDS in the hospital that year.
Since I only have time to crochet during the holidays, when I need something done outside of that time frame, I’ll create a pattern or design of what I want and I pay my aunt to crochet it for me. She always complains when I send her my elaborate designs and creations to crochet (and she claims she can’t do them because she wants to be lazy and give me what she wants instead of what I ask for) but her skills are ten times better than mine in crocheting and she is quicker because she has an abundance of time and is always practicing and perfecting her craft. With a little nudging, I always get her to create my designs(or should I say masterpieces) exactly the way I want them. Just last spring, she completed a line of autism awareness apparel that I created and designed for Lilah (see pics). I wanted Delilah Christina to be the first and only person on the runway to have and model her own line of crocheted apparel. I didn’t disappoint and my baby rocked her outfits on that runway so lovely. (I think God gave me a girl because He knew that I’d be so excited practicing my fashion skills on her.)
I don’t think I confessed this secret yet (y’all are making me tell all my business!) but my other back-up career was being a fashion buyer. I am completely head over heels for a great outfit that has all the bells and whistles of some great accessories to match. Yes, it has to have the earrings, the bag, the glasses and the shoes to make it outstanding. This brings me to my next confession. I’m a slight shopaholic, which I totally blame on growing up poor. Now, most times when I see something that I want or really like, especially if it is within my budget, I’m almost always going to buy it. I spent so much time hearing that we couldn’t have something because my mom couldn’t afford it growing up, that I don’t want to hear that now. (of course within reason. I am not buying any thousand dollar pocketbooks or anything crazy like that. SMH!) However, since I work hard, I want be able to splurge on what I want and like, occasionally. I also hate the regret of not having bought something that I really wanted afterwards. When I go back to buy it, 99% of the time it’s gone. That really sucks and always makes me want to stomp my feet! (Don’t judge me!)
Growing up, although we were poor, my mom always dressed us really nicely on a budget. Most people in our neighborhood were always so surprised at how nice we looked because they knew my mom was on welfare like they were; we were always impeccably clean and presentable and our hair was always elaborately braided into some unique style every two weeks. What they didn’t know is that most times my mom paid fifty cents to $1 for our tops, no more than $2-3 for our bottoms, bought our under clothes in irregular sizes by bulk (which is always cheap) and we had skippies, the fifty cent to $1 no name-brand sneakers, in every color to match our outfits. We got sturdier footwear for school and winter but most times we had skippies. My mom dressing us the way she did is probably where my knack for matching my outfit colors with the accessories come from (in addition to me working in retail at one point.)
In the summer and when it’s warm I like to look well put together and you see all of my creativity spill over. (I clean up real nicely. It’s one of my things.) Most people are surprised that I like to look nice, without it being to impress a man, but it’s what I like to do for me. I love explosive colors in everything and layer of colors to complement each other. My eyewear is always popping and I love flowers in my hair because they always enhance elegance. (right, Donnie?) Now, the winter, that’s a whole other story. Jeans or sweatpants and sneakers or boots are my preferables. (It’s too cold for nonsense!) But, I still manage to get creative for the cold.
Today, I give thanks for creativity and hope that you are thinking of all the ways to be creative with your thanks, creative with your affection toward your loved ones and creative in your gift giving as the holiday season is approaching. I’m highlighting the nonprofit organization, Kids Enjoy Exercise NOW (KEEN USA) www.keennewyork.org/ because of their creative programming for persons with disabilities. They empower them and always make them feel welcome in the world. They have arts and sports (baseball, boxing, swimming, yoga, fitness). Because the program director saw the beauty in some of the participants and noticed their flare for fashion, she arranged a modeling day, where Lilah realized discovered just how much she loves to model. Please donate or volunteer to help with their many programs.
Have a Great Day of Thanks!
[Preface December 9, 2018]
I’m so excited! Can you believe that we only have two more days to go? I’ve been doing some praying about our finale. (It’s going to be big! Brace yourself!) God told me to do some specific things and I totally want to be obedient to His leading. Although Day 30 is our last day, if it’s okay with you all, I was thinking that I would send out a separate email (maybe later in the week or next week) to give a report back of all the wonderful work we did on this journey and to do the specifics of what God told me to do. I have had some great reports from some of the organizations that were highlighted during our Days of Thanks that I want to share with all of you. (If you haven’t given yet, you need to get in on the action!) If possible, I would love to give you all a chance to write some of your testimonials or thoughts to tell us how this journey has touched you, changed you, inspired you, (or even got on your last nerve!) and possibly share it with the rest of the group. (I can leave your comments anonymous if you don’t want people to know who you are.) The point is to give your testimony because we are overcome (victorious) by the blood of the lamb and by the words of our testimony. This is also an opportunity/attempt to destroy the devil by getting rid of that shame factor that has held you in bondage for so long. Enjoy the next few days of our journey. I’ll miss you!
Day 28: Traveling
Happy Twenty Eighth Day of Thanks Everyone!
I give thanks for traveling and the memories that are forever recorded in my mind and the indelible footprints those experiences have left in my heart.
I love, love, love to travel! Traveling is actually in real close competition with my love for singing (and you already know how much I love singing) and fashion. My first whiff of traveling left me so high and wanting more; it was almost like addiction. One year, I was visiting and/or living in a new country for several weeks to months at a time. I hope to be one of those persons who can close my eyes, put a pushpin on a map, and go to wherever that place is at the drop of a few weeks’ notice. (Stop being a kill joy! It may not happen soon, but a girl can dream!)
I’m remembering the smell of salt water and feeling the hot white sand on my feet and legs, while I was drinking the water from that freshly picked just chopped coconut or licking the juice sliding down my hands and arms as I was eating that sweet, ripe, juicy mango. That is what I experienced in Veradero, Cuba, Tenerife Islands, Aruba, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, The Canary Islands and Bahamas. My dream places are always hot, island destinations (it’s that 80% percent Motherland blood running through my veins!). But, I occasionally throw a couple of cold places in the mix for cultural exchange. I also love being among and fitting in with the town’s people. Since I tend to have this familiar face and have a really bright smile, I usually fit in everywhere I go. And there is nothing like learning about a new culture, its traditions, dances, folklore, and let’s not forget good food (Ahhhhh!). Oh and to add this disclaimer before I continue, there were no ignorant, rude, (privileged) “American” tourists who swear someone should bend over backwards to cater to them and their every need everywhere they go allowed. (If you are that “American,” shame on you! And you can never come with me anywhere so don’t ask.)
I remember walking down a cobblestone street of Sevilla that led to this open space where several gypsies had settled for the night. Surrounded by a bonfire, they had a guitarist and this beautiful gypsy woman singing in the guttural, crying sound of flamenco music. There was another lady in all these cute, colorful (I’m attracted to anything colorful), what I would call “vintage” clothes who started to dance flamenco in the street. I felt the strumming of that guitar and that women’s voice in my soul so much so that I needed to get in on that action. I didn’t know how to dance Flamenco, but since I have rhythm and can shake my hips real good, I decided to fake it and make it. The dancer slowed down just enough to show me how to twirl my hands and move them in sync with the rest of my body. (Ya’ll, I worked it out!) I was learning how to dance flamenco in the streets of Andalucia from a gypsy woman who said I reminded her of someone. (I told you I have a familiar face!)
Now, I have to take you to Cuernavaca, Mexico to the Zócalo (public square) or Cancun, Mexico where you can get the best tacos that you have ever tasted in your life. They are cooked to perfection, well seasoned with the right amount of spicy sauce and all the toppings that your heart can desire. Nothing can beat it! (I have never understood how people can ever think a taco bell would be anything close to what a real taco should taste like. Ugh!) And don’t worry if your stomach can’t take spicy or you get sick; the medicine man is in the same square or the pharmacy is selling the anti-ulcer, antibiotics, and anti-parasite medicines. If you are like me, you love to see the artisan work of ceramics and traditional clothes, and there is plenty of it. Mexico, I love for their sun and moon ceramics, color clothes and accessories, the Aztec pyramids and the hand-made wind chimes.
In Morrocco, three different men said they would offer my father several goats, cows, dromedaries and farmland for my hand in marriage. (What an honor! I almost considered it, especially since I barely get that kind of treatment at home.) We travelled through the cold mountains to find the best woven wool sweaters and clothes made from sheep and goat hair. I still have my favorite, cream-colored, warm wool sweater, whose price I bargained down. I plan to pass that down to Lilah when she gets older. (They weren’t ready for my bargaining skills! But, I knew I wasn’t walking away without my sweater.) The carpets there were so exquisite too. I rode on dromedaries (one-humped camels) for transport for the first, which was so cool.
And my secret place . . . It has a field of the largest growing sunflowers on the planet that I could hide in. (In case you haven’t guessed it, sunflowers are my favorite flower. Not roses!) Walking pass that field brought me so much joy. Every time I hear India.Arie’s song “He Heals Me,” she reminds me of the love I discovered and felt in my secret place. I also remember the sun kissing my face every morning. And sometimes, I could see the sky bleeding as the sunset from a specific spot. It’s magical and has a large body of water, where I would lay all my burdens down, to never pick them up again. That memory just reminded me that I have to plan another trip there sooner than later. (No, I can’t tell you where it is because then it won’t be my secret place anymore.)
What place have you travelled to that left footprints on your heart? When are you going back? (Better yet, when are you taking me on an all expense-paid trip to go with you? I had to slip it in. I told you that I love to travel. And I promise that I’m not that “American” and will make the trip quite pleasant.)
Today, I give thanks for the ability to travel and for the wonderful cultural exchange that goes with it. I am highlighting the organization FLYTE (The Foundation for Learning and Youth Travel Education), which is a nonprofit organization that empowers youth living in underserved communities through transformative travel experiences. Please donate to them (https://www.takeflyte.org/) so the many young people in our communities have the opportunity to gain a global experience and education. For those of you who are English speakers and love to travel, you may want to check out organizations live Diverbo (www.diverbo.com) which recruits English speakers to help foreigners in Spain and Germany practice their language skills through cultural exchanges. (Most times, you only have to pay for your flight to the country and everything else is covered.) If you are willing to put in a little sweat equity on your next vacation in exchange for free meals and accommodations Workaway and HelpX connect travelers with locals around the globe looking for volunteer help. Have fun traveling!
Have a Great Day of Thanks!
Day 29: My heart (of flesh)
Happy Twenty Ninth Day of Thanks Everyone!
I am thanking God today that He was able to restore my broken heart, filled with millions of tiny pieces, and make it completely whole again. It was a very hard and long task, but because of His love for me, God never gave up on me and did exactly what he said he would do. He removed my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh. And as he pieced every tiny part back together until it was whole again, he was putting a completely new spirit in me. (Ezekial 36: 26)
I was born a natural giver. I love to give and to help people. I think that was another unique quality that God gave to me when He thought me up because I’ve always genuinely prayed that God would give me the capacity and “seed” to sew into and bless the lives of others. However, I have noticed that when you are a giver, God always blesses you abundantly. And that abundance doesn’t always come in the form of finances. It may be an abundance of blessings in a natural gifting or talent or skill set. And this abundance ALWAYS attracts the haters, who will seek to destroy you, because they are jealous or envious. So most often, givers and kindhearted people deal with ignorant, selfish people who see their giving and kindheartedness as a weakness and will always try to take advantage. (SMH!) Givers often deal with people who use them, intentionally or unintentionally. I’ve seen it happen at jobs, in churches, and in relationships. We already talked about the giver (“the friend”) in relationships on Day 22 in Story 1. You remember the protagonist who will identify the giver as “a friend” who they use for their emotional value, while dating and having sexual relations with other people, never realizing how loveable the giver really is. (To heck with that “save the best for last” mentality! Beware of it and stay far away from it. If you are in it, break the tie and run the opposite way fast!)
I have had more than enough of my share (actually, too many to count!) of people who have tried to take advantage of or use me. I have also encountered many of my own story 1 experiences, being both the protagonist (I never claimed to be perfect!) and the recipient. It’s okay, though, because every last one of them male “friends” regret how they passed over this fine, thick, intelligent, ‘da-bomb,’ six-foot, loveable woman right here. (Don’t hate ‘cause I’m all that and a bag of chips!) And they’re going to keep regretting it because they can’t come back. And when I was the protagonist of story 1, I regretted it and really hurt at the thought of knowing that I hurt someone that I really loved.
But somehow, the heart break of a lovership, although it hurts, has never broken me like that of friendships gone wrong by betrayal, usually due to a deep-rooted jealousy or envy of which I was completely unaware. I had an experience with a “friend” like that and it almost catastrophically destroy my entire life.
When I arrived to medical school in Cuba, I was so excited because I was going to have one of my really good friends, Mirtha, who I had known since fourth grade, in school with me. This friend had spent holidays with my family, hung out with me and my cousins for our girls’ night outs, stayed in my home when her mom kicked her out the house, slept in my bed and even wore my clothes. (We were that close!) She was actually the one who called me and told me when the scholarship opened for my medical school, because she knew I wanted to study medicine, internationally, especially in a Spanish-speaking country.
I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when Mirtha quickly and completely turned on me after arriving to Cuba. She had a new set of friends, which under normal circumstances would be completely cool, but these new friends negatively influenced her behavior. One of Mirtha’s new friends Sophia, (the ring leader), on her first encounter with me on my first day in Cuba called me a “b—-ch” for no reason. I had to excuse her and let her know that I didn’t tolerate anyone calling me outside of my name. When I asked Mirtha, “what’s the matter with her your friend?” She said, “oh, she’s like that.” I didn’t know what was wrong with Sophia but I knew that we needed to stay away from each other because there was something that was not right with her. Mirtha and her new friends would provoke unnecessary tensions. They stole a young lady’s (Monique) pair of shoes when I was not in our dorm and told her that I took them. Although it made no possible sense for me to steal Monique’s shoes (the young lady’s shoes were a size 4 ½ children’s size and I wear a size 10 in woman’s shoes), they drilled in her mind that I took her shoes until it provoked a physical altercation between me and Monique and several of her friends who “thought” they were going to jump me. (Never let my niceness or education ever convince you that I can’t and won’t whip some a—to defend myself! Nobody is ever going to “jump” me without me putting up a good fight to defend myself! And they ALL learned that lesson that day!) All of a sudden, Monique’s shoes suddenly appeared when Monique and I were both in class and the other girls were not.
After the altercation, Mirtha and her friends stopped going to class and held our dorm hostage to psychological warfare for several months. They stopped going to class and would play hardcore violent gangsta rap all day and night until about 4 am in the morning, knowing that those of us who went to class had to get up at 5 am. Then, Mirtha and her friends would steal my clothes and either throw them out of the window or put them in a toilet that was filled with urine and feces. (yes, you read that right.) People would ask me what I had done to Mirtha because they said if they mentioned my name around her, she would go completely mad and lose it, screaming at the top of her lungs. She once told someone that I cut all her hair off because I was completely jealous of her. She fabricated stories, telling people all kinds of ludicrous and fictitious things I had “done” to her, which I never did. As angry as I was, I felt sorry for Mirtha because it became evident that she had given up on herself and couldn’t hack medical school. I became her “scape goat” because she needed an excuse and someone else to blame.
During that time, God told me to stay in intense prayer and fasting and showed me that Sophia and Mirtha were using Santeria to hex me. Every time they would try a new level of their activity and it did nothing to me, they would intensify it against me. After their fourth or fifth attempt, I let them know that nothing they were doing would ever work because I was covered by the God I serve. I also told them that they should be careful because I was praying that all of their activity would get sent right back from where it came.
Mirtha made a nasty remark and for the first time I saw her blood-shot eyes and it was pure hate looking back at me. She was intent on destroying me. Seeing the hate in her eyes shook me. I was so distraught. I didn’t understand how someone who called herself my friend since the fourth grade and who broke bread with me on so many occasions could look at me with such hate in their eyes. I shared everything I had with her! She was a Judas—my Judas. She really wanted me dead and had used all manner of Santeria trying to make it happen. It broke my heart completely. In that moment, I knew what Jesus felt. I’m sure He felt the same way when He received that kiss. Complete brokenness and heartache.
No matter how bad things got, my loyalty to Mirtha for all those years kicked in and I told myself that I would never touch her and walk away because “nah, love wouldn’t disrespect!” But my brokenness and heartache, at knowing she was trying to kill me, unleashed anger in my core that stayed bottled up for only a little while longer. One day, I was in the bathroom washing my face when she walked into it. I didn’t have my glasses on so I couldn’t really see her. (I rock glasses not just for fashion but because I really can’t see! -4.50 in both eyes.) She starts screaming at the top of her lungs saying, “You f—ing b-tch! When you eat and sleep, you dream about my p-ssy! I made you! You’re going to be a doctor because of me, you stupid b—ch!” She went on like this for about five minutes and I stayed there continuing to wash my face as if nothing was happening. I found my glasses on the sink and put them on my face and started to stare at her. She continued to repeat some of the phrases she previously said between her even more vulgar ones. Really calmly I said, “you’re saying a lot but you’re not doing anything. I’m sure you wish I was thinking about you when I eat and dream but I don’t. I’m also sure you wish you did make me, but you didn’t. God and all the years of work I put in is why I’m going to be a doctor. I’m sure you would love to take the credit, but you had nothing to do with it. You should stop wanting to take credit for someone else’s work and do your own.”
What I said must have really struck a nerve because she started screaming her vulgarities and expletives even louder and was now blocking the doorway of the bathroom so that I couldn’t get out without touching or passing her. We were surrounded by a crowd of people who were trying to get her to calm down. She started moving closer and put her hands up, as if to point with her forefinger, at my face, as she was screaming. Her circus act stirred the rage in me to a level of uncontrollability; I had to literally pray in my mind, asking God to calm me down, because I was ready to unleash a wrath that neither of us would come back from. The whole year’s worth of anger and retaliation that I kept bottled inside started to erupt. I remembered all of the accusations and lies she told on me, the stealing of Monique’s shoes which provoked the first fight, the many nights for months I lost sleep, my clothes being thrown in the toilet, and so many other things that I haven’t even mentioned and now I was standing there taking blow by blow of her verbal abuse. I took my feet and I drew a line in front of me and I said in a really calm voice, warning her. “I’m done! I told myself that I wasn’t going to touch you because I’ve known you for so long. But, I’m done. If you come pass this line, you won’t be breathing another breath when I’m finished.” (During that time, if you ever got me to a place where I was really angry but I manage to stay calm and talk in a calm voice, you were treading in dangerous territory and in serious trouble! Thank God for deliverance from rage!) I knew that every word that I had spoken in that moment was true and that the minute I touched her, I wasn’t going to let her go until she was lifeless. I looked at the crowd of her so called friends and said, “if she’s really your friend, you should come get her now because I meant every word I said.” (I believe in warning people when they are in danger.) One of the young ladies in the crowd, Nadege, who later said that she saw the rage take over me and the look of violence in my eyes, started yelling at Mirtha and begging her not to move closer to me. Mirtha screamed expletives for another two minutes or so. I looked at Mirtha and said, “you plan on moving closer? because I’m ready for you!” In all her screaming, she stayed very still and never dared to move closer. Nadege finally grabbed her and escorted her from the door of the bathroom to her room. (I can’t thank God enough for Nadege being there at that moment because she really saved me from myself and a lifetime in jail for murder. She really did. There was a moment where I only saw red and my body was intensely hot with rage and I was ready to commit murder.)
Mirtha finally left school or got kicked out. (I was never interested in learning about any of the details.) But, the affects of her betrayal were longer lasting. The anger and rage and hate that I felt in my heart towards her and Sophia (who was at that point dead) invaded my heart and spread like a wildfire until it was all consuming; it caused my heart to go completely numb, turn cold and change into a stone for an entire year. There was nothing and no one getting in and nothing was getting out. My ability to trust anyone else had completely diminished. Since Judas infiltrated the ranks of friendship, I examined all my friendships to determine if the people were exactly who they said they were. Since my core group of trustworthy friends was at home, I remained isolated in that state for almost a year.
I can’t even begin to describe how damaging the spirits of hate and anger were to me. Those spirits replayed the level of betrayal I had undergone to fuel their power and almost destroyed my heart’s capacity to do or feel anything. I couldn’t and didn’t want to read my Bible any more. I could barely pray. There was this strong dark cloud that hung over me and was little by little sucking all the life from me. I was so crushed by Mirtha’s betrayal and actually seeing the hate in her eyes toward me. I still couldn’t understand how and why she could/would do that to me when I had been like family to her for all those years.
I later found out that her mom had spent years comparing her to me and telling her that she should have been more like me. All those years there was a brew of jealousy, hatred, and anger due to rejection that had been stirring, which came to a head in medical school, because she had once again been forced to live out and up to my dream and not her own. I couldn’t believe that the jealousy and envy toward me for all those years provoked Mirtha to not only hate me but attempt inflicting dangerous harm upon me.
Although I put on a façade that everything was okay, on the inside I was damaged. A year later, my friend Jimmy said that he was praying for me and could sense that something was terribly wrong. He invited me to his church and after nagging me repeatedly I agreed to go with him. I felt the power and anointing of God so strongly in that church the minute I stepped into the door; that the dark cloud hanging over me broke. The pastor was ministering and it was like every word he said was piercing into my heart; I began to weep uncontrollably. When the pastor prayed for me, he repeated the words of Ezekial 36:26 (I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh) and said “you have to forgive and release that hurt” so that your heart can be set free. Since I could sense that God had already started doing the work of restoration on my heart (the moment I walked in that church door) and I was feeling freer than I had in that past year, I asked God to help me forgive Mirtha and Sophia. I had to ask for that help to forgive every day for years before ALL of the tiny pieces of my heart were fully restored.
I never allow or will allow that level of hate and rage to steal my heart again. I’ve learned to forgive, which does not mean that I forget or that I and my offender will go back to how things used to be between us. Forgiveness means that I release the offender from my judgment and vengeance and allow God to handle them. Sometimes forgiveness is instantaneous. But, sometimes it’s progressive and a daily process with which I have to walk out and ask God to help me until I can fully release the offender and the situation.
Now my heart has the capacity to fully love and still love, even when people hurt me. (Forgiveness doesn’t take as long to do anymore! Even asking for forgiveness when I commit the offense doesn’t take as long to do because I want my heart to be free from all the excess junk.) My heart is malleable; it’s fleshy and because I cover it consistently under the care, leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit, it does a lot less of deceiving me and I can discern to do the right thing.
I thank God for my heart and that he trusted me enough to give it back to me brand new. Now it’s open and ready to always give and receive love, the way it should be.
Take some time to examine your heart. Is your heart a heart of flesh? Or has it become stone because of all the devastating blows of hurts, disappointments, and heartaches that have invaded it. Do you want it to be free? If so, then you know what you have to do. Forgive and release it. Go back to Day 19 of our journey of Thanks and complete the prayers of release.
Today, I also want to share with you a song that beyond blessed me. It’s called “Necessary.” I had no idea at the time why I had to live with the aftermath of that betrayal. It didn’t seem fair nor did it feel good going through any of that situation. Do I wish that I had never gone through it? Of course! But, would I know how to love as deep and how to open my heart the way I do, if I had not experienced how hate almost destroyed it? Would I know or understand the extent of God’s love and how He fought through the darkness to snatch my heart back? Probably not. That situation made me run to the mercy seat of God and showed me just how much of a wretched person I was in need of a Savior, to save me from myself. (I was a murderer in my heart and mind and could have easily carried out the act, since “as a person thinks, so is he!”) The experience and the lessons were necessary! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3xXxXu1Kfc&index=26&list=RDT-SQFJX3Pk0
Today, I am going to highlight the organization, Iraq Veterans Against the War, (http://www.ivaw.org/). We know that the people who pay the greatest price of war are the everyday people (civilians) of occupied nations. Please donate to them for their great work and continue to protest U.S military intervention which often exacerbates and further militarizes conflict overseas.
Have a Great Day of Thanks!