Spirit is that energy within each of us that, if we sit still and take notice of the world around us, will guide us in the direction we are destined to go. Often, Spirit speaks to us in ways that seem insane, conjure up fear, or breed anxiety. Those feelings referenced are not Spirit, but what can be defined as EGO—EGO, I was once told, is an acronym that stands for Edging God Out. God is that force that personifies truth, showcasing the wonder each of us possesses within ourselves, allowing us to recognize others’ wonder.
So much of my own healing has come through my own understanding of the need to find that chorus line of people who understand my song of pain…. I don’t blame others for their rejection of me; they were just joining the party of self-rejection I was already hosting for myself. After years and years of self-hate, and trying to garner the favor of people who were not at a capacity or deserving to hold space with me, I realized it was time for me to find a community that could.
Ten years after first beginning to explore my gay identity, I found the courage and self-awareness I needed to rekindle my conversation about who I was as a black man. I began to do intentional outreach to find community, and I soon found a balm to my pain in a community of people who could sing a similar song of experiences to my own.
What I have come to understand is that another person’s inability to master the wattage of his or her own light does not give me the permission to mismanage mine. In a space of faith, I have come to a place of peace, understanding that the same God who is committed to me living the fullest expression of my life is committed to those around me doing the same. One thing I have come to know for sure is that the journey to let yourself be fully expressed, and the opportunity to manifest your greatest potential, can at times be lonely. For in a world riddled with fear and insecurity, people can only celebrate others up to the point they can celebrate themselves.
If I can’t keep my word to myself, how will I ever be able to keep my word consistently with you? When I fully grasped the power of my word, I got a glimpse of the power to manifest my destiny…. I can’t necessarily control my relationships with other people, but I can certainly control my relationship with myself. Now, I look at the commitments I make to myself as training ground in the disciplined practice for understanding my commitments to others. In many religious traditions, people make covenants with God; in many societies, people make covenants with others in the form of marriage, but no matter the custom or tradition, sometimes the covenant we most often take for granted is the one we make with ourselves.
With love, as with all things in life, we have to ask ourselves to what we will give our favor; it’s either faith or fear, but it can’t be both. All those around you may have a sense of what is right for you, but we all must love ourselves enough to trust in our own inner voice, to silence all the noise and bring defeat to the tempter known as fear.
What is the learning this moment has to offer? A great act in the process of loving ourselves is developing an understanding of how our actions either substantiate, or compromise, the materialization of our destiny.
Love is that space where our words meet deeds in consistent practice…. We often wonder why our relationships fail, or we don’t see the forward progression that we so often hope for…. The answer is simple and lies in the way we express our words, in the way we take those words and put them into action.
There is no greater barrier to the truth than anger. Every time our actions are counter to what we express as our heart’s deepest wishes, we are just giving clear indication to God that we do not yet have the capacity to hold those gifts that are part of our prayer’s request. Conversely, when we move beyond ego and feelings of anger to react in direct alignment with our heart’s desire, we open space to see the truth in situations, restore peace within ourselves, and move forward the manifestation of our destiny.
In my life, I have seen nothing that has transformed my relationships and the ability to express love more fully than in the invitation. The invitation is the moment when I have found enough self-worth to muster the courage to say what it is I need to say, not from a place of anger, but from a place of love. Love is often quoted as being a commitment and not a feeling; I could not agree more. When I have offered the invitation to others, I am acknowledging my commitment to them by sharing openly, and my commitment to myself by acknowledging that my voice is one that is worthy to be heard.
What many of us can take solace in knowing is that often it is not a lack of love that is keeping people from showing love and dedication; it is their inability to harness within themselves the power to be their own manufacturers of self-worth and acceptance. When we look to others to provide us with the worth we should be cultivating from within, we become incubators of pain and alienators to the ones who demonstrate love to us the most.
What I am continually reminded of is that I falter in fear and find favor in faith. As we move through life, we are continually invited to consider which wheel we are going to drive behind. Do we play our lives small and go behind the steering wheel of what is safe, or do we dare greatly in troubling our own potential and worth with faith in our own ability? What I am continually reminded of is that I falter in fear and find favor in faith.
I love that, often, when we sit quietly, God will use a sign—a symbol, a word, or a song—to support us on the pathway to truth. Those who know me best know my love for the number 17. It’s not due to a mystical power, or because of numerology, that I appreciate this number; rather, I have come to appreciate the number 17 as one of those symbolic markers to remind me of the pathway on which I am supposed to be. As we go through life, we are invited to look for the quiet whispers of truth—symbols: they often come when courage is waning, fatigue has set in, and the temptation to quit is strong.
When I am daring greatly to excel to new heights and to accomplish greater things, I have slowly and painfully had to realize not everyone will want to join the journey…. What I have come to learn is that when distance occurs, one of two things are happening; either others are being placed in a laboratory to learn, or we are being invited to grow in our own ways of existing, with the end result being a greater expression and manifestation of ourselves.
Every breakdown is the set up for a breakthrough. Practicing resilience during the breakdown is hard; it’s so easy to pick up a bag of chips and eat away our pain, curse the notion of God and faith, and say, “To hell with therapy; I can manage this on my own.” What I know for sure is that if we are really dedicated to seeing the fullest manifestations of ourselves and the lives we lead come to pass, we must do the work to see every breakdown as the set up to the breakthrough.
Our heart is our greatest treasure, and those we entrust with that treasure are asked to be responsible stewards of that gift. Just as we ask others to act responsibly with our heart, so too are we asked to act responsibly in our giving of that treasure. As I move forward now, I watch keenly how others express love toward themselves; I take stock and note of that expression, and I use it to inform my understanding of their ability and readiness to express love for me effectively.
St. Augustine once said, “Truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it; let it loose and it will defend itself.” So often when we experience others ineffectively, our natural inclination is to vent to friends and loved ones, to share our story of struggle in efforts to attain sympathy and support. Over the years, I have found that in those moments of venting, I, subconsciously, (and sometimes consciously) am persecuting the character of someone else. At the time, I think my actions are justified, but as I have gotten older, that quick need to react is sometimes to the detriment of truth emerging.
The majority of our ineffectiveness in expressing love is based in our childhood experiences. I was well past thirty when I realized that every person I had known who struggled in his or her ability to show and receive love derived that struggle from deep-rooted childhood emotional scars. I was just as much a perpetrator as I was a victim in my inability to express and receive love effectively. I, like those around me, had allowed the scar tissue from childhood hurts to close me off to love.
Love is a calling beyond our control. I realized the ones I loved most, who caused me the most grief, were the same ones I harbored the greatest resentment toward. It was my inability to accept the truth that caused me so much discomfort. We are asked to make peace with the love we have for other people, understanding their ineffectiveness is a testament to pain. We must acknowledge love is a calling beyond our control and accept that the love will not go away, despite our irritation, or another’s inability to show up well for us; in the reconciliation of those facts, we begin the process of alleviating resentment.
To go beyond the five senses to spiritual sight is not based in one particular religious doctrine; it’s based in faith. Faith is where deep and soul-churning love is held because faith is the work of the hand of God, and it is within those hands of God that the richest love in life is held.
Agitation moves in three ways, to call us to change the environment, to change ourselves, or to prepare us for something greater. Now, before I move too quickly to rid myself of agitation, I question, “What is the purpose behind this?” Without fail, I find the answer; now the courage, discipline, and patience to live that answer…well, that is a different conversation, but the answer is found nonetheless. When I move with agitation as opposed to against it, when I see agitation as an instrument to play in my favor, I find peace, hope, and comfort, despite uncomfortable circumstances.