20 Lessons I’ve Learned Since Leaving the Church

makiah-isms

IMG_0196 My unapologetic, Black self. 2016.

I haven’t been to church in over a year now, and I’ve been pondering how I should address what I’ve discovered along the way. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you probably could’ve never guessed that I would end up here. I never imagined that I could exist outside the Church I once held so dear. But due to the routine state-sanctioned violence that is being inflicted on my people, and the inadequate response from the church (among other things), I have decided to remove myself entirely from a system that claims to value my soul, but fails to show up for my Black body. I’ll probably end up writing a book about this one day, but in the meantime, here are 20 things I’ve learned since leaving the church:

  1. God is not a man.
  2. There is no pre-determined path called “God’s will”…

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And Isn’t It Wonderful?

Humans lost their connection to the world. Some fundamental link has all but totally disintegrated.

There was a time when man was no different from the creatures of the wood. We were exactly where we belonged, and we knew this to be true.

A tree or bush wasn’t just something to be chopped and carved to our liking, used to decorate our lawns in different patterns that all look the same.

There was a time when you could breathe deep…smell the wind. OXYGEN. The clear, God given air could fill your lungs without fumes from buildings, exhaust from pipes, or your cancer-loving neighbors secondhand smoke incessantly swirling in.

We could drink the water from the earth, and it was clean, reviving. It brought us life, not sewage and wastes. Not sugar. Not caffeine. No treatments necessary…

…it was clean. So were we.

And just to believe we created this thing called “progress”, we destroy all that is natural to replace it with something New. Because we humans are so smart, you see, we Adapt and become Advanced, more amazing day by day.

Now we dwell in roach infested apartments. Swim in chemically treated pools. Drive our air contaminating cars…what is progress, really?

We go to our toxic desk jobs that we describe as fulfilling careers to anyone who’ll listen, just so we can avoid what’s really meaningless work and scroll the twitter feed on our cell phones so we won’t notice as much, just how much, our lives are drained and sucked away. Day by endless boring day…But this is Happiness?

We all need xanax. A painkiller, or 3… 4?

This is the dream…even though we’re low key lost.

And when I sit and think of all this, How wonderful would life have been if we’d just stayed where we belonged?

-Risa

Yeah, I’m Fat and HAPPY!

I am 270 pounds. Yup, thats right, I just broadcasted my weight to the whole world and I’m okay with it.  People think of obese and overweight people as lazy, insecure, ugly, depressed, and the list goes on and on even though thats not always the truth and it’s not always that simple.  I used to be very depressed about my image, so much so that I struggled with bulimia. It wasn’t until I stopped caring not only about what other people think but also about what I thought when I looked in the mirror that I learned how to be happy with myself, my body, and comfortable and confident in my own skin.  Once I did that it was so much easier to focus on being healthy (and I am a little bit of a health nut now) and a whole new world opened up to me….but being happy first was the key.

Many people struggling with weight issues think once they lose weight then they’ll be happy. For me it worked in reverse and it wasn’t easy, it was a lifelong journey.  Anyone who’s been overweight knows the harsh judgments of society all to well.  One of the worst criticisms, in my opinion, is that we’re lazy or don’t care about our health.  I’ve been overweight since I was a child (about 2nd grade) and the pounds slowly packed on.  You think I gained all these pounds in just a few years??? Absolutely not! If you gain an extra 10 pounds every year for 10 years that’s already 100 pounds. Now try from 8yrs old to 26. Thats almost 20 years and most of those years had gains rather than losses.  When you have a certain diet and lifestyle from childhood to adulthood, certain habits become a learned behavior and it doesn’t matter if today at this moment you’re old enough to make healthier choices. You have to unlearn those habits and re-train yourself to do something totally different from what comes naturally. That is quite a task!  What kills me is how people will say these misguided things about someone who’s overweight without knowing anything about them.  You might see a 350 pound person and think they’re lazy or pathetic.  If you’re really mean then maybe you even joke about them. But what if that person goes to the gym every day and actually just loss 50 pounds? What if they’ve been trying to get on the right track? Are they still lazy?  What if a person is very slim and “attractive” but happens to have an eating disorder? Are they healthy?  You can’t judge a book by its cover and if our society focused more on HEALTH  and not on WEIGHT, our obesity problem would probably be less severe.

For some reason around 2014 I started feeling really comfortable with what I looked like and who I was. I ate fairly healthy and was losing weight slowly but surely. This was the ONLY time period in my life (2012-2014) where I consistently maintained my weight without having to diet or exercise regularly. I had adopted a healthy lifestyle and it was starting to come naturally. Then in 2015 I decided to give the health food a rest and eat a cookie for once….which led to some cake….which led to many trips to Daddy’s Dairy, Wendy’s, Papa Gino’s and everywhere in between.  I called this my brownie cookie take-out diet (I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS).  That lovely diet lasted about 7-8 months and got me to my top weight ever, 270 pounds.  But you know what? During that whole time I never felt bad about myself. I felt a little guilty because I knew I should be eating better, but I never looked in the mirror and felt any form of worthlessness.  I  knew at that point that I would love myself no matter what I looked like.  I had learned what self-acceptance really meant and I treasured it.

I had learned to accept myself but I also accepted that at 270 pounds my body had reached its limit. Here’s where I emphasize the importance of being healthy.  I noticed the stairs seemed a bit harder lately, my knee problems had gotten worse, and of course, my clothes didn’t fit!  So I got off my Brownie Cookie Take-Out diet (jumpstarted by a green smoothie cleanse) and got back to healthy eating and I exercise when I can.  I’m now 260 and hopefully that number will continue to drop. I must say this is the healthiest I’ve felt in a long time and I can’t wait to get even better. I have no set goal and I’m not looking for specific results. Theres no pressure. I plan to listen to my body, do what feels right and most importantly, focus on overall health rather than where I tip the scale. In my opinion, Health and Happiness go hand in hand.