Religion and Relatability (or the Lack Thereof)

Photo by Pixabay

My mom and aunts never forced us to go to church. Except for that one year we moved from the projects to a new apartment. My aunt seemed hell-bent on giving us the American dream. I suppose after the trauma of growing up in Robert Taylor, if she couldn’t give it to us in total, she’d try to provide us with the next best thing. To her, that meant bump beds, new clothes, our own rooms, going to church every Sunday, and choir rehearsal every Thursday like all the other “good Christian folk.”

We hated it.

8 Year Old Me

The first time I got baptized, the church came to scoop the project kids up in these school buses, took us to some building, separated the girls from the boys, and made us undress and put on long, white t-shirts with no underwear. 

Right.

So when the new church tried to baptize me, I was so terrified that my entire head didn’t go into the water. 

Fortunately for us, that was the only time in our lives we were ever required to go. As we aged, going to church became one of those decisions we could make ourselves. We got to decide what or how we would believe. Later in life, my cousin decided to be a Jehovah’s Witness.

Easter, 1995, Robert Taylor Projects at 4947 S. Federal

I think choosing our belief system and the freedom of being able to explore religion outside of Christianity was one of the healthiest things the surrounding adults could have done for us, which we totally overlooked growing up.

There was so much trauma I think we missed this critical sort of autonomy our parents afforded us. And I think they missed it too. With all the drugs and abandonment, there were still these glimmers of hope we didn’t realize were diamonds in the ruff.

To make a long story short, I’m an anomaly to most people because while I am obviously spiritual, I am not religious (and I believe there is a difference.) Because no one had ever forced religion on me, I’ve never been devout in the traditional sense. I can talk about the bible all day, but I’ve never been the “church lady,” nor do I live my life that way.

And no, you don’t have to be a Christian to be a “church lady.” Ya’ll know what I’m talking about.

I have zero interest in being the embodiment of that fake piousness too often present in mainstream religions. This pretentiousness, in my opinion, causes many to lack the ability to be relatable.

Take my most recent Instagram post, for example. (If you read this later, it’s the reel with the God Did song by DJ Khaled featuring Rick Ross, Wayne, and Jay-Z…whose part was too long and not as great as everyone says, but I digress.)

In general, I don’t listen to a lot of mainstream rap. I think most of it is trash. Give me some throwback Common or Talib Kweli. I’ll even take College Dropout Kanye.

But pairing that song with the message I had for that day (and doing it on a Sunday when most people’s minds are religiously focused), I thought it would relate to people more deeply. 

And it did. 

I should point out that being relatable does not mean compromising your own beliefs. I see it more like being able to connect with something others might find familiar for a greater, more clear understanding.

My internal motto is: “You (your actions, how you carry yourself, think) will be the only bible some people will ever read.”

I hope one day more of us could consider this point of view in all its layers.

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Victoriyah Smith

Please help me extend a warm welcome to Victoriyah Smith. Welcome to the PBS Blog!


What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Victoria Smith (Victoriyah Israyl) and I am from Gulfport, Mississippi.

What was your childhood dream?

My childhood dream was to be able to travel to different countries around the world. I have been blessed to travel to the Bahamas, Jamaica, Belize, Progresso, Montego Bay, Cozumel, Key West, to name a few places. I enjoy learning new cultures and trying fresh foods as long as it is not pork or shellfish.

I feel you. I love traveling myself. Got a travel buddy? Married?

I am married to my wonderful, loving, supportive husband, Willie. We have shared this life together for 21 years.

Little Book of Abundant Blessings for Entrepreneurs is available now on Amazon.

Beautiful. Let’s talk about writing a bit. When did you publish your first book? What was that like? 

I published my first book on June 15, 2020, and it was a wonderful feeling.

Oh okayy. You new, new. Congratulations!

Thank you. It took a lot of work, time, and learning technical things to get it in the correct format for publishing; it was definitely a learning experience. I am now working on promoting my book as I work on writing my next book. I know the process will be more straightforward because of my first experience.

What do you love about yourself?

I love that I am a giver. I enjoy helping others and being a blessing to others who are not as fortunate as myself.

In your own words, what is humility?

Humility is being humble in my heart and my actions. Humility is the opposite of being puffed up and high minded. To walk in humility means to open yourself to understand the pain and disappointment of others. It is a welcoming approach to solving violence, anger, and aggression in relationships and society. Humility is being of no form or fashion, but existing in love and understanding as you seek to understand others when there is no peace. Humility is being as a little child.

I love that part about opening yourself up to understand the pain of others. Victoriyah, what is the best advice you’ve ever been given? What made it special?   

My father gave me some wisdom as a young adult after I built my home. He was laying a new driveway for me, and I tried to pay him before he had finished the work. My father looked at me and asked, “Have you seen the finished product?” My answer was “No sir,” and then he said,” Never pay for a service in full until you’ve seen the finished product. Even if it’s your daddy.” Those simple words have been special in my life because it gave me the courage I needed to hold people accountable in business transactions as a young woman.

That’s awesome. Why is writing important to you?

Writing has always been an escape for me. When I became a Sunday school-teacher years ago, writing became a huge part of my life as I would write stories of the bible that would help my students to understand the scripture in a greater way. As I have continued my relationship with the Most High, writing has been a central focus of my meditations as I am being guided by my creator to unfold many truths about the bible. I hope that the truths that are written in my books will help others increase their belief in our creator Yah.

Life is not always pretty, as we all experience hardship now and again and this is magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. What is your best advice for reducing stress?

My advice for anyone experiencing hardship is to understand that there is a purpose for everything we experience. To find the meaning of life is to gain a relationship with our creator Yah and the Messiah Yahoshuah. I believe that by doing that, the Most High gives us understanding and direction in the path we should take in our lives. Pray to our creator Yah, cast all your burdens and troubles on him, and he will lift every burden (stress) and give you peace that surpasses all human understanding.

From the natural perspective, start a hobby, exercise, eat healthily, write more, and evaluate the decisions you are making and set goals to remove anything out of your life that may be causing stress. Our creator will give you the strength to remove those things through prayer.

Beautifully articulated. Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?   

I enjoy gardening. I grow my own cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, and peppers. I also have a passion for helping women become their own bosses by giving them the tools they need to succeed. In 2014, I established an organization to work toward that end. It is called “Network of Women Business Owners.” I also enjoy helping the less fortunate individuals in the community with clothes, food, and resources to help them overcome life’s challenges.

Thank you Victoriyah for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Photo Cred. © Copyright 2020. Victoriyah Smith

Bio.

Born in Gulfport, Mississippi, Victoriyah received her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Alabama and her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern Mississippi. Also, she obtained an associate’s degree in Business Management from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. With a passion for helping every inspiring woman become her own boss, Victoriyah shares her proven insights with diverse audiences through training, consulting services, workshops, seminars, and online platforms.

Mrs. Smith is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Network of Women Business Owners, a professional business network established in 2014 in Gulfport, Mississippi. Victoriyah resides in Gulfport, Mississippi, with her husband, Willie, and her (4) children and grandchildren live in Texas. She is available to conduct speeches and facilitate professional development training for professional women groups, organizations, and empowerment business events.

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Keep Yourself Full: Now Available

Keep Yourself Full, my first Non-Fiction spiritual handbook for healing the hurting, lifting the fallen, and restoring the broken is available now on Amazon in ebook. It will be available as a paperback between tonight and tomorrow. Check back to this post. I will edit it to let you know it’s available in paperback. Thanks in advance for your time, attention, and support. (It is still 99cents until the end of today. Hurry before the ebook price rises!)

If you know me for my fiction work, I have some exciting new material coming. However, I do hope you will enjoy this book. It is my first Non-Fiction piece, and I am delighted to share it with you. As always, I hope that you will finish the read feeling full and empowered.

Keep Yourself Full is a spiritual handbook that focuses on our return to self-love. It is a reminder that self-care nourishes the quality of our lives and makes us fit to be of service to others. Through my testimony, I give examples of how we self-abuse and how that differs from self-love, why it is essential not to take things so personally, why we must establish and enforce healthy boundaries, and how assumptions kill relationships. We learn that by investing in our well-being spiritually, physically, mentally, and professionally, we can be of service fully to others. We cannot ignore that we treat others how we feel about ourselves. When we realize that what we do to others, we are equally doing to ourselves, we can use this awareness to heal. By treating ourselves better, we treat others better. Keep Yourself Full is about keeping ourselves filled with love and all that is good, so we are overflowing with enough to share with everyone else.

>>Purchase the ebook Now<<

Free with Kindle Unlimited

If you read this book already, you may now leave your reviews either on Amazon or Goodreads

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews: The Unveiling by Camille A. Frazer

Title: The Unveiling
Author: Camille A Frazer
Pages: 132
Publisher: Frazer Mill Publishing (December 12, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0999523007
ISBN-13: 978-0999523001

During her work as a children’s advocate, Camille A. Frazer has seen suffering and tragedy. But as she shows in this refreshingly optimistic new poetry collection, tragedy does not have to define us. Through her poems, Ms. Frazer examines the current direction of humanity and illustrates the importance of each individual life.

Ms. Frazer divides her work into distinct sections. The first urges a lesser focus on the individual and the recognition a larger whole. The second examines the fracture between the individual and society. It is at these breaking points, she posits, that violence has seeped in.

Even as Ms. Frazer examines societal ills like mass incarceration, slavery, and human trafficking, she never loses her faith in humanity. Her writing recognizes the failures of humankind but expresses the joys. She writes of tender familial love, passionate romance, and the all-encompassing support of the larger collective.

Her poems demonstrate an unshakeable faith in a better future for the world. Ms. Frazer believes that every human has a purpose, and is capable of compassion, contentment, and making meaningful connections. She hopes that her work will inspire you to find these gifts in yourself and then share them with others.

The Unveiling is a powerful collection of poetry from debut author and poet, Camille Frazer. Divided into several sections, the poems range from a variety of topics concerning the human condition. We learn of purpose, faith, hope, love, beauty and much more. The poems themselves are elegant and strong, forcing you to reread them for meaning and self-reflection. This is definitely not a book that you can just skim through. You will want to take your time and savor each line. Poems like Mana and Faith unveils a spiritual tone and set-apartness while poems like A Warrior’s Heart and Lionhearted are fierce. Some of my favorite pieces include: What is Love, Education, Lost, and Hidden History. Whether you are in search of your purpose in life, are in need of motivation from a spiritual perspective or are a lover of history, there’s something for everyone in this book. Check out the blurb below.
Rating:

Lyrical Factor: 4/5
Presentation: 4/5
Thought-Provoking: 5/5
Authenticity / Believable: 5/5
Overall: 4.5 / 5

The Unveiling is available on Amazon.

Camille is also one of our featured authors. If you missed her Introduce Yourself interview, CLICK HERE.

Starving Contentment

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Like music swallows its bass inside the belly of the loud speakers their stomachs growl,
but they ain’t really hungry….
they just come to see what all the commotion is like….
they wanna know what all this poetry stuff is but……
they ain’t really hungry……
they just wanna see how pretty her pain is.