We’re on the cusp of November, so you know what that means… #bloglikecrazy is here! She’s officially staring me down and I see her in all of her literary glory. Her challenging physique awaits me to step into the ring. This is my four-time sparring partner and she always transforms me a better version of myself at the end of our 30-day bout.
If you’re new to my community, #bloglikecrazy is an annual writing challenge hosted by Javacia Harris Bowser, founder of See Jane Write Birmingham and my official empowerment pusher. Each year, writers from everywhere join the opportunity to post on their blogs for 30 consecutive days or participate in NaNoWriMo by writing a novel in by the end of November.
So, why am I squaring up to #bloglikecrazy? Because I decided to share a deeper level of transparency this time around. Last year, I shared 30 Days of Good. This year, I’m allowing a peek into my most intimate relationship — my prayer life with God. I’m warning you now, Sweetheart. As with all other posts on this blog, it’s real communication. No sugar-coating. Raw snippets from written and verbal prayers I’ve expressed in both happy and horrid times. My hope is that by unveiling these lines, someone will be compelled to be authentic with God as well. To give Him every part of you and be confident that He can handle anything and everything.
Good Evening, Sweethearts! How are you? I hope you’re doing well. Here’s a thought for your week just in case.
I find myself saying “thank you” for the oddest things. Just this week, the wind wrapped Himself around me and it felt like a supernatural hug. I was overwhelmed with gratefulness, so I looked up and smiled at the sky. To someone else, that doesn’t make sense, but to me, it’s how I choose to live.
The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. – Psalm 28:7
It’s easy to thank God for the good stuff. The stuff that feels warm and fuzzy. The good stuff that you don’t see coming. It takes skill to be grateful for the stuff that feels awful and unexpectedly hits you. You read correctly — I said skill, as in something you learn and hone over time and experience. Now, I don’t believe that God plays chess with our lives; some things we bring upon ourselves. It’s called volition and it can be a help and a hindrance.
The ability to make decisions is what saved my mouth from going into overdrive while I was paying a bill over the phone. I could have invoked the Earth-given privilege of speaking my mind, but in actuality, it would have been speaking my emotions. It would have been sharp, egregious, and unapologetic. In the mix of the moment, I chose to be grateful instead of spiteful. I thanked God that the payment amount was at the level I needed it to be and that my account was current. I also thanked the Lord that I had the money in which to pay it this month. It was a split-second decision (with a dash of reluctant maturity) to be grateful for the Truth and not distracted by the disrespect. It made me think of how quickly things can escalate at the drop of a word and how gratefulness saved the future chain of events.
This week, my prayer is that you find gratefulness in the little things that are truly big things to someone else. I pray that you say thank you to all of the “sandpaper” people in your office because they are making you smoother for your future. Find the moment. Dig for it if you have to. You don’t have to like it, but you may need to hold that “thank you item” in your hand to keep from crying or doing something destructive.
Have an awesome week out there. No stoking the fires, OK?
Hello, Sweethearts! I know it’s Thursday, but this one took some simmering… and you may be wondering where I’m going with those two letters. I’m going exactly where you think I am.
In the world of social sciences, there’s a term called emotional dishonesty. Various definitions exist for it, but in essence, it is when someone does not own up to their feelings or needs, yet s/he holds the other person accountable for the offense. This can manifest itself as passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive behavior.
When I taught adult education communication courses, we would always engage in authentic and lively dialogue about relationships (platonic, professional, romantic, familial, and social). Every quarter, someone would attribute a lack of intimacy to dysfunctional communication. Every quarter, someone would tell me how lack of trust was the undercurrent in their relationship deterioration. After my first year of teaching, I learned to carve out two days in my lesson plan to discuss the conflict chapter because it always birthed the fruition of self-discovery among my students. The chapter also landed in the middle of the textbook, so by that point in the course, they usually displayed sharpened self-awareness and reframing skills. They were not only able to professionally assess and verbalize the conflict but also express ownership of its escalation which was often via emotional dishonesty. You can bet that made me one happy educator. 🙂
To listen to a man say “I see it now. I’m not helping the situation.” To hear a woman say “Yeah, I don’t really listen to my kids. I need to do that more.” That was what kept the blood flowing in my teaching career. That is what produced life within those four walls and fortified adults to engage in healthy relationships of all kinds.
Speaking of blood flow… let’s talk about that ED.
When a man experiences erectile dysfunction, it can be emotionally crippling. He may not be able to communicate how emasculated he feels and his behavior can be misunderstood and misdirected toward his partner. Multiple factors can cause ED and one of them is decreased blood flow.
How interesting it is that a lack of life in one area can be the cause of death in another? If blood is not allowed to flow and recycle through our bodies, we experience death. Then again, there are two types of death… two organs that are vital comrades in the cessation of life – the brain and the heart. I believe the effects of dysfunctional communication resemble the intimacy breakdown that can occur from ED. Emotional Dishonesty can lead to Emotional Dysfunction. One deters the physical production of life while the other deters the flow of spiritual exchange. In both instances, there’s a broken piece – trust.
And let’s be real… What good is a relationship without trust? How can a relationship survive without the trust that all valves are open… that the flow is free and clear? After all, there are 4 valves in your heart – two for incoming blood and two for outgoing blood, so obviously God knew that circulation and regeneration were vital in keeping you alive in both your head and in your heart. Why don’t we give it a try in the spiritual realm as well? Why not gift that freedom to each other and to ourselves? Be emotionally honest with yourself and with those you love. When you don’t, it hurts yourself because you’re blocking healthy intrapersonal communication, and it hurts the other person because it creates a disconnect from the intimacy you desire from her/him. As I mentioned to some friends this year –I’m in the business of having real conversations with real people that want real relationships.Sweetheart, can you say the same thing?
This doesn’t mean that you need to bleed your heart 24/7 to everyone you meet. As in physiology, that could leave you spiritually drained and unable to function effectively.
Ask God to balance this spiritual flow as you learn to communicate truthfully in HIs Love from one person to another. It can be done; I promise. I have witnessed and experienced it. You may have to be gentle or set some ground rules, but allow truthful communication to flow between your lips. Cherish those in your circle who provide opportunities for that to happen. No matter how messy or how awkward it may be, it is worth the trust structure. Letting communication flow between two hearts creates freedom amidst two people… and that’s the pinnacle of God’s Love toward us and Christ’s sacrifice for us. Freedom in mind, body, and spirit. The kind that can only come from the Prince of Peace and the Author of Love.
For more information about emotional dishonesty, check out this article. It’s one of my favorite classroom references.
Peace & Thanks for listening. Have an awesome week and I love you all!
#17 – I spent time with Sorors that I haven’t enjoyed in years.
Before I was a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc, I joined Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority. While in undergrad, I was lied on about a sensitive issue and the hurt resulted in me deciding not to remain connected to my chapter. I was close to a few Sorors but was not interested in repairing relationships as a whole. This year, I made a point to be emotionally transparent enough to allow love to flow in that vein again. Best decision made. We laughed, ate great food, exposed our thoughts, and vowed to excavate the ugliness and start the repairing process. I have had an absolute blast with these lovely ones ever since.
Repair is possible if you want it to be. When teaching introduction to communication, I use the following definition found in Communicating for Success by Cheryl M. Hamilton: Communication is a transactional process by which people, interacting in a particular context, negotiate the meaning of verbal and nonverbal symbols in order to achieve shared understanding.
There are some relationships that served their purpose and I am not interested in repairing, rebuilding, or refreshing them. Then, there are some that all it takes is the commitment to seek understanding for something beautiful to grow. Even if we don’t agree, we can agree to have a meaningful transaction full of honesty, sincerity, and just plain old love. Yes, I can love you and not become intertwined into your life again if it is not a safe place for me to breathe, but if there is life there… there is the opportunity to repair, rebuild, and refresh. If both parties desire to do so, it is possible to communicate in a healthy way to allow aeration of the soul. What happens after that? *shrugs* That’s the part you have to let go. That’s the part that isn’t wrapped up nicely in a bow. You may pour your heart out to each other and still decide that you do not want to repair, but at least you created the space for Truth to flow. And that was the Good part.
I think everyone should work retail during a holiday season one time in life. Just one time. That’s all it would take to digest humility, camaraderie, and self-control.
My first taste of retail was in college at a bible bookstore. I loved it. I worked with great people and it was normal to see an associate praying with a customer. My kind of environment. Whether I was on the sales floor or behind the register, I was comfortable.
Fast forward a bit to working in the retail world after college. I wanted to make extra money to minimize my debt. Needless to say, my patience was shorter and my tolerance level had dropped dramatically. I couldn’t understand either side of the tomfoolery. Why wake up, get dressed, and drive through traffic to be lazy or cause havoc as an employee or a customer? Don’t get me wrong – quality service is important to me. I’ve worked retail on the management level as well, and I understand the value of meeting the needs of every customer and providing solutions that benefit both the company and the consumer. In those leadership positions, I also believed in protecting employees from abusive behavior and I did not tolerate the degradation of anyone on my team. Nevertheless, when the roles are reversed from humans-on-equal-terms to employee-consumer, something changed.
All of a sudden, I wasn’t an intelligent professional working to make extra cash to reach a financial goal. I was “she,” “her,” or “that girl over there.” Apparently, I was someone who didn’t warrant a “Hello, how are you?” before being thrown money on the counter at the end of the transaction. I was looked upon as inferior enough to hold bags of perfectly capable people shopped around the store and fetch items they didn’t want in the first place. I had an idea of what I was getting into, but I wasn’t prepared for it. Then, to take the cake, if the customer found out about my other titles (educator, choreographer, former caregiver, etc.) or that I’ve traveled extensively, then their eyes light up as if to say “Oh, you’re more than what I thought.”
The truth is I was an equal before they decided to see me as one. If the setting was a business mixer or at a concert, the interaction would potentially be positive and enriching. We would converse about psychological constructs, civic issues, and professional development. Since the stage was a retail store and I was playing the role of an employee, many people assumed they were superior.
It made me think of how many times we judge people based upon the role we see them in at a specific time – the janitor, the doctor, the restaurant server, the hair stylist, the single parent, the athlete… who often do we size up a person’s intelligence or capability based upon the role? Let’s try to do less of that during this holiday season and beyond.
Forever is a long time to grow. Are you willing to do it?
I mean it. Are you willing to a make a pact with God that you will grow as long as you live here on Earth? After all, we are the seeds of Adam and Eve and quite frankly, there’s still some growing to do. If plants can do it, why can’t we? Why can’t we do what seeds do – germinate and multiply?
It seems hard to think about, but we are designed to break free from the shell of innocence and yield a life with more seeds to plant. With our words, deeds, and talents, we were created to expand and produce a harvest for others to courageously do the same.
So, when I say “Forever is a long time to grow,” I intend to invoke conviction of every intrapersonal and interpersonal interaction you will have for the rest of your life. I want you to think about the seeds your fruit is producing for others to ingest. I want you to think about forever.
I was about to watch an episode of The Good Wife entitled Conjugal. I expected a lot of steamy scenes that ultimately had a point to the storyline. The opposite happened. Not to spoil it for you, but the episode wasn’t about sex at all. It was about exchange.
So, I paused the episode before it reached a minute and looked up the word. Conjugate also appeared. I read through the origins and various definitions. I had never put the meanings of conjugal and conjugate together as linguistic relatives until that day. Then it hit me. That LATSOL moment that made me be still.
Whether it was Biology, Chemistry, or Mathematics, or Language, the definitions were symmetrical – the act of uniting or joining together. I, then, saw a group of people passing each other in a common area like a train station atrium. Each time they walked by each other, they spoke. There were various topics, but they were all quick. Cordial, informational, inquisitive. A random hodgepodge of conversational buzz. But when they spoke, there were colors of light coming out of their mouths and the lights were twisting and swirling around each other like leaves dancing in the autumn wind. It was fascinating. This space between their mouths was occupied by visual music.I took note as some exchanges were red with passion (some sweet, some angry), blue with calm, orange with laughter, and even a mixture of two colors as two people spoke with different feelings. They were more than conversations – there was a mixing of souls. That’s what happens when we speak to one another in any capacity. We sometimes forget that we are spiritual beings in earthly bodies. Our words allow our lives to conjugate, even if for a moment. That moment allows energies to exchange and lives to intermingle, which creates a new experience – a conjugated life. That’s how our tongues hold the power to uplift and to destroy. We have the power to spiritually conjugate.
God knows that I am a visual-linguistic learner, so I appreciate his care in talking to me in ways I can understand. Who knew that one word would spark a picture that explained a spiritual concept about speech? LATSOL moments are everywhere. We just have to look and keep our hearts open.
“We keep changing the chefs never noticing the oven is broken.” – T. D. Jakes, Sermon: Destiny Flocks Together
This isn’t a political piece. It’s bigger than that.
So, since you’re here, you might as well come on in and keep reading. *smile*
I was teaching my Introduction to Communication class today and something flew out of my mouth like a free bird. I can always tell when the Holy Spirit takes over because the faces of my students look like someone punched them in gut and the echo of my words surprise me when I hear them.
We were discussing conflict resolution and communication styles. The students’ conversation turned into how the value of the relationship and a person’s stage in life can affect conflict resolution strategies. Then, I said something that made the environment change. I’ll paraphrase below since I don’t remember the exact wording.
“Sometimes, you have to admit that there are no more band-aids in the box and it’s time to agree to do the surgery. It may not be a pretty quick-fix, but if you have placed a high value on the person and the long-term health relationship, you have to agree to do the work and have a common goal of achieving a shared understanding.”
I felt it. It was a slight shift where my students thought about their personal situations. So, I gave the “pregnant pause” before continuing my lesson plan.
Depending on the value you both have placed on each other and the relationship (whether platonic, familial, or romantic), the conflict resolution outcome will vary. And just because the outcome isn’t a win-win (which isn’t nearly as feasible as people think in most cases), it doesn’t mean the issue was not resolved. Perhaps you have extended every option in your emotional storage and the other person is stuck on fueling the fire. The resolution is to accept the loss of the relationship type and get used to a new normal (lose-lose). The outcome doesn’t always have to be rosy to be the best option.
Let’s take this communication theory further. In the case of our most recent presidential election, I found Pastor T. D. Jakes’ quote most fitting. At times, we place too much responsibility on one person to fix our problems. Just like a surgeon has technicians and a team of doctors to consult, so does anyone that sits in the president’s seat. Unfortunately, just like in a medical situation, we put an unrealistic divinity on one human to heal our diseases. As Pastor Jakes said, we never put the microscope on the systemic leaks that need to be addressed. We simply change the person in the seat. On a personal level, instead of surgery, we opt for the band-aid of another partner, another friend, another job, another state, and all the while, the best option is to dig deeperfor the source of the problem and attempt to resuscitate our lives.
Since we’re all created by the same God, shouldn’t we all get along? Shouldn’t everything be perfect and no surgery be necessary? hmph. Take into account the following verse:
1Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. – Ephesians 4:1-6
Everyone is living in a tainted shell; therefore, we have to do the work to keep peace abounding in our communication…and in our country. Diligence is necessary. Patience is a prerequisite. Tolerance is essential. We’re in a time where the band-aids are peeling because the problems are too great and the blood is running freely. Let’s do better and choose wisely in speech and in our political footsteps.