About the Author

Alia Joy is an author who believes the darkness is illuminated when we grasp each other's hand and walk into the night together. She writes poignantly about her life with bipolar disorder as well as grief, faith, marriage, poverty, race, embodiment, and keeping fluent in the language of hope in...

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  1. Alia,
    We tend to fear what we do not know. I admit that I felt that way about people from the Middle East. We stereotype, we label, we assume, but we are not brave enough to get to know. Facebook and other forms of media have made it easy to spout hateful remarks because we can hide behind a computer screen.

    Back to the Middle East…I was like Jonah – running the opposite direction – when God called me to start a Christian school in the Middle East for the poorest of the poor. I was afraid, skeptical, cautious, wary. But, God. Oh what a world He has opened up to me. What beautiful people who have the same fears that I do. Who laugh when things are funny. Who love to be loved and appreciated. They are not only like me…they are me. We are one in God’s eyes.

    To see the divide in our country is, indeed, painful. It’s easy to point the finger of blame, but first I must examine my heart. I have no right to point if my heart is blackened with sin. We are ALL sinners in need of a Savior. How true that we can’t build a community until we first embrace our brothers and sisters – that’s what builds community.
    Praying for your hurting heart…may you rise up because the world needs your compassionate heart…
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • nothing could be added… just yesterday at Church we were reading John 17, and the words that we, as the children of God in verse 11 Jesus said:
      I am no longer in the world,
      but they are in the world,
      and I am coming to You.
      Holy Father,
      protect[c] them by Your name
      that You have given Me,
      so that they may be one as We are one.
      then he repeated again, in verses 22 and 23
      I have given them the glory You have given Me.
      May they be one as We are one.
      23 I am in them and You are in Me.
      May they be made completely one,
      so the world may know You have sent Me
      and have loved them as You have loved Me.

      I think and it is obvious that the Body of Christ is going through difficult times and yet, this is the time when those who must be will remain…

      Thank you for being open and sharing your love for Christ!

      Shalom!

    • Yes, it breaks my heart to see the fear and misunderstanding when people dismiss others because of the color of their skin, class, or country of origin-the list goes on- instead of recognizing that the image of God is fully present in all people. Still, I’m convicted that the very ones spouting hate and ignorance need Jesus too and sometimes in my own self-righteousness, hurt, and indignation, I don’t want to have to love them like God calls me to. Sometimes I think we look at God’s command to love our enemies and we say, certainly not those people? Or we think loving our enemies is some vague command we confess to but we never imagine God would actually have us sit across the table from people who esteem everything we’re against. But yes, wrestling with the places in my own heart that retreat from the hard work of loving like Christ loves is something we all have to do if we want to know the fellowship of His suffering. Thankful for your heart, Bev, and your humility to let God work and open your eyes to His heart for everyone.

    • Bev,

      I worked at a university. We were starting to have a lot of middle eastern students. You would see burkas everywhere. It was a bit daunting. Scared to know why they were here and what were they studying. Once you got to know them a little they were nice ordinary people. It takes time, and effort to understand other cultures.

      Blessings 🙂

    • Thank you, Alia, for your exquisitely written, poignant and truthful post … We’re all called out of this, right? “I don’t want to love anyone enough to be disappointed. I don’t want to be disappointed and have to choose to love anyway.” In my experience, it’s been a one time response. Instead, it’s one I must choose to live out every day.

  2. Alia,
    Thanks for giving voice to what I feel. On my face this morning before my God with tears flowing.
    Jen

  3. Thank you for speaking your heart..you nailed it for me. I will be thinking of these words long a hard.

    • Yes. I can’t just will myself to love on my own accord or I’d always only choose those neighbors I’d actually like to live next to instead of the ones who move in, mess things up, and make that love actually cost me something. I have to chose and seek it with the heart of God and the power of His spirit.

  4. Dear Alia,
    I must THANK YOU! THANK YOU for those most vulnerable words that speak so poetically of your truths! Those are similar truths for so many of us I can only imagine. I relate to so much of what you say, meds, Dr’s, illness, family, church pains, community love, God’s ultimate faithfulness in our lives!
    My heart is so grateful for your honesty and I want to encourage you to KEEP KEEPIN’ ON girl! You go get em! God is using you… God is using your circumstance, God is using your pain, God is IN ALL OF IT!
    I myself has had some very rocky roads…. The raising of a daughter that had special mental health needs leaving us to place her in residential multiple times. A rare unknown medical condition that would leave me with episodes of paralysis. NOW there are some stares of strangers and worse — friends and family. A marriage of nearly 20 yr marriage ended in Divorce. As you can well imagine the unfortunate consequence of some very angry hurt mad children. To top it all off, I was then ‘thrown’ out of my Christian Church since they don’t believe in Divorce and I was “a disappointment to myself, my family and my community.” (QUOTE) I topped it all off with a cherry! I started dating another man in the church. WOW! If what was happening wasn’t enough right? WOW!
    As a single mom, I turned back to God, focused my energy and health on healing, leaning into Christ and figuring out what this new life I was living looked like, where was God leading me, what direction did I need to go in and DR DR give me the news —- I started seeing a Christian counselor like a full-time job!
    What a wild ride — God drew me in, HE held me SO TIGHT, he reassured me I was with Him and He with me! As my life moved forward in slow motion, experiencing so much pain yet in all of it healing as I lived out those decisions the heartache I examined my motivations, researched my choices and prepared to walk forward with a new perspective of myself. The one and only, the heart, the passion, the love, the joy, the aches, wounds and pains of all I am. The calling God has birthed in me, the celebration of whom Christ has created me to be all along this dirt path of disappointments right?

    As I sit here writing this to you, I see the fresh new sunlight coming over the horizon shining brightly on the tallest of three palm trees. My heart REJOICES with sheer delight as I recount these past few years and the milestones of healing of mind, body, and soul.
    I think about the pains that drove me to encounter Christ face to face, the moments of thumbing thru my bible with tears streaming down my face seeking something to fill this pain, answer these questions and soothe this downtrodden heart. I found SO MUCH more — I found peace in NO MATTER the circumstance, I found a joy that I was created in HIS image, I found ME — HIS child– A child of the Most High.
    Although I didn’t find what I ‘thought’ I was looking for, I found more! I smile begins to emerge as I admire the beautiful tapestry of Christ thru a new marriage to a man that God had been preparing for me when I was a child, the recent move to Florida to gain a healthier lease on life. With that move came the blessing of a diagnosis after 25 yrs of unknowns…. Periodic Paralysis a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy.
    This growth, the cold iron that wore against myself as I traveled this journey finding HOPE not in me, not in a man, not in my children, not in my abilities… But a HOPE I can only find in Christ.
    My children are still pained, in some ways, it’s estranged. Yet, the HOPE is in Christ. He knit them together in my womb, He has called them by name as He has me! The ultimate journey is theirs to endure, to grow and to learn to lean on Christ – that’s my prayer! All the good feelings that come when all is well, welp, I like it, but ultimately CHRIST and the compassion, love, and generosity that comes with our relationship with HIM is what changes us, friends, family and effectively changes community! Therein lies my prayer! My prayer for healing, hope, forgiveness, restoration, reconcilation, and love!

    Thank you! Thank you for sharing, being generous with thought, love and pain. Thank you for giving my freedom to write….. to write my story. A story yet uncomplete, one Christ is fullfilling daily. Christ calling upon my life, to share this mess as my message! AMEN! To walk alongside other women as they journey as well.

    I’m praying for you! Praying God continues to draw you near, to pour His loving grace, mercy and compassion over you while you walk in your calling, strongly, confidently, wisely and best of all TRULY friend truly being YOU! All God has created you to be Alia!

    Blessing,
    Christine 😉

    • Christine, what a testimony! Thank you and Thank you Alisa Joy for the raw and candid echoing of what many of us feel and experience. My heart is overwhelmed and my prayer is that this moves me to action…..out of my comfort zone.
      God richest Blessings my sisters xoxo

  5. I follow no man but Jesus. A long season ( most of my life) of trials has honed in me the Sovereign nature of my God. I trust Him. Choices are made by each of us everyday and they are against something or someone while for some other thing or someone. My choices I stand by because of what is most aligned with my own convictions and life’s circumstances. We are all in sin judging people’s hearts because of their choice or behavior. We have no right. Only God does. We the people are choosing divisiveness. God appoints leaders and kings. He is ALWAYS in charge. I am a legal brown skinned orphaned at 9 ( now 50) lady who loves this country, obeys its laws, and cherishes her people. But above all else I’m on this earth because He made me to love. I count on His grace to do it everyday no matter what the circumstances around me. I’m a citizen looking forward to Heaven, a traveler in this world, a child loved by God, a wife, a mom, a veteran critical care nurse and I have seen escalating evidence of how not obeying the laws our Christ following Christian founders have allowed abuse of those of us willing to do the right thing.
    Jesus is the answer for He was, He is and He is to come.
    I am sorry you are in pain. I will pray for you Alia.

  6. Alia Joy,

    Thank-you for sharing your honesty. I felt your pain through your voice. and I’m so sorry your heart is so troubled.
    I have to remember those who appear to be difficult are the ones I should try harder for.
    Perhaps we could pray (together), they’ll be reached by tenderness, and peace.

    I pray your weariness will ease,

    Penny

  7. Alia, I’m in the same struggle. The part of scripture that I’m struggling with is John 21:15-17 where Jesus is asking Peter, “lovest thou me?” I’m sure Peter was still struggling with guilt over denying he knew Jesus 3x. Then, after Jesus’ resurrection he appears and questions Peter’s love for him three times. Jesus told Peter, and He tells us, “Then feed my sheep.” “Feed my lambs.”
    I know I need a new heart. How do I receive it? That’s been my prayer lately.
    Well said. You’re alone.

  8. Ugh, yes. This election process and the post-election fall out has been a test for us at all levels, and there is still grieving to do. Thank you for daring to speak out now, and my prayer is that God would use your words to wake us from our “dream of community” and to help us forge ahead into a resiliency of love that will glorify God in amazing ways beyond all that we can imagine right now.

  9. Alia,

    Thank you so much for your post. I also have struggled with church relationships, the church has caused me pain. It’s a journey though, and by pressing into the church occasionally I spot (more like God reveals) a glimmer of hope shining through like a beam of light, the Spirit of God reminding me that I am not alone. It happens when I read a post such as yours today when I make a sincere connection when someone says, “I’m so glad we met today” or “I’ve missed seeing you lately.” Truth be told, kind words really do go a long way in healing the broken places. His Spirit is so good to minister in so many ways. Thank you for the gracious reminders to love our neighbors, no matter which side of the cross they dwell.

  10. You put everything I’ve been feeling for awhile now, into perfect words. Thank you for your honesty.

  11. Alia,
    So good! I am so here with you on ALL the things. It’s kind of laughable when I think of this scene: “The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector.” But then I substitute, “God, I thank you that I am not like those hateful religious hypocrites.”– instead of me being on my face asking for mercy for my own hate and hypocrisy. Though, I have to say, my experience with being in a cult has taught me that sometimes those that wield the scriptures can inflict the deadliest wounds. I was lucky to get out alive, (spiritually speaking). There are some I know for whom the very name of Jesus is a trigger. Anyway, I brought that up because I am learning the very critical essence of “being wise as serpents.” For me the big questions are, Who is safe? And of course, Am I safe? What does safe look like? So how do we as a collective navigate this mind field where the tares and wheat flourish together? What I am learning is: be wary, be astute, check incoming “out of pulpit messages” or “religious speak” against what I have learned and can find in scripture about God’s heart and personality, the actions and words of Jesus, look at the fruit–examine it. Prioritize self care. I am learning about the responsibility and charge we have before God to care for ourselves, our temples–to love and care for self in preparation for us to then love our neighbors as we do ourselves. I am learning to pray for those who slather hate about, to withdraw and guard my heart from the blast, to try to believe the best about people’s motives. And thankfully in God’s mercy, change happens, in self and others. But my heart is still “in the shop” undergoing transformation and that takes time.
    I love getting all the word pictures of your/our journey. You are luminous!! I am always excited to see something new from you!!
    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! YOUR WORDS ARE THE BEST!

  12. Needed every word of this beautiful, honest post. So grateful for you and that you help us find a way through sadness back into the heart of community!

  13. Thank you for your honesty.

    “Loving the heart of God will always call you toward uncomfortable love; there isn’t any other kind.” This spoke to me so deeply. I have felt God calling me to “un”comfort rather than comfort – for several reasons –
    1) so I can truly know him and experience him
    2) so I understand what I am hoping others will understand from my life – God’s unfailing, unwavering, unconditional love
    3) so I rely on him to be my comfort – in Christ alone my hope is found. My hope, by comfort, my joy, my strength.

    Your beautiful vulnerability and transparency gave words to my wrestling soul. Thank you!

  14. Alia
    My heart goes out to you. This has been a trying year for me also. 2 surgeries, 4 hospital stays, almost died. The good part of that is that it has given me time to pray and think (maybe too much thinking!) and a lot of people prayed for me. The really difficult part wasn’t the physical part, but the spiritual and emotional parts. The acrimonious election season and the shocking literal hateful behaviors have taken a great toll on me also when my reserves had been 98% depleted by my illness. My daughter did not call or text me this Thanksgiving weekend although I don’t believe that we are estranged. (Yes, I emailed) That hurts. And there is more.

    So this is what God has been teaching me: I must love the unlovable, even when it comes at a price. I must get up and out of my house even when I don’t want to. I must pray for personal and local issues as well as for our leaders in the world. I must put on the whole armor of God and having done that, I must stand.

    God is still on His throne and He made the birds sing this morning.
    With Love, ~ Kay

  15. It is easy to love people who love us back. Jesus was God but also very human, He had to like some people better than others and endured the cross knowing there would be people who would not believe. He had to keep in mind those who would. Love the sinner and hate the sin. This is what I find difficult, I have tried and been mocked and had have had people take way too much advantage, I have had to learn when to say when and use ” spiritual authority “. It’s not the people but the spiritual warfare. God uses people, even the ones who aren’t ideal Christians and even sinners are used by Him, even if they don’t know it. No matter who is president, Jesus is Lord. And He must be our focus, not ourselves or others, He went through Isaiah 53, He knew we could not.

  16. Embrace the love that is you. . .hate the deeds and actions. . .but not the people. As you would a loved one who disappoints you. It is indeed a challenge, esp. now. . .but it has a way of arresting the hatred in its tracks. I had a friend challenge my heart because I expressed discontent with prejudice and when I without missing a beat just let the words I love you fall from my lips. . .she in her inability to do the same. . .had to pause. You see. . .pure and honest emotion. . .when it is love. . .has the power to expose evil for what it is. Take baby steps and love the people you encounter. Hate evil. . .not people. When Jesus overturned the tables in the Temple. . .he was angry. We can be angry too! With the works of the devil. . .evil. . .hatred. . .sin. . .and we fight it with love and sometimes in anger. . . I often remind my son there is a time for everything. . .scripture says so. And when we address the wrong things from a place of love. . .there comes times we may have to fight even. I stay home too and watch podcasts and participate in devotions such a this. . .because I find the truest seek God daily not just on Sunday. I don’t like people much of the time. . .but I love them all the time. And I get hurt and sometimes, most times, and wish it were easier. . .but when I am most true with myself. . .love chooses me. . .and I just am forced to live it out. I think love has chosen you too. It’s not that you want to avoid the worst. . .you want a way to love them in spite of their worst. . .as God has us all. I often feel empathy with the Lord. . .how his heart must ache. . .but he keeps on loving. And he made us in His image.

  17. The most beautiful and amazing thing I have read in awhile that was just what I needed especially post election and with all the division among us lately. This writing is the best example I have seen of a TRUE Christian heart that those who want to hate should see and that those of us who think and feel the same need to demonstrate more often and more loudly than those who give Christianity a bad name. Thanks for such honest reflection written with a genuine Christian spirit.

  18. I think most of us are still trying to navigate through all of the ugliness that has reared its ugly head and still is, this level of division and contention is not anything we have experienced before and the fall out is still falling out. I find it hard to look ahead and see a path out of where we are now but I pray we will try to do good and not harm as we move forward in relationships and community. I long deeply to see God work something beautiful out of all the mess we are seeing.

  19. Thank you so much for your beautiful words! This resonated with me deeply, and I so appreciate you sharing with us.

  20. Dear Alia,
    No truer words spoken! Holding you close in prayer.

    On the journey with you,
    Michelle

  21. My brother (who is a pastor) has reminded me more than once when I comment on a particular ‘sandpaper’-y encounter, “Church would be great if it weren’t for all these people.” Yeah.
    I think you’ve nailed Jesus’ very radical gospel, not that we would learn care for and love those far away, but those who are right in front of us. If nothing else, God’s plans are being served in this season by stirring up the Church first, to bring to the surface who we really are and what we believe. And how WE might be the change we thought might come through our elected officials (or in spite of them. Especially in spite of them).
    God must start with us–there is nowhere else to go.

    Alia, I’m so very glad you are part of the people I know…far away and close-ish. Well done.

  22. Alia,

    Bless you for being honest & vulnerable. We as a nation need revival and God’s healing touch. It is time to put away old stereotypes and just get to know one another. I find the best I can do is just pray for God to come reunite this country as one.
    Loving certain people is hard, but that is exactly what Jesus calls us to do. For me the hardest is loving & being kind to LGBT community. It is a sin! Since Jesus loves me even on my worst days I can be kind and loving towards them!

    Blessings 🙂

  23. Alia, my heart resonates with you. It is this very thing that I am made of. The weary brokenness and trying to somehow disassociate the harshness of religious weaponry with God himself. Like you say, it is so hard to live in an environment like that as a free gentle spirit. But I could not agree more. Processing through the hard parts of community is worth the fight. I believe God is helping me and I have taken little steps toward being able to rise above and be a conduit of love to the hateful. Thank you so much for sharing.

  24. Your words spoke right from, and to, my heart. I feel as though life is scripted right now. Something I’m observing and living through versus something I am actively participating in and creating. Your words help me understand I’m not alone. Thank you.

  25. Alia,

    Such a powerful message. What I hear is despite all the obstacles, you speak with such a love for Him and His ways. Thank you.

  26. I am so thankful that you are so faithful to obey the call the Lord has on your life…to write what He puts in your heart! It is beautiful and gives voice to what so many of us feel, but have a hard time articulating. Your words paint a beautiful picture…as beautiful as any artist with paints and canvas! I am fully satisfied after reading this post…I am blessed by your words…I will read them again…just for the shear beauty of the prose <3

  27. Alia, thank you beyond words for this vulnerable piece of your soul. Thank you for challenging me to spend more time on my face before God in the midst of this very horrifying time in our country. I am finding at this point, since the election–which left me just like you said, mourning and in retreat—that when I spend that time with God, truly praying…the next step for me/a person to love appears right in front of me….and since I spend so much time in my house, (dealing with my brokenness too) that is really quite something for me to see/experience!! I relate with you on so many levels, and I really appreciate you so much for continuing to share your journey; I see from the comments that we are really not alone, and that is encouraging. Slowly I have gone back to church and thankfully am finding soul sisters and brothers there. (The vulnerability pays off in relationships!!! but I get so scared by it) And though I am not unfriending my friends who voted differently, I do believe still that my energy is meant to be spent on coming alongside those who are voiceless, or persecuted, or put at great risk now. I am leaving all judgement up to our God.

  28. Y’know, I kind of feel like you do right now. I’m just tired of the human race. I long for deep, meaningful, challenging conversation but it seems like these days any topic beyond the surface is a ticking time bomb. There are things my spirit is wrestling with and I would love to hash them out with a fellow human, but who? It’s like walking on eggshells out there, because I don’t know what’s safe to talk about with who. Even people I’ve known for a long time. This election season, I feel, has really brought out the worst in everyone and it’s not going away. I keep waiting for things to calm down and they’re just…not. And I’m struggling and confused and lonely. Maybe it seems like I’m being dramatic. Welcome to my world. This is what goes on in my brain. All. The. Time.

  29. “What is hard is not the man robbed on the side of the road, beaten and left for dead. What is hard is loving the priest and the Levite who crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by.”

    Me, too.

    xo

  30. Alia, I praise the Lord for these courageous and gracious words 🙂 My heart is with you, for you. I have struggled too with loving those in different places, a knee-jerk reaction to a lack of love from them. Its easier to want to avoid, to go where there is “no demand.”-I hear you so loud on that dear sister. I hear the truth in your words-we all need to love each other where we are with His love. We need each other as brother and sister sinners, loving each other united in the Holy Spirit that the church may be a safe place of love and mercy, the true city on a hill that shines the light of Christ’s love into the torn, hurting, and divided places in our country, towns, homes, and world. May the Lord clear our vision, helping us to see that there are no favorites, to discern, to love with His love through our surrender to that love 🙂

  31. Thank you Alia for speaking words that I am feeling.
    I loved your cousins wisdom “It’s not a community until someone you don’t like shows up”.
    I also love your words “Loving the heart of God will always call you toward uncomfortable love; there isn’t any other kind.”
    I believe that if life was easy to live then we would not know what love was.
    These words gave me comfort today as I struggle to go to others houses during the Christmas holidays, because it is easier for me to stay at home. Although I believe God gives us rest and peace he also gave us relationships easy and hard ones.
    Thank you for speaking words that made me feel that I am not alone.

  32. Alia, I have been grieving too. After the election I skipped church for 2 weeks. I just could not go. I have been going with my husband now, but this weekend he is teaching the kids church, so I will be sitting by myself in adult church and I am working on my courage. I have found that I don’t want to be identified with the title “Christian”. It has a bad feeling now. Instead I relate better to “follower of Jesus”. Thank you for writing this post. It helps to know that someone else I know is going through some of the same feelings and difficulties. It has helped me to remember that Jesus did not tell us to follow a political path. He said to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s. This has helped me cope.

  33. I was perusing (in)courage posts and I happened on yours. God knew what I needed today. The internet has felt like such a pandora’s box for me these last six months. It’s hard to feel so shut down when you’re a writer. I was encouraged and challenged by this: “When Jesus asks me who is my neighbor, the hardest answer for me will be the people I most disagree with, the ones who spout hate, the ones who endorse it willingly, who discard the imago dei in the people I love, the ones who can’t enter into another’s pain. It will be the ones immersed in Christian culture who brandish Scripture like a weapon against the lost, instead of an invitation to come and see the Kingdom of God. The hardest answer will be the ones I’ve judged, the ones I think don’t deserve grace, the ones I think don’t offer it to others.” Thank you for calling this out in such a poignant and honest way!