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

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

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