Simply Sather

Sufficient grace + Simple steps

I can get scared a lot.

Especially when my weaknesses jump up in my face and challenge my attempts about being vulnerable, authentic…real.

It’s a risk I realize everyone is – at some point in time – concerned about.

When I look at how I’ve come from being shy, people pleasing and attracting those who drain more than deposit, the only way I can explain where I am is to admit to being able to do it (1) by the grace of God and (2) by simply stepping forward.

GRACE OF GOD

This has been a foreign idea to me most of my adult life.

I feel I was raised with consequences outweighing rewards, the importance of staying in line and performance being prioritized. I believed that if I did well, people – my friends, teachers, even family – would like me, approve, spend time with me and validate me. And if I didn’t – I if was corrected or re-directed or told no, I felt a devastation to my character and deeply flawed as a person.

Yes, I suspect I was pretty dramatic in my internal thinking, but I’ve been rescued through God’s grace.

This morning I read 2 Corinthians 12:9+10; it’s a part of the study I’ve been doing in this chapter of the Bible for about 9 weeks now.

But he said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

A quick aside – it’s always interesting to me how the verses I read come alive and become even more real to my soul when I stay in it everyday. A little bit (almost) every morning and suddenly questions that I’ve been wrestling with or situations that make no sense, become more clear – at least how I’m supposed to respond in those situations becomes more clear.

But while reading this morning about God’s grace in the pain I’m experiencing, over my recent past and especially over my whole adult life, I felt comforted that there is purpose to all that I’ve gone through and even that which is to come; that which I don’t yet see.

It can be tempting to look back and wish that I’d not done this or had said yes, instead of no, to that, but this is where I am. And though it might not have been what God would have chosen for me, He allowed me to choose and lavished His sufficient grace over me all along the way.

About grace, “It is God’s provision for our every need when we need it. It has well been said that God in His grace gives us what we do not deserve, and in His mercy He does not give us what we do deserve.” Warren W. Wiersbe (Be Encouraged Devotional: 2 Corinthians)

I am so thankful to be able to look back and share thousands of grace filled moments.

Which is how I think I’ve been able to walk through grief, suicidal thoughts, depression, comparison, envy, anger, being widowed, an emotionally abusive marriage, raising a boy from 6yo on my own and eventually being divorced.

I’ve not always extended the grace that I received from God, which makes me sad. I hurt some folks who tried to give me advice about how to grieve, what they thought it should look like. When my first husband died from injuries he’d sustained while serving in Iraq, I lost a lot.

I’d been molding myself into what so many others wanted from me and when I finally made the room to grieve, I didn’t have the capacity to create an image or the person they needed to be, I had to be authentic in my pain or I would have disappeared completely, losing myself, my son and eventually my faith.

SIMPLY STEP

It wasn’t easy to consider where I’d be years from then.

When I would try to consider life without the pain – of being widowed, and later in a marriage that was unhealthy and unloving – I would get swept back under the grief. So much time not telling people how I really felt, what I believed I truly needed and sometimes just getting it wrong and making mistakes – it felt too overwhelming. So I eventually accepting that the pain was my life.

And I took steps that made that lie truth.

My son and I became ambassadors for grieving families of the fallen, I isolated myself from couples (or maybe they sent me away – it can become strange to be friends with a couple after the person who made you a couple dies; it’s like it’s contagious or you’re contagious or something) it consumed me and we needed something new.

Some of the steps I’m really, REALLY proud of. And there are many that carry shame. Those are the ones that I am working to nail to the Cross and be freed from so that I can walk in this godly marriage and these loving relationships with joy and peace being me.

I have a lot of steps I’d recommend young widows not take and I’ll share more of those here in this space, but there is one step that I’d really really encourage them to take…

And that is to sit in their pain. Whatever this looks like each day. To sit in or with that grief, that loss, that pain and call it by name. All of it.

Too much time around others can be overwhelming because they don’t necessarily know what to say and you can find yourself moving in the direction of what makes sense for them, rather than what you’re being called into. Too much time alone with your grief can also be overwhelming because if it’s the only thing you focus on you may never be able to snatch up moments of hope.

If you’re the friend of someone who has lost someone close to them recently, I’d encourage you to offer them some hope with this simple step. You can offer it in a card, after the funeral or memorial, you can suggest they sit on their patio while you or another one close to them sit in the living room (just so they know you’re there). But, offer the thought. It may be the simple step they need to begin feeling more than pain after their loss.

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I am putting together some ideas for sharing more “simply step sessions” for grieving, divorce, single-parenting, vulnerability and faith. Keep coming back for more suggestions and support and leave any ideas you’d like to hear about in the comments below.

I’m so very glad you’re here.

Simply Sather

the pride and prejudice project

Update 26 August, 2018

This did not happen and now needs to be called something else.

I finally finished Pride and Prejudice and really enjoyed how it ended but I just could not read it in the month of July. It truly began to feel like a project at the end. Mister is still working on finishing up the book before the end of summer.

I’m wrapping myself and this failed project in grace as it’s the second time I’ve attempted to read and finish the book but didn’t within the time planned. Sadly this was one of the things were excited to reply to here in this space. So I’m sorry to have to admit it but I am not going to be the person who is able to facilitate this kind of project with focus and to completion.

I read it, enjoyed it enough and think I’ll try to read a “classic” each summer, but with the direction of the business, will instead be focusing on helping people tend to their souls.

Grateful for your grace + would love to hear your thoughts about the book!

Regina

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Last summer, I tried to get a group of women from all over the country to read the book, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I had started it sitting on a bench facing White Rock and had high hopes of discussing it with friends.

Then I went and got pretty sick and couldn’t focus on this project or any other creative thing. And then, every time I walked past my copies on my shelf, I experienced a bit of shame and embarrassment; another creative thing or project I started but did not finish. I was sad about it.

But I’m a pretty tenacious person and think everyone should find a relationship with reading that serves them and helps them live and grow, so I’m trying it again and if it works and has any amount of success (defined below) I will do it again.

I chose Pride and Prejudice because it’s a classic I’ve never read. Though movies have been made and references are often tossed out in conversation, I’d not attached myself to Mr. Darcy beyond Bridget Jones’ Diary (the movie). And well, being a reader is about reading things you don’t normally read. And enjoying books is a bit about sharing the experience with other readers.

When I extended the invitation last year, I found that some of my well-read blogger friends and people I love in real life had not read the book and were willing to read it with me. I even sent one of my copies to a friend in Illinois so she could join in. I had even ordered a Jane Austen cookbook with the intent of making a dish related to the time period and possibly book, having a few friends over and discussing the book in person and hosting a digital discussion of the book.

Lofty goals? Perhaps.

But, I’m gonna try again.

And the win will be people reading the book, even if they’re unable to  participate in the activities that come afterwards. I just think that we ask our kiddos to read and have summer reading lists and we ourselves have gotten away from the leisurely experience of reading for pure pleasure, for pushing our mind into different times with people who are essentially the same as the characters in this old piece but who lived lifestyles we can’t hardly imagine.

I’m extending the invitation here on the blog and will post on my Instagram accounts…

Please join me in July and read Pride and Prejudice.

  • tell your friends about it, buy them a copy or request a set from your library
  • read the book by 30 July
  • join the discussion that will be held virtually on Zoom on 31 July (one during the day and one in the evening – CST) – details coming or host your own book group to discuss
  • use the the hashtag #prideandprejudiceproject on your Instagram account to share your progress and experience (I heart book photos)

This project will be successful if 5 of us read the book this July!

Go ahead and order your copy or pull it out from wherever you placed it last year and let’s read together.

Simply Sather

black, christian, introvert, woman

On the road to embracing love after death and divorce, there are four main identifiers that pour into my posts; that contribute to my voice.

BLACK

My Blackness has been quieted for so long – mostly by me, some by the world around me – and I’m finally circling back and digging up the buried. To be clear, I am sure God knew what He was doing when He mixed my melanin to make me a black woman. There is beauty and mystery in it as well as power and gumption that I have not fully tapped into. I am reading a lot about blackness, looking for blackness in the media (in a positive light), in careers that are growing and in leadership. I am also eager to discuss it.

To talk about what blackness means to me with others who are black, those who consider themselves to be African-Americans and Africans too. I want to connect with people who are black but grew up as a minority in their home, schools, community as well as those who experienced the opposite; my brother is a good example of this.

just the two of us; 8 years apart

In an effort to talk about this, I am eager to learn about others who have different skin tones than my own – within and outside of the black race (the spectrum can mess you up, for real). Our not talking about this and not “seeing color” is not okay – please stop saying that by the way, I know you mean well, but your not seeing color means you don’t see a part of me. An important part of me. A very real part of me that I’ve had no control over and don’t want to have denied or ignored.

Also, my being married to a white man, being educated and raising a bi-racial son does not minimize my experience as a black person, it contributes to it.

I’ll be reviewing several books in the common weeks by and about black women over on my Instagram feed (@readwithregina) so hop on over there to catch some titles that might be new or interesting to you in this topic.

CHRISTIAN

I was raised in church.

The kind of church that lasted so long on Sunday that we were worn out the rest of the week from it – you know it’s true Mom. I call it “black church” because of the fact (yes, FACT) that time and getting people home at a certain time is not necessarily the priority. I kid, I kid, well sort of.

What I don’t recall from those experiences was a personal invitation for me to walk with Jesus. For Him to be my friend as well as my Savior.

I got a great foundation for worship and believed that God was (and still is) powerful and loving and amazing, but I didn’t really delve into reading my Bible and understanding its significance for me until I was about 26 years old and a new mom to my son.

He’s 19yo now and I would say I’ve been in my Bible a lot since the year he was born. It has been a huge compliment and addition to the foundation my folks set before us when we were younger in the African Methodist Episcopalian Church.

I’ve been a member in several different churches in the last four decades, but the thing that has developed me is what the Word says and what it means for how I am loved and how I can love others and lead them to Him.

me speaking at an all girls’ school in Guatemala

I  do not get it all right or even some of it right all of the time. In fact, having read the Bible as much as I have, I have at times condemned myself for the things I know I’ve done wrong more than I’ve been quick to receive the mercy and love of Jesus. But I’m working on it. Working on understanding and embracing the love, the grace, the peace, the forgiveness the opportunity for freedom like no other.

And I really just want to share it with others so that they too will pursue or strengthen their relationship with Jesus and what He has to say about how very much He loves them.

INTROVERT

I’m so grateful for all of the research that has surfaced about what this really means. I’ll share more and more as I continue to post in this space, but I felt some freedom and ability to breathe as I realize how true this is for me.

Without going into a ton of detail here, this is not about whether I can be around people or not – I can – it’s simply how energized (or in the case of us introverts, how drained) we become when being around people for an extended amount of time without significant recovery time.

I betrayed this part of myself back in college and regret it to this day; all that time to read all the books, watch all the movies and I pushed it away to…socialize. Y’all, I was so messed up in the head about fitting in that when I finally had my own – very cute apartment five blocks from the capitol building/prime real estate – I hated being there alone because I felt I was “supposed” to be out and social with roomies making all the memories.

Shaking my head at myself.

It is a blessing for me to be able to have small group time with folks from church to talk about our Bibles, to be in a book club at the public library once a month and especially delightful to have coffee with a friend now and again.

the Bux where my son works

To balance out all of that activity there needs to be ample time for me to jot things down and to process the questions brewing – the ones I asked or those asked of me – to consider the interactions I found myself in, the silence and demeanor of those I am spending time with.

It pangs me when people tell me that I am “over thinking” things. In the past I was quick to agree with this, but now it hurts my heart. Where would be if people spent a little more time thinking, praying and pondering before they made a decision or responded on social media? How could a little more introspection and time to reflect be of benefit to us and those we serve instead of looking at it as something that is negative or that needs to be controlled?

I would or could blame my introversion most of all of these characteristics for the cause of lost relationships. I don’t do “best friends” or “bffs” – I think it’s too much pressure and quite honestly, I’m not going to be able to predict if I want to spend time with you (or anyone else) in another 12 weeks. Traveling together is reserved for those who are easy and like me – not fussy and able to be quiet and still for long periods of time.

It’s how I interact with the big old world and those in it. This article does a great job of describing how I best interact with the world and show up in various environments as an introvert.

I’m not stand offish, I’m not unapproachable, I’m not disrespectful – I don’t mean to be – I’m just thinking.

WOMAN

I am grateful if men read the words I have to say. Not to necessarily figure out all women, I’m not trying to do that. Just because I am female (black, Christian, introverted) does not mean that I am now tapped into the needs, desires and thinking of every female. I’m not. And I’m not owning that responsibility here.

But I will tell you this…

The attack on women is a strong one.

This is what I mean…

There is a hardship placed on women that we carry deep within us. I believe that it comes from the fall of man – you can read more insights about it in: Fashioned to Reign: Empowering Women to Fulfill Their Divine Destiny, Kris Vallotton. In a nutshell, he talks about the spiritual battle that is fought focused on women and the enemy’s hatred for us and how it looks in our world today. I had chills when I read it.

Stone Mountain, Georgia

What a gift to be a woman, but it comes with pain, frustration and heartache – especially in the ways that we treat and talk about ourselves.

I’m often shocked by the way we allow ourselves to be spoken to and talked about by our “friends” and then are incensed when men use the same terminology.

I’m not ready to march anywhere, I’m more apt to bow my head and pray but I do think that we are to support one another and cheer one another in those ways that only women can, because we know. We know how difficult it is to conceive the child, lose the weight, just say no, to say no without apologizing, to work the same job with less pay, or to have our opinion, contribution or value looked down upon because we aren’t men.

We can cheer one another on, build each other up, encourage and listen and love in a way that only other women can and I so want that for women who come and spend any precious moments they have here, reading my words.

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I’ll be writing about all kinds of topics in this space, but wanted to share a little more of me: the way my mind works and where the words come from.

And for those who read yesterday’s post, thank you. I’m getting a little better each day and yes, I wrote this lying on my back on the floor in my closet.

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Curious about your personality type (introvert vs. extrovert)? You can find out in 12 minutes with this free test and leave your four letters in the comments below.