Schooled by experience: What a book can’t teach you

Greetings Crowned Royals! I hope all is well with you and your loved ones. I am so excited to write again this week and share with you what has been on my mind of late. Writing on failure last week made me think of something closely related, but a much border topic that we will unpack together. While Failure falls under the entire scope of our life experience, it literally is a small segment of it when we think of our many life experiences and how they shaped us to be who we are today. There is a famous quote that says experience is the best teacher and I couldn’t agree any more. Experience teaches us things about us that the books can not even explain. Being schooled by experience is far more complex and it demands more of your character than it does our intelligence. So, what makes experience the best teacher hands down? To answer this question, think of your own experience; the lessons, the rewards, the surprises, the tests, the uncertainties, fears and how all of that helped shape you to be the person you are today.

What is it like to be schooled by experience

Being schooled by experience is like going on a experimental roller coaster ride blindfolded without any idea on when the highs and lows will hit you. You will be met with many highs and many lows along the way, yet you stay on the ride and hopefully pay attention and take some notes because there will be tests after each ride. When you being schooled by experience, you will notice how you are not being asked to memorize knowledge, but you are rather required to apply the knowledge to your life experience. It is very hands on and practical type of school experience.

Another thing you will notice while being schooled by experience is that comparing and copying off others life experiences will not work so well for your own. Life experiences are told differently by everyone because of how we handle the lessons taught from our highs and lows. Not everyone handles these lessons well, and maybe you haven’t done so well either other times when handed these lessons, but your work and effort to do better is a choice you make for yourself. Doing all of this is not an easy task, so teaching tools such as books can help better prepare for while being schooled. While books are a great teaching tool, they can only go so far in helping us mature than actual experience can do.

BOOKS as a Teaching tool

If you are not reading a book that will help your current life situation, please read something! God has blessed many people to write books on different aspects of life and he gave us his word the Bible that touches on every aspect on life. Books are a great teaching tool that provide you with insight and practical examples. From books we learn that we are not the only ones experiencing life’s highs and lows. The only thing the book can’t teach us is how to learn from our own unique experience. We have books that will help us learn and understand our situations better, so that even as we experience, we go in somewhat prepared. A book will give you a general overview, instructions, advise and commend you, but the work starts when you apply the knowledge of and make it practical for to your own experience. Here is what a book CAN NOT teach;

  • Your own unique purpose
  • Your resilience and tolerance during your lows
  • How to handle your own success and failures in life and move on
  • Your own perspective over your life
  • How to be patient and kind to yourself as you experience life
  • The choices you make and made had a huge impact on your life

EXPERIENCE as a teacher

Can we all admit that experience has thrown us some harsh lessons, I mean really harsh that for some of us it changed our way and meaning of life. Experience is the teacher that most of us wish we did not have to take a class with them or maybe skip a couple lessons and still expect to pass. Wrong! As you experience life more, you will soon realize that there are no redos or make up tests like it was in school. Life experiences are about how well you handled the highs and lows and what you learned along the way is more valuable than you can imagine. Experience as a teacher has the ability to wipe us into shape and despite some painful lessons we would be thanking it later. Experience teach us that success is good and so is failure. We will be faced with many tests and as we continue to learn, but experience as a teacher cheers us on to keep going and growing in the process. Experience will teach us the valuable lessons of life that we can then use to help others that continue to struggle. Once you are schooled by experience you will soon learn the important of every high and low in your life and not take it for granted. Here is what experience WILL teach you:

  • Your own unique purpose
  • Your resilience and tolerance during your lows
  • How to handle your own success and failures in life and move on
  • Your own perspective over your life
  • How to be patient and kind to yourself as you experience life
  • The choices you make and made had a huge impact on your life

God and experience

God created us to experience life in its fullness, he knew that we will experience all the highs and lows and was confident that we would through the process learn who we are and not quit on life because of it. For some of us, our experiences helped align us back to God’s will for our lives. We had to take those hard and painful lessons to be able to come back to where we should have been in the first place. God like any loving parent helps correct us through our experience and while the lesson was not pleasant at first, we were surely grateful. He used our experience for our good. God used our experience for our good! Let us see what scripture says:

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12 vs 11

To be trained by experience is good! There is a harvest that comes with you staying the course and making the choice to grow and transform from your own life experiences. Allow yourself to be trained by the best teacher and while you are at it utilize books and study the word of God. With that said, I hope you can now see that being schooled by experience is not such a bad thing after all. Through the entire process you get to learn who you are and understand why your experience was tailor made for you.

It is time for us to take our rightful place, it is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Much Love!

Xholiwe

Always a winner: What happens when you fail

To win again you need to critically look at your failure and handle it well. -Xholiwe-

Hello Crowned Royals! Greeting from the winter wonderland land of Illinois. I hope you are doing wonderful and not quitting for nothing until you take your crowns. I thought of writing this week because I had many thoughts regarding failure and how most of us don’t take it so well. I totally understand us because let’s be honest failure is not not as exciting as winning. We all want to win, I mean who wouldn’t want to always be the winner? But what happens when you fail?

If you have ever played a good game of Monopoly with either friends or family, then you know not everyone takes failure very well. Remember when your competitive family member or friend lost all their money and property on Monopoly? How did they take that failure? I am guessing not so well and that was just in a game of Monopoly. Unfortunately, failure goes beyond the a fictional board game, even for the people that have always been winning in real life. Unexpectedly for some failure comes as a surprise and their inability to handle failure can be quite devastating. For people that are used to always winning, I want to tell you right now that failure is okay. Failure is not the end of your winning streak, and will not ruin your life. I hope after this blog the “f” word will be a comfortable thing for you to say without panicking.

What happens when we fail?

When we fail there are two ways we can go and the choose is usually up to us and how we handle our failures. You could either take the route that tells you are not enough because you failed in something or the route that says use our failure as a learning point to grow and mature. It is hard to take the second route if you have always been the winner, losing for someone who has always been a winner is so scary. But I don’t think many people are impressed by a story of someone who has always been winning. In fact, people don’t buy tickets to motivational speakers who have always been winning, what sales those tickets is that failure was involved. We have heard the stories of the winners and champions we admire and they have something in common and that is failure. They share on their failures and just for a second we look at their humanness and that they too are not exempt from it. But if these people took the route that told them they were not enough and should quit, then we would have lost champions because of their inability to handle failure well.

I get it failure does not feel good, starting over does not make any sense at all, but once you decide to take the route of growth and maturity from your failures then you are going to see failure much differently than you did before.

Changing your perspective on failure

A lot of us have looked at failure negatively because we live in a society that does not celebrate failure, if anything we would rather failure did not exist. We all want to win, winning is appealing and well celebrated. Think about how a winning sports team brings celebration to its fans compared to the losing team that leaves it’s fans devastated. For the team that lost, their failure allows them to look critically at their mistakes and how they could improve for the next game or season. Rather than allowing failure to devastate and overwhelm you, look at failure as a place to learn and improve yourself and not beat yourself up about it. Starting off from this perspective of failure will help you realize that your failure is your learning point and not the end of your perfect world of winning. To win again you need to critically look at your failure and handle it well. Some of us could admit that we have not handles our failures well, and that later even lead to our own destruction.

Your inability to look at failure positively will easily frustrate, anger, overwhelm, guilt, shame and discourage you when you do experience it. I totally understand the feeling and emotions that come with failure because I too have failed miserably in some areas of my life and if I allowed that failure to devastate me, then I would be telling a different story. The feelings that come with failure are valid, but you can’t not allow them to guide you through your failures. You are allowed to feel all the feels, but dwelling on them and letting them lead you is an absolute no. Allow yourself the time to mourn your failure, but quickly remind yourself that failure is a learning point and learn what you have to learn from it.

God’s view on failure

There many Bible stories that tell me that God was okay with failure. He worked with many flawed people that experienced major failure. I think of the many failures of David and how God still used him and lifted him up above all the failures. I think of the failures of Peter and how God still used Peter to build the church. God may have realized it before we did, that we would fail at some point in our lives and he hoped we would see it much differently and handle it much differently than we do. God views failure as a teachable moment for you and also a place that helps you grow into knowing who you are in him. God is not looking at your failure and thinking you are defeated because of it. He is hoping you are taking failure well and not allowing it to overwhelm you and take you away from trying again. He is hoping you are realizing that failure is inevitable and not a death sentence. Rather than looking at failure as a limitation as we look at it, God looks at it as a place of possibility. A place where we can mature and take a more accurate look at our failure and how it can help us grow and build resilience. With failure God would want us to see our humanness and that even we are flawed, but have a perfect God that is able use us despite our failures and shortcomings. Think about it, if God only used people that were always winners, how would the flawed related to their own failures? For example if God only used the perfect, how would the world we live in look at failure? much worse than it is today. We would think perfect is the only way to be used by God, but on the contrary, God is wanting to help and work with the person who embraces failure and handle it well. The word of God says this:

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
    I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
    and I know I will not be put to shame.

Isaiah 50:7

Let us face it, failure is usually much louder than winning especially in the world that magnifies the failures of others, so this verse should be comforting to all of us. Even in failure God will help us and we shall not be disgraced! Glory to God who shows us grace even in our failure.

With that said, I hope you look at your failure much differently than you did before. I hope you are able to change your perspective on your failures and how well you can handle them. Don’t hate me for saying it, but failure is good for you. Failure will help you grow, humble and mature you. Failure is a perfect teachable moment for you and God is most likely to be part of that moment. Realize that if you have not experienced failure or are like me and have had your share of failures, then your failure does not mean your defeat. There is still a lot of room to win! Before we jump into the winning court, learn from the previous failures and grow. It is time for you to take your rightful place! It is time for you to trade thorns for crowns.

Much Love,

Xholiwe

Knotted: The emotional process of un-knotting painful ties

Hello Crowned Royals, Happy New Year to you all! I hope each and everyone of you are doing your best work to attain your crowns. If you asked me what your number 1 resolution should be, I would say attain your crowns and the rest will fall into place.

I was hoping to have written this blog earlier in the year because in the beginning of the year, most people are open to change so hope I am not too late. I want us to talk about knots, not the knots you see on the features image, but the painful knotted ties within us. We continue to do life while knotted with painful ties, which we have a tough time admitting to the emotional roller coaster they put on us. I hope this blog will help you realize that it is possible to un-knot those ties, and also be well aware of the emotional process that comes with un-knotting.

If you have ever been knotted in painful ties then you know that it feels impossible to get out of it, especially if the people or situation is something that changed your life drastically. Breaking of ties while knotted can take you from feeling frustrated, to sad, to angry, to restless, but at least if you have already began the process of un-knotting, you are off to a good start. I liken the emotional process of un-knotting to my constant battle with my knotted necklaces in my jewelry box. I think the ladies can agree with me, when jewelry gets knotted it also feels impossible to pull apart. I realized from the many un-knotting I had to do with my necklaces that if my patience was short, I got angry and frustrated, which lead me to quitting pretty quickly in the process. Even though that was the jewelry piece I wanted to compliment my outfit, I quit on separating it from the other because of the process it took. why was I quick to quit? Well, I think the patience and my emotions got the best of me and did not allow me to finish what I started, which would have eventually benefited me. I know this a trivial example compared to un-knotting actual painful ties in our lives, but isn’t that what we do? We being to un-knot hurriedly things that need time and patience, and because it did not happen quickly we then begin to go through the roller coaster of emotions. Once we allow for these emotions to get the best of us, we are unable to see the many knots we missed and continue to live knotted. Why do we then settle for a knotted life?

Living a knotted life

If you have ever known a life lived knotted then you will know that it is not one you can say you are living your best life. But why are so many knotted people claiming to live their best lives? Hmm, I can give you several reasons, but the first one that jumps out of my mind is denial. We as human tend to think by denying painful ties that they magically disappear, unfortunately, those things only happen in fairy tales. What we go through and experience in our life’s is real and can not be ignored. The knotted life is a life lived in constant denial of one’s reality. What denial does is that it takes away from the person’s ability to recognize that there are painful ties that they need to knot out if they want to live a better life. I know of the knotted life because I once lived it and let me tell you, it is no way to live. It is quite sad to know that many of us continue to live the knotted life and have normalized it because not many of have taken up the task to actually got through the process of un-knotting. But if you are one that is tired of the knotted life like I was, then I think it is time to go through the process head first and not to quit when it gets hard. Because it will get hard at some point, but quitting shouldn’t be you option.

The emotional process of un-knotting painful ties

Now that we know that the knotted life is not the way to live and have decided to un-knot it all, what can we expect? Well, we expect ourselves to go through one tedious and intense emotional process that in the end will give us a life lived with no denial. If you won’t come ready for such an emotional process, then you will be quitting even before it begins. Painful ties are not just little issues that you had with a co-worker that can be cleared over a cup of coffee. Painful ties are things that come with intense emotion and pain and for some those ties changed their lives and how they live. It may be the painful ties with a memory of losing a loved one, ties with failed relationships (intimate, family and friends), and ties with guilt from a situation that was not even your fault that changed it all.

The process to un-knotting all this will take you up and down with your emotions, but as you go through it you are not to allow your emotions to get the best of you. Emotions in the process are inevitable because what tied you up in the first place was associated to an emotion. Once you allow emotions such as anger, frustration, shame etc to get the best of you through the initial process of un-knotting, the process will be much harder, but that is no reason to quit. Are you allowed to feel these emotions as you un-knot? Absolutely! But do you dwell on them? No. You step by step begins to un-knot by letting go of the emotion associated to the painful ties. For example, you were angry that your father abandoned you at a young age. In this process you un-knot by letting go of the tie associated with the anger you felt as a child when your father left. The emotional process will mostly ask for you to look back to past events, remember certain people you chose to forget, feel the pain again and almost re-live what you have been in denial of, but it is all necessary and all part of it. Because this is a tedious and intense emotional process, you can’t do this alone. who will help you through this process?

Where is God in this Process?

God is glad that you have decided to go through the process of un-knotting the painful ties in your life. If anything, God is glad you have come to the realization that living a knotted life is not as fulfilling. God has been in the process even before your realization. He is one that is always waiting on us to take that first step and commit to the process. Once committed God is right next to you even through the emotions that are associated with the painful tie. He will send you help too, people that will help you through this process. You are not alone! God knows exactly how the painful ties make or made you feel. He knows the emotional toll it took on you to be tied up in such pain. Therefore, he knows how to help you un-knot through each step of the process. How do you get help? just like any tied up wounded solider, you cry out for help and seek the help of the Lord through your prayer to him. Like I said before, he has been in the process even before your realization. Call on him! Here is some scripture to remind you that you are not alone in this process God says:

…Never will I leave; never will I forsake you

Hebrews 13:5

That is God’s promises for you and me, that even through this process he is with us. The process is indeed tedious and intense, but knowing that you don’t have to do it alone is much reason for you to take on the challenge. You can not afford to quit and miss out on a life that is filled with the peace and presence of God. A life lived un-knotted! Now that is living your best life! But it does come with a process that you must be willing to take all the way. I know you can do it! It is time for you to take you rightful place. It is time for you to trade thorns for crowns!!

Much Love,

Xholiwe

The Fight of your Life: How can you win?

Hello Crowned Royals, I hope all is well with you and that you are doing your best to stay above ground as we wrap up this year. I know for some 2020 has been a long and hard year and for others it has been a year that allowed you to reflect on your life on a much deeper level. Looking back to this year might just show you at how much you had to fight off to stay above ground. While some had to fight a little harder than others, I think is safe to say that we were all fighting. We had to fight to stay sane, healthy, present, just to mention a few, nevertheless, life was still going on. I decided to write on the fight for your life because fighting for your life is not a one and done thing, but a continual fight that requires your resilience and will to stay standing in every battle ground you are thrown into. If you have ever been thrown into a fighting ring without any knowledge on how to fight your opponent then you might already be fighting a losing battle, but if you come in ready to fight with knowledge of who you are up against, then chances are that you are likely to win. Winning is the result we all should aim for, and if we have to win we need a whole lot more than only acknowledging that we are in a fight for our lives.

Story time: Before I became the girly girl I am today, I was mostly hanging out with my guy cousins and like very young boy back in the early 2000s, the boys loved to watch WWE (wrestling) and later play it on their video games. Because I was outnumbered by the boys, I too eventually got to love WWE and playing video games with them that involved fighting. Now that I think of WWE and playing fighting video games, there was one thing that was common, it was intimidation. How wrestlers in the ring would intimidate their opponents or how my bigger boy cousins will intimidate me was a common trend. In the fight of your life, you will also notice that even before you decide to throw any punches, your opponent will use intimidation to lower your chances of winning and most of us will flee without a fight. Once we give in into intimidation, we let go of our chance to fight and give the opponent the upper hand. One fighting story that just came to my mind is the historic biblical fight of David and Goliath. Goliath was David’s opponent and he did use intimidation to scare away David from attempting to fight, but little did he know that David was ready and had knowledge of his opponent and was training for this epic fight way before it happened. If you want to win the fight for your life then maybe you can start off my realizing that every fight requires your attention. If David was dismissive of this prior fights, how would he then have known how to fight Goliath? Pay attention, every fight is preparation for the next.

Know your own fight

The fight of your life may look nothing like another person’s fight because we all have our own circumstances that we are to overcome. One’s strategy to win may or may not work for you, but yours is to fight anyway. While others have to fight a little harder, others have less to fight for, but yours is to fight. I consider myself a fighter and in the amount of time I have been alive, I would like to think my fights were much more than others and at first I did not receive this revelation well. I thought why can’t I fight a little less like my friends do and just chill, but God knew best that I needed strength for the several other fights that will come my way. God has to build me to not be intimidated by my enemy, but to stay standing confidently knowing that God has my back. Maybe you are like me and you feel like you are in a constant battle that you want to win, I would encourage you to keep fighting. Will you like it at first? absolutely not! But nothing is more rewarding than the victory over a fight for your life.

Who are you fighting against?

Understand that the fight of your life is more spiritual than it is physical. Yes, your physically body does respond the your spiritual battle in some way. I remember when I was depressed, my body was just losing weight, even though I ate food normally. My body was responding in stress when things and people were constantly frustrating me. My physical body was extremely tired and beat down even though I was not in a physical fight. The fight of your life will require more of you and your spiritual attention. The bible says we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places [Ephesians 6:12]. Who have you been fighting? Have you been fighting the wrong person all this while and have been unable to win? The Bible let’s you know who you are up against and in order to win your battle the first step would be knowing who you are up against. When you are constantly fighting people and not what is backing their fight towards you then winning will be a far reach for you. So how can you win?

6 ways that can help you win your fight

  1. Know your opponent: you have to know who you are up against, you have to study their ways and build your strategy in order to win. You can’t come to a fighting ring without knowledge of who you are up against. So who are you up against for the fight of your life? Your answer is in Ephesians 6:12. So where is the fight ring? in the spirit, how do you fight in the spirit since it is not physical? answer is #2
  2. Prayer: Because you can not fight darkness, principalities, wickedness physically, you fight them in prayer grounds. Prayer is your weapon, use your words to win the fight of your life. Pray unceasingly because the fight for your life is a continual battle.
  3. Faith over fear: Some battles we have never experienced can be scary at first glance, but build you faith from it. Place your faith in God’s ability to help you win. Remember that this is not the first battle God helped you through.
  4. Don’t be intimidated: If you know your opponent, you know that they use intimidation to stop you from fighting, but you will make the choice to be bold and brave knowing that God is backing you up and that yours is the victory.
  5. Remember your training: If this is not the very first fight of your life, then you are to remember how you overcame and won your other fights. Even those small fights you consider irrelevant, there is something that could be used for your next battle.
  6. Apply your training: No, you will not just allow intimidation scare you away, but you will apply what you have learned over the years. Your will pray precisely and physically identify the wickedness, power, darkness that showed up in the people around you before taking your win in the spirit.

Once you begin to fight the right opponent and do it unceasingly for every battle ground you are thrown into, I tell you from experience that you will win. I will leave you with this encouraging verse as you pick up your weapons and fight for your life.

Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6 v 12

Much Love,

Xholiwe

The Missing Link: How to own your story

Hello Crowned Royals, I hope you are all doing well and keeping healthy. While some of you enjoy warm summers, winter is on its way up North. I am not opposed to all the holiday fuzzy feels that come with it, so winter 2020 please be kind to us. I have been so out of touch with my writing to you and that is not an excuse for someone that wants you trading those thorns for crowns, even in 2020 we are still in the business of trading thorns. And boy! aren’t there many thorns to trade in this one year alone.

I write to you with such openness because what I write does step on some people’s toes. It might step on your toes, so if it does I apologize in advance. So ownership of your story was heavy on my heart for the many weeks I did not write and now I am ready to unpack. Imagine with me, we are in court as observers following a court case that involves two people, it could be about anything, but in this case we will say this is a bad divorce case. The two parties involved present their stories before the judge and each brings out the many good points about themselves and very few selected bad points only to wait on the verdict of the judge. When telling their stories each may or may not own up to their full story and eliminate the bad side of the story, but at the end of it all the judge has the final verdict. I hope you know where I am going with this, no more sitting as an observer in court, you too have some telling to do in front of the judge. I don’t know at what point you are at in your life, but given the opportunity to tell your story, would you fully own up to your story? Funny thing about not owning up to your story is that the little piece of information you decided to leave out always has a way of showing right back up in your life and then begins your endless battle of self defense in your own court (your mind).

As I mature more, because give or take 3-4 years ago I obviously wasn’t as mature, I was the one that bought into (not always) one sided stories until I realized that everyone experiences a situation and life in general differently and how they choose to tell their story is totally up to them. The problem with this is that like the husband and wife defending their divorce in court, our stories may have many missing links. Here is my definition of missing links, missing links are deliberate eliminations to the full story used to protect us or the image we paint and want people to believe about us. There is a question, are you that person that has left out certain parts of your story to protect yourself or the image others believe about you? Well, it is understandable because a lot of us have done that including myself and we all had or (still have for others) our valid reasons. Because our lives are not Disney fairytales, we actually deal with real life tragedies. The type of tragedies that we find hard to speak of because we don’t know how well others will receive us, sound familiar? The Truth is the part of the story that carries pain, shame, guilt, regret, anger, embarrassment is not desirable to own up to, but can I tell you that you can’t be you without your full story. Leaving out parts of your story and not owning up to all of it takes away from who you are, and hence the many masked people we interact with daily. Owning up to certain things in your life can leave such a bad taste in your mouth even before you decide to talk to someone about it, but can I tell how liberating it is to finally tell your story.

Side note, people that don’t own up to their stories can be self defensive when someone approaches them about their story. Trust me because I was there a couple of times, we might have to talk in depth about self defense in these coming blogs . The problem with self defense is that it takes you further away from being your true self because you are spending more defending yourself. It can be exhausting, not just mentally, but even physically, so why burden yourself this much?

The big question is how do you own up to your story? How do you add the missing link that you have ever so often left out?

5 ways to own up to your story

  1. Own up to yourself: Might sound silly to some, but mirror talk back to yourself your story. Tell it back to yourself and you will be surprised how many tears you might cry by just talking to yourself about your story and also discover how much you bottled inside.
  2. Take it to God in prayer: If you are not ready to fully own your story to family or friends then good news is that our God who is ever so listening would want to hear from you. Tell him your story, all the good, bad and the ugly. Yes, he knows, but you being able to say it is for your healing.
  3. Share your story with a trusted family or friend: Baby steps, just because you are owning up to your story, it doesn’t mean you stand in a church or go live on social channel to just speak on things that could use some wise words, warmth, encouragement and direction. Speak to your close knit and leave nothing out.
  4. Stop with the self-defense: Because it is exhausting, you need to stop it. If parts of your true story are out their being told by others then stop with the self defense. I know no one wants a bad name out there, trust me I know. Sadly, even in the case of false stories about you, you may need to stop with the self defense because people will also make up their side of their story too and all your defenses will mean nothing to them. Is it unfortunate? Yes, but you are working on your healing and not on a marathon of she said and he said. Find your peace.
  5. Identify your missing links: List all your missing links, the parts you left our in your story and associate the emotion that accompanied them. Are they in the past? or are the missing links still part of your story? If they are then, you got work to do to change that narrative.

Owning up to your story can not be so easy and I totally understand, but the beauty of doing so even while scared is the freedom and peace that comes from it. It is a very vulnerable act and if you ever do it, I applaud you! Here is some scripture affirmation that will push you towards owning up to your story;

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Romans 8 vs 1

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Revelations 12 vs 11

How amazing is that? your story matters to God and others need your story. You might not believe me, but there maybe someone out there that needs to hear your story and how you overcame. There is no condemnation! Your story is powerful, so own it. Owning up to it will never take away from you, it does the total opposite! It helps you walk in liberty and peace. Soon in enough you will be able to tell others how you overcame! Tell your story! It is time for you to take your rightful place. It is time to trade thorns for crowns.

Much love,

Xholiwe

For the hurting neighbor: How to show love, kindness and mercy

Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash

Hello Crowned Royals! I hope you are doing good and are as excited as I am about the changing season. I love autumn and would not be mad if it was an all year-round season. I look forward to all possible autumn activities and cozy nights where I can write to you.

I had this thought last week about how easy it is for us to get so engrossed in our own lives ups and downs that we so easily forget about our neighbor. Who is our neighbor? Our neighbor is everyone! It is the person we walk pass in the store, the pan handler on the street, the teller at the bank, your co-worker, the person that lives next door, your close knit circle such as friends and family and the list goes on. The well being of our neighbor depends on how we show love, kindness and extend mercy to them. I wouldn’t say I have been at the best at showing love, kindness and mercy to my neighbors at all times and I know I don’t speak for myself. How well have you been looking out for your neighbor? I am most certain that not all our neighbors are excited about their lives and may be hurting, right now, they need your love, kindness and mercy just as much as you would want theirs if you were hurting. It shouldn’t surprise you that alot of what we call our society or community walks hurt, talks hurt and continue to deal with life hurt. You may not be a hurting neighbor right now, but you do know how it feels to hurt from your personal experiences. I bet while you were hurting you appreicated the love, kindness and mercy that people showed to you and to some extent it helped you get through. So, why not show the same love, kindness and mercy to a hurting neighbor?

My heart was moved to think about the hurting neighbor after looking at a random post on facebook asking on who attempted suicide this year alone. The many comments that flooded that post overwhelmed me and from that one post, it was so evident that our neighbors are hurting. What broke my heart is that they were hurting that much that taking their own life felt like the better option as they thought no body cared about them. Showing love, kindness and mercy to these neighbors may not be as complicated as you think. Sometimes in life all what people need is a smile, a hug and a listening ear. Caring for another person shouldn’t feel like a chore that you hate doing and trust me there are several chores that I wouldn’t be opposed if someone else did them for me. According to the dictionary, care is defined as the feel of concern or interest or attaching importance to something. The word we would like to think everyone wants to hear is ”I love you”, but for the hurting neighbor we might want to start by saying “I care for you”. In some cases care could be misunderstood as providing provision of material things for someone’s well being, but it is more than that because care goes far beyond material provison. Care in the literal sense is the providing of time and effort to see another human being feel better about their situation. Many people are in dire need for people that actually care. People that care to listen, care to share, care to be present and that is to mention a few. Your might have to be that person for others right about now.

5 ways to show love, kindness and mercy to the hurting

I know there are several ways that this can be done, but I choose to share on these 5 ways and hope it resignates in your heart and pushes you to take a second and check on your neighbor.

  1. Give genuine care: Show that you care for someone, be genuinely concerned, interested and attach equal importance to all those you come across.
  2. Be a listening ear: This can be hard for most of us to do because we are always ready to talk, but when in conversation with a hurting neighbor listening can be of great help to them. Understand that sometimes the hurting neighbor already knows the solution, so your immediate advice or response/react is not not they may need at present, but just allow them to speak.
  3. Fellowship with them: Just like Jesus fellowshipped with the 12 and bigger multitudes, amongst themselves were some that actually hurt and needed to feel like they belong. So you follow the example of Jesus and fellowship together. The word of God does encourage us to do so. Fellowship can be a done through sharing a meal or even ashared fun activity or outing.
  4. Actions speak louder than words: We are not only to think of love, kindness and mercy as an after thought and carry on with our lives, but we are to be doing these very things that show them. Love in action looks like sacrifice, kindness in action looks like helping the our community and mercy on action looks like showing compassion to those that need it as much as we do when we are in need of it.
  5. Use your words wisely: You can speak to the hurting, but choose to be wise about it. Words have this way of either building or breaking others. How you choose to comfort or encourage the hurting is very crucial and should be done with much wisdom and be of genuine intention. The Bible says that words have the power to heal, bring life, bring health, crush the spirit, are life-giving and refreshing (Proverbs 15:4, Proverbs 16:24 and Proverbs 18:4). Read one of my older blogs on how words can make or break a person for an indepth understanding on the power of words.

Start with these few steps and let the hurting neighbor know that you care. We are commanded by the word of God to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, which is one of the greatest commandments that Jesus spoke of in the new testament. (Matthew 22 v 39). This particular verse reminds me that the same love I show for myself, I should show to my neighbor and Visa versa. Unfortunatley, with so many hurting people, not so many are loving themselves enough to extend their love to others, but if you are able to do so, please be the one that is looking out for the hurting neighbor and letting them know that they are not alone. If you find it hard to do so, just reference to Jesus, he examplifed great ways on how we are to show love, kindness and mercy to the hurting neighbor. You can do the same too! It is time for us to make our rightful place! It is time for us to trade thorns for crowns.

Much Love,

Xholiwe

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