Thursday, November 20, 2014

Boy to Man

Unlike most relationships, Brittney didn’t post anything on social media about me until months after we were officially dating. She told me during just our friendship that she was seeing a young gentleman but wasn’t sure if he and her had the same future goals spiritually or mentally as her, so I continued to be her friend. Our conversations grew deeper and longer and then randomly one day she then told me the young man who she was seeing had gotten locked up; immediately we prayed for the young man and for his family. Was this God sending a signal to me that I should pursue her? How can I know to make her my girlfriend and she was telling ME that she was also dating another man months before me? I trusted my heart and trusted that God had that situation happen for a reason. Phone conversations led to dates, inviting her to my church and then yes, I asked her to be my girlfriend like a 3rd grader few months later.

As I stated previously, Brittney didn’t post me on social media at all in the beginning and I didn’t find it weird but I knew she loved social media A LOT, but once she did post the things I’ve done for her and a little bit about my life; several people's comments were: "Where did he come from?", "Does he have a brother?” "Now that's a real man", etc.  The things that she would put on social media about me were so positive, unbelievable, and it made me look flawless. But was I flawless? Am I really the man who you see and hear about on social media? Am I the good godly man I appear to be? As of today, my answer to those questions is yes (except for being flawless. I'm far from perfect). But was I like this a year ago? The truth is no. Not even close…

When Brittney and I first met last year early August 2013, I was not a "man". I was a 27 year old "boy", who lived at home in his mother's basement rent-free, drove his little sister's hooptie car to get around, and worked as a part time substitute teacher only two days a week (if that). I didn't consider myself a man because I didn’t handle my responsibilities. I was living a starving artist lifestyle. Yes, I had many accomplishments as an actor. But it was never consistent. One month I could make $5000 off of acting gigs, and then the next three months not make a dime. $5000 stretched over 3 months until the next gig equals...Broke! Especially with all the bills I had and that money being my main source of income. Of course this meant that most dates Brittney and I went on were being paid for by her at the beginning of our relationship. Did that bother me at first? No. Before I met her, for a few years I was always comfortable living off of a woman. If it wasn't me living off of my mother, I would be in New York living off of my grandmother, or any girl who I was dating at the time. Living on their couch (rent free), driving their cars, eating their food (that I still didn’t even pay for). I was far from being a real man. The truth is, that was never my objective. It was never my goal to go out there and find a girl who I could live off of. I just always ended up in the same situation over and over again. My focus was my career and my career ONLY, and if a situation was convenient, I went with it because in my mind, it was all about my career...not responsibility. To me responsibility is what makes a man a real man. There is nothing wrong with receiving a little help from a woman...but to take advantage of it, and get comfortable accepting it for long periods of time...that's a problem.

After really accessing my life, I wanted to know the root of my actions. Why was I comfortable living off of a woman? Why did I keep falling into the same trap over and over? I believe there were two things that happened to me in my past that caused me to act this way. I would say the first reason is not having a father in my home (actually, not having a father in my life) growing up played a major part in this. I did not have a father to look me in the eye and tell me what a real man is. Yes, I had mentors who gave me guidance, but I never told them my living situation. I never told them everything. I played the "don’t ask, won't tell" game. So yes, my mentors gave me spiritual advice, financial advice (with the little income I had), and many other great things, but no one was able to give me sound advice on living off a woman. How can you give someone advice, if they don’t know that is what you are struggling with? It was because they didn’t know I lived that way. So here I am in church, putting on a front like all is well, with no worries, but yet I struggled in life. I struggled with my life responsibilities; I was not tithing, I had no savings, I didn’t even have a plan for my future, besides "getting that dream role".

The second cause of my actions had to come from a horrible relationship break up that took place in 2011. Before this break up happened, I was working a full time job, I was fresh out of college and I had a plan. But this life changing break up threw off my entire focus and wrecked my world. That relationship was a 2 year relationship that I was not respected as a man. Did I realize this at the time? No. I was just happy to be with someone who I thought wanted a future with me. This break up hurt me a lot, because I just knew this was someone I was going to marry. I had $2,500 saved for an engagement ring and I was ready to move on with our future. But she had other plans, and the break up was drastic and out of nowhere. I thought being a good, honest and loyal boyfriend was enough. But it wasn’t. The words she said that I could never forget, "I need a real man, you can't do anything for me. I don’t know what you’re missing, but you're just not a man, you're still growing up". I truly believe those words is what led me to spending the next two years living the way I did. I let her words define me. She spoke that into my life and I believed it. For two years after the break up, I lived my life crying about "she didn’t think I was a man", rather than taking that time to seek God to watch me grow as man. From 2011 to 2013, I was stuck trying to recover from it.

Between those two years, I've dated other women, but I kept falling into the trap of living off of them. Living off of them is what kept them leaving me. Finally in April 2013, I was tired of my situation with relationships and my choices, and I decided that I didn’t want to date anyone for a while. In fact, I ended up not dating anyone for 6 months. During those six months, I grew closer to God more than ever. He began to show me things I didn’t even realize I struggled with. God had to clean me out. God started to prepare me for the great things he was going to do in my life. He started to show me what purpose is really about. He began to show me new things, new ways, and new ideas. But He first had to show me, the "real me". The end of that 6th month period is when I met Brittney. That's a life lesson to another man or woman out there. Focus on your purpose, and God will show you who's supposed to be in your life. He will also show you who shouldn’t be there. It wasn’t until I focused on what my purpose was, that God brought Brittney into my life (I will go into more details in another blog.) Two things were different when I met her. For the first time in a long time, I didn't want to live off of her or what she had. Secondly, she was a woman that wouldn't let me live off of her even if I wanted to. This relationship is what grew me up. This relationship is what made me WANT to be a man who can handle responsibility and handle his own. But because I wanted her to think I was someone who I wasn’t, I spent money on dinners and dates that I really couldn’t afford. So I continued to struggle financially. After a month of doing that, I broke down and told Brittney the truth about my financial situation. To my surprise, she did not judge me. She did not leave me. She stood by my side and told me she will help me find ways to improve my income. We prayed and gave it to God. 

Over the next few months it was a journey finding new ways to improve my income. It was a period I was not a fan of, because Brittney began to pay for our dates, and I ended up having to drive her car around at times, and I began to feel that I was almost falling into that trap again. The last straw for my financial struggle came when I found out my father died in Feb 2014. Mind you, I have not seen him in over 20 years and his funeral was taking place in Orlando, FL. I couldn’t even afford to go see my father one last time, for the first time in many years. I cried and hated myself because of the fact that I was a 27 year old who couldn’t even buy a plane ticket to go see my father. When my church found out, they supported me and put me on a plane to go out to Orlando to pay my respects to my father. I truly thank God for my church family, City of Praise. It was on this plane that I sincerely decided that I will not be broke another day in my life.

Something inside me knew I was serious this time. And I was. When I got back from Florida, I finally got a fulltime job. Not only did I find a job, Brittney helped me with creative Ideas to get my private coaching business on a new level. I went from averaging two clients a week, to averaging 16, and sometimes even more. It was during this period that Brittney and I decided to eliminate sex out of our relationship. As a result, over the next few months, I went from having those two incomes to now having 7 streams of Income. In this process I felt myself really growing up. It wasn’t the money that made me feel this way. It was the new responsibilities I had to take on. I finally was able to move out my mother's basement, I finally got my own car, I started to repair my credit, and I had multiple savings accounts. Ever since Brittney's birthday in April 2014, she never paid a dime for dinner or dates. Because she stood by my side the entire time, I wanted her to make sure she knew how much I appreciated her. That's why I spoil her with flowers often; I make sure she has what she wants even before she knows she even wants it. I strive EVERYDAY to make her smile. I love seeing her happy. I started to fully feel like a man, because I had my own, I could handle responsibilities, and most importantly, I fully let God take over my life.

I'll leave you with this: Men, if you're not happy with a particular area in your life....change! It all starts in the mind. The bible says in Romans 12:2, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is; his good, pleasing, and perfect will". It was on that plane ride to Florida that I began to renew my mind. Secondly, give God FULL control over your life. If you allow God to truly lead you and give you direction, everything around you will grow and be blessed. Ladies, judge a man by his heart, not what he has. Brittney could have easily left me early in our relationship because of my living situation and my financial situation. She helped me get to a better place by motivating me and speaking life unto me. If you're not sure about a man you're dating, ask God to show you his heart. Knowing his heart should help you determine if this is a man you want to grow old with and create a dynasty. Brittney knew from the beginning that I was being led by God when I met her. She didn’t just get loyalty and honesty from me, she got a godly man that she knew would protect her no matter what my status was. I thank you for taking the time to hear my story, I just pray that this touches someone, and motivates them to want to make a change. God bless.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lost, Empty and Broken

Those three words bonded my life from the age of 19-22. You think a person has it all together based on social media? You’re wrong. At age 19, I was an upcoming sophomore at Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC. I didn't care about class; I cared about dressing cute, wearing heels and walking around campus proud to be dating a senior. The fast life came so quick for me at 19 years old: getting drunk, partying, having sex, skipping class to have sex, and still walking around campus like I had it going on. At age 20 I grew a year older, yes, but decreased mentally in reality. By this age I think I’m officially grown; I now have my car on campus, my own apartment, and I am now dating a huge drug dealer in the area. Expensive bags, I had it… latest shoes, I wore them... GPA at 20 years old? 2.33…

Fast life was all I cared about, being accepted was all I knew, riding around the city on the passenger side of his expensive car was the only thing that felt good to me. 20 years old, I was in South Beach for Spring Break with a fake ID entering all the clubs; this was life, RIGHT? My 21st birthday I threw a party in a hotel room and bought a table at a club in Myrtle Beach with all my closest friends. Sad to say I can’t remember the night from being so intoxicated for two days. 21 year old GIRL who is now a junior in college, still dating the drug dealer and talking to other guys at this point & still not caring about anything else, but this… I remember getting a text to my phone from the drug dealer because I was now more interested in another guy and not responding to any of his text messages. 8:59 p.m. “B****, you think you can ignore my calls and play with a n*gga emotions, don’t be shocked when you end up in a ditch.” Whoa… was all I could say, feel, and think at that moment. I remember going to show my roommate this text message, terrified for both our lives because he knew where we lived. Did I call on God? God? Who is that?

The guy I liked stopped dealing with me, I had a low GPA, I had no money, and my dad had just cancelled my school loan to finish my last year and said he wanted nothing to do with me out the blue. How does a young girl at 21 years old deal with all of this? What else did I think cured all problems… alcohol & sex. This emptiness and brokenness took over my soul, mind, body and spirit. I am now relying on a “cut buddy” to fill the void of this emptiness, hurt, depression and pain. I am now experiencing the true meaning of “soul ties.” I thought I knew love from sex, I thought they loved me by giving me sex, but instead I felt every single emotion each sex partner had every single day. It’s almost senior year… am I going to graduate? Can I pull this GPA up? Can I make a change in my life? Can someone save me from this life of sin and close to death that I am in?

Yes. The summer before senior year of college my best friend who was down with me all throughout college suddenly gave her life to Christ and I couldn't understand why. She persistently invited me to her church every Sunday (in which I declined for two months) in Columbia, SC. After three months of me ignoring her, and knowing classes are about to begin soon, I finally gave in and went to church with her on a Wednesday evening. This place was different; it wasn’t what I had expected. We were in a house having bible study with people who didn't have the same skin complexion as I. I’m like, “Are you sure we are in the right place?” She laughed and told me that I’m in for an experience. That night we stayed at bible study for about 7 hours. 7 hours of testimonies, tears and confusion. I remember when it was my time to speak about why am I here, all I could do was break down. The owners of the house told me there will be no judgment here and suddenly a feeling came over me that he was telling the truth. At this moment I didn’t care if my testimony was the worst in the room, at this moment, all I could think about was that I’m ready to steer away from feeling empty, lost and broken…

I went to the next set of bible studies, and the next, and then joined a church back in the town where my college was located. Senior year had started and I had a fresh start in my life that I was extremely happy about. I got a notification that the drug dealer was now incarcerated, I was now focused in class and my GPA had increased to a 3.12. I was then elected as President of the Mass Communications department, and I received my letter that I had enough credits to graduate in December instead of May. I was ecstatic. Just to think the semester prior I was threatened to be killed, and on this day, I was reading my graduation letter for early graduation. Sometimes we get so lost in life we feel like there is no way out, but God has a plan for each of us. I was lost, empty and broken until my friend stayed persistent in re-introducing me to Christ at 22… but guess what? Subsequent to college, I moved to Washington, D.C. and found myself getting lost once again… (To be continued…)

God wants to make you whole. He doesn’t want you to spend the rest of your life hurting.”

Monday, November 17, 2014

Meet Brittney & Mark

Mark McKinnon is an American actor, acting coach, and minister-in-training who helps people find their identity and purpose from Waldorf, MD, and Brittney S. Carter is an ambitious Public Relations professional with a heart full of love from a small country town called Mullins, SC. When Brooke Hardy of featured our love story of how we met and a stimulating article on our abstinence journey, immediately after we received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback, support and love from people around the world.  We talked briefly about starting a Vlog on YouTube about our life as Christians, tests and trials we’ve encountered from lusting; but we never actually went through with it until just recently when we received confirmation from the Holy Spirit. We were told to nationally share our story through our favorite scripture, 1 Timothy 4:12, “Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”

Our mission is to promote spiritual growth through the practical application of scriptural truths, morals, beliefs and principles that we use in our daily lives. We will be very transparent with our readers to help change lives, to display what we went through and to ultimately encourage our readers to keep faith at the center no matter what you are going through.

You will be able to find advice on our blog, Q&A weekly conversations, and interesting discussions by participating in our blog “Topic of the Week” such as Soul Ties, Learning to Let Go, Reveal Your Spirit and Not Your Flesh, and much more. We believe God’s Word has the power to change the way we live, the way we love, our faith and our purity. Our entries will be co-written as well as individually written on certain topics of discussion as the Holy Spirit leads us throughout this journey. Our love story and journey is a testament of showing the world what can happen to you if you trust in Him to lead the way, remain obedient even when times get tough, and most importantly- understand the Power of Being PATIENT.