Tag Archives: self help

Real Religion

July 9, 2017

 Photo credit: Ismael Burciaga

It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth day of feeling deathly ill that I decided to pray. Deathly ill is a bit exaggerated, but I was sick for over a week with strep throat. “They” say it hits adults harder than children, and I believe that now. Alone in my apartment trying not to get anyone infected, I prayed. And I prayed hard.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember the last time that I had prayed.

But I do remember the first time. I was an innocent eight year old girl, holding the Sunday School teacher’s hand as I “asked Jesus into my heart” – what the Baptists call being saved. Prayer became second nature to me and so did doing right.

Church and singing became my life. Every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night the doors opened, I was there along with my two sisters and faithful mother. Alone in my bedroom with my initialed Bible, I often prayed for my father who didn’t attend with us.

Over the short twenty-seven years of my life, my faith has evolved. It (faith) has always been a part of my life, not just a small part but a large part. Growing up in a Southern Baptist church, the issue of right and wrong was pounded heavily in my head. In high school, I attended a charismatic church and always was the lead star on the praise team. We were preached to about sin until our faces turned blue and slathered with oil at the altar when in time of prayer. They viewed prayer as powerful and life changing and so did I.

As a college student, I discovered a new found freedom, questioned my faith and rarely attended church. Along the way, God always pulled me into his arms whether through a friend or song heard on the radio. Often prayers were spoken in times of stress and guilt.

My eclectic background had me confused. My faith in God became more about appearance and doing right. How to overcome temptation and live in a real world was not something I had been equipped to do. But I knew the right words to say, the perfect flowery words to pray.

As the years have passed on, I have faced reality in more ways than one- through the loss of close loved ones, loss of jobs and the end of a marriage- my heart has been bumped, pushed, torn and broken and sometimes all at the same time.

Living for the Lord stopped being about what others expected of me. It stopped being about doing what others thought was right and stopped being about praying what the preacher taught me to pray.

Many times it feels like there is a label on my forehead that reads “failure.” I’m not the perfect example of Christian that I once claimed and others thought of me. I’ve made mistakes, big mistakes and often appeared as just another face in the crowd.

I’ve learned to pray differently — from a heart that knows I’m nothing without him. I’ve learned to pray without fancy words. I’m appreciative that I have a mother that made sure I was in church and a grandmother that prayed for me daily and often recited Psalm 23 as she drove me to daycare. I’m appreciative that I experienced eclectic styles of worship. But I have found what works for me.

I’m reminded of the song that I once sang as a child, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” My faith is simple and so is my prayer life. I know who He is based on my own experiences. From that I pray. It may not be a pretty prayer- just me, raw and transparent.

Brittany Windle

Photography credit: Ismael Burciaga

Lessons from Hiding Your Crazy

April 4, 2017

We’ve all been there. Crazy. Insane. Mental. Someone has hurt us and we want revenge. We want them to feel the pain, the heartache, the distress they caused us. But what happens if we act on our natural human response to get even? What comes of it? What benefits do we truly gain? Maybe an eye for an eye isn’t the solution. Maybe living out a Lifetime movie isn’t the answer. As Miranda Lambert’s song “Mama’s Broken Heart” says, “hide your crazy and start acting like a lady.”

Society is full of bad advice- really bad advice. As someone who has lived through utter destruction because of others’ actions, I can testify that taking the high road isn’t easy but so worth it. Being the bigger person can truly help heal and teach us things we never knew about ourselves; it can help save us from further damage.

1. You keep your integrity. When we stoop to the level of the one who betrayed us, we can often hurt ourselves. We can lose the respect of others, cause people to question our morals and dignity. When you choose to keep your mouth shut and your actions calm, you win. You don’t give that person the satisfaction of getting the best of you. You can keep your reputation; you can hold fast onto your personal integrity.

2.You gain peace. Anxiety can often ensue when we seek out to destroy others. Being wrapped up in anger and uncontrolled emotions, you will find that it can and will consume you. When you choose to let it go (forgive), there’s a peace that takes its place. Peace allows us to keep our sanity, our normalcy and our health.

3. You earn respect. People watch your actions whether you know it or not. People will watch how you handle things especially adversity. When I chose to take the high road, many people confronted me and told me how much respect they had for me because I was doing something most people wouldn’t or couldn’t. This made me feel good. It helped me rise above and motivated me to continuing to do the right thing. Respect is everything and by choosing to handle a disastrous situation with dignity, people will see it. People will be inspired.

4. You grow. I’ve never been more proud of myself-I learned that I had self-discipline like I never thought I had. I grew as a person learning to control my actions, learning the journey of forgiveness, and learning that I was a strong woman who deserved more. I was able to mentor others and through giving advice that counters society’s, I was able to help other women make better decisions-not for the person who hurt them, but for themselves.

5. You become worthy of grace. We all make mistakes. Heck, we may have hurt others and caused pain and when we came to the point where we needed mercy and grace, did we receive it as we had hoped for? Have you ever needed forgiveness so desperately in order to heal and move forward? Who are we to deny the same? When we extend forgiveness, we can then be worthy of receiving forgiveness for our transgressions. When we selflessly show grace, we then become worthy of being given grace. You reap what you sow.

Maybe if more people chose to not act on all thoughts, practice self-control and forgive, the world would be a more peaceful place. Maybe instead of seeking revenge and destruction, we seek to love beyond what is deserved. We choose to better ourselves and positively influence others. So, the next time your blood pressure is rising and your inner psycho starts acting a fool, stop, breathe and chill.

Act like a lady. Keep it together. Remember what your momma told ya. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all. And we all know momma knows best. Sweetheart, just hide your crazy.

Xoxo,

Brynlea Taylor

Brynlea lives in Texas and is a southern Bama girl at heart. At 32, she has had the opportunity to be blessed with two callings in her life transitioning from 8 years of teaching middle school and high school to a life in fashion and retail management. Brynlea believes that style is truly forever and can only be successful when personalized and true to who a woman is (or who she wants to be for
the day).  Class and modesty go a long way. Valuing family, faith, friends, fitness (and football), Brynlea sets out to sprinkle exclamations marks everywhere she goes!

Instagram: @stylishly_strong