My Three Days in Goa with an Israeli Man

I know that this title makes this post sound like it’s going to be full of juicy, rambunctious rendezvous with an Israeli man in Goa, but not quite. Sorry to disappoint.

God brought this Israeli man into my life at such a time as was necessary to help me grow and come to terms with who I am and what I’ve suffered from in my life. How we met was what anyone would call “pure chance”, but I know that nothing is a coincidence. I suppose I should preface this by saying that I’ve always been passionate about the Jewish people and the Jewish roots of Christianity fascinate me. I wear a cross and a Star of David together around my neck, a piece of jewelry which has always begun interesting conversations.

 

So, this man. We met at a restaurant/guesthouse called “Wellness Inn” in Goa. I had just finished breakfast and was about to head out to the beach or to town, when a thin, tan, blonde man with the tiniest swim trunks ever sat down across from me.

 

“Can I sit here?”

 

“Sure.”

 

We began talking and I learned that he was from Israel and that he came to Goa to learn Ayurvedic massage from some of the best teachers. Just as we began chitchatting more, another man showed up. (Ha! You thought I was into the borderline naked guy.) This man was tall, slender, with long dark, curly hair pulled back into a little ponytail. As he slipped off his shoes before entering the restaurant, I acknowledged him with a polite smile. He smiled back and glanced up at me twice before sitting away from me and my new breakfast companion. We asked him to come join us and we learned that he was also from Israel and was in Goa simply as a tourist. But, he also knew how to give massage therapy.

 

He and I began chatting like one does when one first meets a person. We covered all the basics of our respective countries and what we think about them, our respective ages (he is 31 and I’m 24), what I think about his English, etc. The other Israeli guy invited us to come to the beach with him, but the sun had just begun sitting high overhead and I had no intention of suffering from heat stroke. Instead, while the blonde Israeli man went to pay his bill, the dark-haired Israeli man and I talked more and made plans to walk to this market about twenty minutes away. I immediately felt comfortable with him and I could see that he felt the same with me as well. We sat quite closely and leaned into each other as we spoke. At last we got up and left the restaurant and our other Israeli friend behind (sorry, dude.)

 

Over the next three days, we went to a market, the beach, a fruit stand, various shops, another beach (it was Goa, after all), and a restaurant for dinner. Every day he picked me up for our little excursions. I’d hear the little jingle of the bell and open the door to see him standing sheepishly to the side, fidgeting with whatever little thing he could find. Each time I’d open the door he’d say things like:

 

“Wow, you look like that when you’re just relaxing at home?”

 

“Wow, you look like this when you just wake up? How is that possible?”

 

“Wow, you’re wearing Indian clothes. You look great!”

 

He made me feel so beautiful. Everything he said about me, from my hair texture to my skin color was a compliment. He thought I was beautiful and had no fear expressing that, although he did so subtlely. Every day he glanced down at my neck and commented about how he loved seeing the cross and the Star of David together like that. He had never met anyone who was like me in that regard.

 

As we walked about the sandy Goan streets, he and I talked about everything. Honestly, we delved into deep topics quite quickly, which has hardly ever happened to me before. We talked about my depression and anxiety, his family history and the Holocaust, my dad’s abuse of my family, and his dislike of Israeli hypocrisy and Orthodox rules. Although I shared pretty heavy topics like that so early, he was still interested in me, which surprised me. When I’d tell him difficult things, he’d respond with something like, “Wow, that just shows me how incredibly emotionally strong you are.” That comment brought me to tears, internally of course, because of how much I needed to hear it. I haven’t thought of myself as emotionally strong for about a year now so to hear someone say that and see that inside of me was shocking. When I shared with him about my hypochondria, he helped me out by laughing with me about it. That actually helped, believe it or not. I said something like, “You know, sometimes I walk around afraid I’m going to drop dead of a heart attack. Isn’t that ridiculous?” He smiled and said, “That’s very funny. That’s great.” I felt free to go on: “Sometimes it’s a heart attack, other times it’s a brain tumor or a stroke. It depends on the day.” We laughed together about it and for the first time since dealing with hypochondria, I didn’t feel so alone. The whole thing didn’t feel so overwhelming.

We parted ways the next afternoon with a sweaty hug and a promise from him to come visit me elsewhere in India as soon as he was free.

He said he’s sure we’ll meet again. Even if we don’t, I’m grateful that my three days with this stranger were so restorative and affirming for me. I hope that my openness about the Jewishness of Christianity and my love for the Jewish people encourages him to investigate the claims of Christ.

 

Gabrielle G.

 

Advertisements

New Yorkers and Homelessness

How to be a typical New Yorker when a homeless person comes on the train:

1. Look away
2. Scoff at their personal story as they’re sharing it
3. Roll your eyes
4. Move away completely and act like they don’t exist
5. If you give something, give out of pity and give a dollar or your leftover food

I’ve seen this behavior from followers of Christ and non-believers alike. Followers of Christ, do not think you couldn’t be in their position in a MOMENT. Do not become so secure in your earthly possessions that you look down upon those who lack possessions. Do NOT forget that Christ had nowhere to lay His head and He repeatedly told us to give away our possessions and care for those in need. If you typically do any of the above things when you see a homeless person, check yourself.

 

I think this behavior is so rampant and so identified as a New York thing because we, as New Yorkers, have become so cynical. We see homelessness every day as we commute to our jobs or schools. I probably encounter 10-15 homeless people each day, whether that’s on the train or on the street. As I took an early bus yesterday to the LGA airport in NYC, a homeless woman came on the bus and asked for money. That was my first time seeing a homeless person on a NYC bus; I think it’s easier to get onto the trains.

New Yorkers have witnessed so much evil in human hearts: the 9/11 terror attack, the ways Wall Street has flaunted its wealth and taken advantage of people, and the segregation of people of color in our neighborhoods and schools. We’ve witnessed too much evil. Almost every day we hear about some type of terror attack or stabbing or shooting or rape or mugging or embezzlement and it just becomes exhausting.

So we disengage. We look away. We keep our money in our wallets, because we don’t believe the homeless person’s story. We are on high alert at all times, knowing that at any moment a person, homeless or not, could pull out a weapon and end our lives. A bomb could explode in the train station. So much could happen. Therefore we ignore each other, distrusting every person we see, especially the homeless.

Lord, redeem this. Ignite our hearts for the homeless. Help us take risks in the way we extend love to others. Even if we get duped while giving a dollar to someone who invents a false personal history, does it really matter? I believe the Lord looks at the heart of the giver. No matter, what we give, whether that’s money, food, a sympathizing glance, or encouraging words, we must give it all with joy and love.

“You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.'”  – II Corinthians 9:7

Find some practical ways that you can love your neighbor. Because that homeless person on the train or street is your neighbor. Be the hands and feet of Jesus. Behold, He is coming soon. Let’s be ready to meet our Lord and regale Him with tales of our devotion and action. Jesus is calling.

 

Blessings,
Gabrielle G.

Why I Reject Santeria as an Afro-Latina

As more Latinos claim their African ancestry as a point of pride and call themselves “Afro-Latinos”, I have begun to see a resurfacing of acceptance of Santeria and other types of Brujeria (witchcraft). This spirituality is typically practiced amongst women who call themselves “Santeras”, although men, “Santeros”, practice it as well. In their opinion, they are bringing healing and prosperity to themselves and others, by tapping into the strength of their ancestors and the gods of their people. For many Afro-Latinos, to claim Afrolatinidad means to embrace the religious and spiritual practices of our African ancestors. I am here to boldly claim that I do not accept any part of Santeria or any other religious/spiritual practice other than the way of Jesus Christ. I am not less Afro-Latina because I reject Santeria. Santeria is a dangerous practice that injures its followers’ minds, bodies, and most importantly, their souls.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Santeria, I’ll briefly explain what it is and what it means to its followers. You may use the beautiful resource that is Google to learn more if you’d like. Santeria, per Wikipedia, “is an Afro-American religion of Caribbean origin that developed in the Spanish Empire among West African descendants. Santería is a Spanish word that means the “worship of saints”. Santería is influenced by and syncretized with Roman Catholicism. Its sacred language, a variety of Yoruba, is the Lucumí language”. 

Essentially, when Africans were brought to the Caribbean islands as slaves, they were forced to become Roman Catholics, as the Spaniards were Catholic. These Africans absolutely did not want to give up their religious practices, as religion is a massively important part of any culture. Therefore, they worshipped their African gods in secret, masquerading them as Roman Catholic saints. As the Catholics prayed to the saints, and still do, the Africans managed to maintain their religious practices while pretending to be Catholic.

Santeria has deep roots in my Puerto Rican family. My mother told me this summer that her mother used to force her to pray to little statues and photos of gods and to give them sacrifices and offerings, like food, money, and perfume. Also, because my grandmother often saw my mother as “bad”, which meant precocious and opinionated, my mother experienced a cleansing of sorts. An ancient ritual, intending to rid her of evil spirits, was performed on her in the bathtub and it disturbed her. As a child, my mother questioned these practices and saw them as fruitless. To her, these statues and photos were just pictures of dead or fictional people who held no power over her life. This tradition of Santeria was passed down to my mother much like the Spanish language or the practice of eating rice and beans. It was and is simply in our culture to worship the gods.

Thankfully the Lord has had His hand intensely upon my mother throughout her entire life and as a young girl, she developed a deep faith in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Through her knowledge of Scripture and the Holy Spirit’s power, my mother became instrumental in leading her own mother to faith in Jesus Christ. My grandmother renounced all ties to Santeria. Since then, no one on my mother’s side has been connected to Santeria, to the best of my knowledge.

There is another person in my family who has practiced Santeria and has confessed to me that she saw spirits sometimes and that her daughter reported seeing spirits as well.  These spirits included an old woman and a young girl, who apparently pressed her face immediately against my family member’s when she appeared. Whenever she discussed these apparitions, she claimed that seeing spirits was “a gift.” I learned these things through her stories.

These are all personal anecdotes of how Santeria has harmed my family. You may be thinking, “Well, they just didn’t practice Santeria correctly. This doesn’t mean you have to reject it. Others can freely practice it without experiences like these.” You’re absolutely right. Every human being has a choice in what they believe and practice. God will not force Himself upon any individual; He is a gentleman. But, I hold the Bible to be the only true religious text and therefore must completely reject Santeria as a viable spiritual practice for myself and for anyone who is seeking to know the One True God.

Let’s take a look at the person of Jesus Christ. Historians agree that such a man named Jesus certainly existed. Whether or not He is the Lord, the Messiah, and the Son of God is the question. Many religious texts and practices agree that Jesus was a good teacher and some even go so far as to claim that He was a great prophet, but nothing more. What’s perplexing and should bring pause is that these religions feel they need to answer the Jesus question. Jesus is so singular that they cannot ignore His existence and ministry on Earth. His teachings are radical and confusing. Readers, you can reject Jesus as God, you can believe in Him as just a prophet, you can merely enjoy His teachings about helping the poor, but there is one thing you cannot do. You cannot ignore Jesus Christ as a person. If major world religions, such as Islam, have an answer for Jesus while still denying His deity, you must form an opinion about Him. Many people have said that Jesus is either Lord or an absolute nut/fraud.

Jesus Christ made some authoritative claims about Himself that have never been made by another person in history. Here’s one of them: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'” – John 14:6

Wait, what? Jesus claimed to be the only way to know God, and also was God Himself. Who else has made such an outrageous claim? Mohammed claimed to be a prophet but certainly did not claim to be the Messiah or God Himself. All religions claim to point to the way, such as through a specific diet or abstaining from things like music and sex, but no one else has claimed to be God. This is a claim that we must investigate and take seriously because if He is correct, then all human life hinges upon this claim.

So let’s say that Jesus is just crazy and/or a fraud. What do we do with His other teachings and behavior? Jesus was a 1st century Jewish Rabbi. In His culture, associating with women was forbidden and a Gentile woman was like a dog. Jesus made it a part of His ministry to specifically reach out to women, even Gentile women. Two examples of Jesus showing love to Gentile women are found in John 4 and Matthew 15. To Jewish women, Jesus saved one of them from being stoned in John 8 and allowed a sinful woman to anoint Him in Luke 7, much to the shock of all of the religious leaders around Him at the time. As far as His teachings about the poor go, one simply has to read Matthew 5 in its entirety to see a man committed to societal equity and loving those who are vulnerable.

We cannot believe that Jesus is crazy while also accepting His teachings and praising His kind and forgiving behavior. The two are absolutely mutually exclusive. So if Jesus is not crazy, then who is He? He must be Lord, because He claimed no other title.

I could write for hours about why I believe the Bible to be true and why Jesus is God, but that would turn into a book. Note to self: write a book before you die.

Jesus claimed to be the only way to God and I accept that claim as the truth. If I accept Jesus, then I also accept the Hebrew Scriptures He preached from and referenced. The Bible is full of warnings against witchcraft or spiritual practices that don’t center around Christ. God warns us that we are not safe with mediums (psychics) or witches. He tells us this quite forcefully in Leviticus: “Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.” (Lev. 19:31) and “I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people” (Lev. 20:6). Scripture clearly states that if a person is to know the One True God, the God of the Bible, they cannot have anything to do with witchcraft. It results in loss of relationship with God, which is what He wants with us. We cannot serve two masters. How can we claim to worship Jesus, who professed to be the only way to God, while also worshipping African deities? We must choose. I am not saying this. Jesus says this.

What will your choice be today? If you’ve been living life as a Santera or Santero and you want to talk more about Jesus or if you want to leave that life, please reach out to me! I’d love to talk about this more in depth and pray for you.

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

Rosalie Avila’s Suicide (My Story)

A few days ago, a young girl named Rosalie Avila committed suicide. She was 13 years old. According to news sources, she ended her life because of constant bullying from fellow students at her school. She documented each act of verbal violence every day in her journal. Two months before her death, she began cutting herself and was receiving therapy. In her suicide note, she apologized to her mother, knowing that she would find her dead in her room.

A young girl killed herself because other kids bullied her. I have so many questions and feelings.

  1. Why didn’t the school do more?
  2. Could the parents have done more?
  3. Why does this keep happening?

I’m left dumbstruck, gobsmacked, and disturbed. The older I get, the younger the kids are who kill themselves. When I was 13, the thought of suicide never entered my head. I don’t think I had ever thought about it, even as a concept. I had heard of ancient people who committed suicide, but I had never known someone who had committed this act of violence against themselves.

My initial thoughts on Rosalie Avila is that she did not know the ramifications of her final actions. She did not actually know what she was doing. Her mental state was not clear and she was not in control of herself. At 13 years old, her insular academic world was her entire world. She could not picture a world outside of her school. She was not able to imagine a positive future for herself apart from her situation as a bullied child.

Therefore, she took her life. Personally, I believe that she’s rejoicing with the Lord right now. As she was a child, I believe God didn’t hold her to the standard that He holds adults to. Her brain couldn’t comprehend her actions. Now, 13-year olds can definitely have a beautiful, holy, childlike grasp of the Gospel, but that’s another conversation.

Ultimately, my heart breaks for this young Latina. She had an incredible future ahead of her. God created each and every person with a specific purpose and plan. It was NOT God’s will for Rosalie Avila to kill herself at 13 years old. He knew it would happen, but He hoped the whole time that she wouldn’t do this. He created her to serve Him, enjoy the beautiful world that He created, and bring others to a loving knowledge of Himself. I wish this beautiful Latina grew up to become a freedom fighter, fighting alongside me and others as we push forward toward God’s kingdom.

 

 

Personally, I’ve dealt with suicidal thoughts three times in my life. At ages 15, 17, and 23, I was tortured with unwanted suicidal thoughts. These thoughts bombarded my mind and I couldn’t free myself from them. Rosalie’s story could’ve been my story.

It took constant fighting against these thoughts to become somewhat free. But, I quickly realized that I wasn’t fighting against myself. These thoughts weren’t coming from my own brain. If my brain produced these thoughts on its own, I would welcome them. I would not be disgusted or scared of them if they were of my own creation. The human being wants to survive. We have natural survival instincts that automatically kick in whenever our lives are threatened, or are perceived to be at risk.

These suicidal thoughts came from the prince of darkness, Satan. I began fighting Satan, not just the thoughts. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” – Ephesians 6:12 

Clearly the Word tells us that we fight Satan, not others and certainly not ourselves! When a suicidal or negative thought came into my head, I would combat it with the truth. What is the truth? The Bible. I literally forced myself to read an uplifting verse in the Bible or to sing Christian worship songs in my head. This helped immensely. I took every thought into captivity, as the Word tells us to do.

“…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” – II Corinthians 10:5

Practically, there are several things you can do when you find yourself targeted by Satan with suicidal or negative thoughts. I’m not a mental health counselor, but these are the practices that have helped me and brought me further onto this path of divine healing.

  1. First and foremost, tell a trusted person about your thoughts. The number one thing that Satan wants to do during this time is isolate you and make you think you’re crazy. Fight against that desire to isolate yourself. That comes from Satan. It will make your situation worse if you isolate yourself.
  2. Bring these thoughts to God Himself. He is not surprised by these thoughts. He knew you would have them before you were even born! He wants you to ask Him for help. He will send His angels to guard you and protect you from the demons that are attacking your mind. “For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways.” – Psalm 91:11
  3. Do exactly what I described a few paragraphs above. Replace these intrusive thoughts with Scripture and worship lyrics. This will truly help you!
  4. Seek therapy, spiritual counseling, and/or mentoring. There is absolutely nothing wrong with therapy. God loves it! It’s so biblical to seek help from others. It doesn’t mean you are insane or weird if you have a therapist. Honestly, so many issues around the world would be solved if every person received therapy for their problems.
  5. Don’t give up. My number one piece of advice is NEVER give up! Satan wants to make you think your life is over, you have no future, you’re crazy, no one loves you, and you’re worthless. LIES! ALL LIES! This is why we need to know Scripture because Scripture tells us the opposite. God loves us, we have a bright future in Him, and we are worth much because Christ died and rose for us.

If you ever need to talk to someone, I’m great to talk to about these things. These issues are more common than you think, so there’s no shame in coming forth about them.

 

Here’s a lifeline you can call if you feel you need immediate help (or call 911): 1-800-273-8255

They even have an online chat if you can’t talk by phone for whatever reason.

 

Be blessed. Be strengthened in Christ’s love for you. Be well.

 

Love,

 

Gabby G.

Hussain and His Mom (NYC Homeless)

I had an incredible encounter today. As I took an unusual route home, I came across a young undocumented woman with her baby, a boy named Hussain. I initially walked by but the Spirit of the Lord was thickly upon me! I bought a snack and some water for them and turned around to go back to them. Sitting on the ground with her, I learned that because she’s undocumented, she can’t find a place to stay. She can receive food stamps for her U.S. citizen baby, but nothing for herself. She told me where she was from and because of that and her son’s name, I assumed that she was Muslim.

Her precious baby, Hussain, was crying a lot, but the moment he saw me, he smiled so brightly. I called his name and he giggled, putting his finger to my lips. I kissed his finger. He reached out both of his arms toward me. He wanted me to hold him. Me! A stranger! I believe he saw the face of Christ through me.

Before giving this woman the names of some faith-based places she can go, I asked if we could pray together. I wanted to put my hand on her shoulder, but she wanted to hold hands. Well, we held hands and prayed to FATHER God through Jesus the Messiah and Son of God together! This was the first time I EVER prayed to Abba, through Jesus, with a Muslim person. Please pray for her physical needs and salvation!

 

 

Photo used is for representation only. They aren’t the people I met.

Blessings,

Gabrielle G.

Dealing with the Demonic (Spiritual Warfare)

Heavy topic. There are so many varying opinions on this topic, that I’m hesitant to really dive into it. I’m still learning about spiritual warfare, so this won’t really be a guide to it, but more of an explanation of how it’s been manifesting in my life.

I suppose you could say that I’ve always dealt with the demonic. When I was a child, sleep paralysis plagued me. I saw dark shadows. I heard screams and voices. I always called out to Jesus and it stopped.

As I’ve grown in Christ, spiritual warfare has become a regular issue in my life. Typically before a great thing for the Lord happens, I experience deep spiritual warfare. Right after my baptism in 2014/before I led three people to the Lord, I was attacked with obsessive thoughts and fears.

Before I left for India in 2015, again I was tormented by obsessive thoughts and fears about Satan and the demonic. A demon even spoke through a family member and cursed me, telling me I will get raped in India and that nothing good will come of my trip. Well, I found my life’s purpose that summer, in India.

Again, like clockwork, obsessive thoughts have found their way back to me, this time in the form of hypochondria and literal ulcers in my stomach. Now, I’m not saying that this is totally spiritual, but it’s also not just mental or physical. I’m working through this. Satan definitely uses obsessive thoughts to torment Christians. That’s one of his tactics.

I’ve also had demons literally speak to me. They’ve told me that I’m a whore, I’m worthless, I’m a rodent, and I should go to hell. I’ve literally heard these growling, inhuman voices in my ear, typically as I try to sleep. Anything a demon says is a lie. Satan is the father of ALL LIES. John 10:10 tells us that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy and Jesus Christ came to give us life and give it abundantly. Remember that Scripture. It will give you encouragement.

That’s another way Satan attacks you. In your sleep. Sleep paralysis and insomnia can be a spiritual attack. I know for me, it always is. How do I know this? After rebuking the enemy and using the name of Jesus Christ, it ends and I can sleep.

 

How do we combat the enemy? Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the whole armor of God and pray in the Spirit at all times. We use the name of Jesus. We quote Scripture out loud. We do as Jesus Christ did, when He was tempted in the wilderness.

 

Be encouraged. If you’re dealing with the demonic, you’re not alone.

II Timothy 2:17 tells us that God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind.

Fear is NOT of God! Rebuke it, give it to God, and go to sleep. ❤

Philippians 1:6 tells us that Jesus will finish the good work HE started in us.

Matthew 19:26 tells us that we, in our fragile and fleshly bodies can’t do this, but with God, ALL things are possible.

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

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.

My Thorn

My dreams often times run wild and free. My dreams…what are they? From where do they come? Is it just me in there? Or does my Father sculpt them? Perhaps it’s both blended together. God’s influence and my talents working as one. That’s the ideal, but is it true for me?

My worst enemy will always be me. Pulling against Him as He extracts the rotten growth. Those roots run deep. They’ve woven themselves around my heart and traveled between the curves in my brain. I pray and wait for Him to set me free.

But perhaps this is just my particular thorn. Everyone’s got one, I’m sure of that. When I grasp the rose that is God’s heart, my thorn cuts deeper in my palm, but I squeeze tighter. Regardless of the pain I let the blood trickle down. It’s not mine. It’s His. It cleans me as I hold on. My thorn forms the crown He wore.

I was blessed by my Lord with a big heart. It burdens me as I live, move, and have my being. This heart of mine, it isn’t mine anymore. I gave that ownership to another, to the Only. A heart for His purposes must not be filthy; it must be purified. But, it must always be broken.

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

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. ❤