Personally, I rarely watch movies that pertain to inflicting pain and suffering on an entire people because it hurts too much to feel. While I am positive the movie barely scratched the surface of what it must have been like to be born into incarceration so deeply ingrained into a culture that even the lack of bars and chains could not set you free, its clear message still permeated my entire being. The being that knows that we still live in a hierarchy-driven world with individuals who would willingly subscribe and justify their conformity to physical slavery if it benefited them and was a norm.
The movie is brought in with the local african-american pastor holding a brief message outside the front door of the plantation, where the slaves stood on the ground and the owners sat in the corner of the porch (much like a pastor and first-lady would in a traditional baptist church). He referenced a miniature bible about how slaves should obey their earthly masters, with a co-signed ending from the slave owners. The slaves sang and were sent along their way. It isn't until after Minty (Harriet) asks for her freedom because she wants to have children that are born free. Naturally, the slave owner appears upset and insulted and his true colors of bigotry and evilness seep through as he sends her away with unanswered prayers. This is where my thoughts began....
If physical slavery were still a 'thing', would the sentiments, just be patient and obtain your freedom the legal way still be heard in the echoes of social media posts, yahoo comments, and private conversations? Would there be justification for checking 'freedom papers' of freed slaves who traveled to the south, just as there is justification for checking the identification due to suspicion?
Back to the movie. The writers attempt to give the audience an authentic glimpse into Harriet's serious personality and her connection with God, which was much different than the typical christian's depiction today. I appreciated how they highlighted the discrepancy of how the pastor behaved in the presence of the slave owners and when he was with Harriet, who clearly went against his earlier preachings. Toward the end of the movie, Harriet was shown telling her former owner that God did not intent for people to OWN other people. I rather liked those moments in the movie because throughout history, we have used biblical writing to coerce others into being under our control and for deliberate oppression, while not holding ourselves to that same standard.
Lastly, there was a speech given in the movie by Harriet, after the fugitive slave law was passed and other members if the underground railroad wanted to halt their mission until things settled. Harriet speaks up, stating that halting may seem appropriate for those born into the privilege of freedom, but not for those who know the pain and suffering of slavery. She was not willing to allow the mission being more dangerous deter her from what God sent her to do. My take away from this scene was that, privilege allows us to judge the path (actions) others take without knowing what they are running from.
Overall, the movie did just what I had been avoiding time after time, it forced me to feel the pain AND the worth of my ancestors. This was a phenomenal depiction of strength, loyalty, courage, spirituality, human betrayal and disregard, fear and change that resulted in the freeing of over 700 slaves by an uneducated slave that refused to believe that she was capable and worth what the southern culture tried to make her believe she was worth.
I struggled with the title of this post because there is no beauty in the "letting go" of things and beliefs that have driven your actions, thought process, and overall self-esteem throughout life. I found there was only release, and a struggle to, at that. It is difficult to confront the things that bring us discomfort, yet we continue to practice.
About six months ago, I came to a fork in the road where I had to choose to continue living the thoughtlife that I had been conditioned to live, or choose a new path that came with uncertainty but had the potential for more peace and freedom to slaw away at years of beliefs and practices that brought me discomfort. I chose the new road, visible to me only because something had been preparing me to see it for about a year or more.
I began the process by quitting dieting slowly and practicing positive affirmations. At first, my affirmations were about my body being healthy and burning fat (envisioning being smaller), being wealthy, loving my job and doing God's will, etc. Then it dawned on me that I was just really trying to travel a parallel road to the one I had decided to leave. I needed to begin to accept myself for what and who I was, accept where I was and acknowledge the want for change in some aspects, and understand that I had been given adequate income that could remain the same, decrease or increase, and I would still be COMFORTABLE. The more fear I attached to those things, the more they fleated. I then became open to endless possibilities for change, but simultaneously I had to be fine with things remaining the same as well. It's the neutral spot in life.
Currently, I can't say that I don't struggle to dismiss old beliefs of how I should act, feel, or look, but it is getting a lot easier to love myself the way I am, not feel pressured to be a certain way, etc. I can try on a pair of pants that I can no longer fit, and feel disgusted or upset. I just slide them off and put them back into the closet or discard them to charity. It feels good to slowly free myself of constraints that hinder happiness. I have applied this way of thinking to my marriage, parenting, and approach to life overall.
I pray that you have the courage to break free from any aspect of your life that no longer serves you well. This journey has been so eye-opening for me and my family, as it allows for more peace and acceptance.
With Love and Care,
The hardest thing you’re ever going to do is love yourself in spite of yourself and despite how you perceive the world around you. Each of us will have to figure out a way around the temptation to despise the image we look at the mirror, typically denoted by the need to alter our appearance, create mystical perceptions of ourselves, chase and expect validation and perfection, etc. Finding peace within ourselves is not a one-size-fits-all solution, nor is it something that remains the same. We often have to re-assess and adapt to the changes of everyday life.
Personally, I have devoted the last few months to discovering beliefs about myself and how I should look, feel, and respond with intention to dismantle the rituals performed attached to them. Since, I've had to repeatedly speak alternative thoughts and disconnect from things that reinforce the beliefs I am trying to replace with better serving thoughts. For example, I completely stopped rigorous workout routines and settled for long walks that help to clear my mind. While walking, I listen to affirming recordings from YouTube, music, vibrations, or nothing at all. I did this because I wanted stop engaging behaviors that lend to the belief that I should look a certain way to be healthy, happy, and appealing by others' standards. This belief could totally make or break my day depending on what I told myself that morning, afternoon, or night. It was no longer (if ever) serving my happiness and ultimately, disrupting and destroying my peace. I did begin to gain weight and I then had to practice telling myself that I am not defined by my weight and at this point, neither is my health. I also stopped weighing myself and decided to listen to my body about what size and shape felt comfortable.
After months of this, I finally discovered the root of the problem was simply overeating for various reasons. Eating was my response to boredom, anxiety, and stress. It was also the center of every gathering orchestrated by friends and family, instead of just asking others to gather because there was a want for companionship or fellowship. In response to realizing that I had made eating my go-to response and reason, I set my calorie range to 1400 calories a day, but didn't beat myself up if I went over a 100-200 calories. I also stopped eating things that clearly didn't agree with my body and caused bloating, swelling, and mood changes. While it took a few months to figure out what caused unwanted reactions, I finally was able to decrease to appropriate intake amounts or steered clear of them for the most part.
Lastly, in about a week you will have access to the first week of me ditching social media and replacing it with quality and intentional communication with others. You'll be able to find it in the drop menu labeled, My Social-less Experience. Each blog post will include my response to no social media for a week and my perceived gains and losses. So far, I've spent less time scrolling in the bed, on the couch, and in the BATHROOM, and spent more time playing outside with my kids, sitting in the living room, playing board games, and reading and writing. I believe I have experienced yearning and withdrawal. And I'm only on day 3!
In conclusion, it's important to recognize what serves us and what does not. While my issues may be my consumption of food and social media, yours may be something totally different, like negative thoughts you tell yourself based a prehistoric set of beliefs that should never have been invented or passed down. They could be related to success, how well you keep your house up, your appearance, attitude, job title, prestige, gender stereotypes, whatever. If it does not lend to your happiness and is constantly causing self-doubt, anxiety, or a mental struggle, it's time to assess its value to your life. I pray that this message helps you to embark on a journey of releasing things that bring you anything outside of strength, peace, happiness, joy, wisdom, and comfort.
As always, please leave your comments and share this post with others that may need motivation!
"It's my job to work on my inability to see your value and worth, not your job to prove it to me."
A young man walks into the store at 8am with tattered clothing and untamed hair. A customer at the counter turns to see who has walked in and displays a look of disapproval or disgust, then pays for the items and walks out after thanking the clerk. As the customer walks out, the they lock eyes and the man is seen trying to run his fingers through his hair and fix his clothing.
The young man is trying to prove his worth, when the action lies within the customer to deal with the internal issues that do not allow them to see that the young man is worth more than a displeasing glare.
This is what we see everyday in our society. the expectation that it is the other person's responsibility to fix our inability to see them in as humans. Furthermore, we then have been conditioned to try to meet these expectations as a means to earn worth, respect, opportunities, support, etc. We cannot fix problems in others that we did not create, we can only continue enabling or stand firm in our own identity in hopes of bringing awareness to it, to evoke change.
If you are caught in the vicious cycle of trying to find a solution to a problem that someone else has with you, then maybe it deserves a deeper assessment to truly determine whose habits or beliefs created it and whose hands the responsibility lies within to fix it.
If you're lucky, you'll happen upon the lost place (where you will re-introduce yourself to yourself) and know exactly where to go, with confidence...Read Now
If you're lucky, one day you’ll find yourself in lost place and your mind will instantly know which way to go. You’ll feel so content and free to be yourself, love yourself in the very condition you are in, and comfortably aspire to be and do what your heart desires. You’ll release the need respond to every experience in your life the way you've been taught to and know that we are all human. You will FEEL your emotions, however trivial or extreme, and know that they are not the end of the world nor do they require that you give a predetermined response.
As you walk alone, you will find that aloneness does not mean alone, unworthy, or waiting. Child-less does not mean less of who God created us to be. Many of us have shopped in society to buy our dreams: the white-picket fence, the prestige of title, the home that appears unlived in and costs a fortune in energy and time we are away from our families to afford it, the vehicle that no one can eat in and takes a fourth (or more) of our monthly salary.
As you awaken to a world of all-things-beautiful, you’ll find that your weight and body type does not require adjusting to make others comfortable in the name of health, nor does it have any relation to your worth or self-esteem. You no longer tell people how good they look because they’ve lost weight or how proud you are of them because they’ve accomplished what society deems appropriate, yet lost true soul, compassion, often integrity, joy and originality. There will be no need for shapers, religiously followed diets, or 100 selfies until the right one filters through.
Here you have permission to love yourself and others despite differences and/or experiences. In this space there is no need for jealousy, competition, or to meet others' expectations. You can forgive or accept others without explanation (because you love them or desire to have them in your life). You will no longer ditch relationships because they do not live up to unreasonable standards, pretend as though you own others, or demand compliance. You are free to distance yourself from things that don’t align with your personal peace without offending.
Shame of the past and current status will be laid aside to make room for confidence, assurance, and gratitude for the experiences life has afforded you. With this gratitude for life comes the compassion and empathy for all others that have not happened upon the lost place, where the only things lost are the very learned behaviors that drove us astray from this “happy” place initially.
"God brings all things to us..."
After the death of my sister in March of 2019, I slowly came to the realization that the belief in God is far different than having faith in God, and that makes all the difference. Our belief in God is a prerequisite that can be dangerous and carry unfulfilled potential when lacking faith. Our belief doesn't allow for much understanding of His limitless possibilities, while our faith depends on it.
You see, our belief is strongly tied to His teaching and what the bible literally says, and our faith in Him allows for the understanding that He works all things out for our good and the good of others (we don't have to be rigid vigilantes for Christ, but His light). Belief leaves us open to judge and be intolerant of others, while our faith in God allows us to submit to grace, mercy, compassion, and humanity. Our faith overrides our beliefs when our beliefs become too rigid and boxed in for God's liking.
I recently had an in depth conversation with a friend that made me realize a few things:
1. Jesus not only tolerated, but loved, helped and adored us in all our flaws.
2. Jesus never shunned us for our sins or felt the need to separate himself for fear of being tainted or to show his distaste.
3. Above all, we all called to love and not harm.
4. God does not force us into compliance or belief.
Above all, we are called to love and not judge others for their sins. We cannot control what others do, just as they cannot control what we do with our lives. If God held us to the same standard that we hold others to we would all be doomed. But on a deeper level, people that hold others to rigid standards are most often suffering from the same judgement of themselves. Not only does it create false superiority complexes, but It lends to closeted anxiety, depression, unhappiness and sleepless nights. When our religious beliefs begin to chip away at our faith we distance ourselves from our calling and fulfilling relationships with God and His people.
It takes a special kind of faith and belief to trust that God is going to work things out for the good of those who love the Lord (or those He knows will come to love Him). When I read this scripture I see a simple line explaining that He will work things out in His way. His way is not always a way that is familiar and comforting to us nor is it always a way that takes from one to appease another. His way is just that, His way: full of mercy, freedom, grace, and PROTECTION. Being a believer never gives us the right to assume that God will devalue, oppress, or force others into a christian way of life for the comfort of worldly tradition. However, He will guide others with love and care, just as He guides us with our many flaws and emotional expressions.
Just imagine if God came down and persecuted us for every mistake we've made according to the bible? What kind of life would that be? Maybe not even every mistake, but anytime we placed our cares into the world and not Him, put on make-up to cover His creation, looked at ourselves with hate, allowed fear in this world to dictate our actions, placed more emphasis on money and tradition than love and humanity. What if He condemned us for putting more faith in the protection that house alarms give than He does? For paying car and home insurance more consistently than tithing. Let us not even bring up the infestation of sexual immorality, lust, and gluttony that we have all experienced, even in thought. What about that grape you ate while shopping in the mall or extra tax break? God gives us the freedom to choose. How dare we place our simplistic mindsets and selective ignorance onto others by trying to control them for our own comfort and presumed safety? Whether we are marching high with fists in the air in this 'fight' to control and force worldly christianity and traditions on others or we are hiding behind others, we must ask ourselves, is this how Jesus fought? If it is not, then we must put down whatever we use that is not representative of Him and love one another to light. We can plant seeds of light that may later blossom or we can force seeds of hate, that almost instantly blossom.
When God creates in us with a servant's heart, there is always the conviction of doing unto God, even when there are circumstances surrounding the 'doing' that warrant otherwise. You see, when we decide to serve unto God, we relinquish the need to evaluate whether someone, thing, or cause deserves our assistance.
"Thank you God that you have given me a servant's heart because if I did not give unto You, I would only give conditionally."
The word 'give' can be exercised in many capacities. For example, I chose to smile and wave as the driver behind me flipped the middle finger with both hands for letting two cars merge in front of me. These were the same vehicles that she would not allow to merge in front of her. Smiling at the person who never smiles or even speaks to you as you pass is an opportunity to give. Offering to help someone with a responsibility even when they are at fault for not having it completed. Doing right by others (His right not our justification of right). Most often, when doing unto God, others will receive the best of us even when their actions don't warrant it by worldly standards. It's not about a judgement of worthiness, it's about listening to God and acting according to His word and expectation of us. We relinquish the need to put a monetary value on a person, make a determination of worthiness, or judge them, and thus evade performing actions that might make others feel less than. When we are servants we live in God's house, and when others knock they enter with the same nobility that Jesus held.
"To a home, there is no difference of importance or value between the person who laid the foundation and the person who sweeps the floor. One creates a structure and the other creates preservation for the structure." -Frankie Reed-Shaw-
While it may seem cold and detached, and even ingenuine, my good deeds are not done because I am connected to any one individual. They are done because I am connected and pursuing loyalty to Him. For example, while I would love to say that my commitment to my husband is a representation of my loyalty to my husband, it is not. Simply because if I do it unto him, then my loyalty will more than unlikely become conditional. I entered into a union with my husband under God's terms. When there are moments I want to respond with my flesh (arguing, giving up, etc.), I remember the oath I made to God, who is steadfast and never-changing. The same goes to the relationships we form and casual acquaintances. Treat others how God would want us to treat them and how he has treated us: correction, patience, mercy, kindness, and undeserving favor.
"When we do unto God, the doing becomes unconditional." -Frankie Reed-Shaw-
"God is the potter and I am the clay being painfully molded into a beautiful representation of HIm." -Frankie Reed-Shaw-
In this life, if we experience the process of being painfully broken and molded we also gain the opportunity to truly begin to see and accept all that life has to offer us, in all its beauty. As God sloughs away at our fleshly outer layer, we definitely feel the discomfort of being transformed. In attempts to remain in our worldly form we harden, making us less pliable in His process. Although we resist, He is always watering us with His moistened hand awaiting our response.
How do we know when we have become resistant to God's transformative process? Simple, life becomes difficult internally, and often externally, and we begin to seek joy, happiness, acceptance, and fulfillment in the world and our own actions (this may also include religious traditions that lack relationship and focus on the outward appearance of being a 'good' christian).
How do we break the cycle and begin hearing God's voice and becoming softened to his touch? Well that's simple too. Spend more time connecting with Him through prayer, meditation, time alone, and reading His word. Once we connect, we open ourselves up for a greater purpose and to be guided.
It's perfectly fine to feel afraid from time to time, but it's definitely not okay to make decisions based off those fears. Decisions made as a result of fear display little faith in the One we are called to believe works everything out for our good. Fortunately for us, that includes fear-based decision-making.
If you're anything like me, or half the people in this world for that matter, walking on unchartered territory can bring about an uneasy feeling, but choosing to remain complacent and oppressed by that anxiety is not an option. Some people call it taking a risk, while we choose to believe it's the equivalent to the Civil War.... the fight for freedom and liberation from fear that cripples over half of Americans. Ever stop to think why there's a 1%? Probably not solely because they earned it through hard work, but by taking steps leaps of faith outside the realm of acceptability.
"Nothing at the pinnacle of greatness is ever achieved by following the mold of what is already being done." -Frankie Reed-
When making decisions, think about where you are headed and not where you could possibly fall if it doesn't work out. Ask yourself, is this move toward my goals in life?
It's ok to be afraid, but it's not okay to use that fear to support your decision to do or not do something that could make a big impact on your life. As greatness doesn't develop from a mold, it also is not likely to be developed alone. If God has not sent others in to help you just yet, you can always partner with Him to create an awesome duo. Don't be afraid to set aside time with God for clear direction. Ask Him for what you want and wholeheartedly believe that He will answer you.
As I sit here in total disbelief, worry, sadness and gratefulness, I can’t help but wonder if you know how much you are being thought of and missed? I’m in disbelief because we just made plans for us to see one another almost every day, with you staying at my house during the week. I’m in disbelief because, although we pray for safe travels, we never really expect to get the call that ‘there has been an accident’. We are all saddened at the thought of you possibly being in pain and alone; its heart-wrenching for us. If you were awake at any time, during this horrible accident, I hope that you called out to God and was able to find comfort in Him. Initially, I selfishly hoped that you would have tried to reach for your phone to call one of us, but later realized that the only person you needed to reach requires no man-made technology that we seem to feel we can’t live without. We are saddened because there is so much life you had to live, and we are left with the task of piecing everything together, so we can move on and remember you in a way that brings us peace and solace. I am particularly grateful that I had the opportunity to sit and talk with you just hours before and appreciate the relationship we had and hope to still have, even though you are not physically here. I remember leaving dinner with you feeling happy that we had shared a now unforgettable moment of laughter and reminiscing.
The loss of you brings me to the vulnerable state of not knowing and fear that this could actually happen to any one of us. It also brings me to the undeniable realization of knowing that we need to have faith and lean on God now more than ever. As we mourn and remember you, know that you have always been loved, understood, and accepted for who you are and were in our lives.
For this is what the LORD says: …..11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
MyEarlyMorningThoughts: We Must Relentlessly Walk By Faith In A World That Is More Influenced By Sight.Read Now
I am a 36 year old wife and mother of three children. I love all-things creative and writing thought-provoking posts. I began documenting #MyEarlyMorningThoughts about two years ago and have since received many requests to begin blogging and to continue posting about everyday life, growth, maturity, and christian concepts. Don't be shy, feel free to comment your life experiences and wisdom on any post.