Is It Time to Leave Your Local Church?

We’re in an interesting time in Western society. The landscape seems to be rapidly changing—culturally, politically, religiously, financially, etc. When there is a shift as great as the one we’re experiencing now, language becomes incredibly key in polarizing people and ideas.

This is nothing new. It has always been a clever tactic by the powers that be. There are so many coined phrases that get thrown around in conversations to shame, dismiss, support, shut down, or provide clarity. These phrases have certain connotations that indicate where someone stands and how you should engage with them.

In the political realm, some common ones are liberals, conservatives, racists, nazis, socialists, communists, and the like. While many of these have very specific meanings, they’ve been hijacked to discredit and dismiss people with contrary views.

In the social and cultural realm, some common ones are woke, sleep, bigots, transphobic, reverse racist, racist, gatekeeper, ally, etc. These words have been designated newly minted meanings that have the power to isolate and shame contrary ideas.

In religious spaces, Pharisee, Judaizer, legalistic, worldly, self-righteous are a few common ones. People have long noticed how divided and segregated the Christian church is at a denominational level and cultural level. These phrases put distance between your righteousness and that of others. It validates what you believe and dismisses what others believe.

As someone who has left Christianity, I am very keen on listening to the shift in the religious landscape–particularly in Christian circles.

Face it–People are leaving.

According to an article by the Pew Research Center,

“If recent trends in religious switching continue, Christians could make up less than half of the U.S. population within a few decades.”

The Pew Research Center

Studies have long indicated that most adults who grew up in church as a child will not return in their adult life. This has been a major pain point for many believers and local churches in general. Many religious leaders are doing their best to respond and understand why this is occurring.

Why are they leaving?

There are a few popular ideas within Christendom as to why people leave the Christian Church or Christianity as a whole and I think there’s something to be learned here.

  1. Church hurt: some form of hurt, offense, or betrayal by the leaders or congregants of a church
  2. Deconstruction: the idea of unlearning and rebuilding your Christian faith
  3. Never were connected to begin with
  4. Pulled in by secular culture

These are some of the phrases or ideas thrown around in conversations and I think Christians are missing an opportunity.

Church Hurt

I find that Christians (mostly) lump every person who leaves the Church into the first two categories and it’s quite dangerous.

The “deconstruction” crowd are those who have grown weary of fruitless religion and country club culture of the church, and are seeking a more authentic experience. These people might feel a little lost, detached, disappointed, or infuriated. These people are rarely consciously making a choice to rebuild their faith. It’s a gradual happening in which they feel incredibly dissatisfied with the current condition of the Christian church. Most of these people will return to their faith of old.

Then, there’s the first group. There are those who leave due to faulty leadership or offense of some sort. This is what many are calling ‘church hurt.’ Some Christians feel particularly empathetic towards these people, while others find their “lack of faith” problematic. Their justification is that no man should have the ability to make you “walk away from God”–as though walking away from manmade religion and walking away from God are one in the same. Talk about problematic.

Nine times out of ten (not a real statistic), these people will return to the Church. Once they are able to heal in their relationship with said person, people or engage in healing relationship with others, they’ll come back.

System Failure, The Curveball

Those who leave Christianity because they find that it doesn’t have the capacity to address individual, familial, communal, or global issues, they will likely never go back.

To Christians, these people register as having the greatest threat to the Christian Church. Christians firmly warn against them and their “doctrine of demons.” Many Christian pastors are even doing training on how to respond to said people.

There is something incredibly jarring about the disposition of these people. This is due to their inability to be controlled. These people are not simply unable to be controlled because they’re wild and sinful. They cannot be controlled because they are no longer validated by the system of religion. They are no longer looking to the standards that the Christian Church has claimed to be true for so long.

This is the greatest discrepancy between the Christian and his friends that no longer find value in Christianity and may believe entirely different than he does. I’ll speak for myself.

I know many Christians who look down on or sympathetically at those who leave because if you look from a particular angle, it seems they’re worse off. They seem to be more unhinged, less clean-cut, more broad thinking, rigid, more emotional, etc. Sometimes, they seem to always be changing or exploring a new idea. It’s difficult to trust what they believe because there doesn’t seem to be structure or continuity (yet) in what they believe. So, you look upon them and think, “Yea, I’d better stay over here because by the looks of it, they don’t seem to be much better.”

This is entirely understandable. When I left the Church and Christianity, a dear friend of mine told me that it seemed I’d been led astray because of how angry I was. And I was angry! I was infuriated that the system I’d put my entire identity in, caved in.

I was angry that what I thought was fruit was rotten. I was disappointed that what I thought was wisdom was fear. I was angry that what I thought was faith was manipulation. I was angry because what I thought was growth and movement was me running on a hamster wheel my entire life.

Truthfully, I came off way too strong! I was beginning to naturally challenge a lot of doctrine I’d held up until that point and I’d share my discoveries. While many people distanced themselves from me by avoiding the conversation, there were those that despite their discomfort with where I was, they still indulged me for as long as they could. Some would engage me and pretend as though nothing had changed. That wasn’t right either.

The longer I’ve been gone, the clearer the picture has become—the more defined my beliefs are. For a while there, many close people in my life were incredibly concerned and feared I’d lost a connection with the Holy Spirit, etc. My shambles and immaturity turned many off to the idea of even exploring what I was discovering. Understandably. However…

The reality is, it is fear that keeps many from ever challenging what they believe—not simply being turned off by the condition of people who leave. It is tradition and misinterpretations of Scripture that keep you bound to a fear-mongering system that discourages you from questioning.

Granted, you shouldn’t leave your church simply because someone you trust has left. There has to be an authentic beckoning that calls you out. Honestly, it likely won’t seem obvious to many.

The reason many haven’t left is because they’re still being validated by the system. It works for them—or so it seems. As long as you are satisfied by what is given, you will return.

Once you learn how YAH truly validates us, you will find no purpose in the vast majority of what Christians do at church and away. Your entire world will be flipped upside down.

If you challenge what you believe, and I mean truly challenge, you might find that you’ve never truly been satisfied. You are still thirsty. It has been as though you’ve looked in the mirror and have forgotten what you look like when you’ve walked off. That is an imperfect mirror.

Christianity is not simply imperfect. It’s wrong. When you truly learn HIS ways, you will look into the perfect mirror and remember who you are.

If you are unsure about leaving your church, don’t. Whenever—if ever—you truly feel beckoned, you won’t look back and nothing will be able to stop you.

Black People, We’ve Been Duped!

Growing up, I was called the “white-black girl.” I was the token black friend and I even let some of my non-melanated or lightly melanated friends say “nigga.” Forgive me. For I knew not what I did.

Truthfully, I was ashamed of being Black. Embarrassed. I prided myself on not being an expression of the stereotypical Black archetype. I carried this responsibility to be the spokesperson for Black people and prove we weren’t all the same. But, I didn’t realize how similar we all really were.

There is a shared, multi-layered, and multi-faceted condition of most Black people in Western society.

This might take a while.

Growing up, I was called the “white-black girl.” I was the token black friend and I even let some of my non-melanated or lightly melanated friends say “nigga.” Forgive me. For I knew not what I did.

Truthfully, I was ashamed of being Black. Embarrassed. I prided myself on not being an expression of the stereotypical Black archetype. Granted, I was a little different and my “differences” were genuine. While I was always reminded by Black people that I was different, I carried this responsibility to be the spokesperson for Black people and prove we weren’t all the same. But, I didn’t realize how similar we all really were.

There is a shared, multi-layered, and multi-faceted condition of most Black people in Western society. To describe it: We have little to no sense of identity, we are distrusting of each other, traumatized, disjointed family systems, imbalanced in our emotional expression, imbalanced in the masculine-feminine dynamic, exhausted, and manipulated. Ouch! Manipulated. Let’s hang there a little bit.

Disclaimer: The current state of Black people is not entirely bleak, but we have issues that have been perpetuated for entirely too long and I’m hoping collectively we can address them. Moving on.

About this manipulation thing–there seems to be ever present a lack of authenticity in society today. Everyone is trying to buy you. When you’re Black, the implications of this are dangerous! Being a part of a community that has been traumatized and disenfranchised means special interests groups such as the education system, church, and the government have the power to manipulate your emotions to fulfill their personal agendas.

It goes a little something like this, “Black people, you’ve had it so bad for so long. No one cares about you, but us. This is the only way for you to experience justice and peace. Don’t forget about slavery! Don’t ever forget about slavery! Here’s Black History Month. Like our red, green, and black? We’re fighting with you! You must be so triggered.”

Everyone proposes solutions to the ailments in the Black community. Religious folk say “church” or Jesus is the answer. The government says “our party and policies are the answer.” The education system says, “we’re the answer. We’re your only hope.”

Here’s the problem with this. All of these institutions are starting from the wrong place. The root of their so-called remedy is a belief that black people have no value. “Join us and have value” is what they mean to say. “You have no value all your own.” “Do things the way the ‘white man’ does and you’ll have success.” “You can’t trust yourself.”

These systems don’t have a complete picture (wholeness) nor a process by which to ascertain a complete picture. Therefore, they cannot supply the remedy!

The only remedy that will work is one that starts from the place that says, “You are whole. That’s who you are. You have value. You can trust yourself.” There is no fear in that reality!

Every other institution uses shame, fear, and distrust to tether us to their ideology to motivate us to apply their methods.

Education system: You can only have a good life if you do well in school and get as many degrees as possible. If this is such an excellent solution to the ailments of the Black community:

  1. Why is it that even though Black women are the most educated group of people in America, they are the group of women least likely to be married?
  2. Why is it that even though it’s common knowledge that children function and grow better in a home with both parents, women are being incentivized to split up the home and put their children’s father on child support disempowering him from growing financially? [There are other negative effects of this incentive.]
  3. Why is it that even though we know the family is the most sacred institution within which wholeness and purpose is fostered do we encourage our men and women to prioritize everything but the family?]

Christian Church: You will be lost if you don’t regularly attend. Your life will decline if you are not serving here. You need to sacrifice time with your family, rest, etc. in order to make sure the church house doors are open. You need to trust what the pastor says over your individual unction. God is pleased when you’re giving even if it means taking from your family. Pastor knows best. God is going to bless you if you bless the church. If this system is so upright:

  1. Why is there an imbalance in the male-female church attendance with majority of congregants being female? Why aren’t men finding value in attending church?
  2. Why are men being emasculated by the current culture of church?
  3. Why are Black people still broke?
  4. Why are Black people still living under shame and fear?
  5. Why are men being disempowered to be the men in their home for the sake of service to the church?
  6. Why are people leaving the church at such high numbers?
  7. Why is there such incredible disorder in the church?
  8. Why does the culture promote Black people saying they’re “blessed and highly favored” when they’re really “faking it ’til they make it?”
  9. Why is there no vulnerability?

We’ve been sold a pipe dream. It tickles our ears and we return to it like a dog returns to vomit. We are so blinded by our needs that we look for quick fixes and root ourselves in systems that can’t provide what they’ve promised. This only exasperates the condition.

None of these institutions have the desire or know how to see us whole. As long as we are crippled by trauma, they will always have access to pull the wool over our eyes.

It’s time. It’s high time we stop mimicking the cultures of others in order to feel a sense of value. It’s time for us to stop engaging in the media’s conversations about race. It’s time for us to see that learning happens at home first and primarily–not at school. It’s times for us to stop trying to convince people to remedy the past or present. We have all we need right now.

If Black people spent the next five years and put every ounce of their energy toward healing husband and wife relationships, parent-child relationships, honoring ourselves and each other,--the landscape of society would change drastically.

Because we’d no longer be susceptible to manipulation, these groups would seek a different vulnerable population. We’d have restored our sense of value and honor.

This is not to say that Black people have no value. Our value is in tact. We’ve simply lost sight of who we really are because our eyes have wandered everywhere other than where they belong–gazing upon Light.

YAH is light. Religion simply masquerades as it.

The way is plain for us. It’s been placed in plain sight for us to explore and take up. No one could hide it if they tried. It is inevitable, because this is who we are.

How To: Breaking Generational Curses

Have you ever wondered: why do I do things the way I do? Why do I behave the way I do? Why do I want what I want? Why do I hate what I hate? Unbeknownst to you, your family life taught you belief systems that lead to behaviors which define our cycles.

Our family is the context in which we learn how to see the world and ourselves. Our day to day life experiences provide a lens through which we see every situation. This means I believe I have a certain role to play in society and will intuitively behave according to this. This is reinforced in every situation and can explain the source of my perspective.

If my role has been to be the responsible one in every situation, I will require responsibility on my part — whether or not I actually should. This will be the dynamic of one of my cycles.

Ideally, the family ought to cultivate healthy cycles from an identity of wholeness. For example, if a child receives unconditional love, the child grows up with a positive perspective of self and can reflect that in the world through his or her cycles. Your cycles are what define and determine your life.

A child grows into an adult who will behave based on the role or identity they were given. If the child has been trained to see every situation as negative or to see themselves as a victim, then they will behave accordingly. This is crippling. It will almost seem as if they have no choice but to behave as a victim.

Yes. We have free will. However, our free will does not magically supersede behavioral cycles we have not yet challenged. Meaning: a person will always do what they’ve been conditioned to do until they question the validity of the belief system.

We must identify our family’s belief systems. What patterns exist in our families? What identities are cultivated in our families? Are these healthy? Which are destructive? Which, if channeled properly, become productive?

We talk about breaking generational curses without knowing what a curse is or how to break them. Failure in breaking generational curses is due to a hyper-spiritualization of them.

A generational curse is not a spell your family is under. It cannot and is not prayed away. It has to be wrestled with–contended if you will. How does one contend with a curse? What does it mean to be cursed? So glad you asked.

In the Torah, we read YAH laying out laws, commands, and statutes. Many of them begin with, “If you do ______, I will do ______.” “If you do ______, you will be blessed.” “If you do ____, you will be cursed.”

Many of us read these phrases as life’s cheat codes or spells that allows us to get YAH to do what we want. It’s a bit more complicated than that, yet so simple.

YAH created the universe and everything within it and designed it to operate according to laws and principles–from which no one is exempt. The Torah is Him detailing these ideas. If you can observe and apply these principles, you will see the natural product of them (blessing). If you do not observe (obey) and apply these principles, there will be a natural product as well.

Being cursed is a natural restricting when humans behave against the grain of the principles which govern our existence. Picture a plant. If it is not receiving what it needs, it starts to die. It must be pruned. A curse is a like a pruning–necessary when a plant is not receiving what it needs. A curse restricts, isolates–in order that the plant be able to receive what it truly needs.

We’ve made blessings and cursing so mystical, when they are as natural as the oxygen we breathe.

From where I stand, a curse has three parts. It has the cause, effect, and the remedy. Take my family for example

The women in my family have often grown up without strong, present, and loving fathers. This shaped them to be combative, distrusting, and resilient.

The cause would be the lack of strong leadership in the home. The effect would be the qualities the women have exhibited. The remedy would be going through the process of learning the true standard, challenging our identity, and being prepared to be covered.

We treat curses as though they are punishment. Being cursed, from a Hebraic standpoint, is the path you’d have to take toward wholeness. Being cursed does not stop at what went wrong. The restriction moves us toward provision of what we lacked in the first place. This process would be incomplete if it were simply an affliction imposed upon us due to someone’s mistake. Instead, YAH has ensured a way of escape. He’s ensured that, though cursed for a time, there is a way to shalom (salvation, peace, wholeness).

If there is a pattern or characteristic in your family, inquire about it. Find its roots. If the children are being supplied something healthy, they will give out what is good. If the children are being supplied something unhealthy, they will exhibit unhealthy behaviors and characteristics. The trick is being able to identify what YAH sees as healthy and unhealthy.

How do you start the process of determining your family’s generational curses? First, you can observe and examine your own perspectives, behaviors, and qualities. Then, you can observe if these are also present in your family members. Determine why you or others developed these patterns.

One more thing: it can be difficult to identify these things in ourselves and our family. Typically, when there has been a lack for so long, we find ways to make do, to plug holes, to fill up space so that the gaping hole is no longer observable. Therefore, it will require us to slow down and be vulnerable with our family members.

Nine times out of ten, YAH has already attempted to reveal to you or others that something is unhealthy within your family system. We have to be sensitive to these moments. They do not simply come as tension or fights at holiday gatherings. They come when we discover deficiencies within ourselves. When we have discomfort about certain things. When we find ourselves overreacting. They come when we’re at work. They come when we feel incredibly unconfident. They come when we overcompensate.

All of these moments point to something. We just have to be walking slow enough to hear.

Torah Today

Refusing to critically and objectively study what some call the Old and the New Testament IN CONTEXT leaves many of us hungry for truth. To apply Scripture out of its context is to starve yourself; for it cannot produce real fruit.

In the average Christian church, there is a discounting of the relevance and potency of the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament) and the Writings due to misinterpretations of Scripture.

Statements like, “That’s the old stuff–we don’t need that anymore,” “We’re under a new covenant (without knowing what that means),” and “We’re not under the law, we’re under grace (without knowing what that means),” get us in a lot of trouble. 

Many who would profess to be followers of Yeshua (Aramaic name of the Messiah), deny the very doctrine and source from which He taught–the Torah. They use many of the excuses listed above to validate their living out of just a few books in the Bible.

I am convinced that our walk (not religion) will be much more enriched when we seek to understand Scripture within its complete context.

Refusing to critically and objectively study what some call the Old and the New Testament IN CONTEXT leaves many of us hungry for truth. To apply Scripture out of its context is to starve yourself; for it cannot produce real fruit.

To apply principles of Scriptures contextually, we will have to unlearn much of what we’ve learned.

If you don’t remember anything else I say, remember this: the “New” Testament is commentary on the Torah, Prophets, and the Writings. That means its foundation is the Torah. They derive their thinking and understanding of Scripture from Torah. So, we must know Torah to properly interpret and apply what we read.

The first couple hundred years after Messiah ascended, they did not have what we have compiled today. So, they were teaching from the: you guessed it–Torah, Prophets, and the Writings.

I know. Many believe they were reading out of pocket New Testaments and following along as these events took place; but, that’s just not what happened.

Heck, it’s unlikely the writers of the New Testament would’ve thought what they were writing would be considered Scripture. So, when Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16 saying, “All Scripture is breathed out by Elohim and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for setting straight, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of Elohim might be fitted, equipped for every good work;” the Scripture he is referring to is the Scripture they already knew: the Torah, Prophets, and the Writings. 

Most of the time when Christians hear Torah, their mind goes to the “icky law that Jesus fulfilled so that we don’t have to.” There are many things wrong with that perspective. However, we have to start somewhere.

Many translate Torah as “law.” However, it is best translated as instruction, teaching, or doctrine.

Simply, the Torah is YAH teaching us how to live life. It’s His instructions for life. It is the WORD (Ps. 19:7; Ps. 119:142; 1 Tim. 1:8, Rom. 3:31). Messiah is the living WORD (John 1:1-14).

In Matthew 22:36-37, 39-40, Messiah has an exchange that helps sum up the Torah.

Teacher, which is the great command in the Torah? And יהושע said to him, ” ‘You shall love יהוה your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your mind.’ And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commands hang all the Torah and the Prophets.”

When Messiah said, “The Law and the Prophets hang on these two commands,” he is saying every Word given in the Torah falls within those two categories. Every Word or principle given to Israel instructed them in how to love YAH and love people (including themselves).

Recently, I was reading Paul’s letters and enjoying an enriching time in the Scripture when I came across a verse that is a prime example of this.

Colossians 3:5 reads, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: whoring, uncleanness, passion, evil desire and greed of gain, which is idolatry.”

When examined in the Greek (the original language of the book of Colossians), these words sum up the instruction of Torah.

The word idolatry or immorality refers to a selling off of ourselves for the purpose of sin (failure). It has a connotation of adultery. It is to cheapen what is valuable. It is to give over to someone what already belonged to another. 

Torah is riddled with instructions against idolatry. Idolatry gives honor to the created rather than the Creator.

“You do not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of that which is in the heavens above, or which is in the earth beneath, or which is in the waters under the earth..”

Shemoth (Exodus) 20:4 TS2009

The word for uncleanness or impurity paints a picture of mixing. Torah goes into depth always about the issue with mixing.

“‘Guard My laws. Do not let your livestock mate with another kind. Do not sow your field with mixed seed. And do not put a garment woven of two sorts of thread upon you.”

Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 19:19 TS2009

“They did not destroy the peoples,

As יהוה had commanded them,

But mixed with the nations

And learned their works,

And served their idols,

And they became a snare to them.”

Tehillim (Psalms) 106:34‭-‬36 TS2009

The issue with mixing is expounded upon in the book of 1 John. John goes into depth about YAH being light. In Him is no darkness.

The word passion refers to an inordinate desire. A desire that is misplaced or out of order–which indicates something was not covered properly previously. If a father does not cover properly, this lack will place an inordinate desire in a child that could have been prevented if the father had covered properly. Torah is thorough in showing how to cover the vulnerable and the importance thereof. 

The word greed or covetousness means advantage and aggression. This is a contrary idea to what is taught in Torah. Many have often wondered why did YAH always instruct the people of Israel to get only what they needed. He’d find fault if they took more than they needed.

1. This was a sign of someone who had not had Sabbath perfected in them. In other words, if they took more than they needed, this was a sign of someone who did not trust YAH.

When Sabbath is perfected in someone, they do not seek to provide for themselves. They see YAH as provider and what they have for others. YAH covers me and I don’t have to look out for myself. They trust. They do not strive. Providing for yourself is strife.

2. Getting more than you needed meant someone else would go without.

The Torah is all about how to care for others and trusting YAH to care for you.

All of the words and right-rulings of YAH are to reveal (cultivate) two things in us: love for YAH and for people. The Torah makes provisions for the citizen and for the stranger, for the vulnerable, for the weak. 

If we live a life that is me-centered, we are not living Torah.

If you are reading Scripture without a proper (progressing in understanding) foundation of Torah, then your understanding is shallow.

Torah is for today — and not in a vague “good for reference” kind of way. Instead, it is for today — actively, intensively, transforming its students.

“The Torah of יהוה is perfect, bringing back the being; The witness of יהוה is trustworthy, making wise the simple;”

Tehillim (Psalms) 19:7 TS2009

Stay tuned for more posts on Torah!

Who’s right?: The Slap Heard Around The World

This blog isn’t about me saying who was right, but moreso me drawing our attention to how we’ve determined who we think is right.

I’m tired of talking about it. I know you’re probably tired of hearing about it. It’s really not any of my business. Regardless, I’ve been mulling over it ever since it happened and I have finally collected my thoughts to share here.

If you have not heard, long story short: Chris Rock made a joke. Will Smith smacked him. Jada is all up in the mix (to what extent she is is being greatly debated).

Before I draw our attention to something, I want to acknowledge that most of what has been said is mere speculation. I don’t know any of these people personally. So, my opinion will likely be incomplete.

I started writing this blog as a Facebook status and decided to let it live here on Sensible Fool. This blog isn’t about me saying who was right, but moreso me drawing our attention to how we’ve determined who we think is right.

Here goes nothing!

There are key parties in this situation. You have Chris Rock, the comedian. There’s Will Smith, the larger-than-life actor. Then, there’s Jada, the damsel (in distress?). Regardless of who you think is right, I’ve noticed something in the analyzing of this situation.

People have taken a stance based on their individual hurt.

  1. Women say Will was right because they like seeing a man protect a woman in this way.
  2. Some say Will was wrong because they identify with Chris because they observed a bully-victim dynamic –with Chris being the victim.
  3. Men believe Will was wrongfully motivated by Jada.
  4. Men believe Jada didn’t have the foresight to protect Will.

Granted, there are objective truths that can be extracted from this situation (but only those in it and closest to them probably could do so). Sidenote: our society values owning your truth and the speculation we’ve seen is people offering their “truth.” And this is exactly where it’s gotten murky.

Our hurts have had us living vicariously through each of them. When we do this, we’ll advise or supply others the wrong remedy or worsen the condition.

Our perspectives will have us reinforcing Will’s, Jada’s, or Chris’ behavior that may need to be challenged in us and them.

Let’s look a littler deeper at some of the positions people have taken.

Will was right.

These women likely have felt unprotected in their lives. Thus, causing them to require an intense display of aggression cloaked as chivalry. These women likely would have felt uncomfortable if Will had privately mentioned to Chris that he didn’t appreciate the joke. It would not have felt sufficient. They cannot assess beyond this hurt.

Will is a bully.

These people may have been bullied and never received due justice. They identify with Chris and are desiring the highest price for Will’s behavior. They cannot assess beyond their hurt.

Jada is the culprit.

Many men are angry at Jada because of their own distrust for women. So, Jada becomes dehumanized because she represents all women that have hurt them. They will struggle to assess beyond their hurt.

Jada is the culprit Pt. 2

Many men are angry at Jada because she didn’t have the foresight to protect Will. These men have been neglected, manipulated, or controlled by women. Their thought is to completely disconnect from Jada and are unable to see Jada’s hurt.

Do you see yourself in these spaces?

Our hurts or deficiencies will require others to pay heavy prices.

Think of a deficiency like a bucket with holes in it. You get the picture. No matter how much you pour into this bucket, it will not fill.

As humans with deficiencies left by trauma and generational pathology, we are similar to these buckets. Our only hope for healing these deficiencies is to identify them, acknowledge them, and make ourselves vulnerable in those spaces. This is incredibly painful.

Many times, we refuse this process and require people to enable the deficiency. This looks like requiring a person to keep pouring and disempowering them to even point out the hole. “I’m just like anyone else, why can’t you do this for me?” “Don’t look there.” “I don’t want to talk about that.” We don’t want a person to touch on that painful area because it hurts too much. So, we let them pour.

Deficiencies are insatiable when they are enabled. So, they must be healed in order for them to be satisfied.

I have let people pour and pour in my areas of deficiencies until they tapped out. It wasn’t until about four years ago that I begun to even see these deficiencies. Until I was able to see them, I was unable to assess situations properly and honestly, I still do.

So, why is this important?

We need to heal. All of us. It’s easy to talk about other people’s situations and ponder the intricacies. We turn over every aspect of the situation and console our own wounds with our broken perspectives championing broken people. Until we heal, we will require what is unnecessary, be unable to receive what is healthy, and will provide insufficient remedies.

Makes Me Feel Some Type of Way

Feelings are like pathways that show you where you’ve been or where you perceive you’ve been. It’s funny because we’ll often make decisions based off of what we feel or we’ll want someone to make decisions based on what we feel.

What we feel in a situation usually points to an idea we have that we may not even be aware of. Feelings are not enemies. They are not fact or standard necessarily either. But, they’re so beautiful.

We’re often conditioned to only feel a certain way. “You shouldn’t feel like that.” This makes us live dishonest lives with ourselves and others. There are times where I feel I should be feeling happy or what have you, but I don’t. Once I make space for that feeling(s) without judgment, then it can pass and I can see the idea or behavior pattern it’s attached to. Then, God starts to deal with that thing at the root, slowly but surely.

Honor your feelings, but always challenge them. If we can’t heal in our emotions, we’ll unknowingly make decisions that keep us running on the same hamster wheel. The better we can make space for our feelings, the better we can make space for the feelings of others.

When we don’t know how to create space for our emotions, then we often bombard others with our emotions to get THEM to create the space for us. What that does is cause resentment, shutting down, and dependence in some cases. Boundaries are disregarded because there’s such a need to have our emotions validated.

Making space for your feelings is the act of sitting and playing at the feet of God. It’s being a child before Him. It’s being. It’s sitting without guard because you KNOW you’re in a safe space. When we can learn that within ourselves, we restore value and carry the capacity to restore it in others.

This is how the kingdom truly grows. People get vulnerable before YAH and this vulnerability spreads. The longer society refuses to be vulnerable before God and others, the more issues will be exasperated. I believe this affects our health–mentally, physically. Our bodies start to break down because emotionally, we haven’t rested.

When you first start this process it’s painful. You will want to run and hide from what you find. You’ll dabble in doing it yourself and depending on others to do it for you.

An example.

My sister might tell me about a new boundary she’s setting with the family. “I’d prefer that you don’t do fill-in-the-blank anymore.” Something about her saying that triggers an irritation and sadness. So, maybe I assume she’s wrong for telling me that.

But when I’m accustomed to making space for my emotions, I sit with them. Patiently.

What they are connected to will come to light. Maybe I find that her telling me that I can’t do such and such anymore made me feel rejected or like she didn’t like me and I often feel this way with my sister or in general. When I’ve done that, I can validate myself and respect her boundary. This has been a game changer in my life and relationships. Telling myself that I couldn’t feel certain things or to shut up and keep going, ended up making me see myself as less valuable.

As I’ve continued to do this, I see the way YAH sees me—I’m beautiful. So beautiful. I can stand upright in situations because I know who I am.

Your feelings are not facts, but they are probably some of the most valuable tools God gave us.

A pastor used to preach that God didn’t care about your feelings. We used to laugh about it, but now I see. Nothing could be further from the truth. We live with that ideology when we think we have to present ourselves to God a certain way.

Making space for your feelings, being vulnerable before God means that you can stand before any measure of man and not flinch or budge because you know who you are. “Don’t worry about man who can only destroy the body.” “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Brings new light to these verses.

If God has approved me, who can disqualify me? NOBODY. If I don’t have to present myself before God a certain way, then I don’t have to present myself to man according to his standards.

I stand confidently before YAH because I know I’m right in His eyes. How many people can truly say they KNOW they’re right in God’s eyes? I used to feel like I was right in God’s eyes if I was “on the right track” or ticking off all the “saved” boxes. But, from the perspective and experience as His child, I can play before Him without hesitation of my place before Him.

He’s providing for me.

Am I Done Pretending?

I’ve always known I wasn’t the most feminine woman. I had a deeper voice, didn’t like carrying purses, wasn’t the neatest, and didn’t like pink; so, this inevitably meant I just wasn’t fem. I’m cringing thinking about it!

I had a very surface-level idea of what femininity is. With this shallow understanding, I overcompensated by trying to talk softer, seem less alarming, smile, be agreeable (to a fault), and market myself as a highly domesticated woman. This overcompensation is evidence of a few things I’d like to explore in this blog.

Today, my understanding has moved (thankfully) far away from the surface and is increasing as I explore the depths and wonders of this enchanting energy I possess. Truth is, I wasn’t super feminine and overcompensated like a @%!*#, but the why is just as important as the what.

I did not know who I was.

I knew who or what I wanted to be and always found a deep deficit in those spaces. So, I set out to prove I was something I wasn’t. One way of saying I didn’t know who I was is to say I was missing information. Part of a woman being able to live from her feminine energy is having had a father that stood confidently in his masculine. This dynamic provides information that I received in part.

I was protecting myself.

In protecting myself, I subconsciously activated very masculine energy. Masculine energy strives, wrestles, protects. I didn’t want people to see how underdeveloped I was, so I tried to protect it while it was still in development. Because I was striving, I also repelled potential bodies to meet my femininity with masculinity. Additionally, the feminine energy in me could not truly flourish because the masculine had taken over.

I did not know my value.

I craved for someone to see my value. I’d go above and beyond to make my value known. This brought short spurts of validation. This only sent me further down a path of finding quick fixes for realizing my value. It all becomes about keeping up appearances. Living for appearances is incredibly unfulfilling because the standard is always changing.

Aside: This is what I think is the problem with society as a whole. There is no standard. This produces disorder, anxiety, and a wealth of mental health issues. But, that’s a blog for a different day.

I did not know light.

God is light. Light is the standard. It is the only source of truth and power. I thought I knew this truth, but I didn’t.

I grew up aligning myself to Christian beliefs or standards which on the surface seemed to have had a good grasp of the masculine-feminine dynamic; but, they were surface-level, too!

Many Christians are living this way, today. They have created their own “whats” and “whys.” They’ve created “laws,” so to speak, to make simple a deep enriching aspect of life. Men always ____. Woman always ____. On a certain level, it is validating once you’ve mastered these “laws.” It makes you feel like you’re on the right track.

Being on the right track, most often, doesn’t feel like being on the right track. [Insert ironic laugh here*] When we create laws where there are none, it cuts off the opportunity to experience the many facets of life. Many people who have lived like this have merely found satisfaction in the validation that has come from someone else noticing that they’ve perfected these “laws.” What good is perfection when you’ve looked upon the wrong thing as the standard?

This was Yeshua’s issue with the Pharisees. It is not that they followed laws, it’s that they created their own. While they were perfect in their own law, they no longer looked to Light to define what was or was not.

Follow me, for a moment. When we are not presented with the perfect picture (light), we are forced to find things in reach for our best attempt at a perfect picture.

So, we collect our leaves, sew them together, and walk the runway of life. Everyone’s looking on. We put up strobes and spotlights that illuminate the garments we’ve used to keep ourselves hidden.

True light has a way of coming in and challenging the fabric of our garments. If we sit still long enough, Light will slowly and gently singe the fig leaves and we’ll be naked before the One who made us.

In Christianity, I’d never experienced true challenge (having light reflected on me). It’s not a part of the culture. First, a person that truly challenges, does so from vulnerability and the fruit of having already been challenged.

In Christianity, people don’t challenge others because they are afraid of it being returned. They are afraid, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable with the vulnerability that comes with being on the receiving end. So, we don’t challenge.

Instead, I’ll validate your fig leaves and you’ll validate mine and we never get to truly know God. We’ll make gods of ourselves. We’ll designate a select few (pastors, ministers, etc.) who are allowed to examine and challenge but will call the return of that ‘rebellion.’ We create our own laws and standards and congratulate ourselves on our obedience. But what about the true standard?

How healthy are we if our fashion and figures of speech are us pretending? What’s wrong with saying you don’t know the standard? Why make it up? Why create your own traditions? Why create your own definitions for what YAH has already defined?

We pretend because we don’t trust. We don’t trust because our environments have taught us it is unsafe to be vulnerable. Our environments have indirectly taught us conditional love. But, in order to know the standard, we will have to be vulnerable. It becomes a lot easier when we learn that YAH makes Himself vulnerable with us before He ever requires that of us.

So, in my journey the past few years, I’ve been learning to present myself to YAH without fig leaves—no pretending, no protecting. I don’t have to pretend.

You don’t have to have it together for Him to be pleased with you. He is pleased when we are vulnerable with Him. I’d ask you to examine your life and discover where you are hiding parts of yourself to the people around you. Where are you performing for those around you? What image are you constantly trying to portray?

The question is am I done pretending? Am I done seeing YAH as someone to protect myself against? Am I done needing the things I’ve used to fill voids? Am I willing to let Him fill those spaces?

Black History Month: A Concession

So, I’m not particularly interested in celebrating Black History Month anymore. I never see more hurt from Black people than during Black History month. I see the posts about our accolades and triumphs, but deep down I witness a longing to be acknowledged. We’re trying to prove our value in a society built on the idea that we are not valuable. We are fighting for what is intrinsically ours.

Black History Month is giving Effie Trinket-Uncle Tom-Samuel Jackson in Django-yes masta’-Obama being voted U.S. president-Raven Symoné being American-MLK Jr. didn’t believe in violence-it happened so long ago energy.

So, I’m not particularly interested in celebrating Black History Month anymore.

Black History Month is an allotted time given to Black people in which we proudly share our accomplishments and unseen conquests. It is a relegation of Black people and our experience. It is the sheep-herding of Black expression and progression.

Other than when an unarmed black man is killed at the hands of a white police officer or a self-empowered white civilian, I never see more hurt from Black people than during Black History month. I see the posts about our accolades and triumphs, but deep down I witness a longing to be acknowledged. We’re trying to prove our value in a society built on the idea that we are not valuable. We are fighting for what is intrinsically ours.

I’ve thought to myself, “Maybe we should be grateful that we even GET a month”—when thinking about how it happens to be during the shortest month of the year. “At least [fill in the blank]…” I wonder how this perspective develops in the psyche of a Black person. Insert sarcasm here.

According to Torah, to ensure wholeness in the nation, offenses must be actively pursued by the party that has offended. This brings restoration and reconciliation. The longer the offense is gone unaddressed, the wider the chasm and deeper the wound goes. It becomes traumatic and is perpetuated for generations.

“That was so long ago,” the negotiating Whites proclaim. Blacks are being conditioned to forget the past while never having been given true restitution as Scripture calls for it. White people get to proceed without sincere acknowledgment and action to restore the hurt they have uniquely caused. In the Torah and the prophets, there is a consistent retelling of Israel’s unique failings and triumphs. There are accounts of how Israel stayed connected with YAH and each other despite breakdowns in the relationship. At no point is Israel told to sincerely forget those times of failure or offense. A society that supports forgetting the past to create a false future is a rootless, lightless, and idolatrous society.

Unfortunately, Black people are doing all the work in this system. The weight of forgiveness has been placed on us without having had proper restitution initiated. Proper restitution is given when a community understands intrinsic value. Simply, if America’s society had a true grasp on value, Whites would make things right, Blacks would experience healing, and there would be true racial peace. Without this understanding, society will always demand labor for what has been freely given. This is at the bottom of the relationship between Blacks and Whites. This is perpetuating the cycle of trauma.

We relish in this time of year and are left empty afterwards. Black History Month is molded scraps disguised as a nutritious feast. Simply put, it is a way to control the Black aggression that affects change which white people fear. White people are okay with our energy or aggression being expressed in our music, fashion, food, gatherings, or crime against each other. But when that energy is transferred into healing the Black family without the guilty white hand, there is an uneasiness. When that energy is transferred into building up Black community, there is a fear that rises in white peoples’ hearts. When that energy no longer accepts the pee as rain, there is unrest.

When we are striving to make our accomplishments known, we are denying our true selves. It is to say, “See! Look! I can do what you do!” We know what white culture values and we try to market ourselves as that because of a conditioned incessant need for white approval. Similar to an attention-deprived child’s need for approval and acceptance from their parents, blacks are expected to prove why they are worth their white counterparts’ attention. Parents are a child’s foundation–the place from which they derive their identity. In America’s society, whites are the stiff parents that indirectly tell you that you can never be good enough unless [fill in the blank]. In reality, whites are not our “parent” or determiners of identity.

Blacks need to continue coming into themselves and learn the true standard from which we come. As much as white people would like for us to believe there has been significant progress (voter’s rights, end of slavery, token Black President, Black History Month, etc.), we’re merely just beginning. True progress will have happened when Blacks stop measuring themselves against a standard we were never meant to be measured against.

Black History Month is lack of white accountability. Black History Month is a stalemate. Black History Month is not progress. Black History Month is a hamster wheel. Black History Month is a distractor. Black History Month is a tablet in the hands of a screaming toddler

There’s nothing Black about Black History Month.

Black History Month is not for us.

Dear Church: I Left And I’m Not Going Back

I left because I started to ask, “why do we do what we do?” “What does Scripture say?” Finding the answer to those questions is what led me here.​

Christians don’t know what to do with those who leave the church.

I’ve seen a few typical responses. These are either reactions to or explanations for people leaving. These responses indicate something about the foundation and dynamics operating in the Christian Church.

These will be in no particular order.

  • Indignant. Some are incredibly angry that a person would not agree and align with their idea of the importance of church or traditional Christian ideals.

This indicates there is a foundation of control upon which Christianity is built or the conduit through which it is practiced.

  • Control. Some are frustrated that this person is no longer able to be controlled.

This points to how powerless people in religion feel and their need to cover or compensate for this powerlessness. This is evidenced in various doctrines and traditions.

  • Fear. Some are afraid that you’ll be lost or “the devil’s going to get you.”

This shows how many have been shamed and scared into life with YAH.

  • That’s none of my business. Some don’t feel they are mature enough to relate and converse with someone who may be grappling with their faith and religion. So, they avoid it altogether.

This points to the social system embedded in the Christian church and how people see their roles therein.

  • Longing. In a phrase, “I wish I could do that. I wish I was strong enough to do that.”

This points to the exhaustion of people in religion. Many are tired as they run on the hamster wheel of religion, but it keeps you codependent upon its system. So, you can’t really leave (you can, but you feel like you can’t).

  • Devalue. This is the belief that you are of no value or importance if you are not a part of this belief system anymore.

This points to the incomplete system of validation the Church has set up. People look to pastors, church community, no other Christians to validate themselves. Anyone who does not adhere to this value system immediately and innately loses their value.

Your response to this shouldn’t be to cover up or justify how you or your church normally responds. My encouragement to you if you’ve read this through, is ask. Figure out why people are leaving the Church and Christianity as a whole. Don’t make assumptions.

I left because I started to ask, “why do we do what we do?” “What does Scripture say?” Finding the answer to those questions is what led me here.

People are leaving a system they once felt so strongly about. I felt I had to defend this faith. I felt a responsibility and a weight that many feel today.

I’ve been hesitant at times to share more about my beliefs before I left because people use that to explain away why I left. They’ll say, “You just weren’t doing it right. You just weren’t serious. I’ve always been certain about _. I’ve always known that! You were just at the wrong church. Not all churches are the same.”

I’ve reached a place now where I’m okay with the conclusions people will draw. I think one of two could happen if people started being curious when people leave.

One. They will start to look at what the Church has been doing for so long and make radical changes.

Two. Others will start to leave — much like an exodus.

This is what I think some pastors or Christians are fearful of. They’re afraid to look within. They’re afraid to question and challenge. What if I find out something I don’t like? What if everything I’ve built my doctrine on falls apart? Where would I go? What would I do?

It’s okay to not have the answers to those questions. So, if you do find yourself in that place, feel free to reach out to me!

He is good.
Everything will be okay!

Would I Ever Go Back To Church?

Below is an entry from my journal. I hope it brings encouragement and provokes thought in you as you are going on your way!

I’ve finally reached a space where I truly believe “Church” has nothing to offer me.

I do believe it is one of those situations where it’s “throw the baby out with the bath water.” I think what keeps people so tethered is fear. Some fear because they are uncertain of another way to secure their relationship with God. Some fear because their identity is contingent upon being validated within that system.

To throw it all out would raise the question: what do we do now? That’s the same question I had when I left the church almost two years ago. What now?

There’s a quieting that took place during that time. I resisted the urge to “know.” I resisted the urge to “know the future.” I resisted the urge to quickly join another church. I resisted the urge to distrust myself because I didn’t have the backing of Christians or Christian leadership. I didn’t give in and I’m so glad I didn’t.

Sometimes, I wish I could say the moment I stepped away from Christianity everything was solidified. But, that’s not what happened. I was angry and still am sometimes. It has often been lonely. I’ve experienced soft rejection from Christians whose faith couldn’t take them where I was at. I’ve been sad and scared. But, I never stopped moving forward.

I’ve learned more in the almost two years leaving the “safety” of religion than I have my entire time there. People don’t often understand why I’ve criticized the church SO MUCH. I think it’s easier to assume it’s church hurt. When that friend that only comes for Easter and Christmas criticizes the church, we think it’s “church hurt,” rebellion, or a lack of commitment on their part. It can be easy to dismiss it from those people. I can imagine what it must be like to hear criticism from a friend who was incredibly and heavily involved in church. I went SO HARD for this stuff man; hence the reason my frustration when realizing this all didn’t do me any good.

My criticism of the church probably sounds vague to most. I think I gave a better explanation of it in a recent blog, “The Church: We Got It All Wrong.” But, I can sum it up like this: the issue with the church is the underlying foundation upon which it’s built and the unwillingness/fear of people to challenge/examine that foundation.

Many hide behind popular verses and church jargon to avoid going through the process of wrestling with what they believe.

Additionally, unfortunately, most Christians do not have the tools to properly challenge the system anyway. So, while they’re in it, they’ll always find a way to stay connected in a way that can be blinding. Plus, the doctrines in place make it difficult to consider much fallibility.

At this point, I believe the so-called church needs to be done away with. People need to go back home and allow the healing process to begin to take place.

It amazes me that my family never experienced true healing while involved in the church system. But now that we’ve all stepped away, it’s given us the space to see ourselves and to develop the perspective YAH has about us.

That’s where I’m at. I’m seeing more clearly. But, getting here is requiring me to be vulnerable about how I do not see clearly and the source of this. So, I’m grateful to YAH for showing me the complete picture and showing me who I am and have always been.