February 2021 Issue. Written by Publisher, Blaine Elizabeth Alexander
Part one of two.
My 2021 New Year’s Resolution is to help my community get through this crisis. So I asked myself, “What more can I do?” The first thing that came to mind was, “You just gotta have faith!”
Faith means different things to many people whether you are religious or spiritual or not. For me, faith is the bold act of believing that when I take my hands off the wheel, when I let go of trying to control my circumstances, everything will work out. It is not easy to believe in a ‘force’ you cannot see. Yet over and over again, I have challenged myself to take this action because when I am riddled with fear, I cut myself off from this ‘force’… call it spirit, God, higher self, Buddha, whatever it means for you.
Living in fear is no way to live! Therefore, I have come to the realization that fear and faith cannot live in me at the same time.
There are a couple of distinct instances in my life where my world as I knew it was ripped out from under me. The third was 2020. Along with humanity across the globe, I have been changed forever watching family, friends, our community and local businesses suffer due to circumstances out of our control.
No matter our age, race, financial status, or demographic, we all succumb to the power of fear to some degree. Chances are you’ve experienced this at some level. I would love to hear how you’ve overcome. Your story could help so many people!
To gain a better perspective, I reached out to several local leaders and ministers diverse in background, thought, religion, belief, gender and ethnicity in order to gain a well rounded view on what faith means. Having these conversations, respecting each other’s thoughts and viewpoints was very enlightening and healing for me. I hope it is for someone else too!
In order to capture the many nuggets they provided, I cannot do them justice with the limited space in this article, so I decide to create a series of videos that I am sharing on my website and on my facebook page for anyone that needs it or knows someone that does. Here are just some snippets from our interview:
“Faith means everything to me. I can’t imagine life without faith. It is the core and center of who I am. During a difficult time, faith helped me claim: I know it’s going to be okay. But it’s not okay right now…and that’s okay. Name it and claim it. Trust that God has a bigger plan. We can make it through even when we don’t understand.”
“COVID is one of those times when it’s not okay right now. People are yearning to connect and so we need to reach out to get to know people better and build community. Loving your neighbor is part of the greatest commandment, and it’s important that we strive to live that out.”
Christi and her family started the Love your Neighbor Project. “It’s a beautiful and creative way to connect with those close by while living in a disconnected world. We are limited due to COVID restraints, and yet we can still do a lot of creative reaching out to build one another up!”
Christi shares how she found faith after losing their first adoption and much more on her video located in the Spartanburg Speaks tab on www.eastsidelivingmagazine.com.
Reverend Christi O. Brown is an eastside resident and the owner of Authentic Leadership Coaching.
“We and the world, are dealing with a quintet of problems: Global Pandemic, Economic Crisis, Political Polarization, Natural Disasters, and Racial Turmoil which have caused damage to human souls and hearts and minds and bodies.”
“Faith is: I didn’t throw up my hands because God is telling me we are not in control. Yet if he keeps granting me another breath and I have to live in the midst of all of this…I have a choice about how I am going to do that. I have faith in God who is in control and, therefore, faith in myself that I can persevere in difficult times."
Paul’s 3C’s of everyday life are: Chance (when opportunity appears), Circumstance (caused by people or events) and Choice (what we can control). “When you say you have no choice, you’ve given up. You’ve defeated the purpose of living. Faith in one’s self means you’ve got skills. Faith exists because I keep taking a breath!“
Paul discusses the mantra he lives by, more alphabet words of wisdom and a glimpse into God speaking to him in a dream on his video located on www.eastsidelivingmagazine.com.
Reverend Paul Roberts Abernathy is the owner of The Clevedale Inn.
“2020 was a test of our faith. Faith is how we make sense of life and how we come to terms with ultimate meaning. Faith is ever evolving. It is different for me than it was in my 20’s. We all have faith, even atheists are trying to make sense of the world somehow. Faith is connection and relationship.”
“We’ve become so polarized and we’ve lost the loving one another and connection because we are so concerned about being right. You can be right about everything and have no friends. No one wants a right fighter."
“Have conversations with people that are different from you. If you want to know how religion or a political policy affects someone, go talk to that group. Be open minded. Now you’ll see the humanity, not what you read on Twitter or other media. When we are not loving our neighbor, we are not loving ourselves.”
Robert drops a lot more truth bombs and he discusses a season where he figured out what faith meant after losing three babies on his audio located on the Spartanburg Speaks tab in www.eastsidelivingmagazine.com.
Robert Bannan is an Associate Pastor of Youth and Campus Ministry at First Presbyterian Church
To view these videos, go to the Spartanburg Speaks tab. They will be shared on social media as well. @eastsidelivingmagazine @spartanburgspeaks
Next month, we will explore more inspiration from other leaders such as Ginger Shuler, Scott Neely, Don Wilton and more.