Encouragement, Faith, Fruit of the Spirit, Gentleness, God's Love, Kindness, Love, Mental Illness, Mother/Daughter, Motivation, Spiritual Therapy, Strength, Trials, Trusting God, Worry

Hope in the Midst of Hopelessness

“Chancee` you have to accept the fact that your mother is going to be institutionalized until the day she dies.”  These words stung as a family member spoke them to me. I was feeling pretty hopeless and was pouring out how I felt about the mental health system’s revolving door that has held my mother captive. I don’t quite know the year it started but her illness preceded me.  Although throughout my lifetime she has had several years of independent living, for nearly the past seven years she has been in the state mental institution. She is absolutely one of the most brilliant people that I know but she has a neurobiological disorder and has been diagnosed as bipolar, paranoid schizophrenic. Her reality and true reality are often conflicting and unfortunately her belief in her delusions, in the absence of medication, can cause irritability and lead to unrest and violence. Because Mom doesn’t believe she has an illness, her cooperation is minimal outside the confines of the mental institution. That fact keeps her from living a “normal” life.

Over the years, I held resentment against my mother for not being there for me to call on her when I needed her. I have felt extreme sadness at the fact that our relationship in no way resembles that of my friends with their own mothers. Mother-daughter trips, spa days, shopping, and dinners have been non-existent since I was a little girl. I feel sorry for her because her own quality of life is severely diminished and as she gets older it continues to get worse. I have become her guardian and she has become the child. It’s a complex relationship and one that she constantly fights.

For years, I have prayed that God delivers my mom from her illness and I have held out hope that one day she will be delivered from this disease; however, it’s been very difficult. I have prayed that I can see her how God sees her and love her like He does. The hardest part about neurobiological disorders is that they are hard to deal with because you can’t “see” the disability and it’s not cancer; therefore, people are treated as if they are just “crazy.” You want them to accept that what they know as reality is false and to just move on but that isn’t realistic.

There is so much to this story that I can write a book, but as this cycle repeats itself it’s hard for me to have hope that one day she will be healed. It’s hard for me to believe that God may have a different will for her life. It’s hard for me to believe that she will cooperate with treatment when she is not under the supervision of the mental institution. I am trying to maintain hope in what appears to be a hopeless situation.

Your situation may not be like mine but if some of us are honest with ourselves there is something that we have or have had hope for but our present circumstances make us feel absolutely hopeless. Our faith is shattered because we can’t see “how” it will happen, “when” it will happen or “what” will happen. As I battle with these feelings of hopelessness concerning my mother, I am reminded of WHO God is in what appear to be hopeless situations:

  • In Exodus 1  The Children of Israel were in captivity for hundreds of years in Egypt. There were Israelites who were born in and died in captivity and never saw God’s promise of freedom come to fruition. Though it came through much trial and tribulation Pharaoh finally let God’s people go. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested. (Exodus 12:30-31 NIV)  In Exodus 14 the Israelites’ situation once again appears hopeless as Pharaoh follows them and they are trapped by the Red Sea but God parted the waters so that they could cross. He made a way out of no way!
  • Remember Sarah – There is no doubt in my mind that Sarah wanted a child her whole life but she was barren. When she received word that she would have a son her situation looked so hopeless that she laughed at the mere thought. Later she bore a son and called him Isaac.  Read Genesis 18:10-14, Genesis 21:1-2
  • Lastly there is the woman with the issue of blood. She had a disease and had been to many doctors over the course of her twelve years of bleeding but no one could help her. There was no pill that she could take to stop it. There was no cure.  Mark 5:25-29

Although our situations may appear to be hopeless, I want us to restore our hope knowing that what God has done for others He will do for us too. Here are my five tips for restoring hope when you feel hopeless:

  1.  Encourage Yourself –I Samuel 30: 4-6
  2. Trust Him –Proverbs 3:5-6
  3. Know that He is not like you! –Isaiah 55:8-9
  4. Have a Flashback – Remember a time when God granted you the desires of your heart even when the situation looked hopeless. Psalms 31:19
  5. Know that He sees the completed puzzle while we can only see the puzzle pieces – Jeremiah 29:11

Dear Daddy,

Continue to help mine unbelief as You restore my faith in You. Help me to continue to believe that You are a healer and just like You have done for others You can do for me too. For every reader out there that is in the midst of what appears to be a hopeless situation, remind them of who You are. Remind them that there is nothing too hard for You! Remind them that You healed the sick, You raised the dead, You walked on water, You restored sight to the blind, You opened wombs that were barren, and You made the ultimate sacrifice! Thank You for being who You are! In Jesus’ Name Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to declare victory today over your “hopeless” situation. I EMPOWER you to have peace with God’s will for your life and that you remain faithful in your pursuits. I EMPOWER you to rebuke the spirit of hopelessness as you remember the God that you serve can do ANYthing.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: The Face of Faith

Ms. Chancee` Lundy currently resides in Atlanta, GA and is a small business co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend, community servant, and child of God. She is passionate about causes that truly uplift the community. One of her favorite scriptures is Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Attitude, Co-Workers, Gentleness, Growth/Maturity, Kindness, Love, Relationships, Self-Control, Speech

Lord, Help Me Watch My Mouth!

Lately, I have been in rare form!  I used to be very concerned about what I would say and how I would say it because I didn’t want to offend or hurt peoples’ feelings, but over the last couple of months all of that care and concern has gone out of the window!  It came to a head this week at work.  Monday, I told one of the engineers, “I don’t care if you’re not cold, the kids are; turn the heat on!”  Tuesday, I told the programmer, “I am not going to go back and change my attendance. You detained these students; YOU go to the office and have their attendance fixed!”  Then Wednesday, I said in a meeting, “The reading workshop should not be run by our English department given that the data shows that whatever you all are doing is not helping our students read better!”  Of course one of the English teachers was extremely offended which changed the whole tone of the meeting.  After the meeting, another teacher and my principal both had conversations with me about my tactless comment.  My defense was, “Well it’s true!”  I immediately felt convicted!  My mother’s words instantly came back to me saying, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!”

My behavior over the last couple of months has been unacceptable!  The more I have thought and prayed over it this week, God has revealed to me JUST HOW destructive my behavior has been.  He reminded me of why He had placed me in this building– to be a light in darkness. “Ye are the light of the world…” (Matthew 5:14a KJV) My school is plagued by so many negative things: teen pregnancy, drug use, dysfunctional families, and not to mention our students’ academic struggles.   My assignment is not only to teach but also to show God’s love and power to save, heal, and deliver.  I had truly lost sight of that.  My tactless comments and interactions with my colleagues were doing three things in particular:

1) Causing Hostility – “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger…” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV)

I was creating a hostile environment to the point that every time I got up to present, make an announcement or anything else, eyes rolled, lips smacked and what I was saying was tuned out because of the hostility and resentment I had caused.

2) Stunting improvement – “A brother offended is harder to be won over than a strong city…” (Proverbs 18:19 AMP)

Because I have offended some of my colleagues in the past, they fight against anything that they know has come from me.  For example, last year my students got very high scores on the ACT writing test.  Many of the kids attributed their success to how I taught them to write essays in history.  Our principal implemented that strategy school-wide at the beginning of the year and it has been a non-stop fight.  No one has said it is a bad strategy; the only reason has been, “We don’t want to do it like that!”  I have inadvertently hurt the students’ by offending some of their other teachers. 

3) Hurting my witness – “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35 NIV)

How can I profess to be a Christian and be so tactless and non-compassionate to other peoples’ feelings? God is never like that with me. Even when He is checking me, I know that it comes from a place of love and desire for me to be better.  I’m sure the recipients of my comments do not feel the same way, and that I could not go to them and talk about Christ afterwards. 

Paul explains how we are to interact with people in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.  I have become all things to all men to that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings.” (NIV)  I must humble myself and watch how I say things in order to complete the assignment that God has for me.

Everyone always quotes Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (KJV); however, v.20 really impacted me when I sought the Lord about this issue. “From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied.” NIV   What kind of fruit is my mouth producing?  How does it taste?  Is it bitter?  Is it sour or just plain rotten?  What kind of harvest am I expecting in my life and what harvest am I going to get if I continue on the way I have been.   In the future, I am definitely going to strive to keep these questions in mind and CHECK MY MOUTH!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for conviction!  I also thank You for allowing me to see who I really am and take steps to change for the better.  I pray that You continue to help me to talk to people as You would and temper my words with compassion and love.  I ask that You move upon the hearts of those I have offended with my words so that they can forgive me and those relationships can be restored. Lord, please help me to watch my mouth! In Jesus Name’, Amen!

Today I EMPOWER you to show the love of Christ in everything, especially in how you speak to and interact with others.  One way to do this is to EVALUATE, EVALUATE, EVALUATE!

  1. Evaluate the urgency of the comment! Does what you want to say really need to be said?  If the answer is no, don’t say it!
  2. If the answer is yes, evaluate how it can be said in a Godly, tactful way that will actually facilitate a positive response.
  3. Once you have thought about how you’re going to say it, then evaluate what is the best timing.  Pray and ask God to give you wisdom to know when to say it.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the global leader of the breast cancer movement, having invested more than $1.9 billion since inception in 1982. Because of generous donations from supporters like us, Susan G. Komen for the Cure  has become the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world. Please consider making a donation to continue the fight:  http://ww5.komen.org/donate/donate.html

Ms. Katrina Richard is an up and coming professional residing in Chicago, Illinois.  She strives to incorporate knowledge and life-skills to teenagers in her profession as a high school history teacher.  Katrina is very active in her church community where she serves in the prayer ministry as well as in the nursery.  She has a passion for serving in the lesser known areas of ministry because she believes every facet of ministry is important to kingdom building and spiritual development of the believers. Her favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Attitude, Fruit of the Spirit, Gentleness, Growth/Maturity, Honesty/Truth, Kindness, Motivation, Procrastination, Self-Control, Spirit of Anger

Rebuke The 7 Dwarfs

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.” Ephesians 5:1 NLT

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:11 NIV

Have you ever woke up with a “stank” attitude for no apparent reason? A few days ago I experienced this for no reason at all. Everyone that called seemed to irritate me. In conversation with the Holy Spirit, and as conviction set in, I remembered that at all times I have to be an imitator of Christ. For some apparent reason I started thinking of the Seven Dwarfs. Mainly because of the one I was currently resisting, Grumpy, but also, just as in the movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, these little “attitudes” can creep up at any time and alter your entire day.

Let’s look at these attitudes that like to creep in and steal our joy:

“Doc” was the leader. His character was that of someone very pompous or self-important. The Bible tells us, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14: 11 ESV Sometimes we have to check our humility gage!

“Grumpy”.  Being grumpy is like being a complainer. You’re tired of your job, but you can pay your bills! You can’t find a man, and yet every gentleman that approaches you, you act “stank”.  My husband gets on my nerves, Suzy will be glad to have him!  “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 NIV. Speak power and life. Speaking death is being a mouthpiece for the devil!

“Bashful”. This attitude can creep in and get the best of us. How many times have you been silent instead of standing up for God? How many times have you found yourself unequally yoked with your friends and refuse, out of shyness, to stand boldly for the Lord? Jesus warns us, “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” Matthew 10:33 AKJV.

“Sleepy”. How many times have you let the enemy of procrastination into your camp? You walk around sleepily dragging your feet. Some of you have dreams to embark upon, yet you allow a “sleepy” like attitude to interfere. “How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.” Proverbs 6:9-11 ESV. Get up, you have work to do!

“Happy”. A Happy attitude is pleasant. Kirk Franklin says it best, to be happy, something has to happening! I encourage you to learn to replace your happiness with joy. Joy is a confidence birthed through faith in Christ. Joy is a feeling of assurance you can feel even when you are down and out. Happy is great, but Joy is everlasting. David prays, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalms 16:11 KJV. God can grant you unshakable joy!

“Sneezy”. Sneezing is a way for your body to rid itself of harmful things. With all seriousness, we may need to “Sneeze” through our group of buddies or our Facebook friends list. If you find yourself sneezing all of the time, then you are probably allergic to your surroundings!! “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV

“Dopey”. Dopey was the youngest dwarf. Socially he was immature and seemed to be a “dud.” It is so easy to fall into the “Dopey” category of putting back on our childlike attitudes and behaviors. Paul tells us in the Bible, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” I Corinthians 13:11 NIV. Don’t let your childish ways of bickering, anger, and pettiness creep in. You are a woman now, put away child-like things.

I know this was a far-fetched, yet creative, attempt to say one thing: watch for those insecurities and bad attitudes that can creep in on you. Put on the full armor of God so that you can withstand the enemy.

Dear Daddy,

I plead guilty for having a bad attitude when I know I shouldn’t. The fact that You took a perfect soul to stand in the gap for my sins, should remove any stench of a bad attitude. Please forgive me if I seem ungrateful. Please help me along this Christian journey as I learn to be an imitator of You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you today to rebuke those dwarfs! Put on the full armor of God every morning before your feet hit the floor to guide your attitude throughout the day. Secure it again at night to ensure your mind is fixed on God as you go to bed. God has been too good for us to have a bad attitude!

As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is College Biology Instructor. She is also currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Higher Ed and Community College Leadership. Khalilah is passionate about her faith journey and uses this key scripture as her inspiration: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV) She teaches Young Adult Bible Study and Sunday School and also serves as a guest speaker and panelist for various events for women and Christian empowerment.  Khalilah resides in Millbrook, Alabama with her wonderful husband Donald Burton, Jr. and their energetic three-year old daughter. They attend St. Luke Christian ChurchCheck out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.

Forgiveness, Kindness, Love, Patience, Speech

Coming Home…Again!

Clifford Harris Jr. first came into my life in 2003. One of my friends talked about him constantly, so when we heard he would be performing in Tallahassee we made our way to see him. This was my introduction to T.I.P. better known as T.I. and I have been a fan every since. In him I have always seen a person who is good at heart but who often falters in his decision-making. He is no angel nor would he be considered a saint but neither am I.

T.I.’s troubles with the law and multiple incarcerations have become fodder for the media. Recently I have heard several discussions regarding his release from prison and it seems as though his fate has been pre-determined –“He’s just going right back to jail;” “I hope he doesn’t make a song about forgiveness AGAIN.” At first I shrugged it off but then I became appalled at the number of people who chose to publicly and privately speak “death” upon him instead of life. It was as if people forgot about their own transgressions just long enough to cast stones at him.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (James 3:9-10 NIV)

I am not a T.I. fanatic but I found myself defending him as if he were my own brother. Wait! He is my brother! No matter how many times my biological brother found himself behind those iron clad bars he was always welcomed home. We didn’t place bets on how long he would stay out or stress his spirit with our disbelief in him. We prayed that God would deliver him and that he would “straighten up.” We saw the good in him along with those areas he really needed to change. We didn’t condemn him because we knew that if we looked hard enough each one of us had something that we repeatedly had done; yet we asked and expected our Father to welcome us back to Him every time.

Often we find ourselves discussing the business of family, friends and co-workers and readily speak “death” upon them with our doubts and nay sayings. Instead of welcoming them home, we anxiously await their next mess up. With so many doubters, detractors and fake supporters, I understand why it’s so easy to fall prey to bad vices.

This Empowermoment isn’t about T.I. as much as it is about allowing people to redeem themselves and embracing them when they seek to do the right thing, even if it’s their seventh time. This doesn’t mean that we should purposely sin; but we all do things some times that aren’t pleasing to God. No matter how many times we fall, the important thing is that we can get back up and come home to Jesus…Again.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for embracing me with open arms EVERY time I fall. Thank You for encouraging and not discouraging when I fall prey to temptation. Help me to be the same way with my fellow brethren. Bridle my tongue when I have it in my mind to speak “death” upon someone’s life. Help me to forgive and move forward just as You do time and time again with me. In Jesus Name, Amen! 

Today I EMPOWER you to speak Life. Speak LIFE into your family, your friends, your finances, your marriage, your household, your job and your spirit. If in some way you fail, repent and know that you can always Come Home, Again!

Ms. Chancee` Lundy currently resides in Atlanta, GA and is a small business co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend, community servant, and child of God. She is passionate about causes that truly uplift the community. One of her favorite scriptures is Hebrews 11:6: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Attitude, Gentleness, Kindness

Treat ‘Em Right!

Be careful how you entertain strangers, for some have kicked it with angels incognito (Hebrews 13:2 Pastor Freddy Haynes Remix) 

He’s not really a stranger but he’s my “secret” friend. It’s okay to hang out with him alone or around the house and have him fix stuff for me; but all I can think of is embarrassment when it comes to taking him around other people. Surely you can understand. He splits verbs, ends his sentences with prepositions where they are not required (ex: Where they going at?) and the words “ain’t,” “y’all,” “fixin to” and “nem/dem” are popular in his vocabulary. My grammar is far from perfect but hearing him talk sometimes makes me cringe. I definitely wouldn’t want to subject anyone else to that annihilation of the English language. Besides that, he’s my friend not my “friend.” He likes me and I wouldn’t want him or other people to get it confused. He’s a super nice guy but just not group ready, in my opinion. I should correct that to he’s not group ready for my social scene. You understand, don’t you?

As I got ready to head to a public festival where thousands of people would be gathered, I could tell that he really wanted to join me. He’s not from here and his job is a lonely one so he doesn’t get to interact with people much. I acted oblivious at first and then I kind of let him know that I would be hanging with my friends so he couldn’t come to the event. Immediately, I felt guilty as if I knew that he wanted to enjoy a slice of life and I was denying him.  I asked him if he wanted to go but the damage was already done.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12 NIV)

On my way to the event I was consumed with guilt about the way I acted but shrugged it off because I was going to enjoy myself. As I drove on to the festival, each friend that was scheduled to come with me called and cancelled. I was bothered by it but not completely disturbed because the friend who invited me always has plenty of people under his tent and around his barbeque grill. It’s like our own private party amidst the big festival. Finding people to socialize with wouldn’t be difficult.

I arrived, spoke to my friend who was manning the grill and plopped my chair down amongst a group of females (who I have interacted with at some of his events before). They half-heartedly spoke and immediately went back to their conversation. I could have been a leaf on the tree we were sitting next to. Usually, I fit well into social scenes and can become “Chatty Cathy” but today was quite different. I was never included, invited or welcomed into the conversation. As another one of their friends wanted to join the circle and it began to rain, I decided to move my chair to a nearby tent and join another circle. In this group no one was talking and if they were it was to the person immediately next to them. I was amongst a crowd of people but felt isolated and alone.

The festival was in a park and there was a pavilion where people were dancing. Surely, I can enjoy myself on the dance floor. I went to the dance floor and danced a few songs but even that was lonely because I had no friend on the floor with me and no one asked me to dance. I walked to my seat, plopped down and thought “God, I get it!!!”

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40 NIV)

I was worried about my friend “embarrassing” me and not fitting into this social scene but in reality I would have had a blast with him present. He would have had the opportunity to enjoy this small slice of life and I wouldn’t have been lonely. Instead, I was worried about a group of people who didn’t split verbs but weren’t paying me any attention or care one bit about me. Who was I to treat his feelings so callously?  Surely, I did not treat him how I wanted to be treated or show him God’s love. God has no grammar or spell check and He’s not embarrassed to hang out with me even when I’m at my worst. I sat there for a few more hours bathing in my Karma and reflecting on my actions knowing that my small act of kindness would have gone a long way.

Dear Daddy,

Every person on this planet is Your child and should be treated as such. Forgive me for breaking Your Golden Rule. I am glad that You look on the inside and not at our outward appearance. You’re not concerned with our grammar but with our heart. Help me to be more like You! Let me show Your love and compassion to my neighbor and take my nose out of the air. Remind me that the very person I turn my nose up at can be an angel that you have sent my way. When I find myself in these situations, give me the courage to make the right decision even when it’s not the “popular” one. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today I EMPOWER you to treat others as you wish to be treated. You may not give money but you can give a smile and a “how you doing?” to that needy person who is constantly bothering you on your way to work. I EMPOWER you to listen to others and before making rash decisions put yourself in their shoes. I EMPOWER you to love your neighbor that you can see so that you can truly express your love for a God that you cannot.

Ms. Chancee` Lundy currently resides in Atlanta, GA and is a small business co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend, community servant, and child of God. She is passionate about causes that truly uplift the community. One of her favorite scriptures is Hebrews 11:6: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Attitude, Fruit of the Spirit, Growth/Maturity, Kindness, Patience

My Reputation Precedes Itself

Before you read this post I have to give you a disclaimer: The job I work is a God given talent and I love every minute of it! I have worked in public education almost eight years and I was out of the classroom for two of those years. I have always been known for the authority that I have in the classroom and my “don’t take any mess” attitude. This summer I was assigned back to the classroom. All I could think about was how I was going to show those students that “my reputation precedes itself.” Keep in mind that this group of students had also had a reputation of being some of the most disrespectful and disruptive students in the building.

Ladies, I went in ready for battle the first day of summer school. I went into the class frowning and if a student breathed too hard I had to let them know who was the boss. All I could think was, “I’m not going to let these little kids run over me.” Instead of getting to know them personally, I did something that I had never done as a teacher. I took what I had heard about them and formed an opinion. Someone once taught me that you can catch more bees with honey but I refused to be nice to the kids because I was going to show them I wasn’t playing! I didn’t even care about winning them over; all I was concerned with was teaching them and ensuring that they listened. Every day I went home drained because I was trying to show them who was the boss. I was too busy trying to keep my reputation in tact that I didn’t even get to know who they were.

God started to convict me and I didn’t understand why. I was led to Acts 9 where Saul, a person that was a murderer of Christians, was converted to Apostle Paul. Even though the Lord chose him, at first his reputation preceded him. Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” (Acts 9: 10-14 NKJV). This made me question myself. Who did I think I was to treat people how I wanted to treat them based on what I had heard about them? If the Lord could give Paul a chance after he was a murderer, why couldn’t I give these children a chance despite what I had heard. Furthermore, who did I think I was to think that my reputation was more important than doing what was right and pleasing to God?

Luke 6: 31 says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (NIV) As God spoke to me, He told me that I should have gone into that room and treated those students how I wanted to be treated. He also reminded me of my past. What if He had really let my reputation precede me? What if He had not started fresh and forgiven me for my sins? Where would I have ended up? Ladies, it scared me to even think about how it would have been if the Lord treated me how I treated those students based on my reputation. All I could say was, “Thank You Lord for Your saving and forgiving grace!”

I had to apologize for my actions to those students and start fresh on the first day of the new school year. Instead of treating them based on their reputation, I thought about Paul and how God created him new and he became one of the most profound writers in the Bible of all times. The first day of school was a new beginning for me and the students and it was wonderful! 1 Corinthians 4:1 says “This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.” (NIV) I realized I don’t want any reputation unless it’s as a servant of God. I don’t want to be known as anything but a woman after God’s own heart. “Lord, let THAT reputation precede itself!”

Dear Daddy,

Thank You God for keeping me and protecting me when I have strayed away from Your will for my own reputation. I thank You for forgiving me when I thought I had to portray a certain image and it wasn’t mirroring You. I thank You that I am learning that if the reputation that I have is one that is not in Your will or pleasing to You, then I don’t need it. Thank You for teaching me to treat people how I want to be treated and not based on their reputation. Thank You Daddy for not letting my reputation determine Your will for my life! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to not worry about what your reputation used to be. Today and everyday take a look at your life and see if you are living up to what God wants you to be. I EMPOWER you to not treat others badly or in ways that are not pleasing to God because of who they used to be. Since we all are works in progress,  I EMPOWER you to read your Bible, pray and ask God to give you a reputation that is pleasing to Him!

Mrs. Keviyona Ray is an ordained minister and co-pastor in training of The Christ For All People International Church. She is passionate about sharing the word of God with everyone she encounters. As a professional, Keviyona is a teacher for Chicago Public Schools. She loves her ministry of teaching and changing children’s lives. She is a devoted wife and mother of a wonderful daughter. Two of her favorite scriptures are Jeremiah 1: 5 – Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations and Proverbs 29:18 –  Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.