Day 31: 100 Kisses - Final Reflection

A woman of God. 
A praying daughter. 
And an avid faster. 

Those are three things that I have always been. So it wasn't a surprise to anyone who knows me personally, when I started a spiritual challenge for others to try. 

What did surprise me.. and even hurt me, was the fact that none of my family or friends were participating. All of them encouraged me from the sidelines but very few of them actually wanted to do it. 

I was almost defeated by this collective decision. I thought, If my friends aren't doing it, who else is going to do it with me? I remember thinking, Sheesh, they could at least act like they are doing it for a few of the days! And that's when it hit me!

I questioned my very intentions. Why am I doing this?! What's the point of my friends faking or half doing it? 

I had to really stop and reevaluate the reasons why I started the challenge. 

I could not be upset with my friends for not doing the spiritual challenge, it would be like getting mad at them for not going to church. Everyone's spiritual journey is unique and personal. 

I had to remember that we each walk alone toward the mark of the Most High. I had to live by the scripture:

Enter the Kingdom through the narrow gate. The gate that is large and the road that is wide leads to destruction. Many people go that way. But the gate that is small and the road that is narrow leads to LIFEOnly a few people find it. -Matthew 7:13-14

That scripture rang in my head louder than church bells. I am on the narrow path. There is only enough room for me! Me and God. I had to continue my challenge for me and me only. 

There are too many followers and not enough leaders. Followers follow because they are afraid to be theirselves. Afraid of the opinions of others. Afraid of failing. So they follow the footsteps of someone else... Instead of creating their own path. 

I had to be myself. I knew that I could not let the participation of one person or another dictate my spiritual growth. I am a leader. It was time to act like one! 

But I still felt defeated because people were liking all the other superficial nonsense on instagram and not my words, words that were said just to help them get through their day! I had to remember, I wasn't writing for them. I was writing for me. It was my vent. It didn't matter who liked it or not. 

The entire CHALLENGE was bigger than me, it was about honoring the Creator and reminding myself to have faith in His promise. 

But even with that epiphany, I was still ready to stop posting all together and just finish out the challenge on my own. Because I hated Instagram. I felt like it was becoming so much of a competition between others. I felt like everything was fake. And most of all, I hated promoting my blog. It made me feel like I wasn't being ginuine and like I was only blogging for reasons other than inspiring others. So I stopped promoting the challenge.  Stopped using the #ValenciasGardenSpiritualChallenge hashtag... and I stopped watermarking my posts.. I just wanted to be myself. I wasn't trying to sell myself or my blog. I simply just wanted to be-my-self!
It was in that moment, the moment when I went back to basics and only did was was true to me, that I started to see the fruit of my seeds. Out of no where, people were being touched by the words that God had spoken through me. I started getting words of affirmation via text, email, and social networks.. God was showing me that my work was not vain. 

I could not quit. I could not quit. 

I kept writing. Kept living. Kept blogging. 

What I learned is that the act of not caring takes practice! You can't just wake up and not care, feelings/emotions do not work that way. I had to practice not looking to see how many people were validating me. I had to practice not letting the lack of support devalue my gift of preaching or determine the worth of my achievements. 

Whenever I would post something on Instagram, I would log off as soon as it was posted just so that I wouldn't focus on the likes. I was determined to ignore everyone and just do what I wanted, because I wanted to do it. 
Because it made ME happy.
Because I was comfortable sharing it.
Because I LIKED IT. 

It worked. I felt good, with just my picture or wordy-post, no matter who liked it or not. 

Crazy thing though: As soon as I overcame my instagram anxiety, and stopped caring about the opinions of others, things started happening. Bad things. Everything in my personal life started taking a toll on me. I felt like the walls were caving in. But again, I was not defeated. This time, it was the Biblical scriptures of the challenge that helped me. Each day's scripture kept me going. They seriously gave me LIFE. 

So I kept on living. Kept on writing. Kept on blogging. 

And each day, more and more people would send me an affirmation. God began to use others to motivate me, in the same ways that I was motivating them. 

When you let go of your fears and just let your wings take you where your heart leads them, you will show others that they too can fly. I am a teacher, in every aspect of my life. Not just in my classroom. I believe that each one of us is a teacher in our own form and fashion because someone, somewhere is always watching and emulating what we do. The stanza above the paragraph is an excerpt from a poem on my blog titled, My Blank Unfilled ... To read this email and see that someone learned to fly.. simply by reading/listening to the Words that the Creator allowed me to speak, was humbling and reassuring. 

I want to thank each individual who sent me a word of endearment. Thank you for taking the time to speak life into me. 

I hope that anyone who takes the time to read this understands that you have to fearfully walk in your own calling, FOR YOURSELF FIRST, and then, for those that are watching, admiring, and learning from you. 

This last week of the challenge was absolutely the best. I finished strong. It was like God brought everything together, full circle. I was blessed with new opportunities. I spent time with family. I made peace with many... And I honestly just felt loved.

I am truly excited about February! I can't wait to see what new challenges it brings forth. I can't wait to see the lessons that God teaches me through each one of them. 

This is my 100th blog post.. I want to dedicate it to my friend and sister Shelly. I am sending you 100 kisses.. Each one filled with courage, perseverance, faith, discernment, wisdom, and love. Right now, you're going through sooooo much more than most people would be able to handle. But The Lord is making room for what He has promised you. Embrace your adversity and let God guide your every footstep. I love you so much. Thank you for being one of my biggest cheerleaders. Now it's my turn to do the same for you. 

Love always,