You know what? I have found myself attempting to understand my space in this world. I am approaching my 40th birthday in August. This journey has been difficult in many ways. I have had to unlearn some practices and discover some realities about my personality. I have learned that I have always been a sensitive individual. I recognize that I am an introvert, but I am also an empath. I feel so much around me at any given time that it requires me to back away from people and situations quickly. Honestly, I don’t want to be in certain settings many times because of the energy in a room.
I realize that I am a pastor. I understand that the assumption is that I must love the people. Don’t get me wrong. I love the people. I love how people can demonstrate growth and development. Many times I am in hope of celebration of the accomplishments of all, and I mourn with those who face the difficulties of transition. That level of emotional and spiritual weight is enough for anyone in the course of a day. However, I have found that I live in a world that is determined to constantly offer thoughts on every type of thing in existence. I have further realized that many people find being contrary the only path to being seen and heard.
Listen. I am not trying to tell people how to govern their lives. Yet, I want to offer this one idea. Y’all are doing too much.
People are debating about women wearing bonnets in public, skinny jeans, and a myriad of other things that do not matter in the grand scheme. Has it ever occurred to anyone that people are living in a world that desires to destroy uniqueness, co-opt and colonize flavor, and gentrify creativity and talent. Have you ever considered that the most of the debates that occur happen as the result of finding new ways to keep people separate? Have you ever considered that most people actually agree on many things of importance, but will part ways due to personal preferences?
Years ago, I was a part of the crowd that felt superior in context. I know how to dress the part. I was able to move easily through different rooms of influence without care. Nothing difficult. It was one moment that changed the game for me. While applying to a church (Baptist context, told this story a million times), I was told the reason that I was not given a interview. I did not look like a pastor. Wait for it….. I had preached at this particular place many times…. in three piece suits….clergy robes and cassocks. Look like!!! I was the epitome of a Baptist preacher in looks.
Many of you may have thought this t-shirt thing was old. No. This fashion phase is pretty new. That event in my life began my unlearning of faux environmental policies of superficial people. I live my life now understanding that principle stated by the Apostle Paul to this general idea: I have become all things to all people realizing that I might only save some (ref I Corinthians 9:22). It is my call, obligation, and assignment to find ways to be flexible enough to draw those who may not normally embrace who I am in God or in this community.
I believe that humanity has spiraled so for in a hole that we forget that we are not may to create people and environments in our image. Some people take the idea of past experiences to heart so much they create greater space and limited opportunity to be a positive influence on future generations.
I was surrounded by so many men who made a great impact on my life. The invested so much into my mind and heart as a person. The last thing they ever addressed was my appearance. One, I was taught at home (hint, hint). Stay clean and neat. That statement is not about preference. That is not a casual over dress up debate. Clean and neat is just that. The men that influenced me taught me about character, intelligence, spirituality, and more. Being around them gave me the chance to choose how to be influenced in many ways. These internal and external lessons have never left. Why? They showed me that they cared about me.
I ask you today. Are you demonstrating that you actually care about the people? Do you take vested interest in their development? Are you concerned about how great your environment can be? Then, I ask you to take these things into consideration.
- No matter how hard you try, everyone will not be like you. It is okay to live in world where people don’t move the same in certain areas of life. It is okay that people will not have the same superficial preferences as you. Yet, we are not absolved from making certain that we all win in this life together. Diverse perspective can teach all of us how to navigate every space we enter. Diverse perspective can also teach us how not take ourselves so seriously, relieve pressure, and become the best version of ourselves.
- We are not God. Don’t apply for the job. Every human being has a journey. At best, we are individual who are bless to share how we have made it through the pitfalls of life. I am in this world to live and be a resource. I am not here to create after my image and likeness. The world does not need two of me. The world does not need two or more of you. The world needs a humanity willing and ready help individuals succeed. Here it is. We must make certain to remember that success is not a unilateral model. Success means many things to nearly 7 billion people on the planet. If we care for one another, we will not mold anyone after our image. We will point people to the Creator that has already set each our blueprints.
- Take that debating energy and put it into something constructive. I want to see people take this energy and do anything and everything else that is productive. Some people would be wealthy if they were not so full of information. (Let it simmer a bit…) Some people would be exactly where they wanted to be in life if they could only stay out of other people’s business. Some people would actually be happy if they stopped trying to give other people the blues. Some people might find out what joy is if they quit interfering with the joy of others. We do not need to continue using platforms to perpetuate unnecessary discourse. We need to use it to get this world together.
I realize I am not saying anything new. But for the love of God, stop it. We got work to do. We got self-care to embrace. We got relationships to strengthen. We have bastions of systemic racism to destroy. We have injustice to correct. We have too much to do to reduce ourselves to superficial foolishness. Let’s Go….