I’m Aware: Do You Believe?

(An excerpt from The Clarissa Joan Experience Book coming In Production)

“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is in you]; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5

In the later stages of my pregnancy with Genesis, our first living child, I slept separately from my husband. I was over 200 lbs, I tossed and turned all night to get a good sleeping position, and the heat in our room felt like hell. Our second bedroom had a ceiling fan; and even though the bed was smaller, the isolation gave me more room to breathe with liberty.

One morning, I awoke to the sound of my husband pacing back and forth. We did not keep a clock in the room, so I was without awareness of the time. It was pitch black outside our window.

Finally, I crawled my 200lb self out of the bed to peep in the hallway. I did not see him, but I could still hear him. The walk to our bedroom seemed like it would take forever, so I returned to my sleeping quarters shaking my head.

Our entire pregnancy at this point was a test of faith. In order to avoid the disappointment of another loss, we refused to confirm Genesis’ existence until she was ten weeks developed. We would have actually waited until 12 weeks, but our doctor demanded us to come in.

I buried my first true love, my great-grandmother, Clarabelle, and my biological mother, Barbara T., while pregnant with Genesis. I, also, grieved the death of our firstborn child, in addition to starting The Clarissa Joan Experience. God, via my spiritual practices, grief counseling, my own wellbeing and maternity care, plus our marriage and my conviction to believe in a new future for my life consumed all my energy.

I had nothing left to give to anyone else. If he, Theo, my beloved husband, was breaking down at this moment, I was prepared to pray for him and go back to sleep. Jesus take the wheel!

I guess he heard my fumbling and mumbling too. Seconds later, I glanced at his stature hovering over my bed. His being was immersed in the dark of the early morning backdrop, but I could still see him clearly. I sat up at attention immediately. He sat down next to me quietly.

“Here, we go again.” I thought to myself.

He sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity, and I just stared at him.

Then he broke his silence. “Your uncle called me. Your aunt did too. They said your other aunt called them.” He took a pause.

Here we sat in the dark, 38 weeks pregnant again. We were already on pins and needles approaching this delivery and now this, whatever it was. I allowed the silence and the pause without resistance, because, frankly, I was not in a space to respond anyhow. As far as I was concerned, delivering my baby was all that mattered.

Finally, He spoke again.

“They said they found your brother dead.” He took a deep breath and looked at me.

Now, under normal circumstances…

Normal, for me, means not cremating your child at 26 years of age. Normal also means not spiritually counseling your great-grandmother through chemotherapy.

Normal, I assume, is not managing the impact of your mother’s rock-bottom addiction behavior on the family.

I guess normal would also be not managing your estranged father’s disappearances and post-traumatic grief after the death of your mother.

I wonder if normal is not organizing the burial of your great-grandmother and mother two-months apart. Or is it not supporting your cousin through the rehabilitation process required for a person shot 10-12 times.

Is it normal to be the only company for your great-grandfather who lost his wife of 50 years, all while taking care of your own grief, marriage, and pregnancy?

Under normal circumstances, I would have been distraught, rather destroyed, to hear about the death of my only brother after he just survived a 45. bullet gunshot wound to the head three years prior.

I would have cleaned up my tears, dressed, and readied myself for crisis management without breathing first.

But this time was different. This time, I was on the verge of birthing Genesis, a new beginning.

I took a deep breath, I looked my husband in the eyes, and I said, “This does not make sense, but I am going back to bed. Nothing will impact the delivery of this child. I’ll cry about my brother after she is born.”

I, then, returned to sleep.

Truth is I did not stay sleep. An hour or so later, my great-grandfather would reveal to us that not my brother, Kevin, but a close cousin, with a similar name died. Tragic still the same, but crisis management wise different. My presence on the scene would not be necessary as the next of kin.

I went into labor the next morning, and Genesis was born two days post in the midst of the biggest snowstorm of 2014. 15 months later, we gave birth to the newest member of our family, our youngest daughter, Joelle. She was born on April 27th, 2015, the two-year anniversary of my great-grandmother’s death. Her name Joelle, is a testament to the scripture Joel 2:25 -26 and the restoration power of God.

“And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.”

I have been writing The Clarissa Joan Experience for two years plus. I have shared my experience as a living witness to the love of God, HIS wonders, HIS works, and HIS power. But if you do not examine and test your own faith, my words, my truth, my testimony falls on deaf ears.

I could quote you scripture after scripture about being accountable for your own wellbeing according to God. There are many and the case is made. But the real question is:

Do you believe?

In Genesis 1:28, God says that man is made in HIS image to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

I believe that God loves me, and that HE made me to live a happy, whole, abundant life. I love God for loving me this way. I believe HE made the entire universe for me to enjoy by taking good care of the life HE gave me for free.

This belief, to have dominion over my own life according to wisdom, at first my great-grandmother’s, and now God’s, is how I avoid the 10,000 distractions that show up every day. Distractions come by way of fear, doubt, shame, guilt, worry, anxiousness, jealousy, bitterness, and hate. Distractions can be anything or anyone obstructing my being rooted in the knowledge of God’s love for my life.

God desires that we be blessed, which in Greek means happy. To live unhappily is to live outside of the will of God. Truth be told unhappiness is a silent lethal assassin keeping graveyards filled to the brim with untapped potential. I have watched unhappiness claim the lives of many people I love, the living and the dead.

I have spent the last six years learning how to be happy in the worst of times. I practice choosing forgiveness, love, joy, peace, patience, faith, kindness, goodness, humility, and self-control when tempted otherwise.

If God allows something to happen, who am I to resist and abort my own calling to love and happiness? God is in control, and I am in control of God being in control of me. Through this lens, I have tested my faith that all things work for my good. I believe! Do you?