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This harsh reality made no sense to me at first, and loneliness, made me compromise and put up with the abuse, garbage, selfishness, and insecurities of others far too long. At that time, it was better to have anyone there, than no one at all, even if I did have to allow you to emotionally drains the life out of me. At least someone was present. I realized at an early age, well through my adolescent years, and into my adult life, that there are very few souls who are generally interested in helping others become successful, or will take time to encourage another to be the woman/man of God they were purposed to be.
As a Christian single black mother, I am daily haunted by multiple oppressions, reminding me of my relentless struggle for racial equality, the right to be treated with respect, and granted the opportunity to raise my family's standard of living, absent of prejudice and abuse.
The Myth: If I'm good, loving, and kind, then others will treat me the same way. I held steadfast to the principles of sowing and reaping, and other spiritual practices I knew would not only deepen my relationship with God and nurture my strengths, but would also help me build my faith so that I could be an effective witness for God, as well as a strong asset to those who needed me. Yes, indeed, I had a purpose alright. I showed selfless, considerate, unconditional love to family, friends, strangers, and co-workers. And what did I get in return for all of my sowing and reaping? Persecution, lies, false rumors, betrayal, rejection and abandonment in the worse form.
Unfortunately, the people who I trusted, confided in, laughed with, dined with, and gave nine cents of my very last dime to, are no longer there for me. But when I think about it in a practical, more realistic, truthful matter, I have to ask myself, were they ever really there for me in the first place? The painful truth is, yes and no.
Blaming ourselves when things go wrong.
Most of the time we blame ourselves when things don't work out the way we expected, especially after all of the invested time, money, and energy we put into making it work. Not to mention the fact that most of us, automatically go into self-blame mode, because someone in our early childhood years made us the scapegoat for their actions, or the inhumane actions of another. And we settle for less than God's very best for us when we are vulnerable, oftentimes compromising our integrity, and hanging on to dead relationships that keep us drained, just to have someone there. Sowing seeds of love, loyalty, generosity, patience, respect, and kindness and showing mercy towards others is never a waste of time. In fact, there is a harvest of the same kinds of fruits in store for the individual who plants in a soil rich with the above elements. Unfortunately, we tend to look for rewards in the wrong people and worse environments. If we go through life with the expectation that because I am good, then evil will elude me, we are setting ourselves up for a tragic disappointment. In fact, the kinder you are, the more challenges will creep up to test your faith, build your character, and make you stronger.
Our Greatest Teachers:
The worst people in our lives are our greatest teachers. Like anything that is squeezed, you never know what will come out until you squeeze it. As painful as it can be, oftentimes persecution and the lies people spread about us, is like a chisel in the mighty hand of God. They shape, mold, chip away, and expose the things in us that God wants to remove. They serve to make us better, not bitter. Tragedy, betrayal by a loved one, and adversity, places us back into the hands of the potter (God) and we become like clay again. Nevertheless, we still have a choice. We can be like dry rock hard clay. Meaning, the texture of our hearts are so hard, and bitter and we are not open to change. Or we can be a kind of clay that is pliable and malleable enough to be shaped and formed into what God meant for us to become in the first place, without the resistance.
When we become resistant to the hand of God to change us in adversity, it’s like remaining a student in kindergarten for 12 more years. The more you resist change, the longer it will take to change. And similar situations will undoubtedly become repetitive in our lives until we learn.
My counseling techniques/The Human Heart
In my counseling practice and lectures, I have often used the example of what are perceptions are when we gaze upon a colorful vase in a store. Its artistic beauty catches out eye, standing tall shiny, and smooth, absent of ridges, cracks and holes. However, in all of its brilliance and majestic beauty, we fail to see with the naked eye however, its original form. That dry crusty, hard lump of clay that has been cut, beat, rolled, pressed on every side, pulverized, and then subjected to more and more grinding, heating, and milling until it becomes a finished product. In my lectures I raise a liquid filled cup in the air, as a demonstration to show the contents of our hearts. Our hearts are often filled with so much hurt and pain from early childhood experiences, and like that cup with a lid holding in the liquid, everything we put into it remains. If I cut a small hole into the bottom of that cup, the liquid will eventually begin to empty itself until the cup is completely dry. When we carry unforgiveness, bitterness, vengeful thinking, anger, shame, and hatred in our hearts, all poison, we have a hole in the soul, and we are like the cup with the hole at the bottom. We will try and fill it with sex, drugs, alcohol, unhealthy relationships, material possessions, and everything we can imagine to nurse our internal wounds. A temporary fix! Eventually it will all drain out, leaving us dry and emotionally empty. If you take that same cup, drain the poison, plaster the hole, and refill it with good things, pouring love, forgiveness, loyalty, self-forgiveness, and compassion into it, like our hearts filled with gladness, it will one day overflow with joy, peace, and dreams beyond your wildest imagination.
As a black woman, I agree that there are definitely some historical roots which influence these types of mentalities, it is a cyclic form of abuse and violence reinventing itself and rearing its ugly head in the family, the workplace, and amongst so called friends. Nevertheless, we subconsciously draw to us, and mentally reinvent, what has been normal behavior our entire life. If you've grown up in a nurturing, loving home where people were treated with respect, valued for who they were and not how they performed, then let me say one thing first. You were truly blessed. And if you grew up in a unhealthy dysfunctional environment, which bred violence, hatred, unforgiveness, strife, and constant chaos, then let me say second, you were still blessed. Let me explain.
Why doesn't Kindness matter?
As a person who is kind, considerate, and usually will go that extra mile in any setting, I have yet to come across many, who have similar mindsets. We somehow are snared into believing that if I am kind, loving, and faithful to him/her, then the same loyalty will be returned. And in some cases it is. The tragedy is that the word love seems to be something that has lost its original meaning, and a word that is oftentimes used carelessly. What God meant for good, the enemy of our souls will twist, thwart, and dehumanize. Another painful truth is that when someone tells us they love us, we immediately question the motive and our mind begins to wonder what that person believes he/she will eventually gain by befriending us. My daily prayer is to have the ability to discern the good from the evil, the genuine people from the users, and the gentle from the abusers. You may think that I am a bit closed minded and naive or you may even go as far as to think that I am overly sensitive. Quite the contrary. My perception of family, friends, and people in the workplace, whether real or perceived, has a legitimate basis behind it.
I grew up feeling ignored and unloved by a mother whom I respected, looked up to, and adored with every fiber of my being. And no matter how much love, loyalty and kindness I showered her with, my best efforts oftentimes went unnoticed and unappreciated. I have been abandoned and left with small children, physically and emotionally abused, left with no money, no food, and/or dignity left. I have worked for viciously abusive employers who were envious of my hard work, inner beauty, determination to succeed, and perseverance, instead of appreciating me. I have been persecuted and shunned by family who expected me to remain in a chaotic abusive environment, instead of allowing me the God given freedom to move forward, achieve my goals, and many have tried to hinder me in many ways, from fulfilling my God given purpose.
I have had many people use, take advantage of me, spread rumors and lies, and mistake my kindness for weakness. While I planted seeds of goodness into their lives, it was never appreciated or returned. Forgiveness I choose forgiveness. I renounce all spirits of darkness; which will eventually leave me dry, broken, and destroyed. Holding grudges is an open door for the enemy of our souls to walk right into. It’s like carrying dead bodies around on our shoulders instead of burying them. And then we wonder why in every relationship we get into doesn't work. People can smell the stench of the decayed emotional corpses you've carried around for many years, some since childhood.
Forgiveness doesn't mean we forget about the wrong inflicted on us. Forgiveness is a choice. A choice to free our minds, bodies, and souls, to a state of peace, by not allowing these afflictions to occupy us any longer nor determine our future destinations. Our past childhood experiences does not determine who we are or who we will become. Staying in Love No matter what. The more I stayed away from the gossip, dysfunction, and backstabbing behaviors, the more I found myself reluctantly intertwined. True love and friendships are often birthed in valley experiences. When we are at are lowest points in life, this is when our faith is severely tested and we find out who our real friends are. Not only that, we find out what we are really made of. The key to finding true happiness is not centered on the accumulation of friendships, material things, education, or becoming famous. It is bred in love of God, love of self, love of others, a wealth of knowledge and wisdom, and continuous relentless acts of love regardless of the way others treat us.
How to let Go and move forward.
Letting go of our past mistakes, surrounding ourselves with people who love us, and embracing change without resistance, are key elements in finding true happiness. When we are able to forgive those who have wounded us in the past, only then, are we able to free ourselves from their captivity, and be able to fully love and enjoy healthy future relationships. When it’s all said and done, how others treat us, what people say, think, and whisper about us, really has absolutely nothing to do with us. Our reactions and response to the ignorance of others, is not me against the world, but only between me and God. Instead of choosing to fight flesh and blood, I allow God to fight my battles for me. I discovered, that the best way for me to fight...is on my knees.
If this article has been a blessing to you please feel free to write me and let me know. In the meantime I send lots of love and pray that you choose wisely.
Author Carmen Love firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright © 2011 Author Carmen C. Love.
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