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

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

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

Embarked Journey: Road to Damascus

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash
As you embark on this journey know your destination. Know that there may be some set backs and be okay with that as you move forward.
-Xholiwe

Hello Crowned Royals! Happy new year! Here we are alive in a whole new decade that should mean something to you. I am so glad we made it because I have a feeling that this year will be set up for more people seeking to trade their thorns for crowns. Since we are in a new year, I am pretty sure a lot of us are geared towards a fresh start for several thing regarding our lives. I consider it an embarked journey that we have set on and the thing about journeys is that you just never know what may happen while you are on them. For someone who has traveled a fair amount of times, embarking on a new journey is often exciting and concerning because I have a prediction on how the journey will go or will not go and so I prepare for it. But let’s be real, we all have experienced delayed flights, bad weather conditions, lost luggage, flat tires, tired bodies and the list goes on. I know it can be very frustrating because we have places to go and things to do and what we don’t need is a set back right? Well in the same way, how does this relate to your own life journey? You have embarked on this new journey, let’s call it flight 2020 and you have your predictions and intentions nailed down, are you going to be okay with any set backs as you journey to your destination? If not, I suggest you continue to read this blog. If yes, you still need to read this blog. It is for everybody on a journey, which would apply to all of us.

I have the perfect example from the bible of a guy that embarked on a journey with his predictions and intentions all nailed down, only to be completely changed by God on his way to what seemed to be right at the time. Yes, you guessed it! it is the Apostle Paul! Towards the end of 2019, I was studying the book of Acts and got to the story about Paul’s conversion while he was on the road to Damascus. Then Saul, before his conversion to Paul embarked on a journey to Damascus with the prediction that he was going to kill any Jesus followers of that time. His intention for this journey was to kill those that followed Christ, only to be dumbfounded by God’s direct approach to him. How many of us have been dumbfounded by God in the midst of our ill-intentions towards others and were stopped? I know I have and till this day am grateful that God intervened. In Paul’s case, the set back in his journey was necessary because many people that followed Jesus would have died. In our case the set backs are necessary too, maybe your intentions for this journey is not to kill thousands of people, but you may be seeking revenge towards a person/people or you have started your journey off with the same bitterness you had last year. God will surely have to intervene just like he did with Paul so that there is a change of heart. Your job is to be sensitive to the promptings that come from God and not your flesh as you embark on this new journey. I know from experience that if I gave in into my flesh, I would be dealing a whole lot of unnecessary internal conflict with myself and external with others. What are your internal and external conflicts? Are the worth you missing your final destination. Keep in mind that destination is different for many of us. While you destination maybe revenge (not recommended), another person’s destination may be healing or clarity from God, so as you embark on this journey know your destination. Know that there may be some set backs and be okay with that as you move forward. This applies to whether or not your intentions are pure on your journey.

I honestly believe this new journey should be different for most of us especially if we have been making the same predictions and betting on the same intentions that got us nowhere in the past. God certainly wants to do something different and walk with us on new journey we have embarked on. I recently put up a post on Instagram on submitting. I will say it like I said it on my post, the word submit is the most dreadful word in the times we are living in because people wants to know what is in it for them. We tend to dismiss God’s will and direction for us because we are set on our own ways, and so submit sounds like an insult. While our ways may make a lot of sense to us, If God’s will doesn’t match, we might be going around several unnecessary cycles. Do know that Paul was not the only one stopped by God so that the will of God would be fulfilled? Think of Jonah, he too embarked on the journey clearly instructed by God, but he decided to go a different direction and we know that God had to intervene mightily in Jonah’s case. Again, people’s lives were at sake if Jonah did not deliver that message to Nineveh. Thousands would have died at the hands of one man’s change in direction. What will your change in direction cost others? How many people’s will die because you can not deal with set backs? Food for thought. Submitting is not a punishment, but a blessing. Walking in God’s will is the best thing you could do for yourself and those connected to you. Let us look at scripture that will help us moving forward on our journey;

Then they said to him, “Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.” The Priest answered them, “Go in Peace. Your journey has the Lord’s approval”

Judges 18 v 5-6

From the many journeys embarked in the bible, which are many! I think most of them have one thing in common, they were approved by God. Your journey should not be left out on this list. Some of our embarked journeys do not have the approval of God because of the ill intentions behind them. So when God wants that to change, you are likely to expect some set backs as he works on a change of heart. In other cases, your intentions are pure and all you want to do is please God, you might experience some set backs in that too, but before you get mad and throw your fist at God, figure out the reason for the set back. It may be God telling you that there are parts of you that still need some working on before you get to your destination, but you are on the right path. I hope we all inquire from God as we move forward and take on flight 2020 with a sensitivity to his promptings and not our flesh. Like I mentioned earlier, submitting to the will of God is not a punishment, but a blessing. Rather than embarking on this journey on your own, allow for God’s direction because he sees far ahead than we do.

My last words for you as you embark on this new journey are, take it easy and stop pressuring yourself to have it all figured out. Just like the verse in Judges said, inquire from God first, then get your approval because this life journey is not one you have to do alone. See you on the other side! It is time to take your rightful place. It is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Much Love

Xholiwe

Masks Off: Your honesty with God

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Hey Crowned Royals! I don’t know about you, but these winter days are what I live for, which also means I should be working out little more because all these holiday treats are not helping this sister out. While winter is not for everyone, I hope you make the most out it this year. On a less wintry note, I wanted as to talk about masks and how masks have kept most of us from being honest with God regarding who we truly are, where we are in life and how we hope God works in our lives.

Here is a disclaimer, this blog is not going to address physical masks that are visible to the human eye, we will talk about the masks that are impossible for human eye to identify, but there a lot of masked people right now. Solely, the purpose of a mask is to hide the true identity of a person. We all know that from the superhero movies we watch right? Marvel fan moment here, how messy would it be if people knew Spider-man’s true identity? I am guessing pretty messy because true identity is not always well received by others. Also, being able to say I am spider-man to everyone down the street without fear of being rejected, made fun of, and ridiculed would be wonderful. I hope you are thinking of your masks right about now because we have all worn some or continue to, at least I know I have. I wore the masks that misidentified me and rid me of who I truly was, where I was at in life and how I hoped things would change. I eventually came to realization that my masks had to come off, because I would still be doing well with keeping the masks on and acting like I had life figured out. So maybe you too have some masks on right now and are acting like you have life figured out, but like always I am here to burst your perfect little bubble. A life lived behind a mask only gives you so much to survive and never enough to thrive in who you truly are. You most certainly are surviving to keep up with the act, and from my experience, it can be exhausting. It can be exhausting to act like you are happy, when you are not. It can exhausting to act like you have money, when you don’t and the list is endless. If you are exhausted with all the acts, it maybe time to take those masks off and come clean with who you are, where you are at in life and where you need God to bring you. How do you do that you ask? Well, you get honest with God first. Are you honest with God?

Our honesty to God is not possible with masks on, if anything, it actually is a barrier. Perfect example is when Adam and Eve realized their were naked and hid in the bushes to cover up their sin towards God. While we are not hiding behind bushes, we surely have had some form of covering to mask some things in our lives. But wasn’t God still merciful and showed Adam and Eve grace? Yes! Despite their mess, he still provided them some form of covering that was not as shameful as hiding behind bushes. Most of us, have not stepped out of the bush or behind that mask because we fear, we are shamed, we are prideful, guilty and the list goes on. It will take complete honesty to come up out of that mask and own up to God. The beautiful thing about taking the mask off and being honest with God is that he gives you grace. I feel like often times we complicate grace and altogether miss it, but I listened to pastor Hart Ramsey this week, and he said something that I thought you can apply to your life. Pastor Hart Ramsey said this, “trying to get God to accept who you pretend to be will not render grace from him, but rather God is trying to get to the real you”. The you that messed up time and time again is the person God would render his grace to, not the person who you have decided to mask up in hopes that God will work some magic. God is not a magician, he is God. We often mistake God for people, and because we have experienced evil from the people we were honest with, we liken God to them. That my friend, is a wrong way to approach God in all honesty. God needs to see that vulnerability that we often hide from people in fear that we will be different. Our openness allows God the permission to work on us, after he renders grace, he works on us. Grace will unmask us and then allow us to know who we really are, where we are in life and where we want God to bring us to. When the masks come off, be prepared to see the good and the bad about you. When in the process of unmasking, don’t be quick to cover up again because all you see about you is bad, but rather let God know about it. He will be glad to work with an honest person that is willing to change and live a mask free life. Here is some scripture that tells you it is okay to unmask yourself;

13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4 v 13 (NIV)

There is no use hiding from God. He sees you, the real you. You maybe doing well with painting this false picture to your friends and family, but not with God. The scripture says that Nothing! Nothing is hidden in all creation to God. We exposed and naked before him, but unfortunately we also have convinced ourselves that God needs people that are perfect and can only speak in KJV. My bible says that he came for the sinners, not the perfect, he came to render mercy and desired it for sinners (read Matthew 9 v 9-13). The truth is that God is always willing to work with you, but only if you come to him in all honesty.

My last words, Be honest with God. Let him know exactly what is going on and do not leave out anything. You may even have to revisit some past experience to figure out why you wear certain masks, once you discover why, take that to God in all honesty. Have no fear for God has a covering for you, his grace! Allow for the all so powerful, loving, gentle and graceful heavenly father to help you through this process. Masks off! It is time to take our rightful place! it is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Much Love Royal Fam!

Xholiwe

Mocked Crowns: One against all

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay
Beyond that mockery is a greater purpose that is birthed from our standing one against all
-Xholiwe

Hello Crowned Royals! Here we go again, another week for another trade in. I hope you all are doing well and continue to trade those thorns for crowns! I have so many thoughts regarding what am going to write about this week, so get your reading eyes and open minds ready. This week I think it is fitting to talk about mocked crowns. Xholiwe what do you mean by mocked crowns? Well, I will let the story of mocking of Jesus help us understand the term mocked crowns. So it was at the release of Pontius Pilate Jesus was left into the hands of the Roman soldiers. The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus several ways that included, flogging, laughter, spitting, insults, piercing and as if that was not enough they put a crown of thorns over his head. Oh what such pain to bear, all that for the redemption of a magnitude of people. Jesus from this example was the one against all, but even while he was mocked and crucified to death he still have the victory. While most of us can’t compare our pain to that of Jesus, we surely know what it is like to be mocked physically and spiritually, but there is the good news, we already have the victory! While you stand in the presence of your mockers, be reminded that it too shall not last. So what will we unpack in this blog? We will unpack on how to stay standing even in the presence of your mockers.

Modern day mockery is not as gruesome as the ancient day mockery that involved brutal torture, but it has its effects on people that don’t choose to stand against it. So how does modern mockery attack the one person? The mockers of today don’t have to flog you, insult you, or spit at you, all they need are a couple of hurtful words, lies about you, and old truths that no longer define you to get an unfulfilled satisfaction within them. Unfortunately, so many people fall for this and that is why I think bullying is so predominate in schools, work places and churches, yes, I said it churches have bullies too. Your choice to stand alone against all is what will determine your moving forward. If you are the person falling every time you are mocked then you have some work to do. In the midst of your mockers, it is important to know who you are, just like Jesus knew he was even when they Roman soldiers mocked him. When you know who you are the hurtful words, lies and old truths will not effect you as bad as they would if you didn’t know who you are in the first place. Standing alone is not glamorous as many people expect because it comes with some persecution that is often times unexpected. Can we be honest, not everyone does well under persecution and when the pressure gets too much most will tap out. But why should we not tap out? because beyond that mockery is a greater purpose that is birthed from our standing one against all.

Making the choice to stand one against all can be scary because what we often think is what will people think of me, so then conformity happens. Oprah said it nicely, she said that, “I was once afraid of people saying, “who does she think she is?” Now I have the courage to stand and say, “This is who I am”. Conformity comes from the “what will people think” and victory comes from the “This is who I am”. If Jesus worried what people said towards him and conformed to the mockery of others, we would be telling of another story of our redemption. Jesus knowing who he was brought all of us victory. Knowing who you are is what will bring you victory. I remember being wrapped around the the fear of what will people think of me or say about me and now I acknowledge that limited a lot of the things I actually wanted to do. You may still be that person that is still wrapped around this fear and you are probably looking at how you have limited yourself, but there is a solution! It will take a whole lot of courage stand while everyone else makes mockery of your choice to stand. Let us get this clear, standing is not the weak, it takes a little more strength to stand than it does sitting with the crowd. So what are you currently doing? Are you standing or sitting because it is safe? Please stand up because every season in your life will have some mockers and you will will not sit around mocked and defeated.

Since we still continue to deal with mockers, standing one against all is not a one time thing. We have already established that at every other level or season in your life their will be mockers, so realize that every season will require a little more courage. Courage means you confront the mockers with the confidence of you are. You are a crowned child of God! You are set apart and made for a time such as this! You may not believe me, but there is a word that never lies;

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2 v 9 (NIV)

The royal priesthood or in other words “crowned royals” are to be set apart because for most of us, we are aware of how God called us out of the darkness into his marvelous light. So while others will not understand why you are protective over your crowns, they mock you for it, but I commend you to hold on to it! Hold on to the victory of knowing who you are and refusing to be someone else because mockers stand against you. Reminder how I told you modern mockery is not as gruesome as ancient mockery, it actually sounds like people care, so there are a few words that may be spoken to you as you stand against all that you should have solid answers for;

  • You have changed. Answer: Yes, I am supposed to change if I am growing and healing
  • Everyone is doing it. Answer: Doesn’t mean I should be doing it
  • That is how things have always been. Answer: Well, it has to end with me
  • It doesn’t take that much. Answer: It does take that much for me to get to where I want to be
  • You take this God thing too seriously . Answer: Yes, I do because he takes me seriously too
  • You will not make it. Answer: Unless God is not on the throne, but I know he is so I will make it
  • You think you are all that. Answer: I am a pretty big deal to God, so yes!
  • You are too happy. Answer: What else should I be other than happy?

I know there are a whole lot more other statements that mock others, these are just some that I have personally experienced. Some of these questions I answered out of fear, now I know better and so do you! Let’s continue our conversation in the comments, share any mocking statements you have dealt with either in fear of what people would think or from knowing who you are. I would love to see more of us standing one against all the mockers that do not know better. It is time to take our rightful place, it is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Much love,

Xholiwe

While you wait: What is your posture?

Hello Crowned Royals! After a really busy work week, it sure feels good to relax and finally get my hands on my laptop and write to you. Talking to you through this blog gives me so much more reason to live.This week I want us to talk about waiting. We are waiting for something right? When we wait on some things in our lives to happen our posture matters because that determines our readiness for what we are waiting for. I would like to give you a simple understanding of waiting through my “shopping when hungry experiences” that often times leave me regretting what I did because I was shopping while I was hungry. If you ever shopped for groceries while hungry you totally understand what I mean by regret. When I shop while hungry, I often times do not consider what I need and don’t need when I am in the store. Every thing looks good to eat, so I buy things I don’t need, spend the money I shouldn’t have been spending and waste the food I didn’t need because it was not what I needed in the first place. What does this have to do with waiting in real life? The wait for some of us is like hunger and because we are hungry we hasten ourselves to quench the hunger without considering the reason of the wait. Our posture is then impulsive and impatience and we begin to take matters into our own hands. Things that don’t look good begin to look good, things that we don’t need are things we begin to crave for, and so we compromise our posture while we wait. Only to later regret our impulsive and impatient posture to the wait. Don’t feel bad, we have all been there, but we are going to change our posture. We will have the right posture while we wait.

Can we be honest for a second? waiting is not that easy. For those who continue to wait and those that waited before, most can admit that waiting for something significant in life can be hard. If you were to tell your story, after the wait, you can agree with me that your outcome was based off your posture. How was your posture while you waited for somethings to change? Was it good or was it bad? Here I go with my ever available examples, my job search season was good, but not always great, I would be frustrated at times, desperate and would have a negative attitude all together. I tell you right now that this is not the type of posture you should be in the whole time you wait. Truth is that the frustration and all that impatience will come, but it is important to get back to the posture of gratitude and patience while you wait. I guess what I am trying to say is that while there are several ways to wait, a good posture would be to show gratitude and practice patience. It worked for me, and I am pretty sure it will work for you too. Other good postures you can practice while you wait is prayer, fasting, trust God’s plan, encouraging yourself or receiving encouragement from others, and have an positive attitude all together. I would love to write on all of them because they all are essential while you wait, but my heart is fixated on talking about gratitude and patience while you wait.

Posture of Gratitude

I know that you are probably thinking that there is nothing to be grateful about right about now. You are in the middle of what seems to be a long wait and because you are so focused on this new thing you wait for, you are forgetting to be grateful for what you have now. There has to be at least 5 things or more that you are grateful for and should acknowledge everyday, especially while you are waiting. This doesn’t mean that when you wait is over, you stop being grateful. The posture of gratitude at least from my many experiences while waiting is that it helps focus the mind on the grand picture and not just pieces of it. All the pieces will come together, but you are to express gratitude to God for the pieces you already have in the now. Life can be challenging even for the strongest people you know, but what can keep a person going is showing gratitude. While we have experience some not so great things in our lives, we have also experiences some really amazing things too. We have been blessed in life and surely there has to be something we are grateful for somewhere. Let God know how thankful you are for what you have and what you are yet to have when the wait is over. Now that is a good posture that will please God!

Posture of Patience

By one definition patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset. How many of us from the definition can admit we lack patience while we wait? Have we been able to realize that there are things we have not accepted? Acceptance makes the wait much more bearable. When you understand that you are waiting and accept it, you are less likely to experience constant frustrations while you wait. Practicing patience is something some of us have to work on constantly. Just last week, I remember being in line at a grocery store and telling myself to accept the fact that the line was long, but it would eventually be my turn. Even in your wait, it will eventually be your turn, so you have to be patient. Patience is a good posture that can also help you make sound and stable choices while you wait. A bad posture that comes from the lack of patience in your life is hastiness. Hasty decisions have been the downfall of many men and women that were starting to lose their patience and decided to take matters into their own hands. You shouldn’t be that man or woman that loses their patience and misses what you were waiting for all the while. If patience has taught me one thing, it has taught me that eventually it will also be my turn. Ecclesiastes 7:8 summaries all this by saying;

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

Ecclesiastes 7 v 8

There is no way you could go wrong with combining gratitude and patience while you wait. It is the perfect combination that kept me going and still never fails me. The wait is so much easier when you are grateful for the present and patient for what is yet to come. Think of gratitude as your humbling tool that protects you from having a proud spirit. The end is never better for the proud spirit that doesn’t show gratitude and exercise patience. Please read Ecclesiastes 7 v 8 again for re-emphasis on all this that has been said about gratitude and patience.

My last words for the night, couple gratitude and patience with all the other good postures I mentioned earlier, and you eventually get your turn. Stop shopping while hungry, you remember what that does right? Be in constant prayer, show gratitude, practice patience, choose hope over defeat and work on self each any every day while you wait for your turn. It is time to take our rightful place. It is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Much Love,

Xholiwe

Change Shock: What it feels like when change happens

Photo by Havilah Galaxy on Unsplash
The process is near its end and now the caterpillar has to be the butterfly.

Hey Crowned Royals! After being away for so long I think I would like to share with you my recent culture shock experience and how similar it is to making a change in our lives. I recently visited the beautiful country of Morocco and like every visiting tourist I was hit with culture shock. As soon as I landed in Casablanca I was in for a rude awakening, this was a different place, a different people, different languages and different daily way of life than I was used to. I was excited about all of this because it was a learning opportunity for me, but if I was to be honest I was not well prepared for it. You would think for some that studied International relations I would know exactly what to do, but I did not and so I needed all the help I could get. I could list a ton of situations that shocked me and left me wondering why do they do what they do the way the do it, however, since my blog aims to keep your attention we will talk about that over a cup of tea. One of many experiences is when people kept cutting the lines in stores, at the markets, at train stations and other places I visited, it did not happen all the time, but when it did I would be so shocked. Coming from a place were waiting your turn in line is so important it was hard for me not to wonder why the did not see the same importance of waiting in line. This one experience may not be as shocking as others, but when it happened it would leave me wondering. In a similar way change in our lives can come as a shock and leave us and others wondering. When we decide to change at first things will be different and the people around the change we want will also be different so we need to be ready for some change shock.

I remember making drastic changes early this year and I was beyond shocked at what I was capable of doing. As much as I was shocked, I wondered what could have happened if I did not make these changes. Was I scared? absolutely! The changes I had to make were very different from what I am used to. Since the changes were different I had learn how to manage them and not only stay in the state of shock. After the shock comes the learning. Often times we as people in the process of changes get stuck on the shock and never learn. In the case of my culture shock in Morocco, I had my best friend explain to me why people did what they did. She has lived in Morocco longer and knows the culture very well so she was a great person to learn from. She helped me cope with my shock so that I could learn this new culture. Same thing would apply to change, if you are in the process of change connecting with or learning from a person/people that made similar changes would help you shift from shock to learning to embrace the new change. Ask the questions that will help you process the change shock and be open enough to the advice or answers aimed towards clarifying your process. Change is not something you have to do alone.

So what does it feel like when changes happen? It totally depends on what kind of change. You changing your old car for a new one is very different from changing a bad trait you have or changing your entire way of life. The new car makes you feel good, but it is not something that will require you to dig in deeper into yourself and make serious life changes. When making changes that effect your life and those around you, you might want to be more serious about them. The feelings that come with changes regarding your life can shock you. When you make the change it is not always the good feelings because if you were honest you would rather stay the same. You would rather stay in the unfulfilling relationship, the unfulfilling job and the unfulfilling way of life because it is scary to change all that without being certain that things would get better. God never said live your life unfulfilled, but since change is scary people usually have opted for the surface level change that only gives you the good feelings. Problem with the surface level change is that it don’t last for so long. There is also change that cuts right deep into all of you and this type of change comes with a roller coaster of emotions. Once you get through this type of change and shift from shocked to learned you better feel good about it.

19 For I am about to do something new.

    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?

I will make a pathway through the wilderness.

    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Isaiah 43 v 19

This bible verse can speak to a lot of people including those that have made major life changes. People that have decided to change from their old ways to embrace new ones can relate to this verse. Angry people who want to change and be more gentle, selfish people who want to change and give more, rebellious people who want to change and be obedient etc. Do you see it? God is about to do something new because of your change. The process is near its end and now the caterpillar has to be the butterfly. The change was not familiar, but now you understand why you needed it. Because when God clears the pathway a lot of the things that did not make sense now do. The change was necessary for you and those around you. God allows us to go through the process of change because he knows that our change despite the heavy feelings will be worth it in the end. The story that comes to my mind when I think of change shock is Rahab in the bible. She went from being known as the harlot of the town and when she changed she was began the pathway in the linage of Jesus. I can only imagine her change shock that made her unfamiliarized herself with being the harlot of the town and now a woman of God. Also, when she changed she probably shocked people around her, those that knew her as a harlot probably were unable to fully comprehend what happened and were left to wonder. I don’t know what your change shock is, but you are better off unfamiliarizing with it and embracing the change that will make you better. People are watching you too and are shocked at how you are now different, so keep them wondering by making more changes.

My last words to you regarding change shock is that as long as you have made the decision to change expect shock to come. You and those around you will notice the change. It may not be something you are used to, but it is something that you will eventually learn and master. You don’t have to go through the process of change alone, speak with people that have made similar changes and learn from them how you can deal with change shock and all the feelings that come with it. God is already 10 steps ahead of you and is ready when you are to walk into your promise because you made the change. Get unstuck with thinking that if you change certain aspects of your life things will not get better because fear has gotten the best of you. The butterfly within you will not emerge if you are still a caterpillar trying to hold on to the old ways of your life. Push pass it and take your rightful place! It is time to shift from thorns to crowns!

Much love,

Xholiwe

Dear Younger me: I still believe

Remember when life was a blank canvas and as kids there was so much we believed in? Can you go back to believing like a child?

I feel nostalgic this Saturday and it was all because I watched a 10 minute video of all the opening songs to some of my favorite cartoons while growing up as a child. The most nostalgic 10 minutes of my life that took me back to remembering the little girl who believed in so much more and thought of life a little differently than I do as an adult. Oh, how damaging a couple years can have on us. We are now believing less and conforming more to what has been set and stone because it is easier to believe in what we see than what we can not see.

What happened to that little girl or boy who just believed in themselves and anything mommy and daddy said? Well, we grow up and once we got some understanding and stumbled upon some pain, shame, guilt and frustration we stopped believing in almost everything. We got into our teen years and we found ourselves trying to believe other stuff that were not true because everyone else was doing it, so we thought fitting in was much easier. Why did we conform? Why did we stop believing? We started to believe less in our abilities and our strengths because let us face it there people out there who do it better than you did. There is a prettier girl than you, there is a more handsome fella than you, their are more smarter people than you. But truth is they can’t be you and you definitely can’t be them and that is okay. Believing in yourself is so important because it sets you up to be an authentic version of yourself. In the a society where everyone is trying to be someone they are not, it feels good to be a real version of yourself. Your skills, your talent, your abilities and strengths can take full form if you can only believe. Believe like you did as kid! As a kid, you were doctor, a lawyer, an activist, a pastor, a fashion designer, a baker etc. It is still possible to be that kid again that believed that you could do it all. There is a place that can make use of your skill, there are people who will appreciate you talent and their are people out there that will believe for you if you are having a hard time at it.

It is never too late to believe again, I have had conversations with people younger, my age and older and the usual response is something in these lines;

  • It is too late to start the business
  • It is too late to pursue that job
  • It is not worth it investing into my dreams at my age
  • I am too old
  • I am too young
  • I am not qualified
  • Starting a new life in a different place is too risky
  • I have children
  • I have a terrible past

Excuses are the enemy that hinder us from believing in us again. We now have an excuse for everything because it is much easier to be excused than to believe. What ends up happening is that we settle feeling unfulfilled. We settle for the miserable and unhealthy relationships, we settle for the job we hate, we settle for the regular because we don’t believe for better.

Doubt is another enemy that hinders us from believing in us again. We doubt that things will get better because maybe things at some point in our lives didn’t get better, but that should not keep us from believing again. We doubt and so we make excuses. We have already counted ourselves out even before we try. We have to stop looking for signs for us to believe because God does not always give us signs. He will test our faith by not giving us a sign and because we didn’t see a sign we don’t believe, ye of little faith.

27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

John 20:27

We want God to move while we have settled in our lives full of excuses and doubt. God does not operate that way, he wants to meet us half way, we have take the step first, even one step is enough to show God that you are serious. God is looking for believers, a people that believe that all things are possible just like a child. God comes through for some crazy believers that believe in themselves and the God they serve. I am sure you have meant some of these crazy believers that just jump and never find excuses that reason with their logic. Might as well jump with them

In closing, is younger you proud of where you are at right now? Or is he/she reminding you of the dreams and aspirations you once had? If younger you is not happy with were you are in life currently, then it means you got some work to do. You have to believe again! You have to break all that has kept you from believing again. You are capable, no one can be you better than you can! Let’s get to work! We are trading our thorns for crowns!

Much Love,

Xholiwe

Hello Freedom!

How does freedom look like?

This is my first blog and to be quite honest, I just didn’t dive right into it. I was trying to think of some killer introduction blog, but it’s like all of my thinking and writing abilities went out the window soon as I opened my laptop. However, after a sanctified meal from Chic-fil-a and a pep talk, I got my thinking juices going and here I am writing my first blog! I am super excited to share my blog and get the opportunity to share my life and how I continue to trade my thorns for crowns. Thorns to crowns in other words is pain to beauty. I don’t know about you, but I have had my share of pain, hurt, sorrow, disappointment, whatever you can call it. Then something amazing happened, I finally realized that I could trade my pain for joy, peace, beauty, happiness and freedom! I allowed God to take away my pain and that was not an easy thing to do. I never knew that it was possible because often times I asked God to take away my pain verses me giving it to him. Being able to give my pain (thorns) to God helped set me free to wear my crown and now even though pain makes it’s way in my life, I have mastered a different way to handle it.

Let’s talk about freedom, since it is the title of my blog. I don’t know what freedom looks like because there are many ways to illustrate it. I certainly know what it feels like because there is no way of faking it.

The picture above is one way to say that looks like freedom, but so do 1000+ more pictures of women running in nature look like. I decided to understand the picture and how it relates to freedom. First, the scenery is just right, the mountains in the background, the openness of the land, and the green grass all shout freedom. Secondly, the woman demonstrates release as she leaps and puts her head up, again freedom. Reality is that we want this same picture in our lives, not us physically trying to recreate this picture, but living a life of freedom. We want the freedom to be open and be in the right environment. We also want to be able to release and leap, but why does it seem so impossible? It is because we don’t give our pain to God, so we are left to picture freedom and not feel it. Freedom for some of you could be, finally forgiving your past mistakes, while for others it could be going finally letting go of that lie that you have believed about yourself. We seek some freedom somewhere, and it is okay that what you seek to be free from is different. As long as you are trading your pain for crowns. Note to self, you can not release and leap if you are holding on to pain, let it go.

God is saying this to you;


28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

All I can say is that our freedom (crowns) are found in giving God our pains (thorns). Like I said freedom may look and feel different for all of us, but as long as we are trading our thorns for crowns, we are well on our way!