Don’t Be a Drag: The Aftermath

by: Sofia Gonzalez

@mrsg_p214

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Several weeks back, our last Re|defined Table Brunch was called MindFull. This event focused on the invasive realm of mental health. A topic talked about far too little in various platforms of influence. It is a topic that’s so relevant to our lives, we often miss it-glossing over symptoms and erratic behaviors that we have deemed our new normal.

A few of us, some dear sisters of mine, took the stage and spoke from our personal truth-we highlighted the Way, the TRUTH, the Life…the Man Jesus as the Cornerstone of all healing.

My focus? First, the diagnosis. Like an onion, I peeled away at my cinematic tale of inner-city teaching turned volatile to the make-up of my soul. Thrusted into a world of PTSD with stress and anxiety, my symptoms told the story. My decisions pointed back to my condition. With imaginary bullets flying over my head, my heart rate skyrocketing, I relived terror-filled moments for the sake of my sisters before me. Just touching the surface, I showed them my battle scars, wounds just recently closed. Knots almost stuck in my esophagus, I concentrated on breathing out God’s fame, pointing to the One who saved me. Yet, you see, the enemy didn’t feel satisfied. Post-diagnosis, the flame dart would be thrown at my home, my family, my marriage, my faith-community, and most fragile still, my unborn child. I just about lost them ALL. Yet, as I also like to say, repeating the poetry of the Psalmist: “Had it not been for the Lord who was on my side…” (Psalms 124:1) followed by, “I feel like preaching this morning.” And oh, I pray I did.

The admonishment? Healing is an investment. Healing is a series of decisions in small spurts and large leaps combined. We often look for the immediately in our trauma-healing. Yet, if you study the healing crusades of Jesus, the person remained ill for many days, months, and even years. The woman with the issue of blood, 12 year battle. The paralyzed man almost decaying near the pool of Bethesda in the 5th chapter of John, 8 years of infirmity. Let’s talk about death before the Man steps in. Lazerus? Dead for 4 days. Even in the account of the woman with the issue of blood that I covered, Jesus was on his way to a high official’s house to heal his daughter. Yet, because of the pesty faith of one woman, the healing was delayed, and you guess it, the little girl DIED before Jesus entered her room.

You gotta shake your head at this, put honest. Why doesn’t and didn’t Jesus heal people right away? The discerning answer: Jesus is much more interested in our process than our exit. Jesus is often much more inclined to our deep spirit and heart transplant than He is our escape. That’s where His Savior hands dig in. He’s not afraid of our blood, our mess, our errors, our screams, our trauma, our lack of trust—NONE OF IT! So He waits, like a doctor standing outside the patient’s room. He peers through the glass window of our circumstance, waiting for us to wave Him inside. He puts the cold stethoscope against our chest cavities to acknowledge the fact that we STILL got a heartbeat. There is a pulse-we will survive.

As Jesus once put it in Matthew chapter 11:6, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Don’t take offense to the timing of our Savior.

Passing through the most difficult seasons of my life (yes there’s an s at the end of season), I had to make a series of positive choices that pointed me to my healing. I mean total healing. Here ya go:

    1. Professional and pastoral counseling: The value of sitting down with caring and expert individuals, and carving out time to do this was paramount to my outcome. Do it and do it now if your condition has you under water.
    1. Fitness training and health: What we eat and how often we move our bodies plays a critical role in our mental health. You can’t have one without the other. Service your mind, but service your body too, ladies. I joined a functional (HIIT) training program, and was introduced to boxing. I revolutionized my diet, and am now a pescatarian. I lost 50lbs., inches, and body fat in the process. Now, it’s my lifestyle. I can’t live without it.
    1. Engage Spiritual Disciplines: Journaling, praying, studying the Word, hearing sermon after sermon, getting lost in worship, struggling with God about my condition…all of it. Get in there. Face it head on, don’t avoid your greatest wounds. The Triune God wants to meet you there. Like a good teacher, He waits for his students to enter his classroom. There, He teaches us, gives us coping strategies, basks us in His love and grace. Get to class, and don’t be late. I beckon you to linger. Stay awhile. Trust me. Just linger.

The culmination: Don’t be a drag. At one point, I carried out a blow up doll that I ordered off Amazon. You should’ve seen me at the gas station blowing this thing up. Suitable for a bachelor party, there I was blowing her up for the cause of Christ. Yet, we are not honest with ourselves or others who can be trusted. We carry around this imposter, and we drag her around. She poses as us. Fine, stiff, nothing wrong based on outward appearances. Yet inside, we are screaming, hollow, damaged, and dying.

Paralysis– just like physical paralysis, so shall go our invisible condition if left untreated. Our brain’s cerebellum controls body movement. Paralysis would point to diseased or injured neurons not being able to send signals to the body. Likewise, our emotional disease and psychological injuries can do the same.

Yet, ONE THOUGHT…can change things. Our thought-life must get under the Obedience of Christ. If we can control the way we think, it can drastically alter our healing experience. “..we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Lastly, I pointed the women to ONE woman in scripture who changed the trajectory of her path with ONE thought. Circling back to the woman with the issue of blood. In Mark, we bump into her. Luke wrote about her too. I’m out of time, just like I ran out of time that day, but her account was stupendous, pointing to the deity and dumanis of Christ. 12 years. Pushed to the ledge of society, ceremonially unclean, barren, broke… I can definitely keep going. Spent all her money, did all she could. She was officially out of options, and almost out of hope. On the edge of paralysis, a thought breaks loose in the synapses of her mind.

She heard the Savior was coming to town. He was there. On His way to perform another healing for a 12 year old girl. It’s all or nothing. She shoves, pushes, nudges, embarrasses herself through the sea of moving bodies. And here’s the line: “because she thought, If I could just touch his clothes, I will be healed” (Mark 5:28). So many things happened, I could write another 5 pages on this. The skinny: Power is released from the garment of His robe, and IMMEDIATELY, she is healed. The Savior turns, knowing who touched him, still poses the question of “Who touched me?” In other words, come out and identify yourself to the crowd so I could talk about risky, pesty faith that will make one well. She went from woman to daughter by the way. Jesus, man He loves us.

The hem, she touched the hem. Jewish men wore a prayer shawl in those days. Scholars believe Jesus could be found wearing one from time to time. It was called a tallit. It had tassels at the bottom known as Tzitzit. This signified the Torah, God’s breathing law given unto Moses. I speculate that power was released because she touched the very Word of God worn off the back of the Living Word! Wish I had time to unpack that.

Woman bleeding for 12 years; little girl 12 years old. Not a numerical coincidence. Twelve signifies authority and government rule. Also the symbol of faith. Biblical numerology is worth studying. Gets me everytime.

The moral: We don’t have to live in bondage anymore. Chains are meant to be broken, bleeding intended to stop. It’s all in our process, our thoughtlife, our understanding of the Rhema, our push and shove to our Savior. The ending line in this account was for the little girl who had already died when Jesus got there. Yet, even when it looks done and dead, The Resurrection will deem otherwise. Sometimes, things need to die in order to resurrect. He tells the girl in Aramaic, “Talitha Koum.” This means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”

If the shoe fits, sister…wear it!

Disappointment Sucks

By: Sofia Gonzalez @mrsg_p214

Re|Defined Women #BookClub, Love Life Again

I’ll never forget the day, and my long term memory isn’t as sharp as I’d like it to be. I was a freshman in high school: wild, young, and full of teenage angst and energy.


My dad was home earlier than expected. His face somber and pale. I threw my backpack on the floor and headed to the fridge for some afternoon rummaging. He cleared his throat by the counter.


“Hmmhmm, mija I think you need to go sit down with me. There’s something I have to tell you.”


“Ok, is mom cooking? I’m starving.”


He didn’t respond. I looked up from the fridge door, his eyes started to swell with tears. Dad doesn’t cry much. He had my attention.


He sat down first, and patted the couch for me to sit close to him. It immediately spilled out like a sudden knock of a glass of milk from your elbow, as you watch the glass and its liquid splatter everywhere.


“Your mother and I are getting a divorce.”
 I didn’t say anything, I felt the room closing in on me. My brain started to feel pressed, my heart beating quick beats, now poking at my skin.


“Why?”


“The love isn’t there mija, and I’m thinking of taking a job in Washington DC.”


Silence. Raw Silence, and then the dam broke. My father broke down into bite size pieces in front of me. He wept in his hands, as I stood there in a paralyzing shock, as this was too much for my teenage world to absorb. I did what any 14 year old may have done. In a panic, I ran out of the house and ran and ran for blocks as I cried uncontrollably. Over 20 years of marriage shattered in an instant. I become part of the statistic of a Latina who will be raised by a single mother. The road ahead seemed grim. But. God.


In Love Life Again, by Tracy Miles, she had me at one of her opening lines to chapter one when she said, “There came a time I had to accept that my life had not turned out the way I thought it would and no amount of wishing it were different was going to change it.”


Her open door policy with chapter one initiated so much respect for her in my mind’s eye, as she unfolded the culprit of her demise: Adultery and divorce. Those two words are enough to level an open field like Hurricane Maria’s work in Puerto Rico’s terrains.


Dang. She confronts the reader at the onset. Happy, joy has to be a choice. As disappointment sucks…it will literally suck the joy, peace, and happiness from the byways of your soul like a sailing ship on an oceanfront, never to return.


Through the disdain and the classroom of experience, I have learned the same. Loving life again can’t be circumstantial, but a constant posture that we will have to aspire towards everyday. Do we honestly think that our days are limitless? All the more reason we need to reach, grab, and put on joy each and every sunrise.


Because you see, sadness is seductive, almost sexy. We drape it over us like a blanket in the dead of winter nights, pulling it under our chins, wrapping our feet from the bottom so a toe doesn’t wiggle out.
 But happy?
 But joy?


That’s like grasping for straws. Or wind. We try to grab it, and let it go at the reckoning of a snatcher, a circumstance that would care to rob us blind. How easily do we let it flee. We hardly fight for it. Like a lover about to leave the midnight train, and we have one chance to convince them to stay. We let them board. We listen to the whistle blow. Cement blocks stick our feet in. We standby on the platform of life, watching the train pass us by.


Nehemiah said, as they were rebuilding the Jerusalem ruins, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (8:10).


Happy-joy? That’s a choice. It can exist even inside of grief’s quarters. Going deeper, it has to transform into a mindset, a psychological posture that one must embrace daily. Even if it be gradual, it must be progressive.

Do you know what else? It is proven that sadness, despondency, and depression lead to lethargy, a slowed heart rate, and even suicidal ideation. Yet, joy and happy actually fuse in us strength, clarity, energy, and an actual release of endorphins in our brains. Not unintentional by the Maker.

Choose joy, my dear heart. 
Choose happy today.


Your heart, your soul, your close knits, your Maker will be glad you did.


“For the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
 – Nehemiah 8:10


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