I remember, as a child, hearing the grown folk talk about the good days when… Today, myself included, reminisce about when life was simpler based on current affairs. “Children should be seen and not heard” was a subtle reminder to us kids to only speak when spoken to.
In other words, stay silent; when I want your opinion, I will ask for it… Today, everyone can have an opinion. The only problem, this newfound freedom swelled the expected acceptable behavior into out of control dynamic unpredictability. I remember one day when my 30-year-old Uncle, under the influence of alcohol, answered my Grandmother’s probe, “What’s gotten in to you boy?!!”, with a foulmouthed response. Her action taught us wide-eyed onlookers about what happens when you disrespect Mama or for that matter any authoritative adult. Today, young or old have the power to change the state of dialogues.
What’s been amazing to me today is how it feels like anything goes. I watch elementary school yard bad behavior insult, hurt, belittle, mentally and emotionally damage each other without regard for consequences, if any. Not just on television news reports about educated, wealthy, people in power, but in local one-on-one conversations amid advocating for the good of a cause or position.
I believe, the good old days will resurface with more love and less apathy laced with a mixture of forward-thinking, middle-of-the-road objectives sprinkled with civility and respect. I don’t think we can continue, as is, and produce the good for all. We don’t have to be mean and insensitive to each other. Power and money cannot resolve our differences and approaches to life. Call me a dreamer, nevertheless, I know the logic and practical thinkers are equally crucial.
At two weeks old, the doctor told my parents I had to undergo life threatening surgery. I Imagine it was more traumatic for them than I who had no reference point for danger. Since then I had no lasting memory of hospital stays outside of birthing three children until 2011 in Santa Barbara, California. It was a brain aneurysm, but still I saw no cause for worry. I didn’t feel any pain except for a little annoying headache. Nothing I couldn’t handle. It must have been my facial expressions that caused my two classmates to call 911. “You are very lucky young lady, if you waited any longer, you’d now be dead,” the grave-looking surgeon reported. Still, I concluded, It ain’t that serious… Recently, I felt a throbbing piercing pain in my Achilles. I couldn’t walk without a delayed limp. It had my full attention… That’s when I came face-to-face with all my “all you have do” theories. None of them relieved the pain. It didn’t care what I said was more important. It didn’t care about all my near misses with disasters. It didn’t care about all my positive thinking practices nor mind over matter conclusions. This must be the big one, I’m going to die. Mentally and emotionally preparing for my farewell, I notice the pain subsiding as I got up from the death bed heading to the bathroom. Hum, I might live through this previously unbearable dilemma. I think I was making matters worse by concentrating on the demise of my “Will” as opposed to honoring the pain and it’s warnings to lighten up and slow down. My son described it this way. “Think of the difference between blowing on a hot drink to cool it down blowing on a dying fire to increase the flames.”
Hum. I learned my attitudes, practices, and theories about life weren’t wrong, but surrender is part of the process. Stop stoking the fire and let it burn out.
I was piling mountains of anger, irritation , and disappointment on my hot embers of anxiety and building forest fires, instead of trusting the healing process with a gentle blow of rest and patience. I’m not saying life’s disturbances will simply disappear, but you can save a lot of wear and tear on your mind and body…
I’m at the age where I’m attending funerals and memorial services more frequently. Family and friends rise to speak of their beloved. In many cases, the descriptions are familiar, but my memory seems to be missing pertinent information. Y’all talking about the same person I knew… Well, Mama said if you can’t say anything good, don’t say nothing at all. This was a mean vindictive person. I could have killed him/her myself, I sheepishly recall. Remember that time…Hold it Jean, stop right there, you are here to show your respects. Remember? Aw yes, I remember.
Don’t get me wrong. I do have good stories too, but for some reason all this negative stuff flashed across my screen. Then it came to me, all those times I felt they were being mean, they were just pushing my antagonistic buttons so I could muster up the energy to rise beyond my inferior complex. They generally appeared just when I was about to give in to fear and self-doubt giving self-sabotage the royal treatment. I have mountains of accomplishments because someone challenged my ego by insinuating I didn’t have what it takes to successfully complete the task.
They were Angels in disguise. These angels did not always appear in the form of a person. They’d mix it up a little by creating some unforeseeable calamity. Come on Jean, you can do it, come on. I remember one day confessing to my brother, You’re right June, I need to give up all this self-righteous determination, I’m tired. I can’t do this anymore. To my surprise, he said, but you can’t give up, we are counting on you… My brother, laying up in the hospital with three bullets lodged in his body was this streetwise, in and out of prison know it all. He continued, Sis your world is scarier than mine. In my world, we don’t trust anybody. In your world you trust everybody until they give you reason not to.
All this to say Keep the faith in the face of adversity, calamity and despair. Keep the faith when all seems well and too good to be true. Angels are everywhere including inside you.
My Grandfather was the smartest man I knew even though he only had a third-grade education. He could read people like a book. He knew how to appeal to your need to be amazingly all-knowing when he wanted to understand current events or how you arrived at your conclusions. Uh-huh, that doesn’t make any sense… knowing your ego would open the flood gates of your imagination revealing your logic.
His intuitive-laced manner created a safe place to be vulnerable while telling all as he flashed a gentle nod or soothing mum.
He was a kind simple man using his uneducated communication skills to navigate through his 82 years of life making people feel heard and understanding what made you tick. He taught me other ways of knowing.
We all have these fundamental free-flowing traits. I think they are more accessible when we let go of our own need to control or manipulate the process.
My Uncle Herbie was the kindest person I knew outside of Mama, my Grandmother. But when he was under the influence of his beloved Muscatel, a cheap wine from the local corner store. he flirted with death or any possible catastrophe. Fear had no place in his heart. One day on my way home from school, I was taking the shortcut route. A stranger followed me, Psst. Psst, hey pretty little girl, want some candy…? Fortunately, home wasn’t far away. Uncle Herbie appeared. Running, crying, and pointing in the stranger’s direction Uncle Herbie broke out and chased the would-be child molester down the alley. Did you catch him, did you catch him? I asked shaking in my boots, No, but I sure did scare the hell out of him. He won’t try that again. No more shortcuts for you little girl…
I took that to mean the stranger was not only inspired and motivated to leave me alone, but he got the hell that wanted to harm me scared out of too.
I think doctors have that power after chasing down causes of ailments. Its not just limited to physical, mental, emotional or spiritual impairments when we are not out drinking with “What if, Doubt, and Nobody Cares.
I think the act of getting the hell scared out is a welcoming invitation for hope, optimism, and courage to replace anguish, suffering and sorrow and take an positive active role in your decision making process.
I wonder, have you had the hell scared out of you lately.
Several years ago, I found myself wrestling with an opportunity to travel to Russia. I was working for an elementary-afterschool program 20 hour per week at $8.00 per hour at a local Presbyterian church. Living from paycheck to paycheck, I had no extra money laying around just in case I might want to leave the country or even think about it. I didn’t feel poor or deprived, just happy and satisfied. I was also volunteering on the board of a newly formed non-profit organization,” Women of Vision” that received an invitation to co-host a Women’s Conference near Moscow and Ukraine. I was excited but didn’t really “believe” I’d be going. That’s when noticeable miracles began. Prepare 20 thank you cards for the money you will receive. The urging was so great in my spirit, I rushed to Kmart, a local chain store, to find thank your cards. I didn’t have enough money to pay for them. Well, at least I tried…, justifying my unbelief. What’s this? Sitting on my desk a donation from Hallmark Cards and, of course, “Thank you” cards were included. Sparking my desire to travel to Russia, more doors opened. It wasn’t as simple as that, but I learned to thank God in advance. Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, lean not to thy understanding and He shall direct they path. I’ve travelled around the word since then. They key for me is figuring out my role when I’m prolonging breakthrough blessings indefinitely.
I woke up this morning by the sound of the Fear clan banging at my door. A rerun of a previous dream began to play. Standing at a crossroad seated to my left with a back drop of sunny blue skies was the Field Museum of Natural History. To my right, a shadowy dead-end road beckoning my attention. Straight ahead was the dimly lit back alley leading to home. Nothing scary about any of my choices. Tired and ready to go home, trudging through familiar broken-down cars, trash and glittery cut glass, I climbed the rickety old stairs. My key didn’t fit. Pounding in panic on the backdoor, a stranger peered through the door chain. Let me in, I breathlessly demanded. In a lifeless voice tone and no facial expression, she said, You don’t live here anymore, go away.
“You don’t live here anymore” What does that mean? You don’t live in the valley of worry, panic, and dread anymore. Stop whining and use your God-given expectations instead of your watered-down courage. Look at the birds. When the wind blows, they are supple and assured. They soar to higher ground. Stop praying band-aid prayers. Prayers that get you through the night that reek with distrust for the long haul.
As your faith increases, so should your expectations…
How about you, have you relocated lately