Yesterday while out looking for a wedding gift for one of my cousin’s upcoming nuptials, I found myself in a deep, yet joyous conversation with my maternal grandmother, whom I lovingly call SugarLamb. It started out with us listening to a song called “Best Man” by R.L., Tyrese, Case and Ginuwine. The song talks about uplifting and helping your friends be the best version of themselves. From the song, I thought about the topic that Pastor John Gray of Relentless Church in Greenville, South Carolina preached this past Sunday. The title of his sermon was, “Relentless Grace.” (Click here if you’d like to view this sermon)
During the benediction, he summed up his message with a demonstration of him falling down. As soon as he fell to the ground, immediately his friends, followed by his wife Pastor Aventer Gray, ran up on stage, picked him up off the floor, held him tightly until he got his balance and prayed over him. While crying in reverence to God for the people surrounding him, he mentioned that none of us are alone and how important it is to surround ourselves with the right people who will pray for us, have our backs in time of need, and who will catch us when we stumble or fall. It was truly a moving experience that I highly recommend viewing.
The visual of this message was so profound to me as it reminded me of my own situation and how many ways the enemy has tried to attack me. Yet praise be unto God that I have the right set of friends who help pray me through and keep me encouraged and motivated to press on. I also have prayer warriors in my godparents and my uncle Chris Gees. Whenever I need an extra set of prayers sent up to God, I know I can count on them to co-sign in the spirit for God to meet my needs and exceed my expectations.
After sharing that story about Pastor Gray’s message, my SugarLamb chose to share with me how she listens in sometimes to the worship service I have alone in my room. I’m not ashamed to worship God no matter who hears it nor my location. My worship is my private time with God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit where I give glory, praise and honor for the grace and mercy that’s covering me and for loving and protecting me at times when I wanted to give up hope and couldn’t find a reason to live. Even in my bedroom, which is my solace and relaxing zen-filled place of peace and creativity, I thank Him for what He’s done in my life and for what He’s going to do. Everyday I have these special worship moments with God as it is pertinent to my sanity and my survival.
My grandmother understood and went on to explain how when I’m streaming the teachings of Pastor John Gray, she’ll hear me crying one moment and then laughing the next. Fortunately for us, he’s just that type of pastor — you never know what you’re going to get! As I explained this to her, I began to feel a warm sensation overcome me and I started to tear up inside. Out of my mouth came the following declaration,
“Grandma, I thank God that I can have joy now. For as you know there was a time, just two years ago, when I couldn’t find joy at all. I was so depressed, stricken with grief and sorrow. I couldn’t see a way out, but to end my life. I think of those two celebrities, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, that have recently committed suicide and I can’t help but give God the praise because had He not stepped in and saved me, I wouldn’t be here today. The fact that I’m still alive after my suicide attempt, that these people died and I didn’t —“
Before I could finish my remark, my grandmother chimed in,
“It means that God has something in store for you. You’re not done living!”
After she finished her profound statement, I couldn’t help but allow the tears to flow. It’s interesting that I had this moment with my SugarLamb, as she’s been right there witnessing all that I’ve been through these last few years since my beloved paternal grandmother passed away. Yet still, I felt the need to state the obvious. It’s like that old song goes that they used to sing in my great-grandmother nana’s baptist church, “When I think about Jesus, and what He’s done for me. When I think about Jesus, and how He’s set me free. I can dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, dance all night!”
So, as my title declares, I’ve got joy down in my heart! I truly am in a happy place emotionally. It took awhile for me to feel this abundance of joy, but I thank God for His grace and mercy kept me alive to feel happy days. During the time of my grieving, I thought I’d never see the light of day. All that surrounded me were dark clouds. With the pain in my heart from her death and the anger, shame and bitterness I felt from my past, I thought the weight I carried was too heavy a burden to bare. I wanted everyone who had ever wronged me, including those who were responsible for ending my grandmother’s life, to pay for their sins. What I didn’t realize, at the time, was that this was a trick from the enemy.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)
Although I was reading and breathing my Bible everyday to get me through the day, yes it was that bad that I craved a word from Jesus as we do food or air, I wasn’t allowing the full power of the word to work through me. The devil had me so wrapped up in grief, sorrow, shame, anger and guilt that I couldn’t see the light at the end of tunnel. Call it fate, destiny, or the prayers of those who love me because it was by faith that I kept pressing into my bible and praying asking God for a way out. Finally, on April 25, 2017, the Lord gave it to me. He granted my request and spoke a dream in me to fulfill.
““Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News!” (1 Corinthians 9:16 NLT)
As always through my testimonial blog, I say all this to say, no matter what you’re currently facing in your life, know that God has a plan. The enemy’s job is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), but Christ came to give us strength, rest and ultimately eternal victory. Whatever you are going through, you can make it. I know it may seem hard or impossible right now to fathom better, happier days, but trust my honest testimony, that there will come a time when you will smile again and have joy in your heart.
Losing loved ones, whether through death or “conscious uncoupling,” doesn’t mean you will remain in a heartbroken death sentence. You will rise again with all power and will have a story of determined strength and courage to tell. Press on no matter the circumstances! Keep hope alive that your current pain won’t remain the same for long. Don’t let the enemy win! He’s already been defeated by God when Christ stretched His arms and died for our sins. Knowing that your debts (sins) has been paid should give you some peace of mind that your current state of bad affairs will eventually die and from the ashes will be birthed a new happiness and a new destiny for your life. Just don’t give up until you see how God is ordering your steps for your next, best season!
I pray today for whoever is going through heavy, tough times. For those whose heart’s are broken, all hope is lost, and their joy is nowhere to be found, I pray that you allow the Lord to fully come into your life and transform your mind. The Bible says,
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
(Romans 12:2 NLT)
With this in mind, I pray that you allow your thoughts to be transfigured. Just as I had to let God change my way of thinking and doing things, so shall you. I pray you find the beauty in your pain like I did, use it in a way that helps someone else, so that God can get the glory for your life being transformed. Life is not for us to bottle up our past and hide away our tears. We are all a walking testimony and there’s somebody out there that can benefit from hearing your story. I pray that you brave the faces of evil that seek to destroy you and that you overcome it with victory, ready and willing to share what God has done for you to the next person who is willing or needing to hear it. In the name of Jesus, I pray all these things be counted done according to God’s purpose for your life, Amen.
Sincerely with love,
Travel photography by IG user: @christofs70