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Posted in spirituality on March 27, 2013
Though I have loved and believed in God for as long as I can remember, I haven’t always been confident in my faith or completely satisfied by the spiritual food I was fed in church.
Often times in the church – well, I’ll speak from a Black church perspective since that’s really all I know firsthand – you are taught not to question the preacher, the Bible, or God. Growing up in the church, I remember that more often than not, questions of “why?” and “how?” were ignored or given a hand-waiving explanation, and sometimes reprimanded. “That’s what it says in the Good Book so that’s how God wants it.” “God is mysterious He has mysterious ways.” Though I always thought these responses were suspect, I didn’t think about it much. Perhaps I was subconsciously afraid to question God or my understanding of God, so I never bothered to ask questions or just wonder about a religion I spent so much time devoting myself to.
It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I was questioned about my religious beliefs and that I, in turn, questioned my faith as I knew it.
I met this guy at a gig (a few years older than me). He was of the Nation of Yahweh and he spent a few phone calls and many letters trying to convince me of how ignorant and misguided a Christian I was and how enlightened a Yahweh Ben Yahweh follower he was. I won’t go into the details of his beliefs (you can Google them for yourself) or the details of our discourse (I don’t remember it all). There was so much going on, but his man argument was that I did not know my true history as a Black woman and that Jesus was not the son of God and he listed out all the reasons why, and tried to introduce me to “God’s true son,” whom he followed. What stuck out to me the most was how he used the Bible against me in such a way that I felt like I was meeting Jesus for the first time. How was he ”schooling” me in my religion? Was I losing?
Now, I thought his religion was the bogus one from jump. To each his own and all but I wasn’t hopping on his bandwagon simply because he declared me to be in the “white man’s darkness.” Besides, none of his arguments held water as to why his faith was the right faith. But he challenged me to a dual and I was not going out without a fight, despite how little I initially came off as knowing about it. I remember taking my dad’s Bible, and searching for answers. I poured over scriptures, I read into the historical context behind them- who wrote them? what was going on at the time? why were there differences in each account? – and I wrote pages upon pages in rebuttal. Unlike him, I wasn’t trying to convince him that I was right, that my religion was truer, better. In fact, it wasn’t even about him. I searched for understanding for myself, to better grasp what I claimed to believe in. It was important for me to know this God and Son I served beyond what I was taught and what I read in Bible study (all surface level information).
I don’t think this guy ever imagined that he would drive me closer to Christianity. Perhaps a weaker believer would have folded at the first sign of uncertainty and lack of knowledge. But he challenged me to challenge myself, challenge my beliefs, to know my beliefs. And what I discovered on my journey to understanding was that I believed in God (and Jesus) because of something greater on the inside of me, not because some one told me to believe or scared me into believing. My understanding of my faith or my religion may not have been well rooted or nourished at first, but it was real.
But despite this new assurance security in my faith and my religion, I was still a bit… uncertain. I couldn’t help but wonder, ”What if we (the church in general) have gotten it all wrong? What if the Biblical authors wrote more from self than God? What if we completely missed the message of what God was trying to convey to us? Of all the churches working in Christ’s name, who is right, if any? Is God pleased?”
My faith in God is undeniable. My faith in the church is not. Because I’m not convinced that the people involved in the church’s development and maintenance have gotten “it” – who God is, what God wants – right. As some one who attends church regularly, and desires to be part of church ministries, this is quite a conundrum. Compounded by the fact that my doubts have made it very difficult for me to relate to other believers and I often feel like an outcast.
How can one be so convinced in their faith but so uncertain in their religion? Is Christianity as a religion even for me, when I have such quandaries about the written word it is founded upon?
1 I played string bass in high school student. As such, I was invited to play bass with a group of musicians (the leader of the band was a friend of my dad’s and he was looking for some one to fill in on bass). We were playing for a grown folks event downtown. Yeah, Teenage Gem was feeling something like a boss. (Despite having my parents’ watchful eyes there, I felt quite grown lol).
Posted in spirituality on March 21, 2013
I have been a Christian for as long as I can remember. Probably even before then. I’ve spent most of my life regularly attending church (mostly of the Baptist denomination), despite having parents who aren’t church-goers or particularly religious. Though both of my parents were raised in the church (mother, Catholic; father, Baptist), I can’t say for certain if either of them even consider themselves Christians. I was probably one of the only kids I knew growing up who actually wanted to go to church… every Sunday, no less. In my very early years, my parents attended church with me. And when I was old enough, they would drop me off or let me go to church with family friends. I attended a Christian preschool. I was Christened as a baby and chose to be baptized as a teenager. I was active in the children and youth ministries, and even sang in the choir. I’ve always loved going to church, being in church, being part of the church.
When I was 5 or so, I wanted to be a nun. I had seen The Sound of Music, and was convinced that I, too, could be a nun like Fräulein Maria. I mean, I loved God, I loved singing, I loved dancing – it was the perfect job! My desire to be a nun was serious – I walked around with my head bowed with a make-shift habit on my head (usually a sweater) and my hands in prayer position. It was not a game. Until my father informed me that I could only be married to Jesus did I rethink my calling to life in a convent. I loved Jesus, but not like that.
I cannot say whether or not I truly understood what it meant to be “saved” as a little girl. But I did love Jesus and saw him as a Savior. So much so that I often responded to my parents when I thought they were being unfair by saying, “I’m gonna tell Jesus on you!”
To this day I regularly attend church. It’s important for me to be part of a church – not just as a Sunday worshiper, but a student of the faith and one involved in church ministry. I enjoy being in worship and fellowship with other believers, and it’s important for me to have close relationships with other believers, to grow stronger and more mature in my faith. My faith is also an essential part of my relationship, and will continue to be in my marriage and family.
For all of these reasons I proclaim myself to be a religious person. I have often heard Christians say they aren’t religious but spiritual, as if to distance themselves from the undesirable aspects of the Christian church. But the very act of being part of or following a religion makes one religious, no? Yes, Christianity has it’s painfully obvious blemishes and more than it’s fair share of “wacky” followers, but I cannot deny something that is so much a part of who I am and why I am.
Though I consider myself a Christian, and undoubtedly believe in God’s existence, I have often questioned Christianity and wrestled with certain Christian principles. My personal and political ideals are often in conflict with what is generally accepted in the Christian faith. My beliefs are not all supported by my Bible. I believe in an enormous God who is constantly being forced into small boxes. But I also believe in a God who has expectations and requirements. After all these years as a believer, I still have not reconciled my faith in Christ with the institutional Christian faith.
I think about my faith often – while in church, while at work, while attending life group (bible study), while reading the news, while discussing politics. Considering my faith is often stressful and worrisome for me. As such, through a series of blogs posts, I intend to be transparent about some of my religious struggles and try to articulate why I believe what I believe, despite the large opposition of such beliefs. I can’t be the only one with this struggle. I’ve never admitted these things to people who aren’t close to me, but I now feel compelled to think aloud and work this out through my favorite form of therapy. Besides, confession is good for the soul.
Speculating & Meditating,
Posted in guest post on January 29, 2013
*** Mama, I made it!! I’m guest blogging over at VerySmartBrothas.com today!!! Check a sista out and let me know what you think!!***
Recently in a GroupMe convo with friends, someone mentioned Quvenzhané Wallis, star ofBeasts of the Southern Wild and youngest actor to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Before I could remark about having never heard of this film, or show praise for this child’s high accolade at such a young age, I immediately focused on her name. “Wait, is her name really Quvenzhané?”
I googled her to see if this wasn’t some errant rumor. My follow up response to my search was, “Why is her mama’s name Qulyndreia?”
This certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve seen an “ethnically creative” name that caused me to form a serious side eye. I mean, I’m an NFL fan – seeing names like D’Brickashaw, Jacquizz, Knowshon, De’Anthony and LaQuinton are commonplace. I have also come to regularly expect texts from my brother containing a list of students he works named LaDravious, Dan’kevien, Markevius, Jonquerrius, Marionique, Jamorrious, and LaPhil. My reaction is always the same: “What is with the egregious use of apostrophes, La- prefixes, and -ious/eous suffixes?” My brother and I have even gone so far as to attempt to conjugate and combine the most common names into as many remixes as possible just for fun. And then, of course, there are the infamous (and possibly nonexistent) Orangejello, Lemonjello, and Le-a.
I think some of these “unique” and “uncommon” names are just too over the top and I don’t like them. But it wasn’t until being introduced to Quvenzhané that I considered my reaction was judgmental. I was so distracted by a name that I failed to acknowledge and credit the person to whom the name belonged. I felt bad about it.
Does this make me a namist?
Posted in future plans on January 14, 2013
Mic check 1, 2, 1, 2, mic check 1, 2, 1, 2. WZUPPPPPP!!!!! Did ya miss me?? (<–throwbacks!)
It’s been awhile since I lasted posted to my blog. But this is my now normal MO isn’t it?? I post, then disappear for a month. Post, disappear. It’s what I’ve become really good at – I’m going to embrace it.
I could give my usual excuses about how busy I am, and talk about the high stress I’m under which keeps me from writing. But the truth is, while I am busy and quite overwhelmed with my current work load (MRI scans, data analysis, manuscript writing, manuscript revising, outreach program organizing, oh my!), that’s not why I haven’t been blogging.
I just didn’t want to.
I’ve had post ideas on post ideas stacked in my head – some of them I mentally penned to completion, others I wrote notes for in WordPress. But I just couldn’t bring myself to publish them. Part of it was laziness, part of it was fear that what I had to say wouldn’t be interesting to read. So I just kept my thoughts to myself.
As am aspiring blogger, I hesitated to start this blog because I didn’t think people would follow it. Once I started TWGS, I had a hard time maintaining it because I didn’t think I could please my followers. I constantly think I don’t have enough interesting topics to keep my current readers wanting more, or enough to attract new followers. I’d love to keep up with my blog and have it grow but I don’t know if I have the stick-to-it-ness and innovation needed to do so. SMH the struggle is real!
That said – I am looking forward to 2013 as a blog writer!! I have been presented with the opportunity to contribute to my all time favorite blog, Very Smart Brothas!!! How cool is that?? I feel honored and humbled to contribute to such a well-known blog. While I will have all the anxiety of writing that I have for my own blog, I’m excited to stretch my wings a bit and be exposed to a broader audience. It’s nerve wrecking but fantastic all at the same time!
Other things I’m looking forward to in 2013:
- WEDDINGS!!! My bestest friend in the whole wide world and her partner are having a wedding ceremony in our home town and I will be one of the Maid of Honors! I’m honored to be part of their big day – I love those ladies tremendously and am so happy for the life they have built together. I’ll also be making a featured appearance as a Bridesmaid in another close friend’s wedding in Chicago. I’ll be one broke heaux after all these festivities are said and done.
- COMMENCEMENT!! I am planning to be hooded and walk as Dr. Gem Jones in my university’s commencement in April. The ultimate culmination to my long journey in academia. Can’t wait!!
- CENTENNIAL!! Yesterday (1-13-13) my sorority celebrated it’s 100th Founder’s Day. Though I couldn’t be with my sorors in DC @ Howard University (the birthplace) to celebrate, I’m looking forward to continuing the celebration this summer for Convention in DC. It’s going to be B-A-N-A-N-A-S!!
- THIRTY!!! I’m joining the 3 Decade club this summer!! Some women dread this birthday but I am happily welcoming it – what better year to turn 30 (and 100) than in the year of Lucky #13?? I get to celebrate with friends/sorors in DC during Convention – Dirty Thirty will KICK ASS!!
While I haven’t given much though to any new year’s resolutions, I am super geeked about all that 2013 has to offer. This year will be a pivotal one, as so many big changes are scheduled to happen for me. Last year was great and I have no doubt this year will be even greater
What are you looking forward to this year? Do you have anything exciting lined up for 2013? Is there anything you’re dreading (lol)? Fill us in – we wanna know!
On the move,
Posted in relationships on December 5, 2012
My beau and I regularly talk about the future. Though we have dating for a relatively short period of time, we openly discuss issues concerning marriage and children. Both of us want to establish our careers in the DC area, but neither of us currently live there. Problem was, shortly before we started dating I made the decision to make a pit stop in Portland, OR – the exact opposite side of the country from Beau – on my way to DC. Beau had no interest in moving out to the foreign Pacific NW, but wanted to move to the DC area, with hopes that I would make my way out there in a few years. Yeah, making our relationship one expensive frequent flyer promo.
Anyway… one day, out of the clear blue sky, Beau tells me [paraphrased, "I don't want to stay in NY another year. But I probably won't go straight to DC after. I'm open to other places." Now, I think it's safe to say we alllll know what he meant was, "babe, I wanna be with YOU in random arse Portland!!" But nonetheless, I played my part, and begged him to consider the Land of Port! So lately, many of our conversations have been centered around him relocating here in the near future. I, of course, would be THRILLED to have him here, living in the same city, but I also want him to find a job where he can be happy and productive and jump start his career. I want him here, but I want him to be happy with his job situation more. So ya girl has been hard at work trying to make dreams come true!
As the universe would have it, there has been lots of talk about various avenues (namely the blogosphere) on LDRs and who should move and at what point in the relationship. In the last month, Beau as made the following comments to me: "Babe... if I move to Portland, we're never breaking up!" & "Babe... if you want me to move to Portland, you have to put a ring on it!"
LOL ummm aight then! As funny and silly as I thought there comments were, I couldn't help but think more seriously about these statements. I have questions!
In serious long distance relationships, should a person only relocate only if they're talking "forever"?
I'm inclined to say yes. This has been a topic I've discussed a lot with a couple friends who are in LDRs too. The consensus seems to be they'll only move if a ring is involved. I mean, physically, moving is a pain in the butt and can be very costly depending on where you're moving. I find moving to also be very emotionally and mentally taxing. Unless there is job opportunity in the new city that is too good to pass up, and the city was a place I'd move with or without #him in the picture, I don't think I could/would do it. If the relationship didn't work out AND you were in a city you hate AND your job was whack?? Oh hell no! Ain't gon be no "let's just see how it goes." I need to know how its going to go a.k.a. you and me us never part... All that to say, it looks like me and Beau are gonna be together forever, and that's fine with me!
Should a woman ever be expected to put a ring on her man?
After he told me I had to put a ring on it, I asked Beau if he would even wear an engagement ring. His response? "You know I'm too traditional for all that." LOL well why you ask then?! For the most part, I'm pretty traditional about marriage too. But I'm not opposed to going against tradition either. I only know one man who was proposed to by his [now] wife and had an engagement ring (in fact, he told me he accepted the proposal with the understanding he would get a ring to symbolize it). Oddly enough, I liked the idea. I admire that a woman would be bold enough to propose to her man, and that a man would be secure enough to rock an engagement ring from his woman. I’m too vain and enjoy surprises too much to take the leap to be the one to propose, but I really want to see this woman putting a ring on it trend emerge. Independent chicks out here wanna be the head of the household but can’t ask her partner for his hand in marriage?? SMH I want to know what feminists have to say about this! LOL no but seriously..
So my good friends, what do y’all think?? How do you feel about moving for LDRs? Any thoughts or feelings about a woman putting a ring on it? Do people over thing these details?