It has been four months since last blogging on February 8, 2021. In February I was excited about the year, blogging weekly, hesitant about the covid-19 vaccine, excited about new relationships, sad about the ending of old ones, but overall optimistic about 2021.
Following that week, DFW experienced a major snowstorm. Amid the accidents, deaths, power outages, and the like, I was trying to navigate through my own challenges and storms. In the strangest way, I have experienced some great losses but even some greater gains.
If there is anything we continue to see in the midst of a continued pandemic are people’s true colors. I’ve found myself saying to myself over and over again, in the midst of the world’s anxiety, people lashing out at others, cutting off others, and the like, ‘Man…that is not them’ or ‘They are acting out of character’ or ‘That’s not the person I/we know’. Here’s the truth – the person who shows up when the rubber meets the road, or when there is a crisis or victory, is really who they are. We think that some people are acting out of character when, in reality, that is who they were the entire time.
Being in the church world, and in the world in general, it’s going to happen to you and I. And as strange as it seems, you will and I will sometimes be the antagonist. Let’s face it – we are not always our best selves. There are times when we simply weren’t all that impressive to God and others, and the others who were around in your not-so-impressive state determined that was the sum total of YOU, and kept that permanent snapshot of you in their mind and narrative.
This blog may seem vague and akin to a maze probably because on one hand it is. I cannot be detailed because it simply applies to so many dynamics in my life in 2021 that it seems almost surreal (yet liberating). On the other…I need those of you who read this to apply it to YOUR experience in your own life, now or when you need it later (because you will!)
I guess that brings me to the first lesson I’ve learned thus far this year – God is teaching me to be quiet and be still. Ecclesiastes 3:7 says, ‘there is a time to search and a time to count as lost, a time to keep and a time to discard, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.…’ Quite a number of times, I’ve found the Spirit of God restraining me when I wanted to speak up. Don’t get me wrong, I have fumbled on this a number times; but I’ve certainly grown here. Cowardice has NEVRR been apart of my disposition. That is – the Inability to say what I need to say because I’m scared of what somebody thinks has never been one of my problems. So this is a new arena for me; and I do fail from time to time. What I’ve learned is to fall, and then get back up and do it again. You’ve heard the saying: ‘nobody can misquote silence.’
The second thing I am learning is to stop making so much effort trying to explain yourself to people who are committed to misunderstanding you. Without any pun intended, this point needs no explanation. But I can say that my GREATEST critics today (without exception) are those I’ve invested the most time, energy, explanations, sit-down discussions, defended the most, given pleas for their understanding, all to no avail. While I do not regret having a good heart; I shake my head for wasting my time. What it has done is cause me to find the root as to why I sought approval and validation from people who I knew weren’t buying into me fully at the beginning, and felt the need to try and win them over anyway. Here’s the sad reality – most people will tell you what they think you’re worth or what you represent for them at the first meeting. You chose to either prove them wrong or affirm their warped and twisted psychology of you by suppressing your intuition and by attempting to supply their toxic need. It’s called CODEPENDENCE.
Third, God is teaching me to ride with the people who ride with you. During the pandemic, I have seen a number of mutual friends, church people, colleagues, family members, etc…. where they have fallen out with one another, but remain my friends. They both will tell me why I shouldn’t trust or like the other. I always say the same thing – ‘they didn’t do anything to me’. Now to be sure…I do have some relationships where: if my friend doesn’t mess with you, neither do I. However, that isn’t blanketed. There are times where I wait to see who shows me the character the other proclaims. So often…I have found that both parties have issues. I have even found that both parties have valid points. Then there are times where the other showed ME who they really were. This hurts, especially if I defended said church member, family member or friend. I strongly believe in the statement: In God we trust, everybody else we thoroughly investigate.
God is also teaching me that even some of the people who ride with you are only riding with you to hear your plans only to undermine them. It’s just a fact – some people hug you to find out where they can stab you. It is also a fact that some people remain in your circle just to find out your strategy and your business. Not everyone in your corner is on your team; and many people who are smiling in front of you are not clapping for you. In like manner, just because people are NOT applauding for you, doesn’t mean that they are your enemies. Some people just aren’t your flavor and you are not theirs. Be okay with that. But here is what I am learning: you do need some Judas’s in your camp sometimes to fulfill God’s purpose in your life; but make sure they aren’t in your inner circle. You will never reach your full potential when the people in your cabinet aren’t rooting for you. I have a friend who put it this way: some people are on the front row of your life; and you need to determine who is on the second row, etc. And then you need to find out who doesn’t even deserve to be in the auditorium. Which brings me to another lesson I’ve learned in this season…
Finally, I am learning that you must be okay with some closing acts. It’s so hard to say goodbye. It really is. We so desperately want to hold on to the things and people who’ve made us smile, laugh, cry tears of joy, created memories with and the like. On one side, please know that if you are trying to hold on to a reality that they are not, then what are you really holding on to? An illusion? They didn’t feel the same; and so you owe it to yourself to move on. On the other side…if those smiles, laughs, and tears of joy came with misery, lofty expectations you could never reach, fear of approval and being liked – you need to look at the entire picture, not just your selective snapshots of the good. Maybe you’re addicted to abuse, mistreatment, the fear of abandonment, or not being enough. And I guess I should ALSO say – if you don’t let the wrong people go, the right people can and will never enter your life. I can think of many examples in scripture of how God’s new beginnings came after some necessary benedictions. Learn the blessing of having some funerals.
I could go on and on, but here is what I wish to plant into the orbit of my own blog – learn from your experience(s), and allow God His providential right in using those experiences to make you better, stronger and wiser. Allow God the opportunity to shape snd mold you into a more refined and better image of your true self.
It is also important for you to determine that the people who don’t like you, hate you, mistreat you or betray you may have done those things because of their own deficiencies or personal struggles that have nothing to do with you. Quit taking it personal. We are all on a journey; and we all need space to grow, learn, fall, get back up, say we are sorry and experience forgiveness.
Amid all of my losses and struggles (as many of you reading) I have experienced some of my greatest blessings and miracles in 2021.
I am praying for you; and that second half of 2021 even exceeds the previous.
What about you? How has God been blessing and challenging you in 2021? If this blog is a blessing to you, please subscribe and share with others. I would love to hear from you.