Confessions of an Ex-Racist Christian

This morning I woke up and felt led to open one of my journals. As I read it, I laughed at a few of my foolish request, and I smiled at my growth as a human trying to learn how to live this life. Since it is  Throw back Thursday, I will share an entry of Introspection from September 9, 2015:

I believe one of the hardest thing for a person to admit,especially a Christian, is he or she is a racist. No one who claims to love God wants to admit they have a problem with His creation; but it is  part of the Church’s reality. It took me roughly 25 years, six years ago, to admit racism lived in my heart. It was something I tried to ignore, but, living in the South and becoming more aware of the injustices of my tribe, I found myself HATING white people. I  found it difficult to admit my racism because I had friends I genuinely cared about although I could care less about their kind. To my credit, I did not hate my friends just all of the “other” white people smh… I figured, if I refrained from watching slave movies that it would go away. I thought, if I tried harder to befriend them that it would go away. I assumed, if I tried to replace negative thoughts about them with good ones my problem would be fixed. Oh how I assumed incorrectly! The more I attempted to fix a heart issue with my logic, I despised them more. Finally, I had a moment of truth with God because the hate in my heart was conflicting with the cry of my heart to love him and his people.  I poured my heart out to Him concerning the matter. I confessed that I was in fact a racist, and I held deep hate in my heart towards Caucasians. I confessed that my knowledge of how their ancestors treated my tribe and how some treat us today makes it difficult to forgive and love them. I even admitted that I felt I had both the right and plenty of reasons to stay angry with them. I repented for claiming to love God and hate his creation. I knew I could not be an effective dispenser of God’s love to the world with this kind of hate in my heart towards people. I asked God to change my heart and teach me how to gather knowledge without hate being attached to it. When I decided to be honest about the condition of my heart, God did an amazing work in it. I no longer carry that Hate I did towards my lighter brothers and sisters. I stopped  accusing them all of being one way based on the actions of a few. I truly make a conscious effort to judge a person by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Life has truly been much sweeter with hate out of my heart. Thank you God for helping me!-Charity

For those who will read this, particularly those who claim to be Christians, please consider your ways.  Take the time to tell God how you truly feel about certain groups of people. 1 John 4:20 says, “If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” My encouragement to each of us is to be honest about who we are in God’s presence so that we can love as God commands us. We as believers cannot expect the condition of the world to change when we refuse to change and deal with the hate in our hearts. I am praying for each us that we would truly allow the love of God to permeate our hearts and be the change this world needs. Thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

Freedom Friday: 20 Years of Torture & Unnecessary Shame

img_20160930_144721You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvelous.”-Psalm 139:13,14 NLT

I will admit that this has been one of the hardest scriptures for me to believe in the bible. It has been very difficult for me to say, “Thank you for my body.” This is due to all of its deformities. I have a severely clubbed right foot that makes my right leg and foot significantly smaller than the left side. I was born with a dislocated hip, congenital scoliosis, and missing chest bone. I will admit that after my hair and face, in my most jaded opinion, my body goes downhill.

To add to the disfigurement, I am also left with scars on my foot, leg, and back as doctors made attempts to correct the way I was “knitted together in my mother’s womb.” It has been very difficult for me to believe that a God who carefully created creation seemed to have missed a few steps while creating me. Of my mother’s four children, I seemed to carry the physical deformities for everyone. No one else was born with a physical deformity. For years I never questioned it, but I would be lying if I said at one point or another that I did not find myself envious of their “normal” bodies and disgusted by mine.

At 12 years old, I pronounced a life sentence of shame and hiding upon myself. I stopped wearing clothes that would reveal what I hated most about me. I stopped wearing sandals because I no longer felt like explaining my condition to people. I did not want pity or sympathy. I just wanted to be normal. So I became a hider, and into my closet I went hoping to never have to face these legs of mine again. If I hid them, they would eventually go away. Now that I am 31 years old, I can say that was the dumbest idea ever in the history of Charity’s dumb ideas. I literally signed my life away when I decided to start hiding my legs. I stopped swimming. I did not try out for any dance or cheer team because it meant I would have to show my legs. I almost quit softball one year because I thought they were going to make me wear shorts. I removed myself from any activity that required your legs or feet to be seen.

As God would have it, the one activity I could continue was dancing. Our liturgical attire was always long and covered! The only thing that gave me assurance that God meant to put me in this body is that even with my deformities, I am still able to dance. Some of my moves are limited, but I am able to dance unto His glory. He gave me a voice, and I use it for his glory. He has given me the gift of counsel, wisdom, and writing. I use them all  for his Glory. The interesting thing is nothing about my physical deformities have stopped the gifts of God from operating through me. The only thing that has hindered those things at any time have been my mind. I have allowed the “what ifs” to keep me from doing. What if my legs become a meme? What if the men who follow me find out and unsubscribe? What if people start treating me with pity because they discover the truth? I never considered what if I share my story and help others overcome their own insecurities? What if my process of freedom convinces others to find freedom? What if God placed me on this earth as an example that the package is only limited by the mind not by its deformities or flaws? For 20 year I have allowed something that I had absolutely no control over ruin and rule my life. I was completely convinced that because I was born this way I was undeserving of love, friendship, and fulfilling my dreams. That was all a lie.

For years I was afraid of  photo tag notifications. I just knew that someone from elementary school would post a picture that would expose the secret I was hiding, and I would lose everyone once they found out the truth. None of my friends from junior high up until now have been privy of this information, minus those who knew before I started hiding and those who were at Oral Roberts University my Freshmen year. I was just too afraid of rejection, and the enemy had my mind convinced that if people knew the truth about me they would not want me around. However, now that I understand my purpose I must take that risk. God cannot get all the glory that is due Him if I remain in hiding.

The photo being used for this blog was taken on my birthday, July 25th, as I declared the 31st year of my life to be my year of freedom. I asked my sister to capture it because I wanted to see what freedom looked like. It has been twenty years since I have seen myself photographed in a dress and sandals. I had every intention of posting this pic that day but fear convinced me to wait. Well i’m tired of fear and shame ruling my life, and I did not consult them this time. I am tired of preaching freedom and living enslaved to thoughts of fear, rejection, and shame. I am tired of worrying myself with how people will respond to something beyond my control. I am tired of being hot during the summer LOL, and today is the day I free me for good. Even with what is deformed, disfigured, and ugly about me, I am still His workmanship. I am finally choosing freedom over fear, and that my friends is a marvelous thing!-Charity Israel

Throwback Thursday: Fearless, Free, and Five Years Old

I have roughly 56 minutes before the clock strikes 12 and Throwback Thursday will be over; but I could not let the day end without writing this blog. Have you ever ran across one of your childhood pictures and instantly remember everything you were experiencing that moment the picture was captured? In this particular picture I had just finished dancing with a few of my cousins, and I was thrilled that people were impressed by my moves. This picture was taken shortly after what I considered to be the best performance of my life at that time! LOL

I chuckled and happiness instantly hit my heart as I reflected on that joyous occasion of hanging with family. Then the joy became bitter-sweet as I longed for that boldness I had back then. I miss that Charity, and I have spent 20 years trying to be her again. That Charity was fearless, and she believed that anything was possible. That Charity did not allow her physical condition to determine what she could do. That Charity was unfamiliar with shame, and she loved the skin she was in completely. That Charity was not acquainted with how bad life could wound your soul. Her innocence was her superpower! She did not doubt herself, and she was not afraid to try anything. She believed that she was in fact “fearfully and wonderfully made by God!” She was amazing, and I’d be lying if I said that I have not been on a search for that Charity for years now.

After I turned 12 something died inside of me, and I felt like hiding in shame would be better than living as I was.I have spent almost 20 years of my life trying to find that freedom, boldness, and courage that I once possessed. It took me awhile, but I can say i’m finally starting to experience it again. I do not want to hide any more, and part of my purpose requires that I stop. The hypocrisy of preaching freedom and living captive to things I cannot change about me has finally caught up with me. How dare I preach freedom and not live it. No more running in shame, and tomorrow I will finally share what has held me as its slave for over twenty years. I have spent the last year of my life confronting the deep wounds of my life, and now that healing has occurred shame is no longer needed for me to function in life. Tomorrow a piece of me will be shared that I have tried to keep hidden from the world. Freedom Friday will be just that for me, and it’s about time I told my story. Until then thanks for riding down Memory Lane with me.

The Blessing of Confession

PhotoGrid_1469807035387Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.”-Psalm 32:5

For the last few days I have been meditating on this scripture; and reflecting over the many times in my life that I wanted to live in rebellion rather than experience redemption. I remember the countless times I tried to justify certain thoughts, behaviors, and motives. I can recall the plethora of times that I lingered in sin a little longer than I should have and the consequences that accompanied such dumb life decisions.

Once I started to get serious about my relationship with God honesty became a requirement for it to function properly. As I began to spend time in prayer and studying scripture, sin was not so easy to commit or leave unconfessed. The magnitude of His love compelled me to tell the truth about me. I could no longer pretend that the life I was living was one that pleased Him. I had two options: to live a lie and remain outside of his presence or to start confessing so that I could fully enjoy His presence. Like the psalmist I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”

I John 1:9 tells us “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” As I did this I began to experience freedom from guilt, shame, and public opinion of my past. Assurance in God’s forgiveness produces freedom. However, we will NEVER know that freedom if we choose to remain in rebellion and unconfessed sin. We will spend our time trying to justify our actions to ourselves and to those around us. Even worse we will become reprobate and sever our relationship with God. He never leaves us, but we will leave Him as we allow both shame and pride to keep us from confessing what we have done. One of the most cunning weapons of the enemy is to convince us that we have done too much wrong to receive the love and forgiveness of God; and I am here to tell you that as the “Father of Lies” that is one of his greatest lies!!!

The Truth of the matter is “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.” (Rom. 5:8,9) There is no sin, outside of blaspheming the Holy Ghost, that will keep you from the forgiving grace of God. If he sent His son while we were in sin, surely any sin we have committed is forgivable if we are willing to confess it. Do not allow the enemy of your soul or even yourself talk you out of receiving the freedom from guilt that is made available to us through confession.

God sent Christ so that we could have the opportunity to have a relationship with Him if we so desire it. Do not let the moments of slipping or even falling into sin keep you out experiencing the beauty of having a relationship with the Creator of the universe. He gave us an anecdote for renewing our relationship with Him after we have fallen prey to the sin and our selfish desires. Confession is the key, and it is a blessing to those who will humble themselves and tell God the truth. I pray from this day forward you will choose to confess instead of cover up. You will never have peace inside until you reconcile your relationship with the One who made you, and confession makes it possible. I pray you will find the time to do it.-Charity Israel

Goodbye Thirty, Hello Freedom!!!

So be strong and courageous all you who put your hope in the Lord!-Psalm 31:24

Six months before I turned 30, I went on the pursuit of finding out what the decade would entail for me. I talked to women who were in their early thirties, late thirties, and well into their sixties. I made it my mission to come up with a plan to prepare myself for this monumental shift from being a “young” adult to just an ADULT! I read books, blogs, and anything that would give me a glimpse into my future; but NOTHING prepared me for what I would describe as the most painfully liberating year of my life.

Thirty was pure hell, darkness, chaos, and confusion. It started with my birthday plans for the year. A friend and I planned to watch a play on Broadway. However, I ended up spending my day alone in Manhattan sipping a glass of Riesling and contemplating the meaning of life. LOL  Eleven days after the worst birthday ever my grandmother on my father side passed away, and six days after her my mother’s mom passed away. Two of the most loveliest souls on the planet left without my permission. Life has not been the same without them.

September was spent trying to cope with the events of August, and trying to convince myself that I was happy when in fact I was hurting. The hardest truth for me to admit was that I was starting to despise the two things that meant so much to me, my job and living in the city of my dreams, New York.  I suppose this discontentment with my life was God’s way of preparing me to do what he requested of me in June, which was to stop being a Flight Attendant and move back to Atlanta. However the 401k, great health insurance, and the steady income made that request hard to comply with until December 2015. Between continuously getting sick and the anxiety attacks I was having, it became quite apparent it was time to let it go and I did.

By March my savings had dwindled, and all I had left was my knight in shining armor that I was planning to marry in August 2016. As fate would have it March 5, we decided it was best to go our separate ways due to the chaos that both of us was experiencing. I cannot express the pain that comes with saying “Goodbye” to the person you were ready to share the rest of your life with. Everything that I was so certain of in 2015 had slipped through my fingers by March 2016. I was jobless, super single AGAIN, and found myself embarking upon the darkest night of my soul to date.

It was during this time of chaos, confusion, and loneliness that something beautiful was being formed. I was stripped of everything that I allowed to define me throughout my years, and I was left at the mercies of God. I had to admit to my idol worship of marriage, success, fame, and prestige. I had to find purpose outside of my possessions or the lack thereof. I had to clean out the skeletons in my closet, and I had to confront the insecurities within me that were sabotaging my future. As I sat in the dark room of my life, I was forced to deal with the truth of my self-image. I had to wrestle on a few occasions with the demons of my past that were doing all they could to keep me in fear. It was here I became content with my own being and confident in the God who created me.

It was in my weakness that I found God’s strength to be perfect. It was in choosing to receive His love that fear had to flee. It was sitting in darkness that I discovered the beauty of His marvelous light of Truth. Thirty was the year that my pride was crucified; my selfishness was exposed; and my greatest fears were realized. It was also the year I learned what it meant to live free, strong, and courageous. I literally have nothing to lose in this life, and it puts me in a place to gain all that God has in store for me. I say goodbye to 30 joyously, and I tell it thank you for introducing me to myself!

Thirty-one will be an amazing year for me because it is the first time, I will actually be living unapologetically as Charity. The freedom that becomes available on the other side of facing your fears and confronting the lies you have lived for so long is indescribable. It expels all the shame, and it leaves you confident in who God has created you to be. I embrace 31 as a completely different person; and I look forward to the lessons it will teach me and the opportunities it will present me as I have decided to let go of fear and live in God’s love for me. Happy Birthday Charity Israel!!! Freedom looks good on you!!!!!!!!

P.S. The book is coming soon. I had to live it before I could write it!!!

Life Observation: Five Things Mature Adults Do

I won’t bore you with a long introduction. I’ll just get right to it. Here are five things I have noticed mature adults do:

  1. THEY COMMUNICATE. Adults who have matured pass high school in their brains have learned how to express themselves. They tactfully express their opinions, and they do not waste their time beating around the bush concerning a matter. They are not afraid of conflict, and they do not argue for the sake of being heard. They recognize the weight of their words, so they use discretion in both their tone and word choices. Mature adults do not wait for someone to figure out the problem. They voice it and seek ways to resolve it.
  2. THEY TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN ACTIONS. Mature adults do not play the Blame Game. If the job was not done correctly, they admit where they messed up. If their marriage is failing, they accept their part in its’ failure. If their life is not where they desire it to be, they CHANGE IT. Mature adults introspect instead of project their issues on other people. They weigh the consequences of their actions. Once they recognize they made the wrong mistake, they acknowledge it. Mature adults DO NOT rely on others to fix the problems they have created. They assess the situation, rectify it, and move forward.
  3. THEY ARE COMFORTABLE IN THEIR OWN SKIN. Mature adults have accepted who they are and who they will never be. They have accepted their flaws, and they live free from the weight of being perfect. They are beautifully flawed individuals, and they celebrate what makes them unique. They do NOT waste their time comparing, envying, or desiring what others have. Wholeness of mind, body, and soul is their pursuit. They are so fixed on the idea of becoming a better person that they do not have time to worry about what others do. They are not perfect, and that truth does not bother them. They free themselves to enjoy life, and they encourage others to do the same.
  4. THEY ACCEPT PEOPLE FOR WHO THEY ARE. Mature adults do not waste their time trying to change other people. They recognize that we are all evolving, and when change is desired people will seek it. Instead of trying to force change, mature adults choose to stick around (remain in relationship) or move around (end the relationship). They give people the freedom to be who they have decided to be. This does not mean mature adults do not address self-harming behaviors of friends, but they do give others the liberty to discover and enjoy life for themselves.
  5. THEY DO NOT TRY TO FIX BROKEN PEOPLE. Considering the time and effort mature adults have put into becoming whole, they do not waste their time trying to fix people who are unwilling to admit they are broken.  They recognize the value of their time and they choose to invest it in things that will produce a great return. Mature adults surrender broken people to their Creator, and they love broken people at a distance until they want more for themselves.

This list could and should be much longer, but this will do for now. If you see some you disagree with feel free to voice your thoughts. Different points of view are welcomed and respected. I encourage all of us to spend our time becoming better people. If you find yourself doing the opposite of these five things, I admonish you to reconsider your ways. You deserve to live in the freedom that responsibility offers those who take control of their own actions, decisions, and relationships. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful Wednesday!-Charity Israel

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://cdn.halloftheblackdragon.com/reel/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/man-and-woman-gaming.jpg

Freedom Friday: Dealing with Demonic Oppression

               He told them, This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.-Mark 9:29

I will never forget the day I was delivered from Demonic Oppression during my junior year of college. I was attending a Spiritual Encounter conference at Greenwood Christian Center in Tulsa, OK. We were doing some intense spiritual exercises such as renouncing generational curses, writing out and burning our confessions of sins, and etc. I had been fasting the whole weekend, and I was feeling great until the Sunday Morning service. I started feeling horrible knots in my stomach, and I knew it was not hunger pains from fasting. I took the extreme discomfort as a confirmation for me to make my way to the service.

I made it to church, and I was still feeling sick. The minister in charge of the conference was up sharing pics and highlights of the weekend. The church went up in high praise. He quickly silenced the people, as he felt led to make one last Altar Call for those of us who attended that weekend. He said, “Is there anyone who feels that they didn’t receive all they needed this weekend? If that is you make your way to the altar.” I could not get there fast enough because I knew something inside of me was not right, and the way I was being attacked was not natural!

A few people made their way to the altar quicker than I did, and I waited patiently praying quietly as the ministers were praying for other people. Everything was fine until the minister came to me. Before he could lay hands on me I let out a hellacious scream, and I tried to attack him. In that moment I acquired Incredible Hulk strength, and it took three people to restrain me (keep in mind, I was 4’11 and 115 pounds at the time). I remember wanting to stop myself, but that spirit had manifested itself. When we arrived to the area that they did Deliverance Ministry, I had to be pinned down because I would strike or kick at the people. A lady started praying for me. She casted out the spirits of Anger and Rage, and I immediately calmed down. The people were able to place me in a chair.

As the Holy Spirit gave her discernment, she named out a few other things. My eyes would not open during this time. I remember the voices that came from me and the way my body would convulse or contort as she prayed. It was the weirdest experience because I was aware of what was happening, but I had no control over what was taking place. The last spirit she addressed was the spirit of rejection, and I remember sounding like a toddler talking to her. As she commanded the spirit to leave, the child voice turned into an angry man. He explained, “he had permission to be there!” There was finally a breakthrough, and I came to myself. I began to weep joyously. I left knowing that I had been set free. I felt so light, and I was not ashamed because my freedom mattered most.

I felt I needed to share this story because I am tired of Christians suffering in silence. I was an intercessor, choir member, and chaplain at the time that I  was bound by Demonic oppression. I was afraid to go to sleep with the light off because I would wake up with scratches and bruises the next day. I was having suicidal thoughts. I was being tormented in my mind, and I knew this was not God’s best for me. I was either going to get delivered or be found dead on a Christian University campus. I opted for deliverance!

I sought out a place that was not afraid of Spiritual Warfare, and I stayed until I was no longer bound. I wanted to be delivered, and I was going to obtain it at any cost. Soon after going through Deliverance ministry, I sought out a Holy Spirit filled therapist. She helped “fill the house” (Matthew 12:43-45) with the word of God and counseling techniques to help me truly enjoy the freedom I obtained. It was one of the best decisions of my life.

Some will read this and argue, “Christians cannot be oppressed by demons.” I pray you never have to experience such torture. But to those of us who know differently, allow FREEDOM to be your pursuit. If your church is not equipped to handle Spiritual matters beyond Salvation, find a place that does. Do not continue to sit in torment when Freedom is available to you. Like the woman with the demon-possessed daughter (Matthew 15:22-28), go get what belongs to you. You’re in my prayers, and I dare you to live FREE!