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Branded by Pain: How to conquer and master the art of letting go

Along the way, you will learn to let go of all the things that helped you conceal the pain.

Hello Crowned Royals, I must admit that I haven’t been great at keeping up with you all, but surely God has dealt with me immensely and that is why I am writing to you today. I hope all is well with you and that you continue to put in the effort of trading your thorns for crowns. This blog post might be heavy for some you that continue to deal with extreme pain, but I hope it brings healing.

Fairly recently I was watching a telenovela about slaves in the 19th century and while watching, a lot of the things that happened were hard to stomach or imagine myself or family go through such pain. I was particularly disheartened by this one act where slaves where lined up and one by one each of them were pressed with a hot iron cast and branded by their slave masters. Through out the show the slaves lived and died with that brand that signified their slavery. The branding of the slaves is more of a physical act that indeed caused pain and this pain was carried on till their graves. Tragic right? I know, but we too in some form have stood one by one and have been branded with pain. It may not all be physical, but it surely did something to us. But what you do with that branded pain is totally up to you, you can either live and died with it or decide to conquer. Understand that branded pain seems nearly impossible to erase, it almost feels like it is only unique to you alone and no one will understand just what you have been through. But you will be surprised to see how many more people experience the same pain. Pain is indeed a universal brand that we can all tell when it is present within us or in others, simple based on our experience and others. Many of us are living defeated by our pain and because of it we have lost our ability to conquer. Here is a question for you; how has living in defeat because of your pain limited your ability conquer it?

When Pain Becomes your Master

Remember the show I was watching about slaves? I want to talk about it again. To be slaves, these people had masters and one thing masters would do is do anything with their slaves. They literally could do anything! they flogged them, raped them, branded them and treated them worse than animals. Again this is more physical, but how many of us have allowed pain to become our master? Our pain has flogged us, raped us, branded us and has treated us less than we are. This much is true about our pain, we have given it power over us. If pain is your master, it dictates your entire life. When pain is your master, it will help you pick your;

  • Friends
  • Entertainment
  • Coping mechanisms
  • Close relationships
  • Places you frequent

Understand that when you are at the mercy of pain, it will continue to dictate your life and how you move forward with it if you do nothing to change it. I am guessing before the pain, they may have been things you set out on doing and changing, but once you gave power to pain, you were more set on the hurt and hate from others, your day to day was plotting your revenge and in hopes to conceal the pain you did things that you were not even capable of doing before it.

When you allow pain to be your master, you give up the right to conquer it, but rather you are made powerless, mocked and hopeless. It slowly eats at you and with every passing year the pain only grows more and more. You thought dying suddenly was tragic, trying slowly dying because pain has invaded your whole being. Now that is tragic. So, how do you get out of it?

How to conquer and master the art of letting go

I would like to provide you with the universal blueprint of how you conquer pain and master the art of letting go, but unfortunately, it wouldn’t work that same for each person. I do however know about one biblical act that even people before us surely can attest to it working. It is giving your pain to Jesus. Jesus has a way of taking that pain and replacing it with that much desired peace, joy, love, rest and laughter you long for. I don’t know about you, but I personally got tired of pain being my master and one day decided to fight by all means necessary. I did not want to feel all the hurt, plot my revenge daily and live less than what God put me on this earth to do. Placing the pain in God’s hands doesn’t take long, but the process of conquering and fully letting go might take longer, I am not talking weeks, but years. Once you commit though, you will along the way understand your pain and begin to fully grasp the art of letting it go. Along the way, you will learn to let go of all the things that helped you conceal the pain. Things like;

  • People
  • Places
  • coping mechanisms while still in pain

All this is not all walk in the park, but if you want it conquer and heal, then this is where you have to go. Especially if you are now desperately seeking for peace, hope, joy etc then friend this is the way to go. Because of the complexity of letting go, you certainly can’t do this alone. You need Jesus, the right environment and people that will allow you to release and let go. Please don’t expect this to happen without all I have mentioned above because you will only be lying to yourself and pain will continue to be your master. Here is some scripture to assure you that once you give you pain to Jesus, he will see you through the rest of the process of letting go;

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

1 Peter 5 v 10 (KJV)

11 You have changed my sadness into a joyful dance;

    you have taken away my sorrow

    and surrounded me with joy.

Psalms 30 v 11 (GNT)

What a blessed assurance right? What he did for others, he can also go for you! Give your pain to Jesus. His word says it will settle you and just like he did for David, he can do for you. Allow him to take away the sorrow and trade it for his joy. You have to conquer and let go, it is better on the other side. It is time for you to take your rightful place! It is time for you to trade thorns for crowns.

Much Love,

Xholiwe

Crumpled but not destroyed: Regain your vision and purpose

Hello Crowned Royals, it has been a while since I took to writing and it is about time that all the thoughts I have been having about vision and purpose are written down. We all have time and again slept and woke up to the same thought of our personal purpose and how we envision it, but there have also been times when both purpose and vision seem far apart. Well, here is a little story that will help you make sense of everything I am trying to get at. A few weeks ago I made my once a week trip to the grocery store and once I was done I headed on my way to exit. As I was walking out a man suddenly stopped in front of me and facing down, he bent down to pick a crumpled $10 bill, and with a huge grin behind his mask, he unraveled and stretched it out. He then looked back to me and said that it was his lucky day and he went on his way. I did not get to think about this story until a couple days ago and I am glad it came to memory because I want us to understand crumpled does not mean destroyed. The money was still going to serve its purpose of purchase whether it was crumpled or stretched out. If you currently feel crumpled regarding your vision and purpose then this blog post is for you, you just need a litte unraveling and streching. I would like to think that most of us have felt crumpled, some more than others have felt that our purpose has been destroyed. We fail to see purpose fulfilled through this crumpled vision we have accustomed ourselves to. We then walk around with the worst feeling of purposelessness and miss our purpose entirely. The main question before you get further into this read is; What crumpled the vision and caused you to lose sight of your purpose?

Our idea of vision and purpose: Clear and unclear

We all have this vision of how our lives should go and what must happen for us to feel accomplished in our purpose, but what happens when it is unclear and both the vision and purpose seems to not make sense anymore? There may have been a time in your life where you felt led in your vision and living your purpose, then suddenly either through difficult situations or self-sabotage, everything felt crumpled. Talk about frustration right? When vision and purpose are unclear or in other words crumpled, we tend to think that they are destroyed. On the contrary, it may just need a little unraveling and stretching for us to see clearly once again. Remember the guy from the grocery store that picked the money up? The money was crumpled, but nothing changed about the $10 bill, the value of the money did not change and the store cashier would still take it for a purchase. If you are currently battling with your thoughts of whether your vision and purpose is destroyed, I have good news for you, your vision is still well intact. There may be a couple of distractions, pains, regrets, fears, anger, bitterness, just to mention a few that you may need to uncrumple so you can see clearly.

Where did it start?

It had to start somewhere right? When in your life did you feel worthless and worse off purposeless? We all have a story to tell, and I know for some vision was crumpled at an early age where you were unable to fully understand who you are. I pray that all the heaviness and pain that came from your stolen vision is restored. I also pray you make peace with those that took it away from you. For the rest of us that can fully recall where it started, we might want to come to terms with what was and forge ahead to what will be, and that is our restored vision and purpose. It may take a little more unraveling and stretch for some than it may for others to fully grasp the vision and purpose, but make it your mission.

Practical steps to uncrumple you vision

Now that you know that your vision leading to your purpose is not destroyed , here are some practical steps to uncrumple your vision and fulfill your purpose;

  1. Identify where exactly your vision started to feel crumpled (unclear), was it a cycle of difficult situations, or small/major distractions, sin, guilt, shame, etc
  2. Surround yourself with people that can envision your vision with you. These people will remind you of your “why” constantly. These are also people that are willing to work with you to help build your vision and fulfill your purpose.
  3. Write your vision; this is not a vision board party where you stick a bunch of pictures and have no clue how you will get there. Let your vision be clear and make it plain (Habakkuk 2:2). Have some alone time without distractions and write your vision. If you want, crumple the piece of paper and after a couple days unravel it and read it again.
  4. Remember your “why”; there is a reason for your vision and desire to fulfill purpose. Take yourself back to when God places this vision in your heart and were excited and ready to fully live it. Sometimes all it takes is a walk down memory lane!
  5. Seek God about it; through prayer bring it up to God and let him know that your vision feels crumpled and you want to restore it. This is the part where you should be willing to put in the work. At this stage, you should be attentive and not miss what God is trying to show you.

I hope this short list pushes you to finally regain the vision that you thought was destroyed and realized that it was only crumpled and all it needs is some unraveling and stretching. Here is what the bible has to say about your vision and I hope it encourages you:

And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end, it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

Habakkuk 2 v 2-3 (KJV)

While everything regarding your vision may feel crumpled and uncertain, I hope you find encouragement in the scripture knowing that it will surely come. What a great assurance! It just confirms what I said the first time! Crumpled does not mean destroyed! Pick up that vision and being to live your purpose again. It is time for us to take our rightful place! It is time for us to trade thorns for crowns.

Much Love,

Xholiwe

The Dangers of Hidden Emotions

Hello crowned Royals, I hope you are all doing well despite all that is going on in your personal life and the world right now. I hope you continue to take your position and stand firm knowing that God is with you through it all. For the past couple of weeks, I have been thinking of the complexity of our emotions as humans and how easily they can damage us when kept hidden from others and ourselves. You know what I mean right? Think of the times you had to hide your sadness from others because you feared being judged or maybe the time you masked your bitterness with a smile so life could feel normal for just a day. As humans, we are often dealing with our emotions on a daily basis and how we experience them can be a challenge for most of us. The challenge is not with desirable emotions such as happiness, but it is with the least desirable emotions such as sadness, anger, jealousy, bitterness, disgust, shame, guilt, fear. While it is quite easy to display happiness, joy, and laughter, the other undesirable emotions are often kept hidden. Why do we do that? Well, there are several reasons, but two main reasons are; we hope no one sees them expressed in us and two, we don’t want to see us express these undesirable emotions. The posed danger is hidden emotions from yourself, which we do consciously and unconsciously. So, what are the dangers that come from your hidden emotions?

At the very beginning: Where did it all start?

I would like to think every habit we adapt to had to start from somewhere. When is the time you began to hide your least desirable emotions from others and yourself? Let us think back to when were children for a second, we were expressive of almost all our emotions both good and bad. We displayed our face of disgust when our parents fed us vegetables, we threw huge tantrums to convey our anger when our parents didn’t give us what we wanted and cried tears of sadness when our mother left without us. So, when did it become hard to convey these emotions? Is it when your parents said you are growing up and you needed to cry less or compose yourself more? Or is it when your sad tears seemed to irritate your peers and you began to understand the complexity of other’s emotions towards yours? It had to start somewhere and where is started can be anywhere that those least desirable emotions began to be hidden. A perfect example I could think of was from the movie Frozen. There is a scene at the beginning of the movie between Elisa and her parents that we may or may not relate to. Elisa was told by her parents to conceal and not feel (in other words, not be expressive) and that poor girl was haunted with these hidden emotions for way too long. We are in some shape or form have just like Elisa concealed and not felt for way too long. So again the question is, where did it start?

Triggers

I would like to believe we all have emotional triggers. If you have lived quite a bit in this world, there are several triggers that can stir up different emotions. It can be something that someone says that takes you back to that painful experience or something that you watch that is relatable to your situation. It can happen in many different ways, but when something triggers our undesirable emotions, we try to conceal and hide. But how long can you do that before you have an outburst and all the hidden emotions unravel at one time? Sometimes it just takes one trigger to have you lost it because you have bottled up so much for way too long. I get it, been there, and done that and it only took one emotional trigger to bring to the surface all that was hidden for way too long. Was it necessary? absolutely! All that unexpressed anger, sadness, panic, bitterness, and fear had to get out if I want to be liberated from it all. I would imagine that you would want the same thing for yourself too. Nothing is more liberating than being honest with how you feel or felt from the situations you experienced.

7 dangers of Hidden emotions

What we do to ourselves when we hide our less desirable emotions can harm us in the long run. We are created to feel, and God knew exactly what he was doing when he put these emotions in us. Suppressing them only can lead to bigger mental issues such as depression, major anger issues, extreme fear and anxiety just to mention a few. Listed below are 7 of the dangers you are likely to face your hidden emotions;

  1. Immaturity: You inability to fully master your emotions and unable to identify a healthy way to express them. If you are constantly hiding them, how do you mature your expression of them?
  2. Instability: The danger of unstable decisions can lead to long term consequences that could have been avoided.
  3. Self-Sabotage: Ruining almost every good thing in the fear that you will have to expose things about yourself to others.
  4. Regret: Constantly replaying past situations that make you wish you did something different.
  5. Stagnation: Being stuck in the past, constantly unable to move forward because there are still some unresolved issues within you that you have kept hidden.
  6. Isolation: Choosing to be alone and missing out on healthy human relationships.
  7. Resentment: You resent others for things you did not communicate. You also resent yourself, which I think is more tragic.

If you have been noticing some of these dangers in your life, then it means it may be about that time that you feel what you have avoided feeling for way too long. It may be time to dig out all the hidden emotions you hide behind a smile. The good thing is that if you are not open yet to express this to others or lack healthy support, God is always ready to listen and allow you to express those emotions. Here is what he has to say to you;

10 So then, banish anxiety from your heart

    and cast off the troubles of your body,

    for youth and vigor are meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 11 v 10

Banish all anxiety that you have built up from all the hidden emotions. Cast off the troubles and go boldly before the Lord. Speak to God about it in prayer. This is a good place to start better communicating your emotions. Emotions are not a bad thing! Even the bible says get angry, but don’t sleep anger. The bible also talks about different times in the book of Ecclesiastes and emotions are mentioned too. We are human, we are far from perfect. God knew perfectly well what he was doing when giving us these emotions. Being the compassionate God that he is, he is able to turn those least desirable emotions we consider bad to good. He does however require our honesty and openness to him. I pray you see the beauty in opening up from those hidden emotions and finding liberty in finally being expressive in a healthy way. It is time for us to take our rightful place! It is time for us to trade thorns for crowns.

Much Love,

Xholiwe

Never settle: Escaping Dysfunction

Hello crowned royals! I hope you are all doing well and staying steadfast in the Lord. What a year 2020 has turned out to be right? Huge sigh. However, I can’t help it but imagine that God is up to something that will bring ultimate healing for not just us as individuals, but an entire nation! Now that is some good news! Well, what I would like to talk about as per usual is individual healing. Part of individual healing comes from never settling, settling can mean many things to different people, but this time around I want you to look at from the lenses of dysfunction. Ever worked with a tool or appliance that did not work like it should? I have! I once used a loosened hammer that broke of the handle and hurt my foot a couple of times. Also, fairly recently I have tried to make a rice cooker work when clearly the appliance has been exhausted and I would need to buy something new. Can you tell what I was doing to myself while operating these dysfunctional items? I was constantly hurting myself and not producing. Could I have do things differently? Absolutely! While, this may not make sense to some, this may make sense to some of you that have constantly settled in a life of dysfunction and have had enough. For this blog I want us to ask ourselves this question, what have you settle for that is dysfunctional? The other question is, how do you escape?

Never settle in dysfunction

The idea of dysfunction may not reside in one’s mind as a call for making a difference or changing the narrative, but rather most of us have normalized dysfunction and sadly even settled in it. Dysfunction by simple definition is abnormality or something not operating normally or properly. Take a minute to think about any situation in your life that you consider abnormal and check yourself to see if you have settled. Have you told yourself that is just the way it is? and eventually have concluded by saying what there is no point of changing things. Then you have clearly chosen to settle. You have settled in dysfunctional relationships, dysfunctional work places, dysfunctional churches and the list is endless? I totally get you, I have been in a place in my life where dysfunction seemed normal. I settled quite a few times then after a couple cycles around the same situation, I believe I got fed up and had enough and hence my desire for change grew even more. Remember that hammer I talked about earlier? How it constantly would hurt me because it was dysfunctional? If the hammer was tightened to the handle that held it and operating normally, then I wouldn’t have be constantly hurt from it. One way to know that you have settled in dysfunction is how constantly you are hurt from a situation, but go right back to it. Doing this all the time eventually can lead you to repeated cycles of dysfunction that can easily make you believe that nothing can change. However, God calls us to make that change and never to settle. God being a God who knows no confusion will not operate in the dysfunction you have settled in, but rather he calls you out of dysfunction and brings you out from the places you decided to settle. There is more that comes from the liberation of never settling in dysfunction. I am talking about more peace, love, joy, rest, hope and assurance. If you were like me and you had enough, then it may be time to plan your escape.

Escaping dysfunction

How do you escape something that you have already normalized and settled in? I wish there was an easy way out, but because of my own experience I can assure you it may be the toughest thing you have to do, but it is totally doable! First of all, don’t let others talk you out of escaping dysfunction. Secondly, which I think is the most important is that you don’t allow yourself to talk yourself out of it. Think about how many times you came to the realization that things just didn’t seem right, but you went on with it anyway. Think back to the many years that constantly brought you hurt and this time commit to planning your grand escape. For this you will need a whole lot of Jesus and a hint of will power if you want to see a difference in your life or change the narrative. Below are a few steps to get you positioned and ready to find normality from what has been abnormal in your life and that eventually led you to settle:

  1. Do your research; what is normal and what is abnormal? This could be in any area of your life. For example, what does a normal healthy relationship look like and compare that to a dysfunctional relationship.
  2. Examine yourself; What have you settled in that is dysfunctional. This is where you can write things down and read them back to yourself.
  3. Recognize and reflect; This is the part where you ask yourself why you settled in dysfunction. This can be a painful process because you may have think far back and see very similar cycles that have surrounded you even as a child. This may or may not include family cycles much similar to yours.
  4. Acceptance; This is so important and people often skip this and think living in denial will fix all the dysfunction. The elephant is the room is staring your right in the face. Acceptance will help you identify those specific areas.
  5. Prayer and commitment; If you are not praying and committing to this escape then all the other steps will be pointless. Prayer still works! Ask God to help you escape and commit to getting out by any means necessary.
  6. Pick your support; Who will remind you to keep putting the effort? Get yourself around people who either have escaped dysfunction or are doing exactly what you are trying to do. Pull from each other strength and courage to escape dysfunction.

While these steps are not scientifically proven, I speak based off my personal experiences of escaping dysfunction. I know what it feels like to reach at your wits end and literally start to desire a clear escape that will give you peace of mind. Like I mentioned earlier, it is not easy, but when God gets involved and you are positioned, you will see the change! Here is some scripture for you as you being to escape dysfunction;

You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, [insert your name here]. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.

2 Chronicles 20 v 17

I pray that you begin to desire normalcy in your life and also clearly identify what your have settled for. I pray you make your escape from dysfunction and find the peace of mind from finally deciding to make a change. I hope you see that your life can be different and more fruitful because of your decision to no longer settle in dysfunction. I disagree with you, it is not just how it is, you can no longer settle. Look to the Lord for help and escape that dysfunction. It is time for you to take your rightful place! It is time to trade thorns for crowns.

Much love,

Xholiwe

Focused and soaring to greater heights: The life of an eagle

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash
You are to intentionally and deliberately zone in into your own vision if you want to achieve your destiny.

Hello crowned royals, I hope you are all doing well and staying afloat while the world is turned upside down. Now more than ever is a time for us to soar just like the mighty eagle especially with what is going on right now. From the title and the picture, you probably know what this blog will be about. Yes, we are going to talk about the eagle and learn a thing or two about this majestic bird. I don’t know about you, but I am often left in awe of this majestic bird and thought it is worth talking about. A friend and I were recently talking about eagles and I could not help write about them. I believe as humans there is so much we can learn from eagles and I see why the bible holds this creature with high esteem. For this blog we will unpack on the focus of an eagle and it’s ability to soar at such great heights. So the big question, what can we learn from the eagle? Probably a lot! But for this blog we will talk about focus and soaring.

Focus like an eagle

Unlike any other bird the eagle ranks on the top when it comes to vision. The eagle even has better vision and can see far ahead than the human eye can see. It’s vision gives it the ability to see sharply and helps it focus in on its prey even while it is still in the air. If you don’t know what I mean, I recommend you watch some national geographic show that showcases this bird in action. In the same way, we have to focus so we can eat too because not everyone just lands on destiny without focus. We may not be talking about literal food here or actual hunting, but the focus in our lives that regards our destiny needs to be as sharp as that of an eagle. This type of focus is not one that wavers because of the many distractions we are presented on a day to day basis. Imagine if the eagle got distracted while in the air and lost focus of its prey, it wouldn’t eat right? Hence it is critical that the bird maintains it’s focus in order to satisfy it’s need. Focus for every one of us is also critical as well, but many of us are still in spaces that distract us and further take us away from our destiny. Rather than focusing on the vision God has presented us, we miss the mark because we get distracted by what takes away our attention. Understand that not everything being done by others should be done by you. You are to intentionally and deliberately zone in into your own vision if you want to achieve your destiny.

When it comes to focus I am always compelled to talk about athletes because athletes embody focus. These people have to eat and breath to focus, they get paid to focus and if they lacked focus it was going to cost them. Think of yourself as an athlete for a second and see what it would cost you if you lost a competition because you got distracted and lost focus, it will not only cost, you but your entire team. Your vision is not just for you, but there are other people depending on you to focus so you can all win. This is not the time to get distracted, especially with what is going on in the world right now. While everything seems to be on a stand still, it may be a good time to re-focus yourself in any areas in your life that you feel that you have been distracted. Learn from the eagle that you can’t lose focus because if you do, you will not eat.

Soaring like an eagle

The majestic bird takes to the skies with such grace and demonstrates why it is different from the rest. The eagle does not flap its wings constantly, but because its wing span is different, once it takes flight it is able to soar in the sky at such great heights that other birds can’t reach. The eagle is the type of bird that still soars even in a storm, while other birds seek shelter. What can we learn about soaring from the eagle? What does soaring look like for us humans? I liken soaring higher heights to living your purpose. Purpose does take sometime to either be fully discovered or accepted and mastered. Let us be honest real quick, the human version of Soaring higher heights can be scary at first, especially if you have never done it before. Discovering purpose is great, but it is the work we put into that can either have us flapping our wings instead of soaring. Flapping often happens when we try to do things on our own. I know I am not the only one who tried flapping and got exhausted because I was doing things in my own strength and soon as the storm hit, I took cover. While the eagle has the soaring and braving the storm figured out, we need some help from the one who can align us to purpose and mount us up to take flight. Who is that you ask? Here is some scripture;

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40 v 31

When you purpose is birthed and aided by the Lord, you are sure to soar like an eagle. This bible verse tells us of our ability to soar on wings like eagle, not on any other bird’s wings because those type of wings wouldn’t be able to even go pass the ceiling. The eagle’s wings are for those that are ready to break the glass ceiling, those daring to step out of the generational dysfunction and fully embrace their purpose. Realize that the vision is much clear when you are soaring at higher heights and focused on achieving your destiny.

What more can say? My last words are that we can learn a whole lot more from the eagle! I doubt that the eagle is worried about you mimicking its way of life. If anything, God created the eagle as an everyday life lesson. Do you know how many motivational speakers have talked about the eagle? Probably to many for us to count. So all I can say is it time to focus and fight those distractions that take you away from your destiny and soar to greater heights were your purpose awaits. It is time for us to take our rightful place. It is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Lots of love,

Xholiwe

What was darkness: Step into light

Photo by kilarov zaneit on Unsplash
How did darkness become a place to hide out in fear of the light? Why do you avoid the light?
-Xholiwe

Hello crowned Royals, Happy new month! We made it to the 5th month of the year and we probably can agree that for some it feels like a century, but we can only pray that God sees us through it all. I have been doing a lot of resting and I must admit that it is time to get back to writing before rest turns into laziness. This blog post is going to be heavy before it gets light, so brace yourselves and let us unpack this together. To get us started, I want us to think about the times as kids when we feared sleeping in the dark and preferred the lights stayed on. How did the darkness make us feel? and why did we prefer the lights stayed on? I personally feared the dark because I believed monsters would get me and I was unsafe, but the light made me feel secure and safe because I could see around me. My reasoning as kid and as a grown adult about light has not changed because the light indeed makes me feel secure and safe. While I am proud to say I can sleep in the dark with the lights off now, it doesn’t mean that I did not overcome the kind of darkness that requires more effort than a flick of a switch. You know what am talking about right? The darkness in our lives that may have come into our life in many ways. It could have been through loss, sin, abuse, abandonment and the list goes on. Because this requires a whole lot more effort, we settle in it despite the fear and uncertainty we feel. What happened to being in the light? How did darkness become a place to hide out in fear of the light? Why do you avoid the light?

When darkness settles in your life

On a normal day to day we always know when darkness is about to settle, the sun sets, and the buildings around us light up. As you walk or drive you notice the street lights come on and the drivers on the road turn their lights on because darkness is settling. It almost happens naturally and because we are used to it, it becomes second nature to turn lights on once darkness settles for the night. How about when darkness settles in our lives? Can we tell that it is about to happen? Most definitely we can! We can tell that the toxic relationship is turning into darkness when we have been emotionally or physically abused once too many times. We can tell when we lose a loved one and depression kicks in that darkness is about to settle. We can tell that it is turning dark when we have repeatably committed the sin we have been struggling with for quite a while. So why do we decide to stay in the dark then? There are several reasons we refuse to turn on the lights, one main reason being that a lot of things that happen in the dark always come with a couple of other things. Things such as shame, hurt, anger, bitterness, regret, guilt just to mention a few literally push us into further darkness. We then fear the light because we fear our truth, not realizing that very truth is what will lead us to the light after darkness settles. Understand that living a life in darkness is tragic whether you believe in God or not. I was listening to an old sermon by my pastor and he asked this question, do you know how expensive living a life in the dark is? You pay for it with you peace, rest, joy and destiny. You can’t afford it! Don’t allow for darkness to settle. It is time to find the light.

Finding the light

Can we be honest? We all have at one point got so tired of the darkness and wanted to find the light. The question is not where do we find the light. It is who is the light? The light is found in Jesus and the word of God clearly says it several times. There is one of the many verses that let’s us know Jesus is indeed the light;

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8 v 12 NIV

Because we often look for where the light is instead of who the light is, we continue to stay trapped in our darkness. We may find temporary light that will never last you as long as the light of life from Jesus. With Jesus as you light, even when darkness comes upon you, his light will quickly see you through. You no longer have to feed off the light provided by man when God becomes the light of your world. Find your light, not in the “where”, but in the “who” and that is Jesus!

Stepping into the light

If you ever tried to step into the light after a long time of living in the dark, you can probably agree with me that it does take a lot. The decision to step into the light can simply be you being tired of the dark and realize it is taking you nowhere. Other reason could be;

  • The word of God that is spoken in truth and proven that darkness wasn’t meant to last forever.
  • Godly assigned people that help you find the “who” in the light and pull you out of darkness.
  • Your own desperation to leave the darkness.

Realize that stepping into light takes a ton of readjusting. Just like the human eye readjusts itself even exposed to light after being in the dark for long, so does the spirit reform. Somethings may feel foreign until the spirit readjust to the light, but that is part of the process.

Walking from the dark into the light will expose you, but the key is to be transparent. My pastor said in one of his sermons that living a life in the dark is living in a life of falsehood and people who live there fear being exposed (John 3 v 20). He continues to say you can not be powerful if you are not transparent. The absence of transparency keeps a person longer in the dark. In the dark you nearly forfeit all power and allow the devil to have authority over you, but it is time for you to step out now.

One thing that we should also prepare for as we step into the light is the shadow behind us also known as our past. As long as there is light, there will also be a shadow. What do you do when you come face to face with your past (shadow)? Well, now that you are exposed to the light it is clear to see your past in the light. It is no longer a giant form of darkness that consumes you and makes you believe that your life is over. Be rest assured that your past (shadow) will go with you, but that is no reason to be ashamed, but rather let it be your testimony. Someone battling the same form of darkness needs you to tell your story!

Living in the light

Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! My last words are that stepping into the light is the best decesion you would ever make in your life. Here is what the light does for you;

  • You see clearly
  • You are refined
  • You are made whole
  • You heal
  • You are set free
  • You walk into your destiny

Those are some nice things to have right? Sound like a perfect recipe for what we call “living my best life”. So why not make the choice to trade that darkness for the light? Let’s do this! It is time for us to take our rightful place. It is time to trade thorns for crowns.

Much love,

Xholiwe

Single mindedness: The power of a single mind

Photo by Jakari Ward on Unsplash
Unlike a double-minded person, you are not in a constant battle with your mind, but are settled in knowing exactly who you are and your God given purpose.
-Xholiwe

Hello crowned and quarantined royals! I hope this blog finds you well during these unprecedented times. It has been a while and it is apparent we talk about being single minded and the power it gives you. Often times we have found ourselves battling with double mindedness and because of the constant wavering in our minds, we are unable to fully come to a oneness in our minds. In a world full of many options, I could see why having a single mind is not easy. We are constantly presented with options, information, people, and places that making having a single mind almost impossible. However, we are called to be single minded, at least that is what my bible tells me. The bible says in James 1:8 that the ways of a double-minded person are unstable. If the ways of a double-minded person are unstable, what are the ways of a single-minded person? This is not rocket science, the ways of a single-minded person are stable. Stability is where the power of single mindedness plays a vital role in our lives. Before we go any further, this will be a good time to ask yourself if you are double-minded or single-minded.

No shades of gray

A couple weeks ago I was listening to the song by Jonathan McReynold called ‘No Gray’ basically the message from the song is hitting on double mindedness. In his song he says you have to either be white or black and avoid those gray areas in your life. We are not talking about literal colors, but our decisions, our convictions, our standards and our beliefs need to be distinct (black or white). The dangers of leaving all these in a gray area can easily lead to a wavering mind. Let us be honest, we have all been there (the gray areas), some of us more than others. We have flirted with different ideologies, made the wrong decisions, been with the wrong people, and at some point even lowered our standards all because our mind lacked stability. A result of doing so brought instability in many of our lives and for some right now it may only be the beginning. Understand that the gray areas lack structure and leave vital things that require stability in limbo. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to purposefully make distinct decisions because if not, you will be constantly falling into the unstable gray zones. You have to decide whether you want to sin or not (black or white) or whether you want to obey or disobey (black or white) and the list goes on. Avoid the gray zones by all means necessary because the gray can very easily result in a seed of doubt and with doubt comes wavering and with wavering comes instability. With that, take some time to think about the gray areas in your life that you can shift and stabilize.

Training the mind to be single-minded

Newsflash! Having a single-mind does require training. Remember I told you earlier that it is not easy. Even the great women and men of God had to train their minds. We need to understand that the mind most of the time takes most of the information it is presented, and it is almost like we communicate with it on what we keep and what we don’t keep. For example, I was not a fan of math in high school and still not a fan now, do I remember all the math information presented to me? absolutely not! But you know what I remember from high school more vividly is the moments spent with my high school friends. I am not an expert on minds, but a simple step to train your mind is filtering information presented to you. Not all information needs to be absorbed, especially not math formulas for me lol. Training the mind does take time, so allow yourself some time because you can not wish yourself into being single-minded. Single-mindedness can be built by self-discipline and commitment. Can we be real though, self-discipline and commitment is surely not a walk in the park too. But we have to constantly work on them if we hope to be single-minded. Do something that will build self-discipline and commitment; it can be a small task like working out three times a week or a big project like redecorating your home. Do anything that will require for your to complete it. Make the simple strides first and keep at it. You got this!

The power of being single minded

Once you are constantly in the habit of training your brain to aim for one thing, you are way on your way to realizing the power of single-mindedness. Like I mentioned the power of single mindedness is in the stability of a person. While the world competes for power through money and authority, a single-minded person is already one step ahead because of their stability. With stability you are able to quickly identify what to do and what not to do. Stability also allows you to be in the right state of mind and hence make right decisions. Unlike a double-minded person, you are not in a constant battle with your mind, but are settled in knowing exactly who you are and your God given purpose. Therefore, if you want to move forward in purpose begin with a single mind. Here is some scripture for you;

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Matthew 6 v 24

The scripture speaks of the inability for one to serve two masters and uses the perfect example that some, not all continue to battle with. But when given the power of a single mind picking between money and God shouldn’t be complicated. Let us take it further, it is just not money and God that people have a wavering mind. It can be honor or dishonor and other times it can also be toxic relationships versus healthy relationships and the list goes on. See why you can not afford to be in the gray zone? It is time to tap into the power of single mindedness and embrace the power it gives you.

My last words regarding single mindedness are that, there are no shortcuts to getting there. If you have always been single-minded cheers to you, but for the rest we have to put in the work and realize the power we get from it. From now on be distinct (What is your black or white). Avoid those gray areas because they often times lead you into deep trouble. I am confident that you will begin to work towards developing a single mind. It is worth it! It is time to take your rightful place. It is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Much love,

Xholiwe

Find your rest: Rest beyond sleep

While putting the effort into finding rest, I believe that the ultimate rest comes from God

Hello crowned Royals! I hope everyone of you are doing well in midst of all panic and fear around the world concerning the Corona virus. While all this is going on, God gave me this reminder and I want to share it with you just in case you are fearful right now. He said be still and know that he is God! I thought that was a great reminder for me as well because just a couple days ago I was faced with fear. This week I thought of writing on rest because a lot of us including myself can use some of it. Resting is an essential God given crown that most of us only relate to sleep, but I hope with this blog you look at rest beyond sleep. While sleep is important and necessary, we also need to know that there is rest beyond sleep. How do we find rest in the midst of what sometimes feels like a never ending race?

Race and Pace

Have you ever competed in a race or observed another person compete in a race? Notice how pace is dependent on the distance of any type of race? Running is competitive and pace matters because it is what determines the win. A runner in a short distance race requires fast pace while a marathon runner is better off keeping a steady pace. There is a reason why these different racers decide the pace for their race and it is evident that one compared to the other requires a regulated pace because of the distance. I always compare our lives to a marathon runner because of the long distance we have to take in order to get to the place of rest. The unfortunate thing is that most of us prefer to keep a fast pace for a long distance race and we get frustrated when we are unable to find rest. I say so because there were times I wanted to maintain a fast pace for what requires a regulated pace. I did it in school, relationships, career growth and the list goes on. Have you ever experienced that too? I bet you have! And I totally understand. Once we wake up every morning it is almost like we already begin to compete with the hours of the day and as if that is not enough we compete with so much more. Think about all the competing thoughts in your mind and your competitive nature towards others that often leaves you restless and missing out on what could be a restful life. I know it is a lot, but many of us do it even without consciously knowing what is going on. I hope we begin to regulate our pace and start to find rest.

Finding your rest beyond sleep

For someone that appreciates physical sleep, I have also found such great importance in mental rest. When you find your mental rest, getting enough physical rest is a walk in the park. Once you are able to bring your unrest to God, regulate your pace and know when and when not to react to situations that would take away your rest, you will be able to find your rest. Not an easy task if you ask me, but by the grace of God and determination to get rest you found some. If I found rest in all my restless days, so can you! But you would have to want it bad enough to be able to find it. Here is how you do it;

  • Have an honest conversation with yourself about what pace you are currently maitaining. Is it fast? or regulated? or no pace at all?
  • Think of the past, current, future situations in your own life that take away your rest. (write them down)
  • Bring all these situations before God because he is the God that gives your rest.
  • Identify people that take away your rest.
  • Maintain your distance from people that take away your rest, but still love them. (side note: people pleasing is not cool. especially at the expense of your rest)
  • Remind yourself that life is not a competition, mind your own and keep your pace. (manage your time well on social media)

There are several ways one can find rest, the ones listed are what worked for me in finding my rest. While putting the effort into finding rest, I believe that the ultimate rest comes from God. God gives you rest once you bring it before him in confidence. There are many situations, thoughts and people that can easily take away rest or give us a reason to fast pace, but when God is involved he brings rest and regulates our pace. It is a beautiful thing! Don’t believe me? Here is some scripture for you;

31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31 (NIV)

I want to end this blog with my thought on the bible verse above. While many of us are coming and going, God calls out to a quiet place with him to find our rest. Our rest is found in him and so our efforts to finding rest should lean towards him. The way we pace ourselves and eventually find our rest is determined by God’s involvement. The beautiful thing with God’s rest is that even when situations around you can easily take away your rest, once you go with him to a quiet place, he gives your rest. Do your part first and may your soul find rest in Christ alone! It is time to take your rightful place. It is time to trade thorns for crowns.

Much Love,

Xholiwe

The Unexpected Blessing of Suffering

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash
For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

Hey Crowned Royals! I hope you are doing wonderful! It is hard to believe that we are already in a new month and this close to spring. There is something about seasons changing that always reminds me that even the suffering we go through in our lives will pass too just like the seasons. I thought this week we should talk about suffer and I will start us off with this question. What are the unexpected blessings that come from suffering? I am reading a wonderful book by Nika Maples called Hunting Hope that will help us answer this question and see the unexpected blessings in our suffering. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it! (am not being paid to say this, but it is a good book especially if are losing hope and want to hunt for it!

Suffering by definition is the state of going through pain, distress or hardship, and we all have been there sometime in our lives. How did suffering come into your life? was it the lose of a loved one, was it financial struggle or stressful work-life balance? We all have been there so please don’t feel alone. There are many reasons why we despise our time of suffering and if I could share a list we would see a lot of similarities. While we all have legit reasons to despise our suffering, we also fail to understand the reasons for it. In my on sufferings I never understood why it had to be me to go through harder situations and I am guessing you too have felt that way. It is not until I went through the entirety of my suffering that made it clear to me there was not just one, but several unexpected blessings God showed me later. Is there any unexpected blessing that came from your suffering?

Our initial struggle with suffering as human as we are is that we are creatures of comfort and suffering let’s be honest brings discomfort. Because we want the immediate comfort, we either hasten ourselves to get out of the suffering or find comfort in the pain. Those of us that hasten find ourselves seeking comfort in the wrong things and miss the blessings because we needed a quick fix. Those of us that find comfort in pain lose hope and miss the blessings because enduring the suffering till the end felt impossible. I don’t know where you fall in these two categories, but I know from my experience that there always comes blessings from your suffering. Two sure blessings that come from suffering that Nika Maples shared in her book were refined character and oneness with Christ. We will look at both blessings in this blog and hopefully by the end of this read you will understand why you had to suffer for a season.

The blessing of a refined character

Ever thought you could polish up your character and be a better person for you and others? Well, hard to believe that the blessing of suffering refines our character. How is that even possible when you feel defeated to refine your character? That is the whole point, suffering will almost give you a version of yourself that you often couldn’t see because you were comfortable. It is in that very difficult time that our characters are refined and we see the good, the bad and the ugly of ourselves. Have you ever seen an arrogant wealthy man lose all his money remain the same arrogant man after suffering a financial loss? What happens to the wealthy man is that his arrogance is revealed in his suffering and that is an opportunity for him to change that or now become an arrogant poor man. The whole point of this example is for you to think of yourself and what parts of your own character can be refined by your past or current suffering. God wants to work with us, but he needs to refine us and refining happens in the heat of our suffering. Gold is refined in fire for reason, the heat from the fire sheds of the impurity from the gold and makes it pure. Without the heat it is impossible to purify the gold and present it to the world. Your character goes through the exact process as the gold, so the choice is on you. Do you turn the heat off and miss the blessing of refined character or endure till the end and come out refined? Here are a couple of scriptures on refined character;

Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says:

“See, I will refine and test them,
    for what else can I do
    because of the sin of my people? Jeremiah 9:7 (NIV)

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
    but the Lord tests the heart. Proverbs 17:3 (NIV)

See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
    I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. Isaiah 48:10 (NIV)

The Blessing of Oneness with God

How do we become one with God? We become partakers in his suffering. Through our own suffering we are able to fully understand God’s sufferings and we too can boast in our own sufferings that created endurance. I am enamored by several people in the bible, but when it comes to suffering and endurance, I learn a lot from Paul. Paul was a mighty man of God who experienced so much persecution for the sake of the gospel. He suffered for what Jesus suffered for, the truth to reach all people. The blessing of oneness with God is that you will also like Paul suffer for the truth and later you will be greatly rewarded for you shared in the sufferings. Oneness with God is a blessing because God now can entrust you to give truth to others. When we come into oneness with God through suffering, we are then well prepared for the sufferings we have not even experienced yet. God equips you for the suffering you endure and brings you to a place of understanding. However, if you lack the understanding of your suffering, you will be unable to comprehend where God has equipped you so that you are able to endure. Hence the need of oneness with God that allows for a clear understanding of your suffering aligned to his own sufferings.

For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

2 Corinthians 1 v 5-7 (NIV)

Last words, there is comfort in Jesus. The unexpected blessings of suffering are far more worth than the temporal fix of comfort or lose of hope. There is no need to hasten yourselves when God is helping refine your character so that it is more like his own. While suffering is difficult, your endurance and perseverance will surely create good character, which is such a great blessing for you and others around you. With refined character God is able to use you for his glory. Also, while you take part in your sufferings, you take part in his for the sake of the gospel. With your sufferings, you join some of the mighty men and women of God such as Paul that endured for the sake of truth and the received his greatest blessing, the oneness with God and the reward of eternal life in Christ. Use your suffering as training and testing ground! Do not despise it. It is time for us take our rightful place. It is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Much Love,

Xholiwe

When purpose is birthed from pain

Take the blindfold off and see that there is more to your life than the pain that has limited you for way too long.
-Xholiwe

Hello crowned Royals! Hope all of you are doing great. Shame on me for being away for too long. I am back though and hopefully we can continue on our journey together as we trade our thorns for crowns. I have so many thoughts about pain and how it usually takes away from us being able to see beyond it. I am often fascinated by how pain has a way of connecting us all in very different ways. Pain almost like a universal language knows no boundaries, it doesn’t matter what religion you belong to, what race you are or your economic status, we all have felt pain. Pain can be felt from the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, a major heartbreak, divorce, molestation, rape, emotional abuse, injustice and the list goes on. Often times if ever faced with any of these painful situations, it is almost hard to see the purpose from the pain. We ask ourselves a ton of questions before coming to the conclusion that there is nothing good that can come out of all the pain. I totally get it and that is why I want us to talk about it. So the question is how can purpose be birthed from pain? Purpose is birthed from pain when we understand the reason for the pain and why it had to be us and not someone to experience it. Understanding comes from the process, which we will also talk about in this blog. So let’s keep reading

Rawness of pain and how to handle it

Pain expressed in its rawness leave much to be desired for many of us. It is a messy emotion that we often times want to silence and cover up. Pain is a complex emotion that can not be handled with simplicity. Have you every seen a serious injury only be covered up by a band-aid? Am guessing not, but that is how most of us handle our pain. We cover big and painful wounds with band-aid only to continue to feel the pain and miss out on proper healing. If we are not intentional about healing from our pain, we can get buried and blinded by the rubble from all the pain we experience. Very few of us decide to dig ourselves out of the rubble because we lose hope. We experience despair and go under to only acquaint ourselves to similar people and things in the same exact situation. I remember handling my pain wrongly, like a badge of honor I paraded myself in my pain and thought this would be my life moving forward. At least so I thought. I asked the question that most of you have probably asked yourselves too “what good can come from this pain?” To my surprise, a lot of good can come from seeing beyond the pain. The experience of pain when handled in its rawness allows for you to feel and master ways to change those feelings into purpose. You are not handling pain well if you suppress the tears, lie to yourself, avoid conversations that remind you of the pain and turn away people that can help pull you out of the rubble of your pain and in the process birth your purpose. All these examples point to honesty, be honest about you pain and that is one easier way to handle pain. So with that think about what is it that you are currently doing that is not helping you handle your pain correctly. And then think of what can you do differently to handle it better.

The process before the purpose

While we all want to live our purposeful life, a lot of us neglect the process. Purpose from pain could be the easiest to find, yet most of us have a tough time coming to terms with the the pain hence the process feels like torture. Unfortunately, life is not like that blu-ray disc that you can fast forward and skip the process and land on purpose. The process is necessary even for purpose that is not birthed from pain. Think about it, a doctor goes through the process of learning tough medical procedures just so that his/her purpose can be birthed. Another example in relation to pain is a guy that experienced pain from substance abuse, then went through the process and finally got better and later opened a rehab center for people currently dealing with substance abuse. See anything similar in these two examples? Their purpose is to help others. So here is how we can process, what from your pain triggers you to want to help others who have experienced similar pain? Dig out from the rubble of your pain and you will be surprised to see how many valuable things that will come from it. Some of these valuable things will even help you know you better. You will learn what you can and can not handle as you allow yourself to process. The process can be ugly and dirty, but you must get dirty for your purpose to be birthed from it. The process can even cause more pain and sorrow, but your job is not to quit, you are to dig deep and understand the reason for the pain. The understanding of the reason surely helps birth purpose. While you go through the process be patient and allow for God to help you through it. When pain hit you, God knew you could process and find purpose in it. If you don’t believe me then here is some scripture;

He [God] will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1 v 8

Another version of this verse says that God will sustain you. Will you still experience pain? Absolutely! But it is surely good to know that God will sustain you! He will carry you through until all the pain makes sense to you and others. Take this from someone who birthed their purpose from pain that God will sustain you. God has held me firm and kept me from falling when I let the pain in my life almost bury me and blind me to see beyond it all. Here are a few things that I did to help birth my purpose;

How to birth purpose from pain

  1. Acceptance – accept your pain and be raw about it. Feel all the emotions and don’t deny those painful situations
  2. Forgive – You need to forgive yourself and others that caused the pain.
  3. Reflect – This can be very hard to do, but you will have to re-visit the very moment that caused you pain. Write it down! How did you feel in that moment, where were you went it happened? who were you with? etc
  4. Ask questions – Yes, those though questions you try to avoid, ask them. Have talk with yourself or a trusted person in your life
  5. Learn valuable lessons – What can you learn from the pain about yourself? this can be both positive and negative.
  6. Connect with supportive people – You can’t process this alone. There are people who have experienced similar pain that you can learn from. These people processed it and found purpose. So learn from them!

Realize that there are several way to get to birth purpose from pain, but these are just a few that helped me birth my own. My last words are keep going! You can’t quit now when you are so close to birthing your purpose. Learn the valuable lesson and expand yourself to see beyond the pain and grasp on to your new found purpose. No, you will no longer be blinded by your pain and be buried under without a fight for more. Take the blindfold off and see that there is more to your life than the pain that has limited you for way too long. It is time to take our rightful place! It is time to trade thorns for crowns.

Much Love

Xholiwe