Thursday, January 23, 2014

Redefining LOVE: \ˈləv\

My heart beats steadily, involuntary, yet the mere thought of someone closest to me makes it speed up while a flicker of intensity beams from my eyes. It's love. I whip out my cell phone and press send, just to ask what they are doing. You see, it's not that I want anything; it's just an expression of love.

It seems that lately the word love is hurled around carelessly and as casually as a greeting, yet the feeling that is supposed to accompany the word is absent. Sure, love is a feeling. However, when the action portion of the word has gone idle, perhaps that love should be revisited. You see, I've lived 33 years and have learned what love is, but more importantly, I've learned what love is not. And, unfortunately, it is often those closest to us who allow years and time to extract the loving from the love we were designed to give. . .and receive.

Thinking on love, I realize that I have not always been the most lovable, yet there has always been a steady current of love flowing to my being. Despite what condition I may have been in, I've been fortunate to be loved. This love has healed my hurting heart, has helped me to see pass yesterday's pain into today's potential, and has given me inspiration in the midst of disparity. . .Yet the realization exists, that this same love that I am receiving, I must also reciprocate.

A selfish form of something that looks like love often masquerades itself in a shell of affection, but is usually based on an opportunity. An expected birthday gift, a graduation present, perhaps even something for Christmas. However, outside of that, there's little-to-no contact. No expressions of gratitude or appreciation, no random phone calls to say I love you. Many loves continue on in this bleak cycle, until death occurs. Then there's a huge flood-tide of expression that is most likely a smidgen too late...

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.                      
                                  I Corinthians 13:4-8

So, if perhaps life has failed you, maybe you need to upholster your definition of love. Are you sowing that same degree of love into others that you speak? Or are you expecting others to honor obligations toward you while you do nothing? Again, not love. Do you feel slighted? Maybe it's time to increase the output of love you are putting out there--and more importantly--to people who are worthy of that love. When the day is done, the ACTION of love should cause the same internal jolt that word love does, and if it doesn't ... it probably isn't.

I love you.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

When we walk away... (A reflection)

I think it's fair to say that we all want to have a good time. Not necessarily indulging in any bad behavior(s), but we want to enjoy ourselves with those whom we spend time. However, we must keep inventory of the lengths we are willing to go to enjoy ourselves. I have to be honest; the older I get, the more I cherish my personal time alone ...This could probably be attributed to the fact that I'm making up for the time when I was force to be around people while I was internally crying out for solitude. . .

Nevertheless, we often focus on having fun, but as of late, my focus has shifted to how I feel when we go our separate ways. Maybe I'm the only one, but have you ever had a blast with someone, not doing anything bad, but when it was over you just didn't feel good? It's made me more mindful of the company I keep. Not to say that people have bad motives, but I must survey what fruit is being born from our association? Am I growing? Am I being challenged? Who's being inspired? I mean, fun is fun ... but at the end of the day, I'm needing something a lil' bit more substantial than a rigamarole of social pow-wows.

Then the scripture hit me, "...we wrestle NOT against flesh and blood, but against PRINCIPALITIES, against POWERS ... against SPIRITUAL wickedness in high places." I then realized that certain environments we take ourselves into, though we may not do any physically bad acts, SOMETHING is being extracted, be it good or bad. Has an ugly disposition crept into your back pocket while you were on a 'scene' that was probably not beneficial to you? Or perhaps you broke bread with someone who could really care less about you, but just needed something to do. Could it even be that people are using you to get information about others to carry out their vindictive agendas??? Either way, know that it's not necessary about how much we're enjoying ourselves, but how do you feel when you walk away??? [Selah]

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Interlude of Gloom

Every year, around this same time, I am subdued with sadness. I try to forget it; I even try to repress it, but the same feelings of emptiness, loss, and extreme sadness still besiege my mind. The backdrop of that painful season looms over the walls of my conscience. It was this time, almost 14 years ago, when my beloved grandmother was quickly and tragically stricken with and succumbed to terminal cancer. I always ask myself, what I could have done differently. Why didn't I notice a sign? Why didn't I take a more radical approach in treatment options, etc. Did I pray/fast hard enough, etc ... Then, there's the night that you practically begged me to stay overnight at the hospital with you. Probably the last request you would ask me, and I couldn't even meet that; I probably will never forgive myself for that. I tell myself each year, it will get easier, and it never does. I vow to do things to cheer me up, but they never work. I laugh and crack jokes to diffuse my agony, but even that tactic is short-lived. I think the biggest shock of it all is that, in my eyes, she was 100% invincible. And to watch a pillar in your life literally be brought down to the ground does damage to you on many levels. I can't even express how much this tragedy has affected me. Honestly, I should have sought grief counseling because it lead me to be functionally depressed for many years. And though I think I cope better now, there are still parts of this tragedy in which I have yet to receive closure. I guess this will just be one of those things that I continuously wrestle with for the rest of my life. I look back at my successes, and they become bittersweet because you were not there flashing that million-dollar grin and rooting like absolutely nobody else could. I pray so desperately that you could just come back and give me the advice and spiritual counsel to maneuver me in the right direction, but I guess God has the master plan. So I'll just keep on trusting Him and trucking along. I know sadness is not what you would have wanted or me, so let me pick myself up and conclude this interlude of gloom. I declare that this must be one of the 'by and bys' that the hymn of old declares will be revealed down the line. Missin’ you much, Gram. Sure could go for my hug and kiss about now.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

On the flip side of greatness...(A Reflection)

Every blue moon, I slip into trances of browsing back-to-back articles on Wikipedia. The presentation of information is very user-friendly, and personally, I feel the articles read well. However, this particular session of browsing was intercepted by something I’d never discovered; or if I did, I was too enthralled to realize it. Every notorious person’s page I read contained a section which pinpointed the not-so-pretty aspects of their lives. These legends who were full of capability also divvied in ominous immoral lifestyles, which in some cases, threatened to overshadow their legacies. Then I began to wonder, were these people really bound by the controversy the media tried to emphasize on, or were these behaviors merely agents to thwart their overall success? The more I began to ponder upon the struggles these great men/women must have had, the more I realized that humanity at its absolute best is still in dire need of divinity. Humanity is the threshold which stops greatness from entering into the sphere of perfection. As talented as some of these people were, their vices broke their superiority down to the extent that they were normal people like you and me. I guess that I’m saying all of this to say … whatever your struggle, issue, schism, or inhibition may be, just remember that it doesn’t have to define who you are. No matter how flawed you may feel your vessel is, you are still capable of producing greatness and becoming great. Issues will persist as long as you live, but your legacy has the potential to outlive you. Now don’t take this as a disclaimer to delve into heinous behavior. Rather, just use it as inspiration to keep going despite of the struggles that may be trying to consume you. Greatness is in no way, shape, or form, synonymous with perfection; however, potential will never manifest into any thing more than daydreaming if you don’t get over yourself enough to produce something!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Remembering Neannette

The excitement of going out of town was only heightened by the fact that my new, 1-month-old nephew was accompanying us on his first family trip to Indianapolis. This was no ordinary occasion. Our beloved Neannette was turning 70 and had no clue that the entire family was coming to surprise her for her birthday. I could hardly stifle my excitement as we inched our way to her door. A muffled scream is all we heard, and then laughter...and then there were tears. Tears which symbolized the deep love which fills a room with audible affection when no ones even speaking. Then, there was laughter, loving-insults, and a room full of more love than which ought to be legal. Mom and Grandma scolded Neannette for the way she looked and the way her house looked. "Mother, you should be ashamed," I can almost audibly hear my grandmother say. This celebration overflowed to a local Ryan's, which also included our then matriarch, Aunt Marguerite, who too, was meeting baby Joshua, the newest addition to our family. We all looked on lovingly as she broke him in with the family ritual of spoon-feeding him coffee. Josh is now 23, I'm 32, and our beloved Neanette is no longer with us. But even as I type this, the love, the pride, and the bond that has sealed the foundation of my life all ascends to the surface. And I realize...that even though she's no more, she's manifested herself in my family's lives in so many facets. Losing a loved one leaves a deep void and it often causes me to ponder, who will ever love me like she did? And even though I've yet to answer the previous question, I can forever dwell and reminisce on precious memories such as these. Still remembering you, Neanette! With love, Jason

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Community Crisis

I’ve searched deep within for words to address a growing concern. It seems the longer I toil for the correct ones, the more frustration continues to fester within me. Then, there’s the fear of alienating others by gauging an issue that pertains only to the black community. It seems every time I bring up a ‘black issue’, people tend to incorporate the issue into general society, feel I’m being exclusive, or are just simply unwilling to address the issue. However, my mind constantly revolves around the current state of our community and what can be done to push things into a more positive direction. This whole expression of ‘doing me’ has driven many to focus away from community and more on self. It saddens me to encounter so many great people who act oblivious to what’s going on (or what’s not going) in our community. These people often describe themselves as great—have great jobs, careers, and are faring reasonable well. However, the burden to contribute back into the society they were born into is nonexistent. It’s ironic how we often struggle so greatly to express ourselves as individuals that we fail to realize that the search for identity is pulling our community apart. Pop culture is affecting us to the point that it has contorted many our goals and it has even altered our definition of success. We’ve been so busy ‘doing it big’ lately, that we have forgotten to ‘do it’ at all within our communities. As we strive relentlessly to attain benchmarks of superficiality, it appears the true need within our community has gone untended and almost forgotten. How can true identity be established and one feign internal contentment while totally abandoning the needs and issues plaguing their direct community? How can one tout success, yet do nothing to make an impression on the environment in which they derive? Oh how I long to see the strong communities that I was privileged to be reared in by people who came together to work for a greater goal that was a bit bigger than an individual. Yes, we are individuals; and also may even have personal goals we seek to obtain. But we still are a part of an integrated society that is greater than the accolades that one person can achieve alone. To all my black folks (LOL), I humbly ask you to consider how your personal success can change the black community for the better…

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Ingestion of Pain

The concept of pain is universal and we all experience it; however, the way pain is processed is where the ambiguity comes in. In considering the way I process pain, I realize that I’ve tried many coping mechanisms. At one time, I felt repressing painful memories to the point of amnestic abandonment would work. Boy, was I mistaken. That only works until you come across something that triggers a cognitive relapse and opens the memory’s floodgates—allowing emotions to spring forth like a hot geyser. One of the worst scenarios of internal pain occurs when we are unable to forgive. That type of pain consumes and eats away at time, relationships and ultimately, one’s conscience. Once the conscience has been consumed by such negativity, bitterness breaks out like a stage IV cancer. I’ve come to the realization that time can be a medicine to pain, but ONLY when we decide to take it in prescribed increments. And while stubbornness won’t stop the hand of time, it can certainly paralyze the process of healing. As a child, I was told that it takes seven years to digest gum. Though this proved to be a myth, there was indeed a lesson in this generational folklore. Unprocessed emotions get stuck within our emotional digestive tract and without the necessary attention, will infiltrate even the purest of emotional exchanges. Refusal to address pain keeps you cyclically returning to the very source from which the pain originates. Even still, processed pain is designed to extract positive growth. There is a purging of sorts which occurs when we allow the affects of pain to strengthen our emotional muscle tone. However, the intent of some pain is to intercept personal fulfillment and to leave a bitter residue to cloud our judgment and to sour even the simplest of intentions. With this portrait of pain drawn, I am now accountable to approach pain quickly and honestly as possible. Why be evasive with feelings we’re left to process daily? Of course, it is tempting to ignore taboo subjects altogether, but what does that do to personal growth? A situation or a person may not change, but does that mean that I can’t? God forbid. Before I allow pain to progress into ugly manifestations of discontentment, I’d rather address it. Rejection, humiliation, betrayal, and disregard are all potent tools that lead many into the snares of addiction. But for some reason, I just believe that if I tackle these feelings head on, it’ll eventually strengthen me into a man who is transparent in his experiences, proactive in reconciliation, and one who can make the pathway clearer for others treading behind me…