Race is not an issue because I talk about it. I talk about it because race is an issue. If we stopped discussing it, it wouldn’t disappear. – Toure
Everybody has them. You know, those days, sometimes weeks, months and even years when the things you hope for, wish for, pray for and even work for, just don’t seem to happen.
Recently I have been involved in an employment search. I am graduate level educated; I have not only skills, but experience; I have sent resume after resume and received rejection letter after rejection letter. Truth is, there are days when I simply would prefer quitting, giving up and being done with the search for that place where I can do great work and make other folks lives better. During these moments, as during other moments in my life, the one thing that keeps me hanging on is “DETERMINATION.”
We all need it, especially when losing heart is presented before us as a viable option and the intensity level of the discouragement we feel nearly overwhelms us and sweeps over us like an ocean wave.
Where does determination come from? Where do you get it? Usually for me it involves:
When we are hungry enough for what we are reaching for, determination becomes more powerful than discouragement and we press on, we move forward with every ounce of strength we can muster. Hunger/desire will take shape differently depending on the person, but for me, during this job search it means improving myself while I wait – reading, listening to helpful audio, cultivating my writing skills, and of course continuing to send apply for jobs. There are some things that I desperately want in life, so I keep going and also look for different strategies and approaches to take to get me where I need to go.
I realize that not everyone who will read this shares my Christian faith tradition. If you don’t perhaps for you it is important to tap into whatever source of strength and hope that is a part of your faith practice. For me, God is everything – life, breath, hope and strength that far surpasses my limitations. Looking to the God of all creation and trusting this Gods’ accessibility and provision is what helps me continue during tough times.
The truth is that we all have something(s) to offer the world. The truth also is that we all can be better versions of ourselves. Taking time to assess strengths and the specific areas where we need to grow is all part of the determination process. Need a class? Need to read a book or article? Need to connect with folks who know differently than you know? Growth is ALWAYS an accessible option – even with limited financial resources, there is always a way.
So, when all else fails keep holding on. Even when you claim strength, take a risk and then fail, and it causes you to doubt your strength/capability, and entices you to give up and refuse to try again; cry if you need to, regroup, get back up again (whether on your own or with the assistance of some friends), dust yourself off and keep trying.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s easy. In fact some days are just plain hard and make you want to throw up both hands and just scream! But after you do that, keep pushing forward – be determined!
For those of you who clicked on this link wondering if this writer was herself coming out as a same gender loving individual, I am sorry to disappoint you. You’re here now, so hopefully you’ll keep reading.
LGBTQ folks are not the only ones who “come out.” Coming out has a variety of implications and applications for those who have been silent regarding societal issues, subjects, and beliefs. Fear of negative reactions and rejection from friends stands in the way of honesty and transparency. Conversations with individuals who are now unashamed to speak boldly and courageously regarding their sexual identities has informed me of one reality – “coming out” is not easy!
Yet there comes a moment when we must decide to live by our personal convictions rather than be guided or controlled by other people’s opinions of us.
Over the last year or so I have felt compelled to “come out.” No, I did not come out as a lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender individual. Rather, I needed to “come out” as an ally and voice for a segment of society and even of the Christian Church that is often ostracized, treated as less than valuable, and excluded from participation in the life of local churches. I had to come out regardless of what people would think; I had to come out of a place of silence and begin to speak up and speak out in love for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters who have been hurt by the Church. We’ve done some serious damage to individuals and inflicted emotional pain that will not be healed by inflicting more pain – it will be healed by unconditional and radical love. We can and must do better, and I “come out” as a voice that says that we must do a better job of loving all people in the name of a Savior who shows us how to do that well.
I do not know the experience of being a same gender loving person, but I have been in far too many situations where I felt as though I needed to beg for acceptance and space, whether it was because I am a woman or because of my race. I’ve been there, done that, and don’t want to do it anymore. However, because of my familiarity with what it feels like to be an “outsider” – as a woman, and as an African American, it makes me more sensitive to the needs of others who are yet being ousted and shunned by the “majority.”
Recently I had the privilege of taking a seminary class on the topic of Sexuality and Spirituality with instructor Bishop Yvette Flunder. For some, it is problematic that I even allowed myself to be instructed by an openly same gender loving Christian leader (as though she has nothing of value that she can teach us).
It is imperative that each of us, regardless of where we stand on the topic of sexual identity, be willing to listen to one another and even learn from one another – whether they are individuals whose views are similar or different from the ones we hold. Willingness to take the course was a form of “coming out” for me.
This course was relevant in that it provided much needed dialogue among people of faith. I walked away with many insights and what was most impressed upon me was the need for transparency. In many communities of faith a “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” regarding sexual identity is real. Cultures of shame and secrecy abound and thus fosters environments where people find it more safe to live life on the down low.
- Who does this help?
- Has closeted living really helped anyone?
- When individuals do come out, do our negative reactions help or do they fuel hostility and push folks back into the closet and further encourage a culture of secrecy?
Perhaps it is time for all of us to “come out” and honestly discuss what we believe and why we believe it. Maybe it’s time for each of us to “come out” and come clean regarding bigotry, hatred and an unwillingness to listen and learn. Maybe it is even time to “come out” and question long held assumptions.
“Now we must go from wearing hoodies to transforming the hood as we fight for justice!” – Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III
- What are 3 to 5 qualities/character traits that you desire to see/expect of leaders?
- What is your ministry’s vision/mission/goals? What tasks need to be done to move you forward?
- Who do you need to accomplish those goals and fulfill your mission? What skills are needed?
- What needs to get done? Why does it need to get done? Who can do it besides you and the normal faithful few?
- What type of mentoring, and training is necessary?
- What types of administrative systems would help?
- What leaders are already in place? How are they developing leaders?
- What types of evaluative tools will you implement to keep people developing?
- What are some tools you can use to provide off-site training for leaders (blog, twitter, facebook)
- Assume that prospective leaders are in your church (even if you haven’t spotted them)
- Recruit specifically rather than generally
- Provide training/development and ongoing support
- Delegate authority along with delegating tasks – be willing to give up control
- Shepherd/care well for those leaders who commit to investing their time and energy
- Invest in leaders by encouraging and supporting growth – fund a training, buy a book
- Let leaders “catch” good qualities and practices from you – let them experience you leading them well so that they too can lead others well
- Use technology to your advantage – training/development does not always have to happen on-site, in a meeting. Make the best use of a leader’s time
Today was one of “those days.” Because it was one of those days, I found myself thinking about Major Clinical Depression and what I have learned and still continue to learn about the disease. This post, though random and unedited is the product of what’s on my mind today.
Here are some of the things I have discovered about “The Big D”
1. It respects no one – you can be young, middle age, older, intelligent, naive, religious, atheist, or whatever and struggle with this illness.
2. Just when you think you have it beat, sometimes it strikes again from somewhere out of no where and the battle continues
3. There is hope and those who live in depressive prone bodies can get through it and overcome
4. Some folks need medication and others do not, but all who face major clinical depression need some form of help/support
5. Cloudy, rain filled days are just plain HARD! [Hot Chocolate is necessary for me on those days]
6. Sometimes people won’t know something is wrong unless you tell them
7. Many Church communities are the worst places for those battling depression & still other Church communities are the BEST places to walk through this difficult struggle.
8. Major Clinical Depression is complex and multidimensional. Everyone will have a different experience and a different path toward wholeness
9. Prayer, great Christian psychotherapy, self care strategies, supportive/listening/patient friends (and if needed, medication), are a powerful combination on the journey through depression.
10. Silence and isolation can be deadly, courage to speak up and reach out for help is life giving.
Disclaimer: I am not a professional, clinically trained counselor. If you are in need of help, please contact your physician immediately.
Over the last 6 months I have known of at least 3 men who have passed away in their forties – a sibling, a pastor, an artist. All fairly young, all from every outward appearance healthy, yet they took their last breath and left those who loved them awestruck, disallusioned, wondering, confused, glad that they had the opportunity to know these individuals.
Pause Before we speakSpeak enough positive, life giving words that it’s what we are known forLive every day as if it may be your lastAim to live our lives to benefit others not only ourselves
Does silence have a “sound?”
Silence is the sound of peace that has replaced tumultuous storms.
Silence is the sound of televisions turned down, cell phones muted, and inboxes closed
Silence is the sound of a mind at rest
Silence is the sound that makes space for other sounds to enter that we are normally unable to hear.
Silence is the sound of tranquility and inner strength and peace
Silence is the sound of birds tweeting, wind blowing through trees, and water glistening with the rays of the sun
The sound of silence enables me to pay attention well enough to get a glimpse of a rainbow that appeared for a brief moment of time and then disappeared after having the chance to capture camera shots
Silence is the sound of a God who is present though seemingly absent
The sound of silence is being captivated by the beauty of the sun rising and setting
Silence is experienced as I pause to glance at sun kissed trees swaying gently in the wind.
Silence is the ability to hear God’s voice above the noise of the world and the chaos of our own souls
Silence is the sound that my soul experiences now….