GOD IS GREATER THAN MY STORM

Christmas is over

the turkey is done

the presents unwrapped

no more holiday fun

if you got 100 presents

or simply got none

if you were seated with family

or a table of one

you may be wondering

how far you have come

the weight of the world

still feels like a ton

there’s a beat of love

that sounds like a drum

calling you home

whether you walk or run

the everlasting love

makes your heart glow like the sun

no matter who you are

no matter where you are from

you may feel like your losing

the game of life is no fun

if God is in your heart

you’ve already won

Christmas is over

the turkey is done

the presents unwrapped

no more holiday fun

if you got 100 presents

or simply got none

if you were seated with family

or a table of one

you may be wondering

how far you have come

the weight of the world

still feels like a ton

there’s a beat of love

that sounds like a drum

calling you home

whether you walk or run

the everlasting love

makes your heart glow like the sun

no matter who you are

no matter where you are from

you may feel like your losing

the game of life is no fun

if God is in your heart

you’ve already won

Three years ago almost to the day, I entered a mental hospital overwhelmed with unresolved trauma, confusion, and fear. I left the hospital with two things: a commitment to understanding the deepest parts of my mental illness so that I might overcome three generations of mental struggles. Second, was a recommitment to connect to my spiritual self; to repair my relationship with God.

After suffering through a traumatic incident as a kid, my Grandmother said the most devastating statement to me: that God allowed this painful thing to happen to me as punishment? This was MY God – who I believed was not the deliverer of pain, but the deliverer of salvation and peace. I could not decouple my hatred and unworthiness.

So I ran away from the church, from God – and with every step, I ran further and further away from myself. I did more than run away; I became the devil’s number one draft pick – behaving in the complete opposite of God’s teachings. I struggled with answering this question: If God didn’t love me, how could I possibly love myself?

This began a lifelong spiritual quest, to find a new God cuz my old God was no longer interested in the job. I spent months in India studying at an ashram with Sathya Sai Baba, considered joining the Nation of Islam multiple times, attending the historic Million Man March, have been visited some of the most breathtaking churches all over the world, and have meditated at national and provincial parks all over the world. It was devotion as tourism. I thought God had left me, but I know Her devotion for me was ever-present – there’s no way I could have made it this far with Her divine providence.

When I moved up to the main ward of the hospital, the first person I met was a woman named Lori-Ann. I was awkward and nervous, the way a first-timer walks through prison. She was the ultimate Mother Hen, the primary advocate to the hospital staff, and organized the social calendar in the day room. She also led the daily prayers. She put her arms around me, unprovoked, and whispered to me in the way God always has communicated with me:

“God is greater than my storm.”

No more wonderful words have been spoken to me. My insides melted into her shoulder like the crust of macaroni and cheese – the tougher shell giving way to the gooeyness of my soft emotions. I cried from just after breakfast to when the roast beef for lunch was being wheeled into the day room in which we stood. It was as if I had been waiting for someone to whisper those words into my ears.

I have heard the voice of God definitively on that day, and every choice since then has been driven by listening to that inner voice, long dulled and dormant. Her voice has taken me back and forth across the country by planes, trains, and automobiles, often without credit cards and identification by the grace of family, friends, and strangers – and Her divine guiding hand. From the brother that drove me across the border for free, to the van life community that kept me safe to the friends that chipped in when my car was broken into – angels have come to me in the strangest and wonderful ways – blessing me with their time, their energy, their patience, their resources, and their love.

In many ways, the last three years have been spent peeling back the layers of my mental illness like shaving off the dead skin of my ashy feet. It takes a long time but eventually even my feet will be smooth again. My mind feels smooth again, although I do know that if I don’t take care of them, it can callous over again. This is where I will give this over to the mercy and wisdom of the ancestors; to believe in something greater than anything I could ever understand.

I have so many exciting opportunities in store for 2022 and beyond, including a multi-year documentary project on male sexual assault – and I cannot achieve any of those without the hand of Divine Providence.

People often struggle to talk about faith because it is hard to decouple those conversations from organized religion For me, organized religion has done so much harm to the world – and has blocked the signal for us to tap directly into our intimate and personal spiritual connection to God and the ancestors. In return, I will be writing more about the role of faith in my life and how it has become my north star guiding my way.

We are living in extraordinary times. People are confused, frustrated, and angry. We are losing faith in science and the government’s ability to keep us safe and informed. We are collectively longing for something to make sense of this terror. Almost three years in and Covid’s grip is tighter than it’s ever been. I know five double-vaccinated people in my immediate circle that are struggling with Covid right now.

As the God of Mischief, Loki, says “I have been burdened with glorious purpose.” Yet, I will begin 2022 just as I did in 2021 – unemployed, broke, homeless, and worried. And yet, I am filled with a greater sense of peace, promise, and prosperity than I ever have experienced. That can only happen with God’s mercy and guidance. Therefore, I am falling at the feet of the ancestors, praying for guidance and strength. Because, as another demi-God with delusions of grandeur, Donald Trump, once said to black voters “What do have to lose?

Well, my soul for starters – and I’m gonna hold onto it for awhile.

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RALPH BRYANT is writer and content creator living in Canada. He is the author of Shackles Lost and the host of the podcast Black Fathers Matter.

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Ralph Bryant Writer

RALPH BRYANT is writer and content creator living in Canada. He is the author of Shackles Lost and the host of the podcast Black Fathers Matter.