Twas two days before Christmas and all through the mall, are tons of folk looking bizarre attempting to determine the perfect gift. I am not one of them. The tree will not be filled to capacity and that is okay. We have the gift of tuition, just in time for the spring semester. We have cars that are between 16-20 years old, and as my cousin Dannie reminded me, “they require babysitting on the regular.” I’m not concerned however in the least bit. My family is in good health, we have shelter, food, transportation, love and most importantly, the gift of Jesus! So, we’re straight. However, I have been pondering what I can give to my self right now, and in the year to come if the Lord allows. I’m pretty certain if granted, none will be returned on the day after Christmas or ever for that matter. So Stephanie, I present my gifts to you…
I know, I know. Everyone says it. But I will take my health more seriously. A number of health issues permeated my body in 2013. The lingering effects are real. God has given me a great commission and I must take care of the temple he has given me. I will go to sleep earlier. I will strengthen my muscles and stamina for dance and I will create a regimen to battle side effects of leg and back pain. I will drink more water and less simply lemonade (Lord help!).
I will give myself permission to just sit quiet in an uninterrupted space. This very affirmation may not be difficult for you the reader, but this is inextricably linked to a great necessity. In order for me to sit in said uninterrupted space, I must say no, or rather not now. This is easier said than done. Why? Because my “no” is often linked to someone else’s shaky “yes.” Often folk will offer assistance, but their follow through is weak. While some are commitment phobe, I am on the other end of the continuum. And so, my yes goes forth accompanied by my physically and mentally tired spirit. The final product doesn’t typically lend itself to show such, but I can’t help but wonder the toll its taking on me. Therefore, I will do what I commit to with excellence, and what I am unable to do (typically determined by my internal mapping system), I will graciously decline, and NOT worry about the person’s thoughts of me for saying, “no.” I must recall that there indeed is a “ram in the bush” and that Tarheel ain’t always me (sorry, I’m a card carrying Saluki and a member of the Wolfpack anyway).
I will give myself freedom from wanting liberation for others when they do not want it for themselves. That doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to lift them before the Father in prayer, however, I will give myself permission to not take on what they are not willing to address let alone release on their own. I am my sisters keeper, but my sister must step it up so that we won’t both be overtaken. More importantly, God is waiting with open arms to carry what she (nor I) was never built to assume. As the songwriter penned, “Jesus knows all about our struggles, He will guide till the day is done. There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus, no not one, no not one.” There is one who provides liberation freely, and its not your girl, your prayer partner, your significant other, your (fill in the blank). Try Him. Enuf said.
I will make time to hone the gifts that God has given to me through ministry. Over the last year, I was afforded the opportunity to instruct liturgical dance at a women’s correctional facility. It has been the most gratifying experience I ever imagined. In reference to aforementioned paragraph, these women although physically incarcerated are more mentally free than many I come in contact with and even self on a given day when not led by the Holy Spirit. These women work tirelessly on their gift of dance and are eager to share it! The 90 minutes we spend together are not about learning the steps of the dance, but instead learning how to be in step with God. They have thanked me for coming and sharing with them. However, make no mistake, I am on the receiving end each time I come and leave the space shared with them. I am encouraged and I am grateful. It is nothing but the grace of God that I am not where they are. The mind, when not focused on Christ can be a dangerous thing. And so, as the mind of Christ is in me (and you), I will spend greater amounts of time walking out my passion, as they continue to lead me to my purpose, through dance, through writing, and through education to empower, affirm and uplift.
I will love more, get disappointed less. I can only control me and I don’t always do such a great job – so I cannot control someone else’s action. I will be responsible for my thoughts, my tongue and my actions. I will love you even when you are not reciprocating the same to me. I will place my hope in God.
I will listen more attentively and release more through prayer as opposed to you. In January 2013, I began filling a jar with the blessings of God. In 2014, I will instead fill the jar(s) with answered prayers. I shall be like the widow woman and run out of jars before running out of answered prayers.
I will hold myself accountable to the gifts that I give myself. And I will seek Jesus, the greatest gift giver for assistance.