Self-Sabotage and the Single Girl

Readers,

I have a confession to make. I self-sabotage all the time. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, I’ll find a way to make it harder for myself. Jobs, boyfriends, friends, it doesn’t matter! I self-sabotage.

This realization has come upon me recently and for a few weeks I wondered why I did this so constantly. It’s become almost second nature for me. Well, I think I have an idea why.

I grew up in an abusive home. My parents had a marriage void of love, respect, or shared purpose. My dad was not the best example of a father OR a husband. As a result, I’ve noticed ways I react to conflict or difficult situations that must have been learned in childhood. When there’s a conflict, I fight viciously for myself and cut ties. When it appears that someone is taking advantage of me, I remove all emotion from my words and treat that person in a professional way. When a job seems like it might be too hard for me, I quit the job or find reasons not to take it.

This was taught to me in my childhood. When my parents had a fight, divorce was threatened each time. My father would leave for the night, slamming the door and abandoning us. My mother would then go to the bank, taking out cash and teaching me how to “get what I need for myself.”

So much happened in my childhood that I’m slowly seeing how even my relationships with simple things like money or food have been distorted because I’ve never seen a healthy example of one.

What’s the point of all of this? I’m a runner. In difficult situations, I neither flee nor fight. I freeze.

But when people hurt me or appear to manipulate me, I fight with all I’ve got. It’s a positive thing that I’m a fighter. However I have to let my shield down a bit and put my sword back in its place.

Because sometimes, a person will show you that they would never treat you like how your dad used to. They aren’t that person from your past. And if they’re worth anything, they’ll stick around while you painfully and awkwardly discover that.

 

Be patient. Work out the lies you’ve believed and harmful habits from your childhood.

 

Let God heal them. Let God show you that there are people out there who will love you.

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

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Why I Almost Left Christianity

Wow. That title probably shocked all of my friends and relations. Catch your breath. You good? Ok. Leggo.

I’ve been a Christian since I was 8 years old. I began to actually know God personally when I was 15 and suffering from terrible depression and anxiety, much of it because of my father’s abuse and my subsequent feelings of inferiority. Through that desert, I clung to the promises of God revealed to us in Scripture. I prayed constantly and always filled my ears with worship music. I enveloped myself in all things God.

Since then, I’ve been on a roller coaster ride with God, in a completely positive way. We’ve experienced depression and anxiety, friendships lost, hearts broken, mission trips to India, and life as a young Christian in NYC. He’s walked with me every step of the way.

But, since our last presidential election, something inside me changed. No longer did I have sympathy for people like Donald Trump (racist, sexist, bigot, lost sinner), nor did I have any compassion for his supporters. To me, they were all trash. I hated them. In my mind, the least threatening were racists and the worst of them were Nazis. I began berating white people every chance I got. I thoroughly enjoyed this pasttime.

Then, as Donald Trump’s “presidency” progressed, and more and more acts of violence were enacted upon PoCs and LGBTQ people, I saw the church was silent. Actually, let me correct myself. The white evangelical church was silent. When Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were murdered by police officers last summer, the church was silent. Sure, a few people wrote a couple of articles online about police brutality and racism, but the church as a whole remained silent.

The real moment came for me when I saw how white Evangelicals were so quick to defend Donald Trump (not a Christian, by the way) for any little thing he did, whether that was bragging about grabbing a woman’s pussy (his word, not mine), or tweeting idiotic falsehoods. To many white Evangelicals, to be Christian means to be Republican. That’s laughable. I have a hunch that Jesus would side more with a Socialist movement than He would with a Republican one. That’s the Jesus I see in Scripture.

Now, the two main issues that white Evangelicals have made idols of are abortion and homosexuality. They’re so up in arms about abortion but lower their eyes when young black men and women are murdered on the street. They say nothing when Latinos are arrested like criminals and detained in carajo concentration camps! When Muslim women get their hijabs ripped off, they keep silent. Abortion and gay marriage. Abortion and gay marriage. Where did the church get the idea that THIS is what Christianity is about?

Christianity is the fact that Jesus Christ, Son of God, came to earth in the form of a human baby. He grew into a strong young man who never sinned and always loved. He showed us how to love. He taught us how to live. He demonstrated reconciliation and forgiveness. He took our sins upon Himself and died a criminal’s death on that tree, suffering humiliation and indescribable pain. He defeated both sin and death. Now we can stand righteous before God all because of Jesus’ sacrifice. It has NOTHING to do with us! It was all Jesus. It will always be Jesus.

Seeing my white Evangelical brothers and sisters defend a man like Donald Trump stirred up deep feelings of betrayal inside of me. I stopped going to church. I put away my Bible. I listened to whatever music I wanted.

 

Then God stepped in and brought me back. That’s a whole other story.

 

The point is, I have to agree with Gandhi when he said that he liked our Christ, but not our Christians. I don’t like many Christians in this hemisphere. But, I have to remind myself of a few things.

  1. We’re all human and therefore all sinners.
  2. Sanctification is a process.
  3. I follow Christ, not Christians.

 

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

Using Freedom as License to Sin

Hey dear readers,

Lord, so many things have happened lately around the world. My heart mourns for those in South Asia and Texas who are suffering the ramifications of devastating flooding.

 

This morning’s post is going to be about something entirely different. It’s more personal, more painful. You all know I’m a Christian and I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Brother, and Heavenly Husband. I love Him so much and I want to do the right thing, but here’s something I’ve learned about myself recently.

 

I struggle with legalism. Yes, I know we all tend to be a bit legalistic, but my legalism was pretty bad.

 

From ages 15-23, I operated under a legal system in relation to God. I would force myself to do “good things” because I wanted to be good. I wanted Abba to love me more. I wanted to be a perfect Christian. As a result of this thinking, I would come into the presence of God without any sense of freedom and hardly from the posture of a loved child. It was always fear. I always felt like I was coming up short.

 

Lately, God has completely broken that. It honestly feels as if I’m getting to know God for the first time! I love it and am so grateful that He broke my legalism down. I remember the night He did this. It was two Sundays ago and I read Romans chapter 4 before bedtime. I can only explain what happened next as the Holy Spirit overcoming me, but all of a sudden I began weeping, sobbing, crying, llorando like never before. Suddenly I realized how much God loves me. Me! How He gave Christ for us and it is through faith alone in CHRIST’S work on the cross that we have forgiveness of sins and freedom. Now we can call Him, Abba Father!

 

Before this revelation, I went a bit wild for a few weeks. I’m not ashamed to admit it, because it was necessary for God to show me how a wild lifestyle was not the answer. I drank too much, watched inappropriate things on my computer, and considered having sex with an almost 40-year old man who certainly doesn’t love God. I literally considered it. It wasn’t just a passing thought. I was mere steps away from planning a tryst with this man.

I did this all in the name of freedom. Oh, since Christ loves us and saves us, we can have fun now, right? It doesn’t matter what we do because it’s all about Christ. Right?

 

Nope.

 

I got so low because of my behavior that Christ ushered in that Sunday night, loved me with his presence, and brought me to my knees before Him. Day by day, He is teaching me what it looks like to have a love relationship with Him, not a relationship built on fear.

 

Readers, our freedom isn’t license to sin. But, sometimes, we get so off track that God Himself has to snatch us up from ourselves and teach us what true freedom looks like. I don’t have the answer for that, but I’m excited to learn more about my Abba. My loving, patient, forgiving Abba. ❤

I Am Biracial (¡Guau! ¡No Me Digas!)

I am biracial.
Two races.
Two groups of people claim me as their own, or maybe they actually reject me.
I try to squeeze into the boxes you’ve placed in front of me, but somehow I can’t fit in.

Maybe it’s my hair that coils and springs freely.
My hair that moves wildly like an ocean wave crashing upon a Puerto Rican beach.
“Oh, girl you’re such a fiery Latina!”

Or perhaps it’s my skin color,
That mezcla of brown, yellow, and white.
“Your skin is so light, if you straighten your hair, you could pass.”
For white.
So you’re a Nazi.

I’m sorry, but I didn’t know this was a test. And what’s a passing score? White?

If so, I guess I’ve failed, because I got 50%.

And if this is a test, I was doomed to fail from the start.

Starting to think about my ethnicity the more you play games with it.

“What are you?”

What am I? A beloved daughter of the King.

You toy with my identity like we’re on the playground but half of me is on the wall waiting to be picked.

Which half? Depends on who YOU are.

People of color love to reaffirm my Puerto Rican “sassy” flavor.

And Caucasians are thrilled when they hear me speak. You see, I’ve been told I “speak well.” Speak well for what?

What do you think this is? Is my identity something malleable that you can stretch and stretch to fit your preconceived notions of what you think I should be?

Because I want to know when my ethnic identity became in any way related to our dependent upon you.

You need to know that I decide how I express my cultures. I choose which to identify with.

But you know, maybe I identify with both! That’s something we both know is unsettling to the idea of me in your head.

But, thankfully, even if I claim both cultures equally, shocking I know, you can still choose how you see me.

Because I am biracial.
Two races.
Two groups of people claim me as their own, or maybe they actually reject me.
I try to squeeze into the boxes you’ve placed in front of me
But somehow I can’t fit in.

And I don’t want to anymore.

Who Is Kajol?

She was smokey; that’s how she felt to me. A young teen she was, but she reflected something mysterious and unspoken when we met. A nose ring glittered against her cinnamon skin, which contrasted beautifully against her yellow salwar kameez. In the children’s park, she led me by the hand to her favorite spots: the statue of the elephant, the bushes of white flowers, and the clusters of dandelions. An hour passed like mere moments as we made wishes, watching the fluffy white stuff fly freely off the dandelion stems. Like children we swung from the swings, daring each other to go higher and higher. Fuchka was our afternoon snack and we laughed while popping those puris in our mouths.

While walking her back to her home in a local slum, still holding my hand, she suddenly looked up into my eyes and declared, “My name is Kajol.”

Knowing that her mother tongue was Hindi, I responded with, “Tera naam Kajol hai?”

She smiled and nodded.

I continued, “Oh! Well, mera naam Gabby hai!”

She laughed and introduced me to Barsha, the four-year old princess who claimed ownership of my other hand. Barsha had that adorable and common young Indian girl look: short, mushroom-like hair and a beautiful little dress. When I dropped these two princesses at home, knowing that the peaceful time we had just spent was rare for them, I left knowing that my life had just become altered in a way I never could have foreseen.

 

 

 

This is a snippet of this young lady who has taught me more about joy and resilience than anyone else I’ve known.

 

Gabrielle G.

Let Freedom Ring?

This is my first “Independence Day” in the US in about two years. In 2015 and 2016, I was blissfully traveling in India, where the 4th of July was just another day to everyone around me. I wasn’t asked about it and I liked it that way.

I suppose that it’s important to mention that lately I’ve found my patriotism to be difficult to maintain considering how our country is rapidly burning. Well, it was always on fire but most of us weren’t aware just how hot the fire could be until the 2016 election showed us the hateful face of America.

America has given me incredible privileges. The fact that I’m free to start a blog, that I am literate, and that I even have the free time to engage in this form of expression is a privilege. I’m aware that my Cum Laude BA, my middle class parents, mid-tone skin color, and citizenship are massive privileges.

But, my anger with this country is not because I lack comforts or rights in any way. It’s not about me; it’s about my brother and sister. It’s difficult for me to trust the police when I see my black brothers and sisters shot like animals on the street. It’s difficult for me to embrace my Caucasian brother- or sister-in-Christ when I see many professing Christians ripping off women’s hijabs or chanting “Build the wall!”

It’s easy for me to look at the state of the American Church now and shake my head, beat my chest, and tear my clothes in distress. However, what I’m coming to realize and understand is that our church history was always this way. We Christians have owned slaves and justified it; it’s being justified in churches today as well. We have decided that women should have no voice in the church and it’s still difficult for women to stand behind a pulpit and speak about what God has done in them and through them. We have told people that their language is not fit for church, their dancing is too charismatic, and their Bible must be the KJV. We’ve made idols of abortion and homosexuality, forgetting that if we’re pro-life, we’re pro-every life, not just unborn. And when homosexuality is mentioned in the New Testament, it’s typically in a group of other sins, which tells us that neither Jesus nor Paul overly emphasized homosexuality (in fact, Jesus never mentioned it).

How do we not see that these racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and xenophobic traditions permeate our church buildings and manifest in the hatred we read about in the news?

Today in my Georgian church (state, not country), the theme for the service was “God Bless America.” “Oh boy. Here we go”, I thought, as I walked past hundreds of people donning American flag-themed clothing and hats. Huge American flags decorated every part of the sanctuary. “Oh no.” I sat through most of the strong patriotic expressions with mild discomfort, but when it came time to worship The Lord, I found the music choices a little pale.

The worship minister quoted several “founding fathers” of our faith (in the US, at least), and brushed aside those aforementioned fathers’ affinity for slavery and misogyny. The hymns chosen were beautiful and they deeply touched my heart, but after the service I was left with uncomfortable feelings. Why was only white Christianity celebrated and revered? Were not the African slaves actually masters of painful, glorious, heart-wrenching spirituals that praised the Everlasting God? Where were those in the service? Was their Christianity inferior? Or maybe no one wanted to talk about that part of the Church’s past.

The pastor spoke of returning to the way things were in the Church, but I don’t want to do that! Jesus doesn’t want us to, either, if I may be so bold. We have our “founding fathers” before us as examples of men who pursued God, but let color, gender, culture and economics/politics keep them from truly living out the Gospel. Thanks, guys. But, now, we know better. Well, we’re supposed to know better. We must desire to do a better job of representing Christ and His Church (Us) on this earth.

As Christians, we must:

  1. Make God our ultimate authority
  2. Rely on Scripture and NOT Church tradition (traditions are fine, but not when they hinder growth or reconciliation)
  3. Pursue racial, linguistic, cultural, etc. reconciliation with all people
  4. Include others in our worship services.

Remember, the Church began in the Middle East, not the USA.

 

Here’s a great video where Michelle Higgins, a Christian social justice activist, explores this topic in depth:

 

Happy Independence Day.

 

 

Gabrielle G.