It is one of the many promises to myself that I have kept: to be fully free. Now 51 years old, my journey has taken me across many of the places that we call countries. This is the best time of my life. The period of full personal freedom. This was a promise made to myself six years ago.
At the time, my blog was hosted elsewhere and under a different name. The article that I wrote highlighting this promise is republished today as part of our current conversation started by Contributor Alexis Ali, on “I Promise… .” The conversation is a mid-year review of the intentions or resolutions you and I made on New Year’s Eve night, as well as suggestions as to how to get them on track, delete some and/or make new ones before the year ends.
Read my previously published article below:
2009: Deciding To Be Free
Prior to 2006, I am hard-pressed to recall a New Year’s resolution that I have kept for longer than a day. This pastime that we have of making a list of vices that we resolve not to repeat in the upcoming year is hog wash. Sorry for my directness but having duped myself so many times into believing that I could vow not to overeat, lose weight, save money or some other folly of that nature makes me cynical on this score.
New Year’s Eve 2009 now finds me envisioning, not vowing, a better path for myself.
That decision to spend December 31 into January 1 praying, scanning magazines for images and creating a collage of my New Year started in 2006. It was a decision made in desperation but one of the best I have ever made. Instead of dancing the night away with a bunch of drunks who are looking to get laid (sorry for the frankness but it is the truth) by someone other than their partners, husbands or wives, I spend the time in the quiet of my home, usually alone with my dogs, praying for guidance and making a collage of the best me that I can see.
On Sunday, December 27, 2009 my husband said he wanted to hear a sermon. This was an unusual request, one that was partially prompted by my eliciting a promise from him to layoff playing Farmville on Facebook for the day. Actually, he wanted me to deliver the sermon as I had not done so in more than a year. He was told me that one of his proudest memories of me was sitting in the pews of a church listening to me preach and for some reason he wanted to be in the space again. He agreed to watch Bishop T.D. Jakes instead.
As we prepared breakfast, the worship service got underway at Potter’s House, the name of Bishop Jakes church. However, unlike many other services, this one did not grab my attention. Well not until Bishop Jakes got into the meat and potatoes of his sermon.
“Kill it, destroy it…!” he shouted. “Then give praises!”
“What the heck is he on about?” I thought.
“You cannot go into the New Year with the old year’s baggage!” he was saying or something to that effect. By now he had my full attention.
Hash browns in my mouth watered down by my silent tears, I raised my hand when Bishop Jakes said, “I am preaching to somebody in here today!”
I did not know about any of the well-coiffed, high-brow ladies and deaconess in the Potter’s House but for sure I knew Bishop Jakes was talking out my business! How many years have I been walking around with the pain of rejection, loneliness, abandonment, low self esteem, not feeling good enough, deep unhappiness despite the smile on my face?
How many times have I fooled myself into believing that I had released an issue only to have it resurface across the oceans? How many vows have I made to do right the next year – eat less, exercise more, give unselfishly – and never managed to achieve any of these?
I listened keenly to Bishop Jakes teaching all who cared to learn that until you “kill and destroy it” – the ghosts of the past that keeps haunting your now – you will not find real peace and meaning. The truth of his words stirred a memory.
A year prior to that, I attended my first Burning Bowl Service in Kingston, Jamaica. It is a special service hosted by the Universal Centre of Truth for Better Living in January each year and participants are invited to write out and burn in a collective fire the issues of their hearts. I attended two of these services and burned many pieces of paper in that bowl. I have even had my own private burning sessions, setting alight paper, pictures, cards or anything that would hold me in a past that I so badly needed to be free of.
Proverbs is possibly my favourite chapter in the Bible and some of the best advice, at least to me, comes from the fourth chapter. My preferred translation is the New Revised Standard Version and these are some of the verses that I hold dear:
23Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
24Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
25Let your eyes look directly forwards,
and your gaze be straight before you.
26Keep straight the path of your feet,
and all your ways will be sure.
27Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.
In my opinion this is what Bishop Jakes was reminding me as I prepared to enter 2010. Enough of the meaningless New Year’s resolution – it is time to kill and destroy the self-talk and thoughts that would take my eyes and feet away from the Journey. It is not enough to “let go.”
To begin to realize a deep-seated freedom in my 45th year, it was time to “kill” the remnants of my bondage.
I know he was speaking the truth because since I have stopped the New Year’s Eve night debauchery and spent the night in quiet reflection creating my vision board, things have been very different in my life. Just about every image that I have pasted on my collage has materialized – house, new vehicle, someone who loves me “more than cook food”, marriage, vacation(s), career growth, etc.
Yet, some things are outstanding and cannot be mounted on any board.
Fast Forward: 2016
That was a turning point on my journey, over six years ago, and some of those outstanding issues followed me for a few more.
“Full free” as that would-be slave Cinque said in the movie Amistad, was on my radar since 2010. It was a promise that I made to myself each year after that. It was one that had to be renewed annually. To be fully free requires killing those New Year’s resolution prompted by society’s notion of what is normal, beautiful or cool.
Full freedom is even more than wearing my hair kinky, in a fro’ or, as it is now, in dreadlocks because that is what I want to do. It is more than deciding not to wear makeup and “starting a movement,” as Alicia Keys as allegedly declared.
To me “Full free” is what Jim Morrison is quoted as saying:
Every December 31 since 2009 I prepare, reflect and envision my journey to Full Free. Did so again on December 31, 2015 and today I am enjoying personal freedom – as a woman, mother, grandmother, blogger, practical spiritual coach, employee and single woman at 51 years old.
As we continue this conversation of on promises, you are invited to join in. Subscribe and receive not only our daily update of post but Weekday Wisdom© which is a daily dose of motivation. My prayer for you, my friends, is that wherever you are with those intentions or resolutions you made on New Year’s Eve you too have embarked on your journey to “Full Free!”