Shattered Perceptions

I’ve been a Christian since I was 19. I wasn’t always the greatest Christian, but I’m getting better by the grace of God and His grace alone. I mean, yes, the Holy Spirit is an aide in this process, but when I pray, I pray to God to help with being obedient. And then sometimes I still do what I want. But like I said, I’m getting better one moment at a time…jez-timms-207948-unsplash

There have been three times in my life that my perception on Christianity has been shattered. The first time I was around 20 or 21 when I left the traditionally black church I grew up in and started going to a nondenominational church. It was more than a culture shock, it was a faith shock! The church I grew up in had all kinds of rules and traditions that later on in life I realized either had nothing to do with how Jesus did things or stemmed from slavery. I mean the sermons were doctrinally sound, but everything else made church a drag and I didn’t like going. Not only that, I watched how people who made a big deal about being in church on Sundays lived their lives during the week. Now, I’m not perfect, but one thing that has always irritated me is a person telling me what I should be doing while they are doing the exact opposite. I grew up in a church that always talked about what you shouldn’t be doing if you’re a Christian. Crazy enough, when I started going to this nondenominational church, everything I was told I shouldn’t do, I saw these Christians doing. Pastors had tattoos and were preaching with an ESV Bible and had their sermon notes on iPads and MacBooks. Pastors aren’t supposed to be able to afford those things. I made friends with people who drank beer and ate pizza before getting into deep discussions about Jesus. The foyer has a kiosk where you could get coffee, water, soda, snacks, and the sanctuary had stadium seating with cup holders. People who didn’t even know me would greet me and genuinely ask if I needed prayer for anything. Granted, this was new to me and a bit off putting, but I quickly got used to it. For the first time in my life, I was able to use the word authentic in the same sentence as Christian faith. I saw an authentic faith lived out by people who weren’t afraid to share their story and were even less afraid to share the love of Christ. This church introduced me to grace and helped me get over legalism. This church made me excited about Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. I felt like I was in a community where I could be myself and thrive. And I did!

shelby-miller-640804-unsplashMy second shattered perception came when I started dating my husband. Let’s just say I was a little mad at God on this one in the beginning because what I told Him I wanted in my husband and who he brought me were polar opposites. I wanted a God-fearing man who would lead the family in Bible studies and prayers and would attend church every Sunday. What I got instead was a man who said, “I’m an Atheist.” Big red flags, must push him away. Now, seeing as how he’s my husband, I failed at getting rid of him. Once people realized I was a Christian dating a non-Christian people started putting their biblical two cents in. They said God wouldn’t have something like this for me or they just couldn’t understand or live their life like that. Well, to start, people are really good at putting God in a box, myself included. We’re also good at assuming everything we go through is solely about us. But a few things have happened since my relationship with my husband began. I got a personal taste of how Christians behave that put a bad taste in my husband’s mouth and left him with some deep seeded issues to work through. Issues he’s had for more than half his life. I got a reality check from him of how I came across as a Christian and his words broke my heart because where I thought I was doing a bang up job of representing Jesus to the world, I was failing miserably. Only, he was willing to call me out where other people kept encouraging me. And lastly, the man who once said, “I’m an Atheist,” is no longer in that realm of thinking. No, he’s still not a Christian, but he’s asking questions, he’s open to having conversations, and he’s not hesitant about hanging around other Christians. There is a night and day difference in his thought process about a lot of things. And that has nothing to do with me. After almost ruining the relationship a number of times, I just put everything in God’s hands, like I should have done from the very start. My husband has never made a big deal about me blessing our food before we eat and when I kneel beside our daughter’s bed to say bedtime prayers, he’s right there next to me. I don’t know what God has in store for my marriage, but I like where it’s going because we have both grown. I’m way more aware of how I come across as a Christian. And my husband is realizing not all Christians are terrible. And an even bigger lesson is the opinion of man will never and can never trump the will of God.

My third shattered perception has come from a Christian I’ve never met, but I’ve read his books. His name is Bob Goff. He’s all about whimsy and love. And I like that. He just talks about how we’re to love like Jesus loved. He strips it down to the bare minimum of what Christians are supposed to do and that’s love like Jesus. And I like that he doesn’t sugar coat it either. Let’s face it: people are difficult, mean, rude, crazy, and some make you just want to punch them in the face. But Jesus wouldn’t do that. Jesus would embrace them. Jesus would share a meal with them. Jesus would be with them. I don’t do things like that. If you annoy me, I’m keeping you at a distance. If you’re different from me, I’m keeping you at a distance. Basically, the more I read Bob Goff’s books, the more I get the message, “Hey Krystal, you’re doing this Jesus thing all wrong. You’re called to love the person where they are and for who they are. Let God take care of the rest.” I want to be a more whimsical Christian. Well, just a more whimsical person in general. I want to be more loving like Jesus. I want to be less structured with my faith and let things flow naturally. If I don’t go to church, then I missed that Sunday. It doesn’t make me any more or less of a Christian and Jesus doesn’t love me any more or less. Actually, He can’t love me less. He literally died for my sins, so if that isn’t the ultimate declaration of love, I don’t know what is. What I do know is, once again, a pivotal change is taking place in my life and I look forward to where it’s going to take me because it’s going to force to be more dependent on Jesus and way less dependent on myself.gift-habeshaw-453482-unsplash

My faith will never look like the next person’s faith. Because I am not the next person. I am unique in who God created me to be. I’m caring less about how people think I should live my life and becoming more concerned with what God has for me. I’m less concerned about making sure my two-year-old looks like a million dollars before heading anywhere and more concerned with her knowing just how loved she is and how much more loved she will be as each day passes. I’m becoming less concerned with my apartment being in shambles and more concerned with figuring out ways to invite people over and just let them be part of my family’s lives and my family be a part of theirs. None of this will be done overnight. I have to get through this second pregnancy before I can really tackle the things I want. But in the meantime, I can plan and prepare through lots of prayer. I’ve got this. I’ve got all of this because my life is in the hands of God and He’s never failed me or steered me wrong yet.

 

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Worrying About Myself

So, I’ve been doing this thing lately, where I’m figure out the parts of my life that need to change for the better and then work on changing them for the better! Well, I’ve made yet another discovery about something that needs to change! I need to learn how to worry about myself. Funnily enough, Bible Study of all places is where this epiphany happened.

I have this habit of applying something to other people, that I should first and foremost apply to myself. It’s so easy to point out who else isn’t doing something right. I should first point out what I’m not doing right. A spade is a spade and I need to learn how to call it on myself before I try to start calling it on someone else.

Now, I don’t feel like writing more on this subject because I’m getting a little touchy and sensitive about it.

 

Out of the Darkness

I always find it funny how people talk about going back and changing things about their past they considered mistakes. That’s just me personally. If I had to choose between changing my past and receiving $10 million, I’m easily taking the ten mill! If I go back and change what I’ve done, then I’m ultimately changing who I am, and I know for a fact that I would not be where I am today. And I am very happy with who I am and what I have today.

I’ve been in some very dark places in my life. And many times I didn’t think there would ever be any light at the end of the tunnel. But by the grace of God, I’m here today. Funnily enough though, I didn’t always feel God’s grace though. When I was 18, I contemplated suicide for the first time. It seemed like the easiest solution to all my problems. The second time I contemplated suicide, I was 19. I still felt the same, that life wasn’t worth living and nobody would miss me. That was my rock bottom, but that was the rock bottom that led me to accepting Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. Sure, I grew up in church, but that didn’t make me a Christian. And no, my life situations didn’t turn around overnight, but my outlook on life did. Eleven years later, I’m happily married, with a beautiful baby girl and a beautiful baby boy due this coming December. Do I wish that I had never reached a point in life where I didn’t think about suicide? Yes, absolutely. But had I not reached that point, a major change in my life for the better probably wouldn’t have taken place.

There are many other decisions I’ve made in life that I wish I hadn’t. Some were minor, some weren’t. But I managed to find ways to grow and learn from those decisions. Some lessons took years to learn. Some lessons didn’t take that long to learn from at all. However I look at the darker moments of my life though, I find ways to be thankful for the experiences because who I am today is a lot better than who I used to be.

 

Great Pretending

It’s amazing how easy it is for us to show up and be a carbon copy of who we really are…

I am 30 years old and for most of my life, I’ve been a version of myself. I’ll be who I think I need to be in order to fit in whatever environment I’m in. I keep many masks, like people keep many hats. I don’t want people to know the real me because I don’t want to show up and be seen. I don’t want to be vulnerable. I don’t want to subject myself to the reactions of others about who I am. But is that really the way to live a life?

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I’m a Christian. I’m a wife. I’m a mother. I’m a writer. I’m Black. I’m a female. Those are concrete details about myself, but I won’t really pull back the layers beyond those details. For instance, I don’t always go to church, I don’t always read my Bible, I don’t always display the love of Christ, I get mad at my husband for dumb and petty things, I’ll forget to pay attention to my daughter because I’m caught up in housework, I don’t always write when the words are there, sometimes I hate being Black because of the social and political climate we live in, and sometimes I hate being a woman because I just need a dumb reason to be upset.

 

From my mother to some random person on social media, I’ve let people have too much control over something about me. My mom has always gotten onto me about my hair and wardrobe if it’s not to her approval and that has been something that has made it hard for me to just be myself without being self-conscious. If my own mother gets in an uproar because I’d rather a ponytail and sweatpants over curls and a skirt, h

ow will the rest of the world react? If I take a chance and share some of my not serious writing and someone dumps all over it, how will people react to the writing that shows the serious side of me? I double down on the notion of not being known and just continue pretending to be something I’m not.

But again, that’s no way to live a life. Being vulnerable and transparent (but not too transparent) is a part of living. I actually feel alive when I’m just being myself. If I’ve been made to feel a certain way that I don’t like, I know not to do that with other people. I will never make my daughter feel about her hair and wardrobe the way my mother made me feel. My daughter is not a clone of me and I cannot expect her to conform to who I want her to be. My daughter is a gift from God. She is not mine to twist and mold into who I think she should become. My daughter is to be raised according to thepurpose God has for her and however her journey in life goes, it’s my responsibility to steer her in the right direction, not set up detours and roadblocks that suit my fancy. When I stop pretending, I start seeing reality and the reality is no one is perfect, so I’m learning to get over past hurts and be better as a person.

For me, the mask is coming off. The pretending is going to stop. My experiences in life are a part of my story and they contribute to who I am as a person. I can be a jerk, but I can also be sweet and thoughtful. I can be random. I can be sarcastic enough people think I’m actually dumb. I can be funny and silly. I can be serious. I can be sensitive. I can be controlling. I can get unrighteously angry.javardh-740705-unsplash I can flat out be rude and mean. I have good along with the bad. I’m constantly learning!

Sharing about my mother wasn’t easy. But the reality is, I’m not the only person on the face of this earth that has had a parent do something that has a serious effect on them into adulthood. And telling a person to get over something is no way to go in life. Go through that something, process it, learn from it, forgive it, and then move on in life for the better. Share your story. Be seen for who you really are. Be vulnerable. And show other people it’s okay to do the same thing.

 

An Abundance of Words

I tend to do this thing where I convince myself that I have nothing to write about. I act like it’s a massive dread to sit down and start punching away at the keys on my laptop and just type one word after another until, viola!, I’ve actually written something. I just don’t get myself sometimes. But whatever, I’m still growing up.

The best thing I’m learning for myself is to jot down my ideas. And even if I don’t do anything with that idea in the moment, it’s written down and not forgotten. I can work on it over time and eventually turn it into something more. Not forcing the words is always the best case scenario. And I’m finally figuring that out, but like I said, I’m still growing up. So, some of my blog posts will just be “dump posts” in which I’m just writing for the sake of writing, but I still like it enough to share with the world.milkovi-444287-unsplash

So this is my first official “dump post”. This is a reminder to myself that I am capable of writing something because I’m never truly in short supply of words. I just need to remember to take the words that are swimming in my head and just type them out or hand write them out, depending on what suits my fancy in the moment.

As time progresses and I get better and more comfortable with my writing, I won’t consider any of my writing “dump posts”, but in the meantime it is what it is. I want to write because I love writing and I love finding ways to inspire people or just make them laugh. I’m working to become a master of my craft.

Fall Into Place

I’ve recently come to two conclusions…

The first conclusion is now that I’m a stay-at-home mom, I don’t ever want to have to punch on to somebody else’s time clock. And as a result of that first conclusion, the second conclusion is that I need to work extra hard on that which God has created me to love. 

tom-holmes-556809-unsplashI am passionate about writing, photography, and art. And I am passionate about travel. It’s time to stop being afraid of doing and actually start doing. I’m not living my life if I’m just sitting on the sidelines waiting for everything to perfectly fall into place.

Life would definitely be much more fulfilling for me, if I stopped being afraid of mistakes, shortcomings, setbacks, and the opinions of others. Life would be much more adventurous if I stop waiting for the right moment and just create the right moment. Sure, I have a two-year-old daughter and another one due in December, but they can come along on the adventures. I have to stop using motherhood as an excuse to stay home all the time and not go anywhere or do anything. I also have to stop waiting for my toddler to be 100% cooperative before we get ready to go anywhere as well.

I can take the easy route and wait for things to fall into place before I just get up and go and start doing things. But I’ve been taking that route for awhile and nothing that was truly amazing has come of it. So now is the time to take the road less traveled and start making things happen. If I want an adventure, then I simply need to start taking an adventure!

 

The Writing that Scares Me

I was driving home from the library today, when I realized that I need to become more serious about my writing. Even if I don’t share the writing, I need to start taking the time to write the things that scare me. One big reason why I love writing so much is because it allows me the freedom to be whatever voice I want to be. And while I’ve grown comfortable with the many different voices I can be in my writing, the voice I’ve come to fear most is my own. It’s not so much that I won’t like what I have to say because I’m with my thoughts all the time. I’m perfectly fine with what I have to say, it’s just the fear that others won’t like what I have to say. But being fearful of the opinion of others should not keep me from taking a more serious approach to my craft.

So, even if I don’t post anything serious for a long time, I can at least start practicing. And when I get comfortable with balancing being a goofball and being serious with my writing, it won’t matter what I write, when I share it, or the reactions that I get. I just want to become more comfortable with every aspect of who I am as a writer.