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

Freedom: So good to be free

There is no complex way to say it, it feels so good to be free. I was once crippled with fear, shame, guilt and regret, but once I started to break free, it was a game changer.
-Xholiwe

Hello Crowned Royals! It has been a minute since I got on here, so this better be good. I wrote my ever first blog on freedom and I am writing on it again, since no one put rules in the blogging world on how many times we can talk about one thing. Let’s talk about how good it feels to be free! My recent travels took me to the beautiful country of Morocco and I got to see so much in one country, but there is one visit that I would like to highlight in relation to freedom. I got to visit a 17th century old underground prison in the city of Meknes. Pictured is me standing right above the underground prison, which three century ago held captive foreigners who were captured and imprisoned by the Moroccan Sultan of that time. It is amazing to see what a couple centuries can do right? I remember going into the underground prison and the contrast was so vivid, it went from so much light to pitch black. The only light that guided my path were the small open holes on the top that allowed for some light from above. While we walked through the prison, I was thankful that I was physically free. Physically, we couldn’t imagine being imprisoned in such a place, but spiritually we have been there a few times too many. I know this because I have been there and the contrast was so vivid, what was light turned real dark pretty quick and the only light that guided me was the one above me.

Physical freedom is great, but nothing feels as great as being free in the spirit. If we were to be honest, there many of us that are physically free, but not every free person would say that their are free in their spirit. Why is it so? Freedom in the spirit is certainly not a walk in the park because if it was we’ll all be doing it right? However, for someone that continues to seek this freedom, I can tell you that it certainly worth the fight. Walking in the spirit free from what once were thorns certainly will feel good. Unfortunately, all that does not happen without a worthy fight. As much as you want to be free so does the devil want to imprison you. You don’t believe me? Think of the times you have tried to heal from bad past experiences and all other hurts just to be hit with something similar. It is much easier for the prisoner to stay imprisoned if they buy into the notion that they deserve it. Guilt often times is what will keep the prisoner in a prison that was not for them to stay in in the first place. Until there is that realization of the need for freedom, as people we will continue to lack the freedom we desire in the spirit.

The purpose of a prison is to confine one’s freedom, lack of freedom means limitation. What you can do when you are free is confined by this prison. Unlike the physical freedom that confines you by the walls and fences, the spiritual prison is all your fears, shame, guilt, regrets and pain. Only until you start to break down those walls of fear, shame, guilt and regrets, you might lack the freedom you so desire. The devil uses your fear, guilt, shame and regrets to keep you from partaking in the freedom your rightfully deserve. How many times have your stayed in the same situation due to fear? How many times have you felt shamed and guilty over past mistakes? How many times will you continue to stay imprisoned by situations and past hurts that you believe that you don’t deserve to be free from? Prison is so vivid like I said, the contrast is very clear. You know when it is dark or when it is light around you just by taking a good look at yourself and evaluating yourself. Ask yourself this question and answer it honestly, am I imprisoned or am I free? If you feel imprisoned, then you have to work on breaking free. You will be glad that you did!

There is no complex way to say it, it feels so good to be free. I was once crippled with fear, shame, guilt and regret, but once I started to break free, it was a game changer. One of my sisters recently said something profund and it hit every point to why I urge you to be free in the spirit. She said, “if you don’t own your story, the devil will”. What was miniscule can easily be magnified and used against you if you don’t own your story. Understand that not every prisoner’s case is the same because some are innocent, but once they start to read into lies, it makes it hard for you to break free. They start to magnify the situations that bring more fear and eventually it impairs them. Unless they stop being into those lies about themselves, the will continue to live in a prison.

Darkness is something you choose because it might be is all you know, but have you tried looking above? Remember the little small holes that were above the underground prison I visited in Morocco? To me those small holes symbolized hope. They brought some light in this dark underground prison that made all the difference. The little small holes with the little light they provided, helped me see a little more clearly and eventually I found my way back to the top. Sometimes the little small holes providing light is what we may need to break free from the dark underground prison we have created for ourselves. Instead of looking around us to what is dark and painful, how about we look above? Breaking free starts with looking above. Breaking free starts with rising above. So you begin to look and rise above the sin, fear, shame, pain, guilt and regrets by owning them all and then releasing them. Wondering who the light above is? It’s God! He provides you with just enough light so you can walk out of darkness into your freedom. Here is a scripture for you and me:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5 v 1 (NIV)

Once we are set free, we have to stand firm and not allow ourselves to back to what once held us captive. As much as freedom feels good, you need to protect it. Standing firm is you always making the choice to look above. If Christ set us free, we look to him right? If you know what it is like to be in a dark place spiritually then you will fight to keep that light. You stand firm by owning your story, every bit of it, even the shameful part of it. You stand firm by pushing away all thoughts that are lies about you. You stand firm by always seeking light in every dark place that clearly wants to separate you from God’s truth. Stand firm to this new found freedom! It feels so good to be free! It is time to take your rightful place. It is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Much Love,

Xholiwe

Normalizing Hurt: There is liberty

When will it all get better?

Some time ago I remember having a conversation with my dear friend in the UK while I was hurting and I asked her, when will it get better? I remember saying that I needed to catch a breath, but when I tried to, it just seemed like I was under deep waters again. She quickly hit me with the word of God that served as a great reminder when I needed it right before I was out there thinking being hurt should be my lifestyle.

When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.

Isaiah 43 v 2 NLT

Real talk though, have you ever felt that way too? That feeling where you feel like God just healed from some hurt and then soon enough some other hurt finds it’s way to you? You ask yourself why do I find myself in hurting situations and question if there is something wrong with you. Yup! been there and I know how it feels. If not dealt with, It does get to a point where you normalize being hurt all the time and if you don’t get out this mindset that normalizes hurt you may find yourself hurting all the time. Hurting all the time is not normal and if you are a child of God, you certainly will not have to constantly be on an endlessness hurt marathon.

As we journey through life we need to understand that hurt will come in many forms and how we approach it will determine how we will overcome it. I will let you know that if you want to play a victim from your hurt, you are well on your way to an endless hurting marathon. However, if you play a victor from your hurt, you are about to get through life with a better understanding that hurting should not be normalized. You will have the knowledge to look at hurt as a place of growth versus it being a death sentence. Do you know how many people die thinking that constantly hurting was normal for them. I am guessing a lot of people, unless you think other wise. Understand me when I say that hurt should not be normalized in your life. You should not get so used to being hurt that it starts to feel like a lifestyle for you. No one wakes up in the morning everyday looking to get hurt, but have you ever just thought about what environments you allow in your life that can easily get your hurt. The people in your life, are they people that encourage you and see the greater worth in you? Are they people that treat you well and speak kindly to you without hurting you? Are you able to speak up to them in a respectful way when you feel hurt by their words or actions? If your answers to all these questions are no, then it is most likely that this is where you are experiencing some of your constant hurt. When it comes to people we fall under the obligation to keep them around even when they hurt us because they are family, they are friends, they are co-workers and we forget that toxic is toxic. Day after day the people around you find ways to hurt you and eventually it becomes normal for you. In this case, I would like to tell you that there is nothing wrong with giving yourself permission to avoid toxic people and enjoy some peace for once in your life.

Truth is that not every person in your life or people you meet along the way are out to hurt you, but if you have normalized hurt, you will be looking to get hurt because it seems normal for you. Your normal has become crying all night, your normal has become hurting others with your words because you are hurting and isolating yourself in the fear of being hurt again. If you don’t cry, you will want to find a reason to cry, so what do you do? Go back 10 years ago to some major hurt and cry the whole night because that feels normal. I beg to differ, our hurt can either make us or break us and that solely depends on how we normalize it. Learning from your hurt and overcoming helps you realize that hurt is only but a stepping stone that helps you grow.

Some of you would probably tell me that you have been hurting since childhood and if you were honest with me and yourself, you would say you feel like it has been an endless series of hurt. Hear me when I say that I am not ruling out the fact that we all have experienced some major hurts in our lives. For some it may be death of loved ones, divorce, heartbreak, betrayal, rejection and the list goes on, but that doesn’t mean we should expect death, constant rejection, heartbreak etc in the entirety of our lives. We need to work on that mindset that has made us believe that it is normal for us to be constantly hurt that when we feel happy we get suspicious. There is freedom that comes from overcoming that mindset that tells normalizing hurt in your life is the only way you should live your life.

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

Romans 8 v 18-21 NIV

I love how the book of Romans in this particular chapter makes it so clear that we as the creation of God will be subjected to frustration, which in other words I can call hurt, but we are to liberate ourselves from it and experience freedom! It is possible to be liberated, but we have to put in the work. We have to decide that hurt should not be normalized in our lives and we should be seeking liberty from this type of mindset.

I leave you with these last words, you are not a victim of hurt, you are an over comer. I urge you to break away from the mindset that has made you normalize hurt that you don’t know any other way to live your life unless you are hurting. It is possible to live a life where you are not constantly expecting to be hurt. Let’s put in the work! We are shifting from Thorns to Crowns!

Much Love,

Xholiwe

Accepting your truth; letting go of denial

Just like Peter, we too have denied the truth in fear of being condemned
-Xholiwe

Can we take a moment to address the elephant in the room? Can we talk about living in denial and how it has some of us disillusioned to not accepting our truth. We all know that one person who denies having an anger issue, everyone confirms that the person has an anger issue, except the person with the anger issues. Another way of looking at denial is when everyone at the restaurant tells you that you got food between your teeth and you choose to deny it until you go to the bathroom and take a look in the mirror.

Denial by definition is the action of declaring something to be untrue. Before you come at me with your theologies and defense tatics, I want to let you know that denial has a two way approach. First, you can deny bad experiences that were spoken in falsehood about you and defend yourself because those bad experiences are indeed untrue. Secondly, you can also deny bad experiences that actually happened and you were part of it either voluntary or involuntary and defend yourself because those bad experiences were/are your reality. Lets get the cat out of the bag, I will spend my time talking about the second approach of denial because it has had many of us fearful to face our truth.

I am not a psychologist so I don’t have big psychological terminology that will convince you that you are living in denial when you should be facing your truth. However, what I do have is experience, I have had a couple of bad experiences that happened in my own life that were true, but it was hard for me to face my truth. I tried to sweep it under the rag like most of us do and pretend that I have it all together. I can go all day telling you about my bad events that I chose to deny, but there is no experience in my life that is compared to the lose of my mother. My mother passed away in 2012, and let me tell you that her death changed almost everything that I thought my life should have been. I was in total denial about her death for a very long time. I could not accept the reality I was facing, but I was good at putting up a brave face because everyone expected me to be strong. I often could not face the fact that I was orphaned of both my parents and being an only child didn’t help me much. If you know a thing or two about only children you will understand what I mean. My reality was that my mother was no more and that I had to figure out life without her, move to a different country without her, graduate college without her, get married without her, have children without her and that was not easy to accept. So I fought with my thoughts at night and wished everything that just happened was just a dream, but it was reality that I could not face at the time. So your question would be, how did you accept this truth and face it? I had a crazy man I call my brother William that made me speak my truth and call me out on my denial. This was not an easy process because I was in full denial mode. Despite of the constant defense of my actions, I got to a place that led me to accepting my truth. All truth, not just my mother’s death, but a whole lot of my other mistakes and regrets. I can’t stress enough the importance of having truth tellers in your life, people that will tell you the truth no matter how it hurts because they want to see you walk free (read my blog on freedom).

I can tell you that ever since I started to accept my truth, it is so much easier to live my life without denying my reality. I don’t know what you are struggling to accept right now and it is your reality, all I can tell you is that the quicker you face it, the quicker your peace of mind. Do not feel like you have it bad because if we look back to the bible, Peter denied Jesus, not once, but three times. Peter denied ever being with Jesus (the truth) because of fear of being killed too. We too have denied our truth because we fear being judged, judgment feels like death because people are constantly judging others like it is a competition. Truth is that we should be talking about what we are struggling to face because the more we talk about it, the freer we get from it and hence we start to accept our reality.

It all starts in the mind, our thoughts can ran our lives for us if we do not take charge of them. It is very easy to make an illusion that fools people into thinking your life is sunshine and rainbows, meanwhile you still carry around pain that happened to you as a little girl or boy. You are still pondering on the mistakes you made as a teenager and beating yourself about it. You lose sleep over regrets that happened when your not mature enough to tell who was genuine in your life. I know this because I have been there, but I am not allowing myself to stay in denial! I am accepting my truth and learning my lessons. (read my blog: L’s are for Lessons). I would hope the since you are on my blog, you are looking to accept your truth too.

There is no shame what so ever that comes with accepting your truth, it is actually a blessing to speak your truth and be free!

It is time to turn that mess into a message, you have a lot of people waiting on you to face your truth so that they can learn for you and live a life free from the fear of being judged.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free

John 8:32

There are some of the approaches that I use to help me deal with denial that I think can help you too;

  • Revisit all the bad experiences in your life that you know for sure that you continue to deny till this day; some of you might have to revisit your childhood, teenage years and most recent events in your adult life.
  • There may be some tears as you revisit some of these events, but that’s okay, tears heal the soul.
  • Talk to someone you trust; a family member, a friend, a pastor, a counselor about this because you don’t have to go through this alone
  • Write down the feelings that come with those bad events and ask yourself why those feelings are there
  • Forgive yourself and others that were involved
  • Spend time in prayer; fast if you can!
  • Remind yourself that you an overcome despite all that happened you are still alive and strong!
  • Face your truth because there is no need to be in denial when you have a whole life to live!

With that said, My prayer for you all is that God who is the truth steps into our lives and helps us realize soon enough that there is no profit that comes from denying our truth. To all that read this, let us accept our truth and let go of denial!

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!