[Word count: 561. Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes]
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you— unless indeed you fail the test.” —2 Corinthians 13:3-5
Remember when I told my mom I wasn’t going to church or looking for a new one, and she asked, “Are you still a Christian?” I was annoyed at the question, but I need to revisit it. My adopted grandma says, “You don’t have to go to my church, but you do have to go to my god.” So I ask: Have I gone to God recently? Is my heart still there? Is there a Google Maps app that can tell you how far away you are from God? (First person to say The Bible gets punched in the face.)
From what I told you I believe, things get cold sometimes. Things get dry. But the relationship is not dead. Living things have been frozen solid, but cold does not mean dead. Anyone who didn’t know my background might look at my relationship… frosted, unmoving, and deathly still… and deduce with good reason that it is dead.
If my mom sees someone call themselves a Christian while living below the expected standard, she’ll say, “But they’re not a real Christian though.” Ma might snatch that membership card away quick if you don’t pay your dues. Continue reading
[Word count: 654. Approximate read time: 3-4 minutes]
“When you’re little, you adopt survival mechanisms. But then they last too long. They last beyond their usable time and they become impediments to growth.” —Jane Fonda
I used to be horrible at taking compliments. Too often they’d be a bait-and-switch for devastating insults. So I became a ninja at self-deprecation. If I tore myself down sufficiently, no one else could take anything from me. It made me feel safer. I didn’t realize I wouldn’t be able to stop… for decades.
At age 50, my friend Robin Hill was fighting brain cancer. I was fighting a kind of disease too. Mine was that I’d want people to like me. And then they would. I just wouldn’t believe them. Both maladies kill very slowly. Ultimately Robin didn’t survive hers, but she left something to make sure I survived mine. Continue reading
[Word count: 840. Approximate read time: 3-4 minutes]
I dated the sweetest girl in my 20s. Perhaps if I was sweeter to her, we might have stayed together. But I was working at home one day when she decided to surprise me and stop by. As per usual, my dual living-and-working space was a mess. I was caught off guard by her presence, but glad to see her. She walks in visibly excited to see me at my desk, despite my work-disheveled state. I am no knight-in-shining armor today. What is she so happy about?
If you asked me, I’d say the girl’s in love. She would have to be. Only someone with that kind of madness would do what she was about to. I was in the middle of a number of thought processes at the time. And although multitasking beyond a certain point for me is like being drawn and quartered, I had to pull my focus in, snap into action, and protect her.
She walked in and sat down in the middle of my bed, rested her soft purse by her left thigh, and began to lean slowly to her right like a sexy, caramel-skinned Tower of Pisa. As it dawned on me what her intention was, a miniature explosion of panic detonated in my head. Continue reading
[Word count: 1255. Approximate read time: 4-5 minutes]
One day, I was talking to a mentor about how it drove me crazy that a particular woman would not so much as give me the time of day. No eye contact, no casual hello, nothing. One would’ve thought she was harnessing her mental energy to metaphysically wish away my existence. The world has never known reception so icy. I could’ve stored raw meat on her shoulders for months.
It dominated my thoughts. Did I say something to offend her? Was my hygiene bad? Does she resent guys with hair longer than hers? Does she dislike Black men? Skinny men? Eventually, I didn’t really want her attention anymore. I just wanted to know why I couldn’t have it, and what rendered me ineligible. Maybe I wasn’t the fit for her. And that’s okay, I guess. But things like this exacerbate a long standing tradition of feeling like I’m not something enough. Pick any something:
- Not Black enough.
- Not strong enough.
- Not man enough.
- Not important enough.
- Not cool enough.
- Not young enough.
- Not established enough.
- Not charming enough.
- Not skilled enough.
- Not accomplished enough.
- Not Christian enough.
- Not persistent enough.
- Not talented enough.
- Not attractive enough.
- Not driven enough.
Bear this in mind. I am aware that I am indeed all of the above. It just seems like it’s never enough.