Encouragement has been hard for me to muster this week. I am usually the first to be bright-eyed and positive. I always have a word for those in need. But, this week was hard for me. Since it was hard for me, I know that it has also been for so many of you. Clearly the issues in the Middle East affecting persecuted Christians, the shooting death of a young black man in Ferguson, MO, and countless other issues in our world affected me. (Maybe they also affected you) As a Christian, my heart hurts for people period. I have and had a deep hurt that just wouldn’t/won’t leave for what is happening to women and children and people period all due to their personal religious beliefs. As an African American woman who is a parent, seeing what happened in Ferguson over the weekend and waiting on confirmation of what happened had me on edge. I was sad for the family, angered by what happened, afraid for my children growing up in a world that shoots before asking questions, etc. I mean, isn’t it normal to hurt for people you don’t know? Well, I think so. I have to live in this world, my kids do, you do and your loved ones. It is outrageous! We should all be upset. Most of us are.
I was so sad that I had to leave social media and pray. In prayer, I was able to remember that GOD truly has all things under control and it is in Him that I put my trust. I know my situation is not that of the parents mourning the loss of their child or the citizens who feel like prisoners in their own city, or the thousands fleeing their homes for fear of death. But, the impact of their trials affected me. It saddened me. My spirit was low. I wanted to help my brothers and sisters. What I could do in that moment was pray. I prayed and that encouraged me. I am so thankful that God is there no matter in what situation we find ourselves. I am so glad that His word is a “lamp to our feet and a light to our path” (Psalm 119:05). His word is life, encouragement, air. So, I come today with no solution to actual problems. I cannot bring anyone back, I cannot provide safety to those who have lost it all, but I can pray that the ONE who has the solution and is able to hide us in His secret place will do so. He can hide us in His arms, in His secret place (Psalm 91).
I have to believe that justice will be served in this life. As in past cases, when it is not, we go on peacefully trying to change laws to protect us and spread awareness to help others. But, we know that in the life to come, God says vengeance is Mine, I shall repay. And it is in that I put my hope. It is not ours to decide what we go through, but we know somehow we will make it. Just knowing that God has it under control puts me at ease. I can keep doing my best in a world that doesn’t always treat people the way they should. I can continue raising my boys to be the best citizens I can and yet teach them to protect themselves against possible police brutality, abuse, misuse of power. I can encourage someone today who is down because I have been and now have hope. Let this be your encouragement in the midst of your day. God will provide. Put your hope in Jesus for He cares for you.
As single parents, we tend to bear all things. Every bill, every sickness, whether our own or our kids, and every hurt. We have to learn to release negativity and not dwell on all the bad. Our job is difficult enough as is. We must make room for the good. I’m not saying to pretend or wish the bad away. I’m saying to not let it take over your life. Deal with the bills, the money, the shortage of this or that, and spend your energy on the good. Life has so much beauty to offer us. Let’s show our kids that although life can be hard at times, we know the art of Doing it Anyway.
With all the positivity of the previous paragraph, I digress to say that I recently learned of the passing of a young woman who was doing great work in the world to inspire women of color to love themselves. She ended up being a light for women of all colors, but she took her own life this Thursday. Hearing her story, I thought about how hard single parenting was for me when my boys were small. Praise God, I never thought of hurting myself or my children, but I remember being tired and wanting to just quit. I wanted to sit in my house and complain about how hard it was to do it alone. I wanted to just have a moment to be where I didn’t have to do everything. I was tired. I was bitter. I was sad. Luckily, I had family and friends that encouraged me to keep going and also chipped in to help. And, I had my faith that would not let me quit. For these, I am thankful. But, I now wonder if I was depressed and did not know it. So many of us are taught to keep going when we hurt, when we’re tired, when we’re wounded. I know I was. I was hurt. I was in a position I had no expectation of being in and I had to deal with it mostly alone. Because of what I’ve gone through I am stronger. I work well now because of it. I can tackle deadlines and handle a million things at once. It made me tough. But, I wonder what of the ones who are not as strong, or do not have the support? I write this post urging us all to take time to find balance and get medical help, if needed. Sometimes what we battle cannot be cured by a night out, a vacation, or a self-help book. Sometimes, we need assistance our family and friends cannot provide. I’m a Christian, and I believe in the power of prayer. I also go to the doctor when I’m sick. One doesn’t cancel the other. Be brave enough to share the great things of life and the dark with those you love and trust. Your kids need you here and no one or anything is worth your life.
So, as I close, if life is roses and peacocks for you, that’s great! But, please check on your loved ones. When friends come to mind, call them. We are losing people too young and too old to senseless things. I wrote a post recently about engaging our kids. I find it is absolutely important that we are listening to our family and friends and really being present. We don’t know how people internalize our words and actions. Life hurts because people do the hurting. It’s easy to say “I wouldn’t let that bother me”. But, it really does bother the person who is hurting. Allow them to deal and heal. We can all stand to be more compassionate. Who knows what people are really going through behind closed doors? We must make it okay to be authentic.
Live your life to the fullest and love those who love you. Do It Anyway.