Choose Freedom Over Comfort

Photo credit: Emelda De Coteau
Photo credit: Emelda De Coteau

God has a way of extricating noise from our lives, past priorities become irrelevant; clarity, I believe, is the root of freedom. Without it distractions imprison us and liberation becomes an illusion, a mirage in the dizzying mundaness of life.

Years ago, I discovered Pamela Sneed, a talented poet and actor whose arresting book title, Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery?, peaks out from my mahogany stained bookcase, an ever present challenge.

Far too many of us convince ourselves these chains are necessary, the standard rite of passage into adulthood. Everyone treks to jobs they hate, right? We live for the weekends, and grudgingly endure the weeks. I did it for years.

Others were far more deserving than me of happiness, I told myself; they were smarter, prettier, bolder… I dreamed big, but took small actions. Afraid of freedom, yet desperate to soar.

Then my choice presented itself one afternoon. I could stand in the smallness of convention, holding fast to others opinions, their direction for me, or I could embrace new possibilities, in spite of fear and those insistent voices of defeat and doubt. I started a new journey in that moment.

Each day God teaches me this is a journey of surrender. It’s an arduous concept to wrestle with because on the surface it sounds like giving up, but in actuality its the opposite. Peace emerges in this quiet place, there is no room for superficial markers of self, only authenticity.

Several weeks ago I came across a C.S. Lewis quote, an ever-present reminder that we must remain wiling to abandon ourselves, or who we think we are in order to live fully, submitting to  communion with God.

Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.

Reexamining our lives is messy, and at times confusing, but without this courageous action, we are sleep walking, living a life unworthy of our potential.

Five Instagram Pages That Will Inspire You!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

I came to the Instagram game a little late, but now it’s my favorite social media platform. People actually read the posts (at least the kinds of accounts I follow), and the interactions here feel authentic and genuine, no digital overload, i.e. Twitter.

Nope, Instagram or IG as we like to say (insert smile here), just flows without effort.  I believe the energy we project out into the world returns to us.  It’s one of the reasons I am so drawn to IG accounts with empowering messages. I mean how many selfies can one girl look at over and over again?  Self absorption gets old.

So every month, I’ll highlight five inspirational IG pages. Exploring the digital space is one of my past times.  It’s just like the real world in a way – lots of beauty waiting to be unearthed.

Oh, do let me know who inspires you, too, by commenting below.

@ifeelprettyinc. – Are you about your business – entrepreneur / creator / professional? You’ll definitely want to start following @ifeelprettyinc., a digital marketing and branding co. dedicated to helping the entrepreneur shine.

They bring it, everyday day. Get your morning shot of inspiration and encouragement, along with a mix of no-nonsense advice all designed to help you live more fully and awake. What more can we ask for?

@rufflesribbonsnbows – Ok, y’all, full disclosure, Chel, the owner of Ruffles Ribbons N’ Bows Boutique  is one of my best friends. I promise, I’m not biased (ok, maybe a little).

Seriously though, her page bursts with hope, beauty and girlish enthusiasm. She is a creator, and hand makes tutus and hair accessories for kiddos and grown ups.  Style and substance? Check! Awesome Mompreneur? Check!

@lifefuel365 – These days it feels like everyone wants to tout expertise, especially in the area of empowerment, but in actuality, not many are authenticis a certified

Jimmy Jean is a personal coach, motivator and visionary who drops profound mental gems (“Old ways don’t create new seasons”), and then leans back so you can absorb it all. What he says matters and challenges your growth.
@wellreadblackgirl – In my pre-kid life, I read lots and lots of books. I am still an avid reader, but these days, being selective is the name of the game.

Enter Well-Read Black Girl, which highlights works by women of color. I either discover something new or am reminded of a favorite book I want to re-read. Great books are oxygen for the soul!

@life_love_and_lavender _blog – Mrs. Fiola writes a beautiful and honest blog about life, love and marriage. We hear lots about relationships in our culture, but not so much about the day-to-day journey. Her IG posts share the story with grace and authenticity.

Here you will find a vibrant digital gallery of personal photos, flowers, and simple yet poignant quotes from the blog such as: “Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.”

 

Cover art, Mandisa single, "Overcomer"
Cover art, Mandisa single, “Overcomer”

… got so much on your mind, nothing’s really going right, looking for a ray hope. Whatever it is you may be going through, I know he’s not going to let it get the best of you. You’re an overcomer. Stay in the fight til’ the final round…”

As I look in the rear view mirror our daughter Naima’s little head bobs back and forth as Christian artist Mandisa‘s voice reassures us God is in control, not our circumstances. Her innocent joy is contagious, I smile, but not long after my tears begin to flow. Raising my arms, in this moment, it’s as if the weight of these last few years – the disappointments and heartaches – are gradually lifting.

“Overcomer” is the kind of song which illuminates those dark places we all confront. Little by little, I am beginning to understand God’s love for us is rooted in pragmatic everyday lessons – the set backs, some monumental others seemingly small and innocuous – each designed to shape us into overcomers.

We often learn through discomfort, vulnerability, and dare I say those periods of loneliness and stark quiet when it’s just us and God. These last few months have taught me that, perhaps more than any other season in my life. Sometimes we must rest in solitude.

None of this happens quickly, you and I take daily steps towards healing as the video illustrates quite beautifully. We watch each person’s path and gradual healing, including the celebrated Robin of the Today Show’s bout with cancer and former congresswoman Gifford’s return after being nearly killed by a lone shooter.

The longer I live, the more I understand overcoming is both process and journey, a continuum.  Those of us who are “prisoners of hope,” as the book of Zachari says, are stubbornly courageous; we are ever rising above the obstacles in the natural world and connecting to spirit. Every day, our tiny steps, often the ones no one witnesses, lead us along a path which refutes despair or practicality and instead offers the uncertainty of a less stable, but far more fulfilling blind faith. I’ll embrace that road any day, friends.