Monday, February 10, 2014

Working vs. Jobbing

Yesterday at Bridgeway Community Church we had a King deliver the message.  Yeah that's right I said a KING.  King Adamtey from Ghana, delivered a message asking "Are You Working or Jobbing?"  He explained that work involves working for a purpose.  A job is something that you do just to exist.  He explained that God didn't create us just to do jobs, but to work.  The message spoke directly to how I have been feeling.  This message motivated me at a time when I very much needed the motivation.

The past few weeks I have been deep in reflection.  I have been processing how I view myself and others view me and it has kind of been a rough process.  One thing that always comes up is how not having a steady job affects other aspects of my life.  Yes I am consistently balancing the funds in my bank account.  And yes I keep passing on buying snow boots to make sure I pay another bill.  I have to skip a few outings and a few fancy meals from time to time.  But all of that is just surface level material things.

The loss of my job and the trouble of trying to find a new one definitely has taken a toll on my confidence.  I now question my abilities and skills and wonder if I am really good at anything at all.  I know I shouldn't think that way.  I don't try to.  But it is hard when you feel like the last kid left on the sidelines for a game of dodge ball.  I sit back and listen to people tell stories from their jobs and about their co-workers.  What stories do I have?  I took a really interesting quiz from Buzzfeed?  I found a great recipe on Pinterest that I will probably never make because I rarely get time alone in the kitchen?

At the end of the day it is not the actually lack of a job that bothers me the most.  It is the fact that I am not fulfilling God's purpose for me.  I started this whole blog trying to figure out my purpose and work on my relationship with God.  I read the Purpose Driven Life and The Dream Giver to help me figure it out all.  It helped and I felt motivated, for awhile. I figured out that I really wasn't too far from what I already knew, that I wanted to help people.  However, with each day that I don't have a job I feel like I am helping no one and that I am letting God down.  Sometimes I truly feel like God wasted his time and talent on me.  Sometimes I question whether my vision of doing great things for others was a grandiose idea that I was never meant to have.

Yesterday at church I realized that I probably am disappointing God, but it is not because I don't have a job.  No, I have let my relationship with God dwindle.  Sure I still go to church every Sunday with my mom.  I take care of my mom.  I try to abide by the Golden Rule.  I invite people to church.  I give money to poor people.  I volunteer.  And now I have even begun the process to begin joining the church.  However all of that is not really work.  At least I don't believe it is the work to which King Adamtey was referring.

Yes, I have been doing some good acts, but it is not enough.  My prayers have been inconsistent.  My reading and learning of the bible has been almost non-existent.  Instead of working for the Lord I realized that I was the one jobbing.  In other words, I was going through the motions for the benefits but not really doing what God needs for me to do.  I have been asking for blessings without putting in the work.  I realized that maybe, just maybe, I have been stagnant for the past few years because my relationship with God has also been stagnant.

So today is the day I have decided that I am really going to start working for God and not just jobbing.  I woke up and got on my knees and prayed.  That is something big for me, I am too embarrassed to say how I usually pray.  I found my guide to assist me in reading the bible.  I am going to get involved with something at church where I am forced to make more than just a one time commitment.  I need to figure out what God needs me to do and maybe I will figure out what I want to do.  It's time to get to work!

Overall, I figured and it was also suggested by one of my cousins, that if I "stay in his face he'll elevate and stretch me."  In other words by putting my work in with God, it will make other areas of my life work out too.  Today I am taking my first steps to get back on track.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Preparing for the Inevitable

Between my involuntary vacation and the snow and ice days I have spent a lot of time with my mom in the past few months.  And it is call becoming much more clear to me that I need to start preparing for the inevitable...

My mother has Multiple Sclerosis.  This shouldn't come as a shock to most of you.  She was diagnosed when I was in middle school so you know that was a LONG time ago (but not too long lol).  Anyway, since she was diagnosed I have witnessed the gradual progression of the disease.  For my mother, her first symptoms were weakness in one half of the body.  Today the manifestation of the disease has affected everything from the way she walks, to her daily bodily function, her personality, and her memory.  In fact of all those, who memory is probably the worst.  It is probably her lack of memory that hurts the most.

 Her neurologist, who I love dearly, once told me that in 10% of MS patients that their biggest problem is cognitive functioning.  In my mom this is true.  For years my mom has not been able to hold down a job.  Her writing skills have diminished.  She doesn't really have an attention span to sit and read for long periods of time.  In fact, doing anything besides watching tv is hard for her.  She has to be given very simple instructions over and over again.  Many times writing things down for her is the best way for her to remember.  Now I have noticed that she has trouble remembering certain words and her speech is regressing.

Long term, short term memories they are all pretty much a blur to her at this point.  She has asked me which high school she went to and what her wedding date was.  She doesn't remember much of my childhood much less her own.  She can barely even remember what she had for breakfast.

It is hard for me.  It is hard trying to be four steps of anticipating someone else's needs.  It is hard to hold the memories for two people.  I sometimes find myself getting nervous with my own memory issues.  I worry that the few times I miss and exit are a sign that I too might have MS.  I mean what would happen if I no longer can take care of my mom, who would take care of her?  Of me?

So I know I need to prepare.  I know I need to get used to the idea that my mom is going to keep getting worse.  Part of it is just mental.  As the days go by my mother is more dependent on me.  She seeks me as her financial adviser, her friend, her girlfriend, her companion and sometimes all of that is too much for me to handle.  Sometimes I just wish that I was a daughter and she was a mother.

Sometimes I feel guilty for feeling this way.  My mother is a wonderful woman.  MS has made her such a sweet lady (before that I can't say the same).  She is very caring of others.  She can be funny, even when she doesn't mean to be.  She can be a little feisty as well.  I love my mom and she did so much for her.  And I feel guilty that I am not providing the best of care for her.  I feel ashamed that I lose my patience.  I am sad when I don't have more understanding.

I know I need to physically prepare as well.  Right now I am living with family.  What am I going to do when I move out and it is just myself and her?  What am I going to do when I am at the point when I can't take care of her on my own?  All of these thoughts are running through my mind when I don't even have a steady job myself.  Sometimes I am worried about her needs when my own life at times feels as if it is in shambles.

I am scared.  I am nervous.  I am frustrated.  I am exhausted.  But having all those feelings, experiencing my anxieties is natural.  Venting is ok.  But in the end she is still my mom, the woman who raised me.  She is still my responsibility.  One way or another, I am going to have to find a way to make it work, for her, and for me.

***For more information on Multiple Sclerosis please click here.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Black History Month

February.  You know what that means?  The Superbowl?  Well yes, that was yesterday, but I am referring to Black History Month.  Yes, Black History Month is a month that I always look forward to but it increasingly seems to bring out the worst in people.  So I have decided to take it upon myself to answer some questions that come up every year.

1.  Why does there need to be a Black History Month?

Black History Month was created as a supplement to what you have learned in school.  It is a way of recognizing all of the contributions that African-Americans (besides Martin Luther King, Jr. and Harriet Tubman) have made to this country.

Also some might ask an alternative of the same question:  Why does there need to be a Black History Month, there is no White History Month?

          Let's be honest, most of the history lessons that we receive in school are Eurocentric.  We learn about the Roman Empire, Greek mythology, the World Wars, but how often were we taught anything about Africa or even countries of the African Diaspora?  I mean with the exception of slavery, very little.  So I guess if you wanted there could be a White History Month, but it would probably be superfluous since every other month seems to be that way already.

2.  Why is Black History Month the shortest month of the year?

  We can credit Dr. Carter G. Woodson as the father of Black History month.  Dr. Woodson was a famed author of many books including the still top selling book The Mis-Education of the Negro.  In 1926, he initiated Negro History Week.  It was later extended to continue through out the full month of February.

For more information on Dr. Carter G. Woodson :

3.  Well now that we have a black president (President Obama) why do we still need Black History Month?

Oh boy.  How do I begin?  First, the election and re-election of President Obama did not end racial inequality in the United States.  Many people say that we are living in a "post racial" society.  However, if anything, the election of President Obama has only heightened already tense racial situations.  The passage of the Civil Rights Act has not eliminated racism and inequality.  Each day there is a new reminder that we have not come as far as we would like to believe.  Black face, the use of racially insensitive comments, behavior, and images is still alive and well.

I am a product of the Midwest.  I grew up beside white people.  I went to school with white people.  I called white people my friends.  I still do.  I am blessed enough to have been able to have been raised in an environment where I have been afforded the same advantages as my white counter-parts.  I was also raised to remember our ancestors and the people who fought for me to live the life I live today.  I am a lucky one.  But not everyone has had what I have had.  Not everyone has people surrounding them to teach them about the past.  We need positive examples of African-Americans.  Our children need to know that our people are doctors, lawyers, and inventors and not just reality tv stars, athletes and rappers.  It is important that after Brown v. Board of Education that little black girls don't still look at the brown dolls and believe that they are ugly.

4.  Slavery has been over, why does everyone still bring it up?

It is important to reflect on slavery and its repercussions.  The fact is that slavery, systematic racism, and racial oppression still have far reaching affects today.  The reason why black people test lower and have lower graduation rates, have more health problems and have a lack of efficient health care, higher incarceration rates, and even why we live or don't like in certain neighborhoods is all a result of the effects of slavery.

Some people still want their "forty acres and a mule" that was promised to us.  Other people just want an apology.  But all of those solutions will not account for the hurt and pain that black people have faced throughout the course of history.  So yes, for no we still do need to have a Black History Month to learn about the past and improve the future.

But in case you don't agree with me just see what the cast of Saturday Night Live had to say about Black History Month: