My first thought was to save this for my weekly Hello Sunday blog since it sounds like a Sunday message. But this is how I am feeling now– in this particular moment. So I am sharing.
After checking Facebook and Twitter this morning, I began to feel discouraged. Every post/tweet was about chaos and doom. If someone was not sharing stories about us going to a cashless, socialist society, then they were sharing stories about injustices and living in the last days. Sometimes.. no.. most of the time, it is so overwhelming. However, this morning, as always, God reminded me that He is still in control. Our job is to trust Him in spite of what we see.
When I was a little girl, I spent my summers with my great-great grandma, Madea. Every morning Madea would get up, pray, and read one chapter from her ginormous white Bible. That chapter was Psalm 23. It was her morning ritual. Y’all, she did this every morning before she started her day. To this day, that entire chapter is instilled in me. However, verse 4 is my secret weapon. Whenever I feel afraid, that one verse seems to calm all of my fears. I dare you to recite it when you are afraid. Whew! Talk about peace like no other! Personally, it kind of makes me feel like royalty. As if my daddy is The King and I am His princess. Like nothing can touch me. Sounds crazy– huh? But it does.
Anyway, without further ado, here is Psalm 23. Enjoy! And use it!
Psalm 23 KJV
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Yes, it is Sunday again! Seems like time is passing at warp speed (Star Trek- lol). I would love for it to slow down a little. I need time to process a few things.
Woke up thinking about the turn of events over the past month or so– personally as well as professionally. Even though I have been blogging since 2018, it was not until May of this year that I was ready to share my blogs with the world. In May, I also started volunteering again. It had been ages since I last volunteered. And, when I woke up this morning, I logged onto my professional social media accounts and began updating them. Also, this morning, it finally dawned on me why I had neglected those accounts for so long. Y’all, I did not want to be that person anymore.
Okay… moment of full transparency.
It all began two years ago. Whew, I never thought I would talk about this. At the beginning of 2018, I was asked to do a presentation for an association that was having a conference in Mississippi. I was so honored and hyped about it. I was given a topic, asked to come up with a few objectives for continuing education credits, and told I would be working with a local chef on a menu and food demonstration. Y’all, it was like a dream come true! It was everything I imagined I would be doing at this point in my career. I was ready!
The first hit I took was when I found out the association I was presenting for was not a diverse association but a national, all-Black association. Some would say I should have been honored. However, it was like receiving a blow to the heart. You see, I was asked by a predominately (99%) white company to deliver the presentation.
Just to give you some background on my relationship with this company. For several years, I had been invited to attend their sponsored events. At that time, I knew the state and regional directors well enough to contact them personally whenever I needed a sponsor for one of my events, educational materials for health fairs, or incentives for community projects. So when asked to give this presentation, I automatically assumed it was because they valued our relationship, not because they needed a Black registered dietitian to present to an all Black audience. That stung!
The second thing that happened was they changed my entire presentation. I was initially told they wanted the session to be fun and interactive. Which was right up my alley. I hate boring presentations! Well, after submitting my presentation for review, it was returned to me butchered. Y’all, the entire flow was all wrong. They kept the objectives but added random information. Even the fonts were inconsistent. They also added pictures that did not go with the text. Now, I might write crazy things in my blogs, and make all kinds of grammatical errors, but when it comes to my professional work, it has to be almost perfect before I present it. Honestly, I felt like my work had been sabotaged. Y’all, I cried.
The third thing that happened, and what finally made me question if I even wanted to be in that space anymore, happened during the night of the event. As I said– FULL transparency. This was a month and a half before my hysterectomy. My cycle had just started. Which meant I was extra irritated, cramping like crazy, and blood was pouring out of me. I wore a navy blue suit, and put on an adult diaper lined with two overnight pads, to hide or prevent any accidents. Y’all, I did not want anything going wrong. Well, I arrived at the venue and EVERYTHING was white. I mean— EVERYTHING! The floors were white. The linens were white. And ALL of the chairs were white– white cushioned chairs, that is. Talk about anxiety!! All I could do was pray– “Lord, please don’t let me have an accident on all of this white.” I kept thinking, what would I do if I stained one of the chairs? I tried to remain calm, but I was all nerves. So when I got up to present, no matter how professional I tried to be, it did not happen. Here is how the night went.
When my audience arrived, they were tired from attending hours of educational sessions. I was later informed that they thought my presentation was supposed to be entertaining. HA…so did I! Y’all, they had access to an open bar, and boy did they drink. Some, a lot more than others. Needless to say, I was giving a presentation to a room full of tired, tipsy people. As I said, my presentation had been changed. What I did not mention is that I had only received the revisions a day or two before the event. Which was not ample time to thoroughly review the changes, so I felt unprepared. I also did not have a microphone so I had to walk the room so that everyone could hear me. Funny story- There was this elderly lady that kept yelling, “I can’t hear you!” The night was a mess. When I tell you this crowd asked questions I had “zero” answers to! LOL! Funny, but sooo not funny. Y’all, I felt like a failure. Most of the night I deferred the questions to our host, the one who revised the presentation. At one point I stopped presenting because a few people would not stop talking. Y’all, one thing I hate is rudeness. And when the entire audience can hear your conversation, you, my friend, are being rude. So I stood there and glared at them until they stopped talking. Was I unprofessional…HECK YES! Y’all, I was fed up, I was sick, and I felt humiliated. I felt like an imposter– WOW! I just pinpointed when I began feeling like an imposter.
After that night, I swore I would never attend another one of their company’s events. That was also the last time I really posted anything of worth on my professional pages. I went into my shell and never wanted to come out. Honestly, I had given up. I had lost my confidence. That was two years ago.
As I mentioned, May was my turning point. Slowly, I am regaining my confidence. Maybe I did need two years to Reflect, Regroup, Refocus, and Rebuild. I do believe I am wiser and better prepared to handle the unexpected. I am also working on the way I deal with my imperfections. Recently, I attended a Zoom call with a lot of unknown attendees. At first, I was not going to turn on the camera. You know, leave the nice, edited picture displayed. At the last minute I was like, why not! I did not have on makeup. I had on a t-shirt and my hair held back with a headband. And my lighting was bad. But, I decided to show the world me. Part of my personal and professional growth is about me becoming comfortable with my imperfections. Slowly, but surely, I am growing.
Y’all, I am so grateful God loves me. Moving forward.
Today I am choosing to be present. To actively live in each moment. That is what I did on my birthday; and honestly, that was one of the most peaceful days I have ever experienced in my life. No lie. No anticipations– just went with the flow. Y’all, I even worked on my birthday and did not feel the least bit of anxiety because I was not doing what I had planned. That day, I actually let go and allowed life to happen. And guess what– everything worked out perfectly. So today, with God’s help, I know I can do it again.
Yesterday was very long and draining— mentally and emotionally. So, I reinstalled my social media apps with the intention of only posting my blog and managing business accounts. Needless to say, I fell right back into the same trap as before. I could not stop scrolling through the stories. Some of the stories were horrifying– people being tear gassed, looters destroying stores and properties, and people crying for justice. While other stories offered hope– law enforcement officers marching alongside protesters, white friends and colleagues recognizing and denouncing racism, and people being blessed in the midst of this madness. All of it was so overwhelming.
Some time during my scrolling and crying, I fell asleep. When I awoke, I had this song stuck in my head, I Surrender All. Growing up, we would sing it during alter calls (part of church services where people asked for prayer). The song says:
I surrender all I surrender all All to Thee, my Blessed Savior I surrender all
Y’all, I needed this reminder. For the sake of my sanity, I have to surrender all to God. For the sake of humanity, we must surrender all. There is a scripture in the Bible that reads:
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22
Today is June 1, 2020. It is the first day of my birthday month. Although my birthday falls towards the end of the month, I am usually celebrating right now. Everyone who knows me knows I love my birthdays! Y’all, right now I should be happily planning my celebration and counting down the days; however, I am not. This year, for the first time since I was a little girl, I am not excited. Do not get me wrong, I am grateful.. very grateful, but not excited.
Honestly, how can I celebrate while our county is in turmoil? We are outraged about the murders of our black men and women by the hands of those who swore to protect and serve our citizens. We are angry about injustices black and brown people face daily due to systemic, overt, and subtle racism. We are angry because we are angry! Believe me, this is not the country our forefathers imagined. They would be devastated to know that we are still fighting for civil rights in 2020. When will it end?
So, this year, instead of spending time planning my celebration, I am going to spend it praying for our nation. Yes, I believe in the power of prayer because GOD is still in control. My prayer is that God places His arms of protection around our families, friends, and neighbors. That He breaks down ALL negative barriers to include hatred, racism, anger, and divisiveness; and that He unites our nation through love and peace. Y’all, I truly believe, with my whole heart and soul, that love conquers all. I am not saying that bad things will not happen or evil will never exist. However, I do believe that there is more good in this world, than bad. I refuse to believe otherwise. Praying. . .
I needed to write. Writing helps me process my feelings, especially when I am sad, confused or angry. Up until this point, I have not written anything about George Floyd’s murder, or any of the aftermath. Not even in my journal. Which is pretty odd. I keep telling myself I need to document this. But I have not been able to write. I guess it is because I cannot log off social media. I go from Twitter to Facebook to Instagram, then back to Twitter. The stories are so overwhelming, yet so mesmerizing. It is like I am here, but not here. I need to get a grip.
In the midst of all of my thoughts this morning, a song came to mind. A song that I used to listen to as a child— This Too Will Pass, by the late Reverend James Cleveland. The song says:
I’ve had heartaches like this before, and I’ve had disappointments by the score. I claim the victory at last. This too will pass. The sun will shine, it can’t rain all the time. The clouds are gray, will soon have to pass away.
Guess what– this too will pass. God is working. Brighter days are coming. Be blessed!