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Better Not Bitter

Responding God's Way to Life's Challenges

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grief

Saturate Their Atmosphere with Your Absence

Last night I had the privilege of spending time with a wonderful group of ladies who I have grown to love and trust. While not divulging the details of our gathering, one thing I just must share.

When dealing with difficult people sometimes the best thing you can do is “Saturate their atmosphere with YOUR absence!”

God has been helping me dissect the reasons I still get angry at the mention of certain people’s names or why I get nauseated at the mere presence of others. It is not out right unforgivenness. I just hadn’t allowed myself to go through the process of “forgiving.”

I’ve wondered for years whether something was wrong with me…whether I would ever really get this forgiveness thing down when at times it seems I’m good and others I’m not. I’ve written about it so much…those few posts alone would be great ammunition for a weapon of mass deliverance I’m sure. Yet, I believe I secretly condemned myself for paying too much attention to forgiving and forgetting instead of appreciating my PROGRESS…On the way to meet with these lovely souls, I recounted the many times I’d heard biblical teachings on forgiveness like,

“Unforgiveness is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve included that quote in prior posts, but what do you do when the offender is the one forcing the toxic syringe into your arm? What is the remedy for desiring to please God by offering an offender grace only to not quite be there yet?

So I considered more closely my feelings about those who had done me wrong….and last night God whispered to me,

“but how does that make you feel?”

“I don’t want to ever be reconciled with the offender!

You see many in the church have hammered into the skull of every would-be Christian that YOU MUST FORGIVE OR GOD WON’T FORGIVE YOU!!!

While the word of God is true, blatantly saying this alone implies forgiveness is a one-size fits all prerequisite to receive God’s grace.  That kind of flies in the face of the Gospel considering grace through Christ was given long before we were violated by offenders in the first place!

So in the back of my mind for a while I have wondered about this in solitude…

Yet when I began studying this area with these ladies I was met with a breath of fresh air…Yes, I’ve got issues…but there’s a way to address them I hadn’t felt I had permission to use until last night.

And before I could condemn myself as I’d done so many times before that moment, He reminded me, “Woman where are your accusers?” They were nowhere to be found…because I chose to walk away…I chose to protect my heart and mind with my departure….and finally… I am perfectly at peace with my decision to  saturate their atmosphere with my absence.

©2017 Nadia Davis. All Rights Reserved.

An Ear to Listen

I had no reservations about revealing my past before that moment in class yesterday.  Perhaps it was hearing words I’d never written before…I’d never even thought of before sent me to a place I hadn’t visited either. I remembered.

I revealed my disconnection with self…why I was drawn to being “needed” by others…why it was so easy for me to allow people to drain me without much protest. The silence between my mother’s rants taught me to embrace my own version of peace.  The peace in my head…I shut out the world when I couldn’t flee literally. Now I see how I could be present, but still not there.

I needed someone to listen to me then, but I didn’t know what to say when I actually received it.

Now I know why God had allowed me to meet a the young lady in Walmart the other day. She’d just lost her husband and her words, “I just loss my husband and it’s been hard,” broke my heart.

I offered to pray for her before she revealed the reason she appeared so torn between working and giving up. I offered to wait, but I ended up just writing my phone number and a my disclaimer: “I’m not expert on grief, but if you need an ear to listen…”

I left there with a concern, but content that in a small way I’d lived up to my name.

I entered my first class yesterday morning and noticed my friend was absent.  My professor revealed the reason was that she too had experienced loss.  Her mother passed the night before. Immediately, I took out my phone to send a message.

I composed and erased.

I tapped and before sending placed the phone in my purse instead.

I said to myself I would wait until break. At break I erased again and thought about calling her, but I considered I didn’t want that before.

So I was honest.

After typing “I don’t know what to say. If you need an ear to listen call anytime.  Love you,” I hit send.

I needed someone to listen to me when my mother passed, but I didn’t know what to say.  So before God’s ear alone was the chosen receptacle.

Perhaps, allowing me to tell my story aloud was the first time I really felt heard by people. Maybe that was the reason for my tears.

Regardless, if nothing else, in that moment I realized my frailty.  Though I forgave her nearly two years ago, became whole mere months ago, I still have places in my heart to be mended. She loved me the best she could. I’m learning to love a little better with each passing day and I know I have a ways to go, but it’s still nice to have an ear to listen.

©2016 Nadia Davis. All rights Reserved.

It was Never Rejection

I cried in class today. I hadn’t planned to do so. I didn’t even cry when writing the piece I was required to read aloud. The assignment was to tell our story.  As a writer I almost did the paper before even reading the assigned chapters because I thought it would be that easy.

I mean what’s two pages of me? I’ve had this blog for three years and I have shared bits and pieces since the beginning…

Hmm…beginnings…

Beginnings can be so subjective.

Well, when I considered the topic from the week’s sermon and the topic from my life for the past few months, I should not have been shocked by the topic for the assignment bearing a name akin to both:

How has God redirected your life?

I had planned to write something totally different…yet, God saw fit to use this educational assignment as a means of confirming my spiritual one. It was also proven to be His opportunity to “right” mother’s story.

I found myself sharing how I was affectionately dubbed her shadow. I realized how much I missed her despite the diagnosis…Borderline Personality Disorder is not as fashionable as Bi-Polar or Schizophrenia I suppose. Yet, everything this week has led me back to her.  Redirected yet again from “me time” to develop an understanding of “her time.”

Before I had already been conflicted as to whether a dedication page was enough room to convey a daughter’s love, and then I recalled God whispering, “make room for Daddy.”  He alone would have to support me in this leg of the journey even more than He had before.  As tears fell against my heart’s demand, I understood

So while the dialogue of my life’s script seems riddled with unfortunate events, I’m no victim.  I was loved and for the first time in a long time, I sure it was never rejection, just redirection.

©2016 Nadia Davis. All rights Reserved.

Do Black Lives Really Matter?

  1. I heard about another shooting and I was again hesitant to look up the details.   I had good reason, but how could I avoid it. Alton Sterling’s picture was plastered everywhere. The video capturing his murder quickly going viral…the outrage escalating…the pain eminating through a people…silently and aloud: Do Black lives really matter? Alas, a notable pastor’s words served as my alarm. His words stung more than salt in an open wound…rather the impact sizzled as if I were one of the thousands of slugs on the sidewalk of our color-blindless society…a culture bred by hate with a motive to search and destroy…but weren’t we found here against our will anyway…were any of us ever really granted permission to dwell here…to work here…to live here…to fear here? To kill or be killed here? We as a people have made due…we’ve climbed latters where rungs were added to impede our ascent…we’ve endured lashings with the tongue and with whips…and this is what we came here for? We aren’t bullet-proof…ad they know it…there’s no superman to deflect a bullet…once released, it adheres to its assignment…it searches and destroys…the heart, the mind, the family, the culture…to a lone bullet..Do black lives really matter?
  2. The words burn because they are true…pictures don’t lie, but the verdict of cases passed tell another story…rather, I suppose even a lie is truth so long as you believe it…Grief has its place, but what happens when grief has no target…in a time where our society should be flooded with supposed upstanding civil servants we are faced with a reality quite the contrary. Does the mere presence of a black man give credence to “the kill or be killed” excuse that so many are claiming after candid camera reveals what really happened? Should a mistake be a large enough bandaid to heal the gaping hole between race relations now? I’m seriously disturbed because just last week my own son was in Baton Rouge. Now I realize why my brother reminded me to ensure he had ID before I sent him to work at the Essence Festival with him. His words make too much sense now but not enough…”yea…you don’t want to be a black dude around New Orleans with no ID.” Would the mere reason be to identify a body? MY GOD!!! How many have to die! I almost wrote about BLUE LIVES MATTER WHEN I HEARD ABOUT THE AMBUSH OF THE OFFICER LAST YEAR…I never got around to it because news of “our” cases took my attention. Now I’m glad I didn’t. It’s not that the lives of officers don’t matter..in fact I have a few friends in law enforcement…it’s just not the same…there’s no invisible system in place to take cops out for any reason out of the blue…Yet, this seems largely the case with black lives. It seems that as once before, those with hatred in their hearts for blacks have traded their sheets, hoods, and horses for titles,badges, and squad cars…news of Alton Sterling’s murder hurts my soul, but sadly I’m not surprised. It makes me wonder what will be said in the new history books of black lives..stories like Emmit Till and Nat Turner missed notoriety when I was in highschool…I only learned of them later…I wonder if that will be the case for my children’s children with Travonne Martin, Michael Brown, Alton Sterling and every other black life taken in between because at least to racist cops, apparently these black lives just didn’t matter. Continue reading “Do Black Lives Really Matter?”

Green Light in All Directions

“The traffic light at Hacks Cross Rd is out. It’s showing a green light in all directions for about five minutes.”

When traffic lights go out, it’s common sense to treat them as a four-way stop…to even proceed with caution…but when I heard this news on the radio today, I got a different message.

So I’ve decided to move forward anyway…regardless of what had just transpired moments before hearing it…

You see last night I went to bed in tears and found the same dampness on my cheeks while driving my children to school.

Considering today is the anniversary of my mother’s passing, one might think my grief had stemmed from the memory of that loss.  Yet, my grief had another source.55884266727f852597c2cc126406b24c

I was concerned about my next  transition. So I breathed a sigh of relief when inclement weather delayed the process another day.

I don’t believe I was afraid of the coursework or the demand of my time, but I’m sure now that I was afraid of the impact the news of my decision to officially give up my “job search” in favor of attending seminary, working in ministry, and spending more time with my children would have on others in my family…particularly those who’d been helping me thus far.

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In fact, unless, my brother and cousin, who’s more like a sister,  decide to read this post, they would remain uninformed until a more courageous time.

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News of another aunt’s diagnosis with dementia has taken its toll on all of us.

Last week  my cousin and I discussed how she was a caretaker for her own mother who passed 5 years ago almost to the date….how she cared for her father until his last breath less than two years ago…how she was finally in a place where she was ready to live…for herself.

Having just turned 38 two weeks ago, she admitted to me how she was a little bummed about not accomplishing more by this time.  I suppose she felt as I had a while ago.

and so much had happened in a week

A time when she should have been reflecting on the good times she’d shared with her mom, instead on that very anniversary she was rushing an aunt to the hospital because she just seemed, “out of her head.”

Though I’m living in her home for a time, I hadn’t seen my cousin much since our aunt’s admission to the hospital and the diagnosis. She was with her and I understood why. My cousin was her father’s best friend before he passed and this was his sister. I joined her there myself after church yesterday.

I’m grateful that God used the pastor to remind us of the foundation of our frustrations.   I needed it.  Otherwise I would not have been able to stomach the way my cousin lashed out at me last night.  She was tired and perhaps the reason I really cried out to My Father was because I too am tired. I’m tired of seeing her struggle in different ways than I have experienced. I’m tired of seeing her not live because she feels obligated to live for others instead. Yet, in my summation, I can not judge what God is doing on her behalf through all she is experiencing.

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I am, however, more confident in my understanding of what He is doing in me and what He has planned to accomplish through me.

So while the impact of what transpired yesterday and this morning nearly overtook me, God confirmed with that timely traffic warning that I am still heading in the right direction.

It was the motivation I needed to keep moving forward despite how illogical things seem.

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He will prove His power of deliverance through my obedience so until He tells me to stop,  I’m taking the green light.

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So I’ve finally broken up with my past…

For years, I blamed my mother for my lack of happiness as a child and in some ways even as an adult. I hung onto those feelings so tight that I believed they were just another part of me- something I couldn’t get rid of no matter how I tried.

I mean why else would I stay away so long?

GUILT

SHAME

SELF-CONDEMNATION

…Yet, as I drove to a place I once called home, I unpacked my heart.

I used my fight or flight instincts all wrong for years.  It doesn’t take much courage to run away. Instead of facing the hard moments head-on, with few exceptions, I took the rode too often taken…

What might have been green once was now only laden with pebbles of broken promises, unfulfilled desires, missed opportunities, and those unfamiliar pieces-fragments of a beat-less heart.

Despite the barrenness of this path, my actions proved I was comfortable with uncomfortable.  It was familiar.

This road led to my new norm.  Though breathing daily, I became one of the dearly departed…

I expected a miracle with my mother’s recovery.  I assumed my faith was enough to reverse the illnesses that mercilessly waged war on her mind and body with each passing day.  But of what I saw was left of her in April brewed something I wish I could reject now.  I wish I hadn’t stuffed it.  I wish I hadn’t retreated.  I wish I had not done what I thought God should have done for me.

I disappeared.

…7 months I remained away…7 months I thought I had peacefully accepted the inevitable, but there had been anything but peace of mind available to me…

I hid that part of me from those I should have held the closest…a brother…I promised to keep in touch…somehow all else superseded that task…a son and daughter… they longed for attention, but a more fitting luxury was to be there, yet not be …potential for new love…snuffed by insecurities bred and nurtured by isolation…promotion just beyond reach…too exhausted to fully comply…I chose to remain detached…

…from my mother, from my family, from my fears, from commitment, from true friendships, from real love, from my calling, from myself, and even from God…

FEAR OF CHANGE was my fuel!

Delays with travel threatened to keep me in my bedroom even on Thanksgiving Day, but that’s when He came to see about me.

My Heavenly Father reminded me I’d been bent for too long…crippled for 18 years… bent by toxic words, vindictive glares, and rages because I was just being me…so at 18, I fled…I intended to never look back…

But how could I look forward when the lure of my past still taunted me day and night?  I was held captive by an unforgiveness that seethed in my heart…

Still, my Redeemer comforted me with His word:

Luke 7:47 New Living Translation 

47 “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”

In order for me to finally move forward, it was time to stand still…no more vanishing acts.

…and with every passing mile, I unpacked my mind.

She clung to life awaiting my return…

When I arrived at Grace, I expected the icy stare from the nurse who saw to my mother’s daily needs.  So as my daughter whittled our names on the register, I promised myself I would not cry.

The prognosis was bleak.

“Let me see if I can speak to you, what’s your name? Who are you?” she sneered flipping through a worn manila folder 2 inches thick.

Her gasp was expected too.  Still, I managed the words, “I’m her daughter.”

In the fours years, my mother had been housed there, she and I’d never met.

Resting the closed folder on her chest with arms folded as if she had a right to protect the details, she sighed, “It’s not good.  Every other day, we think she’s getting ready to pass, but she hangs in there.”

A tear escaped.

I knew why she fought.  The nurse’s olive eyes brightened for a moment as she continued with the details of the medicinal regimen she’d administered to her.  I inhaled her words methodically picking apart those I understood in silence.

Morphine every 8 hours

High Blood Pressure Meds

Ventilator

Feeding Tube

With that, my mind immediately regurgitated memories when she preferred the taste of my daughter’s kid’s meal as she quickly confiscated a handful of fries the moment we entered her room that first time we were there.

She’d been able to eat on her own then.

“Do you want to see her?”

I’m sure her question hadn’t been the reason for my jolt back to the blank corridor where we stood.  Rather, her attempt to shove the few tissues she grabbed from her cart into my trembling hands sparked recognition that I was doing the very thing I promised myself I wouldn’t mere minutes earlier.

Acknowledging her question, I nodded and offered a muddled response of, “I just couldn’t see her like this.”  Her grimace softened as if for at least a minute she understood.

I rested in this glimmer of hope that maybe I wouldn’t be judged for my absence and followed her to the place I’d successfully avoided for so long.

…I unpacked my will

She led me to the room with the number 707 on the door.  The one I’d ironically just passed without taking notice of her name on the placard above the digits that symbolize completion.  I walked in at a little after 5 pm, but the room was serene and dark.  She was sleeping soundly.  Still tiny in comparison to the way I would have preferred to remember her.

Those Cherokee roots were more evident than ever now.  A single band corralled her crimped tresses in a side bun. Coal black strands concealed her true age though few iridescent stragglers remained…She still appeared only 10 years older than I.  As I stood there, I became weak.

So My Father picked me up and carried me the distance I knew I needed to travel…He knew that the shards of brokenness beneath my feet on that road I’d been wandering on before were too painful to endure alone.  Still, He understood my need to revisit that barren place, if only for a final time…to say goodbye…as only a Father could…He consoled me and allowed me to heal as he lowered me at her bedside.

For the first time in a long time, I opened up my heart to my mother.

Running from every other issue in my life had been my norm for nearly 2 decades.  I guess the enemy thought by witnessing my mother’s condition for perhaps the last time I’d continue to feel robbed of my childhood or that I’d turn my anger back on God for her suffering.

Instead, I felt relief.  Soon she would no longer suffer….she’d suffered much longer than I had.  I realized that the pain she inflicted on me was only the residue left from her own similar afflictions she endured as a child.

Though she never was able to mouth the confirmation of her pain to me directly, her eyes said it all.

Before  I visited her, God prepared me.  I came across photos I had never seen…as I flipped through endless albums a progression of life, love, and family were revealed.  With it, the snapshots also exposed an evolution of pain.

She was sexually abused as a child. Now I realize why in many ways her tyrannical behavior towards me was in some ways protective.   She distanced herself from me emotionally and perhaps this is what ingrained in me a fear of intimacy that would take years for me to own.  I could see why she possibly felt responsible for the violations she endured at the hands of the one she should have been able to trust.

Both sequences were simultaneously authentic and counterfeit foreign and familiar to me…authentic and counterfeit…manufactured too shared the same fake smile once my world was interrupted by intolerable cruelty.  It seemed, my last genuine smile was when I was 7 years old.  Hmph…there’s that number again…One such picture that I uncovered of my mother shared that same smile.

She was captured in mid curtsy smiling ear to ear looking straight at the camera in her white laced Sunday’s best!  I wondered at that moment who had been the photographer.  Who brought her so much joy then?  Who was responsible for taking it?  The next shots canvassed were entirely different.  They captured brokenness.  Again I understood the pasted facade for those required at school while others were taken at home never quite held the same enchantment…pictures where she clung to her mother’s leg as if that were her only hope of surviving the storm that raged within her.

That weekend bits and pieces of my mother’s existence were revealed as I fought through the urge to selfishly cling to the cancer that linked us.  I realized with God’s grace that I not only had permission to let the pain of my past go but that I had the obligation to let my mother go as well. So as I gathered the strength to sing in her ear as she did to me before what ailed her surfaced.  The tune was so familiar…I realized why she constantly hummed it…”We only just begun to live…white lace and promises…” I understood that white lace and promises were what we shared once and as I hesitated to close the blinds and turn out the lights to what might have been, I did so beamingly because I knew that we still would share that time again together someday.

©2014 Nadia Davis. All Rights Reserved.

Hey Ladies and Gents,

I’m curious. Are you still holding onto past hurts and regrets? How’s that working out for you? Tell me your story below!

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