There’s Something to be Said

Today, at 7:44 AM, I turned 30 years old.

I recently discussed the significance and meaning behind the number 30, so there’s no need to go into that any further. Today, just for a moment, I’ll reflect back on the last decade of my life.

In the last ten years, I’ve been and become so many things. In retrospect, I feel like I was more bad than good. From age 20 until 26, my life was riddled with so much self-imposed mess. I contemplated suicide, loved men I had no business loving, gave my body away to people who were undeserving. I searched to fill age-old voids in people, places, and things that were toxic and hurtful and downright excessive. I served a short stint as someone’s mistress and an even shorter stint in jail.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the photo to prove it.  (When I’m famous, TMZ won’t have anything on me. You got it here first. I swear the people who take your picture in jail intentionally tussles your hair to make you look insane.)

Loving the wrong person (and not loving myself enough) got me in jail. It took me 9 months to beat those charges (they were eventually dropped), something I could have never done without my family and God. I’ll tell that entire story another day, though. (New York Times Best Sellers book, maybe?)

I remember being six months pregnant (I think I was 22 years old) and being chased out my apartment by a knife wielding lover. I was in my night gown. Neighbors heard the ruckus and called the cops. By the time they arrived, I was back in the apartment accepting profuse apologies. The cop never knocked on the door and I wasn’t brave enough to run out to him to be rescued. These were the moments of my twenties.

Most people would have never known these things happened unless they read the book I wrote in 2010, Pieces: Finding the Missing Piece is Easier than You Think. I was 27 years old. It was the first time in my life I felt okay with being freakishly transparent. I spent so many years hiding my flaws and idiosyncrasies that writing that book and being transparent was one of the most  liberating, freeing, and probably one of the most impactful things I’d done so far in my life.

And I became addicted to it.

I promised God that every time I had an opportunity to write, I’d let two things happen: say whatever He wanted to say and be brave enough to let my dirt show. Although I agreed to this, I asked, “Why do I have to be so transparent? Why do I have to let everyone know my ‘business’?” He gently replied, “The uncovering of “dirt” isn’t for you, it’s for them. People are looking, searching for transparency. I’ll give you the ability and courage to be it.”

As I got closer to ending my twenties, proverbial light bulbs began to go off; I started to actually walk the talk, dig into why I was put on this earth, and focus my energy into people, places, and things that were in line with that purpose. If you follow me on Twitter or if we’re friends on Facebook, you know what the last couple of years have looked like for me. God’s grace and favor has shown itself in ways unimaginable.

Now that I’m 30 years old, the year of “the right moment” and “dedication”, I’m thankful for every moment in my twenties, good and bad. I’m thankful for the growth, the hurt, the joys, the successes, and epic failures. I’m thankful for a patient family and a gracious God. Lord knows I don’t deserve either.

Today is the first day of the best decade of my life… so far.

Thank you for being apart of it, near or far, intentionally or by accident, by divine appointment or random occurrence.

Thank you.

On the Chase,

Alisha L.

Re-gifting the Gift

Re-gifting. We’ve all done it and, unbeknownst to us, have had it done to us. I’ve gone to Christmas parties where the gift exchange was a re-gifting extravaganza. People brought things from their house that they hated, wrapped it up, and gave it as a present to someone else. One time, I left with a box set of Ronald Regan’s greatest movie hits.

Best parties ever.

Anyway, re-gifting, as we know means to give (a gift one has received) to someone else. When we give a gift to someone, we don’t expect anything in return, nor is that person obligated to do anything for us. We just give it. They’re happy. We hug. The end. Kind of like salvation and grace; they’re free gifts. You don’t have to give anything in return to receive them. Just receive it.

However, when God gives us a gift, things are a bit different. In this instance, I’m talking about a talent, skill, special something that we do well that can be used in some way to bring joy, happiness, revelation, truth, etc. to others. When He gives us a gift, He expects for us to do something with it, give it back to Him to use for His glory. That is His expectation.

As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited (or undeserved) favor]. — 1 Peter 4:10

You hear many people say, ” [Insert singer, rapper, politician here] should sing gospel/be a motivational speaker/preach the gospel. They have such a gift for it!” Many times we say “This person should use their gifts for good, not the degradation of millions with raunchy lyrics or harmful rhetoric. I’ve always wondered why some people have such amazing talents (celebrity or your average person) and do nothing with them.

Romans 11:29 says, “For God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn.” (NLT) This means, that every gift God gave us before the formation of the earth, will always be there:  God won’t renege on the gift simply because they’re being used to pervert and destroy. As free moral agents, we just have to decide whether or not to use it for His Glory or not.

So what does it mean for those of us who have a talent or gift that we know  is given by God? Your uncanny ability to listen or take many different concepts and make it into a workable marketing plan. Or your bring-the-house-down singing style or keen eye for detail on the design floor: all of us have a talent, a gift that God gave to us and we are to never hold back, be stingy, or reserve that gift for only moments that we can be glorified, financially or socially.

I remember at the top of this year, after writing for different publications for over a decade (I mean, I’m talking AllHipHop.com, BREAK Magazine, Honey Magazine, Upscale Magazine, Rolling Out, Atlanta Tastemaker Magazine, The Nina Simone Foundation, Hello Beautiful, Spelman Spotlight, The Maroon Tiger, chile the list goes on) I no longer wanted to use my gift  of writing to talk about things that didn’t glorify God. No, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of the articles I wrote about fashion, music, lipstick, shoes, people, celebrity relationships and the like, but I made up in my mind that if what I was writing wasn’t bringing people closer to Christ, I wanted no parts of it.

I wanted to shift my power (the pen) to push people to learn how to live a life for Christ successfully and be a cool kid while doing it. So far, so good.

You may say, “Well, I’m an artist/fashion designer/carpenter/musician/business owner/dancer/teacher… how can I honor God with my gift?”

Easy peasy, mac ‘n cheesy. Check out Romans 12:6-8:

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Now check out the commentary the New Living Translation bible says about Romans 12:6-8: (took a picture of it; too much to type!)

We are to not only honor God with our gifts but do whatever it is (our portion) with excellence! It is in this that we best serve God’s people and show the love of God in our respective professions.

So the next time you hear the word “re-gifting”, think about the gifts you have and find new ways to “gift” them back to God and His people — we have a responsibility to do so!

On the Chase,

Alisha L.