My Story: As I’m sure you can tell, this is going to be a different kind of post – no natural hair today. Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of visiting Hope Christian Center in Brooklyn, NY with April, a good friend I met at a Natural Hair Meetup (of course) this past summer. Ever since I met April she has been very clear and upfront about her involvement in her church and love for the Lord. Something I have secretly admired about her because I am VERY reserved when it comes to my relationship with God…for several reasons…so this post is VERY personal and dear to me.
I grew up in the Catholic Church and never questioned it or the teachings. And, honestly I still don’t. But, what I do question is why so many religions I have studied throughout my adult life (including my own) “indirectly” judge certain people for their lifestyle(s) or “choices”. While I won’t go into my personal beliefs about hot topics, I will say that I am a firm believer in loving God, yourself and your brother. In that order. The choices I make for my life and the standards I have set for myself have no bearing on what I think of others or how I treat them because every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. NO ONE is perfect.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve started to shy away from organized religion in pursuit of my own spiritual relationship with God, a decision that has literally changed my life. On December 31, 2009 I decided to bring the New Year in different. I went into my bedroom, closed the door and prayed. I won’t share what I prayed for – to this day the outcome and God’s power STILL astonishes me – but I WILL say that on October 8, 2010 I received my answer. When He tried to tell me in April of that year but I didn’t listen. But, when I say He TOLD ME on October 8, 2012 – HE. TOLD. ME. – I heard Him loud and clear.
No one knows this story in its entirety because I keep it tucked away. But, that night God spoke to me. On that night in October He delivered the most devastating news I have received to date. Period. News I was not prepared for but news I needed. And, I firmly believe to this day that He delivered the message to me because I asked Him for it. I specifically said, “God, please show me whatever it is I need to see. What am I missing about ____? What do I need to know? I am so lost.” Those words were the key. I asked God a specific question. Pastor Tyrone Stevenson talked about that yesterday. It was one of his 3 prerequisites on How to Make a Request from God and they were all spot on!
The Word: Yesterday’s lesson was titled “Receiving Guidance From God: Learning to Hear God’s Voice” and it was broken down into two parts. First: How to Request Guidance and Second: How to Receive Guidance From God. In my quest to strengthen our relationship these words couldn’t have come at a better time.
As I sat before Pastor Stevenson and filled in my worksheet, it all made sense to me. (I’ll outline it below and bracket the words we “filled in”.) He literally put together the pieces of the puzzle I have always had in my head but couldn’t quite figure out.
I. How To Request Guidance
1. Believe God [cares about the details of your life].
2. Ask God [a specific question].
3. Expect God [to answer].
Lately I have forgotten about 2. I ask God for things and to show me things but I think I’ve lost sight of being specific. Hearing and being reminded of this was really helpful for me.
II. How to Receive Guidance From God – 5 Things Habakkuk Did To Tune Into God
1. [Withdraw]: Get alone in a quiet place.
2. [Wait]: Calm your thoughts and emotions.
3. [Watch]: Let God give you a mental picture.
4. [Write]: Record the ideas you receive.
5. [Worship]: Thank God for speaking to you.
I have also forgotten that I have to “wait”. I am always in such a rush for everything that I forget everything will fall into place in due time. I am someone (as I think we most are in this day age) who is so focused on instant gratification that I forget things take time.
My Take Away: My time at Hope yesterday moved me (to tears at some points!), but “wait” struck a chord with me because I’m usually very quick to react. The day after Thanksgiving someone I care deeply for text messaged something to me that hurt me so bad for so many reasons. I was tempted to “retaliate” or “call the person out” but I did not, have not and I will not.
One thing I’ve learned is that words can hurt and they can’t be taken back. So, they should ALWAYS be chosen wisely or not used at all if you don’t have the right ones. I’m glad I “waited” and didn’t respond because my response would have came from an ugly hurt place. In my desire to be a better person I strive to treat people how I want to be treated even when it’s not being reciprocated. In addition, I try to do things from my heart and not “count favors” or hold things over people’s heads. If I do something I make sure it’s because I want to do it and not for something in return.
So while I won’t respond with hurt, I will respond after waiting with the right words, if the opportunity presents itself. I will also continue to pray on that situation as I have been for the past year. I’m sure God will give me the answers that I’m either ignoring or not asking specifically enough for, something Pastor Stevenson reminded me is very important.