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Honor

Today I finally got around to doing something that I should have done in September 2009 or at latest April 2011. What is it? Editing ALL of my blog posts. I started this particular blog (exported from another website) in 2005 when I was twenty-two years old, a lukewarm Christian and looking for love and affirmation in all of the wrong places. Due to immaturity and lack of discretion, I would often use my blog to vent about other people’s mistreatment of me – including details of my personal life that would have been better served in a private journal. I thought my bluntness was a virtue rather than a shortcoming so I never did anything about it. After I gave my heart to Christ in September of 2009, I began a new journey on this blog – documenting the things I am learning in Christ, my challenges as a woman who is pursuing the heart of God and addressing issues as the Holy Spirit will give me inspiration. Lately, my blog has also been a sounding board as I prepare for the release of my first book. The book itself is causing me to evaluate and re-evaluate myself, my life, my principles and my growth. The level of transparency in this book required me to ensure that I am not doing any harm to others by showing the world all of my cards. The book is suppose to be a help, not a source of harm.

The process of evaluating the book, therefore brought me here, to my blog, where a lot of the inspiration for the contents of this book was taken. I started evaluating what I have written over the past almost eight years online. I found that some of my entries were motivated by hatred and a sickening need to inflict harm on others. Those had to go. I found other entries that were motivated by despair and the need to pour out my anguish without a filter – I made those entries private.  I found still other entries that were brutally honest but could be of help to someone who understands me as a human being and may be encountering a similar situation in their lives – these entries have been password protected, to be shared only as my closest friends request.

The reason I took the time to do all of this editing on my past entries boils down to one thing – honor. In the past, I had cultivated the deplorable habit of dishonoring those who hurt me. Over the years, I have learned wisdom. At this stage in my life, it is critical for me to learn what it means to honor others. I am striving above all things to be a crown on my (future) husband’s head rather than a thorn in his side. I want to honor him. I want the things I put out for the world to see to cause his heart to swell with joy and happiness. I do not want to be a cause for reproach. I want to honor the friendships I still hold dear as well as the one that have passed away. And most importantly, I want to honor the God who has kept me from destruction even when I was at my filthiest. I cannot honor anyone, God or human being, if I leave my old entries in their unreformed state. They serve almost as a trophy, glorifying my previously unrepentant state of mind. No matter how much I caution people to be careful in reading my entries that are dated before September 2009 (my pre-Jesus days lol), it does not excuse me from ensuring that the content on my entire website glorifies and honors God.

I have done that to the best of my ability. I pray the old entries serve as a contrast to my readers concerning who I was without Christ and who I am becoming every day with His help. I leave them up so that others can see my journey. I also leave them up so that someone who is still struggling with their own identity in Christ will find hope for a  much more glorious future in God.

If you want God to change you, you have to surrender.

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Still Under Construction

If you have been looking for the previews of my book, you may have noticed their disappearance. That was purposefully done. They have been deleted. The previews were written to give my readers a look at the characters that were to be explored in my book. The only problem with that is that the book is a work in progress. The Holy Spirit is still helping me edit. In fact, the book I have now looks almost nothing like the previews I have given. I hope nobody has grown so strongly attached to these characters such that their disappearance from the book may be a loss to you.

One of the purposes of the book previews was so I could receive feedback about my work. This book will attempt to capture significant aspects of my life as done best in a fictional retelling. I am good at writing from the heart but this is my first voyage into a major work of fiction. Already, I have made a major mistake and learned a big lesson. Just out of curiosity I researched how to write fiction from actual events. One of the guiding principles for this type of writing is to make sure that other characters that are inspired by real people are portrayed in the most positive light possible. Or in the alternative, if the author has something not so flattering to share, she must ensure that she does not attribute bad acts to characters that others will be able to identify. Keep the story but disguise or protect the person by using a character that is totally unrecognizable in real life.

My mistake was two-fold. I wanted to write a compelling story so I started with inspiration from people around me. Many of those that have crossed my path in life are unique in personality and outlook. I would pick someone I found interesting, build a character around them then make up a life for that character. I mistakenly believed that if people knew who I was characterizing, they could at least recognize that the stories were made up. I made my storyline intentionally fictional and fantastic so that readers would not attribute the happenings in my book with the actual lives of people I know.

This blurred the lines between reality and fiction and has unintentionally caused confusion for others. Those who have the misfortune to resemble a character in my book are finding themselves having to answer for events that were alluded to in my book previews. Events of which they have no actual knowledge and in which they took no part.

I am so sorry! The only person that should have to answer for this book is the author.

By the grace of God, the Holy Spirit has taught me wisdom. This book was meant to help, not harm. While I have kept the inspiration for the book, I have made a deliberate and concerted effort to seperate fact from fiction. Characters in the book no longer resemble any other person – living, dead, real or previously imagined. Characters that may be associated with anyone in my life have been treated with the utmost respect. Nothing in this book is intended to humiliate or embarrass and I will not rest until I am 100 percent assured that this holds true.

The previews were also deleted because of the bad acts of some. As much as I hate to give an audience to evil, I need to address this. Writing this book took a tremendous amount of vulnerability and openness. I had to be willing to be intimately associated with a main character who is GREATLY flawed and who made a lot of mistakes. I did this intentionally. I wanted others to see that the heart behind my book was not so I could paint myself as some perfect woman who got everything right. I wanted my main character to be real, flawed, jacked up, relatable and ultimately redeemable. I believe in my heart of hearts that Tiwa Adeoba is out there somewhere, in another name and living a different life but just as plagued by the guilt and the shame of her past. I needed my Tiwa to reach those real women who have faced similar issues. If it means embracing transparency and opening myself up to be judged or ridiculed, so be it. Even though Tiwa and I are not the same, I am willing to be her voice. Her story needs to be told.

Someone, maybe a few someone’s out there read the preview of Tiwa’s story. Rather than seeing a compelling story they saw an opportunity to throw stones at a glass house. Rather than using Tiwa’s story as motivation to openly discuss the issues that young women face, they used it as a fuel for gossip. If you are one such person, allow me to be the first to say, shame on you! I intentionally opened Tiwa’s story with a telling of her past sexual abuse because there are too many girls who have been shamed into silence on that topic. They have nowhere to turn because the horror of their experiences has them convinced that no one would understand and everyone would point fingers or ridicule them. It is still my hope that these silenced voices will find in Tiwa a compassionate heart who knows just how they feel. It is still my hope that these women will open up to someone and find hope in Christ. Gossiping carelessly about this issue is a calloused reminder to these same women that some folks will ridicule and blame them for the abuse they have endured.  This is unacceptable. You can’t assume to know everyone’s story. Think long and hard about that the next time you are tempted to disparage someone because of their past.

Now that we have dealt with that, let me arrive at the conclusion of the matter. Much like the characters in my book, I am also under construction. Every day the Holy Spirit shows me another part of my personality that needs to be completely escavated or a virtue that needs to be built up. In the past week alone I have discovered that there is a level of pride hiding out in me that would compel me to completely discard relationships with others rather than apologize when I have offended. This trait is unattractive and foul and I am submitting myself daily to God so that He can teach me to humble myself and prefer others better than myself.

So if either me or any character in my book have failed to meet expectation or have managed to do some unintended harm, please forgive us on all counts. We are under construction.