To dig deep within my soul and ask myself hard questions. When I'm utterly honest with myself, the solutions are here in front of me. The answers have been here all along. But it was a painful process to see and hear the truth. To come to a place within myself where I can be real about the negative circumstances.
No matter how much I've tried to silence my inner voice signaling me about specific things that are wrong, I could no longer keep it quiet. Instead of pushing it aside or pretending it doesn't exist, I choose to be a realist. To accept unpleasant situations just as they are. To bravely address them and deal with them accordingly.
And so I'm on a summer detox that is quite unique. Here's what it looks like:
- I'm temporarily taking a much needed vacation from Facebook.
- I've left my church with no regrets.
- I'm self-editing my fourth book, Sacred Wandering.
- I'm focusing on self-care, quiet time, and gratitude.
- I'm growing my own spiritual relationship with God daily.
- I'm starting a Candida detox to rid myself of toxins and systemic yeast.
At the essence of a detox is to abstain from anything that's unhealthy to my mind, heart, health, relationships, and soul. To reduce or eliminate anything that's hindering my physical, emotional, spiritual, and professional progress. The goal is to cleanse my body of toxins, inspire my mind, and to fuel my spirit.
I so wish that I could sit with you over a cup of green tea or a nutritious smoothie where you could look into my eyes and see my anguish. That you could hear the catch in my voice and know what I'm about to say is truly baring my soul. And that maybe you would feel brave enough to be authentic to share your own disappointments, frustrations, or hurts.
Although I can explain the six elements up above, my detox categories, please understand that unless you walk in my shoes, the dynamics pertaining to each is complex. Not all specific or personal details will be shared here, due to the sensitive topics. Also, you may have or have not experienced a similar circumstance as mine. In which case, we may or may not respond to and address our concerns in the same manner.
Facebook Fast: Over one year ago, I started taking breaks from Facebook. It wasn't a strict routine, but around every six months. A spiritual fast to replenish, revive, reflect, and re-examine my aspirations, my purpose, my faith in Christ, my relationships, and my overall wellness. According to my calendar, I'm far overdue. And that can explain why I feel so depleted, distressed, and discouraged.
An amazing fact about my Facebook fast (each and every time!) is that I'm more productive, energized, joyful, and peaceful. There's endless benefits of taking a break from social media. I personally believe that everyone needs to practice this occasionally. By carving out special time away from Facebook, we're open to new opportunities that otherwise we could have missed.
Like yesterday morning when I noticed a hawk in my backyard for the first time. For one solid hour, the gorgeous hawk sat on a fence facing my home. Intrigued, I found myself researching hawks. Compared to all other birds, they have the best eye sight. Interesting enough, the hawk symbolism is clear vision, focus, leadership, and increased spiritual awareness.
Biblically, there are numerous scriptures about hawks. In Job 39:26 (NLT), it says, "Is it your wisdom that makes the hawk soar and spread it's wings toward the south?" Aside from calling attention to the miraculous flight, this may refer to the wonderful soaring exhibitions of these birds. In other words, my Facebook fast provided me clarity, focus, and clearer vision. That God used a hawk to speak to me. A tangible reminder that He has a divine plan for my life and it's time for me to soar.
Leaving Church: After three in a half years, I still couldn't fit in. I loved the worship. The congregation was ginormous. Sometimes, the messages were on point. Other times, they were not. I couldn't get out of that building fast enough. It was hard to sit through a sermon in which the pastor often used his opinions to coordinate with the Bible story. It didn't sit well with me. Not when I know God's Word and the truth. And when someone starts twisting God's truth with their own truth, I have a problem with that.
I desperately wanted to fit in. Yet, try as I might - I joined a women's group, I attended spiritual retreats, I went to Bible studies - I just couldn't fit in. And I doubt that I was the only one. Not when this church has thousands of members. Initially, we were warmly welcomed with open arms, but then kept at arm's lengths. They were very selective about who they let into their little clique.
The sad truth about this clique is they blatantly ignored me. I felt invisible. So regardless of attempting to join in various church functions, I was an outcast. I was not worthy. And it didn't matter how many hoops I jumped through, the clique would never accept me.
While the cliques was a serious concern, it wasn't my only concern. Recently, I started a women's book study in which the author is a popular leader within the Christian community. I'm not referring to only my neck of the woods. This author and speaker is well-known nationally and internationally.
Everything was great and fine, until I discovered this woman allowed her personal opinions to sway her version of God's truth. Again and again, I would find each chapter sprinkled with a little bit of her personal beliefs with scriptures. It rubbed me the wrong way. Because no one can add or subtract the Lord's Words. The Bible says, "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." Deuteronomy 4:2 (NASB)
In addition, God's Word is the final word. "And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God's purpose is that people should fear him." Ecclesiastes 3:14 (NLT)
At the core of my legitimate concerns inside the church is hypocrisy. Apparently, the Lord knew how rampant hypocrisy is. By no surprise, there's at least twenty-six scriptures to prove it. In the Bible, we are told not to judge others. To remove the plank out of our own eyes before we tell another of their sins or faults. To stop being such a hypocrite.
"Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well to deal with the speck in your friend's eye." Matthew 7:1-5 (NLT)
For those who are wondering if I plan on finding a new church, I need to pray about it. And for now, I sincerely need time away to rid myself of this negative experience. Before you impulsively write me a comment saying that I need to be part of the body of Christ, please don't. You see, I'm in a season where I trust it's no accident. Jesus isn't shocked by what I'm going through. I'm certain that He sees it much clearer than you do. After all, He dealt with hypocrisy and legalism very often. He knew how destructive it is and He boldly called people out on it.
Whether I'm in a church or not, my heavenly Father is present. He hears me. He intimately knows me. And for now, that is enough for me. Lord willing, He will eventually connect me to the right church at the right time for the right purpose. But even if that never happens, I know that I'm saved by grace. And there's no church or person that can take away my eternal salvation.
Self-editing My Book: I'm thrilled to announce that I'm finished writing my fourth nonfiction, Sacred Wandering: Growing Your Faith in the Dark. The process of self-editing is lengthy, tedious, and sometimes mind-boggling. After reading my book dozens upon dozens of times, my eyes can play tricks on me. And that's why I hire a professional editor. They can catch little errors that I may have missed. But when it's all said and done, most books are never 100% free of some form of mistake. Even the best of top selling authors, have a slight blunder here and there. Keeping that in mind, I pray for God's anointing upon me as I move forward to have my book sparkle.
Self-care & Gratitude: For me, quiet time is important. Also, I find it crucial to actively schedule self-care. Gentle stretching, journaling, listening to my favorite music, and simply enjoying little things, such as a radiant sunset are ways to nurture myself. Also, taking walks outdoor to enjoy nature, listening to birds sing, and diffusing essential oils are helpful methods to produce self-care. Each morning, I focus on gratitude. When we have a grateful heart, it promotes a positive attitude. And it's contagious!
Spiritual Growth: Everyone has a different idea about spirituality. For me, it's not about "doing." As in, one must obey a rigid rule of instructions in order to win God's favor or love. For example, the church says, "Do." Yet Christ says, "It's done." You see, there's nothing we need to do to receive the infinite love of Jesus. Before we were even born, He loved us. He thought of us. He already had us in mind. Therefore, we can eliminate false ideas pertaining to religion. Instead, we can fully embrace God. To spend time with Him. To talk to Him like we chat with our friends. It doesn't need to be flowery or poetic. Nor does it need to be stuffy or filled with scriptures. I relish in my Abba Daddy who is always faithful. Who simply wants me to be still and bask in His omnipotent presence. And when I'm deeply connected to the Lord, I grow spiritually stronger.
The Fungus is Amongst Us: Based on how long this blog post is, which I never intended, I will save the details about the Candida cleanse for another post. For those who are curious, what I will share now is that everyone has Candida in their body, which is normal. But once in a while, our body can get out of sync. It may be antibiotics, birth control pills, steroids, too much fatty foods in our diet, sugar overload, or poor nutrition that can potentially cause an overgrowth of Candida. Sometimes, it's minor. Other times, it could be full-blown systemic Candida; otherwise known as fungus. In my own case, it's serious business. No day at the beach. A lifelong struggle. So I'm gearing up for a detoxification and ready to say goodbye to these nasty symptoms.
All in all, I'm happy that I chose to take action. That I decided a summer detox was necessary. And I'm taking back control over my body, mind, and spirit. Because life is too darn short to let it slip by when God has a grand purpose for me. Onward and upward!