Optimism is self-sabotaging. When we seek to find happiness, success, or love on our own terms, we deprive ourselves of spiritual growth. Spiritual Growth is simply removing a false sense of thought and existence.
Let’s start by saying that faith, and having discernment are not the same as being optimistic.
Life is marred by the many lessons learned from trying to be optimistic in spite of the truth.
Let us go on a journey to find out what it means to understand to be understood.
Photo Credit: Candace Ansah
Hi there, it is me, Makeda. However, Makeda was not always my name. The journey to this new name will be well documented in my book, for it is very long, excruciating, yet exhilarating. I say exhilarating because I felt the power of purpose on this journey. This is why I can say: I am that girl, just redeemed, because I still feel like a little girl except one that is free of fear, anxiety, and naivety. I am redeemed because I am restored to my pre-earth self, my higher self.
The picture above looks like I am walking on water because that is how I truly feel. This realization is a long way from how my story began on this side of life, and keep in mind that our story collectively started way before our birth (that’s another story).
Initially, my story begins on the floor, one rainy night with thunderstorms raging with a twenty-seven-year-old woman giving birth to her ninth child, no husband or the baby’s father present. Shortly after my birth, my mother leaves when I am only two months old. She tells my aunt, her sister that she is going to the store and never looks back. After that, my life in foster care begins at four months. Fast forward, I am eight years old, and my foster mother tells me that she is not my birth mother. I am shocked, and after hearing this devastating news, my life changes forever. At this time, insecurities set in, and the stigma of being in foster care is apparent and further defines my life.
During my teen years and early adulthood, I go on a hell-bent journey of self-sabotage and rebellion; all brought on by fear and lack of knowledge. Knowledge of self, my purpose, and my destiny is non-existent. I begin to doubt everything and lose trust in people. I become a tainted woman; a single mother and instability becomes the norm.
But, thankfully a few kind-hearted people remind me of the life I am given despite my origins. The truth is I am placed in a selfless, caring, nurturing, and godly woman’s arms. She is a very diligent protector and lifesaver. At the time of her death, she had been a foster mother for almost forty years. My life now is a testament to her courage, merciful heart, and divine love.
What I subsequently learn at my foster mother’s feet prepares me for a multi-dimensional life, understanding both the natural and the supernatural. She instills the importance of learning at an early age, work ethic, and good morals. This is why, though I sin and make terrible decisions like all people; I am able to bounce back and learn from life’s many lessons.
Because of the blissful bubble, I am reared in, I am sheltered and see life and everyone in it as good. Sadly, I learn the hard way that not everything good is God and that good is very relative. The biggest disappointments come as I decipher the hearts of people close to me, namely my birth parents, biological siblings, spouses, and people who think are exemplary. Am I presumptuous here? Do place too much pressure on people to be ethical? Perhaps, I do, but the pain of learning the truth about life is not lessened.
On my birth parents: I am told by my foster mother to forgive my birth parents at an early age. So, I did. Thankfully, I realize that they are just like me, flawed people. How can I not forgive them? Is it easy? No. It is easier to forgive my birth mother. She appears to be a little girl who never got the chance to grow. She is very naive, hurt, confused, abused, and her emotions are very volatile, explosive, and hence, best described on paper as mental illness.
I wish people would work harder to go straight to the source of mental illness and not take it at face value, creating blanket treatments. Everyone’s story is different and needs a different approach. As a society, we are lazy, and thus many people are perishing for lack of individual attention. My parents required personal attention. Unlike them, I was fortunate at an early age to be told the truth and set on a path to continue seeking the truth.
On siblings: I learn that biological siblings are not a part of a forever agreement but rather a life experience to foster growth. Eternal brothers and sisters are spiritual. Spiritual brothers and sisters do the work to overcome life’s obstacles and choose to grow spiritually. Now, on a rare occasion, some people are blessed to have both (a biological and spiritual sibling).
The jury is still out on that for me. So far, not so good. I have learned that unconditional love is not guaranteed no matter how kind, apologetic, reliable, and caring one can be. Unconditional love must, however, always be the goal as a characteristic for every human being to attain. Siblings are often compared and contrasted, thus evoking jealousy, and if not moderated, can be very toxic and even deadly. Siblings, especially those raised apart, are like a lost family trying to find the glue that makes them stick.
For me, sticking to something or someone that is not formidable is not worth the effort. Both parties have to do the work to forge a powerful alliance. Reciprocity in understanding and forgiveness is needed.
I am not someone who should be misunderstood but respected for my authenticity. I do understand now that it takes spiritual growth to understand people truly. Recently, I was contacted by a long-lost sister whose soul reminds me of my own. I am thankful that now, I can indeed be authentic and offer grace to her.
On marriage/spouses: Yes, I said spouses. I was once confident I would have a fairytale romance and marriage that would last forever, but how could I with my past? I was lost, and people saw it, except me. I was looking for something or someone to believe in. Little did I know I needed to believe in more than just what I could see. So, spouse(s) become the result of girls and boys who do not get the chance to begin their spiritual growth process.
Honestly, my eyes were not opened to the truth about life, that we are all sinners in a fallen world. The journey of desiring a mate led me to the harsh reality that though we all made for fellowship, we are also called to live in order and decency. Living a life out of order and in alignment with God does not deliver a long-lasting marriage.
On children: I am not the world’s best mom. I am, however, a woman who is committed to raising the children I brought into this world, no matter the outcome of my intimate relationships. My children did not ask to be born; it was out of my free will. Hence, I owe it to them to be transparent. I give them what I have. I give them me, all of me.
At times I cried, yelled, and wept sorely, and I did laugh and still do. I got on the path to being a better mother the day I began to grow spiritually.
On Career — Employee/Employer Relations: We all indirectly take our problems to work. The workplace is where most people spend most of their time, so of course, they will experience Heaven, Hell, or both. Sadly many people are disgruntled workers. Indeed, it also takes spiritual growth to realize that happiness is a mindset, not a goal to attain, contingent on how others behave. Employers should not spare one penny on hiring Marketplace Chaplains like myself to create equilibrium for a healthy work-life balance.
Again, spiritual growth is needed to work through communication issues, know what to say and not say, control tempers, and learn how to work through and without distractions.
Avoiding gossip is encouraged and abiding by the golden rule, treating others as you would yourself. Incidentally, if a person does not treat themselves well (with dignity and respect) or at least in a healthy way, then perhaps working among others will be difficult. Overall, what people need is empathy for one another. If you know of any organizations or small businesses that need a Marketplace Chaplain, tell them to go here.
On life in general: I watched an episode on Dr. Oz, where he interviewed Nick Cannon. Nick said that his most significant flaw is being too optimistic. I can relate, for unwarranted optimism is the height of naivety. This juncture is where my mother and his grandmother warn us about being too vulnerable with everyone. Discernment is needed here. This kind of mindset can bread much despair and create families that result from emotion and not purposeful intentions aligning with the divine. It is crucial to make spiritual growth a priority in life.
Life should look like people regardless of their state, showing up for one another. I learned that when a person focuses less on self, the troubles that once seemed so big are minimal compared to another person’s travail. Witnessing the pain and suffering of others is why as I began to grow spiritually and use my humble beginnings in foster care to shed light on those who are often neglected and abandoned by the church and those in authority.
This year I founded M.A.N.A.A International, “advancing the call of the church by helping church leaders meet the spiritual needs of marginalized communities.” How could I not reach back? I love writing and look forward to publishing many books, posts, and teaching programs on young adulthood, victimology, homeschooling, marriage, spiritual growth, and women leaving lasting legacies, and life growing up in the Caribbean vs. the mainland (USA).
Overall, my growth has been in silence and solitude. This new disciplined mindset means not prolonging certain friendships and other personal relationships past an allotted time frame. Choosing who to keep close has been challenging but rewarding in a very authentic way. I have been able to grow exponentially and know what I genuinely sound like and think about.
Perhaps this is why I have been misunderstood for a very long time; because for me to grow, I cannot feel suffocated, misused, or abused for even a moment. Whether people know it or not, abuse can be very subtle. I think when people meet you, and you get along or do nice things for one another, it means the relationship will last a lifetime. This is entirely false. Like I mentioned above, only a few cases survive the journey of spiritual growth. This journey to spiritual growth is grueling but the most rewarding of all.
So, do you think you know me yet? Well, there’s more, but you have to get my book to find out how I overcome the stigma of being in foster care — insecurities and abandonment issues, domestic abuse, divorce, being a single mother, leaving my island home alone with four young children, overcoming a life-threatening illness, extreme poverty, homelessness, homeschooling, finding peace in the single life, strength in silence and solitude and weathering the storms of life moving towards my true identity while documenting my name change journey.
Did I say all of the above was erased from my life mentally and spiritually without religion and minimal support from the church at large? What I mean is, most of my harshest criticism and condemnation came from Christians.
My newfound redemption is why my life is now dedicated to serving those who genuinely seek redemption through love, understanding, forgiveness, and mercy, only God; the Creator, can offer (John 3:16).
If you want to reach me just to say hi! If you have feedback based on this post, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment here on the post or on my Twitter page @makeda_ansah.
Well, thanks for getting to know me a little better.
Since you got to know me a little better, why do you think I was misunderstood?
I really do believe that people should seek first to understand then; they will be understood.
Stay the course, and see you on the journey to spiritual growth and transformation!
Min. Makeda Ansah