Race toward IDENTITY

I had no idea that I struggled so much with my identity until I met my New Testament professor. She is a prophet in all sense of the word, and she pulled stuff out of my that I had forgotten for years. Most importantly though, I realized that I have a job to do in this world and in myself.

As an interracial woman, I have often found situations with different races difficult. At a young age I think I realized that the best way to ease tension (in most situations) is to laugh or make the people around me laugh. Therefore, if you know me, you are well aware that I poke fun at racial situations (often). This is something that I like about myself, actually. I enjoy my ability to make light of what could be hostile situations; I like that I am comfortable enough to point out the obvious to others. I realize that this may sometimes offend people, but that’s the risk I take. Anyway, back to the important part. Instead of understanding ALL of my heritage, I thought I had to identify with ONLY ONE side of my race. I grew up in a community that was (and is) a majority white. Most of the people I knew and associated with were white. Until I went away to college, I didn’t really identify with anyone who LOOKED like me. As an adult, I am excited to say that the nationality of my friends spans the globe! I enjoy the diversity of my peers, and find it so exciting to learn more about every culture God created. However, I think it’s important to note that I spent a lot of my life not knowing about my own culture!

At 26 I realize that I don’t have to choose to identify with only a portion of who God made me. I have the esteem honor of embracing my own unique culture; that of an African American Italian woman! I am not white and I am not black: I AM DANIELLE! And I know that people will want to place me in a box and give me a label, but I am finally okay with the label God gave me. My students (99.9% of which are black) often tell me, ” You don’t count, Ms. Tabor! You’re not black! You’re not one of us!” And that would have bothered me a few years ago. But today I told my student (who made this proclamation) “Actually, I know my ethnic identity, and I do count!” I wasn’t upset with him, nor did I punish him for his comment. I simply let him know that I matter, even if he doesn’t see it. Even if NO ONE sees it, I MATTER! And as I type this, I can’t wipe the smile off of my face. I matter, and I count, and as I have said before, I am the ONLY me God needed, so that’s pretty darn special, if you ask me!

My prayer is that through my years of pain, God grows my ministry, which I am learning with surround multiracial individuals. I am praying in young adults and children who I can mentor, and I am praying in people who can come along side my vision and help me grow it in God’s timing. It’s about using my pain to propel my passion…. it’s about finding my ministry in my mess. It’s about the people who I can affect who will have a chance at identifying with themselves earlier than I did, and for that, my pain is well worth it!

A superstitious trap

I realized last week that even as I study the truths of the Bible, I still hold onto some very severe lies. I harbor superstitious beliefs that I really didn’t know I had until the Holy Spirit leaned on my heart and said, “WHOA!”

I think a lot of these beliefs come from my high school days when I was very competitive and active in several activities. I was trained to think that certain behavior was good luck, while others would spoil success. I had no idea, until last week, that still kept a lot of those beliefs. For example, I had something important happy to me last week and I convinced myself that if I told anyone about it, it would disappear, or it would turn to failure. I also convinced myself that if I didn’t treat everyone nicely on that day, I would be cursed by God and I wouldn’t get the thing that I wanted. OH MY GOODNESS! Just saying this out loud sounds like pure lunacy! No where in the Bible can I find a verse that claims any of these beliefs! I have allowed the enemy to cause me excess stress and to make me think about “works” and not GRACE. In short, I have fallen in a superstitious trap!

By the GRACE of God, I have the blessings that I have; not by any doing of my own. God gave me all of my possessions, all of my opportunities, all of my talents and ONLY GOD can orchestrate these things in such a way that I am able to operate in them and with them. I didn’t get my apartment because I was wearing the right color or because I was nice to a certain amount of people. I didn’t get my job because I was secretive about my interview, nor because I did or said the right things on my own. I don’t have the talent to sing because I did the perfect amount of deeds to earn it (like a video game). No. I have all of this because of GOD, and ONLY GOD. It has nothing to do with me, nor with my actions (acts) or doings (works). I have because of God’s GRACE.

I needed to write this out tonight to dispute the lies of the enemy. I AM BLESSED in spite of what I do… not because of it!

My Shepherd

For the past two days my mind has been enammered by the thought of Jesus as my shepherd. The word gets tossed around so much in scriptures, it’s almost as if we say it and then move on with our thoughts, never truly understanding what all that means. Also, people don’t shepherd anymore, meaning it’s not a job your best friend does Monday through Friday. Could you imagine?

You: “Hey man, what are you doing this weekend?”
Your Friend: “Oh man, I have about 200 sheep to get from Fairburn to Sandy Springs. It’s going to take a long time and I can’t take off this weekend; I have to work through!”

It’s humourous to think about, but it makes sense that in 2010 we don’t automatically think of anything special when we hear the word SHEPHERD. However, in the years that Jesus was alive, this occupation was common! So common that you and your best friend either were shepherds or knew people who were. Therefore, in Jesus’ culture, this word carried meaning and depth. In 2010 how many of us can actually say we even know the specific tasks of a shepherd? Sure we are aware of the “watching over the sheep” and the “moving the sheep from point A to point B” parts, but what more do you know about what it takes to be a shepherd? I personally didn’t know much more until God reminded me of a sermon I heard a few months ago about shepherding. I remember being really shocked at what the occupation entailed, and even a little confused as to why I hadn’t known about it before. I am thankful that God reminded me yesterday, because I needed Jesus the SHEPHERD more than anything last night.

My week has been a rough one. Yesterday was the epitome of difficult when it culminated in 9 phone calls to student’s parents concerning their behavior. Apparently I am being tried and challenged and tested and stretched, and might I add it doesn’t feel good! In addition, God put me on notice that I have prune a major part of my life very soon, and as tears streamed down my face (as I layed on the floor of my closet) all I could do was whisper the words to an excellent song: ” To worship you I live, To worship you I live; I live I live to worship you.” My heart felt broken last night, and I desperately needed comforting. In His infinite wisdom and provision, God did just that.

In the sermon I heard a few months ago, the pastor mentioned some of the tasks of the shepherd. I wanted to learn more so I did some research of my own last night. What I found was astonishing, and began to warm my heart! We have all heard Psalm 23 before, and I am sure it has sounded sweet to you. As I am writing this I realize that the blanket I have from my grandfather’s funeral has this very psalm on it, and as I look at it everyday, I have yet to understand the magnitude of how the words effect me. I realize now that the part that gets me is “he anoints my head with oil,” which just sounds like it has holy implications to it, as it very well could. However, what really takes my breath away is the realization of how oil and the shepherd correlate. Sheep are often bothered by insects and injuries throughout the course of the day. At night, it is the job of the shepherd to tend to these injuries and take preventative measures against insect attacks and bites. He would take oil and literally massage the tender flesh, alleviating the pain and the infection. The shepherd would do this with EVERY sheep in his flock that needed tending to, and he wouldn’t sleep until the job was done. The shepherd has no other responsibility in the world at that moment than making sure his sheep were safe and healthy.

Last night as I slept I ask God to tend to my wounds and I fell asleep literally imagining a shepherd anointing my injuries with oil. The peace the came with knowing I would awake completely fresh and completely cared for is indescribable. All of the attacks of the enemy, all of the lack, all of the pain in the world was literally washed off of me as I slept the my shepherd massaged my hurting parts. Tell me this isn’t some powerful stuff??!

So tonight, I encourage you to speak to your shepherd, Jesus. Ask him to do the tasks He was born to do! Ask Him to tend to your injuries and heal you. Ask… and He will not fail you!

The only YOU I need

It’s so very easy to fall victim to negative thinking and self doubt. I am certain that a lot (if not most) average people would admit to thinking negatively or doubting themselves on a somewhat regular basis. The enemy of our minds has a way of convincing us that we aren’t worth much and that we are easily replaceable. I would venture to guess that if you were able to tap into your truth value (in Christ) and realize how worthy you really are, the enemy would be irate! So, instead, we often listen to that small nagging voice that constantly says, “You’re not good enough.”

Today, in my quiet time with God, I focused on my self image. I wanted to know why I had some of the same negative feelings, and I wanted to see what the root of it all was. I know my feelings are real, but they are not reality, so it’s important for me to examine them from time to time and make sure my thoughts are lining up with God. My mind was completely blown away today at what God spoke to me as I conversed with My Creator. God made me realize that I am SO valuable, He only needed to make one of me. I am enough me, all the me He will need for ALL of eternity. There can be NO other me, and there never needs to be because I am enough! Isn’t that powerful? To think that God created YOU with specific qualities that NO ONE else has or will ever have, because YOU ARE ENOUGH for God. You are one of a kind and who you are is pleasing to your creator.

I am encouraged and elated to meditate on this thought. I am enough me for all of eternity. God only made one of me because I am worthy and valuable enough to please Him. I am the only ME God needs….



The Office

I have recently gotten into the beloved television series, The Office. The humor of this show is so awkward and hilarious, I find myself laughing out loud (alone) at least once during each episode. While watching an episode the other night, I realized how funny I was behaving about a silly little show. Let me explain.

Though I have only recently been watching the show’s episodes consecutively, I always heard rumors about the characters and the plot from friends. Specifically, I know Jim and Pam end up married and I believe (SPOILER ALERT) she just gave birth to their first child. I know all of this happens in future episodes (meaning ones I haven’t seen yet) but I still cringe at the idea that Jim is currently dating Karen (in season 3). It’s funny because even though I know the two people I want to be together DO in fact end up together, I still get upset when I see them dating or kissing others on the show.

What’s funny is I think about my own life in comparison to this show. God knows who my “Jim” is already, but yet God still has to watch me make mistakes, and entertain the wrong guys, and even miss what’s right in front of my face from time to time. It has to be frustrating. Instead of cringing and giving up on me, though, God loves me and is patient with me (and my “jim”) as we work out all of our foolish issues. Because God knows we’ll eventually end up together. God knows what happens already (just like I know what happens in future episodes) even though we, the characters, have no clue! In literature, this is called dramatic irony.

I bet if we looked back on our own lives we could see situations where God was probably shaking His head saying, “Don’t date her!” Or, ” Stop doing that!” Just like we shout at the screen when the woman walks into the house when we know the killer is hiding behind the door! With God, though, we have Grace and Mercy. He already knows how things work out, and He knows they are for His good. So, there is peace in knowing that however my story plays out, it’s going to be entertaining, adventurous, and for the greater benefit of My Creator. He wouldn’t steer me wrong, so I trust His artistic judgment and his talented way of piecing everything together.