Christmas time is my favorite Holiday next to Easter! I love everything about it, the joy, the music, the lights, the food, the parties, sweaters, church concerts...EVERYTHING! Holiday 2015, I got engaged. Holiday 2016, I fully embraced makeup artistry AND I got married. So the Holidays are super special to me. But I can't lie, for the past couple of years, deep down inside the holidays have been hard. Half of me feel joy and the other half feels shattered. This past thanksgiving week, I felt myself falling back into a depression that I worked really hard to overcome.
The holidays also remind me of family as for most people. I'm estranged from my parents for various reasons (from mental illness to lifestyle differences to toxic drama and everything in between). I love them so much, that's never going to change. But you know what they say, you gotta love some people from a distance. Sigh. I follow Christ and He has me on a different path. There was time in my life when I first got saved and had to choose between them and God. I was filled with agony! I still remember that pain and I never want to go back there. I wanted them to live a better quality of life so badly that it broke my heart to see them live a life in darkness. I couldn't save them. Jesus' words were a hard pill to swallow:
25 Many people were traveling with Jesus. He said to them, 26 “If you come to me but will not leave your family, you cannot be my follower. You must love me more than your father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters—even more than your own life! 27 Whoever will not carry the cross that is given to them when they follow me cannot be my follower. (LUKE 14:25-27)
I had separate myself from them to see them with God's eyes to pray for them according to His will.
I just remember my heart sinking after reading that scripture. I struggled with believing that following Christ was worth it if it meant I had to leave behind my toxic and dysfunctional family who held me back physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Of course Christ won because that's what he does. Let me tell you about His grace, I already surrendered so no amount of doubt could separate me from Him. I know I had God's favor over my life and I know he chose me long before I chose Him to break generational curses. That realization was a step in me moving in the direction for freedom for generations to come. It was during the holidays I made the decision to step out of my family's dysfunction. Both of my parents are alive but I felt like an orphan. An orphan with a younger sister to care for. I was scared out of my mind. After living in dysfunction for so long, stepping into Christ's love was one thing but walking in it was another.
I had my little sister, my then boyfriend now husband and his family, I had friends but the reality was that I didn't have parents who were able to be present like I needed them to be...well wanted them to be.
As I went through Holiday 2015 I realized that I had the only parent that I will ever need; The Great Shepherd. Changing the way I view Jesus changed the way I viewed my parents, my needs and parenting in general. I know I was given the best parents possible due to circumstances but I'm confident in knowing I truly have the parent ever.
Truth be told, I have a relatively new toxic and estranged relationship with my mother. I say new because I didn't know it was always toxic until I found my life and happiness in Christ. Talk about a life shift! When I do try to talk to her and she tries to talk to me, it just turns into demeaning victimizing on her part with lots and lots of caps and explanation marks if we're texting (which is 95% of the time because it's the only way I can take her). I get shoved out of my happy place, it sorta feels like getting kicked out of your own home. It happened this past weekend, and boy was it bad! I haven't been in contact with her just to protect myself from verbal abuse and to protect her from me saying anything "disrespectful" in lieu of standing up from myself from attacks. I prayed and decided to check on her and warn her about Hurricane Harvey. I live in Texas and she's in Louisiana. Then BOOM! Here comes the attacks. I tried to hold my own and they just kept on coming. Y'all!!!! I was SO defeated and flustered! I was burning up and pacing back and forth. I felt so sick, I might as well drank a bottle of poison. Talk about toxic!!
To be fair, just like many other people and unfortunately parents, she has other things bothering her and she decides to project that on to others. I'll say she's unhappy. For 23 years of my life (I'm 26) I learned to cope with her unhappiness as my unhappiness. But because I found my happiness in Christ, I am dedicated to protecting it. It took all the strength from God to snap out of it and find my happy place!
There’s false and negative (super irritating, annoying, and overly spiritualized) distinction that‘s been made between joy and happiness. The message goes a little something like this: “Happiness is superficial and shallow. You can only find happiness in the world, you need to seek joy over happiness in God.” I've eye-rolled so much at that statement, I'm surprised my eyeballs aren't stuck!
I did a little researching of the Hebrew and Greek words and saw that many of them are translated in different versions as “joy,” “gladness,” “happiness,” “delight,” merriment,” “pleasure.” These words all have overlapping meanings. Hey get this, ninety percent of a Hebrew word that‘s translated “joy” overlaps with one that‘s translated “happiness.” Just go read a Psalm for yourself. Here's an excerpt from one of my favorites: Psalm 40:16: “May all those who seek You be happy and rejoice in You...” Let's get real, all people seek happiness. We’re basically telling them, “Stop desiring what God created you to desire.” We actually should be saying, “Search for your happiness in the right place—in God Himself.”
I constantly repeated "I'm not going to let anyone or anything make me withdraw. I'm my own person and I belong to God and no one else! I'm in control of how I want to feel!!!" If we just sit around and wait for ppl to change how we feel, we'll just be waiting and unhappy! And God knows (seriously knows) I've sat around and waited. My happiness IS indeed found in Christ so I'll live out my life like so by actively protecting it.
How to protect your happy:
#1. Give yourself permission to be happy. DON'T SHRINK! Don't feel bad about it! And don't ALLOW others to make you feel bad about it either.
#2. Accept responsibility for your OWN happiness. This means that it's a conscious effort and choice to be happy and it isn't anyone else's responsibility to make you happy. When we place that responsibility on others we can create unhealthy boundaries and set ourselves up for disappointment when others don't make us "happy." Remember, this is about protecting YOUR happiness. OWN IT!
#3. Acknowledge and accept the fact that the enemy is out here looking to steal kill and destroy. Protect yourself against him. How? Commune with God: pray, read the word, fellowship with other like minded believers. Be aware of toxic behaviors. Steer clear of anything or anyone who drains your energy mentally, emotionally or spiritually. Project your time attention on lovely things, things that are pleasing to God! (Philippians 4:8).
#4. Practice self care DAILY...and don't feel bad about it!! YOU ARE A PRIORITY. Caring for yourself isn't selfish. It's actually in the best interest of others because you're able to better serve others when your cup is overflowing. We can't pour from an empty cup. When you try, you end up feeling cranky, defeated, used, and well...unhappy! The people you're trying to serve will feel that! You'll just be running on fumes. Take time out of your day each and every day to take care of YOU! It could be hours or just a few minutes. If you look at your schedule and find no time for yourself, reevaluate your priorities. Do something that's unrelated to someone else or your business. It could be watching your favorite show alone while eating your favorite snack, window shopping at Target or my personal favorite; taking a hot shower with dimmed lighting, a favorite candle burning and relaxing music. Take care of you! You matter.
#5. Last but certainly not least, JUST DON'T TAKE ANYONE'S ATTACKS PERSONAL. (Refer to #3.) It can be so easy to internalize someone else's unhappiness with your own. Then you lose yourself in that person ultimately unable to be authentically you and purpose driven. Not taking things and people personally is KEY in protecting your happiness.
This is all about protecting your happiness, creating it or fixing your unhappiness. Our happiness is found in Christ. Even when outside forces try to convince us that our happy place no longer exists, remember the Ground it is built upon. You've been blessed with talents, gifts, a business, and family and friends. Protect your happiness so you can operate fully in all of His blessings and live and lead with purpose!
Father I pray that whoever reads this is reminded that their joy, peace, and happiness matters to you. I pray that they search You for it and anything working against them is dissolved so they can lead and live with fulfillment in the purpose You've created for their lives. In Jesus name, Amen.
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I'm building my business so I decided to hire a skilled coach to guide me through the process. She gives me workbook assignments that are thought provoking to say the least. Going into the coaching program a while back, I was very clear on what I wanted my life and business to look like. I wanted to build a consultancy for beauty professionals and use makeup artistry as space to purely create with a faith driven approach. It's my life's purpose to help others gain clarity on what they want and what God has for them so that they can be their authentic selves in their business, personal lives, relationships, and ministries.
The more and more I went through the workbook and completed the assignments as honestly as I could, I started to doubt myself because I just could not see how everything was going to add up to build the business of my dreams! In between assignments I would hop on Instagram and scope out so and so's profile and think "well this makeup artist is doing this and it's working out for her." "Well maybe I can just build my business the way she's doing it and I'll have success."
Before I knew it, my head was spinning and I was been confused. I completely lost focus on MY purpose. I lost clarity and my vision became foggy. I couldn't see everything adding up because subconsciously, my focus was on someone else's purpose, not mine!
We can lose sight of our purpose and calling, focusing on another's "purpose" and "calling."
No one can tell us what our purpose is. God gives us all a purpose in life while we're alive on this Earth. No one has the same purpose as me, no one has the same purpose as you!!! The cool thing is that you're different! There's only one you and one me! The scary thing is sometimes we can feel alone or like we're not doing the right things.
We are all on individual purpose walks. We don't have to be afraid because we are not alone. God is there with us. He's there because He's the one who has given us a very specific vision, He gave us our talents, our gifts, and our interests.
How do we stay focused on our God given purpose? We must stay focused on God and the gifts and talents He has given us; not anyone else but US!
In today's age, lurking on social media can be the easiest way to lose focus on your purpose and put your focus on everyone else's "purpose." After my head spin, I went on Instagram and unfollowed almost 50 (and still counting) makeup artists. There is absolutely nothing wrong with admiring others and learning from them!! I just know the path God has me on right now requires me to take deep looks in the mirror 24/7. He wants this time to just be me and Him which is why he led me to quit my job to focus on all that He has for me (click here to read my cliff jumping post!). I'm a big feeler so I tend to naturally take on others' emotions. That's not a bad thing because God has created me to be extremely empathic and compassionate but right now, I need to focus on me. I need to focus on my purpose, my journey. I can spend so much time making googly eyes over other people that I neglect the things that give me fulfillment in my purpose like writing this post, in hopes that someone gains clarity and keeps their focus.
So what (or who) are you currently focused on that's not aligned with your purpose? I challenge you to give it a break and focus on your talents, gifts, and interests that have been blessed by God.
In the name of Jesus I pray that you give whoever reads this confidence in You so they may go out and live the life You created them to live with the talents and gifts You have given them. May they reject the spirit of comparison and unworthiness and be reminded that they are "fearfully and wonderfully made." Amen.
Leave a comment below how you plan to use your talents and gifts and interests so we can pray for you!
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Cliff jumping is the most amazing, freeing, peaceful, exhilarating, doubtful, scary, annoying feeling ever.
How can I have all those great feelings and those horrible ones too?
I recently quit my job on a whim because I felt God tugging me away. Before making a big decision I practice Push, Pull, Peace. Before quitting I KNEW the Lord told me after I leave that job I'm going to use you in extraordinary way, in extraordinary places. I'll give you the desires of your hearts, not just the simple ones but ones you never knew existed. When it's the right time, jump, go ahead and jump.
There came a time when I had to choose between serving God on a ministry staff that I made a prior commitment to and going to work. Now, I'm not saying go ahead and quit your job! This was between me and God only! But a while back I've felt the "push" away from my job. I felt the "pull" in another direction. And the more and more I analyzed and prayed upon that push and pull I felt "peace."
After returning from serving staff I straight up heard God tell me quit, go ahead and quit right now. When I heard that, I felt a sense of peace. But being the human that I am, I disobeyed for a few hours then a few days then about 2 weeks!!! The more and more I didn't do it, the more I felt sick and overwhelmed. The more and more I thought about it doing it the more I felt peace and my mind had free space to execute the things God had put on my heart to accomplish. I KNEW God set a path out for me to make my wildest dreams a reality! I just knew it! I believed it!!! God needed my undivided attention on what he set out for me. So I did it!!!! I quit! And it felt AMAZING for the simple fact that I acted out of obedience! I felt peace. Suddenly God put all of these assignments and ideas on my heart! It was like I cleaned out my phone storage and I now had space to download the music and apps and pictures!
For about 2 days I was rolling on carrying out the assignments and ideas. Then I got really really annoyed!!!! I felt doubt overcome me like a shadow, I felt the spirits of laziness, inferiority and jealousy enter my mind. My confidence was low. I became overwhelmed with the tasks I had to get done to carry out the God given assignments and ideas. I felt confused! Ok that's when I had enough!! I know my God is not a God of confusion!! (1 Corinthians 14:33) These things are not like God. This is when I had to talk to my husband for counsel, read the word, worship nonstop and pray and seek God and realize that this was the Devil!!!
Remember I said God told me he had some things in store for me if I just quit my job. He wanted me to cliff jump out on faith and he'll show me more than I've ever seen and use me in ways I'd never thought! See, the devil sees this! He know what's about to happen. He know that a person totally reliant on God to shake this earth is coming for his demise and he is not happy about it! He is looking to stop you in your tracks, get you off course, lose sight of what God wants you to do! He doesn't like that at all! Satan uses any and everything to throw you off course. He'll have you spending your time comparing yourself to someone you follow on social media, to your friends just so you can doubt and distract yourself when you could be spending that time working on your book or building your business. He makes you think you're too tired to get up and go to church to serve in the ministry where God has placed you to do Kingdom business with other like minded believers. He'll make you feel inferior to other people so you won't have to confidence to show up and show out how God has equipped you to do. He'll make you second guess disassociating yourself from toxic environments, family and friends so you can't stay focused on God and His righteousness. Whew!
I know this all too well. I am going through it right now! I know that the after a big cliff jump, and launch into a big plan God has to use you, the devil will test you and try to stop that. He'll make you feel confused. You may feel like you didn't make the right decision. That's why it's so important to know who God is, know that he is not a God of confusion. Know that God is a promise keeper, know that God is faithful and he honors your sincere faithfulness to Him.
So if you've recently cliff jumped and you're doubting, I'm praying for you right now.
In the name of Jesus I pray who ever is being tested by the enemy after jumping out on faith for you Lord, that they hold true to Your word and promises and that they resist the Devil so that he will flee. I pray that their hearts and minds are stayed on the Word so they will have the courage and confidence to receive all that You, their Father has for them, not just for their temporary pleasure, but for Your kingdom. Amen.
Leave a comment below on your cliff jump so we can pray for you!
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