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Kia Stephens

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August 14, 2015

True Confessions of a “Like” oholic

August 14, 2015 | By | 10 Comments

I’ve never smoked crack, shot heroine or drank alcohol, but I have an addiction. Out of nowhere, it snuck up on me.  Like the abrupt discovery of a fast moving cancer, I realized, “Houston, we got a problem.”   

I’m a likeoholic and it’s crazy because just 10 years ago I was the woman who didn’t want a cell phone. “I don’t need one, “ I’d  argue.  And then I became the one clinging to her flip phone, complete with basic service.  “No I don’t send or receive text messages,” I’d say, to the shock of the hearer.  

Honestly, it was sheer bliss living in my cave next door to the Flintstones.  Who cared if the rest of the world tweeted, texted, or shared cyber messages across America?  I was content in the dark, until I tasted the 21st century, and liked it.

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Kia Stephens

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May 4, 2015

True Confessions of a Recovering HATER Part IV

May 4, 2015 | By | 6 Comments

Whether attached to gray hairs or weeds, roots are resilient.  Refusing to give up, they persevere in spite of tireless efforts to eradicate them completely.  Likewise, I have found the roots of my unwanted behavior just as difficult to get rid of.

Step 5:  Do the Introspective Work

Sometimes, in spite of a relationship with Jesus Christ, Bible reading, and church attendance my HATER inclinations reappear.  Revealing themselves in my thoughts, these periodic tendencies wage war within my soul.  When they do, I am akin to Paul’s words in Romans 8:19 (NIV), “I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing.”

Why?

In answering this question I delved beyond the surface level of my actions, taking a closer look at one possible cause – insecurity.   Beth Moore, author of So Long Insecurity, examines several origins for this epidemic of self doubt.

  • Instability in the Home
  • A Significant Loss
  • Rejection
  • Dramatic Change
  • Personal Limitations
  • Personal Disposition

At least four of the experiences above directly correlate to growing up with an emotionally or physically absent dad.  This is not to say a father’s absence is the sole determining factor for a daughter’s lack of confidence.  However, the impact this relationship has on woman cannot be ignored.  Author and psychologist, Dr. James Dobson says it this way in Bringing Up Girls,

“a daughter’s sense of self-worth and confidence is linked directly to her relationship with her dad.  What he thinks about her and how he expresses his affection is a central source of her perceived value as a human being.”

Stasi Eldredge, co-author of Captivating: Unveiling the Mysteries of a Woman’s Soul, supports Dobson’s statement with a painful and vivid memory.

“When I was a girl of maybe five years old, I remember standing on top of the coffee table in my grandparents’ living room and singing my heart out.  I wanted to capture attention–especially my father’s attention.  I wanted to be captivating.  We all did.  But for most of us, the answer to our question when we were young was “No, there is nothing captivating about you.”  Get off the coffee table.”

The sting of our father’s absence – physical or emotional – lingers in our adult lives.  Every time we judge another woman and put her down secretly it speaks to something we are lacking internally. This lack leaves us with haunting questions demanding answers.

Does my life have value?
Does anybody see me?
Is who I am enough?

And what we are missing cannot be fulfilled by flattery.

I love your shoes.
That was a great presentation.
Congratulations on your degree.

These only address the peripheral of us.  I am talking about words that breathe lasting life into the core of who we are.  This only comes from God.

Christ addressed this longing with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:13 (NIV).  In response to her question about well water Jesus zeroed in on the thirst that water cannot quench. “But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Our worth comes from God.  Period.  We cannot derive security from careers, bank accounts, or a new bag – NOTHING!  And even though it is tempting to build on this sinking sand we must uproot that faulty foundation from our soul.  This process is messy, painful, and on-going – but worth it!

True Confessions IV Meme 1

Thankfully, God’s love and support are constant on this recovery road.  His presence can bring lasting change. One of my favorite scriptures says, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1: 6 (NIV)

On this journey, I am encouraged to know that God will complete the work.  My change is not dependent on my ability, consistency, or know-how.  

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Kia Stephens

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March 30, 2015

True Confessions of a Recovering HATER: Part III

March 30, 2015 | By | 27 Comments

While surfing the web one day I stumbled across Gabrielle Union’s 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey.  The topic of discussion was an acceptance speech Union Gave at Essence Magazine’s Black Women in Hollywood pre-Oscars luncheon.  As her peers sat stunned Gabrielle used that major platform to expose her “mean girl” behavior.

“We live in a town that rewards pretending and I have been pretending to be fierce and fearless for a very long time. . . I used to shrink in the presence of other dope beautiful women.  I used to revel in gossip and rumors and I lived for the negativity inflicted upon my sister actresses or anyone – that I felt –  whose shine diminished my own.  I took joy in people’s pain and I tap danced on their misery. . . It’s easy to pretend to be fierce and fearless because living your truth takes real courage. Real fearless and fierce women admit mistakes and they work to correct them.  We stand up and we use our voices for things other than self promotion. . . Real fierce and fearless women celebrate and compliment other women and we recognize and embrace the notion that their shine in no way diminishes our light and that it actually makes our light shine brighter.

Union’s speech aimed the spotlight on Hollywood, but being a HATER is a universal ill.  Deeply rooted in fear and insecurity it spreads like a viral disease; but there is a cure.  In the previous blog post we identified 3 steps we can take on the journey to becoming a reformed hater. This brings us to – what I think is – one of the most difficult and equally powerful components on this road to recovery.

Step 4: After You Own It Confess It Too

In the comfort of our brain we become anesthetized to jealousy. We justify it as a not-so-bad-sin in comparison to murder and adultery.  But make no mistake – it is sin – and viewed the same in God’s sight. We must allow ourselves to feel the weight of our behavior by exposing the truth.

I am not saying let’s all sit across from Oprah and confess our sins on a large platform.  Confession is delicate and cannot be done haphazardly.  I am saying find a TRUSTED, SAFE, and WISE  accountability partner you can be gut ugly with. (If you don’t have one there are some helpful suggestions in the resource tab of this website.)

It is difficult mustering up the courage to share your faults with someone else, but this single act breaks the power of sin in our lives.  I experienced this power firsthand when I confessed to the person whom I had been jealous of.  Yes, it is embarrassing to admit, but this thorn in my flesh has progressed beyond mere strangers and ventured into the realm of close friendships.

In fact, as I was preparing for this series my mind was bombarded with guilt regarding  jealous thoughts I had towards a long time friend.  Fearing my honesty would cost the friendship, I took a risk and told her how I struggled for years concerning her.  It was humbling, to say the least, but I got through it – and afterwards, I felt like something broke inside my soul.

A weight.
A habit.  
Sins grip.

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Author and pastor, Andy Stanley gives a compelling argument for confession in his book, It Came From Within.

“The reason you still feel guilty about things in your past is because they are still unresolved.  Telling God you are sorry doesn’t resolve your guilt because God was not the only offended party.  Talking to God is not enough.  Your burden of guilt won’t be lifted until you confess to the offended party.  Then, and only then, can you live out in the open,  Only then will you be free from the secrets that have formed walls between you and the people you love most.

 

Thankfully, she graciously accepted my apology and we moved on.  I wish I could promise you confession will be smooth; I can’t.  What I can say is – as someone who has had to confess more times than I’d like to admit – I know God will strengthen you to do what must be done.  James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”  And as we confess our sins we can take comfort in knowing we are completely loved and accepted by God.

Our jealous actions are not enough to keep God from loving us. “. . . I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” Romans 8: 37 – 39 (MSG)  

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Kia Stephens

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March 21, 2015

True Confessions of a Recovering HATER: Part II

March 21, 2015 | By | 43 Comments

It began as another routine trip to the grocery store.  My family of four was heading towards the entrance when we ran into some old acquaintances. Upon approaching their car, I should have known a HATER exam was imminent.

“We just got a new house,” she said.  “Oh, congratulations,” I replied, clinging to the 10 Steps to Becoming a Reformed Hater.  I made it through the conversation, only to face the true test when I got home.

Linoleum on its last leg, carpet stained beyond steam cleaning, walls that look like my children’s canvas, and a kitchen with a missing back board greeted me when I arrived.  “Thank you for my house, thank you for my house, THANK YOU FOR MY HOUSE!” I tried to repeat – because that was the Christian thing to do.  I was a S-T-R-U-G-G-L-I-N-G.

The more I tried to be thankful for what I had, the more I was tempted to compare my old with her new.  I wanted to find something, anything to make me feel better about being in my home of 10 years plus – with all the battle scars to prove it.

The sweet satisfaction of a thought laced with hate was so tempting.  It would numb the pain – the truth- that I was not at peace with my own space. Thus forcing me to realize the discontentment I birthed in my youth had come of age in my adult life.

I could not genuinely celebrate her good thing because I wanted it for me. Ouch! Simply put, I was a HATER.  Attacked by what Andy Stanley calls the “Green-Eyed Monster,” in his book, It Came From Within.  Andy goes on to talk about the real root of jealousy.

“When we think about jealousy or envy, we immediately think of the things others have that we lack- looks, skills, opportunities, health, height, inheritance, etc.  We assume that our problem is with the person who possesses what we lack.  But let’s face it.  God could have fixed all of that for us.  Whatever he gave your neighbor, he could have given you too.  And besides, you don’t really want your neighbor’s car; you want one like it.  You don’t mind the fact that God provided him with one.  The problem is that, while passing out new cars, God skipped you!”

God brings blessing to whomever He chooses.  Job 1: 21 (NIV) says, “The Lord Gives. . .” And though I have the freedom to question God’s decisions, I’ve tried and that road leads to nowhere.  So rather than pitch a tent in my own yuck I am choosing to become a reformed hater.

10 Steps to Becoming a Reformed Hater

Step 1:  Own My Truth

It is so much easier to front like I have it all together rather than to put my imperfect parts on display.  And though I periodically masquerade as the more together chic, God’s accepting love compels me to reveal the woman behind the mask. When I do, my truth looks like this.

  • Nothing about my life is perfect – but Christ.
  • I am not a super mom.
  • I struggle to keep my house clean.
  • Most days I am an overwhelmed working mom.
  • I try to be consistent but at best I’m scatterbrained.
  • I’m closer to 40 than ever (Ahhhh!).
  • When I am a hater it is a reflection of discontentment and insecurity within my soul.

In the past, the barrier to owning my truth was an overwhelming fear of rejection.  I wrestled with the possibility that exposing my truth would depreciate who I was in the eyes of others.  But “perfect love drives out fear” 1 John 4:18 (NIV) and I can rest in knowing my worth comes from my Creator.

 In Him I find contentment with the undesirable parts of my life. He enables me to see the beauty in what is rather than what is not.

True Confessions Meme 5

Step 2: Celebrate the Success of Others

Did you hear that so-in-so just. . .

Bought a new car.

Went to Hawaii.

Got her doctorate.

Honestly, sometimes I find it difficult to “Rejoice with those who rejoice”. Romans 12:15 (NIV)  At times my version of the scripture has been, compete with those who succeed – fearing that if I don’t, I will be less than, average, and behind.  Cloaked in insecurity I struggle to celebrate another woman’s success.  But the truth is, her gain does not diminish who I am.

Whether it’s a new house, great career, or a dream vacation, I can choose to rejoice in her accomplishments.  It is a continual decision not based on my emotions but rooted in a security that can only be found in Christ.  In Him I can celebrate the success of my sisters and replace insecure thoughts with the truth of who I am as a daughter of God.

Step 3: Refuse to Compare

As women, our thoughts come faster than a bullet train on greased rails.  In an instant, we can size up every female in a 10 foot radius. But in doing this, the challenge is to remember she is human.

She cries.

She has struggles.

She laughs.

She has insecurities.

And, she is more than her external appearance.   In choosing to become a recovering hater I must see her as God does – not a rival, but a person.

 

True Confessions Meme 3

I must remember, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16: 7 (NIV)

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Kia Stephens

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March 7, 2015

True Confessions of a Recovering HATER : Part I

March 7, 2015 | By | 14 Comments

Although I am not a YouTube junkie, if I come across a video series, something compels me to watch them all.  Three hours later I’m wondering where the time went.   This happened recently when I stumbled across Sarah Jake’s Lost and Found Webisodes.

Immediately, I was captivated by her very bold and raw truth.  Sarah’s story was intriguing: daughter of world renowned T.D. Jakes, pregnant at 13, and divorced.  Initially, I was lured by curiosity, but I was soon gripped by a confession we both shared.

In episode 7 Sarah was the featured speaker at a Sister Accord Luncheon in Atlanta, Georgia.  After the introductory bio was read she began her talk with a surprisingly honest statement.

“. . . I am a reformed hater . . .   I had this thing when I was younger – because I was so insecure . . . – that I tried to pick out (the) flaws (of)  other people. . .  Someone just couldn’t have it all together. . . I had to find a way to knock them down. . .  It was something that I dealt with for a very long time. . .  My own personal struggle with loving myself made me create these different  issues that I saw with other young women.  And it wasn’t until much later in life that I realized, it really wasn’t anything wrong with them (but) there was a lot wrong with me.”

Sarah’s confession provoked me to deal with the truth. I was a hater – not yet reformed.  And the source of my hate was insecurity.

Insecurity in a woman has many root causes; one of those is the absence of the father in a girls life. Author and psychologist, Dr. James Dobson says, “a daughter’s sense of self-worth and confidence is linked directly to her relationship with her dad.  What he thinks about her and how he expresses his affection is a central source of her perceived value as a human being.” My own battle with insecurity drove me to secretly tear other women down in order to build myself up.

Ironically, I’ve been on the receiving end enough to understand the need to eradicate this behavior.  I remember being an impressionable freshmen in college experiencing this painful tactic first hand.  I made a comment to a woman I deemed pretty popular on campus.  Trying to  make conversation I said, “I have those shoes.”  Her response was, “Are your’s Nine West (the less expensive brand)?”  “Yes,” I replied.  To which she responded, “Mine are Via Spiegel.” And then there was silence.

I call it nice nasty, but I can’t even begin to judge her because I have done it too.  In fact some of mine have been worse.  My dirt has been done in secret in an effort to maintain a good Christian persona.

In her book, So Long Insecurity, Beth Moore describes the painful ramifications of living like this.  “Insecurity will rob us of some of the richest woman-to-woman relationships of our lives.  It turns potential friends into competitors.   It can also cause us to pursue associations out of some unwell or impure motives.”

I don’t want to spend my life seeking a quick low- self esteem fix by competing with women I could be friends with.

True Confessions Meme

The only reason I would compete with another woman’s beauty, career, home, number of degrees and the like, is because I do not know who I am.  And the truth is, who I am is much larger than the way I look in a bathing suit, the neighborhood I live in, or the brand of shoes I’m wearing.Who I am is defined by my Creator.

True Confessions Meme 2

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 139: 13 – 14

But if I’m honest I will admit that I’ve known that scripture for a long time and still returned to the detrimental behaviors of comparison, envy, jealousy, and coveting throughout my walk with Jesus.  So what is the solution?  What can a professed hater do to change?  In my own recovery journey I have found 10 steps to be helpful.

10 Steps to Becoming a Reformed Hater

Step 1: Own My Truth

Step 2: Celebrate the Success of Others

Step 3: Refuse to Compare

Step 4: After You Own It Confess It Too

Step 5: Do the Introspective Work

Step 6: Be Changed By God’s Word

Step 7:  Have Brutally Honest Communication with God Often

Step 8:  Be Thankful

Step 9:  Pray It Forward

Step 10: Fight For It

In saying steps, I don’t want to give you the impression that the journey has been linear.  On the contrary, in my step following, I have jumped around, avoided, faked a few, and started over a bunch.  But even with my disorganized implementation, these steps have been powerful in my life.  Though not a guarantee for instant change they have significantly aided my transition from a hater in recovery to one that’s on the road to reformation.  Join me in the coming weeks as I unpack each of them.

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