Though I am grateful internally, I wanted to express gratitude externally for this season of life. It is easy to talk about what is going wrong in your life and things you want to fix/change. I’m speaking to myself. Just know, there is always room to give gratitude.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”- 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Yes, be grateful in ALL things. So here is my gratitude list:
My mental clarity has evolved in the way I protect my mind, body, and spirit. Therapy has been a game-changer. I see its positive effects in the way I carry myself and deal with situations.
My style is AMAZING! My LEWKS for the spring and summer are beautiful and just my style.
Having a job has given me some financial relief. A steady paycheck is good to have.
My summer hair is GOALS (to me)! Long, brown braids…yup. I be cute!
I am grateful for my support group of family and friends. There are some days where I do not feel my best. They are a text and prayer away from giving me encouragement. I feel loved and it is a great feeling. I am blessed for my tribe and my tribe knows who they are
My new church- truly a great community.
Enough about me. What are you grateful for like right now? It will make you feel good when you list it. It does not have to be big…it can be as simple as waking up to see another day. But, do that and you will see the difference in your mood.
It would be foolish of me not to acknowledge that May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
A lesson God is teaching me is valuing my mental health. A wise person once told me, ” If you have heart issues, you take heart medication. If you have a headache, you take headache medicine. So if you have issues with your brain and mind, why not take care of that too?”
I’m not saying that you need to take prescription medicine (if you feel you need to, seek a medical provider for assistance and resources. no shame if you need it). What I mean is why not take care of your mental health? Your mindset matters in everything you do. The way you move matters based on how you treat your mind.
For me, it has been a journey. For many years, therapy was a dirty word…like rich white people problems or the 90s sitcom, Fraiser was my first impression of therapy. In the African American community and the Immigrant Community, therapy is taboo. You just learn to deal and keep moving and not look crazy. As a Christian, I was told to pray it away.
While it may work for some, it did not work for me. I wrestled with my own thoughts and buried it in the deepest parts of my being. I maintained a facade, a mask of sorts to hide my depression and anxiety. But even that temporary solution failed….
The pandemic really brought me to a head where I could not hide from my thoughts.
God gave me love and assurance in little things. I would cling to the hem of His garment and hope for better. He gave me the resource of a Black, Christian, female therapist earlier this year. It has helped getting out my feelings, doubts, and insecurities. I can explore different facets of my identity as a black woman and as a Christian. I have learned so much through speaking my truth and using the Bible to fight against the Enemy. My church family and my personal relationship with God helps me navigate my life. Therapy does not negate my relationship with Christ, it gives me more Godly tools to move in my daily life.
I tell my story because I want you to know: MENTAL HEALTH AND THERAPY IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. I don’t want you to feel shame nor guilt for taking care of your mind. Each person is different in their mental health needs. One is not any worse or any better. If it helps, it helps.
Your sanity matters.
Your mindset matters.
Your life matters.
Your mental health matters.
Only you know what you need. Acknowledge what you need. It does not necessarily have to be in-person therapy, there is online therapy. You can get a gratitude journal, listen to soothing music, eliminate toxic people and create boundaries, etc, etc.
Just care for your mind. God gave you this body and this life for a moment in time. So make good use of your time. Take care of your mental soul.
I love my space. I have learned to do things on my own. I thought that I had to be around people to be filled. But it actually is the opposite. For many years, I would give myself to the world until no end then just be drained and depressed afterwards. I was more dependent on people than myself. I always thought that being alone meant that I was introverted and a hermit. I just did not want to be alone because I would be with myself and it scared me.
But that was then…
It was when I moved to Florida for law school where my perception changed. I was on my own. I was definitely fearful to explore. Finding a church by myself, shopping by myself, exploring Jacksonville, etc. But it is the uncomfortable moments where we really have to challenge ourselves to grow. So, I took a leap of faith and tried to do activities alone. AND I LOVED IT!
I lived by myself for two years in Jax. I would go painting on my own. I visited churches and eventually found a church home. I would eat out on my own. The list goes on…
I just tried. Yes, it felt uncomfortable at first but once you get out of your head, you settle down. It gets better.
I know alone time can be different for everyone. We all have lives and busyness to do deal with. We all have responsibilities and obligations. BUT it is important to refresh and refill.
My Declaration for Me Time: Everyone deserves a moment, whether its five minutes or a few hours, to be alone to refresh and not think too hard.
I have fallen victim to the burn out. I pour myself out only to be empty. So find that time. Ways I Unwind: Paint (of course), Window shopping, Nap, Take a walk/run, Reading, Just sit down in my room, etc.
Just something to yourself. Now only you can determine what works for you BUT do it. For sanity, for the people around you, and for your mind, body, and soul.
It is very easy to look at social media, television, and magazines and look at yourself thinking “Uh…why can’t I look like that. Ugh…she is so pretty and I look like crap.” Like it would make life better if you or I fit the perfect, ideal type.
I say this because that was me. For my teenage years till a few years ago, I just wanted to fit a mold where I could fit in and be worthy. I thought if I had the “ideal whatever”, I would be popular, get that job, get that man, and live my best life. But you know? No matter how much I tried to “change,” I hated myself more. I lived with that insecurity and lack of confidence when I was pretending for the rest of the world.
But overtime, I had to learn my value in God’s eyes than my own perceptions and societal pressures. My mom says you can’t embrace your life and others if you don’t love yourself.#FACTS.
Keep this in mind: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.-Psalm 139:13-16
I’m not saying that I am completely cured from my insecurities but I know how to redirect that insecurity with positivity and with God’s words of truth. You and myself are works in progress. We are learning as we go along. But, the societal ideal rules do not matter because God matters. There is freedom in knowing you created in God’s image.You and I are God-designed and God-purposed for the here and now. God saw fit that you and I exist…wow really!?! Yes, really! You are growing in your own way but just know that God defines you.
So I know what you thinking: Yeah, nice words, Bianca. Really preaching but how do I live this out? I’m glad you asked.
Thus, here is my declaration about keeping you mind, body, and soul more God-defined in your life.
Do not consent to toxic people’s opinions, attitudes, and outlook on your life.
If things and people don’t add life or growth in your journey, you have the right to remove and move on.
Your body is a God-designed temple and treasure so take of your body like a priceless gem.
There is no perfect person, thing, or ideal to live up to EXCEPT Jesus.
Have silent moments to breath, think, and reevaluate YOUR life. Like I said, you and I are trying to work out this thing called life out.
It’s ok to turn off the social media, television, etc. to clear your mind and soul of negativity.
Look at yourself in the mirror and say good things to that person looking back at you. You are somebody.
This is a small microcosm of self love. But just know you matter. You are worthy because God said you are. He made you. There is no one else like you. Love yourself.
I leave you with this awesome song by India Arie, Video. I remember this song from my teen years but the message is relevant and true. You don’t need to be like someone else. Your mind, body, and soul matter. Be your God-designed self unapologetically. Be blissfully you.
The older I get, the more wiser I am in valuing myself. As I have said before, I really struggled with beauty and confidence to find a man. I really thought that there was fulfillment in a relationship. But there was an issue in desiring a man: I was not confident in myself. I just was trying to figure myself out in my early 20’s.
I saw the trend of dating and relationships that I wanted in. I wanted a relationship because everyone else had a relationship. WRONG!
As I realized that it was not God’s plan, I had deal with myself. I had know for myself: what are my values and standards? Yes, I grew up with biblical values but did I really know what my values were or was I just piggy-backing off my strict parents.
During my freshman year of college, I went on a quest to read the bible in its entirety to know what I believe for me. In addition, I read a book called, Lady In Waiting: Becoming God’s Best While Waiting For Mr. Right (I recommend it!). This quest opened the door and laid a foundation to really knowing who I am and whose I am.
Yes, I had real standards towards love and relationships and being an authentic Christ follower. And I am still growing.
As long as my values were aligned with God’s Word, then that is what mattered. That was where my value was. I did not need to prove myself to be worthy of love with a man.
For most of life, I felt that if I proved myself worthy to be loved, I would be loved. If I was lovable, pretty, reliable, loyal, and helpful, I would be guaranteed girlfriend material. But I was not. I was overlooked and unappreciated as a sister or reliable friend. WHAT WAS I DOING WRONG!?!
But like I said, that was then. With my maturity in Christ, I realized that my values were my lifestyle. I was not norm but am set apart. With the few men I have dated, my standards did not match theirs. There was conflict and differences in our Biblical values and social values. There was no compatibility and I was not backing down my values to conform to something that I was not.
I know what you are thinking…Bianca, what are your values for dating and relationship and living a God-centered life?I am glad you asked. Here are some of the following standards and values I have:
A consistent relationship with the local church–you can’t walk this Christian life alone. Being involved in a local church and bible study is like putting on my glasses in the morning. I need it to live so I can see.
No sex before marriage. Kissing is fine. But there must be boundaries so we are not tempted by each other.
No clubbing, smoking, drinking, drugs, recklessness of the world, etc.—In this world but not of this world mentality. I have gotten grief about “living your life” but to me, I believe that Christians are tempted by the enemy in certain places and I choose to flee rather go to the temptation. I can’t be a witness if I act just like the people I need to reach (that’s just me.). I know I lose guys in this more than anything because I am looking for a man who is set apart and is trying to live in a manner worthy of Christ.
Culturally, I don’t celebrate Halloween and don’t associate with skull-like things and events. Yes, I know I live in America. But I have learned about my Haitian culture and those things/events align with devil-worshipping. So I don’t celebrate Halloween at all…don’t even want to go to the Christian alternative either because it’s trying to incorporate Jesus with a pagan belief. Again, just my beliefs.
I only want a Christ-follower…no exceptions. Yup, I have heard: Bianca, what if your true love is not a Christian. I just say I don’t think God would hold out his best for me. His best would be someone equally yoked and aligned with Him. So no I don’t believe you.
Yes, I am aware most of the male population does not agree with my values.
But to value myself, I have to stand up for myself and be my authentic self. Once I loved myself, valued myself, and set standards for myself, God would honor my obedience.
Yes, I am still single and growing but I know what I want and God knows what I desire. So I wait and wait…
But at least I love myself enough while waiting for God’s best.
My mom instilled in me that it is imperative that you love yourself first. No one can love you more than God and you. Know that you deserve love and respect BUT you decide how you receive it. When you know your value, you determine your outcome. You can be encrusted with good, solid people or bad people…it’s up to you.
If you allow disrespect, then you are the recipient of disrespect. If you allow respect, then you are the recipient of respect.
Stop disrespect at the start.
Remove yourself from the situation.
Silence can speak louder than words.
In my life, by stopping disrespect to establish “Don’t cross me,” people back off or know I can’t mess with Bianca. You don’t need to waste your breath and energy on disrespect so silence and leaving the toxic situation is best.