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Your opinion, my decision!

We might as well cut to the chase. Someone out there knows that one person who values their opinion over others so much, you would think it was written in the Book of Genesis. We all need advice and wisdom from others and honestly there’s a lot we can learn from others, I get it but just as much as we need advice, others need ours as well. Just as much as we give advice we should learn to be humble enough to receive it. One key to having healthy relationships is the ability to learn from each other because not even the smartest person in the world has all of the answers. However, there are many people who not only make it a priority to impose their opinions and beliefs on those they encounter but they do so in such a narcissistic way, the advice is almost not worth the headache. If every conversation is about what they know or how they do things more than likely you’re involved in a one-sided relationship. This toxic behavior can become not only a nuisance but it hinders any good advice the person may have because of the intent behind it. Those with narcissistic behavior tend to beef up their own credibility and self worth by appearing superior to others. Looking and sounding important becomes a mask they wear to cover up insecurities but to hear that from someone is like awakening a beast. An argument starter, for sure. Going outside and arguing with a stop sign may seem more encouraging. Self denial is one of their main traits so if you are someone who likes to avoid drama, you may want to remain silent and let life teach the lesson like it does with most of us.

Now that I’ve veared off topic and into left field here’s the bottom line. When making a decision about “your” life, look for the advice and wisdom from others but don’t let it become “noise” in the background. If the advice is really good advice, but the one giving the advice is a pain in the ***, sometimes you have to take it with a grain of salt and ignore the source. Chew up the meat and spit out the bones as some call it. At the end of the day you will be the one to live with the decision!

Let opinions be opinions and treat them as such!

R.E.S.P.E.C.T

Ever wonder how a child gets away with disrespect? Whether it’s with peers or adults? Smacking teeth, talking back, rolling eyes, making mean, demeaning remarks, using profanity, bullying? Rebellion is an act that most if not all children have experienced or will experience at least once in a lifetime. The same goes for disrespect. Although, the two may go may go hand in hand, they are not the same. A child may show short termed rebellion in moments of passion or frustration with no real intentions of hurting anyone or he/she may show a repetitive pattern of disrespectful behavior with the intent to harm emotionally or physically. Both are learned behaviors and behaviors that should be checked immediately but before you go flying off the handle, stomping, yelling and chastising, take a minute to evaluate the child’s environment. What are their parents and home life like? Do the adults/authority figures in the child’s life model similar patterns?
Parents, here’s a chance to do a quick self examination. What are your standards? How are your mannerisms? How is your home life and relationships with those in your home and with others ? Are there patterns of love and affirmation in the home, as well as discipline and vice versa? Is respect something that you exemplify even towards children? Yours and others? I think it’s safe to say that many of us usurp our authority in our children’s lives in attempts to set the tone in our homes and even with other children and yes, we are indeed the authority figures rightfully but at what point do we acknowledge our children and others as human beings with feelings as well as our children? Do their thoughts and opinions matter or should they just comply with whatever we say and whatever we say goes because we’re the adults?

These are all questions I had to ask myself as a mom of 3. I was taught at an early age to respect my elders and others. I was extremely shy but always smiling and wanting to experience the good out of life. Then came real life. Not everyone cares about your feelings, nor is everyone moved by the cheesy smile on your face. Kids are cruel and so are adults. Not knowing that the behaviors of others had nothing to do with me, I became withdrawn and eventually got to the point that I didn’t care to be that smiley, cheesy little person that attempted to start corny little conversations with everyone that walked by. I became just as cold hearted as the mean people I encountered. Deep inside, that warm hearted little girl wanted to emerge but my feelings and the impact of other people’s negative words and actions weren’t worth the risk. After growing up, becoming a mother myself and feeling the challenges of trying to raise respectful children, some moments I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to sit them on the side of the road or lock them in their room for 6 months. Instead I would revert back to those childhood experiences of mine to reflect on triggers or things that may have caused me to rebel in the same or similar ways. I realized that behaviors that stemmed from mine and my husband’s childhoods had subtlety crept their way into our family. We had to re-adjust and balance maintaining our standards and establishing boundaries as their parents.

However a parent reacts to situations around or involving a child will effect how that child reacts and responds to situations and people. As parents, we are our child’s first role model so whatever we model, they mimic. Whatever we allow to go unchecked will not only effect their behavior and relationships with others but it will eventually make its way back to us so although you may think it’s okay or cute to be rude, mistreat, show disrespect to others for whatever reason, remember that a little innocent bystander is picking up every habit that we form. If they see us arguing or being disrespectful to our spouses, people we encounter and even authority figures, they will follow suite. Even if we are not verbally or physically disrespectful to others, what we say around the child about others will have the same effect. That’s how easy it is for a child to be disrespectful or react to others based off of what they’ve “heard” about them so we must be mindful of what we sow around our children. It is not okay for any child to be disrespectful towards an adult or a person for that matter and as a parent, if we catch it, check it immediately. Don’t shrug it off, make excuses or act like you don’t see it, check it. Allowing this type of behavior not only effects your relationship with the child(again it will come back to bite you) but it reveals why we encounter so many rude and disrespectful adults. These experiences as a child, follows them into adulthood, shapes their personalities and effects their relationship with others. They have no filters or regards for anyone’s feelings but their own and it creates a sense of entitlement which can be unhealthy. A more suitable term- “outspoken” has become a part of society that it acceptable. “Just because I feel like saying something, I can. Who’s going to check me?” becomes the mentality but just because you “can” doesn’t mean you should. People are still entitled but all things have consequences. Law of Attraction will become your friend until you begin to show responsibility and take ownership for your actions towards others.

There’s not much we can do about the behavior of an adult besides deciding whether we will tolerate it or not but there’s alot we can do to mold a child and make sure that they don’t take certain behaviors into adulthood and become the nuisance to others that you try to avoid. That is the God-given authority and responsibility that we as parents and guardians have been given by the creator himself. To train our children in the right way so that you both will reap good things now and in the future.

Maybe you don’t have any children of your own. There are other ways that you can be influential in the life of another. Some child, somewhere is in need of love, guidance and structure, whether it’s a niece, nephew, friend of the family, neighbor or child in your community; there’s an impact to make. What a privilege it is to be an asset in the development of a child in a positive way. In order to do so, we must all self reflect to make sure we are leaving a POSITIVE impression on others and not a negative one. Have you ever thought or even cared how a child feels while in or after leaving your presence? Are you encouraging or discouraging? Affirming or belittling? Even in your approach to give structure or discipline, are you harsh or mild? Attitude and delivery are critical to how well a child receives and responds to your advice or correction. We owe no apologies for disciplining a child but remembering that they are human beings with feelings is key to their perception of us. Think about how you receive constructive criticism from others. I can only speak for myself but I’ve never been fond or quick to accept instruction or counsel from someone who is belittling or insensitive to my feelings. In adulthood I’ve learned how to not allow the actions of others to effect me but this is not so easy for a child. There are positive ways to instill discipline without corrupting a child or their view of those in authority but It is nearly impossible to be influential and negative or insensitive at the same time and reap a positive outcome. Many times in my own life I’ve experienced behavior from my children that wasn’t taught to them directly but rather something that they picked up by my actions towards them and others. I had to learn to identify and correct those behaviors immediately. As far as what they experienced from others I had to teach wisdom and ways to deal with criticism and how not to allow others lack of empathy effect them. This has taken time, but not wasted time. It is absolutely worth it! In that sense, it is possible to allow hurtful treatment from others make you better and not become like the offender. Teach your child how to lead and they could be the one to win even those who hurt them!

Even if they don’t, It places them in a position for blessings to flow in their lives in other ways!

Who’s Responsible

 
There is nothing more pure and perfect than being able to tag team with the creator and produce life. You’ll never understand the bond that carrying a child creates until you experience it. A bond that is felt miles and miles away. A bond that stands even through death. The bond between a mother and a child is one that’s not easily broken. No wonder in a Mother’s eyes, a child can do no wrong. Her love isn’t based on conditions nor is it measured by the opinions or approval of others.

Where is she though?

Her voice has faded. The cries of the children are getting louder. The stench of death getting stronger! For months and months there was no sign of her and FINALLY, there she was. Blood shot eyes, disgruntled face. Her looks have changed. Nothing is the same. Where has she been all this time and why did she leave?

MOTHER why did you leave?

Didn’t you hear me? Didn’t you see me? I called to you and you didn’t answer. Were you too busy? Did Rick need you? Was I too much? I know Dad left you but he left me too. I needed you but I guess whatever IT was, needed you most. I waited. I cried. I searched for you. Morning came. I searched some more but all I found was memories. Memories of what was…so finally enough was enough. I gave up! I can still feel the heart beat from 19 years ago. The beat from your chest as I lay in your womb waiting to meet you. Yes I still hear it. Yes, I still feel it but as the tears roll down my face today, they meet reality. The reality is, you left. You left your responsibilities. Not just me but your community! You needed love but you looked in the wrong places. You needed to be affirmed and wanted. It was all right here. I loved you with no strings attached but I understand, it was a different type of love you needed. I’m lost without you but I’ll make it. The community is suffering but they’ll survive. See, what you didn’t understand was how important you were to those around you. You didn’t see how needed you were here because you were looking there. Erica was suicidal, your hugs gave her life. James was hungry, the hot plates you gave got him over til the next day. Your constructive criticism and wisdom kept Monica from going to Juvie. You were the neighborhood’s wonder woman because you stood up to the bullies. If only you had realized, maybe you would have stayed. It’s okay though mom. They say everything happens for a reason. Not sure if i’ll ever know what that reason could be but I’ll take the lessons learned and be the best ME I can be!

Life is a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away(James 4:14)

We’ve seen people come and go, we’ve seen wars and famine, we’ve experienced racism, riots and chaos. We’ve seen homes torn apart and families destroyed but something seems to be on the horizon. Something’s changing. Times are getting harder. Evil is prominent. We all know that life as we know it will be over one day but what have we done? What are leaving behind? Have we fulfilled our purpose here or did we just exist? Did we take care of our responsibilities and what was important or were we distracted by the winds? In this year alone, I’ve seen the biggest incline in suicide in children younger than 12 years old than I’ve seen in my lifetime. Babies- THE HEARTBREAK! It is such a sensitive area and I weep every time I think about it. Where’s the protection? The covering? Why are the children left to fend for themselves and fight on their own? Are we that busy? Insensitive? Do we ourselves not have the tools? Are we fighting to survive ourselves, making it hard to help anyone else? Even our youth! The justice systems have failed us. The school systems have failed us. I’ve experienced that first hand and I fought it for years until it hit me. This is a spiritual battle we’re in. The schools aren’t equipped to fight spiritual battles nor is any other carnal entity which means our children are our responsibility as parents, spiritual counselors, community leaders and those who believe in the power of prayer and intercessory. WE must not only pray but listen to our children. Pry when we see strange behavior. Pay attention to the signs and ask questions. Address wrong behavior. Correct them but do it in love. Love, teach and affirm them. Advocate for them and let them know they’re not alone in this world. Be mindful of and sensitive to their feelings and emotions because we all have them and want them to be recognized and respected. Our children are no different. In fact they are weaker than us in this aspect so we must model the same behavior we expect in return. Yes, parenthood is a challenge in itself. Life in general can be challenging at times. I know from experience that the responsibility of parenting can be heavy. However, we can’t escape them. We have a charge now but that charge is a blessing. We get to be heroes in the eyes of our little ones. A blessing indeed!

So who’s responsible? We are! It is us who are responsible for our children’s development and well-being. Children come into this world with no instructions or manuals. WE are the manuals and for the record, we’re all impaired to some degree. We don’t have manuals either. There is no perfect antidote to parenthood so save yourself some frustration there. For those who didn’t have your parents for whatever reason; those who didn’t have any good examples, I get it and you’re not alone! God knows that and as a part of his provision for us, he has provided people and resources to assist in the challenges we face but it is still up to us to utilize what we have. At the end of the day, there are no excuses. Our lack doesn’t free us to neglect our responsibilities but I promise you, once you push past fear and all of your inadequacies, you will conquer! It is such an amazing feeling to feel like a failure most of your life because of what you lacked but to become a mother, get yourself together and see your future get brighter and brighter through your children even when all odds were against you! That is something I’ll never be able to explain through words so chin up butter cup. You got this! We got this! There is a war going on for sure but we still have artillery. Let’s use them to fight together to win our children and take back our communities. There is trouble everywhere and we cannot protect our children from everything but we must do what we can to train and prepare them for life!

Am I Pro-Black?

You may be thinking, for one to ask a question like this, they clearly don’t know.

Well here’s my view. For years, on and off I’ve had conversations with friends, debates, challenging questions asked regarding the “Pro-black movement”. As weird as this may sound, sometimes I have to stand in front of the mirror, look at myself and ask these questions:

Who are you?

Who loves you?

Where are you from?

Where are you going?

What do you believe?

I’m constantly reminding myself of my vision, revisiting/revamping my goal list etc but the thing that always stands out is ‘What do you believe?” I know what I’ve been “trained” to believe, I know what I’ve believed depending on my circumstances but one day while reflecting on my life and future, I couldn’t shake this question. What did I believe? Why did I believe what I believed? The uneasiness forced me to face some difficult questions about myself and my belief system. Not that it was a bad thing. This was actually good for me at the time as I was on my journey of wholeness and discovering who I was. I needed to know without a shadow of doubt who I was, what I believed so I would know where I was going. In order for us to have vision, we must be able to see where we are first but that’s for another time, on another post. I came to this conclusion. I am a BLACK woman. African-American-Afro-American-Negro-African, whatever you want to call it. I was born in America, but obviously my roots trace back to the Continent of Africa. I acknowledge this, I embrace this and I love everything about my beautiful, black self but does this make me “pro-black” or does being pro-black make me anti-white, anti-Mexican, Asian etc.? Better yet, let me flip it. Would you think I was anti-black if I told you that I have more NON-black friends, supporters and those who genuinely love me than I do my own? (ouch)pexels-photo-866023.jpeg

No, it doesn’t make me Anti-black but being pro-black doesn’t make a person anti-white either. One goal of the enemy (satan) is to create confusion, chaos, lies and the like so he will use(through people) terms like this to stir up all types of emotions between and amongst races, so I’ve learned to be careful and not use the term pro-black too loosely. Does it mean I’m afraid? Does it mean that I care about people’s opinions of me? No and yes. I do care because as I believer, I am supposed to be a light, I’m not supposed to let things like race,  separate me from my sisters and brothers in the FAITH so in this case, I do care how it makes me look as a believer to God. I don’t care in the sense that I really don’t owe “people” an explanation of why and how I embrace my blackness. I am a believer and in the body of Christ there are no races, and one day we will all be worshiping the Father in this sense (as spiritual beings) I understand this. I understand that we are spiritual beings NOW, we’re just covered by a shell (the body) but we are operating in the spiritual (heavenly) realm as believers. I get it but as a real person, a real BLACK person operating in a very real world, I choose to acknowledge and embrace who/what I was born as. A child of African-descent.girl-ethiopian-child-portrait-38634.jpeg

I am aware that there are BLACK people who can’t stand me but I’m still black.

I am aware that I have more ANTI-BLACK supporters than I do BLACK but I’m still black.

I am aware that there are people of all different races and religions who treat me better than my own race and religion but I’m still black and I’m still a Christian.

I am aware that there are certain things that black people do that are demeaning, disrespectful, evil, plain out country and ghetto but blacks are not the only ones. It may not be as “glorified”, televised or put out there but there are things that other races have done, that are disgraceful and plain out evil that many black people would never do, like shooting up WHOLE schools, killing innocent children, teachers, ect., eating body parts, lynching and hanging people and the list goes on and on so I would never seclude myself from my race because of bad decisions because truth is, we are ALL flawed no matter what race we are and this is why I focus more on the spiritual aspect of things. Evil is evil, it has no race. That’s for another time and post also but again…..I am still BLACK.

So now that I’ve acknowledge how black I am (LOL) Am I PRO-black? I guess it would all depend on what the accurate definition actually means. In order to find that will be like pulling teeth because we all have different opinions and approaches. I still have so much to learn about my history and even where my family originated from. For the past 3 years, I’ve been on a journey and it’s been a beautiful one. People may not be aware because I don’t  verbalize it much. It’s been sort of personal for me and the more I grow, the more confident I become, the more freely I can embrace and express my beautiful black melanin self and I can do so without it offending anyone else.(If it does, it’s on you)

Freedom is a beautiful asset!IMG_4944

Be humble…. Sit down

I know you’ve heard the catchy phrase from the hip hop single “Humble”. Although I’m not a big fan of the “New age hip-hip, I have caught myself humming to the beat as the words rolled off my tongue. It’s not hard to catch on to what the hook means but I challenged myself one day to meditate on the words. (Might I add, the lyrics were uncensored and tacky in my opinion)

Many of us are agitated by the thought of someone being a braggart in words or action. We don’t like to hear people showing off what they do or what they have every time we turn around and true enough, it can get aggravating especially coming from people who only acknowledge themselves and down talk others. It’s tempting to throw this verse towards them in hopes that they will actually humble themselves. Picture that! As I meditated on that thing though, I started to look at my own life and wonder if the times that I “acknowledge” my blessings, brag on my kids or “Thank God” for my accomplishments if people felt the same about me. Now, I know me and my intentions. I know that it’s not my nature to go around flaunting my accomplishments, material things etc because if anyone knows, I KNOW that if God had not chosen to bless me with what I have now, I would still be a broken down, miserable soul with no college degree and dependent on the government. I mean who knows where I might have been if God hadn’t turned my life around so my past has kept me humble for sure so I never want to make that impression. HOWEVER if not careful we can take that as a way to never express how grateful we are. After all, God wants us to share his goodness with others. He wants us to let people know that it was HIM who provided us with what we have and brought us out of darkness and into the light but to do these things in humility with a focus on HIM.

Colossians 3:12  12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

So as believers anything we say regarding our blessings or whatever, we must do so in a gentle and humble way.

On the flip side when we are judging others and the way they acknowledge what they have or their status in life, we first must look at ourselves and figure out why we feel the way we feel towards this individual. It’s very easy to judge others out of insecurity. People who are unhappy don’t want anyone else to be happy so they say things to try to discourage others from being secure in themselves, from being happy and so fourth. You know the saying… MISERY LOVES COMPANY. Can I tell you something. Don’t show up!

Sometimes no matter how humble you are, some people will never have anything good to say to or about you. You see, the devil hates anyone who loves God, he wants to destroy, discourage and do anything he can to keep you down. To keep your mouth closed about who God is to you so he will use people to say things to you and about you to shut you up and sit you down. If you entertain it, before long you will fade into the shadows of misery. You’ll be afraid to acknowledge anything that God has done because you’re afraid of what people will say. Of course people want you to be humble when it’s finally your time to experience and have a little something. When it was their turn, you couldn’t shut them up and no one had a problem. Even the people who called themselves encouraging you or speaking life to you when you were down now want you to be humble and have your seat. There’s another saying that goes…”People want you to do good but not better than them” so when this person sees you climbing up just a little bit, intimidation kicks in and you can still be just as humble as you want to be but because of what’s “in them” they can’t celebrate you and will either draw back for from you, make sarcastic little jokes or begin to have side conversations about you and the list goes on. Don’t entertain it, just continue to live your life and please God. You can’t please him and everyone else too and the sooner you realize it, the sooner you experience peace in your life. It’s not about being “better” than anyone. We’re all given our share and there’s enough to go around if people would just realize who they are and be content with it.

You will find those who experienced lack early in life get a little something and suddenly forget where they came from. They begin to lift themselves up but you will also find those with similar early life experiences who remain humble, acknowledge GOD as their source and you will see GOD lift them up. There’s a difference. We must aim to do the latter.

James 4:10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

When God does lift you, never let your enemy (operating through people) talk you out of your blessings and never let anyone condemn you for being blessed. No we don’t have to remind people EVERYDAY how blessed we are, our lives and actions will speak for us but there will be times where it calls for you. Make sure you answer! I’ve been guilty of downplaying every compliment or accomplishment that I receive because I don’t want people to judge me, because I’ve been so afraid of criticism I’ve been afraid to walk into my gifts and callings but if you are going to be happy and free in life you will have to learn to deal with criticism, negative people and their comments and live your life pleasing your God! Yes, be humble, but when God exalts you, there will be no place for you to SIT!