I remember the times in my life when I have tried to conform to what other people thought I should be. And I put my all into doing it! At those times, I became someone unrecognizable to me, but at the time, I looked at it as being a new me, and an IMPROVED me, and a better me! But I was doing stuff, and wearing stuff, and watching stuff and reading stuff that I didn’t have an abiding interest in.
Sometimes, I did this change-over to please a man. The funny thing is that it didn’t truly please him, so neither one of us were happy in the end. And other times I did this to please a group I was part of. The strange thing is that the group didn’t notice and couldn’t appreciate my sacrifice. And a few times I did this because I thought it would please ME! But in the end I realized I was being fake, and I wasn’t pleased.
During the midst of all of this soul searching, Erykah Badu came upon the scene with her album Baduizm. I remember the very first time I heard Erykah–it was on that ultra cool cop show, New York Undercover, where they would feature some of the best music as their sound backdrop! The music was half of what made that show! They played her hit On and on, and I remember its effect on me–I liked her song, and her nasally delivery! Of course I fell in love with just about every cut on the album (IMO she has yet to surpass this album). She was on a complete self empowered sister girl tip and I loved it! But Erykah’s song “Appletree” really spoke to me, and still does!
Too many of us throw out who we truly are, doing our best to be what we truly are not, in the name of pleasing someone–trying to get that love that we should be giving ourselves. Foolishly giving away our power as women. And we are miserable because of it. So her song’s simple lyrics reminded me that I’m OK being myself. Those rough edges that need smoothing out are for me and God to deal with, but the truth of who I am should not be discarded to please someone else. In truth, those people who require you to change your basic self are the ones with issues. If they don’t like you and can’t be down with you, then maybe they ought not be in your life! This is the lesson I had to learn.
What I did was sit down with myself and with God. I started to read His Word and study His Word, and slowly and steadily, He revealed the truth of who I truly am to me. And it was a beautiful revelation. And slowly and over time He started to reveal my strengths to me, encouraging me to have faith in myself and in my abilities. And slowly and over more time He even started to reveal my weaknesses to me. He did this bit by bit, so that I would be able to deal with the truth of the ugliness of it, without caving in and becoming defeated. He showed me that although I have really ugly issues that I had been repressing or ignoring or bypassing in order to function, I could still love myself and respect myself even as He helps me to deal with the truth of those issues and work on toning them down as much as it’s possible to do.
I’m about to turn 50 years old in the next 10 days. So right now at this beautiful time of my life, my husband blessed me and reminded me that 50 is an important number in the Biblical sense because it represents the year of Jubilee. Jubilee is the time in the Bible where old debts were forgiven, slaves were set free, and land was given back to its rightful owner. It was a time of forgiveness! It was God’s blessing to the people so that they would know that hard times would not last forever. Renewal would always come. God would always be there to set things right when we tended to messed them up. For me this will be a time where old issues are resolved, old hatreds are put aside and cleansing and renewal are ushered in to my life.
Yet, I know that in cleansing, there will be some folks who won’t be down with the NEW ME. They may be intimidated by the fact that I have resolved to change and become an empowered woman. So I accept that they just won’t be down with me anymore. It’s possible that they may come around to a better understanding at a later date. But I have to continue on my journey, without being mad or hateful towards them. I have to continue on my journey to self empowerment without getting upset that they might show envy towards me. I have to be tolerant of those who are not ready for the new me, without cursing them but by blessing them. I have to be able to continue to move forward on my journey, blessing all the people I come into contact with along the way as well.
And if you are on a journey of change and empowerment for the new year, you will have to be able to bless those who aren’t down with you as well!