Honesty About Keeping My Mind….

For the past several days, I have wrestled with the idea about putting thoughts to paper. When you witness many different situations and circumstances that trigger feelings of hopelessness and sadness, the desire to address those moments become challenging at best. Yet, I have come to a place in my life where I must be honest about who I am and where I am in the movement of this world.

The past few months have been extremely trying. It would be cliche to suggest that I have never felt this way before in my life. However, I would be making light of the totality of my feelings. I can say with clarity that depression is terrible, anxiety is the devil, and self-doubt is a beast. I have watched family members, friends, church parishioners, and others endure some of the most horrific and trying moments imaginable. Then it happened……

I hit the wall….hard…..extremely hard.

I could no longer get up in the morning and shake off the heaviness. I could no longer no longer look in the mirror and fire up. I could not shake the loneliness. I could not dismiss the anger. I could not pass over the disrespect. I just could not. My mind had become weary. My strength was now depleted. Isolation had triggered the thoughts of disappointment. My greatest tool, my mind, was beginning to short circuit.

I broke down in the middle of my room. I was paralyzed by what I was now experiencing. It was not the first time I had ever dealt with a depressive episode. However, I would address it differently for the first time. For years, I have had moments like these that I wish to forget. The truth was that people would see me going through it. The standard thought and message was, “It’s going to be ok. Just shake it off.” “Just let the Lord fix it.” “Everyone has problems.”

For so many years, I had listened to people who swore that they had my best interest at heart tell me to put a bandaid on it so I could make their lives easier. Oh, I was always able to be clutch. I worked under pressure better than most. I always showed up. But who was showing up for me? Better yet, did I know how to show up for myself? No, not in the least.

This time something had to change. This time, I needed to take steps back to begin healing in places that were getting gangrene from emotional and mental trauma. I could no longer lean in on the bad advice of leading while bleeding. I had no more blood to give or lose. I can’t continue to pack the wounds for the moment to continue to lose out on the life God promised. So, I took the step to get a great counselor. I took the step to be honest with myself. I took the step to say that in moments I am not ok.

I decided that the life that I was living was not good enough any more. Life is so much more than superficial achievements, possessions, and expectations. Life is most fulfilling when you are loving people and receiving love. Life is filled when you watch your son smile. Life is knowing that your wife feels safe and protected. Life is when your family has their needs met. Life is friends who pour into your existence because they love you. Life is taking the chance to learn and appreciate the real you.

Now most people that might read this set of thoughts may pick and choose what they gather from it and decide to build a case for why I may not be suited for the “professional” life that I lead. Others may attempt to find ways to demonstrate some type of sympathetic approach to addressing me. None of these reasons or potential outcomes address my purpose for writing on this day. No. I just choose to be an example of how God can rearrange your path to healing and wholeness. I want to testify to the fact that God can still use me in powerful ways even when life is imploding. I am a testament to how God provides grace in my weakness and space for my healing. Do not allow anyone the ability to dictate how you make it to the other side of trial.

In this short period of time, I have discovered that three types of people exist in moments of traumatic experiences.

  1. People who don’t want you to heal properly
  2. People who want you to be whole
  3. People who want you functional enough for them to continue to benefit.

I never worry about people who don’t care about my existence. They have stated their case clearly. I don’t have to worry about the people who rally for my wholeness. They purpose in my life is clear. Those people who are addicted to your production, ability, and skill are the most dangerous. They are willing to do whatever necessary to make sure you are comfortable while you are dying inside. As long as the benefits of your gifts are present, they will place your feelings, emotions, and psyche in hospice. That type of people pleasing environment will never help anyone. So, I decided to change my address from that toxic place to the place that God has destined.

I am nowhere near the end of my healing journey. I will be constantly unlearning the bad and destructive thoughts that dictated my life for so long. Access to my inner space has guard dogs and angels with flaming swords. It’s not personal, People. I’m just getting down to business. I’m getting to know the Charles that God loves. I’m getting to know the Charles that God created. I pray that you begin to do the same searching for yourself. On the other side, we will all become the best versions of what God intended.

Blessings on the Journey…

Sorting Through the Same Old Cycle

Standing with my reason….

Today, I was online for an important conversation on Racism. The Leadership Clinic is hosted by Bishop Gregory Palmer who is the Bishop of the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church. The session featured speaker and author Dr. Jermar Tisby. Allow me to say that the conversation had substance and necessity to the current discourse of addressing racism and the attempt to change the environment in putting this horrific ideology down. I have no real criticism of the content, the reason for the discussion, or the validity of the necessity for it. Yet, I found myself in a very awkward but familiar place after things ended.

For 40 years, I have been a Black man in America. Every fiber of my being has experienced the various side effects of living in a world that hates your skin, your possession of gifts, and your uniqueness while attempting to profit from all of the valuable resources that live within. I have watched and waited for people to take a moment to see my reality for just a second. I have invited people into my space to at minimum understand the plight that has been documented for many years by people across the width and breadth of Black culture and experience. I have watched Black men and women of exceptional character and skill be passed over by unexceptional people. I have been a part of conversation where all I heard at the end of the discourse was “be patient”.

Well, I need all the people that claim care, love, and grace for me to give me a moment. I do not feel that I am in a place of being patient or waiting for movement to happen. I have arrived at a point where I am running thin on the simple idea of human beings being caring and considerate of my existence. I have lived through the following phases of life as an African American.

  1. You can be anything you want to be in this world if you work hard…
  2. Content of character will make the difference
  3. Show your preparation (education, degrees, etc)
  4. Show you are better by working twice as hard

I AM TIRED!!!!!

What makes it more difficult is that I am currently dealing with in fighting with my mind and heart. My mind says that everything I am saying at this moment will be misunderstood, misinterpreted, misconstrued, and missed in messaging. My heart is barking at me to express the real of this moment. Both aspects agree though that it feels in some ways like a hopeless enterprise.

Why does this bother me so much? Why should I even care if White people or anyone else accepts me for who I am? Why does the thought disturb my soul so bad? Why do I think that more talk will lead to more conversations without real action and investment? Why do I know that white supremacy will always linger because well meaning people are afraid to divest their benefits? Why? I have seen the song and dance before.

I have watched people defend establishments, organizations, entities, and anything else faster than my Black life. I have watched people develop defense arguments in order to call my trauma response an overreaction. I listen to people question my hatred for inequality as an attachment to liberal ideology. Newsflash! Treating people with basic human decency and care is not a conservative or liberal idea. It is a Godly way to treat people!

The need and desire for hope in moments like this is barely in existence. I know when some people read this they will have the desire to jump and try to convince me to feel differently. Don’t move on that impulse. Some will begin to lament the sentiment and come up with some packaged response to sound empathic and otherwise. Don’t bother. Take this most recent lesson that I have been teaching my son.

When CJ makes a mistake or does something wrong, his first and correct movement is to apologize. Recently, I have begun teaching a different approach. “Son, don’t apologize to me. Change your action next time.” I know he will acknowledge the right or wrong that he has done. If his actions don’t change, he will prove that his growth is nonexistent.

Don’t tell me you are sorry. Change your actions…..

Going Down the List….(A Few Quick Thoughts on Various Subjects)

Normally I take in a subject and begin to work though the nuances that surround it. It is a normal practice that engages my brain break open issues in a very deliberate and focused manner. This time around, I feel it necessary to get initial thoughts off my mind. Too much is happening right now not to at least have a thought expressed. So here is what is on my mind.

  1. I Guess Y’all Are Shocked? This week, people witnessed the corralling of Haitian immigrants at the boarder. The images gave us a glimpse into the horror stories of the enslavement and slave policing of our African ancestors. Many watched in disbelief as the U.S. demonstrated a lack of care, concern, and investment in the well being of those individuals of color who came believing the lie bring your tired, your worn, your huddled masses longing to be free. While it appears commendable to care for and rescue Afghans from a worn torn situation, it is very inhumane and disingenuous to suggest that Haitians trying to experience the same freedom are not entitled to the same care. I am convinced that people are still playing by the idea of conditional love/care. If the move does not benefit me, why should I have to invest any energy in the issue at all. People that have placed their hopes in the political process have discovered again that it is not set up for the benefit of people of color. However, it is designed to leech off of the hopes, dreams, and good nature of the disenfranchised looking to be free finally. Why are you shocked? The system is working as it is intended. Stunned? Don’t be. The system must be dismantled.
  2. What Are You Trying to Prove? I have witnessed many people making the cognitive decision to use all types of platforms to address situations that have deeply personal consequences. I realize that social media is a place to stay connected to all types of people at anytime. Yet, I have learned that the nature of community that people are seeking is not always achieved in the manner that our hearts and souls crave or need. The usage of social media platforms provide the world to give you open scrutiny that most moments in life do not need. No one should feel obligated to explain themselves because they are misunderstood. No one should place themselves under the watchful of haters when you are attempting to work though the constant challenges of life. Aspire to reach for deep meaningful connections beyond the characters used in a status. Make the call. Send the email. Set the time to let people you love know that you care. Don’t limit your interactions and persona to an avatar version of yourself.
  3. What Matters to You? I had a moment of reflection after Bible Study on Wednesday. I was just in awe of what God did in that moment. I sat on the floor next to the altar attempting to compose myself. However, I felt the unusual presence of God on me. I know I sat in place for about 20 minutes before someone asked if I was ok. I began to reflect on the price associated with serving in ministry for 23 years. While other people are looking for numbers, I am just trying my best to get this message of the Gospel to the people. I heard the declarations of people that I have to potential and gifting to have a “megachurch”. I kept lamenting about the price. I remembered almost losing my life, my family, my so-called friends and associations, and many other elements to this life. It was not until I left one thing that God finally had my full attention. I was not going to ever be able to do ministry under the bondage of trying to gain for myself. I want growth to continue to happen. I want God’s people to continue to be better day by day. Yet, I want God to just say well done. Don’t worry. My priorities are set. As long as I stay committed to that, I will be able to embrace the Lord’s well done.

So what is on your mind?