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.
Today is Father’s Day in America and since I had already written an homage to my late father and to my friends who are fathers, I decided to post a special message to men everywhere.
Men: Generally speaking, you get a bad rap when it comes to the family circuit. You thrive in the business and economics (hence the glass ceilings that still exist), but when it comes to matters of the heart, you don’t receive your spotlight when you do well. If you have received shade all day, all month, all year — let me be the first to tell you, thank you.
A deeper look: You may be discouraged to extend your love for fear of being rejected or emasculated. Perhaps you were dismissed when you tried to hug your parents as a child or attempted to kiss your significant other. When affection is rejected, it can cause men to shut down and not feel emotionally safe. The result can be an adult male who does not know how to adequately express his feelings. This can manifest itself in destructive or distant behaviors and your family suffers the most from those inaudible blows. Furthermore, you may have a positive father reference to model, let alone a positive friendship with other men to keep you lifted. I encourage you to not to shrink into the shadows. No matter what you think, it won’t make things better.
From a daughter who experienced an estranged father and later an involved one, please consider the following for your future:
Never underestimate the power of your presence. Whether your reputation is tarnished or squeaky clean, your love will shine through anything when you decide to show it. Let them say no, but don’t let them say that you didn’t try. I believe my biological father did the best he could within his capacity. The father who raised me simply had a deeper well from which to draw.
You’re the blueprint. I’m a firm believer that a man’s interaction with his child(ren) can create a customized definition of provision and protection. Sons and daughters tend to use their fatherly relationships as reference points for platonic and romantic relationships. You’re more than a sperm donor. Your fingerprint is part of their growth. You’re a life-giver and women grow what you plant. We nurture what you give, so remember that as you interact with your family.
You need a team. In the name of sports, be humble enough to be a team player. If you have friends who are also fathers or men that you will take you seriously when it’s time to confide, let them know what you need in order to stay on track. Whether it is an addiction, temptation, or a knot of anger you can’t comb through, talk to your tribe. Just like on the court/field, everyone plays a role to win the game. Let your friends play their roles.
I encourage you to breathe through each attempt to be better and if you are already doing those items listed, offer to be a safe space for another man as he grows into a better version of himself. Mentor a neighborhood child who could use a father figure. Offer to make amends with a family member. Just don’t stop trying. Let them say no. You can live with the peace of knowing that you extended the opportunity for them to meet the new you.
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!
Laura is my secret weapon. If you pass by her in a hallway, she has so much wisdom and humor in 1 minute that it will leave your head spinning. She’s witty and brilliant and has beautiful salt-n-pepper hair. We were co-workers for 5 years and that title morphed into friends over my teaching career. You know how you say “Keep in touch! Let’s have lunch!” and you truly mean it, but you never do it? Well, we grabbed intention by the ears and actually did it and I enjoyed every minute.
Friends can be found anywhere and age has no boundary when you have kindred spirits. Kindness can exist among generations and workplaces. Laura and I would check on each other throughout the workday and combine our educator superpowers to increase student achievement. I didn’t know I would have a friend like her in my life when I accepted the job offer, and now I can’t imagine my life without her in it.
Be on the lookout for authentic people. They truly are everywhere.
#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.
Recently, I felt the pain of a woman who’s only desire was to provide the best solution for her children at the expense of what she wished for them. She cried after we prayed together. I bought the items she needed and she agreed to a massage therapy session. I just wanted to help, wanted her to know that I see her. She was the 2nd person for I whom I prayed and to whom I had given. The first person was homeless and when I asked him for a prayer request, his response was to pray for his family. How selfless. These opportunities started hours after I received news that my income would decrease… again. Perfect timing, right? Exactly. That’s what I said too.
Now, I’m not monetarily rich. I’m not a superstar. I don’t have someone taking sensational photos of me at every turn so I can post them on the ‘gram. And I’m definitely not a selfie girl. I just… listen. I sincerely try to listen to God’s voice everyday and anywhere. That’s how this blog Listening at the Speed of Life was born. So, when those opportunities presented themselves, I had to be obedient. No questions asked.
What have I learned about myself along this journey of obedience?
I hug my students.
I even hug strangers.
I pray for people I don’t know.
I say thank you. A lot.
I love big and I retreat quickly.
I boldly express my care.
I can speak up when I’m scared.
I can ask questions unapologetically.
I seek to understand.
I generally stay to myself, yet I have meaningful relationships.
I am a delicate, and resilient balance of mind, body, and spirit.
My introversion is beautiful, not a defect.
I don’t have to be loud if I don’t want to be.
I don’t have to be in the mix to feel included.
I like breathing and being, and sometimes these come at the cost of being misunderstood. That’s OK with me now. (It wasn’t when I started.)
So, back to the moment. She was grateful. I was humble. We connected.
It’s time that we slow down and feel the heartbeat of one another. We’re all humans trying to navigate through this life, and if you’re a Christian, then you’re trying to adhere to a certain compass as you travel on your path. It’s not easy, and we are all doing it… walking it out, journeying into the next dimension of ourselves, and feeling our way around in the darkness of tomorrow’s challenges.
What would it hurt to wave to the service worker? Speak to the custodian? Give a thank you card to the teacher? Buy an extra meal for the hungry? Or simply hug your friend without it being an obligatory salutation?
What happened to us orbiting together instead of spinning around each other, being afraid to bump into one another’s space?
What happened to running the human race together and checking on others along the way?
A thought came to me while watching a kissing scene in Frankie and Johnny (1991; starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer). What can I say? I like 90s movies.
Have you ever wondered why mouth-to-mouth kissing is deemed so intimate? I have. And I think I’ve finally able to put it into words. Try to keep your mind open as we ride together in my train of thought. It’s going somewhere. Promise.
STOP #1: The Mouth
Our mouths are powerful instruments. They can receive and give. You may have heard that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) and I believe this is true. When I was growing up and would say something negative, my mother always respond with “You have what you say.” The tongue is an extension of the soul. As I tell my students, “Who you are will come out of your mouth.” So, since the mouth can reveal the thoughts and feelings of a person and we are subject to eat the fruit of what we say, we often (or we should) choose to use it carefully. Something happens when we taste our food and we taste others. It is an intimate connection. That’s why people choose not to kiss mouth-to-mouth until they are comfortable in doing so, or they wish to kiss on the first date to detect chemistry. Taking it a step further, when we speak, we are in the beginning stages of intimacy.
STOP #2: The Hands
Our hands are the second extension of the soul. We reach out when we’re in want of something or someone. Hugs are essential to emotional development in children and quite frankly, adults need them too. Why else would it be a hello, goodbye, miss you, love you, it’s okay form of contact? Our hands touch so much throughout the day, but during sex, they explore the body of our partner. We glide our hands to understand what is in front of us, and we essentially talk with our fingertips. What we can’t say with our mouths, we communicate through our touch.
STOP #3: Below the Belt
Open mouths correlate with other open areas ready for sexual pleasure. Here is where the circle of intimacy that began with the mouth ends. Sexual intercourse provides a language that expresses the soul’s deepest desire – to be connected. Genital openings of both parties are ready to give and receive from each other – just as the mouth in STOP #1. And in the case of genitalia (and ear canals), meatus refers to the same thing – a passage or opening leading to the interior of the body. So, in other words, intercouse gives us a glimpse into the inner sanctum of the person we choose to sexually enjoy. The decrease of inhibition, reasoning, and muscle control provide the neuroscientific proof that one is the raw version of her- or himself during the orgasmic phase of sexual response cycle. The receipt of pleasure and the giving of bodily fluids constitute as a spiritual exchange as well.
Let’s go back to where we started – the intimacy of kissing. If you look at each “stop,” you could see a yearning of two spirits trying to connect past their humanity. When we kiss, we touch. When we touch, we feel. When we feel, we merge. Kissing one’s lips is deemed intimate because every opening we have is a portal to our spirit – the inner core of who we are. We have receptor cells all over our bodies to tell our brains that we are sensing stimuli; therefore, what we nonverbally say through a kiss, communicates through our hands and our sexual drive follows suit. It’s a spiritual circle trying to connect through human form – from top (mouth) to bottom (below the belt). That’s why oral sex falls along my same theory of the mouth being a powerful spiritual instrument. The connectivity is still there.
STOP #4: The Terminal
We have a need, a drive even, to be loved intimately. That’s the kind of God that made us, after all. Having someone that spiritually completes your circle is intimacy at its best. So, when people ask why you’re celibate or why you’re a virgin, you can tell them that you’re not open for business; you’re closed for intimacy. *smile*
I chose this topic because I believe the more we discuss issues that have been made taboo, the better we can walk out this thing called Christianity. Sex was ordained by God to be a beautiful interaction, not a dirty word.
Thanks for riding in my train of thought. You’ve gotten a glimpse into my take on things… what’s yours?
Generational mercy? I had heard of generational blessings and curses, but mercy though? That blew my mind.
In my recent reading of 1 Kings, Chapter 11, I couldn’t help but notice that generational mercy is a repeated sentiment between God and Solomon. Basically, God said “I won’t punish you as you truly deserve for the sake of your father’s relationship with me.” Now, this is King David we’re talking about here and if you know anything about him, you may see where I’m headed.
The ambitious warrior, the murderer, the adulterer, the lady’s man, the musical genius… sound familiar? In today’s terms, King David would be the last person to receive a humanitarian award or a seat in our pulpits. After all, to see if he would heal faster, his attendants suggested putting a young virgin in bed with him (1 Kings 1:1-4). What a remedy, right? But the difference between David’s and Solomon’s wrongdoing was that David would humble himself enough to acknowledge his struggles, repent before God, and get up from prayer with best intentions to follow God’s directions again. We have his proof woven throughout the Book of Psalms and even when he is anointed has King.
Acts 13:22 (NIV) “After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him:
‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart;
he will do everything I want him to do.‘” (referencing 1 Samuel 16:7)
Solomon disobeyed God and felt no remorse, even though he was blessed to be the wisest man on Earth simply because he asked for it.
1 Kings 3:9 (MSG) “Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?”
The sinful act of worshipping other gods wasn’t the deciding factor (he was doing that in verse 3 of the same chapter); it was the heart. The comfortability of loving his wives’ gods was the issue, even after David instructed him otherwise in 1 Kings, Chapter 2.
Isn’t that something? Knowing that Solomon profoundly screwed up numerous times after repeated warnings, God says that he will still uphold his covenant and hold back part of Solomon’s consequences for David’s sake. David? Of all people? Yeah, him.
There’s a David in all of us… struggling on the inside to project Christian values on the outside in spite of all that life throws at us. If David could be close to God, why can’t you? In all of his mess, God weighed his motives and even through hardship, he blessed him.
If you default to behaviors that are opposite of your Father’s voice, do you grieve over disappointing Him? Do you dust yourself off and try to walk forward again? Then, you’re a David and there is room for you at the Father’s table. He already knows your vices, and sees your shame, but He won’t hold it over your head. Just look at how Solomon reaped the benefits of generational mercy through someone that we would deem unworthy in today’s terms.
You are loved. You are valued. You are David. You are His.