The Gift of Total Dependency
“We have a more profound and transformational experience of trust and faith in the truth and acknowledgment of our deficiencies.”Latoya Hazell-Alcide
Psalm 137:4 describes a deep grief moment and reflection cry from the captive Israelites as they sat under the palm trees of Babylon during their leisure hours from slave labor. With harps in hand, maybe searching deep to find some glimmer of light to sing about, but alas, all they had were memories of Zion, their God, the songs of triumph they used to sing and with those painful realizations, their grief choked their song.
“How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?” The passage also pulls at our guts as we envision their captors having the gall to demand of them to sing not just a song, but a joyful song laced with lyrics about the time when they were free, conquerors, and a people who were revered because of their Sovereign God. “For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” Psalm 137:3
Chills… Still, to this day– 30 years later, I get chills reading this experience of a people who I chose to follow in their choice of serving God. Yet their choice is not the only experience we share. On October 16, 1991, my life also changed when I migrated to the shores of the United States. At my Naturalization ceremony yesterday (August 18, 2021), we were invited to sing the national anthem of the United States of America. I immediately pulled out my glasses and went to grab the paper with the lyrics of the song. It quickly dawned on me that I knew the song by heart because I have been singing it for 30 years. Then, it dawned on me that I have been singing a song of triumph and freedom when I wasn’t truly free. This song did not belong to me.
“Then, it dawned on me that I have been singing a song of triumph and freedom when I wasn’t truly free. This song did not belong to me.”
I sat and thought about this and the Scripture the Lord spoke to my heart. As an undocumented immigrant, I share in the silencing of joyous singing when the trauma of being dislocated from “home” occurs. I mean, who can sing for joy out of a heart that cries? Our crying heart can only pour out pain, fear, apprehension, anxiety, and walls of protection. So tell me again, how can a besieged heart sing for joy?
I think about many of the experiences during these years which kept filling my heart with pain. Separation was the undercurrent for it all and its fear thread in every experience and relationships. How can we sing when separation is our journey? Ask a friend what separation from close friends does to their hearts. Ask a divorcee what separation can do to their sense of stability and self-worth. Ask a family what separation and divorce can do to its hope and safety. Ask a student what separation from his/her educational dreams can do to his/her courage. Ask a woman what separation from her uterus through surgery can do to her dreams of being a mom. Ask a parent or child who has been separated from their family via death what that pain does to their need for love. Ask anyone who knows what separation from the ideal of home is, then ask them to sing songs of joy. We wouldn’t dare because we all can understand how this emptiness of hope feels.
But, thank God in Him there is a GIFT of His song. Yes! I mean this is the truth which made the difference for me. There is a joy in Jesus which overrides the grip of trauma and pain. This joy is the realization that a relationship with Jesus and the love He pours into us is the power that fills our hearts and raises our pain until it is emptied out of our hearts. What do I mean by that? I have learned that the existence in my deficiencies (people, place, things) is not the prerequisite for an unfulfilled and non-joyous life. As a matter of fact, it is the foundation for a type of wholesome and joyous living that only Christ can give.
“This joy is the realization that a relationship with Jesus and the love He pours into us is the power that fills our hearts and raises our pain until it is emptied out of our hearts.”
I have been dubbed as one with crazy faith; a faith I didn’t understand until I lost that kind of faith. This faith moved mountains, even the immigration one. So much so that many of my most spectacular miracles occurred while I was not free in this country. God defied all, and I mean all things, to prove His sovereignty in my life and somehow, the miracles birthed a song. A song that I have been singing all these years. A song of trust and faith in my God who was supplying all of my needs.
During my years of full dependency on Him, I realized that I praised more because He was seen more because I needed Him more. There were always songs of praise to God to combat my blues and since I lived in the blues, my songs of praise made their home there, too. I was asked many times how I could be so happy in my state and without a twitch my answer would be, “I know that Jesus is taking care of ALL my needs!” That was my song, and I wasn’t changing the tune.
“During my years of full dependency on Him, I realized that I praised more because He was seen more because I needed Him more.”
That was until I became free through getting a Green Card, and soon, as life became normal again; as I could do things on my own again, the song changed, my faith weaned, and the compromise of self-sufficiency creeped in. I did not realize I stopped singing the song of faith until I was told that I had become “gun shy” in a major decision for ministry because I was looking at the stability of money and work as the reason to not move by faith into the unknown. The song turned to complaints and frustration to God and made the move with apprehension and grumbling! It was in this current place where I stand that I had to re-learn to make my heart sing again as I begged God to grow my faith back to what it was.
The greatest lesson the Holy Spirit taught me on this citizenship journey 11 years after my song changed was that the power of my song of faith was in the hands of God when He was in full control over every detail of my life. When I operated in full dependency on Him, I lived better and was happier but when I was dependent on my own work and strength, I suffered more, complained more and sang less. He reminded me of this on the day I tested for citizenship. It was a caution to me on the horizon of my complete freedom to remember where my blessings came from. They came from His hands when I fully surrendered to Him. I had to tell myself that in order for me to see these kinds of miracles and show-off of God’s power, I have to remain in the mindset of full deficiency. I can only enjoy all which He has blessed me with if I remain understanding that none of it is mine, give all back to Him and walk in the abundance of only His goodness, grace, forgiveness, salvation, and mercy. That is all I ever needed to survive. The material things were just for comfort. A professor of mine articulated this faith walk when he shared that he forgot how much he prayed to God for even rice to cook but then stopped praying and rejoicing over rice when he walked in the overflow of food.
“I can only enjoy all which He has blessed me with if I remain understanding that none of it is mine, give all back to Him and walk in the abundance of only His goodness, grace, forgiveness, salvation, and mercy.”
If I can continue to pray and praise for my every need, as if I have nothing, then when I do have it all, then it won’t reduce God’s song of faith and salvation in me. If you need more proof that our songs of hope and faith to triumph over the ailments of this world come from only our experience in God, then Revelation 14:3 should spark a joyous shout in your belly: “And a new song was being sung in front of God’s throne and in front of the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn that song, except the 144,000 who had been rescued from the earth.” CEV
I wait to sing that song, but until then, while here in this strange land, I can sing of His great love! Today, even in freedom in the very land which I was a captive, my faith is back, my voice is strong, and my song contains lyrics of joy of a God who is Sovereign.
Latoya Hazell-Alcide is a native of the beautiful island of St. Lucia. She is an author, poet, songwriter, international speaker, mentor, pastor, and entrepreneur. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Human Services and is currently completing her Masters of Divinity Program at the Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Michigan.
Learning from both the positive and negative experiences of her life and her compassion for the disenfranchised, she shifted her life’s work to helping others especially women, children and families. Latoya has worked in the media industry as a radio producer, on communications and media teams.
She is the author of the newly released book on the power of prayer in her life, I Will Rescue You found on www.latoyawright.com. She is completing another book project called Good Grief, which speaks to the heart of healing through grief. Her mission from God is aligning spiritual and mental health principles with trust, thoughtfulness and care to help build trauma-informed faith institutions and communities with the goal of caring for, restoring and increasing resilience in individuals throughout their crisis and spiritual trauma.
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