Category: Communication

3 posts

Authenticity: Keep it Real with God [Part II]

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ImageThe man upstairs is how some refer to God, a distant reference to a God who wants to be so close to our hearts! Some of our prayers are so disconnected and robotic “God bless me… Amen.”  All God truly wants is for us to pull down the walls and keep it real with Him. A relationship without intimacy (sharing of personal thoughts and emotions) will be superficial. If we only keep it at a surface level with God, you may not fully experience the deep relationship many of us crave.

If you ever find yourself around a gentleman, and a lady is in his presence he won’t let her carry anything.  I know God as a gentleman. Although I am on stage acting or speaking publicly I am an introvert by nature. I carry a lot of weight internally; God knows this, so He reminds me to let Him carry it (1 Peter 5:7). In order to let Him carry your cares or anxieties you have to trust Him. Vulnerability breeds authenticity.

In life there will be experiences that may consist of joy and excitement, as well as tears and turbulence. Having a relationship with God will help with dealing with both sides of the coin. It won’t be easy but it is well worth it.  God is a gentleman so He won’t force you to have a relationship with Him. On the flip side, He is a romantic so He will woo you! God is the lover of your soul. There are so many things that have hurt us in the past. We have walls built up to protect us from future pain but those same walls are shutting God out. How can He reveal more of His character to you? First, remove the walls that you have built up brick by brick by being honest with God. That means revealing anger, fear, doubts, disappointments, loss, regret and bitterness… laying it all out.

ImageOne of my favorite books in the bible is Psalms. David and the other writers kept it real with God, pouring out their hearts. David expresses true sincerity with every verse; poetic authenticity that gives us a glimpse into his heart for God. I could just imagine David journaling his joys, hurts, depression, despair and frustrations. When you read the Psalms one moment David is saying Praise the Lord sharing his adoration for God the next moment, he is worn out from calling for help (Psalm 69:3) then his soul is down cast (Psalm 42:5), then he is asking God for forgiveness for his sins (Psalm 38). These can all be different seasons in his life but for the most part, it means that he had an authentic relationship with God. God allowed him to share how he really felt about his circumstances and God gives us the same access.

There are only a slim few who know me very well. I may get the question “how are you doing?”  I might respond “I’m ok,”  but only those special people can look past my cheerful disposition and then ask me again “NO REALLY… how are you doing?’’ Depending on who is asking, I really go in-depth and share what is going on. I’m learning that although there may be people who truly care about me, everyone cannot handle or help carry some of my burdens (I will be writing about “safe people” soon). Those that he has placed in my life that can, I am grateful for them <3. The beauty about God is that he can handle all of it! Many of us go to God acting like it’s all good and He’s giving you the side eye like …. No for real… What’s really going on? Although He knows all things, He still wants you to share your heart with Him!

2013 was one of the most painful years that I have gone through. While everyone was excited about 2014, I stepped into a new yearImage without my mommy </3. I was and I am still grieving the loss of my golden star. My whole world shattered. I can’t explain it but I’ve never felt so much pain in my life thus far yet, I have never felt so close to God. Through this season God constantly tugged at my heart, when I had no words to pray or when I couldn’t find the words to write because I was so heartbroken. I soon learned that God is truly close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18), I always felt His presence. As of now some days are better than others. I truly take it one day at a time. I see so much of my mom in me, I miss her like crazy <3.

The best advice that I received was from my cousin and she told me to grieve in the way I chose to grieve, no apologies. Then my mentor told me to go through my experience authentically. I ran with it! Freedom!!! God allowed me to be honest with Him about how I was truly feeling just like Job. Job is another book in the bible that I love. I’ve read Job before, but this time was different, every word pierced my heart like daggers, I felt it! Job expressed his hurts to God authentically, he kept it real. This Christian walk is not only about joy and blessings! No matter how much we love Jesus, we will experience tragedy!  Open up your heart to God through each season of your life.

Start with prayer. Hey, you do what best suits you. Don’t get caught up in tradition so much. Your quiet time with God doesn’t have to be super structured. You create it! Some of the best conversations I have had with friends… we have no agenda. Let your prayers be conversational or if you are more of a writer start a journal.   Granted, there will be many occasions when we come to God for specific needs and requests. If you are hurt, start there. “God I am hurt about…” Sometimes you won’t have any words to say… it’s ok… let the tears fall. He understands that as well. Just be your beautiful self in His presence, He gets you! God will not judge you for not being strong enough…man will. You are not weak because you are vulnerable. It takes great courage to delve into your soul and share yourself, the raw and uncut version. Everybody cannot “hang,” but God can! The experiences that you go through may even cause you to stray away…it happens… come back. Through your pain, He will carry you with His grace.

Vicky S. Joseph

Vicky is vibrant and vivacious and she exudes versatility. With Her sparkling personality she wants to ignite moral change in individuals through creative expressions such as acting, writing, public speaking and poetry.

 

Ride or Die

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How many times must you be embarrassed, disappointed, have egg on your face, or have to pick your face up off of the floor, before you realize that you are in several one-sided relationships. Your “boys” are not really there for you, your “girls” are simply using you, or your “man” is not really down for you!

I have had to reevaluate this phrase “ride or die” because interesting enough those who are loyal in many relationships the loyalty is not being reciprocated.

Check this out:

Are you the one your friend calls for moral support after a breakup or a mishap and when you need them they’re always “busy?”

Are you in an emotionally draining friendship with someone who you have to rescue or bail out of trouble all the time?

Are you in a romantic relationship with a man or a woman who demands total commitment and loyalty from you but he/she is clearly unfaithful?

Let’s get to it! START READING Ride or Die

 

Be Honest With How You Feel

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What I find interesting is how society’s portrayal of feelings is forbidden. Strength is found in how you do not show emotion. For some, tears are viewed as a sign of weakness. This gives me the perception that some may even feel that we should “man up” and deal with our emotions, repress them, hide them, even lie about them. If we even dare to be real with someone about an injustice, we are being “too sensitive.”  No where do we talk about admittance of wrong doing or giving an apology.

Well, I say, be honest with how you feel. I remember someone hurt my feelings and after this incident.  I pulled them to the side in private and I shared my feelings. Mind you, I made sure no one was present and I poured on the transparency. “I want to be honest with you. I did not like what occurred the other day.” I made sure I gave examples of the offense; I was very clear and I got straight to the point. The response was “Oh Vicky, you’re just being sensitive.” This person immediately came into defense mode and started to pacify my feelings and justify their actions. I was confused, I made sure during the conversation I used my inside voice,  I used eye contact, I was not overly dramatic. I did not understand what was going on. I wanted a back and forth conversation, maybe we could even agree to disagree but I did not receive that. What I did receive was, the topic being dismissed along with my thoughts and feelings. I got a pat on the back and I was sent on my way.

After that situation, I reflected and realized that although the situation did not happen exactly the way I wanted, I was happy that I was honest with how I felt and I did not repress my feelings. This one incident did not stop me from sharing how I felt with others. If anything,  I learned that although someone does not validate my opinions and thoughts, I am still a person of value and so are you, your thoughts and feelings matter.  I also learned that although I fully expressed how I felt, I could not control how the other person received my message.

Having a serious conversation regarding a wrong doing that was done is not an easy conversation. It may even be uncomfortable, but brushing someone’s feelings under the rug does not make the issue disappear.  Furthermore, if there is not a resolution the issue will simply pile up untill the next offense.

Has this ever happened to any of you? You know, when you are being honest with someone and the other party automatically dismisses your feelings and  thoughts?

The Offended

If you want to have an honest conversation with someone regarding an offense, I believe you must first be honest with yourself. If something is bothering you it may be an indication that someone has crossed a boundary line, or may have been inappropriate. Somethings we can let roll off of our back and there may not be a need for discussion, but my issue is when we continue to repress how we feel and pretend that we are not hurt when we actually are.

Freedom to be yourself: Having relationships with individuals who give you the freedom to be yourself is a blessing. I find it interesting how people can be in relationships where they cannot be honest with how they feel, they cannot disagree with their friends, they cannot be themselves. If that is the case in some of your relationships, it is not healthy. If you are not allowed to be your true authentic self, is that relationship worth keeping?

Do not be concerned with the reaction– Sometimes we will not be honest with someone because of the fear of the other party misinterpreting what is being said. I’ve learned a long time ago, where communication is concerned, one cannot control the reaction of the other party. No matter how many times you practice in front of the mirror what you are going to say, your words may still be misconstrued.  Just because someone dismisses your feelings does not mean you should emotionally shut down. Simply present your thoughts as clearly as possible and it helps to find the approach that best suits the person you are going to speak to and go for it.

Timing is everything: If the offender is busy, preoccupied or rushing to get to a destination, that may not be the best time to bring up the issue at hand. Another example, addressing Sr. Michelle in front of the congregation on Sunday morning regarding her being late to usher board meetings may not be the best way to address the issue either. Addressing someone one-on-one, perhaps with a mediator or an objective friend who will not take sides can be helpful.  Some talks can be over the phone whereas other talks need to be face to face. Assess the situation and find out what works best for you and the person.

Forgiveness: Once the issue is out in the open, bringing it up at every potluck and family reunion is not conducive to having a healthy relationship and moving on. No one wants to be reminded everyday about something they did wrong. RT Kendell expresses in the book “Total Forgiveness,” forgiveness does not mean that you have forgotten the offense. When you choose to forgive (forgiveness is a choice) you are well aware of the offense, but you give enough grace to the person to not dwell on what happened. I have also heard recently in the “Employed By My Vision” workshop presented by: Darius Brown, where offense is concerned, We must Forgive and Love the person anyway.

The Offender

I received awesome advice once: People just want to be understood… Do you hear me? Can you feel me? Do you get me?

ListenWhen someone comes to you regarding an offense or a misunderstanding, what I would suggest is to listen clearly. This means when, not to think of a defense and jump into self-preservation mode (even if you disagree). Just hear what is being said without interruption. While watching “Oprah’s Lifeclass,” Iyanla Vanzant expressed clearly that when a tough conversation is taking place we may be so quick to defend our case we miss the important parts of the conversation. Once they have finished their case, reflect what the person has said. Ex ” Let me see if I am understanding you correctly, Yesterday when I corrected you in front of the whole dance team you felt as though I was trying to embarrass you intentionally.” Allow the person to agree with you your interpretation or disagree and give more clarification. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you do not understand what is being said.

Intention -As the offender it is your time to be honest with your intention. Maybe the person in question is very disruptive and you have corrected them several times privately but to no avail or maybe it was a bad joke and it was not appropriate and you ended up embarrassing the person unintentionally. What ever your intention was be clear, and share from your perspective of what happened. Hopefully there can be a solution. If that means a genuine apology or some cases both parties can agree to disagree. As long as there is a healthy dialogue and both parties are able to share freely there is progress.

Evaluation– Reflect back on the original issue and ask yourself some questions: Did I handle the situation the best way possible? How could I have dealt with the situation differently? What can I learn from this situation? What did I learn about myself? What did I learn about the other person?  From the answers you gather, you can use the experience as a way to grow in your relationship with that person. This does not mean to walk on egg shells, you can still be yourself in the relationship.

I’ve learned that in relationships, platonic and romantic there is a great deal of risk that takes place. You risk being disappointed, vulnerable, hurt, and even misunderstood. There are also great benefits from being in a healthy platonic or romantic relationship  as well, such as sharing common interests, relating to each other, and sharing love with another person.  The fact of the matter is, we can not be an island to ourselves and be completely isolated, we need one another. We simply need to learn how to coexist and communicate effectively. That means to be honest with how you feel and be aware of how our actions can affect each other.