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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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relationships

Thursday Love: Purple People Pleaser

Hi, Family!

First things first – guess what? I intentionally went to bed before midnight last night. *gasp* I know! I’m surprised too! Usually I stay up to write you, but I was led to turn in early… then my dog decided he wanted to frolic up and down the street without returning home for about an hour.

When you know you messed up… #SammysWorld

I growled, retrieved him, and still managed to throttle down before midnight. I say that’s a win. Thanks for celebrating with me. lol

Before I went to sleep, I knew the contents of this post and I’m so excited to encourage you today. It’s a little meaty, but there’s good stuff and pictures, so let’s get into it!

I want to talk about Aaron, Moses’ right-hand man and priest to the Israelites. He’s one of my favorite Bible profiles to study because he had such an interesting life. Here’s some facts you may not know.

  • He was older than Moses by three years (Exodus 7:7).
  • He was commissioned to be Moses’ eloquent mouthpiece as he confronted Pharaoh (Exodus 3:14).
  • His staff turned into a serpent in front of Pharaoh and ate the other magician’s staff-serpents (Exodus 7:8-12).
  • He made the infamous golden calf that caused Moses to flip his lid and break the Ten Commandments (Exodus 32).

Yes, you read that right. Aaron made the golden calf. From the Israelites’ earrings. Ear-rings. Let that sink in.

Photo by Rafael Barros on Pexels.com

To put this in a present-day perspective, imagine you and your older brother (emphasis on older) built a company from the ground up and he sells it to the lowest bidder without telling you. So, you come to work one day, and the employees are having a fully blown party. Cake. Balloons. Alcohol. Dancing on desks. Everything. Then your brother says he didn’t know how the sale took place, that he just gave the people what they wanted. That would make you angry, yes? I know I would be furious.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Well, that’s a small equivalent of what happened between Moses and Aaron. Moses trusted Aaron to be his go-to. They confronted Pharaoh together. Traveled the wilderness together. Beheld the intricate assembly of the Tabernacle (their mobile place of worship) together. Saw God rain manna (small pancake-like food) from heaven together. While the Israelites were fighting the Amalekites, Aaron and Hur upheld Moses’ arms so they wouldn’t lose (Exodus 17:8-13). He was bestowed the responsibility of priesthood to lead alongside Moses. He was even outfitted with custom threads made to God’s specifications to represent his leadership calling (Exodus 28). So, you can imagine the disgust Moses wore on his face after he comes down from Mount Sinai with God’s Words in his arms, still beaming with glory from meeting the The Most High to find out that his older brother was the culprit of the calf and leader of the party. Then, to make matters worse, Aaron gives a lame excuse and says the calf just came out of the fire (Exodus 32:24). Really, dude? <— my real life response. See what I wrote next to the verse.

I write what I think as I read the Bible. Good ol’ reading comprehension skills happening over here.

Now, before we judge Aaron and his tomfoolery, let’s recall when we did something not-so-great under the pressure of others. Here he is, among the anger of thousands, wondering how much longer his brother was going to take in the mountains. “He’ll be back soon,” my imagination hears Aaron saying to himself. “Just be patient.” The grumbling grew to insurmountable degrees. The legal matters multiplied as he judged with his best intentions. Their piercing eyes alone would have made anyone nervous to come out of his tent. Then one day, he cracked and gave in to the people. This is where I wanted to bring you into the picture. The “you” that tends to say yes when you should say no. The “you” that accepts the invitation when you should respectfully decline. The “you” that foregoes your preferences for the comfort of others. That “you.” That’s who I want to bring to the table to meet Aaron. Meet the leader. Meet humanity. Sometimes we forget that as we read God’s Word that there were people in it. Blood, sweat, and tears. Skin. Fear. Love. Admiration. Ambition. People-pleasers. For a moment in time, Aaron set aside his divine directive to oversee the Israelites while Moses was gone and gave them what they wanted instead of what they needed. How often do we do the same? Setting aside our divine instructions for a temporary moment? Throwing up our hands instead of squaring our shoulders? The answer is probably more often than we think.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

My favorite part of the story is that God didn’t throw Aaron away. Not only was he outfitted in customized priestly garments, but so were his sons. In Exodus Chapter 39, we see the same attention to detail and craftmanship put into his attire as in Chapter 28… and this is after goldencalf-mageddon. He reminded Aaron of his identity. He reminded him of his purpose. It comes full circle when you research Aaron’s garments. Part of God’s instructions were to engrave the names of the 12 tribes of Israel on two onyx stones. Onyx has been known throughout the ages as representing protection and forward movement from the past. I believe Aaron the priest needed that prayer just as much as his people. His breastpiece included jewels that represented each of the 12 tribes and a linen pouch sown inside of it carrying the Urim and the Thummim, which were stone-like objects used for divine decision-making. He was to wear this breastpiece over his heart when he entered the Tabernacle as a reminder that he would carry judgment for all 12 tribes (Exodus 28:29-30). How befitting… that God would give him such responsibility before and after the decision to create the golden calf.

If you find yourself being a chronic people-pleaser, know that you’re not alone, that it is easy to fall down that wormhole, and that you can get out. My suggestive start is to say no to one thing a week that you usually say yes to and that you would probably feel guilty about later. Just one no once a week until you’re comfortable with that level. It doesn’t have to be a rude one and you don’t have to overexplain it. Just exhale it and let it breathe into the moment. Start there. Pray about where you should be so you don’t overbook and overwhelm your schedule. I do it all the time and it started years ago with a prayer and a stressed-out face looking at my calendar – “Lord, where do I need to be?” As a result, I haven’t been stressed about my schedule again.

Wherever you are on the spectrum of people-pleasing, I pray that you uproot insecurities and fear of rejection. I pray that Love wraps around you so warmly that you remember exactly who you were fashioned to be. People-pleasing is a dangerous trap that always leaves you as the victim. My prayer is that you remember that you are the survivor.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: A Secret Addiction

Good Morning, Family!

I’m glad you’re here. Thanks for stopping by. Let’s dive into this short stop for your week (it’s less than 500 words).

I woke up this morning and asked God about a particular situation where I believe the art of listening wasn’t valued. This phrase breathed into my spirit – addiction to defiance.

The ceiling above my head looked like a blank canvas as I replayed the situation. Immediately, I saw evidence of what I heard. Immediately, I changed the original idea of this post.

Family, I believe some people are high on defiance. It deafens their ears and their hearts. If you tell them not to touch the mailbox because it’s freshly painted, they’ll go outside and lick it. OK, maybe not, but they’ll definitely leave a fingerprint. Getting into conversations with those with such an addiction can be mind-numbing. Fruitless and frustrating. So, it’s not worth it.

You heard me – save your breath.

Photo by Kelvin Valerio on Pexels.com

In some instances, defiance is a viable force for such cases as human rights. In other scenarios, it is a way to charge an internal battery. Perhaps that battery turns over by fear or anger. Residue from being abused by authority. An indoctrination of defiance being the only way to assert one’s self. Fear of extracted freedom. Lack of verbal resources to comprehensively express one’s opinion. Whatever it is, it can materialize into an addiction that harms budding and long-term relationships.

When I was a teenager, my dad would test my strength and will via foot races and wrestling. One time, my mother asked my dad to let me go during a mini-match in the living room. She was being a mom, what can I say? 🙂 My dad, on the other hand, was definitely being a dad because he asked if I was OK while in a pin. I said yes. Then he asked “You give?” I said no with gritted teeth. I tried to wiggle out of his pin, but it didn’t work. “Do you give?” he asked again. “No!” I yelled, still twisting myself toward freedom. There was something about the defiance that strengthened me. I used it as fuel. Somehow, I found an out and my dad congratulated me. I later heard from my mom that he said “Whew! She almost got me that time!”

That will to break out of the pin was helpful then, but my prayer is to never be saturated with it. I never want to be numb to the humanity of those around me. So gritty to defend that I refuse decipher. My prayer is that you do the same. Listen to the heartbeat of those around you, even if you don’t agree. Stay pliable enough to see the fingerprint of God on each creation, even if you have to grit your teeth.

I love you all and stay well out there. Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: For Lovers and Liars

Hi, Family!

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.

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

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.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Got A Buck?

Hi, Family!

I know it’s not Wednesday. I also know that you wouldn’t have wanted me to type anything last night as sleepy as I was. I felt like a restless cranky kid fighting bedtime. I told my aunt “I’m so sleepy, but I need to write my blog post… but I can’t do it!” *insert fake-cry-almost real cry here* She told me I should go to bed, so I did… and the sleep was glorious. I missed you, but the back of my eyelids made good company too.

On the flip side, I knew exactly what I wanted to say, so here we go. 🙂

All day Wednesday, I heard the same thing in my spirit.

Are you on Instagram? Great. Me too.

I instantly thought of political parties, countries, families, corporations… a plethora of complex organisms. The back-and-forth on who should pay for healthcare, if redlining is real, if dad should be in an assisted living facility, or why historical injustices should be recognized as a repellent for the future is enough to make anyone throw up her hands and say “forget it.”

But, then what? We end up being two sides of one coin trying to separate from its core. As a faith walker, the tension will make you want to stay out of conversations that need your voice… or make you pass the buck to someone else. Unfortunately, that is not what we are called to do as the Body of Christ.

That’s right. I said it. Christians skirt around responsibilities and tough conversations too. Don’t confuse arguing and debating with digesting communication. They are not the same. We tend to pass the buck when ideals do not align to ours. Disagreements will exist; so, do our responsibilities.

We are called to stand up for the voiceless. We are commanded to love the difficult heart. We are commissioned to serve the those that are without. These are non-negotiables. So, when a member of God’s Kingdom tells another member of the same Kingdom that their experience is false, unimportant, or discounted, we are passing the buck. We are saying “That’s not my responsibility” and I beg to differ that Jesus would use the same words in our current environment.

Do you know one place where the buck doesn’t get shuffled around? Your body.

Photo by Evelina Zhu on Pexels.com

You’re equipped with various methods to fight illness and injury at any given time. You have different types of pain receptors the assist with proper pain management assessment and microphages that destroy harmful organisms on a regular basis. Your body doesn’t say “That’s not my problem” or “You’re making excuses.” It says I feel you and we’re in this together.

What buck are you passing around at work or home? What are you dodging instead of acknowledging both? This is an internal and external means of accountability. Bottom line – own it. Whatever it is. Maybe it’s that conversation you’ve been avoiding with your spouse or child. Perhaps it is that offensive statement you made to a friend that you have yet to apologize for. When the buck stands still, it doesn’t create a vortex of pain between the parties at play. That’s where we get the phrase the buck stops here. Who cares who pays for healthcare if it means a citizen doesn’t have to choose going to work over a doctor’s appointment? What difference should it make if a Latinx family moves into an all-White neighborhood? Why shouldn’t a someone be empathic when he hears of a racist act? Family, the buck should stop with us because we are representatives of the Blood of Christ. Matthew 12:36 states the following: But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.

As long as we deflect responsibility, we will never work together as a seamless organism. So, I encourage you to survey your internal and external grounds (like I am) to check for those roaming bucks. Call them to order and live in dominion over them all.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #27

To my Fantastic Frat Brothers of Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity:

First things first — Happy 101st Anniversary, Bruhs!

When I joined Tau Beta Sigma in 2001, my dean/big sister told me that if I ever need anything, find a Bruh. Not that my sisters wouldn’t have my back, but she wanted to establish that I had always had back-up. I was always covered.

She didn’t lie.

A Quick Note: Now this was before KKPsi became co-ed, so my primary memories involve male members and my points of references in this letter will reflect that experience. This doesn’t knock any member post the co-ed change. You know I love you all.

Whether I was on the road or down the street, a brother of KKPsi would sincerely ensure my well-being. Small things matter to me like walking to me to my car (which you always do) and the big things certainly can not be overlooked like letting me sleep peacefully in your room and making sure no one woke me up because you knew I had a long drive ahead. It was even a Bruh that provided a place to stay and transportation for my audition in DC. I’ll never forget that.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I love that you are exceptional musicians and no one can stroll like you — no one. One of my favorite memories is watching a small group of you recall the score of band music you played in college. Quarter notes and staccatos punctuated your voices like audible artwork and you gathered like the geniuses you were to make sure it was flawless. The musicianship it takes to be you in unparallel and that’s what I admire about you all year long.

I love that you support each other In The Bond. I’ve seen you hold each other up in hard times and correct each other at parties. You’re brothers and you act like it.

God bless you all for the rest of your years and beyond. Stick together — no matter what. Keep loving on each other during this time and keep showing Sorors that sibling love (not just Greek crushes) is indeed real — that those constitutions meant something when our founders bonded us together. Music and band are the ultimate examples of that because it takes every part of us to create the Masterpiece.

I love you. Keep striving for the highest. I tip 101 red carnations to you.

CJW
“Fine Tuned”
#1 – Eta Lambda – SPR01
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Eta Lambda Alumni Association

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #26

To my United States of America:

Don’t worry — this isn’t a bash letter. I can’t truthfully say that all parts of you are horrible. There are some beautiful moments between us and your landscapes are breathtaking to say the least. The way your camaraderie comes through in times of tragedy is amazing. When an actor or a farmer can become president, you know there’s something magical here. I love you; otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.

It’s because of that love that we need to have this conversation. Our garden has some weeds in it that we can not ignore. Some could say there’s full-fledged forestry. In this domestic relationship, my face has bruises that you don’t want to see. You’d rather I be silent and keep smiling for the pictures than for Truth to stand in the middle of our living room.

When corporations can make unlimited donations to control their candidate’s voice and society is celebrated for working on fumes, we have a problem.
When gerrymandering is normal and public health doesn’t serve the public without some bureaucratic blowback, we still have a problem.
When it’s 2020 and women are still paid less for the same caliber of work and indigenous persons must protest for the sanctity of their land, we definitely have a problem.
An age old problem.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Just because there are great opportunities doesn’t mean there aren’t great opportunities for growth. Progress takes time, I know, but you can’t keep wining and dining me thinking that I’m going to forget the repeated black eyes of injustice and the dismissive nature of our union. There’s not enough makeup in this house to cover such crimes.

The truth is we were unraveling way before this year began. Our jaded bubbles of reality were actually being held together by tattered strings and I kept saying that I wanted us to work out, but I don’t feel like you hear me… that you want to hear me.

Photo by Josh Hild on Pexels.com

From the bottom of my heart, I love you. I hate the mess and I know we aren’t perfect, so all we have to do is acknowledge and adjust. You have to be willing to do that before anything gets better. The land we built wasn’t ours to do so. It’s been watered by the blood of so many. Our home needs the beautiful truss of Truth and don’t think I can’t leave; I just shouldn’t have to. My blood, sweat, and tear equity is invested in this house.

I believe we can get there. I have to believe we can get there, but I won’t stand to be a victim in these four walls.

Can we work on this? I want better for us. Our inception didn’t start out so fair, but we have control over our future. Do you want us to work? Do you want us to live together? Do you want us to live?

I hope so. Let me know.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #25

To Wanda Dear,

Once upon a time, I left my house with a prayer. I was a fresh out of grad school with boots on the ground trying to secure a teaching job. My phone had just been stolen as I was using pay phones to call schools and possible leads. I had gone to the library to print out directions because GPS was not an option. The summer heat was not my friend and I was beyond hot — inside and out. So on a day in June, I said “Lord, I need to work somewhere. Just tell me where to go.”

I drove straight to that store and took a deep breath before walking inside. It had been a couple of years since I had worked retail and frankly, I was not looking forward to it. “You’re allergies are going to freak out,” I muttered to myself as I walked through the store, “but you gotta do something.” Your frankness and your warmth sold me from the jump. I knew you were the real deal, but I didn’t imagine that you would become family.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

When my sweet friend Nancy passed away, you showed me empathy by letting me work in the backroom so my tears could flow at will. When my former husband’s diabetic skin needed suggestions, you always made sure to keep me updated on the best products to soothe its agitations. I appreciated your humanity. And while I appreciate every supervisor I’ve worked for, I have comprehensively learned more from you than any corporate experience I ever had. I learned more than how to run a store. I learned how to use discernment during the hiring process, how to mix grace with facts, how to manage personalities, how to work that calculator and know your products like you know your name, how to provide a positive customer experience, and how not to be pissed off everyday. I would tell myself after a long day or a hard shift, “If Wanda can do it, I can do it.” We made it through holiday rushes, limited staffing, late night inventories, and ridiculous floor sets. Every time, I would tell myself that same sentence.

You know my family because you’re woven into our tapestry. My mother respects you and when my father and former husband were alive, so did they. Your heart is bigger than most people I’ve met and I am so grateful you’re in my world. Like I tell anyone that acts sideways – “I’ll fight you over that red-head. She’s family.”

Wanda, I pray that every single seed you have sown in the lives of others will come back to you 100-fold. I have no worries about your future because you’ve planted so richly. You know I have your back no matter what and you know I’m not the only one that will say the same thing. All of us are so much better because of your awesomeness.

I love you big,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #21

To my Cousin BJ:

I love you so much — and not because of what you do. I could go on and on about that, but your actions are an extension of who you are and who you are is amazing.

I could mention plenty of things about you that make me smile within – like how you make sure I get in the house safely. No matter how late it is, if I’m outside, you’re outside to be sure everything’s copasetic. If I need help, your hand and heart are available. And I love that we love the same music but I won’t digress.

I appreciate the protector in you and the warmth of your soul. When Pop and Shawn died, I came home after a long day and you hugged me with the best words I had heard — “You’re doing a great job.” That sweet sentence brought tears to my eyes that night as we stood there. You don’t know how much that soothed my spirit. I needed it. I was truly doing my best but I was running on fumes — barely-there fumes. Your encouragement that evening went such a long way and I thank you for letting me exhale a bit.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

You always make sure that I’m OK. Our “I love you’s” are not scarce and we got each other’s back. From being handyman to dog walker, you help me with skill and a smile.

When we were growing up together, I always admired your eyes and your smile. Both of them were so bright. Your laugh would make me laugh without either of us saying a word. I remember when you burned your arm. I wanted to hug you so badly. Somehow, I thought that would make it all better. Playing Nintendo was the highlight of our day and whenever we weren’t together, it felt like a piece of sunshine was missing.

You’re so smart and you have done so much in your years on Earth. I’m proud of you, BJ. You don’t let anything stop you from doing what needs to be done and God knows, you are the absolutely fearless.

My prayer for you is that you continue to grow as a man of God. I pray that you receive every great seed that you’ve sown into others. You do so much behind the scenes and God takes care of you well. In Jesus’ Name, you will be protected as fiercely as you protect us and you will prosper as your soul prospers. I got your back, B. Always.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #20

Dear Big Sister Hannah,

We were divinely brought together and I’m so glad about it.

You look just him, ya know…. the warmth in your eyes and the high-rise of your cheeks when you smile… and your laughter lights up my planet, Big Sis. On top of all of that, you and Pop are so similar in spirit. The parallel is uncanny both inside and out.

What I appreciate about you is that you instantly treated me like family. Your loving arms wrapped about my teenage self and said “Hey, Lil Sister!” The sentiment was foreign and I loved it. I could tell you meant those words with every fiber of your being. Age wasn’t a factor. Distance wasn’t a distraction. Bloodline couldn’t block it. You loved me and I could feel the warmth of your heart.

Photo by Kartik Gupta on Pexels.com

Thank you so much for being my sister. I didn’t see you coming! Sound wisdom via God’s Word always drips from your words. Delicious food is always on the stove. Hugs are always available. I couldn’t ask for a better compilation.

Hannah, you are such a blessing to the world. The kindness you show me is your normal setting for everyone. You mind your business and mind the needs of others simultaneously. You have stern direction and a quick sense of humor. You’re easy like Sunday morning and any time I’m in your presence, I’m at home.

My prayer for you is that you continue to overflow in peace and joy for the rest of your years… that Fruit from the Spirit will overtake you and it will make your heart leap at any moment. I pray that you will continue to reap every beautiful seed you sown; they are many.

I love you so much and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Sincerely,

CJW

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