Tag Archives: faith

Faith vs Ideologies

Come Sunday, we would be celebrating Christ’s resurrection and with that, mark the close of Lenten season. I must admit that I didn’t quite abide by all the rules of Lent per my catholic doctrine which was unintentional. During this whole period, one question has repeatedly popped up in my mind. How do I marry my Christian faith with my personal ideologies?

I guess some people would be justified to raise an eyebrow in wonderment since our ideologies are often times formed by our foundation in Christianity, which is perfectly understandable. And others might probably not understand why a parallel would exist in the first place between faith and personal ideologies because it would seem that faith gives rise to personal ideologies and they are not mutually exclusive. But I beg to differ.

I grew up in a very religious home; went to morning mass with my mom every morning, diligently observed all holy obligations, took part in church activities when I wasn’t in school and was very convinced I had the calling to be a nun ( topic for another day). At first, these were things I did because my mom introduced us to them and per my culture, you do as you are told. As I got older, I understood why I did them and actually enjoyed being part of it.

As a grown woman with some life experiences in her years, the many different realities I have lived through both personal and otherwise have shaped some of my personal ideologies and brought me to many questions, debates and concerns that sometimes do not match what my faith dictates I practice. For example, I have only become comfortable calling myself a Feminist recently because of how sensitive that label can get sometimes. It is not the issue of being a feminist that conflicts with my faith but the things I belief in espoused by that label. Like how I am completely for the woman having control over her OWN body and for no one to dictate to her what she can or cannot do to it. And how one of the things that she could do to it is frowned upon by my faith.Or how people who share my faith use it to hurt others in the guise of following what the good book says.

My mom would be the first to tell you I ask too many questions and the habit seem to only get worse as I age. I have become too critical of everything that I question even the things that seem obvious. And have you noticed that the more questions you ask, the less answers you find? (At least for me). That’s why I have been pondering how I can reconcile the two together. My faith reflects my ideologies but my ideologies do not always reflect my faith and there in lies the problem. I am a believer and I recognize that Christ paid all the debt for my sake. I also realize that He gave me the mental capacity to question the things that I don’t understand, to seek a answers to the things that puzzle me and above all, look to a higher power for calmness within me. I just can’t seem to find the answer to this particular question which has left me befuddled.

Does anyone else find themselves in this predicament or is it just me? If so, please share, It would be good to know that there are practicing Christians who hold values outside of the norm and hear how they deal with them. As always, thank you for stopping by, I very much appreciate it. Say, how are you feeling today?

Christians Need Therapy Too!

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A few months back, I shared my experience about visiting a counselor and how it almost didn’t happen. Two reasons why it almost didn’t happen: my cultural background (Cameroonian/African) and my faith. In that post, I shared why many Africans look down on counseling/therapy because our culture doesn’t support sharing your worries or concerns with ‘strangers’ and so do Christians.

Christians believe that anyone who calls themselves Christ’s-follower, should not have need for a counselor or therapist because Christ is all you need. As a Christian, I agree that Christ is all you need to get you through life in good and bad times. But there are times when the soul is so bogged down that it needs a place of release.

I know some would argue that there are christian counseling centers, which I agree but how well are they being used. The idea of counseling is still somewhat new in Christian circles and although these counseling services exist, how many churches actually encourage their members to use them? Some churches would actually make the individual feel guilt about their intent to use counseling because to them, you should speak to one person only who is Jesus.

The teaching of seeking God’s face and going to him in prayers no matter the season in your life is a very good one that all Christians should practice. But there are times when you want to speak to another person who would provide some kind of feedback and  that’s where counseling comes in. James 5:6 says “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working”.

For those who are not catholic and do not believe in confessing to a priest, what then is the best alternative of speaking to someone with a better understanding and even a calling to guide you as you navigate Christianity? I would think that would be counselor, but in this case let’s make it a Christian counselor. I think maybe that’s one of the meanings of that verse, to seek out a Christian counselor who would guide you.

I think at some points in our lives, we all find the need to have that one person we can confide in; that one person who would listen to us unequivocally, provide sound advice or feedback, and wouldn’t judge us for the things we share with them and who can assure discreetness with the information shared. Some are fortunate to have friends who play this role and some not very much. Sometimes, even with the presence of friends who we can trust, you just need a stranger who is completely neutral.

Counseling does not take away from your time with God or does not negate your relationship with Him. If anything, it should strengthen it because after speaking with a counselor, they often times advice, motivate and encourage the ‘counselee’. In the case that it is a Christian counselor, they seek out Christian methods to help you deal with that situation. It might just be recommending biblical passages that were unknown to you, or a biblical based group where you get support from each other or better still, provide ways to better live as a Christian with regards to that particular concern.

Our families and friends each have roles they play in our lives; some are fortunate to have those they can turn to when seeking for counsel and guidance, others not so much. For those ones I suggest trying counseling or therapy. Seek out a Christian-focused counselor or therapist who is credible and who has testimonials. Because sometimes, we need physical interaction, communication, reassurance that no matter the turmoil that is brewing within, God would calm it all down. So don’t be afraid to see one or seek one and feel no guilt for doing so. The important thing is that you get the help you need before it is too late.  Sometimes, it takes a counselor to reassure us of that TRUTH.

 

An African In Session.

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I talked about finding one’s self in the last post (still in the search), but that’s not the only thing I have been up to these last weeks. If you have been following my blog, then you should know that I lost my older sister in the summer of last year. Recently, I have not been able to stop thinking about her and it almost feels as though I am grieving anew. You should also by now that I have been struggling with my weight since before the inception of this blog. So between finding myself, battling with my never-ending weight issues and grieving for my sister, I was becoming depressed.

I remember two days in row last month when I lost interest in everything; even in my studies which I believed was the one thing I would never loose interest in. To the point of not studying enough for an upcoming test that week and sitting for that test knowing full well I wasn’t prepared. Needless to say I flunked in magnanimous proportions on that test; proportions that have never been associated with me before. Yet, I “didn’t give ” a flying fish.

Not caring whether I failed an exam or not really scared me. I had read that loosing interest in the things that one cared a lot for in the past were tell-tale signs of imminent depression. Knowing that it could lead to something dangerous if not addressed sooner, I emboldened myself and made an appointment to see a counselor at school. You might ask why embolden?

For starters, if you missed it on my about page, then you should know I am Cameroonian from Central Africa. As per my culture, talking to ‘shrinks’ is absolutely unacceptable. Africans ‘believe’ that we don’t need to be sharing our problems with random strangers and if there’s anything to talk about, then a family meeting would be just fine to take care of that. I’d be honest that I did ascribe to these ideologies at some point, but living in America these many years later, I have a different perspective. I understand the importance of having that neutral person to open up to, who wouldn’t judge you and who is just listening to you pour your heart out. I think it is a really beautiful thing which is one of the reasons I started writing too and have not revealed my identity yet. Because I believe there’s some power that anonymity provides and allows you to speak from the heart unlike when you are familiar with your audience.

Despite all this knowledge, I had to talk myself into keeping the appointment because a part of me still thought it odd to talk to a complete stranger about my feelings. So I had to convince myself that fulfilling this was very important and so it was that I found myself face to face with a counselor.

After basic introductions, we both sat down across from each other and he asked me why I felt the need to see a counselor. A few minutes passed between us before either one said anything. Then he repeated himself and I blurted out an awkward laugh. Thankfully, he was very gracious to recognize that my nerves were getting the better part me. More time lapsed before I could muster the courage to talk and speak freely.

It was one of the most freeing experiences I have had in a long time and I wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner. It felt good sitting there , pouring my heart out to an unassuming person and for them to encourage me to talk about the feelings that I was even oblivious to these weeks. Things I thought I had forgotten reared their ugly heads again and things I didn’t even know existed where just lying in a corner waiting for the ‘right’ time to surface.  The session lasted for an hour and by the end, I must have cried a river because my face was all puffed up from the constant streaming of tears and my nose was blocked.

He suggested I return for a follow-up session and again I was hesitant. Going back would mean I have a fully manifested problem which needed fixing, which would mean I needed fixing, which would mean I am broken. But I don’t believe I am broken, let alone that I needed fixing. It took a bit of convincing on his part for me to agree on a second session. I understood from him that the ‘stigma’ about therapy isn’t reserved to Africans only but even to some western folks whose issue with it is the ‘fixing’.

I know Christians might say well, you have God to talk to, to which I say God in the scriptures encourages us to confess our sins to one another. The act of confessing things to someone else in itself is a form of counseling. And I know of a lot of Christians who could really use some counseling in their life but are either ashamed to go for it or are being to hard on themselves for their faith not being enough. (this deserves it’s own post in entirety.) It has little do to with your faith and more about your mind-frame. Your mind might be attacking itself and making it hard for you to accept the grace that your faith provides and this is where a counselor is very helpful.

What are your views on attending counseling? If for, have you been and what was your experience like and if against, why? As always, thank you for stopping by and I love you for it.

Have a sunny peachy day.

 

 

For My Sister Merline – I Will Always Love You

Dear Big Sister

I was heartbroken when Dad told me you had finally gone to meet our Creator and Maker; that after 33 years of torment, you finally went to rest. I felt hurt and sad but now that I have fully accepted that you are not here anymore, I am relieved, knowing that you will not suffer any further.

I will miss you my dearest Merline,though I was already missing you while you were still here. You were the big sister that I always wanted and somehow didn’t have because your illness stole your mind, your very self from us. We all grew up watching you struggle, suffer through countless seizures having lost your mind. Mom and Dad told us painfully how you became like that from a ghastly motor accident at a very tender age of 6.

You had to learn to walk again, talk, eat and then the seizures started. That wasn’t the bad part of it, what made it worse was that from that day, Mom and Dad lost a daughter and we would never truly know how wonderful a big sister you could be to us because you lost your mind and sense of self in that accident.

I saw Dad and Mom cry countless times, most times after an incident or when you’d occasionally wander away, asking God to restore you. I couldn’t stand the hurt in their eyes and because of that I learned how to pray. I prayed that God would heal you, that the seizures would stop, that you would get your mind again so that Dad and Mom would have their first daughter again and we can finally have our big sister whole.

When that didn’t happen, I changed my prayer and asked God to relieve you of your sufferings because it was getting harder by the day watching you helplessly. We could never fully tell how much pain you were in because you never complained but it was heart-wrenching seeing you like that day-in day-out. More than we knew it, you were strong and resilient, bouncing back after every episode but never fully recovering or healing.

So I figured if you survived all those years, surely God was up to something.So I went back to Him and asked, begged and cried that he restores you wholly again. Instead I got a call of your death.

I had the picture in my head, of the fun we would have when you finally received your healing. The places I would show you, the things we would do, the adventures we would go, I would finally have my big sister again but most importantly, watching you bond with our parents. My dream never came true. I want you to know a few things though:

You would have loved Mom and Dad for sure. They are not perfect but they are the best parents we could have ever asked for and they have loved you every single step of the way. They never gave up on you, always seeking new treatments and solutions to your ailment. In your short life, you saw more doctors than anyone human being should in their lifetime. That is how loving and resilient our parents were towards you. They never gave up and loved you just as much they love us if not more, because you were their special child.

Know that I miss you. I have been missing you since I was born; missing the older sister who should have been if the accident didn’t happen. Know that I am sorry for the times that I wasn’t a good sister; for the times when I didn’t care for you as I should have because I was always away at boarding school, for the times when I was ashamed of you and failed to mention that I had a sick sister at home, for the times when I stole your birthrights and introduced myself as the first while you were still clearly with us, for not loving you as I should have loved you, Merline I am so sorry.

I was initially angry with God for letting the devil win,for letting the devil have access to you and hurt you  the way he did, for abandoning you. Now I know better, though I will never understand why He let the devil have access to you, I know for a fact that the devil did not win. I know that God did not abandon you, He was always there protecting you from harm even in the seizures. I know that God won because you died a very peaceful death,in your sleep.

You might have not lived the life that was meant for you but even in your sickness, you have left us a legacy. A legacy of how to love someone when they don’t know they are being loved, how to care for someone who is unaware, how to be strong and look to God in the midst of adversity. Apart from being born in a world with original sin, you were blameless, spotless and if there is anyone close in perfection, it would be you. We have lost you on earth but we have gained an angel in heaven. I know you are next to Jesus in God’s kingdom, watching even as I type this.

This is not the healing I was praying God for recently but I know it is not about me but you, and because of that I know you finally got your healing, you are finally free. Fly Angel. We would never forget you Merline, you will live in our hearts forever.Together with God and Jesus, I know you will be watching over us and guiding us. We will do our best to live our lives in your honor.

Indeed, God knows best.

The Thing About Death Is…

Death is nothing, it’s something, it’s scary, it’s unavoidable, it’s unpredictable, it’s menacing.(feel free to add whatever adjective you wish to describe how you feel about death).

If you follow the news, then by now you know a certain Dr. Miles Monroe died in a plane crash last week November 9th. Dr Miles Monroe was the founder and pastor of Bahamas Faith Ministries, a mega church out of the Bahamas and he was on his way to a global outreach forum that held every year, when he was killed in the plane crash along side his wife and other passengers.

The christian social media platforms have been on fire with so many people in shock, some in wonder how such a man of God could die like that and others in plain disbelief. In the second week since the tragedy, people are still in shock and asking questions, questions like why him, to which we will never have answers to. The common factor in all the emotions shared is death.

Some people are wondering why a man who seemed as upright as Dr Miles would die in such a terrible way, others shocked that he died at all. Death is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t care whether they flew executive or commercial plane. It doesn’t care whether it was Dr Miles or a regular Joe, it was ready to strike and strike it did.  As Christians, the one thing that the Bible tells us we should expect is death because it is inevitable. It says believing that we would live for ever is foolishness and that we should expect to be ‘called’ home by and to our creator.

I don’t know how you feel about death but for me, my death doesn’t scare me so much as that of that of my parents. I am 27 and granted, I still have a lot I want to accomplish and achieve. So many incomplete dreams like me being a published author, finally graduating and going for a doctorate, experiencing amazing love with someone equally amazing, exploring the world and enjoying its spoils, given us by God himself. (My list is too long  right?) Somehow though, I am comfortable with the idea of me dying if it had to be this moment.

Depending on your opinion, I might have lived or not yet lived long enough or I ought to have achieved some of those things I mentioned on my to-do list. Well, there really isn’t no manual on how to live your best life (though some how-to authors would argue me on that). For some it happens earlier and others, it is later. I used to get broody over the fact that stuff happened late for me but I am ok with that now as long as I am working on it.

My point is, even though I am no where close to those dreams, if I was to die this very minute, I would be alright with that because in my heart of hearts, I know, I am certain I am going to my maker, to God, to Heaven.  I couldn’t tell you how I know that,only that I know. I am still in search of my true purpose and the reason why God has me here on earth and I know that if I am still here, it’s because I have not accomplished that purpose yet. But the moment I am dying and  I am aware of it, I know it would be God calling me home because somehow, I must have fulfilled that purpose.

Now my parents death is a whole other ball game. How is it that I am comfortable dying but not ready to let my parents go? you ask. For starters, I am Cameroonian and I am sure other/most Africans will feel the same way, in that my parents have not enjoyed the fruit of their labor yet.

God could not have chosen any better man and woman to bring together to be parents to me and my siblings. If I were to return to this world a second time, I would want the same parents. They have loved me and my siblings selflessly, given up so much to ensure our success, they prayed for us, blessed us and kept us safe in the best way that they could/can. They gave us the best education in Cameroon and they are the very reason I am in this beautiful country called America. They did all that and are still doing all that.

It is a very African thing to take care of your parents when you have succeeded after they have toiled for you, but even if it wasn’t I would still want to do that for them. That is my way of showing them how grateful I am that they answered the call to be my parents and did a marvelous job at it. It is my way of saying thank you for all those years of selfless giving, for all the times they didn’t have but went above and beyond for me and my siblings. It is my way of showing them how much I love, cherish and respect them.

So far, I haven’t had the opportunity to show them that. I just started and I haven’t even gone a quarter of that journey yet. So while I am aware that they are going to die someday, that I will have to say good-bye someday, I know I am not ready for those good-byes just yet. The thought of not having them here with me leaves me teary-eyed every single time. Simply put, their death scares me.

While death is imminent, the means of it is not. If we were all to know that we would die someday and know how we would die, I am almost certain the majority would change how they died. I think what scares us more about death is not even the fact that we would die but how we would die. If Dr Miles knew he was going to die in that crash and have the choice of choosing a better way to die, I am sure he would have chosen it.

Again like the Bible tells us, we neither know the day nor the hour. Death comes like a thief at night to steal us to our maker(hopefully for all of us). I pray and hope Dr Miles family find solace and comfort in God because only He can give them that now and help them deal with it. To our eyes and hopefully to God’s, he was a faithful servant and he must be done with his purpose here on earth. May God grant all those who mourn his loss and that of the other passengers consolation in only the way he can.

For the rest of us, hopefully we strive to live each day better and achieving those dreams, so that when it is time and we know it is time, we can only be glad to return to our maker.

How do you feel about death? Do you ever think about it? How is your day going? Stay warm, the weather this morning is brutal.

peace, love and warm jackets.