SERMON: Thirst Trap: Searching for a Feeling

Many of us are searching for something, but we keep coming up empty. We may be searching for validation but yet we remain unvalidated. We may be searching for someone to love us, but yet we keep ending up unloved. Pastor Michael Todd preached a sermon called “Thirst Trap: Searching for a Feeling” that addresses how to receive the things that we’ve been searching for and asks you to dig deep to answer the two questions 1) What are you searching for? and 2) Where do you go to find fulfillment?

Peace vs. Piece of Mind

We will never experience peace of mind until we take back every piece of our mind.” – Bianca Baymon, Founder/Senior Editor of Silhöuette Magazine

What if I told you that your thoughts were not your thoughts? What if I told you that everything that you think about yourself and about the world was once an external idea that entered into your mind and became an internal thought?

The biological structure of every human being is composed of entrance-only or exit-only gates. Your eyes and ears are gates that only allow ideas and beliefs to enter, which is why you have to be careful what you see and hear. Your mouth is a gate that only allows ideas and beliefs to exit, which is why you have to be careful what you say. Every single thing that you see and hear becomes what you think and eventually what you speak…unless you have a filtering system on the powerhouse we call “the mind.”

There are two minds. One is the subconscious mind and the other is the conscious mind. The subconscious mind is more powerful than the conscious mind because ideas and beliefs can enter without your active consent. When listening to a song, scrolling on social media, and watching a television show, most people are operating in their subconscious mind. Rarely does someone take the time to realize that every scene in the television show, every post they scroll past, and every line in that song is downloading itself into the mind. The biggest winner of that scenario is the marketing industry.

Marketers utilize tactics that take advantage of the natural vulnerability of the subconscious mind. The most successful companies are not the ones that have the best business plan or even the companies that have the best products. The most successful companies are the ones that are highly effective at creating a desire for a product or service in the subconscious mind of as many consumers as possible.

Take a moment and reflect. How many things do you need that were not always needs? Nobody knew they needed an iPhone until Apple’s marketing department convinced the majority of the world that they did. They were effective at creating a desire in the mind of many consumers and now they are one of the world’s most successful companies. They mastered the art of influencing the subconscious mind like many other companies, which is proof that the many forces we encounter every day are battling to enter our minds when our guards are down and our conscious minds have taken a backseat.

We can no longer allow external forces to affect our internal thoughts, beliefs, and desires. It is our turn to become masters of our own mind if we want peace of mind.

We will never experience peace of mind until we take back every piece of our mind that we’ve allowed social media, television shows, music, conversations, and societal structures to steal. We have to become more aware of the things, words, and people that we expose our minds to.

Don’t allow the subconscious mind to drive the direction of your thoughts and beliefs. Get in the driver’s seat and direct your thoughts. Direct your desires. Direct your beliefs. Direct your life! The moment you get out of bed every morning, you step into a mental battle. Are you prepared to fight?

7-DAY MENTAL AWARENESS CHALLENGE: Before you open your social media apps, play your favorite album, or watch your weekly television shows, I challenge you to check with your mind and your heart. Ask your mind and heart what condition it is in. If it isn’t at its optimal level of strength, then I challenge you to find something positive to expose your mind to. Protect your mind like your life depends on it…because it does.

The Inflation Rate of Silence

The longer you are silent about your experiences, the more you are costing your future. Give your experiences a voice and forfeit the cost of your silence.

“What happens in the house, stays in the house.” We may have moved out of our parents’ house, but many of us have subconsciously U-Hauled those same words we were told during our childhood throughout the rest of our lives. A lot of us have been carrying those words so long that we don’t even notice how it has infiltrated every area in our lives. “What happens in my heart, stays in my heart. What happened in my finances, stays in my finances. What happened to me as a child, stays in my childhood home”.

We’ve been raised to believe that we should only speak on thoughts and experiences that paint the façade of us having it all together and a picture-perfect life. I noticed at the age of 13, shortly after my parent’s divorce, that I had been using the same paintbrush to paint my picture. It wasn’t until almost 10 years later, that I chose to put my paintbrush down and pick up the voice that I lost along the way.

When I say ‘voice’, I’m not only talking about refusing to be silent about the circumstances of your life. I’m also talking about refusing to deny your feelings a voice and to tear down the perfect picture that you thought you had to maintain.

Some of us have even been guilty of attempting to turn the volume high enough on our accomplishments and social media pages in hopes that nobody notices the pain behind our pictures. What many people have failed to notice is that silence has a sound that is louder than anything you may attempt to overpower it with.

When you choose to give your life a voice, you choose freedom. The very thing that you are hiding in your silence could be the avenue to your breakthrough. God isn’t going to allow you to continue into your destiny with a muted view of life, so he needs you to find the strength to find your voice in the midst of the silence you’ve been so accustomed to.

The longer you are silent about your experiences, the more you are costing your future. In economics, inflation is defined as the rate at which the price level is rising. That means that as the inflation rate increases, the purchasing power of your currency is falling. The same dollar that bought you a gallon of milk last year, may only be able to buy you a pint next year. As the price level of something increases, it costs you more for the same amount of money and you’ll receive less in return the longer you hold off.

That is what your silence is doing to your destiny. It is costing you more and more each day. The longer you remain silent, the less valuable your voice will be when you find the courage to speak.

Your silence is an expensive price to pay. What is the price of your silence? Have you lost the ability to communicate in your relationships because you’ve held on to your silence for so long? Have you missed out on opportunities because you were scared to voice your desires? What is it costing you? How much are you willing to pay?

Love is Not a Race: The Speed of Relationships

Everybody knows at least one girl with an extremely negative and pessimistic view on men and relationships. She thinks that all men are dogs because she’s been cheated on by every man that promised to be faithful. She believes that men only want to have sex because she’s been left by every man who got tired of waiting until she was ready to take it to the next level. She also knows that all men will leave, because all of the men she was dating dropped her like a bad habit and a lot of the time it was without giving an explanation. I used to know that girl very well. Matter of fact, I used to be that girl.

After being hurt and used a countless number of times, I was pretty much over the whole concept of relationships. I started to believe that maybe other people were created to be in great relationships, but maybe I was made different because it never worked out in my favor. From the guy who asked me to be the Godmother of his child with another woman while we were dating, to the guy who disappeared in the middle of our relationship after he had planned a couple’s getaway. Those experiences built my belief that maybe I was meant to be what the Twittersphere calls “#ForeverAlone,” because I couldn’t manage to find love as quickly and successfully as other people on my timeline.

I was frustrated with myself because I couldn’t understand why my love life was ending up like a rollercoaster ride. I felt like I was losing in love because I wanted things to change in my life, but I still had yet to start consulting God before involving myself in relationships. Also, I still didn’t stop asking God to bless relationships that he didn’t ordain in the first place. If I wanted things to change, I had to change the rushed view that I had on relationships so that I would make better choices in men.

I wanted the perfect man to show up and date me as quick as it looked like it was happening for others and I was getting exactly what I asked for…quick relationships. I was asking for a “McDonald’s” experience with the quality of a 5-Star establishment. McDonald’s is a fast food restaurant, which means that they can only put food on the menu that can be cooked in a matter of minutes.

Since most meals take longer than two or three minutes to make, they have resorted to adding chemicals to normal food like burgers and fries in order to speed up production and maintain appearance. For example, the bun of a McDonald’s burger has a plethora of dangerous chemicals including one chemical that is also used to make fireworks, which is dangerous to your body. And the French fries contain 19 ingredients, instead of just potatoes, oil, and salt. So, in reality, what looks and tastes like a regular burger and fries to you, is really just a build-up of chemicals stuffed in a white paper bag with fancy ketchup.

That is exactly the type of man that I was dating. He appeared to be a great man that was creating the relationship I desired very quickly, which I thought was amazing. But behind the appearance were a lot of harmful chemicals, red flags, and character flaws that I either subconsciously overlooked or just could not see until I took off the blinders and fully digested the type of man I had allowed myself to become involved with. That is when I learned that most men that are keen on getting into a relationship quickly after meeting me were hiding something that they didn’t want to give me the time to see. They feared if we took it at a normal pace then they would be exposed and I would leave, but if I discovered these flaws after committing to them then I would be more willing to stay.

I had to open up my Bible to see what God had to say about love and relationships, and it was in that moment that I realized that there was no way I could be losing because love isn’t a race. Love isn’t about who can get married the quickest and get the most likes on their wedding album on Facebook. Love isn’t about who can be posted the most as #WCW (Woman Crush Wednesday) on Instagram. Love isn’t even about how quickly can we move from being single to a committed relationship.

Love is about building a house. Nobody goes out and brags that their 4,000 square foot house was built in 3 days. Think about the responses and side stares you’ll get if you went out and told people that. They would automatically question things like the foundation of the house, the walls ability to withstand any natural disasters that may occur in the future, if the doors are in the right spot, and they would even question the builder of the house. Psalm 127:1 says “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”

When the Lord is building your relationship in the same manner that he builds a house, you will notice that it may take some time. He has to remove you from your pain and heal the wounds of your past relationships in order for him to bring you into your present and future blessing. Love is not a race. Let God set the pace.

 

Wait for This Type of Man

Wait for the man that pursues you endlessly. The man who will respond to your texts in a reasonable amount of time. The man who won’t ghost you with no formal goodbye. The man who will FaceTime you just because he misses your face and calls you because he misses your voice. The man who makes time for you each and every day because you are a priority in his world. The man who thinks you are the most beautiful woman walking the planet and you often catch him staring just because you are too captivating for him to look away. The man who never makes you second guess how he feels about you and will commit to you with no hesitation because he doesn’t want to risk losing you in his life. Wait for that man!

When you’ve had many hot and cold relationships, it can become tempting to settle for a lukewarm kind of love. Please don’t settle for less than what you desire! The love you want is out there, you just have to believe it. And yes, you may have to wait a little longer than you expected for it to show up, but trust me it will show up.  When the man you’ve always dreamed about does finally show up in your reality, everything you’ve had to go through to get to him will be worth it. Every time someone told you they loved you but treated you like they hated you will be worth it. Every time someone said they would never leave your side, but left your side without a formal goodbye will be worth it. Every time you got rejected when you were only looking for acceptance will be worth it. When you meet the man who makes you feel at peace with how he loves you, it will all be worth it.

Just don’t give up! Don’t give up on the love that you desire just because it hasn’t shown up yet. Don’t allow the hurt people that have hurt you to make your heart turn cold. And please…don’t allow the people that have rejected you to make you believe that no one will ever accept you because that is a lie. You want to know how I know that is a lie? Because you, my dear, are amazing! You are beautiful! You are everything the right man will desire and everything that the wrong man won’t be able to see because he is not meant to see it.

Promise me you will wait. Promise me that you will wait for the man that pursues you endlessly. Promise me that you will wait for the man who will respond to your texts in a reasonable amount of time. Promise me that you will wait for the man who won’t ghost you with no formal goodbye. The man who will FaceTime you just because he misses your face and calls you because he misses your voice. The man who makes time for you each and every day because you are a priority in his world. The man who thinks you are the most beautiful woman walking the planet and you often catch him staring just because you are too captivating for him to look away. The man who never makes you second guess how he feels about you and will commit to you with no hesitation because he doesn’t want to risk losing you in his life. Promise me that you will wait for THAT man because he is waiting on you!

The Necessary Ignorance in Love

In a society that prides itself on knowledge, being ignorant is a negative thing. No one wants to admit that they are unaware concerning anything, so we’ve adopted this mentality that it is acceptable to “fake it until you make it”. This mindset may work in your career, but this mindset is destructive in relationships.

The majority of people walk into a relationship with preconceived notions that they either developed from past relationships or from observance throughout life that they place upon their significant other. When you walk into a relationship with preconceived notions, you never allow the other person the opportunity to show you who they truly are.

You have to learn how to love the one that you are with. Love may not be a course that you can sign up for at your local college, but it is something you must enroll in to gain the knowledge of how to love properly if you are in any sort of relationship.

Assuming you already know how to love somebody is essentially claiming that you’ve become the master of someone that you’ve never served. The key to loving someone effectively is being ignorant during the process of learning how to love them and then by committing to always remaining a servant in expressing that love.

For example, I receive love in the simple and thoughtful things that someone I’m with will do for me. On the opposite end, most men are used to women that receive love in extravagant monetary gestures. I’ve had men that assumed that I require those same acts, but I would’ve actually been overjoyed with a surprise picnic in the park. That is because they brought the identities of their past girlfriends and preconceived notions and then placed them upon me. They were not willing to be ignorant in the process of learning to love me and therefore I was at the receiving end of an ineffective love. They were attempting to serve me a love on a platter filled with things I couldn’t digest.

Those experiences are what made me realize how important it is to enter every relationship with an ignorance that only your partner’s knowledge can inform. It is important to find out how someone receives love and what makes them feel loved in order to sustain a healthy relationship. After you’ve been informed on how to love the one you are with, you have to be willing to commit yourself to serve their needs of love on a consistent basis. If their needs of love are words of affirmation, then you must be willing to affirm them every single day. Don’t let the one you love experience a day without feeling loved. Relationships are work and you should only enter one when you are ready to consistently serve the other person’s needs of love because it is selfish not to do so.

That is why I believe that love is a choice. It is a choice to seek knowledge concerning the receptors of your partner’s heart and it is a choice to serve the needs of their love throughout each day.

 

 

Make Decisions for Yourself

I’ve always been a free-thinker, not easily influenced by the opinions of others, but always open to hearing the wisdom of those around me. I never noticed that it was rare until I started analyzing the effects of social media on my generation. Every decision that we make should not include the question, “What will (fill in the blank) think?” When you make decisions for other people, you sacrifice the happiness you could have had for yourself. You sacrifice potential opportunities. You even sacrifice yourself.

Today, I challenge you to stop making decisions for the validation of other people. When you go to bed tonight and your head hits your pillow, you have to be okay with every decision you made that day…not me…not your family…not your friends. Make decisions for yourself, not the validation of other people.

Mustard Seeds & Mountains

“Faith of a mustard seed can move mountains and when the mountains don’t move, God will give you the strength if you have the faith to climb it.”

The Bible says that with the faith of a mustard seed you can move mountains. Initially, that verse led me to believe that if I was facing mountains that weren’t moving then that must mean that my faith was lacking. But for some reason, I couldn’t receive that message. I couldn’t receive the message that my faith was lacking, because it was in the face of the steadfast mountains that my faith had enlarged. During my vacation last week, God made me realize the reason why I couldn’t receive the message of my initial conclusion. It was because the steadfast mountains were not indicative of my level of faith. It was only an indicator that I had a choice to make. Rise or fall.

I hiked near the top of Mount Rainier, one of the nation’s highest mountains, which was a challenge I was ready to meet. When I got out of the car to begin my hike, the challenge heightened as I realized I was about to hike a mountain covered in snow with neon pink Nike’s because the shack to get snow boots was closed that day. I looked around and saw other hikers pull out snow boots they had in their trunk and it was clear that they had all of the necessary tools to hike this mountain but I had nothing but faith and my Nike’s. Later I found out that was all I needed.

I’ve never been the person to let circumstances stop me, so I took a few deep breaths and began my hike. The beginning was the hardest because it began with a very high-inclined slope. The slope was so steep that I would take one step forward and slide two steps back because of the unsuitableness of my shoes. I had to realize that the mountain was not going to move for me, the mountain wasn’t going to magically dry up from the snow in order to adapt to my un-adapted shoes, and the mountain wasn’t going to decrease the magnitude of its steepness to make it easier for me to climb. Although I was not in control of the challenging aspects of this mountain, I also couldn’t let its challenging aspects control me. So, after sliding back so many times I had to make a choice to either try a different method or settle for not climbing this mountain which wasn’t an option for my over-ambition. So, I dropped to my knees and decided to crawl up this initial steep slope until I reached a point where I could walk. Was it my first choice? No. Was it the most glamorous sight to be a grown woman crawling through the snow like a child at Winter Wonderland? No. Did it get me up the slopes? YES! And that was all that mattered to me.

No matter how you have to climb the mountain you’re facing in your life, just make sure you grab your faith at the bottom and make your way to the top. If you got off to a disadvantaged start…climb it disadvantageous. If you’re insecure in your ability…climb it insecure. If you’re tired…climb it tired. The reason why I encourage you to climb regardless of the negative feelings is because as you climb higher you will notice that the heaviness of those feelings is causing a strain in your ability to reach the top. You will make the choice to either fall back to where you started or remove the disadvantageous feelings, the insecurities, and the tiredness but keep the faith because the faith of a mustard seed is a lighter load to carry. All I needed was my faith and Nike’s to climb Mount Rainier and all you need is your faith and your works to climb any mountain in your life.