This week the entire Christian community is in reflection on the events of Jesus' expressed love for humankind. Through the pain and suffering Jesus endured, it records that it was his sacrificial expression for our salvation; with unconditional love. During this time, every year, I deeply reflect on the recordings of this event in the bible; and every year God drops a deeper level of connection in my spirit that is humbling and wise. Normally, I would outwardly show this through dance (y'all know my D.O.P.E. program), but this year I have had to take time to be alone with God and realignment myself. So I document what has been placed on my heart; in non-theological, yet all Shanice fashion. Meaning I am nobodies ordained minister/pastor so pleeeeease read your bible and get to know God's word for yourself. I share with you how Jesus' words on calvary and the events pre- and post- laying his love on the cross...continues to save and uplift me.
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." - Luke 23:34
This is recorded as one of the first things Jesus said in his last breaths. "Father, forgive them". NOW this messed me up! Jesus has gone through being slandered, lied on, beaten, embarrassed, and misused by the crowd and he uses his last few words to say forgive them. Couldn't be me. I know I would be up there cussing somebody out like 'Hey you, homie that I gave sight to. You can see me up here now huh...you're welcome' or 'Yo girl, remember when I saved your wedding with the water and wine. And this is how you going to let them do me?' My first go to would not be to pray for the very people that harmed me. And that is genuinely how it is with us right? When we look back on all that was done to us by others - the cheating, the hurt, the loss, the backstabbing - we don't respond with a well God, just forgive them. But here Jesus is showing us that the forgiving is necessary for the release. Before he completes the task that he was anointed, he must offer forgiveness to those who placed him in the very place for him to transcend. "...for they do not know what they are doing". The crowd didn't know what part they were playing in their own salvation. Jesus knew. God knew. I reflect on my own crowd of folk who did not know what they were doing to me was actually part of a bigger plan for my level up...a plan for my new beginnings. Shoot I didn't know - but God did. And that is what I ask you to lean on today. Know that the pain and suffering is for good. It won't last always, but it is to prepare you for your next level God is bringing you to. So what or who do you need to forgive right now to release you to your next level?
"I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." - Luke 23:43
Here Jesus is speaking to some folk in his same situation - the criminals beside him. He is assuring one of them that because of their act of recognizing, openly, who Jesus was he has a place in heaven when this is all done. Look at Jesus still saving lives even while his is withering away. I had to take a pause and think about those times where I was in my valleys, like anyone else, and I couldn't fathom still passing out hope and love to those around me. Sometimes we think we have to be "all put together" or "on the mountain top" to love on someone. To give the gift of hope and encouragement we need to also be encouraged within ourselves. Here, I receive that these are not criteria to share the good news of Jesus' love to others. I can be depressed and still tell someone they can beat depression. I can be broke and still encourage someone that their million dollars is coming. I can inspire in times where I feel so uninspired. And I can do this because of my Faith. Because I know there is a God bigger than the situation and bigger than my location that will bring me and everyone around me to victory. "I win-We win" has always been my motto and this verse gave deeper meaning to that for me.
"Woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." - John 19:26-27
These past two years I have experienced loss of the only male figures in my life growing up; my grandfather (2020) and my father (2021). Both experiences impacted me - that is for another entry - but what I reflect on today is how very different they handled their preparations for when the time should come. Their passing was unexpected, yet my grandfather had everything in order. He ensured all of the expenses where covered and his wife was financially stable. I mean the man bought her a house and set things aside for her healthcare and living (future husband take notes). I almost feel like he knew. And then there is my father, who passed down debt and expenses. All he had to provide was yet another life lesson to me - get my *ish in order otherwise it will be expensive for those you leave behind. Night and day I tell ya, but as I reflect on how Jesus loved his mother Mary so much that he made sure she was left in good hands, I too can be humbled that my grandfather knew that raising me to know God, I too was being left in good hands. Such good hands that God truly kept me through these times of mourning; and continues to keep me as I prepare for my legacies.
"Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" ( which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken [abandoned] me?") - Mark 15:34
Jesus took the words right out of my mouth. So many times in this journey to what I know God has promised me I find myself sobbing "why me God?" Why have you left me to deal with all of this on my own? If you were here, then this would not have happened to me. I would not be dealing with this. I would be somewhere else. "Why God?" But we must be encouraged that this valley we may be in is only temporary...trouble never lasts always. God has brought me through so much and so I must trust that He will do it again. But sometimes we also have to have this very human moment. I mean King Jesus did, so why should I be the exception. Just know that God is with you, and those moments that you feel alone is going to be the very thing that saves you.
"I am thirsty." - John 19:28
I'll be honest I wasn't sure how to take this part. Jesus, the son of God; the king of kings and lord of lords; the healer of many and provider of all; our savior...thirsty? How? And then I started thinking about all of those times I had family and friends question my condition. "Sis, you are a two degree holding, 10+ year professional, young, pretty, homeowner...how could you be in need of anything?" It is unfortunate how sometimes we look at certain pieces of someone when they are in a compromising condition, not accepting that they too are human. They have that big house, they good. Did you see her outfit, yea she is doing well. Every where she goes she is smiling, must be living her best life...right? WRONG! They can experience pain, sorrow, loss, THIRST. To me it represented his vulnerability in life. He was in the most human state, and after experiencing all of the hurt and pain, he thirst. I recall my past hurts and pains where I felt empty, unfulfilled, and dying. But unlike Jesus, I failed to be honest with myself and others of my needs. I am lonely. I am sad. I am broke. I am scared. I am THIRST. Hiding behind what others expected of me did so much harm. The false image they placed on me since birth; I couldn't ruin that narrative. Then, I got tired...no...I got thirsty. Thirsty for peace. A thirst for happiness. A genuine thirst for a more purposeful life. There are times we will thirst, and that is okay. That is the time were our weakness meets God's strength. It is in this time where we are fully honest with our current state that we can be filled.
"It is finished" - John 19:30
We all have a part to play in God's plan. Jesus knew that for himself, and so we must also recognize our place too. Like I said before, troubles do not last always. There is a beginning and an end. The real question is, how will you finish? Jesus did all that was purposed of him regardless of what others said about him, or did to him. Through it all he trust the process and plan. He is better than me, though. I have been distracted from my own path and even deterred myself out of fear. There were times I completely went still when I knew God was telling me to move; and well moved when he said "be still". I am the queen of self sabotage. But God has been so merciful in creating moments for my realignment. So I can write to you today saying how excited I am for that day when I could look around me, to all my haters and nayers, to all of my loved ones, my friends (understanding there will be few), and with a filled heart, and say "it is finished". All that God has placed me to build and create is done.
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." - Luke 23:46
Nothing much to reflect here - very straight forward. I have committed my existence to doing the will that has been divinely set for my life. To help others and cultivate an environment of love, inspiration, and growth for infinite generations. Now I am not perfect, I am not Jesus. But all God asked for was a willing heart, and Lord knows through it all I am willing. And I realized that my willingness is not fueled by my own gain, but to the benefit of others I love. My life will not be for nothing. I am preparing a table for all to eat from, and when it is all done, I will hold up my glass and cheers to its wonders - I am committed. What are you committed to?
If you got to the end of this blog, I appreciate you. I know that was a lot, but I hope it allows you to take this time and reflect on all that you have triumphed from. You have been so brave and so strong. Your time is now to walk in your purpose and shine on the dark places of this world. Jesus resurrected so that you can be saved, because you are the most important part of the plan, beloved, because that is how much you are LOVED. Will you say "yes" today to the plans that have been made just for you? Would you say "yes" to giving all of yourself so that others might be freed from their own bondage? Would you say "yes" to your level up?
My dance of meditation and worship this lent season as I prepare to walk into my "YES"! (and if your time is limited go ahead and fast-forward to 9:45)
Highlight: I began my "yes" journey a long time ago and make sure that I reflect and re-commit daily. There are times I get doubtful or distracted, so this e-book outlines the various tools that help me get and stay on track. I hope it helps others do the same!