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In These Here United States

“The United States of America.”

What a powerful name to hold, and how disappointing to fall short of it…again. If there is one thing 2020 has revealed, it is that America does not live up to its name. We cannot even come together, without succumbing to fear, to fight for each other’s health and well-being amidst a pandemic. How can we be united when we don’t love our neighbors? How can we love our neighbors when we don’t know our neighbors and we don’t care to know them? Unity requires agreement, but we can’t even agree on how a human being is supposed to be treated. So, what exactly are we united on? 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [humans] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…”

History shows that although these words were written to serve as the foundation on which America was to be built, the authors didn’t include the poor, women, and black people; but, why should this be the case in 2020? Furthermore, in the same piece of document, it states that a government exists solely to serve its citizens and, in the instance that it fails in its duties, it is within the rights of the citizens to implement a new structure. Why are we not allowed to do just this in 2020? 

“The greatest country in the world.”

What a powerful name to hold, and how disappointing to fall short of it…always. Our country is where perfect theory meets poor execution. The organization is bad, but so are the organisms. There is no one, no thing, innocent across the land. DESPITE all this, I believe in a God that promises us new hearts, hearts after His. I believe in a God that breathes life into dry bones. A God that wants every person, nation, and tongue to praise Him in unity. A just God who delights in showing mercy. A God that gave His life for everyone because He loves everyone. A God that is pleased with the way He created each and every one of us. Yes, that includes my fellow Black people in America and all over the world.

To my fellow Christians,

We are essential in times like these. Before we decree and declare unity over the land, we need to be united as one body, the only bride of Christ. May we not grieve the Holy Spirit through false, incomplete representation of Christ. May we realize that what America needs is for God’s will to be done Earth as it is in Heaven. At the end of 2019, I heard from God that in 2020, things would begin to shift. I can now clearly see what He meant. No longer are we satisfied with evil, division, selfishness, lukewarm-ness, sin, and death (the spiritual kind). America is crying out, again, and God seeks out who He can send. Will we align with Him? Will we answer, “Here I am. Send me!”? Remember that racism and hate is the natural manifestation of the spiritual operations of the devil. Non-believers will rightfully fight with natural weapons, but the establishment of the new foundation needed, the foundation that can never be torn down, will be a result of the spiritual operations of the Bride of Christ.

With love,

ChiStyles

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From Medicine to Social Work

From as early as I can remember, becoming a medical doctor has been spoken over my life. Maybe because I have always been a successful student or because it’s one of the stereotypically recognized fields by Nigerians; but whatever the reason, it’s a noble profession. So I dedicated myself to becoming the best medical doctor possible, even though I would soon lose interest in it. The truth is, I never wanted to be a doctor. If you had asked 4-year-old me, “what do you want to be when you grow up”, I would have told you, “I want to be a mother and stand up for people”; but stronger than that, were my insecurities and people-pleasing nature. It felt good to be the child everyone was proud of and I didn’t want to jeopardize that; I also didn’t believe I was worthy enough to have dreams of my own. I thought that I could adapt everyone else’s excitement and desire as my own; so medicine it was…

In 2015, right before starting college, I had the privilege of hearing a few testimonies from the young adults at my new church. They spoke about how good it felt to have God be a part of every single area in their lives, including where to go to school, what career to enter, and what jobs to pursue. They really inspired me because I felt like I had been living a purposeless life and I wanted, no, I needed a change. I remember telling God, “I want to give a testimony like that one day; I want You to have that much control over my life”. My request that day set in motion a 3-year shift in my life’s trajectory. I would still matriculate into Rutgers – New Brunswick with the end goal of medicine; however, there was now an uneasiness I could not explain, or suppress. I resisted the feeling because I certainly didn’t think the answer was related to me being a medical doctor, or not. Thankfully, God continued to chase after me, despite me fleeing on account of ignorance and dysfunction.

By the end of my freshman year, I was simply pursuing an MD because I wanted the title and the pay that follows. I had actually decided to get my MPH (Master of Public Health) so that after medical school I could do what I thought was more comformed to my passions. I knew it wasn’t quite right but felt this was a bearable compromise. Eventually, I reverted to solely medicine. I was afraid people would think I got my MPH due to incapability. Fear convinced me others would think I had poor undergraduate grades and needed the extra boost. The thing is, 2017 Chiamaka still needed eveyone’s approval. My junior year, while in the ODASIS MCAT class, I had an epiphany———I didn’t care about becoming a medical doctor. Yet again, fear and a people-pleasing nature assured me I couldn’t drop out of the class. In April 2018, I successfully took the MCAT which meant it was no longer a matter of ability. I needed to determine if I could part ways with my proclivity for outside validation.

One night, as I attempted to write my personal statement, I realized I was having a panic attack. At first, I didn’t recognize it for what it was because I had not had one in four years. I should have been estatic at the thought of being in medical school in a year’s time; instead, I knew despair. I was tired. Tired of lying about what I was passionate about. Tired of doing what everyone thought I should be doing. Tired of being unsatisfied and disappointed in the life I was living. I asked God one thing that night, “if not medicine, then what”. He answered me and we began the journey that would eventually lead me to being accepted, on a scholarship, into the number 3 school for social work in the nation (University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration). Don’t get me wrong, God did not say social work that night, for reasons including my lack of trust in Him, need for others’ validation, and my weakness in the face of opposition. He actually told me, “remember what we planned freshman year”, which did not include social work, but over the course of the next year, He would gradually bring me face-to-face with purpose. 

I did not leave medicine because it was difficult. Honestly, and not to boast, I had no doubt I could be a doctor. It was torture because I didn’t care. I had a high overall GPA and a high BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math) GPA. I had a good MCAT score, on my first try. I even had letters or recommendation. And yet, something was out of place. Crying out for God in the summer of 2015 set in motion things I was, initially, too blind to sense. Through this journey, I learned how to hear His voice and trust in Him. God has taught me that true success, true fulfillment, really is obedience to Him. I am now certain, HE IS FOR ME. I may not have all the details planned out like I did with medicine, but I wake up excited, every day, for this new chapter. I rise faith-filled, despite creeping fears, anxieties, and unknowns, because I have yet to see the day my God isn’t faithful.

I hope this encourages anyone who is/has been wondering what their purpose might be. It really can be found at the feet of Jesus. Pray and expect your prayer to be answered, regardless of what it looks like.

With love,

ChiStyles

Ps. There will be an IGTV video to elaborate more on this testimony. So head over to my Instagram and follow if you want a little more detail. The video will be out Tuesday at 12pm. 

Featured photo by sl.vizion

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When I Met My Father

I rang in 2019 with sexual sin and instead of being convicted, I felt condemnation (see previous blog post). This, coupled with isolation and watching my fellow seniors have future plans while I didn’t have any for post undergrad, caused me to be in a dark place from January to the first week of April. I honestly didn’t want to live anymore, convinced there was no point to my life. Three months, 1 week, and 3 days later, I went on my first A Life Retreat from April 11th to the 14th.

We arrived at the retreat site on the 11th at night so I was just expectant for the next day, but I was trying not to be excited because I didn’t want to be brokenhearted if Jesus passed me by. On the 12th, during the last session for the day, many of my peers were getting delivered. I was praying for their deliverance while hoping for my encounter with Christ; however, something shifted in me and I became jealous. I remember thinking I wish I had some demons in me so that God will finally pay me some attention (we could unpack another day so this post isn’t 5 pages long). I began to doubt God, I stopped praying and was looking around with a cynical smile on my face.

After the leadership team dismissed us, I went to sit down, angry and dejected. Someone asked me if I was okay; I lied, answering yes. Another person asked me; I lied again. A third person asked, and I finally told the truth saying, “no, but it’s whatever”. She asked if she could pray for me and I said, “you can do what you want but it’s not going to change anything”. I reasoned, if God won’t show up for me when I prayed for myself, why would He show up when someone else does. With persistence, she began to pray for me, but I wasn’t paying attention. I was just thinking she will be done soon and go her way. She didn’t end quickly so I began hearing the words of her prayer. She was saying, “God loves you”; I was chuckling, thinking yeah, right. As she continued to pray those sweet words over me, telling me what God was saying and thinking about me, I began to speak out loud what was in mind, telling her that she was lying. After some back and forth, some A Life leaders came over and began to pray for me and after a good fight, deliverance took place. I became free from the stronghold of the spirit of doubt.

The next day, I was hypersensitive to the voice of God. In the beginning of the first session, I heard Him tell me to put my shield down and what I saw behind it was incredible. I had detached a part of myself that was much younger than the current me and I would transfer all the blame of my past onto her. Everything I hated about myself I put on her (this younger version of me). God told me I was supposed to unite with her, but I didn’t want to. I told myself I was shielding her to protect her, but actually I was trying to hide her in order to hate myself less or to avoid judgement. I couldn’t move forward until we became one. After another deliverance session in which I was able to forgive myself and reconcile all parts of me, I felt empty, but in a good way. While on break for the day, I remember thanking God for freeing me and asking Him to fill me back up.

Throughout the last session on the 13th, He showed up and showed out for His little girl. I saw multiple visions of how much God loves me. I don’t really have an intimate relationship with my natural father so what happened that night was pivotal in my life. In my first vision, while I was praising and worshipping Him, God told me to rest my head on His shoulder while He told me how much He loves me. Then He told me to lay my head on his lap and at this point I’m crying because He’s also telling me how He feels about me and how beautiful I am. He showed me angels, multitudes, and told me I could put my weapons away because I’ve got protectors and defenders. He told me that they had always been there even when I could not see them and He did all this while hugging me. There was so much more that God told me and showed me, but I’m focusing on these few because it tackled the daddy issues and brother issues I had.

My life has literally not been the same ever since April 13th, 2019. I don’t even know how to put into words how my life has been, how I have felt, how much love I have in my life. I just want everyone else in the world to feel what I feel, to know what I know, to encounter WHO I encountered. I also want to thank the A Life leadership team. Just in case any of you are reading this, “thank you. I can only imagine the amount of time you had to spend in your secret place with The Most High so that you were able to war for me, and the other A Lifers with Him in the open. May our Father replenish and reward you for being dedicated to people to see them saved and FREE. I love you all.”

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There is Therefore Now NO Condemnation

I was born in church. I was born into the Catholic church specifically and grew up in it. I rode on the spiritual coattail of my mother until about age 9 when depression seriously took a hold of me. I never stopped believing God existed, but for the following 9 years, I slowly stopped believing He was a good God and that He cared about me so why should I bother with Him. A few days before my 17th birthday, I gave my life back to Christ and received salvation for myself because I saw certain things that made me think, oh, maybe I can give Him another try lol.

A year later I entered Rutgers University – New Brunswick, and with the help of an on campus ministry called A Life, I began to get the foundations I needed in order to build my own personal relationship with Christ. Still, I would not fully give my life to Christ until the summer of my 21st birthday, this time I was willing to take the walk without looking back. Fast-forward to entering into the year 2019 having been weak when it came to resisting sexual sin, I felt condemnation for the first time since the beginning of my own relationship with God.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit”

Romans 8:1 NKJV

Many people know and/or can quote Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (NKJV). The Bible also states that “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17 NKJV). The New Testament is written the Greek language and the word condemnation translates to katakrima which means “the punishment following a sentence…penal servitude”. Essentially, condemnation is the judgement term one would have to serve after he/she has been sentenced. Condemnation makes you hyper-aware of your sins, which isn’t so bad in the large context of things, but the problem is it doesn’t just stop there. It also covers the truth and the hope of salvation——-the only thing that has overcome our sins. Condemnation makes us internalize our sin, like it’s who we are. Imagine being in a really dark room and all you can see is this never-ending sea of darkness. At first, you attempt to find a way out by walking forward, but no matter how far you walk, you can’t seem to find light. Eventually you get tired, give in, and make a bed in the darkness. That is what condemnation is and looks like.

I had stopped communing with the Holy Spirit and so I couldn’t hear His voice as clearly as I used to. His voice was lower than that of the devil in January 2019, the enemy knew this and took advantage of it. I saw myself 2 ways. I looked at myself and saw filth. I tried to wash away the filth, but no matter how hard I scrubbed, how much soap/body wash I used, nothing came off. Sometimes I would look down and think I look dirtier than before. Another time, I saw myself in an extremely deep hole in the ground. I looked up searching for a glimpse of light but saw nothing. Eventually I gave up and settled into a state of defeat for a month. By this time, the devil had me right where he wanted me and it didn’t matter that I went to A Life meetings every week, I couldn’t hold on to God. Even at the meetings, His light wasn’t illuminating the hole. His blood wasn’t washing me clean. This wasn’t because He was unable to, but because I couldn’t keep my focus on Him, I couldn’t set my heart on His love. All I saw was my sin, my filth, and my faith dwindled.

Eventually you get tired, give in, and make a bed in the darkness.

This is why I honestly believe God wouldn’t condemn us while we are still alive, before we go to meet Him permanently. Being aware of your sin nature is important because we are to repent from our sins so that we can be forgiven. It is impossible to turn away from something bad if we are not even aware of the bad thing. It is, however, not a good thing to take our sins on as part of our identity or to glorify our sins above our salvation, because we know that although we were born sinners, we are a made a new creation by being in Christ and we are no longer slaves to sin (2 Corinthians 5:17 and Romans 6:6). I cannot see how or why God would use condemnation if it separates us from Him after sending His son to die for us (Romans 8:32 and John 3:16). The only way to be in Christ is through faith and belief in Jesus Christ, His death and His resurrection (John 3:18, Ephesians 2:8, and Romans 10:9).

It is, however, not a good thing to take our sins on as part of our identity or to glorify our sins above our salvation, because we know that although we were born sinners, we are a made a new creation by being in Christ and we are no longer slaves to sin

We may fall or stumble, but when we are in Christ, we can rest assured that we are not punished nor should we punish ourselves, and the devil has no jurisdiction over us to dole out punishment. I’m so thankful that after 3 months, I am finally able to grasp the true meaning of Jesus’s sacrifice, my salvation. I am thankful that during that time, nothing, not my incorrect perception or inability to see Him, could separate me from His love (Romans 8:38-39). He pursued me in various ways until I could finally walk back into the light, and by His strength and my growing faith, I will continually be engulfed in His light until the end of my days.

We may fall or stumble, but when we are in Christ, we can rest assured that we are not punished nor should we punish ourselves. and the devil has no jurisdiction over us to dole out punishment.

If you would like to know more about Jesus or just need someone to talk to and walk this Christian walk with, please feel free to email me or DM on my Instagram or on my Facebook! This blog post can also be found on Odyssey.com also written by me.

Battle Fatigue

In our final week of This Is How I Fight My Battles, we have guest author, Ayomide (Ayo) Mustapha joining us. She is going to close us out with some encouragement and exhortation.

One thing we are sure to experience in every battle is fatigue. Fatigue is defined as extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion. It’s quite a normal part of the human experience. For example, when we (y’all) work out, our bodies get tired. When we study or do work all day, our brains get tired. But when we engage in battle, particularly the spiritual battle we’re in, everything gets tired. Our minds, burdened by the constant warding off of the enemy’s lies and deceptions, become tired. Our hearts—tender and heavy from every loss, every hard conversation and every gap stood in, become tired. Our bodies, though engaged in spiritual battle, physically feel the fullness of the fight through every weep, every meal turned down, every night watch, and every sleepless night. And just like our hearts and minds, our bodies, too, become tired.

But much like sleep and a good stretch heals the body after a long workout, and a quick episode (or five) of Gossip Girl heals the fatigue of a mind engaged in thinking all day, the Word of God is the antidote to our soul’s exhaustion.

7 The Law of the Lord is perfect (flawless), restoring and refreshing the soul;The statutes of the Lord are reliable and trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right; bringing joy to the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes… 11 Moreover, by them your servant is warned [reminded, illuminated, and instructed}.

Psalm 19: 7, 8, & 11 AMP

I love the way the Amplified Bible version wrote this passage from Psalm 19. I feel like it speaks to everything that could possibly make us grow weary in battle. First of all, it says that the word of God refreshes and restores our souls—meaning that when we grow weary in our fight, the Word is SURE to revive us. But how does it do that? Besides the fact that it’s PERFECT, this passage also says that it does at least these four things: 

Makes the simple (unintelligent) person wise  

This reminds me of Acts 4:13. Boom: Peter and John were arrested for teaching some people about Jesus and for healing a man in chapter 3 (great story, check it out). Then they were brought before Jewish elders and officials who kept asking them by what power they performed such miracles. Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit (as he should), boldly declared that it was by the name of Jesus Christ, the rejected stone, the one that they crucified, that he and John did those things. He said a lot more, but this is a paraphrase. The next part is where I’m going: Verse 13 says that when the Jewish elders and rulers had seen how bold and confident Peter and John were, being “uneducated, untrained, ordinary” men, they were astounded and recognized that they had been with Jesus. 

You should be shouting by now. 

How much of our fatigue in battle comes from our struggle with feeling unqualified, untrained, and unprepared? According to Psalm 19:7, the Word is a cure for that 😉 He will take YOU—unqualified, unprepared, untrained, uneducated, inexperienced—and make you WISE. Period. 

Enlightens the Eyes

*sigh* This one’s a goodie. In Ephesians 1:18 Paul prays for the Ephesians that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened “so that they may understand the confident hope He has given to those he called.” Meaning that before the enlightenment, they would not know or understand this. This says to me that there is a revelation and hope that fatigue in battle comes to rob us of. When we become tired, we lose our focus and the reason why we were fighting in the first place doesn’t seem worth it anymore. But the light of the Word comes to remind us of who God is, who we are in Him, and the hope and purpose He has called us to. It removes the scales, it illuminates what is hidden and buried, taking away the lies and scales intended to conceal the Truth. Wonderful. 

Brings Joy to the Heart

You’re in a battle that they say is fixed for your victory, but it feels like you’re losing. You’re discouraged, disappointed, grieving, and confused. You obeyed but it hurts. You seek Him every day, but you don’t feel anything and are tired of showing up. All these things and more weigh down on our hearts as we war. But the Word of God combats this by rushing our hearts with joy. Where fatigue from these things might have caused us to give up, the Word of God uplifts our hearts so we can keep fighting AND have joy while doing it. 

There are a ton of weapons we can all give to help fight this battle we’re in. But in order to use any of them, we need to be determined, knowing that a time of fatigue will come but that giving up is not an option. These days, I find myself relating with so much written above, but I’m determined to pick up my sword which is the Word of God. So, this is how I’m currently (trying) to fight my battles. I pray you find strength to pick yours up too. 

Ayo 

Thank you to all the guest authors for your willingness to contribute to this series that the Lord placed on my heart. Thank you for your vulnerability, wisdom, and compassion. Last, but not least, thank you to everyone that is a part of the ChiStyles community! You all, new & old, have rocked with me for almost 2 years now and I do not take that for granted. I will be more consistent with your commitment. Stay tuned for more content and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @chi__styles. Have a blessed week on purpose!

God Brought The Calvary

Y’all, I cannot believe that we are already on week 5 of these series. Today, we have Mayowa, aka God’s Jiggiest Servant, joining us on ChiStlyes! I am excited for him to share his voice and perspective with us. I hope it resonates with you!

Yerrrrrrrrr!!!!!! 

Lol what’s going on with all of you beautiful people!? My name is Samuel or Mayowa or Sam or Sammy whatever yaw wanna do lol. First and foremost, we wanna bless God for this amazing woman of God, Chiamaka, and what she has going on! 

Okay so boom, in life, I believe there’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything; and for a long time, I was doing things the wrong way. In every situation, I chose to consult myself before trying to solve a problem. I was influenced by a bunch of different things that didn’t align with the will of God which landed me in unideal situations. I’m not too sure when it started, but I was young and confrontation became a thing I desired in life. It didn’t matter who it was, my peers, teachers, strangers, and even my parents (lol youngins really used to be buggin out). I remember getting kicked out of school in 7th grade for an accumulation of a ridiculous amount of disrespect to the staff and my fellow classmates. I used to take any offense, big or small, and blow it completely out of proportion because I felt like I always needed to defend myself or maintain a super tough-guy persona. 

One thing I’ve learned about fighting battles, it’s very important to go into battle with the right weapons, rather than grabbing a bunch of weapons you see laying around because you may end up grabbing weapons that ultimately hurt you just as much as it hurts your “opponent”. I realized as I got older that I was doing a lot of damage to myself. I was single-handedly ruining relationships in my life and subconsciously forfeiting myself out of good opportunities due to my behavior. I created this narrative in my mind that my response to offense must always match or surpass what I felt was done to me and used it to justify my actions. Even as a son of pastors and being aware about God from childhood, none of that mattered at the time. I was literally stuck in my ways. 

It wasn’t until I hit a point in my life where the weapons I was using seemed to do more damage than anything else, at that point, I slowly began to truly surrender my life over to God. Prior to this, it was as if God and I were on the same team, but I never passed Him the ball and I wouldn’t listen to any of His advice. As a result, the battles I was in always resulted in losses, a whole lot of losses. Imagine the best player on your team never getting to really show his/her talent because the team (me) doesn’t believe in him/her. Eventually, God was really the only option on how to win. One of my favorite preachers, Uncle Matthew Stevenson said something before, “a lot of people always pray for certain things instead of just praying for the presence of God, because with the presence of God comes everything that you need”. When I heard that, I was blown away, lol, and as I started to surrender, inviting God into my life more, my community and my counsel changed entirely. This is where my weapons started to change. 

“a lot of people always pray for certain things instead of just praying for the presence of God, because with the presence of God comes everything that you need”

Dr. Matthew Stevenson

I was being surrounded by people who saw something in me that resembled what God saw and they never hesitated to let me know if I was doing something contrary to God’s will which resulted in a change to my fighting style. Of course prior to that, there were good, Godly people in my life but I guess I just wasn’t in a place to receive anything they were trying to tell me. My community now has literally changed my life and I’m so thankful and grateful to God because I don’t even deserve those amazing people. Now, when I’m faced with offense, I give it to God. When there’s anger, I give it to God. Whatever it is that’s going on, I give it to God or I do my best to. What’s dope about this new way of fighting my battles is that I’m no longer fighting alone. The community God has brought me into literally fights with me on a daily basis. 

The way I fight my battles now: me, God, and my community vs the nonsense. My advice would be to ask God to surround you with people who see in you what He sees in you. Being around the right people can change everything. Please don’t wait until you hit that low place in life before you change your weapons, let God change everything today.

I love all of you unconditionally, yeah even you guys who I don’t know…I love you too! Don’t let the hood change you, change the hood! May God continue to bless us all and thank you so much Chiamaka!

God’s Jiggiest Servant

This Is How I Fight My Battles by Briana Bennett

Today, we have Briana Bennett joining us on ChiStlyes! I am so excited for her to share her battle strategy with us. I hope you are as blessed & comforted as I was reading this!

I believe I can speak for everyone when I say that 2020 has been a task. Although we have plenty of time to turn this year into the best one of our lives, recent stresses such as the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic and the expectation to exist remotely makes optimism an uphill battle. Thankfully, Chiamaka has made it her business to use this platform to uplift you all during this hard time through her new series This is How I Fight My Battles.

Before digging any deeper into the battles of life, I find it necessary to introduce myself and explain why I’ve been called to speak to you today. My name is Briana Bennett and I am a lifestyle blogger, entrepreneur and full time student. I am enthused to be participating in this series because along with Chiamaka, I want to help all of you channel your inner warrior and conquer the battles that arise in day to day life.  In the following paragraphs I will be sharing the battle strategies I employ in my life when things get challenging and hopefully these techniques can help you combat yours. 

  1. I write. 
    • Writing out the people, things and situations that trigger me provides the opportunity for me to vent privately and see exactly what things are problematic in my life. Doing so helps me pinpoint the things that cause disruption and makes developing a game plan to address the problems easier and more effective. 
  2. I pray. 
    • Let Go and Let God has been my mantra here lately. I have found that when my life is under attack, consulting with God restores my faith and motivation to confront the trials before me. Whether you enjoy prayer or meditation, stepping away from the battle and putting it above you can bring forth guidance and clarity. 
  3. I listen. 
    • Music has been a form of escapism for me for as long as I can remember, and listening to songs that speak to me during troubling times has always been therapeutic. I curate different playlists that cater to an array of vibes and feelings so that I can pull from them when I need to change my spirits. When I am confronting a battle, I find myself playing my workout playlist because the same pumped up mentality I get from music when I need to get through a workout can be the same music I use to get through a breakthrough! Check out the playlist here!
  4. I change locations. 
    • Switching up my environment helps me switch up my state of mind. When I feel defeated or discouraged, accessing a new location helps me shake my negative thoughts and feelings so I can regroup and recenter. I usually visit a park or take a walk, but since we are still in quarantine, ditching my bedroom for the porch has been having to suffice. 
  5. I clean. 
    • The battle method I use most often is cleaning. Cleaning is a chore to many people, but for me it is a very necessary step in being productive. I firmly believe that one can’t organize their life if they are trying to do so in an unorganized space, and I realized that getting rid of physical mess makes it easier to remove emotional and internal mess as well. 

….one can’t organize their life if they are trying to do so in an unorganized space, and….getting rid of physical mess makes it easier to remove emotional and internal mess as well.

As this post comes to a close, I want you all to take away that battles will come your way but you are more than capable of coming out on top! If you plan on trying any of my battle strategies give this post a like and don’t forget to join the conversation and share some of your battle strategies in the comments below. Stay tuned for the remainder of this series and feel free to connect with me on my instagram @_TheBarbLife or message me on my blog at thebarblife.wordpress.com. Stay safe and keep fighting!

-Briana 

When Surrender Happens

Today, we have Fisayo Daniel Agidi joining us on ChiStlyes! I am so excited for him to share his battle strategy with us. Enjoy!

Hello, Beautiful people! Let’s start off like this, I’m encouraging everyone to find 4 people you hold dear to your heart. Tell them how much you appreciate them, be very specific in what you say, and share 3 things they have helped you realize throughout the entirety of your relationship. I am humbled to be a part of this series, and I pray that every word that is said moving forward would give the ultimate glory to our Father in heaven. 

My name is Fisayo. I grew up in Willingboro NJ and attended Liberty University for two years of my undergrad, eventually finishing out at Rutgers University. I’m a photographer, a personal trainer, a son, a brother, and a friend. My life has been filled with countless battles, and these experiences have molded me into the person that I am today; however, if I can be fully transparent, sometimes these battles put me in an unpleasant place. Over the years, I have built up a habit of brushing off my emotions and suppressing my feelings. Not knowing what else to do, I became numb, and that was my battle cry for a considerable period of my life——numbness, avoidance, and suppression. I thought that I could do everything on my own. I didn’t want help from anyone with my “it is what it is” mentality.  I had an excellent coping mechanism; nobody could tell what I was going through, and I didn’t want anybody to know. I didn’t like when people were too concerned about me. In order to avoid adding stress to anybody’s life, I kept everything to myself.  I believed that my issues weren’t that serious because there were other people dealing with much worse; I was neglecting myself. I accepted lessons and ideologies from people who didn’t know better, lessons that preached that life was hard, and it was only going to get much harder. I ALWAYS prepared for the worse, never hoping for the best, and avoided expectations because of the fear of disappointment.

During the summer of 2019, I attended the C&S Youth retreat, and that was the beginning of my transformation. The love I felt during this retreat revealed something special to me. This was the first time in a while that I was able to open up and talk about the issues I was dealing with. I was so stuck in my ways that I didn’t allow people to love me, but the love I felt from the C&S Youth was different. It created a safe place and I felt comfortable even though they were challenging me and calling me out on my BS. Despite being vulnerable, it felt good because I wasn’t afraid to speak up. I felt a spark of boldness that was never there. I realized that I cannot do life alone, and God was showing me a new way to live. Find a community that truly loves you, and allows you to be yourself. 

I battled with my true identity, allowing hate and resentment to live within my heart because of past experience. I didn’t know how to forgive. I didn’t know how to love and God was unwrapping all of these issues during this weekend. I started to give up on my logic of doing things on my own. This is where real surrender started. I gave all my issues to God, asked Him to take them and do as He pleases. I was tired of doing it on my own and I wanted to be able to give out the same love I was receiving. I left the fight to Him. 2 Chronicles 20:17 says, “You will not have to fight this battle. Take your position; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you”. I fight my battles by accepting my flaws, giving them up to God, and understanding that I’m not perfect and never will be. God hasn’t called me to be perfect; He called me to love and at this point in my life that’s all I want to do. In all things, God works for the good of those who love Him.

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take your position; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you”.

2 Chronicles 20:17

My battles are now fought with love. I am still working on a lot and I have the rest of my life to become the best version of myself. I’m in no rush because God has my heart so I’m in good hands. For some reason we only want the world to see us at our very best because the people are more likely to accept and possibly even admire us. God did not create me to be perfect, He created me to LOVE and spread His word. Get in touch with the emotions that you try to suppress, understand the Love of God, make Christ the center of your life, get to know the voice of the Holy Spirit, and give your problems to God. Trust me, He will take care of you. Yeah, we go through tough situations. I understand that life can be difficult, things won’t always go as planned, but trust and believe that God has your best interest at heart. If we fully grasped how much He loves us, we would never worry. His Love is everlasting, never failing, conquers all, and unimaginable. I will stay thankful.

You are worthy of it all. You deserve the Glory. You have always been faithful. You take the broken things and raise them to glory, You are my Champion, every battle You have won, You crown me with confidence, and I am undefeated because You have conquered it all. I wish I was able to love like you Father, maybe I will get there one day.

I love you all. I wish you nothing but the best. Depression is a LIAR fear is a LIAR, and anxiety is a LIAR. The Lord is our strength! Fear WHO? Nobody!

Thank You.

H&H

Thank you friend for joining us today & for your willingness to share your story with others. Everyone, go follow Fisayo on IG @slans.vizionhh & @sl.vizion. He is responsible for the header picture on my home page as well as the header for this post so hit him up for your photography & videography needs!

This Is How I Fight My Battles

For the past month, the world has been fighting a war. We are all feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, in one way or another. And in the midst of our collective war, we have each been appointed as generals over our own battle(s). My battles include trusting in God as Provider because I am a jobless after only working a month, believing the promise that I will be starting school in September, and remembering God’s sovereignty amidst all the tragedy worldwide. It’s true that we didn’t necessarily ask for this fight, but we need to transition from shock & denial to implementing out battle strategies. We need to ask ourselves, how do we get through this victorious? It’s no fun coming out bruised and battered; I must come out standing strong. I cannot tell you what your strategy should look like, but I hope to encourage you to fight.

Today is Resurrection Sunday; for Christians, this is the day that our Savior, Jesus Christ, rose from the dead. This was the day He came out victorious so that the whole world can claim victory as well. Hearing the Good News again today revitalized me in a way I cannot explain, and I did not know I needed. I am reassured that as God’s daughter I am fighting a fixed fight; as long as my faith remains in Him, there is no such thing as a loss for me. That being said, there are still things I must do to align myself with victory. 

  • I cry. I am a very emotional person, and I spent most of my life surpressing my emotionsnbelieving they made me weak; however, I have started letting them out, safely, in the presence of the Lord. Jesus and I talk it through, and after our converstion, I can then act. Addressing my emotions allows me to move forward in a healthy, measured, cconfident way. When I don’t do this, I am being deceitful, which prevents God from working in me and through me. In addition, this promotes emotional stability because I find that I aggressively unload my surpressed emotions on others.
  • I worship. Sometimes, it seems we are more cognizant of our opponent. When I worship, I am reminded of the power of the One backing me. Much like what happened in 2 Kings 6:17, my vision clears up and I become more aware of those surrounding the enemy surrounding me. 
  • I exercise. Exercise/being active been proven to help increase energy levels, improve mood and mental state, and sharpen the mind. Sadly, gyms are closed; however, there are various other ways to remain active. A 30 minute walk, a 20 minute stretching routine, or a 15 minute dance routine are great ways to stay active. It also helps get you out of your bed if you are like me with almost nothing to do during this time.
  • I commune with other people. We are practicing social distancing but that doesn’t mean we can’t communicate with others, especially those who are a part of our God-given community. Battles seem impossible when you’re fighting them alone, so don’t. 

This is just a snippet of my battle strategy which I modify based on the season. It also changes with maturity. But one thing has carried over since summer of 2014, I am not alone, God is fighting for and with me. 

This is not an easy time for anyone regardless of faith, sex, age, etc. but we should join together as humans, God’s image-bearers, and fight alongside eachother. While we push forward, let us never forget that Jesus loves each and every one of us. It is for this reason He conquered death, hell, and the grave. He ensured that we would be able to commune with Him and receive His love, as long as we believe in Him. Stay strong my peeps!

With love,

ChiStyles

Ps. What are some of your battle strategies? How are you staying victorious in this season? Feel free to share in the comments!

From Me to You: A Strong One’s Perspective

Hey You,

I don’t really know where to start with this particular post. There’s no real topic so I don’t have guidelines…I just know I want to get some stuff off my chest. 

Okay, let’s start with why I have been gone so long. I struggle with consistency, particularly self-imposed consistency. I didn’t grow up with it and since I’m still battling the fear of disappointment and hurt, I’m rarely ever consistent with the GOOD things in my life. It’s like this, if I give my best to a thing or a person & it all falls apart then I can pass off blame which makes me bitter & less trusting. But if I don’t even try then I’ve got no one else to blame but myself; the sting is less…or so my mind says. My blogging isn’t the only thing that suffers. I would say my relationship with God takes the biggest hit.

Which reminds me, stuff number 2 that I want to get off my chest: this walk is hard. So darn hard. It’s even harder when you can’t seem to translate all your knowledge of God into practice. In Jesus I’m holy, right? Then why can’t I seem to fight off lust? Why does masturbation lock eyes with me, coming closer & closer as the sun goes down? In Jesus, I am righteous, right? Then why does my heart & mind yearn for such evil sometimes? In Jesus, I am a child of God, part of a brethren, right? Then why do I feel so alone, all the time? It’s not that I don’t have people who check up on me, on the contrary. Sometimes there are so many unopened text messages in my phone that I become overwhelmed. It seems the more love I’m shown the more alone I feel. Make it make sense…

Stuff number 3: I am very self-aware, always have been. I am hyperaware of my brokenness, maybe even more so than I am of The One that can mend me up. I don’t know if it is just me, but it seems like the more I get to know Him, the more I know my own brokenness. That only discourages me. I spend most of my days wandering why I can’t seem to be a good daughter, on earth & in heaven. Why can’t I be a good friend? Why can’t I acquire a simple job? Why can’t I just look in the mirror & see that I’m beautiful, period, no ifs, ands, or buts? Why do I continually deal with one health issue after another, no matter how hard I try to live a healthy lifestyle? Why can’t I do anything well? The more I am overwhelmed with these thoughts, the less consistent I am with seeking HIM. But funny how vise-versa is just as true: the more I seek HIM the less I am overwhelmed by these thoughts. Though they come, they leave quickly, because they’re not at home.

the more I seek HIM the less I am overwhelmed by these thoughts. Though they come, they leave quickly, because they’re not at home.

There is so much more I could unpack, but I’m feeling lighter already, so let’s wrap it up. This post is not a suicide note, nor is it a cry for help. I’ve been there before; I’ve written those before. I am delivered from that and what my Jesus does is final… This is me trying to demonstrate the words of the Jonathan McReynolds, “may your whole life prove that God is good”. The entirety of my life won’t always look as beautiful & serene as a field of sunflowers turned face up to the sun, at least not to the natural eye; however, GOD IS ALWAYS GOOD. When I give in to the lusts of the flesh, the evil in my heart, His arms are still wide open. When I perform for His love, like I do with everyone on earth, because I haven’t fully grasped sonship, He still delights in me. When I can’t see the beauty in my days, He still calls me beautiful. God is good & I can see that more in my battles. I just want everyone else to know that too.

If you feel like I do sometimes, please be encouraged. Speak up to those you trust or share with strangers like I do on my blog, but don’t deny it. Acknowledge it in the “sure this might be the case now, but not forever” way. It is good to be strong, but there is good to be found in your weakness as well. You are never in this (life) alone, despite how believable the lies of the devil may be. Also please share if you believe this can help others. 

With love,

Chi, ChiStyles

God is Good – Jonathan McReynolds
Song is also available on Apple Music

Twenty-Two…

I know it seems like I’m always testifying of the goodness of God, well because I am… Bear with me because I’ve got another one 22 years in the making…

Growing up, birthdays were not a big deal and like any regular day, there was no cause for celebration. I know, now, that it was because of my parents’ upbringing and finances. Afterall, my mom had 4 children while we still lived in Nigeria and we were not, by any means, well-off. Roughly two years after moving to America, self-hatred & depression set in, I began to dread my birthday. One, I hated myself, my existence, and August 5thstood as a sore reminder of my not so glamorous life… Second, prior to when I stopped believing God was good, I would ask Him for the next year to be better than the last. I would plead for the pain to be gone, for Him to send friends that love me, for something to be different, anything… Instead with every new year, things seemed to get worse.

Fast forward to the summer of my 17th birthday, right after giving my life to Christ again, I was delivered from depression and self-hatred; however, it would take me almost 4 years to accept in and walk in it. Based on my then understanding of deliverance, I assumed I would start to cherish my birthday; however, roughly 2 weeks before my birthday, I would become overly angry. Then on August 6th, like a flip of a switch, I would be back to my normal countenance.  I learned to cope with the pain I was unwilling to deal for 14 out of 365 days. BUT my God does not prescribe solutions to help us cope, He makes it so that things never existed in the first place. He completely flips the script, here’s how…

In April, God began to expand & solidify my community which made my 14 day struggle an every day one. I was now a part of many group chats created for the sole purpose of surprising someone or getting someone a birthday gift. Through this, my insecurities about not feeling good enough and my jealousy of people who were surrounded by the love of others were put in the spotlight. Eventually I would not be able to run from them any longer. The first time I was asked to contribute to someone’s birthday celebration, I thought… 

first of all, I just joined y’all group…

go ahead & help them but watch when it’s your turn, no one will care…

don’t help, you don’t gotta because you don’t really know them that much yet…

Keep in mind, I absolutely adore the young woman the celebration was for, but good things, GOD things, will always reveal the evil, sin, flesh, and dysfunction, within. I had a choice to make, between being a slave to my insecurities and pain, or acting in opposition. I chose the latter. Every time a new chat was made, it would hurt, but I chose to fight.

One day, in a particular group chat, a brother in Christ said something, jokingly, that triggered me. Instantly, I couldn’t stop the waterworks. In that moment, I stopped making plans to have the birthday/graduation party I thought I wanted. I could no longer hide my pain, even from God; but now He could work on it. About a week later, I had an official conversation with God about the state I was in. He told me, “if you truly want to have a party, then do, but I don’t need one to show you you’re loved”. I chose to let God handle this one. Ten days later, I got into a car accident. The day after that, I became sick and was sick for 3 days. It was like even though I was trying to keep a positive attitude, everything else around me was trying to tell me, “no you were right, your birthday is just a dreadful time”. After speaking with a few friends, I decided to hold fast to the promise God gave me. When I tell you He came through, I mean HE DID HIS DARN THANG. 

On August 5, 2019 God blew my mind. I was surrounded by friends who would sing the day in with a “happy birthday”. Text messages and IG messages were so many, I was having a hard time responding to everyone. I even received money on CashApp, something I really cherished because I couldn’t work this summer. I got random birthday calls. The usual pain surrounding my birthday wasn’t there, even leading up to the day. My older brother was so kind to me. Last but not least, I had my first surprise party. I’ve always wanted people who say they love me to throw me a surprise party, but I never told God or anyone else. 

Not Everyone that came out is pictured because some had to leave! Shout out to emmanphotography.com for the pictures!

I say, “thank you God”. Thank you to all the people who wished me a happy birthday. Thank you to the wonderful people that put together the surprise dinner party and everyone that showed up. Thank you for just making me feel loved! You all helped break strongholds you may not have been aware of! I love you all!

Guard Your Heart…?

First I want to say, Happy Anniversary to me and everyone that has been reading my posts for the past year! I didn’t even know that this was going to be the exact date, like I am so thankful and blessed! Initially I used to see this part of my calling as a burden but sharing with you all has contributed to my deliverance process and so I say thank you! I really love y’all, like forreal forreal! 😭💙

Second, Happy Father’s Day to everyone’s daddy! Now for all those who this day is often sad and triggering, You are NOT fatherless! You have and will always have a Heavenly Father so you will always have a father’s love. I pray the joy of The Lord washes over you right now like a flood overpowering all the lies of the enemy!

Let’s jump right in to today’s post…

There are many common misconceptions associated with Christianity and Bible scriptures, particularly those that have been integrated into popular culture. One of these misconceptions include Proverbs 4:23. It says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it springs the issues of life” (NKJV). In another translation, it says to guard your heart above all else. Interchanging keep with guard is actually pretty accurate because in Hebrew, which is the language of the Old Testament, keep is Shamar. Shamar also means, to guard, protect, keep watch, and etc.

Oftentimes, this verse has been interpreted as permission to defend ourselves when someone does us wrong or closing our heart off to people, pain, and hurt. Essentially we can take it as far as putting barriers around our heart. We have taken words and completely separated them from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I don’t believe that Proverbs 4:23 is telling us to be the defender of our hearts because The Bible does not contradict itself and in Philippians 4:7, it says that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. In Romans 12:9 it says, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord” (NKJV). In addition, Matthew 18:21-22 tells us to forgive 70 X 7 times and chapter 5 verse 39 tells us how to react when someone wrongs us which is contrary to closing off. We are God’s sheep so let us allow Him to be our Shepherd, because a good shepherd KEEPS his/her sheep.

You might be thinking, okay, so what did God intend for us to do after reading Proverbs 4:23? The entire chapter of Proverbs 4 can be summarized as a father giving advice to his children, specifically on good things to follow, indulge in, and live life by. With that context being established, let’s reread verse 23 and see that The Lord was trying to tell us more to be mindful if what we indulge in during our life span, because all those things will serve as seeds sown in the soil of our heart and we will reap the appropriate harvest.

For instance, taking in shows and movies that have high amounts of sexual scenes is one way to plant the seed of lust into our hearts and the rotten fruits will be represented as inability to have healthy intimacy or not being able to control ourselves when it comes to the impure way we view God’s children, our fellow siblings in Christ. Another example would be telling a “white lie” (no such thing by the way) just a few times. Before you are aware of it, you are reaping the fruit of deception as part of your everyday life. When you withhold encouragement and/or compliments due to insecurities, you reap a bitter, jealous heart and relationships with no trust or transparency.

On the opposite side, if you tithe even when you have little, you reap the fruit of financial protection and stability straight from the hands of The Lord and increase in a giving heart, a heart that finds joy in obeying God. When you continue to do the same level of work even on the days your supervisor isn’t watching you, you reap integrity, becoming a person God can trust. When you make it a habit of praying for those who have hurt you, you reap a forgiving heart and wherever you go, you are a peacemaker. God is telling is to be watchful and mindful of what we partake in or consume because Luke 6:45. It’s kind of like “you are what you eat” or “you can only give what you have”. You can’t pour water into a cup, yet what you drink is wine (unless you’re my main man, Jesus lol). You cannot pull out of something what isn’t already in it.

During this past week, The Lord showed me a lot concerning the contents of my heart. He showed me that prior to the fast, my harvest wasn’t all good; there were some rotten fruits amongst it; and when you put rotten fruit with good fruit, the good becomes contaminated. As I exit my plowing season and enter my planting season, God wants to make me aware of what seeds I choose to sow this time around. I count that a blessing and an honor that God is so concerned about us that He involves is in His plans for us. And His plans are GOOD (Jeremiah 29:11). No longer can I use the excuse of I didn’t know better, because I now know Him. And so I ask all of you as well, what seeds are you sowing in the soil of your heart and will you be honestly pleased with the harvest when reaping season comes? God loves you all! I pray your planting season is one to produce a good harvest!