This year has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster.
At times, I still break down and cry thinking of my oldest sister, Andrea, who passed away this past January. I cannot quite wrap my mind around the fact that she is gone. There were so many unanswered questions and unresolved feelings. However, spiritually, I know that God helped Andrea find peace by taking her “home,” as odd as that sounds. I may not understand, but I know God is in control. I love my beautiful sister!
As I write this, my son, CJ, is leaving in about two days to begin his college career at Miami University. This entire past senior year of high school has been a mixed bag of uneasiness and peaceful resolve for me. I started putting together CJ’s memory books in March, and every day since that time, from graduation to college preparation, has been a process of letting go, being still, and striving to find a “new normal.” CJ and I have had some outbursts and arguments, yet we constantly come back to our love center. In my heart, I know it is time for him to go. He needs his independence to be the man that God has created him to be.
It is evident that CC, our daughter, is trying to find her own identity. That is absolutely a positive, with the exception of her being not so nice from time-to-time (…and me too). I have had to hold space for my sweet CC, whom I know is always inside of that budding teenaged girl, but it has not always been easy. However, I can see that this, too, shall pass as I continue to love her up.
In June of this year, I became unnerved when a close friend introduced me to her parents as her “black friend” (she said she introduced me as her “black sister,” which she felt was a term of endearment) at a graduation party. I wrote about it in a blog. The “unnerved” part was because I discovered a few things about myself and about my friends surrounding the issue of race. I saw evidence of how my deep yearning to simply be labeled and recognized as “Diana” along with my other character qualities, and not be labeled by my race, has resulted in a distancing of people in my inner circle. My challenge now is to continue to love and be compassionate to everyone, regardless of my deepest desire.
God is still working on my heart so that I can continuously forgive, let go, and share my light in a time where matters of race and difference are center stage in our country. I want to be a vessel of respect and love, and not let my human flesh get in the way.
Now, here is the kicker. Even my relationship with my husband has been seriously tested, more times than not.
Why am I telling you all of this? I have had back-to-back speaking engagements this August where my job is to inspire people to push past challenges and adversities. The day before I had to do an inspiring talk to the YMCA’s Youth Opportunities Program participants, my husband and I had a huge argument.
You think I wanted to give that talk? NOPE!
I sat in the YMCA’s parking lot, weeping, wondering why I had to go through all of this. Why was I feeling overwhelmed? Why did I feel stuck? Normally, I am able to move on and love anyhow. Why am I feeling “some kind of way” (as the young folks say)?
Just in that moment, I felt ill equipped and completely unqualified to speak.
That was my snap judgement. I was doing the exact same thing I tell everyone not to do. I had to recognize what was going on and snap out of it!
I was drinking the Kool-Aid of self-destruction. What a big fat lie!
What is the Kool-Aid of self-destruction? It is sitting there, nursing your wounds and falling into a dark place. It is like black magic dust particles that begin to penetrate small cracks into the walls of your security, optimism, perspective, openness, liveliness, compassion, energy, sparkle, and vigor for life. It is as if you become ill from the dust and, before you know it, you are sitting in the parking lot crying, thinking you are not equipped.
NOW HEAR THIS: To all of my care providers, educators, and people that encourage and inspire others on a daily basis, DO NOT drink the Kool-Aid of self-destruction!
Undoubtedly, we all need time to grieve when a person passes away. We all need time to process the transition of a child from high school to college. We all need time to examine our close relationships to make certain they are in alignment with our core values. We all need to know that the people we deeply love just need time to go through transitions.
That is completely normal! We are human, after all.
What is not normal is to believe that you are less than because of these life experiences and transitions.
I encourage you to read the following and put this somewhere you can read often. I promise you will see the Kool-Aid right in front of you and say, “No, thank you,” and keep it moving and overcome any challenge:
You must stop nursing the wounds of your past. Do not allow them to creep into your today. Forgive and let go.
You must recognize that you are a child of God and He wants to use you in mighty ways.
You must lean into Him and talk to Him as if He were your very best friend. Proclaim your inheritance.
You must guard your heart above all else and constantly take a temperature of it to make certain “dis-ease” does not set in. Pray often.
You must prayerfully consider whom you allow in your inner circle of counsel and deep relationships, as they are a reflection of how far you will go in life.
You must share your doubts, insecurities, mistakes, and shortcomings so that you are not shackled by shame, guilt, or pride. Let it out so it does not seep into your bones. Be humble.
You must fall deeply into your self-care practice of prayer, journal time, reading positive life-affirming books, saying positive words to yourself, exercise, and eating healthy, so that you can look in the mirror and love what you see staring back at you. Live your practice.
You must believe that you were born during this time, and that you are gifted with specific talents that need to be shared for the good of humanity. You are gifted.You can, and will, overcome any obstacle. Allow God to lead you!
Until you take your last breath!
Diana Patton is a Speaker, Social Justice and Integrative Health Advocacy Coach, Author and Attorney. Learn more about her by visiting her website. Click here to read a free chapter of her book, Inspiration in My Shoes, or read more of her articles, here. Interested in having Diana speak to your organization? Contact her.