To Be Wholly Hot and Holy

1:28 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

Every Sunday/Monday for the last five months, I have posted at least twice - once for my Verse of the Week entry and then a longer entry on the goings on in my life.

This past Monday, I didn't post.

I had left church Sunday morning with the burn to write. I knew what I would write about because I got it RIGHT from the sermon.

Church was on FIRE last Sunday, and it helped to get me out of the reverie I had been feeling over the last few days because of personal issues that occurred back home and rocked my mental foundation. Thanks to church, I was seeing positively again and felt I could overcome my circumstances.

Well, we all know that darkness loves to dwell just behind the light of goodness, and as soon as I arrived home, the darkness enveloped me whole. The issues I had moved to the back of my mind came back with a swiftness that literally took my breath away and brought with it tears, anger, and angst.

In a split second, I didn't care about anything. I didn't care about school. I didn't care about anything I had to do. I just didn't care. I just wanted to be alone to lick wounds.

But of course, one never really gets that chance. We don't get the opportunity to press pause on life and get our minds, hearts, and spirits righted. No, we have to push forward while in the midst of the pain and hope that somehow, some way, we get over the pain.

It didn't help that I had a week in which I would have to do something that always causes me angst (talk extensively in front of others) and to spend time with others in different venues.

When I'm hurting. When I'm angry. When I'm tired, I need to be ALONE. I need time to just do nothing, to mend, to pray, to ask God to help me over the hump. I knew this would be a week in which doing these things would be hard.

As I look back over the week, I have to admit that I'm proud of myself. I didn't think I would be able to lead discussion in class. I didn't think I would be able to go to other classes and participate like I normally do. I didn't think I would get through my midterm. I didn't think I would get through my the social outings lined up.

But I did.

Despite the fact that my heart was hurting and nothing seemed to keep me in a happy frame of mind for more than a few moments at a time, I made it through.

One reason is it's part of my nature. I live by the creed of "keep on, keeping on." I always say, "I didn't have a choice." Most of the time, I believe this. It's part of my nature to do, to accomplish despite the obstacles. I don't know what the other choice looks like. I've never gone that route.

Another reason, a powerful reason, why I made it through was God and the sermon my pastor preached last Sunday.

So many times, in little ways, I lose my faith. I lose my connection with God. Something hits me so suddenly that I'm left on the floor, tattered and bruised, with no direction.

In this state, I am so weak with emotion that the thought of opening my mouth and asking God for help seems like too much. The thought of even using my mind to telepathically call to him is too great.

And over this week since church, I kept thinking about what the pastor talked about - how to stay wholly hot and holy for God.

There used to be a time when I would condemn myself for not talking to God or for wanting to be alone or for just wanting to pause the world and forget it.

I don't anymore because I know I'm not perfect. I know that this is a journey and we all have to walk it, experience it in our own way.

But no matter how long I pause and get myself girded again, I still have to get back to being wholly hot and holy for God.

So, how do we do that?

My pastor brought up three things.

1- Do not cower to anyone who opposes Christ, Revelation 2:13
My thought: In our journey to be Christlike, we are going to face opposition. The deeper you grow in your faith, the deeper the opposition grow for you. No matter what you face, no matter what befalls you, it's important to come back to your beliefs, your faith and not let anyone or anything push you off your path indefinitely.

2- You must not compromise who you are in Christ, Revelation 2: 14-15a
My thought: This can be a hard one sometimes. Because of peer pressure or because you're the type of person who hates confrontation and wants to see everyone happy, you might compromise your beliefs in order to appease others. WRONG THING TO DO. In the end, it's not what those people think they sets your judgment; it's what God thinks. It's hard to stay in faith when we live in a world that seems so corrupted, so off-kilter. But we have to. It's part of the job description of being a Christ follower.

3- You must not close your ears to the commands of Christ, Revelation 2:16-17
My though: When we are open, fully, to live and be of the faith, we can hear the Lord. And he has a lot to say. He can give you the hugs you need in times of despair, and he can give you a stern talking-to to make you realize that you've stumbled off your path. We need to be open to not only receive the praises, but also to receive the admonishments of the Lord. It's the only way we can grow.


As I stumbled through the week, I found myself clinging to this points and trying to right myself.

When a close friend called me with disturbing news, news that left me beyond angry, my initial reaction was to rail against the world and to shut down, but I found myself praying to God, asking for guidance, and talking to my friend about how we can right the wrong that befell her and her family.

A few hours before I was set to lead discussion in class Tuesday, I found myself near tears. I was panic-stricken over having to lead discussion, especially when my emotions were so high and on alert. I had girlfriend give me words of encouragement, telling me God had this because he knew I was too overwrought to do it on my own. And I chose to believe them because I knew I wasn't "right" enough to believe my crazy thoughts. I felt God breaking in, trying to tell me to ignore the negative whisperings in my ear - those whisperings of the devil. The moment my girlfriend called me, the pain of her news had ripped the covering off stress and anxiety from the last few months, and every negative lash I had chained down began to infect my mind. Kept thinking I was a failure. That I couldn't make it. Survive. God was telling me to ignore them. He was telling me to listen to him, and initially, I didn't want to. But because the time drew near for the class discussion and because I was too exhausted to argue, I told him, "I know what you believe about me, and I choose to believe you." And he guided me in that discussion.

And he guided me throughout the week, keeping me from letting my opposition win. Keeping me from compromising what I know to be true about me and the God in me. Keeping me from keeping my ears closed to him and his words for my life.

In keeping my heart, my mind, my body, my spirit wholly hot and holy for God, clutter is blown from my path, naysayers mouths are sewn shut, my ears are opened, and God will provide me with the strength and wisdom to keep on, keeping on.

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Verse of the Week

1:12 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell[a] in the house of the LORD. Forever. (Psalm 23:4-6, NKJV)



I read this, and I smile. I read this, and I feel happy. I read this, and truly, I fear no evil.

And there are no words I could use to describe this verse and its impact on me. However, there is a song - "The Lord Is My Shepherd" - that has all of the emotions and description that I need.





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Being OK

2:49 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

It's hard to put into words what I feel these days. It's ALL and NOTHING. At once. Mixed furiously together. Leaving me breathless and full of wonder.

And leaving me wondering - what's next?

Every day presents itself with new challenges, new hills to climb, foes to slay, people to befriend, questions to answers, opportunities to jump at...and those to say "No" to.

This Monday, I'm at a phase I don't often get to - one of feeling OK.

And this feeling of OK presents itself with both a positive and a negative reaction from me.

Let me explain.


Positive Reaction
Being OK tells me that I'm starting to get "it." What is IT?

ME.

Being alone for the first time in almost seven years has given me the opportunity to see what I like and don't like. Has allowed me to buy for self and not for others. Has made me think about how to treat myself for a job well done. Has pushed me to think about my relationship with my boyfriend and where I want it to go next.

What is IT?

SCHOOL.

I'm still bumbling a bit, but I'm seeing connections with everything I'm doing, and I know at some point those connections will develop themselves in ways that I'll be able to articulate. I'm realizing just how important academia is to my life. It always has been, but over the last few years, I felt it wane, and I think it's because I wasn't challenging myself, challenging my mind. I'm doing that in spades now.

What is IT?

LIFE.

One thing I've always known about myself is I'm a giver. In the past, I've done this to the detriment of self, but I'm learning how to do it effectively, how to know in my gut when it's time to give, when it's time to help another help him or herself, what it's time to step back and let God take the wheel of a situation. I'm learning that it's OK to fall and not immediately jump back up. I'm learning that's it's OK to let someone else fall and not immediately jump up to fix the problem. That was me. That is still me to an extent. The Fixer. The chick in the cape willing to give of everything to see someone happy - and sometimes doing that stunted another's growth. Sometimes, we have to fall so we know what not to do and learn how to do things correctly. I shortchange myself as a giver and others when I don't allow us to have those life lessons.

The ITs in my life are keeping me happy. Every day, I'm learning something new that makes me feel like I'm growing into who I want to become. And that's, actually, more than OK.


Negative Reaction
Because I'm not used to being OK, I oftentimes have very painful psychological issues with trying to deal with the OKness. I'm so used to things falling apart or to the next painful thing showing up and dismantling my universe that even in the midst of being OK I'm looking left and right and upward, wondering where the attack will come.

I know some of you can relate. You find yourself playing down the blessings in your life because you think
1) I don't want people to think I'm boasting
2) I don't want to offend those who might not be feeling good these days
3) I don't want to make the bad stuff come quicker by talking about the good things

So what happens? You fall into this quagmire in which every time your heart starts to feel light or a smile starts to infiltrate your face, you drop a negative thought to disintegrate it.

Needless to say, this leaves me mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually exhausted...almost to the point I think I need to invoke another personality just to get me through the daily life while my central self gets through this conundrum.


How to Deal?
I've worked hard, for years, to strip myself of this tendency. I used to lie to myself and say it was part of me being humble, but thinking yourself "less" has nothing to do with humility. People would pay me compliments, and I would shoot them down with things like, "It's nothing" or "I'm sure there's someone better." All to the defeat of self. I am intelligent. I am creative. I am giving. I am strong-minded. I'm a lot of other things, too, and to say I'm not depreciates me...and depreciates God who has instilled these things within me to blossom at my will. Does this mean I need to go around spouting my good fortune or virtues? No, but my actions, my words, and my reactions to others' thoughts about me should illustrate the positives that flow through me.

I talk to God about it a lot. I, often, vocally acknowledge how good he's been to me and how blessed I am that he gives me what I need even when I don't know I need it. This is vital for me. I'm a person that's "of the mind." What I say often pales in comparison to the thoughts I have within me, that I keep in because of fear. God is about the only being I feel comfortable in saying everything to. Even when I'm over-the-moon happy I tend to now show it so that others can see it. But I show it to God (even though he already knows) and that gives me the confidence to say it, show it to others - their reactions be damned.

Though I haven't use this word in this entry, handling all of this is about having FAITH.

I have to have faith in myself, in my decisions, in my walk, in my God so that I can make it through the growth spurts I'm experiencing in this new phase of my life.

There are going to be pains ~ isn't there always in growing?

But as long as I keep getting up and heading toward the finishing lines in my life, I'll be OK.

0 comments:

Verse of the Week

2:11 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

"Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation." (Psalm 91:14-16, KJV)


You want to feel the presence of the Lord. Read fully Psalm 91. I can't read through the whole passage without crying, without feeling abundantly blessed at just how good the Lord is to me...because I set my love upon him.

Psalm 91 reads like a love letter, a love letter in which the one who holds our heart knows how much we love him and in response showers us with the truth of just what he will do FOR us because of our love. Not only will he loves us, but he sends angels to protect us as well. And in the passage above, we even learn that upon helping us through troubles and delivering us victoriously, he will honor us.

In my whole life, there has never been one human to show a taste of that kind of love and devotion, and because we love God, he gives us a full banquet of his love.

Nothing better than that.

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Share Your Story ~ Someone's Reading

12:30 AM Shonell Bacon 2 Comments

Dedicated to my spiritual daughter, Ceria


Friday night, I hooked up with a "fellow" fellow to see author Jeanette Walls. Walls is the author of the NYT bestselling memoir, The Glass Castle, which details her life growing up in extreme poverty and the unimaginable obstacles she faced.

To say Walls is a character is an understatement. She was brutally honest and funny and sweet and vulnerable as she talked about her life, and we in the audience were very receptive to her story; every time I nodded my head or offered a quiet "Mm mm mm," at least twenty people were in agreement with me.

One thing Walls talked about was the power of storytelling and how important it is for us to reveal our truths. These truths do not have to be in a NYT bestselling memoir, mind you. They can be revealed to yourself as admission. They can be revealed to another as an initiation of comfort.

As she talked about this "revealing of truth," tears slipped down my cheeks. I thought about from which I came, and the painful stories of my past and how now I could look back at them and talk about them in the same way Walls talked about hers. Not removed, per se. But as a person who had overcome and who could examine things close-up and not fall apart at having done so.

In my writing, I can always tell when I have "moved past" an issue because my characters stop having the same inflictions as I do. A lot of my earlier writings were embedded with the things I lost, things I suffered in my life. Through the journey of my writing, I've moved from the things lost to the anticipation of great things to receive.

In a sense, I counseled myself through my writing - examining what hurt, exploring why it hurt, suggesting ways to fix the hurt and move past it.

But my writing has never been just for me. It's always been my goal to educate, entertain, move readers one word at a time.

This is another facet Walls spoke of, the overwhelming response to her story from people of all walks of life. It moved her to see a kid, much like she had been, read her book and think that she could have a better life. It moved her to see the "change" that occurred in readers when they connected her story with their lives.

And it's no coincidence that at a time when I had been worrying about my creativity, I received a gift that let me know my creativity was alive and thriving...even if it was creativity from years gone by.

My spiritual daughter came to me the other night on IM. All she could write was "Wow. Read your book. Wow. Can't stop crying." I had NO idea what book she had read. The ones out were not really tear-jerker stories. She told me that she went to her school library, on a mission to find other books I might have written. There, she found my master's thesis, the novel The Greyhound Chronicles. This is a novel I wrote back in 2003-2004 to receive my MFA in creative writing. This is a novel that I've touched a few times since and have always wanted to go back to, revise again, and resubmit to places. This is also a novel that has a lot of autobiographical experiences in it. A lot of the pain I had yet to overcome are within the pages.

When I read the title - The Greyhound Chronicles - my heart flipped. Memories came rushing back to me. Not making me sad or upset or angry. Just making me remember.

I asked my daughter why she was so moved, what had her so emotional. She told me she saw herself in my story. She saw what I went through and she hurt for me and hurt for herself for having gone through similar things. But ultimately, she felt joy because she saw that the character had managed, more or less, to overcome big issues in her life, and that gave my daughter hope, strength to know she could overcome her obstacles, too.

Needless to say, I was moved. A story I wrote nearly six years ago still had the ability to touch and move someone, especially someone as special as my daughter.

It made me realize, once again, how writing is a part of me. It will never leave. It will always seek to be released because 1) every story I write, in some way, chronicles those things I'm passionate about, 2) releasing these stories releases a lot of angst from me, making me able to breathe and see beyond the hurts, and 3) my words have the ability to matter to others.

And because of this, I am mindful of what I write and how I write. I have stories to tell. For my emotional release and growth. And hopefully, for the emotional release and growth of others.

2 comments:

Verse of the Week

12:29 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

"Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:19-20, NKJ)


My first full day in Lubbock, a girlfriend and I went onto TTU campus and took pictures. In the distance, we saw a white guy approaching us. He slowed, smiled in our direction, waved, and kept walking by. We waved back.

I saw the guy stop and tilt his head as if he were thinking about something.

He turned, walked toward us, and said, "God told me I had to come back and talk to you two. He has great things in store for you both."

My girlfriend and I stared at one another, smiled, and nodded. We expected this to happen. The entire drive to Lubbock and the night before we talked about my purpose for being here: the purpose beyond attending TTU. God had brought me here. There was spiritual work to be done in me here. I didn't know how I would connect with someone in order to begin my work, but both my friend and I knew it would come.

And it did in the form of this guy.

We talked for a short while, and he asked me to visit his church. Told me it was on fire, and they were ready to do the Lord's work. He wrote down information for me, all the while laughing because he was so happy and moved to have met us.

Before we parted, we held hands and asked the guy to pray - for my friend's safe journey home, and for all of us to do the will of God. For at least five minutes, he prayed, with my friend and I adding as the mood struck us.

Eventually, though it seemed like none of us wanted to part, we did. My girlfriend and I walked back to her car, slowly. She was laughing and doing her Holy Ghost dancing to the car. I was smiling and full of truth. I had known God wanted me to be here because he saw to it that I got here. But this moment cemented it for me, removing all doubt. On the drive to my apartment and for awhile after we arrived, we remained silent, both of us deep in thought.

That moment on campus, with our hands and hearts and minds and spirits connected, God was in the midst of us. He collectively brought us together to worship him, but individually, he whispered knowledge, direction to each of us.

There are many moments in my life that I recall fondly for having done something significant in me.

This moment outranks all but one, my being baptized.

This moment showed me the power of God in my life and in others' lives. It showed me that when I'm surrounded by like-minded, God-minded people - people who truly want to help, grow, and connect - my life is made that much better.

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