Earlier this year a child approached me at school complaining of pain in her side and I began to ask questions to find out what was wrong. Come to find she had fallen during the night. With further inspection the story became more dire and heartbreaking. During our below freezing winter, this family living in a motel for the homeless and without heat, she rationalized with her second grade wisdom, that the refrigerator is warm on top. So she climbed on top of the mini frig with her pillow to sleep. It was a genius idea - for a child. It served it's purpose in keeping her warm, until that is, she fell off in the middle of the night.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
(I Cor. 13:11-12)
When I was a child I SPOKE like a child. I'm going to take you back to my childhood today. Popular sayings of the 70's when I was a child:
"Catch you on the flip side"
"Keep on truckin'
Yep, I said them all and you couldn't have told me that I wasn't "blazin" or the "Bomb." Why? because I was "cool dude", and I was a child.
If we heard someone speaking that way today, unless they we on a 70's sitcom, we'd think them somewhat foolish, yet many of us are still speaking to ourselves today in the language learned in our childhoods. What's coming out of your mouth? What are you speaking into existence?
There is nothing easy about Rebounding. First, it takes honesty, which most of us are not, and discipline or determination to work at something you're bad at consistently. It goes against our nature. If we're weak in something, we shy away from it.
Today I'm asking you to look at three things: how you speak, think and understand.
When I began my Rebound journey I had to acknowledge that although I no longer spoke in 70's slang, phrases that had been spoken to me, or spoken of me, were now being spoken by me. I was 8 years old when I heard, "it's a good thing she's talented, because she sure is ugly." Words spoken over 50 years ago, yet it is as vivid as the sun shining on my face this morning. A snapshot captured in the memory of a little girl for life. Words spoken by a grandma who loved me deeply, but saw in me, herself, and all of the hurt and pain she had endured for being a dark skinned black girl in 1915, the era of 'The Birth of a Nation and the Great Depression". And so for decades I silently continued to speak life to those words. As I honed and perfected my talent, underneath laid the driving force that I was ugly because of the darkness of my skin.
What are you holding onto from you past that you are still using today to victimize yourself?
When I was a child I UNDERSTOOD as a child.
I heard understanding described once as: the truth you stand under. My grandma had lived under her truth that she was a slave working in the cotton field and not a servant inside the house because of the color of her skin. That was an honor (yes it was looked upon as an honor) given only to those of lighter complexions. She spoke from her understanding of the truth she stood under. It was not mine, a half a century later, but I had to rid myself of the passed down understanding. Shedding my parents plight, living through the 'sundown towns and the green book era" which shaped their understanding. The truth they stood under.
I had to maneuver through all that was passed down, while sorting through my own childhood, "red lining and segregation" and living in my kids understanding the, "Me Too Movement and Black Lives Matter", to arrive at my now clear understanding. Why is this important? The way you understand something determines your end. Ever had a falling out with a friend because of a misunderstanding? You are 100% convinced of your version of what happened until you hear the other side. Every time I share my grandma's story people flinch. How could anyone say something so horrible to a child? is often the response. It comes down to the lens of understanding. Wounds are repaired through understanding.
When I was a child I THOUGHT as a child.
If we are to Rebound into maturity we have to examine our thoughts. You just may find as I did, it's the classic story of the elephant and the rope. You're holding on to something you can easily walk free of.
'As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not. He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.
Now here I stood in the 90's, listed as one of Hollywood's Faces of the Future, on tv screens across the world, stuck in my belief and self loathing, that all of my dark brown-ness somehow made me unattractive. Secretly hating the skin I wore.
I had to remove barriers that had a hold on me and start walking free. To put away childish things, what happened or did not happen, who did or did not love me etc. but before doing so scripture calls us to "become a man" or grow up. It's interesting that it puts become a man first, before calling us to put aside our childish things. I believe because letting go starts within. So I ask, Are you fighting to hold on to your dysfunctional system? What's been said, how you understand it, and your thoughts around it. The scripture says "I" put away childish things. That means this is on me. Are we waiting for God to do what He has called us to do ourselves. Are you carrying things that has nothing to do with you? God is saying, put it aside. Let it go. Grow up. Now as I'm writing this, I can already hear,' but you don't know what I've been through'. So true! and my heart breaks for all of the devastation so many have endured, but God has made freedom from bondage available to us all. It may take you a while to get there, but like the elephant, you'll never know if you can break free, if you don't at least try.
Over 20 years ago I stumbled upon a little DPI book called: "I Refuse to be a Victim." I don't know who wrote it or if it's still in publication, but it unlocked the door to my freedom- inside. It gave me hope that I could be free. It took years before I actually walked out of the cage, but it planted the seed that freedom was mine if I was brave enough and trusting in God enough, to walk through the door.
Today, this blog is someone's key. Trust the process. You cannot put away what you will not identify. And you can't put it away if you're defending it. Are you defending a system that's killing you?
James Baldwin was quoted as saying:
"Not everything faced can be changed.
But nothing can be changed if it isn't faced."