Sunday, August 15, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Strong Enough to Know When to Stop and Protect Your Health

Strength, Self-Care, and A Life Lesson for Black Women
A guest post by Kai A. Pineda

A few weeks ago Simone Biles, an American artistic gymnast who has won 32 Olympic and World Championship medals, did something most of us have never had the courage to do. What many called selfish, stupid and wrong I saw as bravery.

While the entire world was watching, Simone unapologetically made a decision to choose something more important than a gold medal—she decided to choose herself. According to CNN, Biles withdrew from the women’s team gymnastics final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, citing mental health concerns as she attempts to protect “her body and mind.”

The choice Biles made to put her health first resonates me in a deeply profound way because in the African American community, Black women historically have been raised to put everyone and everything before themselves. From the time they are born the idea surrounding their value is steeped in what they can do or have, and not around who they are.

They are trained to give to the point of exhaustion and hold everyone else as more important. This misinterpretation of selflessness has been detrimental to the Black woman for centuries.

With mental health discussions on the rise, many who’ve battled with mental illness or mental and emotional stresses in the Church, have been told they can pray it away or told, “You need more faith!” These words have caused some to reject therapy and or medication. Within the African community, counseling or therapy was seen as taboo. Even the Black church in time passed turned their noses up to the idea of help beyond praying and traveling.

I know this personally as a close friend of mine for years avoided a diagnosis because the ministry she attended told her to trust God. After years of back and forth stays at hospitals and a final episode where she went missing for days, she let wisdom through the Holy Spirit lead her to find a Christian psychologist who prescribed her what she needed.

We as the Bride of Christ must understand there are spiritual and natural sides to everything. To ignore one is dangerous. Jesus Christ lived on this Earth and dealt with evil spirits and the worries of men. He was moved with compassion knowing the complexities of humanity and our deep need for saving. God has always been our protector and provider. In all things we must get understanding and use wisdom. Seeing a doctor, having surgery, or taking medicine doesn’t make you faithless.

As an African-American woman, I have felt unseen and devalued constantly. I know the pressures to be perfect and to stand out amongst a crowd who doesn’t always think you matter. This can be a heavy weight too carry alone. And though we have the Holy Spirit to help us, God has also prepared people to walk with us through releasing trauma and facing our own fears and fragility. God cares about our physical and spiritual health.

In closing, I’d like for you to read this message from God found in 3 John 1:2 (TPT), which says, “Beloved friend, I pray that you are prospering in every way and that you continually enjoy good health, just as your soul is prospering.”

Let’s Pray: Dear God, thank you for caring about all aspects of our health (mental, emotional, physical and spiritual). Thank you for always understanding our fragility and being there for us no matter what we face in this life here on Earth. Please continue to equip us to walk the path You’ve set for us. When we feel weary and like we cannot move forward, strengthen us and carry us until we’re strong enough to walk on our own two feet with You by our side. Thank You that you will never leave us. Please help us to trust You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:
I am a fire-starter and a passionate student of the Bible who helps others discover their identity and the beauty within the Body of Christ by leading them into an encounter with the Word of God.

I am married to a man I am madly in like with and love more than I can explain. Together we plant home fellowships within the U.S. and abroad.

I am an author who released her first book, Dear Church: Vol 1: The Beauty of The Body, in 2019. The second volume will be released in 2021.

I have recorded two praise and worship albums and love to travel.

I am an introvert who loves her family, people, rainy days, a chai latte from Starbucks, and my Maltipoo McLovin.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nor challenging people to live lives based on a biblical standard and not personal preferences.

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