Help! It’s a word many won’t say, but most should scream if it’s going to move them forward in life. I’ve never understood human nature, including my own, that would walk away from support it needs to be better. It’s funny. Our minds, poor mindsets, generational issues and pride will literally talk our mouths out of opening up and asking for assistance.
I think the famous song from the Color Purple was written for me…”God is Trying to Tell You Something”. Like a baby needs a bottle and like a teacher needs a pay raise, I need help! In the last decade help and I have gone hand-in-hand. I’ve been through a year and a half of divorce counseling, a year of physical therapy for an arm with lymphedema, two years of physical therapy for a leg and back injury, and that’s just the specific help I want to tell you about. I’ve had to humble myself (and I needed humbling) to ask people to drive me around, give me money, braid my hair, help me up the stairs, carry my purse, give me a job, give me money (I know I’ve already said that), hear my inner fears, let me cry on their shoulders, pray for me, let me vent, keep my secrets and so on and so on and so on. I needed help!
I remember growing up. My parents were in, let’s just say, a financial place that was not cute. They decided to seek a financial advisor, let her “up in their business” (as some say), trust her with her expertise and follow her tough-love advice to the letter in order to come out of debt. They did it and were debt free. I remember growing up and my father taking Carl Budding lunchmeat sandwiches for lunch and driving an old, ugly banana yellow car so that my mother and he could be a blessing to their extended family and pay for someone to iron our clothes and help clean the house. This was not at all because we were rich, but because raising three children, maintaining a marriage and helping take care of other people’s business can be overwhelming so they got help.
I also remember growing up and experiencing the murder of my first love at the age of 17. We were no longer “going together”, but on the night he was murdered we’d had a fabulous time at the Cobb’s Midfield 6 Theater and were supposed to reconnect with a group of friends later that night. While traveling to meet them a car ran a friend and me off the road. We were traumatized and decided to go back to my house. The next morning I woke to the news that my first love was dead. I was devastated, beyond devastated as I reflect back some 20+ years later. One of the first things my mother did after all my spiritual support was in place was take me straight to a psychologist. Why? Because I needed help.
The moral to this story is: The difference in where you are and where you should be is found in the help you have. It’s your life. You owe it to yourself to allow others on the journey to cause it to be all that it can be!
Change can be hard. I’m sorry if you thought otherwise. However, change is as necessary as it can be difficult. Even more, it’s as possible as it can be challenging. Having had to make a change or two a time or two in my life I’ve come to realize that there are some steps we can take to help make the ultimate steps to something new.
I remember learning “Stop. Drop and Roll.” at my dear, sweet Stonewall Jackson Elementary School in Birmingham, Alabama(Go Eagles!). “Stop. Drop and Roll” was the catch-phrase for what we should do in case of fire. They drilled that mantra in our heads until it was second nature to know how to say it and do it.
Needing to make a change in important areas of life can be overwhelming. It can feel like we’re under fire! The heat from stress, pressure from others, feeling like a failure, dealing with doubt, avoiding unresolved issues,and realizing the indirect and direct damage from lack of change can feel like it’s engulfing us. But just like that school-house jingle there is a “sure fire” way to change.
All we have to do is:
STOP fighting the change. DROP any fear that comes along with change. and ROLL with the flow of change.
Since 2011 I’d spent THOUSANDS of dollars on every Lymphedema garment, treatment and “trick” I could get my exceptionally large hand on. You name it, if I was told about it I tried it out because I was in pain and ready for relief. Lymphedema is a disease that causes swelling in certain areas due to accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the tissues of the affected areas. As you can imagine, with it affecting my right arm, my primary arm of usage I was desperate for help.
I embarked on a mission of research and heeding wisdom on what worked, what may work and what we would pray would work. I purchased gloves, sleeves, gauntlets, bandages, garments, compression shirts, leotards, gizmos, gadgets and the likes. I tried lots of things that were a blessing. I tried other treatments that simply drained my pocket. Through it all, the one glove that I loved is one that’s, well, how shall I say this…raggedy! It’s one of the first ones I purchased in 2011 and while medical standards probably would require me to have thrown it away long ago it helps me. It fits. It feels good. It’s worn out, and it worked so well that I rarely have to use it or any other garment at all anymore!
I’m learning that the same is so in life. Often the inclination is to abandon the old for the new. Whether it be a job, relationships, church or friendship, sometimes it too easy to say sayonara (goodbye:)) The moral of this story: Chasing the next big thing might cost you big bucks! What’s new is not always best for you.
Have you ever wondered why you are the way you are? Have you ever wanted to know what you could do about it?
I believe there are six areas that are key to our daily lives and the make up of who we have become. I believe these are the points that mark most of who were are, what we do, what we attract and what we multiply. I call them the S.O.U.R.C.E.
S-Spirituality (What has been our spiritual example?) O-Obedience (What role has obedience, the demonstration of obedience or the lack thereof played in our shaping?) U-Understanding (Through what ways, right or wrong, have we come to know about the Word and the world?) R-Relationships (Who has been a part of our circle of influence regarding all facets of relationships?) C-Communication (What has been demonstrated to us regarding how we communicate with others around us?) E-Expectations (What have we been taught to expect out of life, ourselves and others?)
All that shapes us comes from a source, or two or a dozen. Ideally, the ultimate source of our shaping in any area of our life should be God. Unfortunately, for all of us that progress is still in process. Whether it be spiritually, naturally or socially, parts of who we are come from what we’ve seen, where we’ve been, who’s been around us or who came before us. Some things in and about us are because of who we befriended, who we hung out with, who we dated, who we work with, even who we married. It may be from what we watched or listened to, what we ate or what we drank. Even with the knowledge of our sources, it’s our responsibility to deal with what has been dealing with us.
So what do we do about it? The key is to understand the Source greater than our S.O.U.R.C.E. That’s God:) Once we’ve truly examined our life and the things that lead to it being as it is then the “feeding and weeding” must begin. We must feed on the Word of God to allow those things to be deposited that we need and we must consistently weed out those things we don’t.
“Friends, How many of us have them?
Friends, Ones we can depend on.
Friends, How many of us have them?
Friends, Before we go any further, let’s be Friends”
Those are the lyrics from a very popular old school rap song by the debonair group Whodini. As a child (and fully grown adult) I would sing those words, bobbing my head to the beat, but I didn’t really realize just how powerful of a poetic masterpiece Jalil, Ecstasy and Grandmaster Dee really gave us.
I have been blessed with ALL kinds of friends. I realize now that absolutely none of them are just like me. I love that! Some are calm when I’m flustered. Some make me laugh after I’ve cried. Some have faith that’s outrageous and contagious. Some want to fight my battles when I don’t feel like it (and I’m not just talking spiritually:). Some have fashion sense that inspires me. Some I call “cayenne pepper” because they add spice to any situation. Some have survived trials I couldn’t fathom and some are still in the midst of storms, but dawning the most fabulous rain attire you could imagine.
Lately, I’ve realized I have another form of friend that I loving call my “receptacles”. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines receptacle as “one that receives and contains something : Container”. I define receptacle as a “glammed up, God-sent garbage” can! My receptacles are the friends that allow me to dump my trash on them. They listen sincerely, keep it a secret, then deal with the circumstances so the stench doesn’t affect me and the situation doesn’t infect anyone else. Don’t be fooled. Not just anyone can be your receptacle because not just anyone can carry and keep what you lay on them. And certainly not just anyone can make sure the trash always get taken out.
Very recently I had to do a little dumping on one of my receptacles. I was hotter than an Arizona August! My receptacle listened. She laughed. She shared her testimony in the area I was talking to her about. She gave a little “the old me would have done this” story just so we both could see how far we’d already come. She offered to continue to pray. Most importantly she allowed me to say to her what I wanted to say to the person I wanted to say it to so I wouldn’t be tempted to say it to them because I knew I didn’t need to say it in the first place. At the end of that dumping session I not only felt better, but I felt encouraged to continue to lift the other person in prayer and make sure I don’t ever again allow my emotions to overtake me in that manner. Now that’s a friend!
So, to borrow again from the Brooklyn-based hip hop legends… “Friends, How many of us have them? Friends, Ones we can depend on. Friends, How many of us have them? Friends, Before we go any further, let’s be Friends”
Sometimes you need to know when to get off the bench and get back in the game. Life, and all that comes along with it can sometimes knock the wind out of you. (Ask me how I know!) Taking a respite after being sacked not only serves a great purpose, but is also very wise. The problem with rest or recuperating is that they can become quite comfortable and often difficult to come out of, even when it’s time. Add with that any bit of fear or cynicism that might have crept in while you were cooling off, and if allowed, you’ll find yourself stuck…on the bench.
Have you ever wondered what happens to the plays players would have made or should have made if they decided to stay on the bench longer than needed? I’m not an athlete or sports genius, but I would hate to think of what would have happened if some of the greatest sports legends would have decided they didn’t want to press through pain, fear, embarrassment, comfort or discomfort to get back in the game.
Benches serve a purpose, but there’s an even greater purpose in getting up and out there again. Newsflash, you’ve been warming the bench long enough! Get up! Get out there! Give it a try! It’s time to move it and get off of the bench!
In life, I ‘ve learned a lot about what makes women think, what makes us tick, what causes us trouble and what leads to our triumphs. For about half of my life, through gentle teachings or having full-fledged, WWF-style wrestling matches because of my own mind, I’ve been made aware of a God-given sense of compassion and empathy, and spirit of discernment concerning women from all walks of life. Once leading a Women’s Ministry for nearly ten years, and originated or organized dozens of programs geared toward the betterment of women and girls I’ve come to hear, see and know so much about who we are, and more importantly who the enemy desires us to never become. Plus, I’m a woman, a grown woman, and I’ve lived through some things both at the initiation of others and certainly self-induced.
I’ve learned that twisted thoughts about friendships and relationships is one particular area the devil has been able to cause havoc in our lives, especially regarding men and other women. Sisters (and that’s including all hues and heritages), we have to stop letting one or two bad apples spoil our bunch of blessings. We need our apples. We just have to master how to pick the right and ripe ones. So here’s the skinny:
Not every person is the same.
Not every situation is the same.
Not every outcome is the same.
Sometimes it may be right, but just not the right time.
You will grow from every “what just happened?!?!?”
No matter what pains we’ve endured we have to begin to open up again.
Despite what we’ve been through (or put ourselves through) there ARE still good men and women in the world.
All men are not “dogs”. In fact NONE are! Some have either just not peaked in the process of healing or maturity, or they simply were not the right companion for you.
There are genuine, made-for-you women who can and should be trusted as friends.
Not all women gossip, steal men, throw shade, lie or manipulate. Again, some have either just not peaked in the process of healing or maturity, or they simply were not the right friends for you.
No man, woman, boy, or girl, ghoul, goblin, gnome or “no longer need you in my life” should have the audacity or capacity to alter your heart to a state of total shutdown.
It’s time to realize that God desires us to have healthy, flourishing relationships with others. We were not sent here to fly solo, no matter who decided to jump ship. Believe that there are angels on earth assigned to be a part of that amazing plan. Open up. Let them in. Welcome newness. Be new yourself as often as needed.
My daddy always says, “One monkey don’t stop no show”. Well, I believe that one man or woman doesn’t either. The show, your show, MUST go on, honey!, with whatever colorful cast of characters God has chosen. As women, it’s time we learn our lessons, lose fear, leave bad habits, and LIVE our lives with those who were meant and sent to love us.
My introduction to the world of the fabulous 40s has been one that I can only describe as indescribable. There have been so many lessons learned through teaching, trial and error that I feel like a cap, gown and diploma from the School of Life is soon awaiting me.
On March 16, 2012, I hit the big 4-0. I’ve loved, embraced or either accepted everything that day would lead to. Now as I get ready to plan celebrations for the big 4-1 (if there’s such a thing as the big 4-1) I was thinking of things I’ve learned along the way at different stages in life. I can hear the little girl, young lady and semi-grown woman speaking back to me. Here’s what she said as she took me back down memory lane….
At Age 5-Naptime is a privilege. It’s truly the snooze you can use! You’ll appreciate rest more than you know, sooner than you’d expect.
At Age 10-Thank God for the biggest conflicts in life being who would hold the “Double Dutch” rope, which New Edition member was the cutest and which “Candy Lady” had the best pickles and Jolly Ranchers.
At Age 15-You are not ready for love. This is true since you had to drag a 50 feet, vanilla-colored phone cord to sneak and talk past 10pm. This is especially true since most of your “romantic” memories involved getting a high school “Candy Gram”, trips to the bowling alley, Cobb Midfield Six Theater and Quincy’s for yeast rolls, hanging at George Ward, Eastlake and Bessie Estell Park, and lots and lots of crying and confusion. In spite of it all, know that EVERYTHING will be alright!
At Age 20-Focus on school, not being social. The Citizen Club (your party club of choice) is gone and many of the culprits from your fraternity friends of choice either took a long time to finish school or were secretly studying while your friends and you were oogling over them. That final semester of 26 class hours, a part-time job and internship took more out of you than you knew. It didn’t have to be that way if you would have studied a tad bit more. (On another note, GIRL….the boys you didn’t want were the ones you needed. And it’s okay to put on a few more clothes. Yes, you were cute and all, but cute shines through, even being covered up…ijs!) Again, know that EVERYTHING will be alright!
At Age 25-Make the most out of connections. God granted you wonderful opportunities to meet amazing people from all walks of life. At this age, you’d interviewed stars, worked for an up-and-coming star, rubbed elbows with influential people from all around the country and made a difference in your community. Never pull the plug on people meant to be prominent in your life. On another note, crying will not make the wrong one come back. What it will do is mess up your day at work and make you have bags. Besides, by the time he does come back (and he will) you won’t want him. Dry it up and know that EVERYTHING will be alright!
At Age 30-Always be on guard and ready to defend your destiny. Whether it’s your health, finances, personal life, or calling stay ready to rumble and look remarkable while doing it:) Cherish friends and look for your assigned angels on earth each chance you get. God has stacked your deck with some heavy-hitters in the field of family and friends. Know that EVERYTHING will be alright!
At Age 35-Change is good, even when it doesn’t feel like it. Look for God in everything, even if it doesn’t make sense. Put your pain to work. It cost you enough, you might as well make it pay restitution. Share what you know. Learn to laugh again. Open your mouth and speak. Stay positive, even when people doubt you. Put family first. Be grateful. Know that EVERYTHING will be alright!
At Age 40-Know that EVERYTHING, absolutely EVERYTHING will be alright!
Here’s a little secret. Life is full of ups and downs. Often when the up finally arrives, we’re still so down we can’t see that “up” has entered the building. So many times we finally arrive at the place that has been prepared for us and allow fear to talk us out of participating, appreciating and celebrating.
There’s something about having a prayer answered that, if truth be told, can be a bit frightening. It’s almost as if, as long as the prayer hasn’t been answered you have all the confidence in the world of how you will be once it is. Then it actually is answered and doses of doubt try to creep in. That’s not cool:)
How many parents have prayed for a child then been afraid of the process of rearing them? How many people have prayed for a mate then developed “cold feet” en route to, and after the alter? How many have prayed for an opportunity then tried to talk themselves out of being qualified for it once the offer was received?
It makes no sense to go through what you’ve gone through to get to where you’ve gotten only to give up. God has so much in store for those that love and honor Him. One of the ways people in the Bible marked victories and memorable occasions was to celebrate! They would have feasts (dinners or parties) that lasted days because they knew the value of a promise expected or a promise fulfilled. And from what I read they would “par-tay” in the best Godly way with food, family, music… and DANCE despite whatever was behind them and because of what was ahead.
Haven’t you been through enough already, not to allow fear to talk you out of what’s ahead? Don’t you owe God at least a time of rejoicing and celebration for all He has done to or through you?
There’s a trend that seems to discount the potential payoff of errors and the payback making a mistake and growing from it can provide if you make the most of it. It has almost become automatic to write a person off simply because they failed, and to not allow them an opportunity to rise again. In today’s society it’s as if we are waiting with hopeful eyes and ears to watch a person fall or hear of another person being human and doing what humans tend to do…mess up.
Contrary to what many may believe, but evident starting from the days of the Bible, people who have messed up and been redeemed can teach a lot if they learn and you listen. Look at King David or Saul/Paul from the Bible. They messed up BIG and were able to be used for even bigger. Experience and error can often teach just as much, or more than education. Am I saying you should purposely pursue wrong? Absolutely not, but if you’re going to mess up from time-to-time you may as well go through the healing and heeding process and do something good with it. There’s nothing like going through a situation the wrong way that helps instill in you how to do it the right way.
So I ask you, what do you plan on doing with what you’ve done? What mistakes have you made, and made up for that can now be used to help others? Think about them and put them to work to bless others and you. Don’t allow others, or your own mind to make you carry around the weight of shame because of flaws and failures. And certainly don’t place the weight of shame on others because of mistakes they might have made. Never discount the value of what man can offer because of the mistakes he might have made. Some of the biggest victories were born from defeat, and a few repeats of defeat.