Happy Valentine’s Day: The Difference a Year Makes…

This time last year I was spending this holiday with the man I thought would be my husband. There was no exchange of gifts just quality time. We made dinner. Actually, I watched him make dinner and prepared myself for it. LOL After dinner, we watched a movie; cleaned the kitchen; turned on some music; and the kitchen became our dance floor for the evening. It was the best Valentine’s Day ever. We had a great time just being with each other.

Today is quite different from last year. I am single again. Instead of preparing myself to enjoy a dinner with the one I love, I am writing this blog and answering emails. It is amazing how the seasons of life change. You can go from ‘Dangerously in Love” to ‘Severely Single’ or vice versa in a wink of an eye. I am not writing this to put a damper on the day of Love. However, I do want to encourage those who may be in my position with a few things that have helped me process through one of the greatest pains I have known, Love Lost:

  1. All love does not last forever, and that is okay. I know you wanted it to last forever, but forever was not the plan. That person came as a precursor to the love you are going to experience. Try not to spend your time regretting the energy you invested.
  2. They loved you at their highest capacity; and once they  maxed out everyone had to move on. It is a horrible reality that hurts deeply; but it is a necessary truth that must be accepted by both parties.
  3. Their love taught you how to perfect your own. You were able to see your reflection and challenged to fix those things that were wrong with your understanding of Love.
  4.  Their love forced you to realize your “roses really smell like boo boo.” You had to face some harsh realities about who you were and the parts of your past  that were sabotaging your relationship.
  5. Their love brought you a joy that you did not know before them. You are now more equipped to recognize what Love looks, feels, and acts like because of them.
  6. Their love reminded you of  your awesomeness. They encouraged the good in you; and they taught you that the things you deemed unworthy of love would be accepted by someone willing to love you.

Today I hope you will not be found soaking in the misery of love lost but excited about the love that is to come. You gave love a chance, and that is something I pray you learn not to regret. You will love again. Being single is not the end of the world. Resist bitterness and be open to the opportunities that Love will bring your way. Happy Valentine’s Day to you. I’m praying for your heart today.

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.

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!!!

I’m the Most Beautiful Girl in the World: Thanks Prince for the Reminder!!!

"Prince"

“** FILE ** Prince performs during the 6th annual BET Awards in this June 27, 2006, file photo in Los Angeles. Prince will headline the ninth annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, festival promoters announced Wednesday, April 9, 2008. The Purple One will be the featured act on day two of the giant summer music festival, a three-day affair that runs April 25-27 in Indio, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, file)”

 

 

Usually when the death of a celebrity occur I give my condolences via the internet, and I move on. Yesterday, I assumed would be no different as I sat in silence for a moment trying to wrap my mind around the news of Prince’s passing. Honestly, i’m still like I won’t believe it until the funeral.#noLordnotPrince After getting over the initial shock, I went on Youtube, and I found a video that would convey what I wanted the world to know that I appreciated about Prince. I typed out my little tribute:

Rest well to the beautifully weird musical genius, Prince. Many appreciated his voice, but I appreciated his musicianship. I’ll never forget the first time I heard him play the guitar. He made me feel as if I could too!!! Thanks for giving this world what you could. Your gift of music helped make the world a better place for a moment as we all danced our troubles awa.

I had fulfilled my Internet duties, and I started to look through my timeline to see how others were paying homage to this musical genius. I chuckled at how some felt a righteous indignation to condemn people for honoring his influence on their lives and the world. I rolled my eyes at “Super Fans” who made self-righteous post declaring how the rest of us were not true fans because we did not know his favorite eyeliner or designer. I smiled at how cities and meteorologist around the world used Purple to light up the city or represent the rain. He was indeed a gift to this world.

I will admit I was not a diehard fan. Matter of fact, I would not consider myself a fan of anyone I do not personally know.. However, Prince’s music has had an amazing impact on my life. It’s no secret that my father opted to leave my mom with the responsibility of raising me, and my stepfather was not the best replacement for the job. He did not affirm me as a young girl. My mom always assured me I was beautiful, but it was not until 1995, at ten years old that I heard a man declare just how beautiful and special I was as a girl. I was listening to the radio, not really paying attention to the new song being played until I heard the chorus. I gave my undivided attention to the second verse so that I could hear these words again:

Could you be the most beautiful girl in the world? Could you be? It’s plain to see. You’re the reason that God made a girl. Oh, yes you are!

To this day, I cannot describe what happened to me in those moments, but I felt confident  and appreciated by the end of the song. To some this may be a moment you would like to give me your pity, please DO NOT. LOL God uses whomever and whatever he needs to get the message to us, and that day God used Prince. I did not run out and buy the single, but the chorus was engraved on my heart.

Of all the Women Empowerment songs this song celebrates being a woman in a way that does not diminish the value of a man in the process. Being a lyrical genius, he reminded women to take delight in being the object of a man’s affection. In my opinion, there is nothing more beautiful than giving all your love to another.

Prince will truly be missed, but his music has made him immortal as long as we have a means of listening to it. I’m sure he had no clue that his song would be a tool used to instill confidence in a 10 years old girl in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is just a reminder to those who are living to use your gifts because God knows the lives you will touch by doing using them. Prince was unapologetically Black, unapologetically an artist, and unapologetically himself. I wonder what greatness we would achieve if we decided to stay true to what is inside of us no matter who told us that we should change to make them feel comfortable.

Thanks Prince for helping me realize that because God created me, BEAUTIFUL is all I can be, and forgive me for showing my appreciation a few days too late.-Charity Israel