I take delight in hearing an individual share his or her story. When a person opens a window into his or her internal life, I feel privileged. I’m the type of person to turn my head while driving down the street when the curtains are pulled back in a window. I am also the type of person to incline my heart and my ear to a soul unveiled, a vulnerable, soft heart.
This week I had the privilege of hearing a woman’s story of caring for her father with Dementia while navigating systems and family issues. She told it during a staff training about emotional triggers. Before she opened up, I took note of how guarded she was. She is beautiful and guarded, hurting and reaching. Yet, I knew not the gravity of her circumstances before she opened up. I only saw a Black women whose facial expressions supported the fact that she is not the one. Note to reader: when a Black woman says she isn’t the one, trust her. When the word “ain’t” replaces “isn’t,” don’t try her.
I was deeply inspired.
And the Lord set us up to be a blessing to one another in words and hugs.
But the following questions came to me: how should we respond to hurting people when we don’t hear the story? How do we permit life in suffocating situations?
Letting your light shine among spiritually-conscious churchgoers is rather easy. But we are called to be lights in the ruins, in desolate places.
Here are a few notes I gathered before hearing this woman’s – my sister’s – synopsis of her pain.
- Don’t say, “I know what going through” when you don’t. Just be quiet.
- Don’t touch people you do not know without their permission. You don’t know what their emotional triggers are. You may like hugs, like me. But they may not be in the space to receive them. Respect that.
- Let people feel what they are feeling so that they can come out on the other side. God’s will is not that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9). You trying to shield them from their processes does not make you God and is not of God. It makes you ignorant and presumptuous, also known as wrong. Trust me, I’ve been ignorant and presumptuous many times with good intentions.
- People who are angry may perceive your smile and kindness as unauthentic. Let them think what they will think and say what they say. Keep smiling. Keep being kind. When you know you and how far you’ve come, you don’t have time for pettiness.
- Let people join the conversation at their own pace. Celebrate their physical presence and pray for the Spirit to come upon them and open them up.
- Don’t rush into praying with someone after you hear a piece of what they’re going through. Prayer to God alone for them is so powerful. He will honor you in His guidance of you as you interact with them. You don’t want to overwhelm people.
Loving the loveable is easy. Jesus said even capitalists do that in Matthew 5:46. But to love people enough to wait for them to open up is godly love (John 9:35 – 38). While we were still sinners – without strength – Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8). Remember how weak you were when you embraced the Love that wouldn’t let you go. As you remember your weakness, extend yourself wisely to the ones whose stories you have not heard and permit life in suffocating circumstances.
As a youth developer, I see our youth being targeted left and right to become victims and/or perpetrators of reckless pleasure. Snap a selfie, while you’re at it! And many are willing to take the risk. They know that they only live once. The newsflash is that everyone does. Telling teenagers not to have sex because they will die could only accelerate their desire to at least have fun while doing it.
So what is a Spirit-led youth developer working with higher risk teenage girls supposed to do? Sing songs about Heaven and rejoice when I see the coming Messiah? Ignore the fact that kids are learning adult behaviors and their brains are not even fully developed to navigate the ramifications of their decision making? Should we all just pray they stop having sex lest they die? No. We need to talk to our kids and listen to what their thoughts are around having sex. Prevention calls for action in exigent times. Kids, like adults, are also looking for the real thing. So we need to be real and speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
I would give an example from my week to describe how this post came about. I thoroughly enjoy doing that. But I am not at liberty to give details. So, know that I got my insight from God while working. Here are few helpful notes I took while listening to the Spirit through my teenage teachers.
- Tell her you would go around the world twice just to make sure she’s okay because that is how significant she is to you.
- Open the conversation with something along the lines of, “I sense that your interests are changing.” In this case, I know that my girl’s interests are changing. I genuinely wanted to know what her thoughts are around losing her virginity.
- Describe plainly the mystery of sex and how it is God’s idea – not Man’s. I told this precious soul that humanity is looking for that fitting connection, like the male part inside the female part, because we were designed to fit within one another. Our perversion, however, has made sex our priority and has distorted the way we value one another and this act of God. (Yes, I take the risk of talking to kids about God at work.)
- Explain to her that she is a spiritual being having a human experience with spiritual desires. (Again, that connection piece!) This resonates deeper than religion. Add that she must be vigilant of what she is opening herself up to spiritually and physically. She needs to know that someone who is not interested in her mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health long-term should not have power to disregard her after giving him (or her) access. I’m SO TIRED of young women being lied to and being left with a baby and/or a broken heart.
- Check her comprehensions of what you say after listening to her speak. Ask her clarification and substantive questions to ascertain her thought-life around having sex.
- Ask her what her dreams are. Be amazed. Encourage her. Celebrate her. Speak to her heart and ask for guidance as you do. When I asked my girl what her dreams are, she told me what I previously heard; but she added that she wanted to live a life with less regrets. The way she described not wanting to alter the trajectory of life unto living that dream was so articulate and captivating. It was also powerful too because I know her address. I told her with the same caution she wants to guard herself from having regrets is the same caution she must guard her mind, body and spirit. Some of us need a baby to slow us down from our careless, selfish, fast-paced lives. Others of us only require relational wounds. Nevertheless, those relational wounds keep us from reaching our highest heights.
- Assure her you are there to listen and answer questions. If you don’t show her better than you can tell her, she’ll find someone who will.
Sex talk can always be uncomfortable. But what is easy now is hard later.
Turn a life toward the light to see it at its brightest.
Christians who worship beyond themselves and the context of their circumstances sing of an everlasting God. They serve God not merely in theory but in practice. They incline their hearts to the Word and Way of Christ. They commit themselves to walking in obedience. They do not prefer the microphone over the broom. Rather, they see ministries involving the broom preparatory for stages beyond the four walls of a building. They are the Church. They are Kingdom-minded, not seeking position, popularity, and status. With vision casted upward, they inspire sore spectators to actively participate in creating the world they want to see “on earth as it is in Heaven.” I aspire to exude this quality of faith. I pity the Christian who loses sight of Jesus, His mission, God’s calling, and the human’s soul purposes for eternity because of the legalization of Gay Marriage.
The purpose of this article is to encourage followers of Jesus Christ in their journey of faith becoming sight in view of changing times. The author does not imply that Christians must support Gay marriage. The author does not believe God’s views on His institution of marriage have changed. The bullets below outline a few things we can do as carriers of God’s fire, light, glory, and purpose. I petition for Christ-like character qualities to be seen rather than legislative character qualities masqueraded behind the label of “Christian.”
- Remember that who God commands us to be in relationship to humans is not based off of their sexual orientation (John 13:34). Too often, people in the Church magnify the wrongdoings of LGBT community members because of the visibility of their lifestyle. We think that because two men are kissing each other, that must be superior in wrongdoing than secret hatred. Two women holding hands must be superior in wrongdoing than greed and gossip. It’s not! There is no big sin and little sin. Lust and fornication are heart issues that must be checked regardless of sexual orientation. Check out Romans 1, Galatians 5:19 – 21, Ephesians 4:3 -5 and 1 Corinthians 6:9 – 10.
- Don’t let a Supreme Court ruling be the reason why you close the door on humans who need God just as much as you and I do. People are hurting regardless of their sexual orientation. What if you walking out the person God intends for you to be brings an entire neighborhood, village, city, or generation to know Him? Even people who think they are okay are trying to shield themselves from potential pain. Don’t be deceived by their defense mechanisms. Each of us have spiritual desires that only the FATHER, the SON, and HOLY SPIRIT can fulfill.
- Devote yourself to Christ and take on a different perspective. I am learning that in this world, you will find whatever or whoever you are looking for. If you’re looking for a real Christian at a highly intellectual, Ivy-league university, you’ll find one. If you’re looking for a compromising and dope-dealing Christian at the Christian College, you’ll find one. The drug may not be what you think it is. In this vein, we must devote ourselves to Christ and find out what is pleasing to Him (Ephesians 5:10). There specific word Jesus spoke to the humanity (LGBT included) about leaving our way of life is found in Mark 8:34. We are ALL called to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him. Her cross may be the desire for another woman. Yours could be having a response to everything someone says about you. His could be the desire for another man. Yours could be questioning why someone received something freely when you felt like you had to work for that very thing.You don’t know why people are the way they are and do what they do. Pause for a listen.
- Don’t let one group’s definition of love and family lead you to aim your behind for the throne of God to render His judgment. The Church, overall, has done a poor job at seeing with spiritual eyes and loving people into who God wants them to be. Outsiders hear that God is love and their hurt is the result of someone’s practice of hate. God’s definition of Love will never change (see some examples in 1 Corinthians 13, Jeremiah 31:3, Genesis 28:15, and John 15:13). He being the absolute of LOVE will NEVER CHANGE. Man is the culprit for the decisions that have been made as a result of his freewill. When people start seeking the face of God, the heart of God, diving into Christ according to Gospels and not what they heard secondhand in a class or on a DVD – when they have a revelation of Christ – the ones on the outside will align themselves with Truth. One example is that babies won’t be conceived to lustful music and left parentless then to look for the parent in a partner. We cannot press rewind on every moment a bruised spirit walked out of the Church never to return because of man’s ego or lack of accountability. But we can press pause on the moments we are given today to make a difference and impact people’s lives for eternity.
- Spend time alone in the presence of God developing your gifts. We do not know what we are truly capable of until we get up and get started. Athletes don’t train for the game looking at what others are supposed to be doing in his or her opinion. Rather, they put their mind, body, soul, and strength on advancing toward the mark of the prize. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are called to do the same – and even more so (Philippians 3:12 – 14).
Some Christians are disappointed with the legalization of Gay Marriage. I am disappointed with the number of people living double and triple lives in the church. I am frustrated that more people are not being healed of disorders and diseases. I am frustrated that people applaud gifting, seek entertainment, and are more concerned with image than they are with abiding the Presence of the Most High God.
We, as believers, are called to do so much more than judge and fear being judged.
Position yourself to stay in awe of God as He reveals Himself to you and shows you who you are. Then you will be slower to tell a group of sexually-confused teenagers who they aren’t. You will learn how to practice mercy and grace as you receive it. You will pave the way for people to have their own relationship with God without them hearing the sounds of you.
The bottom line is you and I don’t have understand someone chemically in order to love them scripturally. We are commanded to love scripturally. Let Truth wrapped in Love do it’s perfect work. We don’t know who people will become and what God has for them as a result.
If someone asks me what is one of my favorite things to do, I would tell them it is to glean wisdom from humans with more mileage, more experience, than I. I am always humbled by humans I meet who have been doing their passion for 30 years or more. That means that when they were getting started, I was getting started – at 2, telling my parents, “No.”
On Saturday, I had the pleasure of hearing President Obama speak in Selma, televised on CNN. I also had the privilege of meeting an outstanding woman of God, D. Hillman. She is a wife, a mother of 5, a minister and an activist. I also had the privilege of talking with Mr. Chisolm. He is a husband, a father of 5, a minister and an activist. As I recalled my conversations with them and our President’s message, I reflected on the experiences of Black people in the Americas and in Africa. I was so thrilled while speaking with them that I was inspired to write this post.
In this post, you will read a list of a few things Black people can and must do to exercise our inalienable right to love and care for ourselves unapologetically.
- Affirm the existence of Black people by speaking to them when walking down the street or standing in the grocery store. If you can’t speak, smile. Many of us were brought to the Western Hemisphere by force , be it Cuba, Brazil, or New Orleans (one of the largest slave ports in America). We’ve come too far not to greet one another.
- To black men: don’t assume that another Black women must be interested in you because she is greeting you. Allow yourself to be loved as a brother by a sister.
- To Black women: celebrate Black women. Her best image is a reflection of beauty within you that permits you to affirm her. Compliment her hair, her smile, her style of dress, or her approach. If you find yourself judging because you don’t understand, converse with her with the intention of lifting her up and enlightening yourself.
- Mentor, tutor and converse with Black children and Black Youth. We have to stop waiting for systems to work with and/or rehabilitate our children. I am also tired of White people running to work with our children and diagnosing them with behavior disorders that are congruent with their perceptions of our communal negligence.
- Work with Black children and Black Youth without feeling the need to explain your commitment to seeing Black people succeed. Whites don’t explain their establishment of businesses, private schools, and keeping employment and housing opportunities within their networks. Asians and Latinos don’t continually explain why they want to build a health center or promote their culture through language immersion programs. We can ALL succeed. True success is inclusive. Black people don’t have to assimilate and forget who they are in order to be considered successful. Almost every other ethnic group living in the United States has had opportunity to build socially and economically. The systemic perpetuation of thwarting Blacks from building creates the need for more emotional and mental healing, which – after at least 50 years – can create generational setbacks.
- Celebrate what is natural to us regardless of what American society has programmed us to question or detest: our connection to God and the spiritual realm; our kindness; our beauty; our intuition and insightfulness; our value for community, family and edification; our vibrant laughter, and our vibrant praise of God.
- Support Black businesses without without fearing accusations of being a Black Nationalist.
- Mentor Black men with the intention of training their spirits and minds – not just their bodies. Stereotypes that create limited opportunities start with us.
- Recognize God’s role in the making of Black people. Most of us have no idea who we are as a people before the arrival of European explorers with the Bible in one hand and a gun in the other. We are not White people’s problem or White people’s burden most desperate of redemption. As we learn who we are before the mass kidnapping, enslavement, and colonization, we will find out who we are in God. God made us leaders, kings, queens, educators, engineers, and architects. In no way am I saying that Africans were not in need of Christ. Indeed, all nations need God. But the way it was done…I’ll stop there.
Mr. Chism said that Black people have such a hard time in the United States and across the Hemisphere for many reasons. One is that we are programmed to divorce ourselves from ourselves as African people adapting to life in the United States. We are captured on camera as welfare mothers and dope-dealing fathers who give birth to delinquent youth. Subsequently, many turn their backs on God because generational injuries are sustained. But Mr. Chism said, “To turn our backs on God is to turn our backs on our Greatness.” WOW. That is so deep. You will hear my spirit’s response to it as it sinks in.
Being Black is not a curse or a mystery. It is more than a color. Black is an experience. It symbolizes resilience and excellence. Being Black doesn’t require divorce. It requires us to recognize the affinity between our divinity and our struggles. God continues to use Black people to sketch drawings for pictures of liberation for humans across the globe. Just look at Slave Rebellions in the Caribbean, Emancipation in the United States, Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Black and Brown Lives Matter Movement.
Happy Being a Blessing,