All posts by sonnisideup

About sonnisideup

A blog dedicated to looking at life from the "Sonni Side". The Sonni Side is a peek into my life as a mother/wife/daughter/cousin/friend /educator/child advocate and knowledge seeker. But most of all about my journey to self-love, happiness & service to God, my family & the universe!

An Unlikely Evangelist

I don’t know about you, but when I think of  a person who evangelizes, of an evangelist – a certain image comes to mind. I’m envisioning a female, well, because I am a woman.

No offense to any of my friends and family who are ‘real’ evangelists, but go with me for a second.  I think of a woman in a loooooong loose fitting skirt, with a shirt buttoned way up to her chin (threatening strangulation) , cradling a bible in the crook of her right elbow, with an ever so slight scowl on her face. I don’t know if the scowl is from judgement or the death grip the shirt has on her throat,  but my imagined evangelist doesn’t give me the warmest,  fuzziest of feelings. I can picture a little more modern-day version too, but there’s still the scowl and the bible.

THEN
THEN
NOW
NOW

Why am I rambling about evangelists and conjuring up images of them?  Well, because I kinda AM an evangelist   :-O

And not only is that something I couldn’t have conjured up, I certainly don’t think I fit the profile. I mean, I’ve been known to avoid low cut shirts and I used to be an avid turtleneck wearer – but that has more to do with a poor judgement call on my part and inexperience on the part of a tattoo artist in Atlanta. That is a separate post. Completely separate. Like I don’t really like to talk about it much…..lol….I digress….

And the whole bible thumping thing – that’s not really what I am about either. With all that religious school and my deep dive into church at one time, I clearly know a scripture or two.  And I definitely believe that the bible is one of the books through which God instructs us.  I spent quite a bit of studying the bible at church – and don’t get me wrong – I don’t knock that part of the journey.  Clearly it was part of the journey.  But what I know now, for me, is that I could have conceivably spent that same time with myself.  Meaning God and I one on one – and I may have been further along on my spiritual journey.

And this is where it gets sketchy. Where I become ‘unlikely’.  Where some people get uncomfortable with my beliefs, which used to in turn make me uncomfortable.  Where some people thing I’ve been watching too much OWN and not enough TBN.  Where folks kinda want to take a step back from this ‘new age-y’ stuff I’m talking……

I was raised kind of areligious. I say that because I was exposed by several different religions – none of which I particularly connected to.  I went to preschool for a short time at a United Church of Christ Church, followed by kindergarten at a Lutheran Church.  I spent the next six years in Catholic school.  Our family observed none of these religions, in fact, we were probably best described as CME Southern Baptists.  For those not familiar – as a family we pretty much only went to church on Christmas, Mother’s Day and Easter – always at a Baptist Church headed by a Minister my father grew up with.  Which may be why I’ve always skewed Baptist-ish.

Soooo, I never really knew what exactly where I fit in the religious landscape, and as a corollary, I never really made a place for it in my life. I didn’t NOT believe in God, but it just seemed like religion was a take it or leave it thing.  My mom said we were never baptized, because she said she wanted us to choose our own path when we were old enough to do so.  My father prayed and read the bible, but he did so in a solitary manner – he didn’t really ‘lead’ the family in any spiritual direction with any regularity.  It was apparent he had faith, but…..well that’s another complicated story for another blog too…..

During college I went to church every once in a while,  after undergrad, I went a little more often when I moved to an apartment complex directly next to a church.  I figured God was trying to tell me something :-). That was probably my first connection, albeit a weak one. I mostly felt like I was checking a box of sorts to thank God for the blessings in life that I had been afforded thus far.

It wasn’t until I came back to Detroit, that I found my first ‘church home’. And in typical Sonni style, I dove in head first – full speed ahead. Sunday service, Bible Study, committees, canvassing the neighborhood, whatever – I was your girl! Until the church went through a split.  Despite being heavily involved, I was unaware of the church politics.  I was shocked and devastated. It was ugly.  People said nasty things from the pulpit and from the pew. This wasn’t how Christian’s were supposed to act?  Was it?  Dude, if this is what I was missing by not going to church – I was GOOD.  You can go anywhere on Sunday and find people acting ugly.  The fanciful images I had of ‘church folk’, who hugged, helped, listened, went on church picnics and were an extended family of sorts – well clearly those images quickly dissipated.

So I went on an extended hiatus from formalized religion.  Even though I knew intellectually that churches were not supposed to be perfect, as they are made up of a bunch of us imperfect people – I was a little ‘scarred’ by my first real church experience. I still talked to God, but I didn’t need that church drama, no ma’am, no sir.  I visited churches, especially after we had children, but nothing ‘fit’.

Then a funny thing happened while I was flitting around, thinking I was the boss of me.  My life hit the skids a lil bit. And instead of looking for a church, I started looking for GOD.  Instead of trying to figure out which version of the bible was the easiest to understand (I have about 5), or even whether the bible was what I should be looking at, I kind of took a different approach.  Listen to me acting like I had a choice in the matter – lol!  I was sinking fast and I needed something, anything, to hold on to and I decided that I needed to get God ‘on the main line’.  I didn’t have time to go through, ministers, mystics, priests, bishops, cardinals, patron saints, spiritual guides or guardian angels (not that there’s anything wrong with that ;-D) . I just needed to know from GOD what I was to do.

And who would have thunk it? Once you establish a connection to God directly, that is to say, you surrender your will and focus solely on God’s will for your life, it really doesn’t matter what ‘church’ you go to. When you turn to the Spirit/Universe/Light/Love (however you wish to refer to the loving architect of all things) for guidance the message may come through any of those people or books I mention above. Or it may come through a hummingbird in your yard. Or a boss who seems to love to see you suffer.  Or a disease. Or a hamburger…….I’m not making light – but you get my drift, right?

When you are tuned in to the correct frequency, you see and hear God’s word and intentions for your life in anything, anybody, in whatever holy book or religion you decide to subscribe to.  But you’ve got to have a quality connection.  And just like the cellular technology, you have to keep upgrading to get a good signal – upgrading your relationship to God and the Universe. You upgrade by spending quality time so you can hear the voice of God over the voice of man – or perhaps most difficult,  over YOUR voice (ouch!). Otherwise you will get static and dropped calls (it’ll be on your end, God doesn’t drop calls :-))

Once I got this straight in my head – voila!  We found a church that is helping our family grow in just the way we need to in this moment.

So there is my evangelic spiel. Unlikely, huh?  You just never know what the universe has in store for you.  But you can count on it turning out just right if you follow God’s voice.  Looking for something to believe in?  Believe that…….

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Stuck

Can’t go where I want with my body

That pains my mind

My mind creates my world, no?

No way out of agony

That to some is bliss

If it is where you wish to be

Or so you thought

But didn’t know it

Could be a trap

You’ve set with your mind.

Pretty As, Pretty Does……

I was asked by a photographer friend to provide my description of beauty.  He would use it as text to accompany the pictures he would take of me to promote his work. His goal was to encourage women to embrace their unique style and beauty.

Whoa….

What would be more difficult taking the pictures or composing the text? Both would arouse strong feelings in my very core. Each exercise would engage me in conversations with myself that have been uncomfortable in my best moments and painful in my worst ones.

Starting at the beginning, I have never thought of myself as physically beautiful. Typing the preceding sentence was uncomfortable – that’s how deep it is folks. I have gotten to a place where I think am a beautiful person because I have worked hard at that. And for some reason that is easy for my mind to receive.

I grew up feeling many good things.

I felt I was loved. I felt I was smart. I felt I was witty. I felt I was funny. Beautiful? Never.

An early memory I have, one that is very poignant and visual in my mind, is coming into my mother and father’s bedroom and demanding my mother’s undivided attention. “Why”, I demanded to know – tears streaming down my face, “was I so UGLY?!?!”

My mother, as mother’s do, comforted me and assured me that I was not ugly. I was “just as God had made me, just as He intended me to be”, she explained. “And furthermore, pretty as, pretty does”, she always said. She explained that she believed, as her mother had taught her, that a person is as pretty or as ugly as their actions.  Hmpf! If it were only that simple…..

This was of NO comfort. She didn’t understand. How could she? She had light skin. I had dark skin. She had long hair. I had short hair.  She had ‘good’ hair. I had ‘nappy’ hair. She was pretty. I was not.

My mother called as I began writing this piece. I asked her if she remembered this exchange. She said “No, but you always thought you were ugly”, very matter-of-factly. It was obvious that the conversation made her uncomfortable as well. I suspect this was for two reasons. One, she has always had her own struggle with her biracial appearance. Secondly, she always seemed pained and at a loss when her consolation fell on deaf ears on this particular issue.

When I said I was going to write a blog on this topic, she asked me why. She sounded a little perturbed, as if to say, ‘are we still on THAT?!?’

What we ended up discussing is probably the root of my discomforture. We spoke about how we live in a society where women almost NEVER feel beautiful.  We almost NEVER accept ourselves as God made us. We buy whatever line of bull (or cosmetics, or clothing, or procedures) men, other women, the media, the beauty industry or anyone sells us to make us feel less than. Never enough. Ultimately, through it all, many of us become our worst critic.

And, as in my case, become unable to accept our beauty.

Even as it stares us in the face……BruceTurnerPhotographySneakPeekSH

Pause

black-woman-praying-e1355876837323

As some of you may know, I have not worked outside of the home for a salary in about three years. There are a couple of ‘reasons of record’ why this is the case. In my mind, in my spirit, however, there is one reason.  One that was not the the least bit obvious to me at the outset. But around which I have gained much clarity. I have a much better understanding why I was placed in this humbling position. Forced to assume a posture where I have had no choice but to be introspective in a way I have never taken the time or had the inclination to be in my previous 40+ years.

The way I see it, the only way I know to explain it – is that my soul has been placed in a God ordained time out. I recognize that now – and I am grateful in ways that I cannot clearly communicate. But I was not always grateful. Hecks, no! I have experienced a range of emotions, and baby, grateful was not the first one. Or the second. Or even the third.

My very first emotion set the mood for my year-long pity party. You know, the oft heard cry – “why me?”.  I did, this and that and the other thing just as I had been instructed, so why, why God, why are you doing this to ME?. Tantrums. Tears. Turning my household inside out with my emotional outbursts. I covered all the bases. If you’re going to party – party hard, right?

Then just like the college kid who partied a bit too hard, for a little too long only to be peeled off of the streets of fraternity row at the University of the Universe – I was hung over. I was irritable. Angry. Nothing pleased me and everything pissed me off. I ate to try to soak up the pity that had intoxicated me for the previous year, but it was of no comfort. It only made me angrier, as the number on the scale increased in increments of 10 until I was myself plus 40 pounds of pain. Now I had another reason to hate what was happening to me……what I thought I was unable to control.

Act three was perhaps the pinnacle of this tsunami of emotions. Depression. Hopelessness. Giving up, because there was no where else left to go with this shtick. Settling for existing because that was the best I could muster. And I had to muster something, because dammit, these beautiful babies didn’t ask to come here and they deserved a mother who didn’t give up. Even if she was only there in a perfunctory way.  A itstimetogetupforschool, whatdoyouwantforlunch, heregivethistoyourteacher, iloveyouhaveagoodday, illbethereforyourprogram, dontforgetyourwordmasterstestillbethere, howwasschooldoyouhaveanyhomework, whatdoyouwantfordinner, getyourkarateclotheson, itstimetogetreadyfordance, oktakeabathandgotobed, iloveyougoodnight, stepford wife kind of way. But I was functioning. For them.

Then I got tired. Tired of being tired as they say. And I had to do something different. HAD. TO. So I did. A lot of things. Some I’d always wanted to do. Some I never thought I would do. Some I’d never freaking heard of. Some I thought only freaks believed in. Some worked, some didn’t. Some I came up with, some I sought counsel for. I read articles. I started books (I only finished one Eat, Pray, Love :-). I liked Facebook pages. I spammed other peoples Facebook pages with stuff that inspired me (sorry!)

I stopped sleeping in the daytime. Which was much easier, of course, after I stopped letting my mind run in circles all night.  I changed my doctors – ALL of them. I changed my diet – (NOT all of it – I’m a pizza loving work in progress – lol!),  I started making green smoothies. I started moving more. Hell, I started combing my hair again!

I began (and continue) researching what might actually make me feel better. Because guess what? I wanted to feel better. Feeling bad, although it was a long time coming, got old. Who knew wanting to feel better was the first step? I certainly didn’t…..

Which is why I needed to be placed in time out by a higher authority. Because I would have never paused. Not on my own. Thank you, God, for hitting pause. For stopping the music and letting me have a seat in a chair. I’m still working on learning how to play the game – but at least now I know I need to listen to the music and not just concentrate on how to get the next chair…..

Thank God for a universe that has a pause button……

Love and Light!