The countdown is on for 2015. I see so much about the new year, as my television and timeline are now beginning to be filled with cleverly, catchy commercials, quotes and posts about leaving the old year and making way for the new year. That’s all well and good, as I too, am excited about the future, but 2014 still owes me a thing or two and I’m not leaving this year until I get it.
It seems the older I get the more I’d begun to rush through one thing to get to another. I would wake on Monday and focus my entire week waiting on Friday. I’d get to winter and make plans for summer. I’d eat a tasty breakfast then plan my plans for dinner. No longer, and especially not this year.
Like the last swig of cold, “red” Kool Aid on a smoldering summer day I won’t stop until I enjoy the final drop of what 2014 has to offer me. I plan to savor and appreciate this rest of this year like it’s a perfectly grilled 16 ounce piece of medium-plus Delmonico steak. I intend on squeezing the last little or big bit of everything that’s meant for me out of 2014 like it’s my favorite Sensodine (expensive) whitening toothpaste that wasn’t on sale at CVS. I plan to purposely live in the moment that is today believing that great, great things are still in store for my loved ones and me this year.
Yes, the countdown to the “ball-dropping, peach-falling, Moon Pie-sliding, confetti-throwing, bubbly beverage and fireworks-popping, Roll Tide-winning, revelry-making day” of January 1, 2015 is on the horizon and I’m glad about it. But again, 2014 still owes me a thing or two, and I plan to milk it for all it’s worth.
Soooooooooooooooo much is going on in the world around us, especially of late, in the United States. There have been senseless killings, protests all around, civil unrest and injustice. There are sides spewing points of view at every second of the social media timeline tickers. The holiday shopping season is here, prompting mad rushes and frantic searches of shopping centers, malls and online stores. Big nasty flu bugs, and their cousins are causing sickness in some. Reality shows are rearing the uglier side of the two headed monster now threatening long-standing institutions of poise, service and dignity. Hollywood stars are accusing and being accused, and it seems so many have opinions. Hollywood movie powerhouses are entering the big leagues of politics and first amendment rights in a way not known before with disappointing actions internally and threats from abroad. Many are emotionally drained dealing with debt, depression, lack or lingering pain from the death of loved ones this time of year.
Personally, I’ve come to accept 2014 as one which will go down in the history books being defined by “development” for me. From very unfortunate business dealings I’m still dealing with from my divorce to times of feeling stagnant in my career, finances and personal life, I have gone through, and grown through some interestingly, valuable lessons this year. Not at all to complain or sound whiny, but most of which I would have preferred to skip right on by like a mean game of hopscotch on a hot West End sidewalk.
Just typing all of that made me “feel some type of way” as the modern day youth say. So it strikes me as no surprise how some can get easily distracted during what should be a time of expectation, gratitude, love, joy and peace. I woke up this morning around 2:38am and the words “don’t forget about Jesus” came to me. When I woke up again (for real) around 6:30am, the scripture on my daily devotional was from Luke 2:11-14.
Here’s the deal. When our birthdays are approaching we usually want and expect all eyes on us, in the most humble of ways, of course. The gifts, the celebrations, and all that good stuff are usually a reflection of the person being celebrated. On December 25, we celebrate the biggest, longest lasting birthday party ever, during the time set aside to mark the most miraculous birth on record for the Greatest guest of Honor in history, and yes, this is still so during this tumultuous time we are all currently in. Regardless of our reality, we are in the season of love and miracles.
This Christmas more than ever, through our actions, our reactions, the things we think about, the ways we interact, the spirit of expectation we have, our acts of kindness, our personal sacrifices, our fortitude through challenges, our expressions of gratitude and our God-given gumption to hope and believe for miracles should be a reflection of the One who has the power to change things for the better on our behalf.
Whatever you do this Christmas (and in all the days to come), don’t forget about Jesus Christ.
Many of us have heard the term “loving the unlovable”. I don’t know how much I actually buy into that phrase, as I believe at the end of the day, we all want love, making us lovable, even if it means putting in a little extra work. However, in the landscape of life there will be people once close, or possibly never who make loving them from up close or afar hard to do, but we have to do it.
It baffles me even more as I grow older, especially with the advent of social media being a barometer for people forming opinions and expressing how they feel about one another, that through a text, picture or post, usually leading to the tirades, the misinformation, the misunderstandings, the tea, and the shade, at the heart of it is usually a person who wanted your love (or some form of its expression) and felt like they didn’t get it to their satisfaction or expectation.
From others, I’ve heard stories about their situations, or had people personally upset with me. Like those I know, my reactions to their actions have varied from intense efforts of restoration which proved fruitful….to no efforts at all, allowing them to stay in the place of isolation they had chosen. In those times where restoration wasn’t the order of the day, I would still hear God say “love them anyway”, whether you want to or not, and whether you are in their life or not. Huh? What? How?
Loving those who don’t want your love, but really do takes courage, compassion and maturity. Truth be told, usually the people who are a challenge to love have been that way way before you, or with you, just regarding someone else. Never to be left with no warning, signs are usually present before the catastrophe happens. You’ve likely seen the behavior before. Think back to the failed friendships, family falling outs, broken covenants, or dissolved associations you’ve had. How many times has it been with people who, prior to the tables turning on you had expressed the sentiments now directed toward you toward others?
Usually it’s the usual suspects of fear of being on the outside or not mattering, unresolved hurt from the past, poor external influences and again, unmet love and expectations which rear their ugly heads. So instead of choosing to directly speak to you regarding resolving an offense they would rather speak about it to others often, and live in their perceived reality of the negative they feel and eventually grow to feed upon. For some it’s easier to say “he didn’t call me”, or “she didn’t invite me”, or “they didn’t help me” when their own phones and postage fees would show that they’d long ago stopped calling, inviting and/or helping (if they ever did in the first place). Some specialize in the scapegoat or blame game method making you a component in their calamities, whether you knew you were, actually were, or none of the above, then joining partners with those they can sway their way. Others would rather relish in their disappointment of you not doing what they thought you should (notice I said “they thought”) do for them and live life telling the world (or at least their circle of ears) what all you didn’t do, or what they think you’ve done for others. And there are some who simply can’t separate your (flawed), pure actions from their pains from others and the self-inflicted pains they personally created.
Loving those who don’t want your love, but really do, can be as simple as being able to pray for them, forgiving, or staying silent in your own defense. That in itself can be hard! It could mean opening up the conversation board or going back to the drawing board to see what the Lord next has in store for your updated association, but what it always means is loving…whether you want to or not. We were created to be loved, and to love, from a God who is Love, who often reminds us to love…even those who make it hard to do.
Yesterday, while scrolling through my Facebook feed I ran across a post from a dear friend, Kushuna Exford Williams. Her post read that one December 23 she would be leaving the south headed across the country to join her beloved “boo”. That was great news, and sad news at the same time. It’s amazing how emotions can run amuck in two different directions whether you want them to or not. I knew the time of her leaving was coming, and could see what God was up to even as He used some uncomfortable situations to push her to her rightful place with her husband, Mr. Williams in Washington. What a blessing…and still I pouted at the thought of her not being a stone’s throw away in Georgia anymore.
So to face reality I did what I do best. I reflected…and BOY, oh BOY was I delighted in what I found! For more years than I can remember my dear friend Kushuna/Shun/Kaye (yes, she has that many names…LOL!) has been there. She always been consistent, in the background, in our corner, from the sidelines, and often leading the way with her encouragement, persistent prayers, unwavering faith, funny jokes, question asking, sentimental presents, “drop of a dime” presence, connection keeping, goodie bag making, and picture taking with a smile on her face. I could go on and on about the times she’s helped strengthen me (especially during illness or loss), been like a “spiritual bodyguard”, dropped little sweet nuggets of bargains or blessings in the mail or been there for MONTHS and MONTHS for my family when a loved one was facing death.
I could talk about how over-the-top helpful she is, always ready to lend a hand, or how she supports those she loves like nobody’s business and has taken her years as a cheerleader at Birmingham, Alabama’s former West End High School to a “whole nutha level” being one of the absolute best “bring out the best in others” persons I have ever been blessed to know. I could talk about this year alone where we marveled at the messages at Church of the Highlands reCreate women’s conference then broke it down on the dance floor with the Cupid Shuffle, posed in the parking lot following lunch at my niece’s dance recital, mentored the children from Woodlawn High School or topped it off with a gathering in the ATL to see none other than Oprah Winfrey and her “The Life You Want Weekend” crew. I could talk about her weekly and sometimes daily check-ins just to make sure I’m okay, to say #IGotNext, to tell me her thoughts and dreams for where God is taking me or pose a prolific question. I could share how she’s grown sooooooooooooooo much from the young woman I met over a decade ago (when you see her ask her about squeezing and hugging), or I could talk about how much her presence has caused me to grow sooooooooooo much since we met.
I could say a lot, but I’ll let the pictures of friendship prove my point…
So, do you see what I, like so many have been blessed with in our friend? There were so many more pictures I could have shared, but a true lady never reveals her whole stash…plus, we’ve come a long way from some of them and we’ll just leave it at that! Yes, I consider myself pretty darn fortunate to know and call her friend. A planned trip to bid farewell in the ATL was derailed last week. My first reaction was to pout (I’m sure you’re not surprised). Then I thought. No biggie! No sense in saying “goodbye”, just count your coinage and get ready to head to Washington. So I shall head to Seattle…after she’s settled in with her boo, of course…LOL!
“You’re always doing something. You do a lot!!!” That’s the statement I’ve heard within the last few years, stemming primarily from my leftover journalistic habits of documenting life as-is via social media. I totally get how someone could think that I do a lot. It’s likely that I do. I get how things might appear as I post pictures, check-ins, blog posts, quotes and the likes, of family, friends and randomly purposed things that pop into my mind or my life on a daily basis. I totally get it. In response, however, what I would like to say when I hear “You do a lot” is “Hunni, just wait. You ain’t seen nothing yet!”
Not to replay a full decade of my life, but for ten years straight (straight as in ALL THE WAY THROUGH 2002-2012) I was plagued by multiple “send me to my bed for months) illnesses, unemployment, financial challenges, life-altering loss, faith-testing trials, divorce, death of loved ones, more illness, and a hodge-podge of some other mess in between. That’s over and done with! So, when, finally getting to the place where the Lord allowed me to function without pain (spirit, soul and/or body), rebuild and be restored, maintain sanity in the midst of the most hurtful situations, pray for my enemies, get up out of bed and on with my life, be blessed with new opportunities, have mercy in the midst of my own tomfoolery, count up enough “coins” to do a little somethin’, smile deeply and sincerely and learn to celebrate each and every victory no matter how big or how much bigger I did just that. I have to keep doing as a testament to what God has done (and is still doing)!
You see, the secret to my “do a lot” is that I understand fully how the enemy works. I have to stay busy, helpful, participatory, giving, going, grateful and meaningfully on-the-go to remind him that “one monkey don’t stop no show” as my daddy Sylvester Scott always says. satan (with a lower case “s”) is a master deceiver, and uses isolation and despair to keep us in isolation in despair. I don’t do isolation or despair well. That’s simply not my “stelo” (to revive a term fondly used in the 90s). Sure, there are a lot of reasons, possibly now more than before, that I, like many, could stay holed up in the house pouting and plotting, but I shan’t. (Spoiler alert: new blog post coming soon.) Like most humans, there are circumstances that I could choose to allow to consume me leaving me sad, depressed, bitter, scared or whatever newfangled, uninvited emotion tries to rear its ugly head, but I can’t. (Spoiler alert: new blog posts coming soon.) I, like others could be complaining about how much I don’t have that I used to have or how much I’ve lost, and still haven’t yet recovered, but I won’t. (Spoiler alert: new blog post coming soon.) I could do a lot of non-productive and destructive things, but instead I opt to “do a lot”.
So I do. I “do a lot”, at least in as much as my current lot in life allows. During this new season in my life the Lord has blessed me with wonderful family and friends who are just as grateful for each day as I. We make it a choice to celebrate the small things as if they were gargantuan, because actually they are. In my book, every day is worth appreciating, documenting, capturing and praising God for. So I try my darndest to do just that as often as I can. God has been so good. He takes my little and makes it, well, a lot. He blesses me with favor to be in on a first name basis with the people at Jesse’s for their discounted Ladies’ Night. He often showers me with free tickets to fun stuff. (You didn’t think I was paying a lot to do a lot did you???) He sends super people who pay for me when they don’t even know I can’t pay for myself. He’s unleashed frugal creativity that sometimes blows my mind. He’s given me the ability to make what is free look and sound like it costs a mega-fortune. He provides opportunities for seminars, retreats, conferences, plays, exhibitions and plain ol’ friendly chit-chat to turn into amazingly, unexpected experiences, whether they started out that way or not.
Doing a lot has fared me well. The alternative “angry, down, despondent Angela” just isn’t feasible, or me. So yeah, I guess I do “do a lot” and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Join me, why don’t you? Try it “doing a lot.” You’ll like it! Nothing says yes to that John 10:10 abundant life like choosing to truly live it, regardless.