No One Gets to Make Me Be Someone I’m Not

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I have to resist the urge to stop people midsentence every time I hear them say that something “made” them react a certain way.

Example: “You made me mad when you…” “He made me yell at him cuz he yelled at me first.”

Ya’ll with me? The reality is this, no one can MAKE you do anything.

I have heard this sentiment expressed by my therapist and professors innumerable times since I’ve been on this counseling journey.

As a result, I find myself taking more responsibility for my decisions. No one makes me do or feel anything. Everything I say, do and/or feel is a direct result of a choice I have made.

And I’ll be honest and say that I’m a better person because of this new awareness. When I could blame my reactions on others, it was easier to excuse it. Now that I’ve decided to take ownership of my choices, I tend to make better ones.

It has been hard because not going with my first mind leaves me feeling like I lost, but then I realize what I actually won. I won my life. I am in total control of me. It feels good to not be anybody’s puppet.

Hope Is Painful

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…But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 

That scripture convicts me to think bigger and increase my willingness to believe in what I haven’t seen. But can we just take a second and be real about how painful it can be to have hope?

Have you ever wanted a job really badly? You feel like it’s yours so you share it with a friend? Then you don’t get it. So then you find another one and the excitement comes back, but you don’t get that one either. So next time you keep it to yourself so that your hopes aren’t up and you can take your loss quietly.

Have you ever wanted to see someone be healed from a life destroying disease? You pray for them. You pray for healing. You continue to watch them suffer. You pray harder because you have hope. Then, it gets to the point where you see that it’s not getting better. Against all logic, you press beyond the cognitive dissonance and you continue to have hope. You see them hurting and realize that they need and want rest, but you continue to believe. The hope helps your mind rest, but makes your heart ache because your heart acknowledges the reality.

Have you ever decided to open your heart to someone new only to find that they’re gonna break it too? Part of you wants to try again, but the other part just wants to admit that having hope sets you up for disappointment.

After so much hurt and disappointment, life teaches us to be pessimistic or unmoved so that the bad doesn’t damage and the good comes as a total surprise. But I just want to say that no matter how much it hurts, have hope. Believe only the best things are coming for you and your people. Somebody has to see the glass half full. If you can recall the hurt that all the above situations caused, you can also recall life going on and eventually getting better after them.

Hurt happens. So does healing. Keep hoping for the best.

OhCAE?

Free People, Free People

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The other morning, I woke up with some special people on my mind. Those people are people like me who never fit into gender stereotypes and have felt less womanly or manly because of it. So, like most millennials I took to Facebook to express.

It was a stream of thoughts. I’m gonna post them here the same way I posted them on my profile.

If your kid cries a lot, try saying “use your words” instead of “stop crying.”
1. It’s ok to express emotions.
2. Tell them what you want instead of what you don’t want.

Your son has tear ducts. He’s supposed to cry sometimes. That doesn’t make him like a girl because he does it.

Let’s agree to stop using “like a girl” as an insult to little boys who we want to grow up and respect girls and women.

Playing with dolls and enjoying hanging with girls doesn’t make a boy gay. Stop listening to your emotionally inept family members.

If doll play is so damaging, girls shouldn’t play with them either. A four year old girl doesn’t “need” to practice mothering either.

Let’s raise children who don’t have to heal from their childhoods.

Respect =/= fear.
Take that out of your parenting tool belt.

The things that damaged you as a kid will probably be harmful to your children. Break the cycle.

Learn your child’s love language and love them how they need to be loved.

You can prepare your son for the harsh realities of the world without crushing his spirit. In fact, you should.

Let that boy play with dolls. You might have a playwright in your womb if you don’t extinguish the gift.

Let your daughter play basketball if she wants. I know it sucks, but odds are she wouldn’t grow up to be a princess anyway.

This morning’s messages come to you from a woman who hates dresses and who hated dolls and who has spent literal decades (20 of my 28 years) trying to figure out how to perform “girl.” Ever since a girl told me that girls don’t play the drums when I taught myself. Her words coupled with the stares I received until I started again at 25 (thank God for my time spent at Shekinah) crippled me.

Your words have power and they shape your children’s lives.
Your silence is also meaningful.

I woke up feeling liberated this morning so I thought I’d pass that on.
Free people free people.

“This is a true confession of a life learned lesson I was sent here to share with y’all.” India.Arie

The Dichotomy of Artistry

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I started writing because I was going through things that I did not know how to express. Somehow, though, when I put my pen to the paper I was suddenly articulate. Something about writing for an audience made me remember that I wasn’t alone in my suffering. Something about writing for an audience made it all worth it.

I didn’t want anybody to know there was a problem, but the only way to deal with the problem was to tell somebody. When I started writing, it forced me to find the lesson. When I found the lesson, it made the pain make sense. Sorta…

So I write to expose the wound

To clean the wound

To let it breathe

So it doesn’t get infected

and cause unnecessary sickness

So that I can remember that I’m not

the only one in this

And I get to look back and see

That I’ve been through this before a time or two or three

And just like I learned before,

This isn’t the end of me.

Artist

Be A Man

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Something that truly irritates me is when I hear people talking to little boys telling them to “be a man” or “man up” or something of the sort. He’s not a man. He’s a child.

I totally disagree with the belief that men are naturally insensitive unfeeling people. They just get taught early on in life that it’s not okay to cry then they’re rarely encouraged to still express their emotions. They get told to suck it up and be a man.

And we wonder why men and women have such a hard time relating. (But that’s a whole ‘nother post)

I read a Child Watch Column by Marian Wright Edelman and its title sums up what I’ve been thinking about. “Treat Children as Children.”

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And we can see instances of this forced adulthood in so many places. For example, I finally watched a recent episode of Black•ish. (Have you watched that show? Do it! NOW!) Brilliant.

It brought out a topic we often ignore. Men who are raised by single mothers who end up hating their sons’ significant others.

After watching this scenario play out over and over, I deduce that it’s because the sons take on a dual role as their mother’s man.

I posted that as my Facebook status after watching and one commenter said this “Yep. Calling them little man, man of the house, king… Etc. Childhood is symbolically lost. You’ve nailed it.”

I don’t think we really understand how much our words really mean.

We have to stop forcing our boys into manhood with our words and actions.

OhCAE?!

Vote With the Spirit

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But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭16‬ ESV)

I had someone give me a new way of understanding how to “walk in the Spirit” last week and it finally made it click for me. So I wanted to share it with you guys.

She explained that we are made of three parts: soul/mind, spirit and flesh.
By receiving The Lord, our spirit is saved.
The flesh will NEVER be saved.
We have to renew our minds daily.
Reading the word and getting an understanding of how to apply it is what renews our mind.

When our flesh is tempted we always have the option to vote with our soul/emotions/mind or vote with our saved spirit.

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By renewing our minds daily, we have a greater chance that our mind and spirit will be on the same page and subsequently we walk in the Spirit.

So now I find myself saying to myself “vote with the Spirit.” The change of verbiage made it make sense for me. “Walk in the Spirit” was too vague I guess. Vote makes me conscious that I’m making a choice. Hence, I make better choices.
Before I felt outta control of myself so I was just letting things happen. But now I am keeping myself accountable by voting with the Spirit.

A few years ago, I was meditating on the scripture that says “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” And I thought about it then “if the flesh is weak then the spirit should be winning.” Now I get it. The spirit wins when the soul is on the same page. But that only happens when your soul is filled with knowledge of the Spirit (the Word.)

We sometimes go through situations where we feel like we’re not saved and/or the Spirit isn’t working in us. She gave an illustration using her frayed iPhone charger cord. She said “You see this end? It’s all messed up, but there’s nothing wrong with this end that goes into the wall. There’s nothing wrong with the power source, but the part that produces that power needs to be fixed.” Y’all understand that or naw?
The Holy Ghost is still alive in you. His power still works, but the part that needs to produce the power (your flesh) needs to be fixed.

OhCAE?!

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Poker face

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I basically taught myself how to play the drums when I was nine. I watched other drummers and applied their techniques. I struggled with the same thing most drummers struggle with, keeping the tempo. The organist at my church would tap on the organ to help me out. Then his taps got louder. Then he started banging on the organ until one day I did what all hurting kids do when they get unjustly embarrassed. I cried.

My daddy called him to talk to him about how he’d treated me. All the women who saw what happened told me not to let him get to me because I was doing a great job. All the women except for my auntie. She made it clear that she was very disappointed in me because “No matter what, you never let anybody see you cry.” I can still see her face.

I took that and unknowingly adopted it as a part of who I am. I hardened myself over the years. I went from being the girl who’d cry at any emotional time to the girl who didn’t have feelings. And I wore the didn’t have feelings badge so proudly. That is until I got to a place where I felt my feelings had been irreparably hurt. I couldn’t hide it. I couldn’t shrug it off. I had to feel them.

Last night, I dreamt I wrote a poem. Here it goes…

For all those years of holding it in
For pretending I was unfazed cuz I didn’t win
For being teased for being fat
For being jealous of the girls who were all that

For being ostracized because I was a girl drummer
For feeling like I was too big to wear shorts in the summer
For being annoyed because I felt so tall
For playing down my achievements so others wouldn’t feel small

For telling myself I’m not pretty enough
For allowing my wit to make me appear tough
For beating myself up for having the urge to whine
For all the times I gave up without trying.

Sorry Auntie, believe me I really really tried.
But life has been so hard on me and after holding it in for so long
Today, I cried.

And I’m letting everybody see.
And I’m not weak. I’m me.
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I have learned that one of the greatest signs of strength is being strong enough to admit that sometimes I get weak.

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