I had to go into hibernation for a couple of days. I needed to get my mind right. I feel like… there’s just so much going on around me, and I’m struggling to keep up. To make sense of it all. To stay above water, so to speak. It’s just weird. Because I am so used to fighting very clear and conscious physical battles, with the world around me.

I know how to battle obstacles, that aim to deter me from my God-given dreams and goals. I know how to fight wars, with human minds and physical bodies, that seek to overpower my faith and strong will. I know how to take up arms against that which poses any and all threats to me. In person, at least. I can easily fight, what I can easily see.

Fighting what I can’t see. That’s another story. How do you battle something that no one else can see? Do you even need other people to see it, for you to know that it’s really there? It’s crazy. It’s like, I know what I am doing. But, I have no idea how I am doing it. I know I am surviving. But, I have no idea how I am surviving.

I know that I am keeping my growing child and pregnancy alive. But, I have no idea how I am keeping them alive. I know that I am getting food to eat, every single day; no matter what it is, I am eating. But, I have no idea how I am getting food and eating every day.

This is the part where, I say something metaphysical, like, ‘ahh, the power of God.’ Or something like that, right? Interestingly enough, I’m not feeling that deep today. Or perhaps, I am, and I am just taking great effort not to exact such feelings. I want to feel surface. I want to make sense of my depth, in real life, subtle ways. If that makes any sense.

You know, I do wonder sometimes, why I write on a blog at all. I feel like I am too deep, to make sense to anyone. I am too, me, for anyone who isn’t me to even want to understand. I get to questioning if I should even bother writing to the world. For the world. With the world. Or whatever. What good is it anyway?

For years, people would tell me that I should write a blog. I would always argue that no one wanted to read or hear, what I had to say or write. I think underneath all of that modesty, I was really struggling to believe that anyone would ever make sense of the truest words that I bleed from my heart.

That’s what I struggle with, every time I write a post like this one. Then, I go ahead and post it anyway. Just because. Because I’ve posted so many by now, I’ve become almost numb to the implications of pouring out another one of the pieces to my soul, out onto a screen, for a world I can’t even see, to read.

Then, just like that. Something magical happens. Someone likes my post. Someone comments. Someone shares it. Someone reaches out to me, to tell me that something I wrote. Something I lived. Something I dared to share, just because. Something from this crazy ol’ confusing brain and life of mine, has actually meant something to them.

Can you believe that? The little girl who dared to stay alive, just to live to see the day when her words would matter. When her voice would be heard. When her story, wouldn’t just be another statistical sadness, written into college textbooks for sociology and political science majors to read, judge, pretend to make sense of, and never dare to truly discover. When she wouldn’t just be one of millions, maybe even billions of she’s, whose stories never really matter.

When she would save another little girl, just like her. Who’s mommy gets hurt at night, when no one is watching but her and her siblings, too young to do anything about it. When she would have lived this life, all for a reason. A real reason. Can you believe she’s writing to you right now? Can you believe it? Because, I sure can’t.

All too often, I get to forgetting why I ever took pen to paper. I forget, that this all did in fact start, with a pen (rather, a pencil) and a piece of paper. I forget that I grew up. That I survived. That I am not that broken little girl anymore. That I did it. I saved her. Can you believe that? I saved her! Woww!! Who woulda thunk it? I sure did. But who else?

Last week, I had a moment. Just short of one of those epiphanies I be having. Where I realized that I’d been working too hard for everyone else, for too long. I remembered that I am not the old Shaquana. By far even, might I add. I am so far from her, it’s kind of a lie, to say that I still struggle with old me vs. new me. I remembered that this is not a physical battle that I am fighting. That I am not, and can not, be expecting a red figure, with large, scary looking horns, to come out and say, “BOO!!” That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.

I had to say it out loud to my mom the other night, though I’m sure it was more to myself. That the wicked one, Satan is what they call him. He’s not going to show up in wolve’s cloth. He’s not going to stand out of the crowd, so we can know sure and well, which one he is. He will, as surely he has, wear sheep’s cloth. That’s the art of vigilance. To know the difference. To test all spirits. To challenge them, even. So, that you can know who stands before you, at all times.

Man, it’s too deep to get into right now. I told you, I’m not feeling all that metaphysical today. What I can say is, I am still learning how to master the art of being a spiritual being, who is having a physical experience. Sometimes, I get too spiritual, forgetting that I am in the flesh, and fully surrounded by others in the flesh. So, I attempt to come down to earth, so to speak. That’s when I get too physical. Too in the flesh. The Leo in me, lives best in the world of extremes. Or at least, that’s what she lies to herself. But I know better. Life is all about balance.

The old Shaquana, thought she was unworthy of everything good. She knew she deserved better than the misery she continually permitted to be handed to her. But, she wasn’t convinced she was worthy of anything more. So, she begged people to be and show her otherwise. All the while, giving them permission to do and be the exact opposite, if they so wished.

Now, that I have moved out of that dangerous lifestyle, I am working really hard to… I guess communicate that to the rest of the world. It’s a weird thing, though. Because, the world knows better. The wicked one knows better. But he’ll test me anyway. The world will test me anyway. Hoping. Just hoping, that maybe I’ll forget who I really am. Who I’ve been all along. Hoping, that for just a moment, I’ll get sucked into the lies of the life I once forced myself to stay in.

Now, boy! Lemme tell you. When I don’t, he be mad, a something. And he has really intricate ways of showing it. I’m still getting versed on his more clever and underground techniques, and more importantly, the most Godly ways to respond to them. The people I’ve known all my life, or a decent portion of it, have been his best tools for testing my “new” (which is really, my true) self. Hence, me blocking folks out. At least, until I figured it all out. Now, I am meeting and embracing new people. And he’s on them, like white on rice. Before I got a full foot in the door, he’s already working to close me out.

That’s why I named this piece, “I Am Not For Your Consumption.” One way that the wicked one gets to separating me from the good of those I seek to bless, is to convince them that I am for their consumption. People get to thinking about all of the amazing things Shaquana could offer them. They get to fantasizing about what good I could bring to them.

How much I could make them feel better. Or improve their lifestyle. Image. Self esteem. Brand. Ideas. And so, on. When I was doing better materially, this was easier to spot. That is, those folks who always had their hands out. It took time. And a hell of a sacrifice (i.e. me still being “poor, hungry and struggling”). But, I eventually closed off that vault. No more hands out. Or so, I thought.

I forgot about the infinite power of my most significant gifts to the world. My intangible blessings. My love. My energy. My compassion. My free spirit. My thoughtfulness. My kind words and gestures. My friendship and companionship. My promises and indignant will to maintain them. My commitment and dedication to all things beautiful. My ever powerful willingness to share all of me, even when I feel that I have so little to offer. I completely friggin’ forgot.

So, here I was opening myself back up to the world. New and old. Friends and family, alike. Seeking to share my love. My blessings. My grace. My candidness. My quirkiness. My smile and warmth. My EverythingShaquana, thang. In my mind of course, I thought I was doing this to not only bless, but to be blessed. I sought out folks who I believed, wanted to share their love and all of their amazing, unique greatness with me, in return. Such, was not the case, in the least.

I kept getting this thing, where someone, anyone really, would reach out, or respond to me reaching out. They’d pretend to have something to offer me. Then, I’d do that thing I do. Where I give everything I have to give, in one striking moment, from the depths of the kindness of my heart. With no bill or receipt for payment. Just free and beautiful. I would seek the same. Not expect it. As I’ve learned about expectations and humans. But I sought it. To no avail.

Every time, without fail, it was the same saga. The person would get what they wanted (or so, they thought). And then, poof. Just like that. They’re gone. I mean, this happened with my brothers and sister. My mother and father. With former friends, whom I am reconnecting with. With new blog and social media homies, that I’m just getting to know. Even with strangers. Like Drake said, “but that phone doesn’t ring, when they get everything. I guess that’s just the motion.” I couldn’t make sense of what was happening. And after a few weeks, I just could not deal.

All is not lost, though. I had to go on strike. I had to wrap up all of my goodness and Godliness, and keep it tight to myself. For a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to spin the wicked one on his heels. As much as people hate to admit it, Satan only works, because of our free will to allow him to work through us. The minute we close him off, he loses his power. Like a drug dealer, with no addicts. A liar, with no audience. A user, with no one to use.

With that being the case, it goes without saying that once I close the wicked one off, he has no other way of getting to me. So, he often gets to me, through the manipulation, and sometimes willful obedience of those I keep around me. In such, it’s been the hardest lesson to learn. To figure out how to be open to those in the flesh, without being open to what they bring in the flesh. It doesn’t go without saying, that I have yet to meet in person, anyone as powerfully obedient to Spirit, as myself. It’s no snub. No attack or discredit. Just truth. Most often, a painful and lonely truth. But, I wouldn’t even need to write that, if you were on my level.

Thus, when I’m opening myself up to folks, new and old, I am opening myself up to people, who have no working idea of how to defy the will of their disobedient, unrighteous and unGodly side(s). Often times, I’m dealing with folks who dare convince themselves, that such a side does not even exist. Surely, if I, who lives 100% in Spirit, am succumbed to the will of the flesh. If Jesus Himself, was succumbed to being tested by the will of the flesh. So to, are you my friend. #EnoughSaid.

So, I figured, I’d go ahead and test the wicked one, back. I’d close myself off to the world. Just to see how he would react. How would folks, who were clearly living in the flesh. Clearly convinced that I was there, for their consumption. How would they react, when I took myself off the market. The results were interesting, to say the least.

The second thing I wanted to do, was compose myself. This was perhaps, the most important thing. I needed to make sense of this invisible war I’m fighting. Of the friends, who quickly become foes, in a matter of a second. Of the power of the flesh. Of the will of people, who have hearts of gold, silver, platinum, and even titanium, to openly or even, unconsciously deceive others. Of the invisible layers of deceit and wickedness, that still seek to stake claim in my bullet proof kingdom of God.

The last thing was, to create a plan of action. I needed to know which way and more importantly, how to move forward, before I dared take one more step in any direction. Now that my mind is no longer idle, I can’t risk losing it, in a pickup game of catch up. I must always be millions of steps ahead, in the game of Shaquana. No ifs, buts, or ands about it.

Now, that I have my wits, some useful data and more importantly, some understanding about which way to go forward, things will definitely get more interesting. What I can say in the least is, the most powerful tool for defeating the wicked one, is to not only live in, but most especially, share truth. I’ve learned, and continue to master the art of sharing truth, with Godly love, and not shameful ego.

In such, I am not weary of how this next step shall go. I know Spirit will graciously guide my tongue and fingers. Nonetheless, one way or another, the world, the people in it and especially those I love and care for dearly, will learn and know to never forget that, I, Shaquana Gardner, am not for your consumption!