Clarity of Thought and Praise
“Recognize your Restoration”
This has been something heavy on my heart that I’ve really wanted to speak on, restoration. Restoration is defined as “the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition.”
The topic of church this Sunday was “Restoration is on the way and a word is not far behind.” Has there ever been a time where you have just literally felt like your back was against the ropes and you were just trapped in whatever circumstance you were currently in? I have.
I’ve been contemplating for some time about sharing this dark period in my life because I don’t want it to sound like I’m bashing anybody, but it’s what I went through and I learned immensely from it.
My early years of college I was in a relationship with someone for about two and a half years. During that time, we both did some inexcusable things to one another and decided unanimously that we wanted to work on things to get back to where we used to be. Well…it didn’t happen. Things had gotten worst, we were absolutely toxic for one another. I endured utter disrespect, being called out my name, being told that “nobody else would want me”, being told that I would be just like the people in the past that hurt me, just straight up mental and verbal abuse day in and day out.
During my undergrad at University of Memphis I was a summer camp counselor for high school students who worked in our STEM program. I can distinctly remember one conversation we had where he was mad at me because a camper of mine, who was in high school, had a crush on me. Now, usually your significant other would be like “Oh, how cute”, right? Not in my case. Instead he chose to insinuate that I was going to molest this student of mines just like someone had done me as a child. (That’s another topic of conversation)
The worst part about all of this is that I started to believe I was in some way a bad person for my actions in the past and would be impossible to see myself in a better light. My self-esteem was at an all time low, my spirit was broken, and my outlook on the world was very negative because of the unhappiness and pain that I was feeling. In a time where I should have used common sense and left, I felt that I needed this person to feel validated in whatever I needed validation for.
Eventually, I ended up leaving because I had had enough! And when I reached that moment of “I can do bad all by myself” I literally felt this weight lifted off of my shoulders and I was liberated. I had to realize though, that I was finally being brought to my place of restoration and coming out of that situation I didn’t have a bitter heart toward what I went through. I chose to be in that situation that long. Instead, I understood that God administered a test for me and it took me years to pass, but I learned from it and gave him all the praise.
Not only was my attitude restored and my self-confidence, but I also was restored in other ways:
RESTORation of Outlook:
When I was in my situation I just knew deep down in my heart that nothing was perfect and there was no such thing as “complete” happiness. There was no such thing as someone waking up with a smile on their face everyday, there was no such thing as someone just experiencing and feeling pure joy.
Well, needless to say I was completely wrong. It was ONLY me who was feeling like that because of the energy I was choosing to expose my soul to and it tainted my outlook on a lot of things and I was losing my mind.
It all made sense when I went to church one Sunday morning in Chicago and my pastor said, “Be careful about who you surround yourself with, because they WILL, not maybe, but WILL effect your outlook on the world and others.” Suddenly a light bulb went off.
My outlook was being determined by what I was feeling on the inside. Now those two words, “out” and “in”, are completely different as they have different actions. But these two things work simultaneously, hand-in-hand everyday. I thought about it in the sense of dieting/health. When someone wants to get healthier they change their eating habits, their exercise routine, and overall lifestyle so they are in-taking what is best for the body so they can see results and have the desired outcome. I was not doing my body any justice by feeding my soul that negativity and allowing my thoughts and my outlook to be corrupted because I was choosing to not take care of myself, my well-being in a suitable manner that didn’t live up to what I wanted out of life.
And this is something that will definitely be a challenge in all of your relationships that you indulge in: friendships, mentorships, intimate relationships, etc. But, whatever and whoever you decide to surround yourself with, make sure it’s doing your soul justice.
RESTORation of Praise/Faith:
Church for me growing up was something that was routine. Mom made us go every Sunday and if we didn’t then we had to be punished with cleaning the kitchen until infinity and beyond, which at the time was OK with me (don’t judge me, because I’m an excellent cleaner because of it). It wasn’t until I got older that I started feeling that personal connection to the Lord because of certain things I had been through and just maturity.
I used to come in and sit through service and then go back home and feel like my week was fulfilled because I started off with church, but I truly wasn’t gaining anything from it at the time. It wasn’t until I got myself out of a bad situation and started having immense gratitude for everything around me to realize that church is not just the physical building that you walk into. Church is everywhere, it’s that feeling that you get rushing through your body when you feel you’ve just made a personal connection in the energy your in, the people you’re surrounded by, the inspirational things that motivate you in your day-to-day life!
Although many associate the word “praise” with church or whatever entity or higher calling you abide by I like to subscribe to the working definition and apply it to my practice of love and appreciation. Praise is defined in the dictionary as “the expression of warm approval or admiration of.”
My praise and my faith grew stronger, because I started not to take things for granted and open my eyes to the many wonderful things happening around me all the time. It was also a conscious decision to do so. In that decision I appreciated the smallest of small things like a complete stranger taking their time to just say “Hi” or “Good Morning” to me, walking into my house and thanking God for a place I can come home to after a hard day’s work, people in my life that would literally give me their last if need be, or the $20 that I’ll have leftover in my bank account from my paycheck once I pay all my bills (now I know some can relate to this).
Whatever the case may be recognize that your struggle, no matter how big or small it may be to others or even yourself, is phase one of your restoration. Although you may be working through something, you are also being worked on in the process.
I’m making the decision to try my best (because we all know some people or something can try you) to be humble in my actions in order to have clarity of thought.