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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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advocacy

Wednesday Wind Down: A is for Advocate – PART 2

Happy Thursday, Family!

Since last week’s post, I have spoken to 10 people about self-advocacy – some strangers and some within my circle – and I don’t think this is by accident at all.

What I’ve realized is that humans (including myself) are willing to put up with abusive behavior from all angles. When we think of abuse, we often imagine physical turmoil, but it has many forms. By a singular person or by collective experience, we allow a cycle of abuse acceptance.

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When you’re a Christian, this cycle has multiple rings like an old tree. We are told that there is no glory without suffering, and while that is true in some capacities (just think of an athlete training for the Olympics), it should not be the soundtrack for our daily lives. We tell ourselves a lie that the more suffering, the closer to God we are and that being meek and humble means not being assertive. This loop of lies causes us not to self-advocate when needed and so the cycle of abuse acceptance continues. In essence, we abuse ourselves. I’m not talking about letting something slide for your peace of mind’s sake. I’m referring to always placing yourself in 2nd place or even worse, at the back of the line.

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Here’s a recent example –

A health provider presented appointment time options. I wanted the 10:30 AM appointment, but I have a client that usually books a noon session. Now, the client’s session was not on the calendar yet, but my first inclination was to schedule the health appointment around the possible session. A few seconds after the thought leaped from my lips, I stopped the cycle. I confirmed the shift with a verbal affirmation. “I am important enough to be on my calendar. Please put me down for the 10:30 appointment. Anyone booking me will have to catch me after that time.” I blocked the 12:00 hour in my booking software to provide the necessary space. She nodded her head and proceeded to schedule me. I needed to do that… for me, for my heart, for my mental health, for my spirit. I needed to remind myself that my health was the priority instead of making myself available for something that may not happen.

Photo by Orione Conceiu00e7u00e3o on Pexels.com

That’s why some of these posts have been on Thursdays lately. I had to ingest my own wisdom when I’m too exhausted to post quality thoughts. I have to say, “Pushing through this moment will not yield the best of me. I need to go to bed.” So, instead of beating myself up about missing a Wednesday, I relinquish my pride and go to sleep. Why? Because Jesus snatched solitude when He needed too (Mark 1:35). He paused and prayed to refuel his spirit (Luke 5:15-16). He did not allow his ministry to deplete Him. *insert record scratch here* Let me say that again – He did not allow his ministry to deplete Him. He knew there was a divine appointment that would need all of his focus and he geared up for it along the way.

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Self-advocacy preserves us for our purpose. It allows the mind, body, and spirit to be healthy enough to do exceptional things and have beautiful moments with others. It is not selfish when it is in your best interest. This is why the backlash against Naomi Osaka does not surprise me. We celebrate exertion over well-being. We would rather look good than be well. We prefer to say “If you can’t handle the pressure, change jobs.” instead of saying “I respect your decision. How can I support you?” We perpetuate the cycle of abuse acceptance both inside and outside of ourselves and that is by design. I believe evil forces seek to stress and tire you out before your divine appointments arrive. So, when it’s time to activate the excellence within you, you’re depleted. Well, I’m on a mission to change that for myself.

My prayer for you, Family, is that you join me in making small changes in your schedule… small changes with your interactions… small changes in your workplace. Ask God to show you what you need to function optimally and I guarantee He will show you. I am a witness of this truth. He cares about our earthen vessels and I care about you too.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: A Is For Advocate

Good Afternoon, Family!

I hope you are doing well. If not, it just got better. I missed you last week, but I prayed for you. 🙂 I kept falling asleep trying to post last night, so it was best to share with you today. Trust me, you would have been all kinds of confused looking at that jibberish. lol

Well, let’s get into it. I’m taking you on a journey today.

I’ve been in a strong self-advocacy mode this year. January began with one question –

What will it take to keep Christina healthy?

It was fully-loaded, but I accepted the gravitas.

While my self-care habits are solid, I felt like there were pockets of deficiency that couldn’t matriculate into the next decade. I truly wanted to live my best life and, for me, it all began with that singular question.

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What I Did

I looked at it from four angles – physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. In my imagination, this question looked more like a Rubik’s cube than a spreadsheet. There were so many parts that needed to work together in order for me to be the best me. I wasn’t overwhelmed though; I was intrigued. What would it truly take to unlock me?

With meticulous care, I listed items under each category of what it would take for me to be my best self. That meant everything and everyone had to be on the chopping block so I could obtain an aerial view of my needs. It meant that my current plate needed to be clean so I could determine the essential ingredients needed to nourish CJ 2.0. Nothing or no one was “canceled,” but all parties were up for re-election.

So, I started this process with a prayer and a plan. I was going to be a healthier version of myself starting this year – no matter what. I had already resumed therapy to kickstart the mentally column. I asked God to help me not to grow weary quickly and he led me to the physical area next.

Let’s Get Physical

What would it take for my body to be in the best position to do what I am called to do?

I lined up my current medical team like a fresh roster of football players during camp (in my mind, of course). Primary Care, ENT, OB/GYN, Dermatologist… everyone was on trial. Aside from integrity, each practitioner had to make me feel like we were in a partnership. What I needed was well beyond the power of a good gym sweat. I needed to be in solidarity with my doctors and they needed to be in alignment with my CJ 2.0 vision. Everyone had to get in formation and I needed to feel 100% comfortable in their care. I needed medical support beams in my life not benchwarmers giving me prescriptions. That was officially non-negotiable. So, I went down the line and determined which professional needed to be traded so I could get to the healthy championship.

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How It’s Going

So far, so great! The year isn’t over and the journey has just begun, but I’ve already got further than I ever have. Thanks to referrals and research, I have two new doctors who are committed to my vision and do not sugarcoat the data. They don’t talk over me when I’m explaining my experiences. They don’t dismiss my questions. They don’t make condescending comments.

They listen, assess, and deliver information honestly. What a concept.

I felt an ocean of emotions the first time I received an infusion I needed. I kept saying “Lord, thank you for being my advocate.” I flipped the timeline in my mind to the countless doctor visits where I felt diluted and depleted by the lack of empathy. The cold exam rooms. The thin paper gowns. As if it were muscle memory, I would slide off the exam table, gather my things, and attempt to walk out with my head high. Once again, my concerns were unanswered and once again, a medical bill would shortly be in my mailbox.

Photo by Klaus Nielsen on Pexels.com

“Something’s not right. I’m not getting better.”

“I need a copy of my medical file, please.”

“Will you explain the side effects of this prescription?”

“Which lab tests are you running?”

These were on repeat like a Marvin Gaye tune. Before Google was born, I researched as much as I could in books and would write down questions to prepare for medical visits. I was diligent, but after the repetition of disappointment, I was exhausted. Advocating for yourself is a job, you hear me? A full-time job if you’re doing so in the medical arena without insurance, which was where I was during two seasons of my life.

So, when I asked what would it take?, I knew it would require me to squeeze another gallon of self-advocacy out of my spirit. I had to have an “I’m the captain now” attitude. I took the approach of shopping for a car, a house, or even fruit in the grocery store. If I could have standards about my purchases, I could have standards for my medical squad.

Sometimes, we forget how simultaneously fragile and resilient we are. Yes, we coexist with others in this Big Brother house called Earth, but we are not infinite beings in these bodies. We are not endless supplies of anything. We are fueled by what we’ve been given. Self-advocating in these truths created an anchor for me. Many Christians will have you believe that the less you speak up for your needs, the closer to God you are. The more you grit your teeth and bear it or take whatever is given to you, the more jewels you get in your crown.

That’s a ridiculous lie.

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I guarantee that if your meal was subpar at an upscale restaurant, you wouldn’t just “live with it.” You would expect to receive not only the advertised product, but the staff’s best service.

Self-advocacy doesn’t require rudeness, but it does demand a certain level of confidence. It may even require firm pressure to the powers that be.

I know it’s exhausting and can feel downright degrading at times, but I encourage you to keep advocating. Keep praying that God leads you to the best match for your needs. Divine navigation is real and I’m a witness of it. Every time I felt a “nope” in my gut, I respectfully declined to continue their services and crossed them off the list. It wasn’t an emotional decision; my life was (and still is) on the docket and I believe God wants me to have the best version of this life possible.

Finally. Photo by me.

My prayer is that you know advocacy is not a sin and self-advocacy is not being selfish. There’s a whole world out here (quick shoutout to Diagnosis on Netflix), so there is an empathetic match for you.

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 says “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.” As much as we work, we should be able to enjoy a positive quality of life. Self-advocacy is just as “saved” as reading my Word. It reaffirms the quality of my Craftsmanship. My DNA was created by a divine being and that alone makes it worthy to cherish.

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. – 3 John 1:2

When the Creator placed you on this planet, you were not designed to take whatever you can get. In January 2021, I officially denounced that theory when it came to my health. I pray you do the same from here on out.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Family!

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #7

Hey There!

Why am I writing you if you were not a pleasant addition to my life? Simple. Because I want to.

After all, you always did what you wanted at my expense. I took it, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t leave wounds to irrigate later.

Calling me darkie, inkblot, nigger… it all fortified my breastplate of righteousness. When you walked up to me and slapped my elementary-aged face for no reason except to get some laughs, my body grew hot like a bonafide member of the X-men. As weird as it sounds, I knew even then that anger was dangerous if left inside of a soul.

Don’t worry — I’m nowhere near bitter and this isn’t a “See where I am now” message. I don’t have time for that. I don’t have anything to prove to you. My life is enough. My peace is my proof.

Photo by Evelina Zhu on Pexels.com

I do want to thank you for strengthening my chops. It made me bend so I wouldn’t break and and it concentrated my self-discipline. My mental prowess is as sleek as a panther now. My vocabulary expanded the shortstops of your lips and that’s all because your teasing made me generate responses I was too scared to say… so they germinated and lied in waiting for future situations.

You were good for me. I hated the experience, but your bullying was great training ground.

You don’t know it, but I prayed for you… relentlessly and despite my tears. My mother made me. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I’m glad she did. It prepared me to dig up and dismantle bitter roots sooner than later.

So, I truly hope you are doing well and that the wounds you were hiding or the evil you were hoarding have been flushed out of your life. I hope to see you soaring and not in the same toxic state of mind. I pray no one else is disintegrating from your actions and you and God are best friends. Everyone makes mistakes — some enough to burn a hole in your heart… but even they should have forgiveness on their plate.

Thank you again. You were a blessing. Peace and Blessings to you and your families.

Sincerely,

CJW

Wednesday Wind Up: Make It Stop

I knew what I was going to post tonight. I had it all planned out; then, I saw Prayers Up for Jussie Smollett in my inbox and everything about my Wednesday Wind Down changed. I simply couldn’t wait. This isn’t about creating a literary bouquet of flowery words on my blog for lament and catharsis. Despite the disgust I experienced, this post is about obedience and attention.

Before I explain, let me share my immediate reaction. My mind kept trying to compute the Essence article because I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The man who stopped to speak to me and my Sorority sister in a Michigan airport had been attacked. The same human being who was on his way to advocate for Flint’s water solution. The same spirit that smiled and said that I looked like someone who knew and wasn’t walking with an entourage. The horror and hurt grew exponentially as I saw the slurs he heard and the pain he felt. My heart cracked in a matter of seconds and I cried inside and out. The worst sting was reading the end of their rationale – “This is MAGA Country.”

I had thought of Jussie Smollett all day yesterday, and not in the way of an admiring fan. I kept being compelled to pray for him, for his heart. Now, I pray for celebrities all of the time because the weight attached to their gifts, talents, and purposes can be too much to carry, but this time was different. Throughout the day, before I knew anything about the hate crime, I prayed for his spirit… that it wouldn’t be downtrodden, that he would be well and not tarnished by evil things around him. I prayed for his peace of mind and his strength. Never once did I pray for his physical health. I wasn’t led to. It was all about the pain that couldn’t be seen and didn’t need to stick to his soul. Then, to run across that article right before I was going to bed, it was gut-wrenching and I couldn’t sleep. The last moment of serendipity was that this photo was taken on January 30, 2016, three years ago today. I was speechless, then I prayed again. Lord, just make it stop.

Screenshot_20190130-133426_Instagram.jpgJussie

Jussie, I am so sorry that happened to you. I hate that you were the subject of their spew. My heart is with you and please know that while I can’t explain where God was to prevent the experience, I can truly say that He had you in the spirit of someone miles away from that horrific moment in time. Your spirit can not be broken and what you are doing in life matters in more ways than you can possibly imagine. Apparently, you are breaking boundaries that need to be broken and making demons float to the surface. That’s the only way I can see anyone trying to hurt you in such a repulsive way. Even though you were tired, your heart was brighter than the sun that day at the airport. My Soror and I could feel it well after we left. I had to share how much I appreciate you and that you are covered. My prayers will continually be with you.Sweethearts, we have to do better at spreading Love. We teach those around us by living it out. Every day. No matter what. We have to teach our children, our co-workers, our neighbors that hate is not allowed to multiply near us. To have people physically assault one’s life is an act that should unsettle us all. Regardless of your religious or political affiliation, hate is not a validated battle cry and somehow the current temperament in America has created this warped sense of safety for ignorance to run free. The invisible seething waters of hate are tumultuous enough to reach out and grab us while we’re simply walking down the street. And don’t pretend that you don’t hear it in your cubicles, coffee shops, churches, and around your dining room tables. We do and we look away. We make excuses for it. We say it’s free speech, but is it liberating anyone? We say to just pray for them, but do we actually do it? You do realize that Jesus came so that individuals such as the ones who attacked our brother could not only receive the opportunity to turn from hate and receive Love but to also know that judgment was near, right? This MAGA mantra has nothing to do with Christian values. Stop sewing them together. Be careful to the extent to which you stretch your loyalty. Claim Christ more than your political party, more than your social justice agenda, and more than your generational ideology. We can’t stop hate forever, but we can stop it wherever we are, whenever we hear and see it.

This moment in time has rocked me to my core and taught me that absolutely nothing happens by chance, not even prayer. Be diligent and keep fighting using whatever means you were born with.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I love y’all.

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