Here’s a shortstop for your week. It applies to life partnerships and friendships alike, but it’s a dose of tough love. Ready? Let’s get it.
Have you heard men and women ask where the “good” ones are? Me too. *Insert eye roll here*
Here’s the first punch – the “good ones” are everywhere. Either you aren’t in a space to receive or commit to that type of love or you may be blind to the “good ones” around you.
Frankly, I can’t stand seeing thirsty posts. You know the ones that scream “I’m on the prowl” and “Somebody pick me.” I’ve never been a fan of waiting on a life partner to live anyway. If you’ve been around my blog for a bit, you know this truth about me.
Speaking of truth, here’s the second punch – stop saying you want a “good man/woman” when you are a terrible friend.
What do you think you will be to your partner for the rest of your life? What do you think the “good one” will desire? Another “good” person! The same awesomeness you keep screaming that you want. Another caring human being that will throw her/his heart into this enigma called life and create something beautiful out of it. Another person that will say “I choose you everyday.” I would bet that your life partner wouldn’t want to only hear from you when you want something or endure your horrible listening skills.
So, start there. Start with your friendships after you’ve learned to love yourself. Get that part right first. Maybe then, God will give you the desire of your heart because He knows the other human will be in good hands.
Mother’s Day is near and I’ve been reflecting lately on lessons I’ve learned from the matriarchs in my family. Before I dive into that pool of goodness, I must acknowledge the mamas in this virtual living room and those mourning their mamas. I love you all and I see you. I appreciate you and I’m hugging all of you right now.
April is a reflective month for me because two of my late grandmothers’ birthdays are in that month. When May comes, the flutter of mother’s day rests on my heart in the same sentimental space. It’s a peaceful area. I feel the spirits of my matriarchs everywhere and their wisdom wraps me up and steadies my seas. Below are four lessons that steer my life to this day.
Keep your mind sharp. When my great-grandparents drove down from Ohio to visit us in Alabama, it felt like Christmas morning. Not because they had a bag of presents, but because Great-Grandma Coffee was my mental playmate. I was nerdy elementary kid and she reveled in it. A few books of word search puzzles was always in her bag and my eyes lit up every time she held it in her hands. When she calmly pulled out a pen from her purse and rested her knees in that rocking chair, I knew what time it was. The challenge was on to see who could finish a page first. We could go through 50 puzzles in a matter of days. She had a head full of trivia. If I beat her, it was a miracle. Our word search battles were the stuff of gladiators. Her daughter, my grandmother, was the same way… always stretching her mind. Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy were constantly playing on the television and I loved it all. Thank God for matriarchs that weren’t afraid to show their wit.
We are stewards of the Earth. My paternal grandmother taught me early that God gave us a divine charge to take care of this planet. Recycling was non-negotiable and eating fresh foods was normal. She read every label and screened every meal to ensure it was nutritionally balanced. Aloe plants thrived in her apartment It’s because of her that I only purchase 100% juice and that I can tell you which vegetables contain certain vitamins. She’s why I eat broccoli like candy and monitor my fried food intake. Her mantra was that we were made from the Earth, so She had everything we needed to survive. I loved that about my grandmother and I appreciate her wisdom in marrying our faith to Mother Nature.
Do it well or don’t do it at all. One thing about my grandmothers and my mother, they were/are notorious perfectionists. My aunts are the same. What you could not do was do something halfway and they find out about it. No way. Make that a hell no with stadium lights around it.. My grandmothers could dress to the nines and could organize an event better than any professional planner. They stressed that the only thing you truly own is your name and is imperative to keep it intact. Whether it was re-applying the crooked stamps on the envelopes or making sure my choir robe was pressed, everything has the stamp of your name on it, so care about everything that leaves your hands.
Serve from the heart. I watched my matriarchs serve people from all walks of life when they needed Love most. Their hands were extensions of God. I saw grace with my own eyes from elementary school onward and it germinated grace in me. My mother called the parents of her Sunday School students every Saturday to ensure they were coming the next day and to offer a ride if they needed. The little brown Chevette carried a caravan, you hear me? Every week, she picked up youth choir members and anyone who wanted to go to church. That single mother on a shoestring budget made several trips if necessary. My mother. Every week. Rain or shine. My aunt wakes up asking God to show her who to help today, then… she actually does it. No matter what it is. When you serve others, you do it from the heart of God, or don’t do it at all. Period.
None of my grandparents are living, but they live within me. Their wisdom stands around me when life gets rough. I appreciate everything they instilled in me and all that my mother still pours into my soul. It’s a priceless gift.
I pray that you are surrounded by maternal wisdom from surprising places if you’re not able to retrieve it from your family. Matriarchs are all over the place – in your community, your church, your neighborhood senior living center or retirement community… anywhere. Reach out for it and be amazed at the richness you’ll find.
Peace & Thanks for listening, Family. I love you and stay well out there!
We made it to another week, so I celebrate that with you!
I received a few private messages regarding last week’s post – that it helped them breathe a little easier as they walk along their respective journeys. Thank you for letting me know. I write for you. Let’s dive into the second part of my Pain Principle –
Pain should not be muted.
Pain has a voice and we should listen to it every chance we get. It tells us that something is changing or something needs to be changed.
About 17 years ago, God showed me a vision to explain a concept about pain (I love that He knows I’m a visual learner). I saw a vision of a human spine. It was vertically suspended. A hand slid one of the thoracic vertebrae out of place as if it were a wooden block in a game of Jenga; then, it slid it back into alignment. Then I heard the following:
Either way, there’s pain.
A lightbulb went off in my spirit.
Pain is an indicator that something’s wrong and that something is right. Think about it – whether the vertebra is out of place or returned to its place, pain would be present. It’s a crazy dichotomy, yet our bodies were built to know the difference. At some point during the healing process, the pain would subside. That’s how God made us.
But what do we do? We mute pain through pills, alcohol, vacations, porn… you name it, we’ll use it to prevent us from dipping our toes into a pool of pain. We run away from it thinking that it will suddenly disappear only to find that it has grown roots into areas we thought were off limits. Pain is an indicator that something is changing… for better or for worse. When we listen to it – physically or spiritually – we allow healthy footsteps to lead us into a better version of ourselves. We lay the groundwork for true healing to take place.
So, my motivational questions for you are the following:
What pain are running away from? Since pain has a voice, what is it saying to you? Is something out of alignment or is something being aligned?
I pray that you allow the Holy Spirit to speak through the voice of your pain. I know it’s dark down there and you’re not quite sure of its depth, but the more you mute its echo, the more it will grow into other areas of your life. I’m a firm believer that whatever is in you will come out of you. It may look like an emotional blow up or emotional constipation when talking to your parents. Trust me – it’s there.
Ever since that day when I envisioned that spine, I have allowed pain to tell me something so I can adjust accordingly. Like many of you, I’ve grown accustomed to “dealing” with pain, but over time I realized that terminology can send us into a spiral of unhealthy living. I tell my clients that pain on the way to healing is better than pain standing still.
I love all of you and I want us to be well inside and out. If you think that journey will be difficult to begin, I highly recommend finding a mental health therapist to match your needs. After all, God made therapists too.
What a week. What a month. Before I begin, just give yourself some room to appreciate that you made it to today. And if no one has told you lately, allow me to say I’m proud of you.
This post is wrapped around a simple Word from the Father that truly nourished my soul.
You don’t have to prove your pain.
I stopped in my tracks.
I paused everything and let it seep into my pores.
Why was this Word so profound to me? Because probably like some of you, I am accustomed to hiding pain. From health challenges to grieving loved ones, I learned to override my senses and clock into the next item on the agenda. I found that zone when I was in elementary school and I knew how to access it when it was needed. Fighting health battles that people couldn’t easily detect grew easier over time and I learned to just not talk about it. Besides, I’m uncomfortable in the spotlight. Always have been. But, growth tends to throw you into that thing anyway.
Hiding pain a great trait to develop, but it can also be physically exhausting and emotionally castrating, yet we do it anyway. Why? Because in many cultures, it is celebrated. The less you express, the louder the applause. You must admit the prestige is to be coveted when you hear things like “You would never know he was in pain” and “She was so strong through it all.” I mean, who wouldn’t want those accolades!
So, as I got out of my car with my temporary disability placard hanging from the rearview mirror, I thought People aren’t going to believe me. Just get across the parking lot. No, try to walk straight. Let’s get rid of this limp… but then, someone’s going to judge me for parking in that limited mobility spot. Ugh. I hate this.
Placing one foot in front of the other, I attempted to smooth out my gait, then I felt my body slip into the familiar limp that resided in my legs for over a year. My hip moved to an imbalance posture and subconsciously, I let the pattern follow through. I didn’t feel like facing judging eyes as I tried to walk out my healing process. It was easier to just fall back into my abnormal rhythm and just get to the door of the grocery store.
That’s when I heard that Word and it arrested and empowered me at the same time.
I slowly straightened my posture to the best of my ability (yes, in the middle of the mini-roadway between the parking lot and the Publix doors). I attempted the heel-toe rolling action and in my mind, I resembled my old school marching band 8-to-5 stride. I probably didn’t, but I didn’t care. Honestly, it hurt like hell and it was scary, but I did it anyway because my God said that I didn’t need anyone to approve my process. It didn’t matter if I appeared in pain or not.
Likewise, I shared this freedom with a massage client recently when I listened to him share a similar sentiment. When he completed his thoughts, I said “You don’t have to prove your pain… to me or to anyone else.” I watched relief rain down his face. His eyes softened, then he nodded. I mirrored his affirmation and resumed his massage.
How many of us could actually heal if we gave each other the grace to do so? Seriously. Think of how much healing could truly take place?
I recall countless times when my face and voice didn’t match someone’s definition of pain. I have a high pain tolerance (elementary school, remember?), so once I say it hurts – I’m there. Until I get to that point, my exterior doesn’t change. This makes it difficult for people who don’t know me to gauge and thus, judge. I get it; we’re all looking for barometers to help us understand each other in this crazy world. Unfortunately, that desire can place a yolk on someone who is already cringing from the process itself, especially if it’s a visible one. It isn’t fair to place our cloak of definitions on anyone’s anything.
I share my newfound freedom with you as well, Family. I don’t care if you are experiencing mental anguish, emotional upheaval, spiritual renovation, or physical immobility – God knows your pain. He hears your cries and sees your attempts. He can pick up your crumbles one by one until you’re healed and whole. No one deserves proof of that process… not a supervisor, family member, or a stranger. Your word is enough – just like our Father’s. Just try to walk again. Try to walk with your heads up, even if it’s a slow stroll from the parking lot to the door.
I love you all and I wish you the absolutely best of days ahead. Here’s to your healing and, as always, Peace & Thanks for listening!
Tonight, it’s real prayer time and I’m going to share some real talk I had with God this week after reviewing the details and footage of 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario’s case and a few other atrocities.
My prayers also include you… that your spirits will be malleable enough to empathize and fortified enough to carry out the duties of the days ahead. It’s been a difficult week so far for some of us, but we are a family in the eyes of God, and families stick together, so let’s approach the Throne of Grace… together.
Father God, in the name of Jesus –
America the Beautiful is not America the Perfect and sometimes those imperfections are hard to see, hard to digest, and hard to admit.
We’ve come a long way, but we have a ways to go… but let some folks tell it, we’re just fine. Nothing’s wrong. Everything is as it should be. I couldn’t disagree more.
I’ve seen tears and anguish once again and it seems there is no end in sight. Every hail of accomplishment seems to carry with it another blow, another dismissal of human dignity.
I’m coming to you in a state of gratitude right now. Grateful there’s proof of what we need to fix. Grateful that for the countless others who were never filmed, there is a dossier of visible scars that never healed. At some point, the disjunction has to be undeniable and our shades must be removed so we can see the full picture. We need Your grace to helps us with that because we suck at it right now.
Sometimes our teeth grit and we square our shoulders ready to combat anyone that can take the brunt of our pain. Unwarranted words filled with bile fly back and forth between us. I can’t believe we’re in 2021 sometimes with the things I see and hear.
We are sick in need of a Cure, yet You’ve given us the anecdote to eradicate the invisible virus that is truly keeping us apart. I know utopia is not an option. I’m not oblivious to the fact that things will worsen as You prepare to return; however, I pray that the saturation of discord and rhetoric decreases, in the name of Jesus. Cut off the pipelines of hate on every side. I know it will never leave, but at least it doesn’t have to thrive. Not like this.
Help us to see each other as part of the same whole… that helping or listening to our brother doesn’t discount us in any way. That we are spirits in human form.
Keep correcting us, O God. It hurts, but it’s necessary. Again, you remind us that we can’t say we are your children yet we treat each other otherwise. 1 John 4:19-21 states that we can’t love You and not love each other.
We say “Fill me up,” “I want to be like You,” and “Show me Your face,” but…
You keep showing us our hearts instead. We can’t even get the fundamentals right… the love You with all of our heart and to love our neighbors and ourselves… those… right there, those keep tripping us up from the Kingdom. You gave us the greatest commandment and I can only imagine Your face as we beg for more to follow.
Keep irrigating the wound so it can heal correctly somewhere… anywhere… everywhere…
Keep bringing us closer to where we should be instead of our cozy places. Only You can change the heart, but You also give us the free will to let You.
Keep my readers safe from all harm seen and unseen. Keep their minds clear and their hearts open to receive the Love you have so readily available to us all. Keep their ears open to hear Your voice and willing hands ready to serve.
In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.
Be safe out there, Family. Peace & Thanks for listening. I love y’all. Have a great week! 💙
I have another shortstop for your week – actually, it’s for your whole season.
Right now, there’s a whiff of grind culture in the pollen-filled spring air that can lead you into a bowl of trickery. If you’re not careful, you’ll get swept in the undercurrent and end up dazed and confused before Thanksgiving.
So, that’s where I come in with the following no-fluff statement:
Don’t buy into the hype of jumping into something you’re not willing to work for.
Tis the season for starting new ventures, moving to new places, and dressing up in new clothes. Easter usually marks the tangible change from winter although the solstice is in March, yet as soon as the warmth of sunlight brushes over our shoulders, we get drunk off goals. The buzz of new beginnings hum around us and we start to make plans without consulting the Divine Compass.
Add dashes of “I’m going to do this!” and “I’m going to do that!” and the next thing we know, our to-do list is full of 30 things we vow to accomplish in one season. It sounds sexy and doable, but that’s where that trickery comes in.
Everything in your life wasn’t designed to be obtained in this way. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment on your list is learning how to listen to your children. Maybe it’s to draw a boundary between you and your work. Maybe it includes the creation of a solid self-care routine. Whatever it is, God wants quality over quantity. So, if you only accomplish that one thing, I promise Your Father will be just as proud of you.
This doesn’t deface the big bang items you want to accomplish. I am encouraging you to not get swept up in the spring air over overdoing it. Your life is worth more than long list. Your worth is more than your building blocks and you are not in competition with anyone. Be free in the Truth that you have nothing to prove to the world. So, scrub that to-do list and don’t make empty promises to yourself. Pray about your next steps, write down what you know, write down what you want, then go for it.
Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
My prayer is that anxiety doesn’t overwhelm you and that you allow God’s Spirit to guide you and your to-do list. I’m doing the same because that undercurrent is a monster and I refuse to be on its menu.
I feel you and you are allowed to feel all of those. Yesterday, I celebrated one year of co-hosting QueensBeLike Podcast, but on Monday, I had a mini-meltdown, so hey… no judgment here. We’re in this thing together. *fist bump*
Tonight’s wind down is a tough love post. It’s also a short stop. 🙂
Here we go.
As we close March, we mark one year since the world acknowledged the dangers of COVID-19. I believe it was spreading before we took it seriously, and just like other times in history, we missed the warning signs. It was a conspiracy theory or no different than the flu until there were body bags. Until workers were fatigued. Until healthy patients died next to chronically sick ones. We missed it. That’s all there is to it.
Other warning signs we’ve missed this decade (yes, I said decade) are too blatant to ignore.
One sweep of severe weather and possessions are ruined. One month of unemployment and salaries feel like peanuts (or they always were). One minute of wildfire and homes are lost. One second of a decision and a lost life is a hashtag. One virus and confusion germinates.
All it takes is one anything and our lives can be disheveled and we are eye-level with our transient brothers and sisters. There are no stables for our high horses and the reminders keep coming.
How many reminders do we need? How many times does God have to knock down our philosophical towers of babble formed with bricks of insatiable egos?
COVID-19 still permeates between geographical boundaries leaving trails of anguish behind. Political unrest and social injustice are yet seething underneath tectonic plates of arrogance. We are deafened to the cries of innocent immigrant children while justifying the economical rape of those we sabotage.
The more we bury our heads in warm jackets of jaded comfort, the more I believe God sighs for us to catch the hints… to notice the following trends:
All it takes is one thing to change everything.
We can’t say we love God and not love each other.
When “Get a better job” is the response raising minimum wage, we’ve missed it. When we enjoy art and education from professionals then refuse to pay them fairly, we’ve missed it. When we arrest a congresswoman for knocking on a door, but allow rioters to attack other humans, we’ve missed it.
Once again, Jesus looks at our hearts and wonders where He fits. There is little room for His Love to multiply and the world is watching.
Family, we need to listen to the loudness and move in the stillness of Truth. We need to synchronize in empathy. We need to be the Body we were created to be.
Pray this prayer and pray that you mean it – “Lord, show me my blindspots.” Let that trend.
If you’re new to my site, this is my virtual living room and you’re welcome to sit for a minute. We get personal around here as I merge faith and humanity, so I’m glad you’re here. Let’s go!
Currently, I am healing from the outside in and it is painstakingly uncomfortable. Having surgery last year opened up a Pandora’s box of emotional remnants that I didn’t know were there.
A major key I reaffirmed is that I’m acrobatic in giving grace to others.
When you’re a Psychology-turned-Communication Arts major, you are ingrained to look at every situation with a prism instead of judgmental binoculars. You quickly learn that everything isn’t as it seems and you dishonor the truth when you leave out a perspective.
For example, your spouse comes homes and the door slams behind her, what are your thoughts?
At first glance, you may jump to a “What’s wrong with you?” type of response. A communication skill called perception checking would take you through a few steps to allow ethical interpretation of that behavior. Maybe she misjudged how close the door was to the frame or the wind forced it. Maybe, she was annoyed with something that happened during the commute and regrets letting it slam. After you provide the possibilities, you ask your spouse to verify or correct those options. This diffuses defensiveness and allows your spouse to tell you the truth instead of you being upset by your assumption. Even if she doesn’t say so, she can’t say you jumped to a conclusion and reacted rashly.
See what I mean?
Prism. Not binoculars.
So, passing out grace? No worries there. I give situations a 360-view before I draw the line.
Serving that plate to myself? Epic fail. More like “Harpo, who dis?”
Sometimes I even beat myself up because I’m not trudging through every muddy puddle with a smile, waving my usual positivity flag, and onboarding everyone around me on the sunshine train. Why? Let’s admit it, Family… who doesn’t want that badge of honor and who hasn’t glorified that trait in others?
“She never complained.”
“He always put his kids before himself.”
“She always had a smile on her face.“
“He always had a kind word to say.”
It’s an addictive perfection drug that can take you out if you’re not careful. I admit – I want the badge. I want the perfection. I want those words said at my funeral… but when I really need to breathe between the punches, I end up landing a fist of guilt on myself as I give a plate full of grace to someone else.
All I can say is thank God for therapy.
So far, I’ve had some serious revelations. One of them is the following: I know how to survive in a box; I struggle breathing outside of it. Thank you, Therapist.
Let me explain. Who knows? Maybe you and I are related.
Remember that scene in Harlem Nights (1989) when Eddie Murphy tells Danny Aiello to take very short breaths while he’s in the vault? That’s me. Little breaths. All day. All month. All year if I have to. Whatever it takes to get me over the hump and keep moving. Don’t get me wrong – I know how to self-care just not between traumatic milestones. In the words of my therapist, I know how to survive on little breaths. It’s like coming up for air after a deep ocean dive, but only taking a short breath before returning to the depths.
That is not sustainable and I hereby declare that I am no longer able to sustain myself on those small puffs of air. See what I did there? OK, I’ll stop rhyming. Lol
I’ve accomplished a lot in the midst of about 14 years of unfortunate events. I felt great about each milestone, took vacations, enjoyed time with friends and family, smashed some goals, and yet – *gasp* Little breath. Why? Because that’s how I learned to survive the shockwaves. That’s how I said to my mind, body, and spirit “Hey, get ready. There’s another one coming.” Over time, a week-long vacation or a mini-road trip transformed into a mere puff of air or a big exhale from holding my breath underwater so long.
Who can survive like that?
None of us.
So, I’m on a quest to learn how to live outside of the ocean I’ve learned to survive in and to kick the boxes that read “This is the way to heal” and “Christians suffer quietly with permanent smiles on their faces.” I’m asking God to rewire my spirit so I can sweetly pass that warm plate of grace to myself and to accept it easily from my Savior, knife and fork in hand.
I also pray that by sharing this moment, you are encouraged to begin or continue your own journey to a healthier you. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you have to only show the highlight reel and be shamed as you heal and learn. Our faith allows for growth and grace to flow to us and through us. It calls for us to break at the feet of Jesus and within the sanctuary of each other’s understanding because His Love should flow from heart to heart to create that circle of safety.
Let’s agree to deep dive into the waters of our soul if we need to and to learn to deeply breathe outside of the boxes we discover – the one that happened to us and the one we taped up ourselves.
I love y’all and I’m praying for you. As always, Peace and Thanks for listening!
I hope you’re doing well out there despite severe weather, hate crimes, and illness swirling around us. I pray for you often, so you have an advocate here, OK? OK. Let’s dig into this short stop.
As my excavation and therapy continues, the layers have revealed a rawness I haven’t been able to ignore.
Sometimes I cry and sometimes I’m overwhelmed with frustration. While the rollercoaster is annoying, I am committed to the healing process. Like I told my therapist, now that I’m aware of this hidden suitcase, I’m all in – I’m healing from this one time and one time only.
One of the revelations on this rollercoaster has been that in spite of the valleys, God has always shown me that I am loved.
A note of appreciation from a student A love note from my mother A sunset in my favorite colors A car ride from my sister A text message saying I love you A slow walk with my cousin after surgery A former student calling to check on me A stranger pushing my car during a snowstorm A supervisor letting me sit in on an executive meeting A long hug that was much needed A kind word on a difficult day A chance to cry on a friend’s shoulder A compliment from a cashier A friend paying for dinner A road trip full of laughs A cup of grace when I was wrong
All of these beautiful moments were unsolicited and there are plenty more. I’ll never understand why horrible things happen. Truthfully, I can’t even say that everything is allowed to make us stronger either. I believe some things occur because we make negative decisions. I also believe nothing catches God by surprise. Somehow, some way, there are reminders we are loved through it all.
Consider similar moments in your life. I know the sucky moments are there, but place your pencil on the page and retrace the years. I’m sure you’ll find unsolicited moments of love sprinkled over your life. So, as much as I despised the valleys and felt alone at times, God always said “You are so loved.”
The ring of those words has been in my ear for years (and is actually a book in progress), but it radiated such high vibrations one day. I teared up and said “Thank you. I am so loved.” Over and over again, I said those words and they washed over me like a warm water from a rainfall showerhead. At that moment, I didn’t feel forsaken. I felt remembered.
Family, you are so loved. I love you enough to write you on the regular and God loves you enough to send you reminders from various directions. You are not forgotten. You are not forsaken.
I pray you receive every transmitted love message divinely sent to you.