I started this trip a bit frustrated with some people that call themselves family. I had been holding in a tumultuous flow of words for a month. Unfortunately, people think that if you aren’t belligerent with colorful words spewing out of your mouth, that you aren’t capable of being such.
I am happy to inform you that this is a lie.
That quiet worker or positive colleague can be a verbal assassin with plenty of artillery to annihilate your heart, but s/he chooses to smile instead. This was me for a month. The term familyalmost seemed like a dirty word that left a foul taste in my mouth when I thought of certain people. My circle got smaller and some of it was involuntary. So, needless to say, I was a bit sour.
Then, my sorority sister lent her ear for what was a tsunami of “Why’s,” “That’s just stupid’s,” and “I just don’t get it’s.” My mother and aunt tag-teamed to ensure I caught my twilight bus. A sisterfriend checked for my travel safety. Another sisterfriend of 16 years transported me to bookstores to inquire about book signing opportunities before heading to the airport. One sorority sister extended herself with hospitality that could rival any 4-star hotel and another sorority sister hosted me with patience as I coordinated visits with DMV friends I had not seen in 10+ years. My big brother is always one call away when I’m in town and my mother always seals my travel with prayer.
God brought all of these things back to my remembrance and I am sitting on this plane marveled at how flimsy we view the f-word and how quickly we throw it away.
It doesn’t matter how many genetic or blended relatives you have,
God will give you the family to fill the need.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs indicates that we have a need for connectedness, love, and belonging. I believe that wholeheartedly. After all, God created the ultimate adoption plan through His Son, so we were not designed to “do life” alone. Even a mean senior citizen has a plant, pet, or something they can care for!
You may have a sister you can’t stand or an uncle you don’t like, but for every ounce of foolishness and discord, there is someone spiritually-related for you to do life together.
I am so grateful for my family. I pray that God shines a spotlight on yours so you can see them when life gets dim, too. Don’t think that familyjust encompasses a group with the same last name. It just requires a circle of people connected by the same heartstrings.
What if everyone I met (and didn’t meet) wasn’t excellent at their job today? I wouldn’t be on this flight. I may not have even made it out of the parking lot. I bet someone was nervous about the flight information being correct as they typed it into their computer at work. I’m sure someone was tired as they dressed themselves this morning. Nevertheless, they did it. They made it happen. They pushed aside the weight and picked up responsibility, hoisted it on their shoulder like a backpack, and trudged forward… knowing that someone needed them to be great. Not good, not average – great. And that someone was me.
Excellence matters. Regardless of color, creed, origin, excellence speaks and small things matter.
From the parking lot to the cabin, greatness was the only option and the only item on the menu today. Because everyone needs the same thing… to get to the next destination, even if it’s not pleasantly perfect, we all need to get there. The outside signage had to be flawless in order to direct seamless traffic of various types of vehicles. The roads had to be painted correctly and well lit so we could see where we’re going. The check-in process had to be smooth for my presence to be accounted for and for my luggage to travel with me. It’s a chain of processes that have to work together (seemingly) flawlessly in order for me to get where I’m going.
C is for me.
The attendant that met me with a smile and helped me find the quickest check-in for my baggage… the TSA employee who directed me to the nearest checkpoint route (who by the way was standing in line waiting for breakfast and could have easily brushed me off like the Walmart associate did last week who said that she was off the clock and “couldn’t” redirect my question. Sidebar within the sidebar – Yeah, Walmart ass-ociate… I remember you.)… The TSA agent that kept the security checkpoint moving (I thank God for her. Please give her extra jewels in her crown, Lord)… the TSA agents that checked my boarding pass and ID and monitored the security scans/process (it’s a hassle sometimes, I know, but it keeps us safer than we realize).. the person or machine that regulates the concourse train (can you imagine your legs running like Chicken Little through the maze we call an airport?)… the attendant that was standing there ready at her post as I handed her my boarding pass, out of breath. She could have been lazy or out of place, but she was exactly where she was supposed to be. The seats I’m looking at across the aisle were once a bunch of parts that had to be put together. The engineer that conjured up this design had to have the exact measurements and mathematical prowess to create this vessel.
Every bolt, every screw, every stitch had to be done with care in order for me to write this entry on my way to Denver. All the parts had to work together. Just like the plane, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Keep that in mind for later.
I needed everything to work today, and to work well. There was minimal room for error and whatever error that may have occurred, I didn’t see it. Even when I misheard my dear sisterfriend tell me that we were leaving home at 4:30 AM instead of waking up at that time (BIG difference, but don’t worry. I was ready to roll in 15 minutes. That’s the trust, but verify part of this LATSOLmoment.), the lovely people at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and Southwest Airlines exhibited a level of excellence at each part of my journey. I appreciate that… for real. I needed every last person along the way.
So why can’t the Body of Christ act like that?
I’m still on this “body-kick” and it won’t let me go. Instead of acting like a whole Body with a Head, we act like a body parts – disconnected and dying. Instead of being connected to the Vine, we would rather be scattered like dead branches after a storm. It’s only a matter of time before we shrivel up and return to the dust from whence we came. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. We could complain and blame the fall of man (and woman) for all of our ills, but the truth is that God saved us through the blood of His Son and thus, we are reconnected by our word of faith. Therefore, there are no excuses. Therefore, there is now no condemnation, either (shout out to Romans 8:1). Nothing can keep us apart from each other and nothing can separate us from the love of God, the Vine, the Head. I beg to differ that we can simply coast through life alone, needing no one, touching no one, loving no one. We were designed to a Body, a significant part of a whole that just happens to be contained in this shell called humanity. This Body needs to operate as a whole organism, moving one direction… just like this plane. As long as we stay separated and live recklessly egotistical off our own laced supply of judgment and ignorance, we won’t get anywhere. Instead, we’ll die as broken branches with the Source within our reach.
I may not have met all of the people, but I met their excellence. And it spoke volumes as it helped me get to my destination. Let’s hope that someone meets our excellence everyday.
Southwest pilot photo courtesy of SWA Media
(I always touch the plane too. 🙂
People in your life come and go for various reasons. Not every entrance and exit can hold the same weight. Some were meant to teach us, reach us, expose us, ignite us… similar to the famous adage about people coming into your life for “a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” A few years ago in my quiet time, God gave me a visual of this people-flow and placement. It was plain as day and it made so much sense. His lesson was for me to learn where people need to be at certain points of my journey and that being offended about their placement (or mine in theirs) is not an option. What a harsh, but valuable classroom experience it has been.
Imagine a two story house in a suburban neighborhood with a beautiful front yard and fence. Now, let’s go to the scenario He showed me. Keep in mind that throughout your life, you may have the same person weave in and out of these areas. It doesn’t mean that if s/he is in the yard, s/he doesn’t love you. You have to look at all of the players on stage within the proper context of the story. Remember, you’re part of someone’s story and you have a place too. That’s why you can’t get offended. *whew*
The Street – minimal connection; not interested in engagement; “checking in” as they pass by; sees snapshot of the outside and creates a portrait; may include gossip about snapshot; primarily public interaction
The Sidewalk – stops by to check-in every once in awhile; satisfied with snapshot plus a peek into small details; keeps walking; may or may not smile as they continue toward their aspirations, so don’t revel in their responses; download the intentions and let them pass
The Yard – play and have a good time, small talk to catch up, still at a distance but closer than the street and sidewalk, within the fenced boundaries of respect to private life, permits sharing of life details at will; still open and free
The Steps – more intimate than the yard; small talk to catch up with more details included; cognizant of yard, sidewalk, and street people’s view of you; people on the fence of your heart tend to congregate here – maybe too afraid to get close, but too invested to go away; be careful of those that linger here with ill intent
The Porch – close, but not close enough to come inside; like the feel of outside, but enjoy the presence of you; insightful conversations can to spark here due to vulnerability
The Living Room – for the good times; communal; entrance and exit easily accessible; enjoy the moments and leave soon after; can relax around them; be careful here if you keep having to serve them and it is not reciprocated; meaningful conversations can grow here; bad interactions can be stopped here before they germinate
The Bedroom – usually located in the back or upstairs of the home; the inner sanctum of your heart; intimate conversations and moments are shared here; full disclosure and trust; not afraid of the ugly; good and bad interactions can thrive here, so be careful who has access; can spill into living room
My #LATSOL Lessons
Everyone doesn’t belong everywhere, and that’s OK.
Be mindful of where people want to be in your life. Respect that space.
Be a vessel of love with a fence to protect it. Love doesn’t let us abuse it.
What about you? Have you had similar lessons about people placement? Can you add to the list above? Did you have to swallow this pill and/or implement your boundaries?
Fall is here and that means family time is here as well. There’s a perfect shortstop for that.
I would love to think that everyone’s holiday season brings laughs, love, and bountiful blessings, but I know it doesn’t. Some family ties have turned into strings that choke out the possibility of beautiful moments. Adults that were best friends as children all of a sudden can’t stand to be in the same room with each other. Siblings live in silence across state lines. Parents and children holding on to wounds of old.
Let me tell you something.
“We’re All We Got.”
There’s enough division in the world. We don’t need to multiply it with broken families. There are plenty of sores that need to be healed and broken hearts with shredded band-aids holding them together. I will never trivialize the pain that has created those rifts; however, for today… this season… this life… all we have is each other. Maybe that person is not designed for the permanent prime real estate in your heart, but someone is. At least you have someone to be angry toward or someone to kiss goodnight.
For the family that is alive and sitting around you and to the family that is in a nursing home or prison, remind them and yourself that you were born to each other for a reason. Perhaps you’ll never know what it is as you fight over past sins, but nonetheless, the fact remains. WAWG. Just slip them a handwritten note and a smile. At least you sent the reminder. That’s all you are responsible for.
It’s easy to convince yourself that they will be around forever. The truth is too ugly to face, but it’s not leaving. When it involves losing someone you love, truth’s invisibility materializes. If the loss is in the news, somehow it’s a foreign reality. But when death walks down your street, the chill is undeniable.
On Monday, November 14th, I watched the honor of others and beamed. It was a beautiful thing to behold. Smiles. Love. Respect. Humility. Priceless jewels that anyone would be proud to wear.
That night, I wondered how often people leave this world without knowing how pivotal they are to the lives they’ve touched. Not to sound sad or morbid, but why wait until a memorial to cry out words that could have saved a life? Created a blanket of joy? Soothed a scared spirit?
On a day like today, thanksgiving is in the air and it would behoove us to be grateful for each other and everything that brings. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Honor anyone you deem important and cherish the memories of those that are no longer in your life.Delaying your love expression inadvertently says that you take them for granted and that their presence does not take precedence in your life. That’s not what you want to say… repeatedly. Extend honor. Extend your voice. Extend your hand. Extend yourself. Today.
Maybe it’s the holiday spirit, but I’ve been in my feelings lately…the good ones.
Sisters come in so many shades of goodness. Some enter our lives through the crossing of life paths and others by the blood in our veins.
Recently, I’ve been recharged through some amazing women. Scoping out the different types of goodness that I have the honor of experiencing. The sheer fact that our energies can buzz around each other and create new perspectives is a phenomenon science can not touch.
Politics. Culture. Music. Relationships. Work. Passion. You name it, we’ve talked about it. We’ve gotten angry together and laughed until we’ve cried. We’ve danced together in the joy of hip-hop classics and prayed together in mind-altering faith. We have overcome tragedies and digested injustice while holding hands. Feeling each other’s pain is normal. Hearing each other’s cries from miles away is a regular occurrence. We are bonded.
It reminds me of something I tell my students – We weren’t designed to do life alone. I’m not talking about marriage; I’m talking about spiritually. You need a tribe. A confidant. A plant. A dog. Something. Even the meanest person can experience solace through a fish tank. It’s a part of our DNA. We were designed to reach out, be heard, and love fiercely.That’s why it hurts physically when our hearts our broken. We were not created for eternal solitude, but for perpetual connection.
So this leads me back to my sistergood. Do you have people of the same gender that you can be verbally naked with? I’m not talking about acquaintances, associates, or even friends. I’m talking about family that may or may not include blood lines. Sisters or brothers that you have unadulterated honesty with and no one leaves permanently angry. People that you don’t have to worry about being manipulative with your words or deeds. It’s rare, but possible. My sistergood is a small circle, but fiercely loyal and safe. My sisterly connections span a little larger, but are just as awesome. I love them all, and I’m grateful for them too. The older I get, the more I realize how important this goodness is to my soul. Starting with my mother and going outward, I am blessed beyond measure to have the opportunity to love and be loved by them.
I pray that you find your sisters and brothers in this world. My world is definitely better with them in it. Yours will be too. Don’t be afraid to do life together.