Sunday, January 19, 2014

Open Letter to the Angry Black Woman

Picture it-
The year 2013, a small southern town
A black woman abruptly approached the receptionist’s desk with disgust searing from her eyes tucked behind her dark wide-rimmed glasses. Dressed in a black knit hat, black trench coat, and black knit gloves, she cradled her purse in the bend of her arm with her wrist limp. The receptionist gave her the side eye in the most professional way she could muster. The black woman’s female companion’s face was already apologizing for her friend’s behavior.
Angry Black Woman in a gruff tone: My name is ABW and XYZ is supposed to have a sealed envelope for me. Are you XYZ?
ABW: Could you get XYZ?, ABW demanded as she welcomed herself to a seat.
REP: Ummm. . .yeah, let me see if I can find her.
REP returns: XYZ appears to be at lunch. You can take a seat in the lobby and I’ll have her come get you when she returns.
ABW haughtily responded: Where is QRS?
REP sighed heavily: I did not see her on my quest to find XYZ. The proper protocol is for you to take a seat in the lobby until someone comes for you. Not to just walk up to the desk.
ABW: I know what the protocol is. I couldn’t receive what I needed by fax so XYZ was supposed to put it in a sealed envelope for me to pick up.
REP increasingly agitated: I’ll be right back.
REP could not find QRS but she did run into HNC and described the situation to her.
HNC: Is her name ABW? We know her, we know her well.
Angry Black Woman, why did you approach that receptionist with no warning? I mean, like you just had a phone argument and you were coming in to settle the score? Look, I don’t know what your day was like. I don’t know who upset you, who disrespected you, or who hurt you. I know it wasn’t that receptionist because she obviously hadn’t laid eyes on you before.  Please don’t put the pressures of your day or your life on innocent bystanders.  No, you didn't raise your voice or use foul language but your posturing was foul. You are perpetuating the angry black woman stereotype. Oh you think that’s not fair; I’m taking it too far. I can’t hold you responsible for how others view an entire race? Obviously you just did the same thing to that poor receptionist.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Did He tell you to move?

"the road to Hell is paved with good intentions."
                                                           "Mr. Intentional"~ Lauryn Hill
After many years of trying on my own to make things happen in my career and my relationships, I finally decided to surrender it all to God for real (read more about it here). I was tired of running into the wall. It hurt. I needed Him to guide me step by step instead of me demanding He show me the full picture all at once. I told God I wanted to learn whatever He wanted to teach me during this season of my life. I may as well, because it didn’t look like I was going anywhere anytime soon.
I kept asking God if I could make a change in one particular area of my life. When I asked, I felt Him saying it wasn’t time. Then I attended the first night of the Magic City Classic Revival at my church. The revivalist used a scripture from 2 Kings about a group of lepers that sat outside Syria where a great famine was going on. They were trying to decide if they should stay where they were, go back where they had come from or move on to a new place. After taking all factors into consideration, they concluded that if they stayed where they were, they may die. If they went back from which they came, they would surely die but if they moved forward, they may live or they may die. They decided the best option was to move forward because they still had a chance at life though it was not guaranteed. 
That was confirmation for me to move forward. That decision seemed to work out so well, I started to think I should have made the change sooner. But after the change took place, it seemed that I had run right back into the obstacle I was trying to get away from. Nevertheless, I reminded myself that I prayed and heard from the Lord. I had to trust that God knew what was best for me.  Before I could blink an eye that perceived obstacle was removed almost instantly! As Pastor Hart Ramsay said in one of his text devotional messages, “God is talking to someone about you right now. Keep praying. God has a plan. And it’s already working.”
Even though it looked like I had gotten myself in a potentially bad or worse situation, God had already worked it out for my good. Even though you may not see the moves taking place on your behalf, God is working it all out in your favor. Your situation may appear to be stale, stagnant, or even dead but if you pray and wait on God, He will tell you when to make the right move.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

When I Move, You Move

Numbers 9:15-16 The day The Dwelling was set up, the Cloud covered The Dwelling of the Tent of Testimony. From sunset until daybreak it was over The Dwelling. It looked like fire. It was like that all the time, the Cloud over The Dwelling and at night looking like fire. 17-23 When the Cloud lifted above the Tent, the People of Israel marched out; and when the Cloud descended the people camped. The People of Israel marched at God’s command and they camped at his command. As long as the Cloud was over The Dwelling, they camped. Even when the Cloud hovered over The Dwelling for many days, they honored God’s command and wouldn’t march. They stayed in camp, obedient to God’s command, as long as the Cloud was over The Dwelling, but the moment God issued orders they marched. If the Cloud stayed only from sunset to daybreak and then lifted at daybreak, they marched. Night or day, it made no difference—when the Cloud lifted, they marched. It made no difference whether the Cloud hovered over The Dwelling for two days or a month or a year, as long as the Cloud was there, they were there. And when the Cloud went up, they got up and marched. They camped at God’s command and they marched at God’s command. They lived obediently by God’s orders as delivered by Moses.
Several years ago, I discovered this passage of scripture and it has had a profound impact on me ever since. I am amazed at how God led His people with such a visible sign and in such an intimate way.

For the longest, God’s will seemed to be such an elusive thing; like finding the key in a video game to unlock the next level. But I’ve learned that it is just as simple as it is stated in the above scripture. I don’t move, until I see God move. If I don’t see Him moving, I stay right where I am.

That is not the answer you want to hear if you are ready to move. We surmise that this must not be God and refuse to accept it causing ourselves a lot of heartache, pain, and frustration.

This scripture makes me feel uncomfortable too because it states that the people had to be prepared to go at a moment’s notice; kinda like Survivor contestants don’t know when they will be voted off so they must have all of their stuff packed by ever tribal council, but with a little more complication. The Israelites had to break down the camp, pack it up, and make sure all of the holy parts stayed holy. They had no time to get comfortable because they had to stay ready.

Let me tell ya, it takes a whole lot more energy to try to make things happen before it is time and you still won’t be successful. Why? Because it’s not time! Save yourself some heartache and trust God; only move when He tells you to move.

Share with me in the comment section what pattern you are in right now- a waiting pattern or is it time to move?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Is the Celebration Over?

Driving last week down HWY 20/59 through Birmingham's downtown, I was sad to see only a frame where the 50 Years Forward banner hung for the past year. Last Tuesday marked the end of Birmingham, Alabama's celebration highlighting the progress Bombingham (Birmingham's horrible old nickname) has made since 1963, the height of the civil rights movement.

Some viewed the celebration as a dog and pony show. Some saw it as a shameless way to exploit Birmingham's past for tourism bucks. Some people felt it unproductive to bring up the wounds of the past. I saw it as a win for everybody.

  • It was a wonderful teaching opportunity for the world and for young Birmingham students who haven't been exposed to this part of history in school or in their community. Working with teenagers in the church, I've learned that today's youth are not taught how a race of people survived and thrived despite insurmountable odds stacked against them.
  • All across the world in 1963, the media showed the sins of Alabama- children being trampled in the streets by water hoses and dogs handled by the same police officers who were supposed to be protecting them. But now we can say that in 2013, TBN and MSNBC among other news outlets showed multi-ethnic audiences discussing the current significance of Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail. They also showed the 16th Street Church bomb victims' families receive the Congressional Medal of Honor by our 1st African American President Barack Obama.
  • There is a reason American and world history is taught in school. There is a reason why people research their genealogy and none of those reasons are deemed unproductive. How can celebrating 50 years of a city's progress be seen as unproductive either?
But we can't let it end in 2013. There is still progress to be made. There is still reason to celebrate. How can we continue the dialogue, discussion, and reconciliation that happened in 2013? This isn't a question just for Alabamians but for the nation and the world also. The media is still watching and our children still have to study history.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

“No one ever drowned in sweat”

 . . . but it's certainly not attractive
I’m sure this Marine saying is referring to physically taxing work, the kind of work I avoid at all costs. Nevertheless, this quote pretty much sums up 2013 for me.
I self-published my first Christian fiction novel this year.  As you can imagine, when you publish a novel it is necessary to promote it so that people know it exists and are enticed to buy it. Great. I can do that. I get to use that public relations degree my mom complains she spent too much money on at Clark Atlanta University. So, I planned a book release party and a book signing.
The day of the release party, I woke up physically ill from the apprehension and anxiety alone. I was nauseous, gagging, and shaking all the way to work. Not to mention, my shipment of books I needed for the book signing in two days hadn’t arrived AND the company’s website still had it classified as in production. I spent most of that morning arguing with the company before they finally acquiesced to overnighting 1/3rd of my order.
When I arrived at the book release party venue, I was sweating and shaking. I couldn’t get myself to calm down.  Thank God for My Sister’s Keepers! After I changed my clothes, I still couldn’t stop shaking and sweating. So I went to my car to blast the air conditioner and cool down. That worked. Until I walked back into the building.
It is so amazing how my body betrayed me with these weird reactions when I knew everything was okay. I couldn’t understand why my body wouldn’t cooperate with my brain. I was so embarrassed; I’ve never been that nervous in my life but I made it through.
Even though the event did not turn out how I envisioned it, I still consider it a success. I sold books and people were audibly entertained when I read from the book.  I felt like a literary giant. The next day you couldn’t tell me nothing. I was officially a BAD ASS. BAD ASS, that’s right. Please excuse my Kanye moment but I fully believe that.
In 2013, I learned to listen for God’s voice before I made decisions. I learned to have a heart for people I knew were trying to sabotage me (even though I didn’t always respond in a Christ-like manner). I was quick to repent when convicted and I learned to live in the moment (thank you girl sitting next to me in Starbucks for mentioning that because I wanted to include it)
I attended more funerals in 2013 than I care to count, so much unexpected death and unexplainable grief surrounded me but God was faithful and he kept me. He showed me that if I depended on Him everything would be alright in the end. I faced some fears, I did things I’ve never done before and have grown because it. Even though it was uncomfortable and unattractive at times, I didn’t drown.