Summer Summer Summer Time!

There is something about summers in New York. I can’t explain the feeling but it’s just liberating. Each year, there has been some kind of life lesson or personal growth that took place in my life during the summer months. I am inspired to become a better version of myself for the latter part of the year and give life my best foot forward. One of the things I enjoy doing and have been doing every year since I graduated is creating a list of things that I want to do over the summer. It could be something dealing with the arts like exploring a new exhibit, writing more or wearing my hair natural. Whatever it might be, I always try to hold myself accountable to achieve my goals:

2011

When I first graduated from Penn State in 2011, I was lost. I didn’t have the slightest clue where I was going to work in the fall. I had no money and no insight into my future. But those things did not take the fun out of my life. I was shockingly content with finding myself. I let go and let God take control and I allowed myself to live a little. Just getting out of a bad pseudo-relationship, I spent the summer rebuilding my self-esteem, writing, and spending hours on Youtube learning everything there was to know about the big chop and being natural(It would take 2-years before I actually wore my hair natural in public). I even started an earrings business.

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Asceticism

It’s been a year since I got baptized and the process has not been easy. I got baptized partially because I knew it was something I had to do to remain active in my church but also because I was ready to proclaim my relationship with Jesus Christ publicly. I was afraid. Apart of me felt pressured. I wasn’t ready to give up certain pleasures and behaviors. I didn’t know how to be the “perfect” Christian. The fact that I would think I had to become the perfect Christian once baptized is proof of my ignorance about its significance.

After classes and interviews to make sure that I was ready, the day came; it was time. I felt the presence of God during my baptism ceremony. An overwhelming warmth and burst of tears solidified he was there with me. Even before getting dunked in the water, I knew at that moment my past was forgiven and it has never haunted me again.

Yet, after my baptism, the tests and trials began. Everything that I have ever stood for came to a halt this year. I gave up on myself and gave myself up. I became weak. I became lonely. I gave into temptation time and time again despite the feelings of conviction I had. I didn’t know who I was becoming. I was a functioning wreck without self-control. I no longer knew how to defend my beliefs because I was confused myself. What did I believe in? Was I still an advocate for celibacy? Did I believe in saving yourself before marriage or did I only believe it because someone told me I should? I began talking to old boyfriends. Boyfriends I clearly left in the past because their beliefs did not align with my own. I resented singlehood. I began to feel lonely and unworthy of a relationship. I let thoughts plague my head about being alone and a spinster forever. I gossiped. Loved celebrity gossip too much and reveled in the latest “tea.” I had no self-control; no inhibitions. I did things in the dark hoping it wouldn’t come to light. I was far from the perfect Christian. I struggled more after my baptism than I’d ever done in my whole walk with Christ. I was a sinner. I am a sinner.

I’m not perfect. I believe we sometimes go through these things to have an amazing story to tell that would one day inspire others. I am thinking I went through these things to share with believers that it’s not easy. The more you step forward in the light, the more the devil tries to bring you back into the dark. The closer I got to God the further I was from him.

Asceticism is the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons. This is my overall goal in year 2. I want to practice self-disciple and techniques in defeating the devil when prompted to give in to desires and temptations. However, there are other compartments in life that can teach lessons on self-control and I want to build on that as well:

First I will start with food. I come from the school of thought where we only have one life to live, so why deprive yourself of good food. Yet, as satisfying as this mentality maybe, I have no self-control. I eat brownies in the morning and dinner after 10PM. If I create some sort of control in my eating habits, it will resonate with me spiritually as well.

Secondly, waking up in the morning. I am a snoozer. I will set the alarm for 6:45AM and will not get out of bed until 7:45AM. I need to start waking up when the alarm goes off, no excuses.

Lastly, I want to be intentional with the amount of time I spend with God. Sometimes we let the hustle and bustle of life get in the way with our relationship with God and that’s unacceptable. If I know I can’t go to bed without reading the word, marinating on his blessings and teachings and saying a prayer then I will carve out the time throughout the day to spend with God. No excuses.

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