Monday, October 20, 2014

What happened to Radical Jesus at the beach and his friends???

While having dinner with my daughter the other day and wanting to know what life on campus was like, she let me know that there are some racial issues that are in the midst of being addressed by way of a "community discussion" at Wake. My first thought was great! This is a good opportunity for you to sit in on these meetings and learn how important it is to speak up on social justice. Whether you are new to the campus or not, this subject is not new. I also shared with her that because part of Wake Forest's legacy is steeped in the legacy of Dr. Maya Angelou, a woman who loved diversity on every level, this school owes it to the students who walk this campus every day and to her memory, to work hard at making Wake a landscape of equality.

You see, it would have been easy for her to go to a school where everyone looked like her and shared her same opinion on social justice and equality, but what change in the greater world would that bring? For this child of mine, who loves culture and language and wants to travel the world, this is the place to begin her journey. She told me that she had a great time one evening, sitting around talking with other girls from different parts of the world: "It was the most diverse group that I've been with so far and I really liked that."  This is the mindset of a young woman of change, no matter how subtle her personal forum may seem.

I have to admit that I believe we have failed this generation in huge proportions after the 60's and the 70's. Decades beyond the protests and landmark decisions that would hope to make great strides to afford everyone having "a place at the table", we have gone backwards in this arena at light speed. It seems that the goal is to stay in your own lane and be as safe as possible from anything that would threaten us. It seems that "turn the other cheek" has been substituted for turn a deaf ear to the ills of society today. The radical Jesus who hung out at the beach with everybody, has been substituted for a safe, American conservative who can only relate to his own kind. How did this happen? And why is radical and accepting always tied together with the sinful mindset of this world?

I'm hoping that this generation will do much better at not just crossing racial lines,but erasing them altogether. I'm hoping that universal interest take precedent over one country's opinion of the world and its unquenchable thirst to be number one.

I'm hoping that we can start understanding that being globally minded doesn't necessarily mean in entirety extending benevolence to third world countries and the locally poor, but extending interest about the lifestyles and cultures of all people everywhere...just like that radical Jesus guy.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I Know Depression

This morning I awoke with three simple words burning in my mind and asking me to express them with my heart: I know depression.

I know depression and its trail of tears and awaking fears that seem to at times know my every move. I know what it’s like to be the funniest person in the room and light up faces with laughter, only to feel like the loneliest person in the world alone in the dark.

I know depression and its lifelong tease of being an “oddball” that seems to set me apart in my own mind. I know the feeling of displaying brilliance and talent through words and performance, while struggling to find a sense of self-worth at the same time. When I see the genius of an actor or hear the emotion in a singer’s voice or stand in front of the masterpiece of a visual artist, I know without a doubt that they have experienced this angst too. The need to express what cannot otherwise be expressed in a world that seems to only honor performance more than vulnerability. We can only be vulnerable when we perform, otherwise…make sure you say: “All is well” when asked “How are you?”

I know depression mixed with Christianity which sometimes feels like a molotov cocktail of confusion waiting to explode inside. The erroneous concept that your sadness has to do with a lack of faith, love of God or sin, makes my anger burn at times. I know the moment of realization that the “friends” that you have confided in about your secret angst will only stay around long enough to “minister” you through the moment, so that there will be no stain on their conscious or liability for them, should you take a turn for the worse and exit the planet without permission.

I know depression…
Because of this life long battle, I have been privately introduced to the only One that knows me, sees me and understands my every thought. In light of this condition I whole heartedly admit without shame, that I know a God who is bigger than depression.

He speaks in beautiful pictures to my tired soul and gives me hope that I may have something of wonderment to give to this huge enraged world. When tears fall down my face and surround my heart over the passing of a loved one, the fallout with my child, the murder of another innocent black male, the sounds of war and dying children and other innocent lives, the racial tension back in full swing in my country, the death of my favorite actor…He tucks me under His wing and allows me to cry and begs me to write a message to my friends. Even when I can barely see my screen and I am suppressing my sobs. He brings me to a cottage just 200 feet from the ocean and sits me in a window seat and asks me to send a note of hope to those who know depression too. 

I know a God who does not mind my anger, or questions or stillness when I feel that I can do no more. He seems to show up in my dreams with abstract answers to concrete needs. I have clutched His hand for so long that I now know how to decipher such dreams and I find it humorous at times.

I know a God who knows that my favorite place on earth is with sand and waves. He paints blue skies and billowy white clouds along with seagulls and such for my entertainment. He invites me every year, come hell or high water. No matter what devastation that has occurred in my world and He saves a front row seat just for me. This year, He has clearly outdone Himself. Perhaps it was because of a most difficult season that I am just passing through or the fact that there are words that need to be re-awakened within me or simply because He loves me. This year is the best retreat so far.

My message to you:

If you know depression, you are not alone or odd or crazy or mentally unstable. You simply are at times, depressed. The key, the secret, the hope I have for you my friend before you decide that nothing else can be done and that the sun will never rise again or that war will never cease and religion has made us all mad with guilt and shame…the secret is to know someone, some force of Universal Awe greater than yourself. Know that there is no question too big or no tear too tiny for the God of the universe to answer, to touch, to wipe away.

I beg you, not to leave too soon. There is a message inside of you that we need to hear. Speak, from your pain. Speak from your joy. Simply, speak from your heart…we’re listening.

In loving memory of one of my favorite actors and all-around genius minds, Robin Williams. I remember you today and all that you gave but sadly never received in return…

*There is no shame in needing medication, counseling or the listening ear of a friend, no shame at all.  I have done all three and am now content with the company of God and my closest friends.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

This new kind of peace...

This new peace is kind of weird and takes getting used to…but I love it.

My inherited temperament

I've never been low keyed. I've always wanted to be and I've admired low keyed people all of my life. But I was born a ‘live wire’ always popping, shocking and burning anyone who got too close to me. I would swear, if anyone could attest to it, that I didn't come out crying like a normal baby, but I came out swinging and crying. At birth, I was already agitated at being handled too much.

For the past several months, I have had an ongoing battle with the inner calm that God was trying to draw from me. I wanted more of it and since I've experienced it incrementally throughout the past few years, I craved it. The problem was, I had no idea that you had to go through hell to get to it.

It seemed that my “island of tranquility” (or the peace that God wanted me to experience on a permanent basis) was situated right on the other side of the most shark infested choppy waters you could imagine. In short, I had to dredge through the heavy weighted nuances of my past once and for all.

The lover of my soul said: “You can swim through this.” Part of me felt like this was an unfolding plan for Him to take me home sooner than expected, so I stood on shore for just a while longer. I was praying for courage. I was praying for another way to go home. I was praying for a more beautiful ending. Finally, when none of those prayers seemed to be answered, I knew that I had to jump in and start swimming and I did.

With all of the finesse of a petrified land lover, I began chopping at the waves. I was making horrible progress and smacking at any perceivable object that was in my path. I was calling for help, yet too afraid to trust it at the same time.  I was in panic mode.

Still, because of how He is and who He is, God honored my effort to cross this storm and just when I was going down for the last time…He reached in and saved me…again.

I am now of the mindset that we are allowed to be saved by grace multiple times until we leave this earth and each time will be as beautiful and as new as the last.

In the midst of one of the worse panic attacks that I've had in months, I heard God’s voice say: “This is a test and I will not let you fail.” Honestly, when He said that, I was failing badly and I didn’t know how to stop myself…but God didn't seem too upset about that.

God being a Daddy

I always loved those Dads on TV who never seemed to get too angry at their kids, no matter what they did. I thought it was amazing how they could sit calmly and rationally while giving discipline and direction. I wondered why more Dads weren't like that, until I started calling God “Abba” which means “Daddy” in Aramaic. When I started relating to God as Abba, my relationship with Him changed dramatically and I noticed that His responses to me were far gentler than I had realized before. The ironic thing was, I waited for His disposition toward me to change into full blown anger and sometimes rejection, but so far, that doesn't seem to be His parenting plan. How I love Abba…

The journey

God’s rescue for me consisted of an intense mouth to heart resuscitation for about four days. On the second day, (which was a Saturday) He told me that I would be okay by day three.

During the course of those days I experienced emotional vomiting like I have never experienced before. Childhood, teenage years, adulthood, relationships, issues with my parents (namely my Dad) my sisters, the church, other Christians, as well as from marriage to motherhood, nothing was off limits.
He promised me that His voice would stand above all the other voices in my life, if I would just focus in on it. Every day, I tried hard to cling to His words and let all other opinions go, which was a huge feat for someone who wanted approval so badly. It was gut wrenching change and I needed it fast, or I wasn’t going to make it.

The other side

By day three, I was fully functional. It was incredible. I had spent three intense days in emotional detox reading three specific scriptures a day (I still do) and receiving literal breath from God to supplement my shallow breathing…and this day, this third day, I emerged victorious with my hand still clutching Abba’s. I am now on the other side experiencing a miraculous emotional healing. Every day I am becoming freer.

The path ahead is filled with life’s uncertainties and the circumstances that surround me have not changed much in the natural, but what makes all the difference in the world, is a healed mind and a fresh perspective. I will live, with my hand in Abba’s, a gentler, more peaceful and loving spirit and that is all I've ever wanted in my whole life.

Faithful God

We say “God is faithful” out of habit at times, but it takes a real breaking of the will to find out how true this really is. Deuteronomy 31:6 says: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you, He will never leave you nor forsake you. This was Moses encouraging the people of Israel that God was with them in a time when fear and uncertainty could have easily taken over and defeated them. This scripture is no less relevant in our lives today. Fear and discouragement can be a prevailing constant for us, which can stand in the way of overcoming life’s hardest difficulties. But when God Himself promises that He will be with us always and we hold on to that truth for dear life…there is no way that we can fail. We will truly get to the other side…

*I want to note that the components of this rescue have been building up for years and years. All it took was a crises (which God allowed) to bring on the full blown healing. I want to make sure that no one reads this and walks away with the idea that life’s biggest problems can be solved in just a few days or so. The time frame of healing is up to God. We can delay it by the way that we perceive His help however, so be sure to know His voice and fall in love with His heart.  Finally, I want you to know that it doesn't matter what you view a crisis to be or what scale that you weigh it on, if it hurts us, God wants to heal us and He doesn't measure or discard our pain based on a scale of 1 to 10.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

This Heart...

This heart breaks slowly
The crack in a windshield
Spreading with frost
And time
No way to stop
The inevitable movement
Of the hairline fracture
In front of your very eyes
This heart
Yields slowly
To the unexpected
Yet expected results
Of being hit by a rock
A pebble
A stone

At first
Barely noticeable
Except to those who are
Front and center for the ride
But with time
And age
The breakage marches
 To the wind chill factors of life
Distracting my view
Pulling my attention
From the highway
Causing a hazard
Making me anxious
Needing to be totally replaced

This heart
Needs replacing
Like so many others
That have incurred injury
And suffered quietly
And unbearably
One day
A sacred hand
Full of mercy
Removes the damaged glass filled heart
And gives me
A brand new view…

                                                   Bonita Y. Jones “This heart” © 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Reality Checks Don't Bounce...

I know what it’s like to be a dreamer. I recently identified that I have been a dreamer for as long as I can remember.  As a child, it’s how I began to deal with grief. It’s how I found visions for my life. I dreamed of being a famous writer, of having a beautiful home, of living somewhere amazing but mostly…I dreamed of love.

I will spare you all of my gushy schoolgirl details of what I thought love to be but I will tell you that I equated love to being rescued. Whoever my Knight was going to be, he most assuredly was going to be the one who swooped in and saved my life. Over the years, he changed in subtle ways in my mind but he was always true to his ability to be my savior.

As I began to grow older, I tried without success to place that savior’s badge on the people who came into my life. Again and again, the badge always seemed to slide off in the course of the relationship, much to my disappointment.  Like the story of Cinderella and the glass slipper, I carried that badge in my pocket and took it with me wherever I went. My heart was on a mission to find my human savior.

When we set out to distinctly fulfill our own dreams or to bring fantasy to life, we come across some very dangerous wolves lurking in the forests of our journey. We get blindsided by our internal needs so much so, that we stop listening to our God given intuitive nature. At least that’s what God showed me when I recently asked Him how good people become delusional.  You see, I was asking God to reveal to me the seed behind pervading spirits like Jezebel and the like. I wanted to know not only how she became so powerful in the church but how she is able to hook so many people along the way.  Out of the many possibilities that exist, the one He highlighted for me was neediness.

Here’s the insight: This spirit began to grow in her/him as a child. Much like all of us, the need for love and affection, affirmation and acceptance went unanswered. The child began to crave a love that she never received. She was often ostracized and left alone. So dreaming became her escape. She dreamed a new family, a new identity, even a new look. She dreamed her way through life and kept going even after life seemed not to deliver. After a while she began to ‘create’ the world that she always wanted strategically. She pushed past the norm and found a way to trail blaze a powerful path. She sought out to set up a kingdom filled with people that could not disappoint her.  This spirit is often at the head of small businesses and ministries. She only allows those into her inner circle that she can control. She offers the world in exchange for your allegiance. She wants longs and needs to be surrounded by people of lesser savvy. She is bold and brazen while feigning modesty. Her agenda is to always stay in control. She morphs quite easily into a complacent person, who admits her fallibility and appreciates the fact that God would choose to use her anyway. She lives in her head most of the time and is often plagued by mental illness that must stay hidden. She is very, very, very smart and gifted, which is the camouflage that she uses to control the people in her sphere of influence. Weak leaders look up to her and married couples don’t stand a chance around her. But most of all, people who want a platform to step out on often fall into her pit more than anyone because she offers her kingdom for such. (See Matthew 4:8-9)

You might ask: What does this have to do with dreaming?

Well, what I have learned is that reality checks can save us from such a downward spiral. When we examine our lives and admit our pains, seek help and forgiveness, we put ourselves in a closer standing with God. When we accept that our Knight in Shining Armor is Christ himself THE HOPE OF GLORY, we take away the need to pin a badge on any other person. When we willingly admit to God that we feel alone, unwanted, depressed and cast aside, we set ourselves up for healing. When we (especially women) reject the need for a tough exterior but instead admit to our emotional needs, we allow God to fill in all of the empty places in our lives.  Yes, reality is a life saver.

Everyone has a God given desire to be loved and accepted. God is the giver of good dreams and when left up to Him, He will fulfill them. The problem begins when we stop believing that He is listening or even cares. The deeper problem is when we take our needs into our own hands, instead of allowing God to examine them and return them in a purer state. The most eye opening part about this spirit for me is that it carries with it an unfulfilled lust that can never seem to be satisfied enough, so it “dreams” up ways to further entrap people like a hungry hunter in the woods. It feasts off of others beauty and drools compliments out of its mouth to evoke a response. This is Jezebel on steroids!

After this startling revelation, which is still unfolding before me, I asked God for a full examination of my inward spirit. I wanted Him to x-ray my heart, mind, intentions, desires etc… I wanted to know what I could do to never end up this way. His response: “reality checks”.  Look at your life exactly for what it is and try not to create a delusional escape. Next, hand me all of your dreams and leave them with me, the ones that are from me will come to pass. The ones that are not, will burn up. This is how you escape the pervading spirit of the witchcraft that is known as The Jezebel Spirit.

We believe dreaming to be an innocent thing and it is. In fact it is God Himself who promises to give us dreams and to fulfill them. Dreaming is not evil. Evil comes when we become so self-absorbed, that we believe we have the ability to be the fulfill-er of dreams, for ourselves and others.

My advice to all of us would be to place a mirror in the living room of our spirit man and stand in it daily. If we can stand still in the presence of God and allow Him to examine what is in that mirror and then follow His instructions as to how to proceed, we have a much stronger chance of becoming whole and living our lives, the good and the bad, without delusions…

Matthew 4:8-9 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Prophetic Word for the Spirit of Rebellion

What I see is a heart that seeks for so much love and attention
What I hear are words that summon such love behind a veiled face
Beloved I want to reach you
I want to transform you
I want to heal you
Yet you hide from me
And only show me your downcast eyes
You will not look up
Into the heavens
For fear of exposure
This is where you err
This is where you stray
This is where you meet me
But not the way I planned for you
The deceiver steals your thoughts
Before they are even manifested
He lures you into thinking about your greatness
Just to cast you aside later
Without a repentant heart
You will burn in the desert of the forbidden
You will seek fresh rain with parched lips
And receive nothing
I urge you beloved
Turn to me
Seek my face with all of my heart
While there is still time
No shame
Just grace
Don’t hide beloved
Don’t hide
I need you to stand with me
Not against me
I am for you
And I know the source of your pain
I know your loss
Your wounds
Your secrets
But you must
Bring them to me
I have angels on watch
To guide you safely in my presence
At this hour
At this moment
I wait for you
Turn beloved
And seek my face
Without disgrace
I will hide you
And keep you

In the shadow of my wings…

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Christ is just a stones throw away...

When I read about religious organizations or businesses weighing in on the “hot topics” of today’s political scene and I hear the demand to pick a side, I think about all of the people who have weighed in on my life and my choices. I think about the judgment that comes from choosing divorce over misery or the women who have to put up with abortion condemnation, while still hurting from their own memories. I think about how in order to be a certain type of Christian today, you need to stand up and openly condemn other's choices or struggles while standing between them and God to play judge.

I wonder what it would have been like to (literally) walk with Christ with that mindset.  Picture this: As He reaches out to the hurt and lost, his “followers” smack His hands away and say: “Not them Lord, they’re not worthy of your love or your blessings. Please heal and feed the worthy only.”

 I can’t even imagine the mere attraction to a belief system whose main preoccupation is to isolate others who simply want to cry out to God on their own behalf and receive the same love and grace given freely to all.

I wonder if where we “Christians” are heading has anything to do with the initial directive given by Christ while He walked the earth and how we got so far of course.  John 13:34 “A new command I give you that you love one another just as I have loved you…”

Either we are too busy making noise to divert attention away from our own personal struggles and choices in order to avoid judgment, or we are truly that blind to believe that the way that we have chosen is perfect and spotless.  Are we so brazen to be the one who actually picks up the stone in front of Christ to throw it at the very person/people that He wants to protect and save?  And how did that monster of judgment get to be so big within us?

It is unnecessary to continue with the redundant verbiage of:  “I love the people, I just don’t agree with their lifestyle.” Honestly speaking, no one cares and at this point few people believe that practiced jargon.

Would it be so hard just to say: “I love the people” and leave the rest up to God? 

Friday, March 28, 2014


I was raised in a religious cult. It’s ugly but true. Therefore, I do my best to avoid clicks, social circles or individuals that seem controlling. I also do my level best not to be the source of either of those mindsets. There is a lot of danger in religious cults and many of the people involved in them can be seriously depraved. If you are innocent, honest and seeking, then your vulnerabilities can appear to them like bait on a hook.

At this point in my life, I see relationships, social circles and acquaintances in black and white. They are either good for me or not. They are either in God’s will for me or totally against it. They either flow like an easy stream down river or they clog and push against me like a barricade of rocks.

In the latter case, finding my way to freedom is a must.  The way that I maintain my freedom is to run to Abba and ask: Should I be a part of this? What is the purpose of me being involved? And finally: Did you orchestrate this fellowship?  Whatever the case, He answers and when He does, I try my best to listen.

Relationships on any level are difficult and they frighten me tremendously at times, there are too many people with too many agendas. Some wear masks, others play hiding games. Me, I just want to go into the woods and sit alone with Abba. The problem is, He keeps leading me out of the woods and right back into the stream. I have to trust that when He does that, it’s because He wants me to be a part of something greater, something enriching and beautiful and that as long as I keep my ear to his lips…He’ll tell me where the pitfalls are or show me how to swim pass the rocks.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Is counseling something you run to when you're desperate?

For the past six months to a year, I have had the privilege and sometimes the trying exercise of coaching some friends and dear people at various stages of their lives to overcome lifelong challenges. Some have gone through tremendous pain in their past, others are still walking out the gruesome details of abandonment, rejection and abuse to this day. Whatever the case, so far, I have not sat with a single individual with whom I couldn't relate to in some way or another. I believe that just like joy, pain is universal and it transcends age, race, geography and religious beliefs. We all suffer in one way or another, therefore there is a tremendous need for compassion and understanding.

I have experienced huge breakthroughs with individuals, the ones that stick to the process, refuse to lie about what is in their hearts and understand my role in helping them cross this frightening bridge, to get to the other side. I have watched a sobbing, petrified face totally relax at eased in the presence of God when prayed for. I've seen the question: “why?” sweetly answered in a way that only God can answer it. And I have seen change, that beautiful goal that seems unattainable in the midst of our sadness. I believe in counseling, I know it works but I could not do it on my own.

Christians, devout, praying, church going “believers” can sometimes be the hardest clients. I now realize why my counselor had to trudge through some deep religious and incorrect conclusions that I had attached myself to by way of some well-meaning person teaching on a doctrine but not understanding that Jesus came to alleviate us from being chained to the doctrinal mindset. It was only at the end of my attachment to what I thought God wanted from me or expected out of my life, was I able to see clearly that His greatest expectation was for me to come to Him with everything that pained me and to simply lay it all at His feet. That seemed too simple to me at first. I was hell bent on doing penance for my sins and then torturing myself with feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing. I could only accept love the hard way, well-earned and paid for by shame and grief. I couldn't lift my head in the presence of God and call myself daughter. It was just too much to fathom that He truly wanted me. I grieved on the inside for most of my life until the day I could not breathe in my own poisonous venom anymore. I had to start listening to my counselor. She was taking the time to painstakingly dissect my issues and pray over them one by one, something I was too weak to do at the time. I had to trust her words and trust that God would silence anything that wasn't of Him. Most of my counselors have been Christians. I’m not biased but I do find the common ground quite helpful.

After I left counseling, I entered into a rest with God that is still present to this day. He changed my entire perspective of my walk with Him. He took away my desire to please people. He gave me a beautiful wilderness experience in which I could roam freely, feel openly and cry often. He never left me in the wilderness alone, for that I’m grateful.

I emerged back into the “world” with a sense of knowing that beyond a shadow of a doubt, I am a child divinely loved by God. Nothing can take that from me and much has tried.

Recently, I began to doubt my ability to translate such understanding to those that I counsel because it seems that so many of us “Christians” love to learn the hard way. We struggle to accept Abba’s gentle hand when He wants to escort us to higher ground and often, we bite the messenger who feels compelled to share his grace.

I've come to the conclusion that it is true that not all will enter into God’s rest. I also understand that my role in the process of helping other’s become whole will often be challenged by the enemy’s schemes to keep them bound. I accept the fact that some will say that my message is too strong or my delivery too intense. To that I say: You must know your calling and the one that called you.  I’m here for people who are at the edge of life’s cliff, who desperately want to jump and have one foot dangling, as the small rocks of life begin to fall to the ground below… because I've been there. I will grab your hand in prayer and the grip will be of one who does not want to witness your death but to celebrate your living. We will talk, cry, laugh and poke fun at ourselves, until the pain is gone. Eventually, because there is a God in heaven, the pain does leave. That is my role as a counselor/survivor of the desire to die too soon.

I am not passive. I cannot pretend not to see the obvious and it hard for me to leave a person on the cliff once they've called for help.

Understand that once you've sought out counseling, someone (other than yourself) has become invested in you. Someone is praying for you. Someone is carrying you in their heart. Please take the process seriously. Please don’t duck in and out of sessions with a casual mindset or treat the counseling room like an E.R. Please come ready to invest in your own life and to let the truth be the only thing that you speak. There is nothing worse than counseling a lying spirit afraid to face the truth.
If you are seeking help for any reason, ask yourself this question: How far will I go, how much am I willing to do, to become whole, united in mind and connected in spirit? Once you answer that question honestly then you will know whether or not to begin with a counselor.

An invested counselor, life coach or mentor’s deepest desire should be to help the people that we used to be because we know without question, that wholeness is possible for all those who truly want it.