Scene 5 | Take Umpteen
My life is no Romeo and Juliet melodrama, but I've had a riveting mix of bitter and sweet moments.
I've had what felt like eleventy thousand jobs but no Career. As I’m sure, it sounds like a skyrillion relationships, too. Though in actuality, it's only been 4—at times, I'm talking about the same person but from a different vantage point. I even reckoned that I've had a bajillion places that, at some point, I called home. Not to forget the assortment of friends that garnished my various stages in life. I know to you, the listening audience, I sound like a mess—and you'd be mostly right. For a long time, perhaps I was. Even so, it's easy to sit in a seat of judgment, especially when sorrow (that is, heartbreak and sadness) looks different on everyone.
Folks take one glimpse, and without any background knowledge, they sum you up, based on the small snapshot of your life that they're privileged to see. They skim one page of your ten-part sequel and sum you up into one word. Similar to when we view one post of someone's relationship and hashtag it, goals. (insert face in palm emoji)
I've shared many of my relational mishaps, and while I can poke fun at it and say things in jest now when these stories were happening in reel time, it was no laughing matter. Be that as it may, both you and I can glean the lessons from the pain. In truth, when I roll back my curtains of memory, three reactions were constant: “Seriously, God? Why God? Or, Oh, Wow God!“ In my feelings or not, by all means, the show must go on!
Quiet on the set
The details surrounding my early days are still quite sketchy for me, and in many ways, it's as if parts of my puzzle remain missing. What I do know is at the age of two, my biological mother, bless her heart, was hit and killed by a drunk driver. Luckily for me (and I use that term loosely), I was adopted, and my bonus-mom was expecting me, even when she was thought to be done with conceiving. I'm not saying it was an immaculate conception; I'm merely stating her name was Mary too.
Anyway, my eldest sister told me how our mom said to her, "How would you feel about a baby sister?" To which she replied, "Mommy, ya head good? The doctors already told you, that's it for you!" You see, she was sick, but in a dream, she saw herself with a little girl. While she may not have been sure by which means I would get there, she was confident I was coming!
Tragedy and all that aside, into a new family, there comes this two-year-old toddler who would talk real fast, one hundred words per minute, but polite and cute as a button—so I'm told. Even at two, I could still remember my lil puggy fingers writing on the walls every day. Under cabinets and in closets, I took great pleasure in writing the ABCs in every nook and cranny. Ahh, fun times.
Unfortunately, before my 8th birthday, my Mary (meaning beloved) also transitioned to her reward, and for a long time, I couldn't comprehend how or why a loving God would put a kid through this. Either this was for a purpose, or He was going to see me through many hours of therapy.
Then I became an adult and understood even less about the world than I did as a child. Nothing made sense. The only thing clear was that my life outside of the house of the Bishop and my one good Mary could only spell one thing, disaster. I tried to fathom myself without the basis of church, and I'll have to say ratchet would be an appropriate understatement.
Still, three-quarters of my life had me in a constant reverb of, "What in the H-I-J-K-El-Em-N-O-P just happened?" 'Cause when I finally got half an ounce of sense, I felt that I'd wasted so much time lollygagging that it would take me forever to catch up. But then I heard a well-known preacher say that a mere number can't accurately measure age and time. It has to be measured by the span. If you're 40, and God has allotted a life for you until 80, then you're young. But if you're 20 and only have until 25, then you're old. #whoa
So like most, I was lamenting over what felt like four seasons of unfortunate events and a lifetime of unanswered prayers. Let's graze over my twenties, the era of dumbness personified—but we all have that, don't we? Maybe not. So thirty came, and first up, BAM, my one unmentionable drama (if you wanna know, read the book). The next theatrics came in with a blaze—literally, I caught fire and almost died. Not to be outdone, thirty-one came with a sickness I deemed was likened to death. Well, a little sweet got sprinkled in, and I met who I thought was the love of a lifetime—and BAM, let's just press fast-forward on that, aye! The next thing I knew, I woke up and was 40–what the what now?
Yet everyone around me seemed light years ahead and appeared to have everything I wanted. But did they? Was any of what I saw a genuine hope? Or was it me wishing for things that were commonplace? I believe Prophet Ritchie Spice says it brilliantly, "What eyes don't see; heart don't leap." My Gawd, if we were in Church, that would have been a good place to sow a seed.
Many moons and 14,965 sleep later, two bible stories helped me see how our eyes can distort our most innate desires. These two women, to me, had the essence of sweet sorrow, and yet they bought so much clarity to my chaotic life.
Bathsheba, many will argue, placed herself in view of the king. (see 2 Samuel 11) Okay, fine, but like her, many of us don't go into situations thinking of worst-case scenarios first. Planned or not, the king sent for her and was like, "Sooo, amma need that lil thing, yea!" That was the moment sis must have realized she was in too deep. Even if it was just for a tease, as people say, she couldn't refuse the king!
We sometimes raggy her name, as if many chicks in these here streets wouldn't all but sacrifice their mama for a chance to lay with a king. #bagsecured!
On the other hand, I'm not saying Uriah was perfect either, but a man so dedicated to his assignment that he wouldn't sleep with his wife is a dude you'd maybe love to hate. A man that chose duty over satisfaction so much so that he couldn't think to have fun while his fellow soldiers were dying in battle. #badboysforlife
Now, I can use modern-day vernacular, but biblical terminology is so much more endearing. David said, "Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet." (2 Samuel 11:8 KJV) Now you'll know once you clean, that one name 'over!' #whereyourclothesat Anyhew Uriah instead slept on the porch of the King's House.
Can you say run hot? When David found out, Uriah never went home; he sent for him posthaste, "Dude, thou thinkest this a game, aye?" But it was Uriah's response for me: "The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing." (2 Samuel 11:11 KJV) #whaps
Let me tell you'll right now; it's Uriah who wrote the song, "For I'm saved saved saved, right now I'm saved!" Because it would ONLY take divine power and intervention to be this loyal.
By now, King Smooth Criminal was in a pickle; all he could hear ringing in his ear was "But David, I'm late!" And cue violins: "Sheba, are you okay? Are you okay, Sheba?" Whew, Chall, there was no other option. It was off with Uriah's head at this point. What else should a king in such a predicament do?
As you know, Uriah dies, David marries sis, and still, after all this cajoling and conniving, the son they tried to cover up dies. (insert dramatic pause) WHATTTT!!! So for real, her husband…anyway, David (a man after God's own heart) ya dirty.
And you, Ms. Sheba, just messy. There went David desiring something he didn't even need. Sheba may be partially guilty of parading herself indirectly in all. However, it was a hefty price to pay for one sweet night with the king on both sides.
Then there's Leah, who had a fair share of ugggg moments. First of all, she was borderline pawned off on Jacob. I mean, I get it was a different time, but I don't know a woman dead or alive who wants to get thrown to a man she knows doesn't want her. Contrary to popular belief, Jacob only waited seven days before he married Rachel in exchange for the additional seven years that made it the fourteen years we like to quote.
Not only didn’t Leah have Jacob all to herself for a chance to win his affections, but to add insult to injury, Rachel always seemed to have something Leah didn't. Rachel had beauty; Leah didn't. Rachel had Jacob's heart; Leah didn't. However, when it came to being a fertile Myrtle, she finally had Rachel beat. (see Genesis 29)
"Surely my husband will love me now!" (Genesis 29:32), she said to herself when Reuben was born. What she desperately wanted would finally belong to her, no more competing. Leah had the bargaining chip of all bargaining tools, not just a child but a son. Yet four whole boys later, still no affection as she had hoped.
I'm confused, though; pie-like Rachel must have been a piece of work. Why else would the Bible say, "And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, (who hated her I ain't sure) he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren." (Genesis 29:31) This caused me to question, "Can your husband, honest to goodness, dislike you, even after all that?" Whew, Lord, no woman deserves this as her portion. Fix it Mary's, Little Lamb.
I don't live in biblical times, where major life decisions are thrust on me (i.e., who I must marry or where I can live). I literally can choose, and still, many of my choices were based on the premises of what people may think. I might as well have been a Hebrew girl. There I was, considering folks who were living their best life without any thought or consideration of my opinion. The problem is many of us are quick to ask the wrong G; we'd click Google or say, "Hey girl!" quicker than we'd ask God.
But in my quiet time, I started to write down the desires of my heart. Because we all like to quote that scripture, "… He'll give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4) And you know what I discovered? Every single thing I wanted was not an innate Raquel desire. I can't even tell most people many of my true desires when you look I‘m sold to the Midianite traders like Joseph! #zipit
Had it not been for the Lord who sees the total picture, I would have been right there like Leah, six sons and one daughter deep, wondering how and why my affections weren't being returned. Do you know why? 'Cause I was missing the pretext and the context of the scripture, "Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart (to and as well—cause don't leave out this part). Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass." (Psalm 37:5 KJV) Yeah, that part! Terms and conditions saints, terms and conditions.
Why did I paint the beginning picture for you? Because while much of my life was not my desire, all the non-desires, like in the case of Bathsheba and David, birthed Solomon. Translation: Wisdom is the application of experience. Every "No" was necessary so God could get me to a place where my unfiltered desires could be recognized. And like Leah, all those sons she birthed were about three-quarters of the tribes of Isreal. That means I wrestled with God for some answers. I suppose, as a bonus, my ultimate desire (a writer) needed the stories to tell. Yeah, I see what you did there, God! Well played, Sir!
I was out there like the scores of churchy singles trying to pray that Ciara prayer verbatim. I was sitting at the screen, writing down all the steps she said she took to go from Future to Russell. But the truth is I prayed that prayer before. I think we all did. But why has it happened for her and not the average Jane? Check your motives, sis, see if they are in tack.
Might I submit to you today that you're not getting the so-called desires of your heart because they're not your genuine desires but rather the lust of your heart? In the last ten years, nothing that I was there crying over, I mean straight weeping, were any of the things the little girl in me always dreamed of. Since taking my own advice and quieting the noise—listen to me—astounding! #mindblown
That's a Wrap
Then I got to wondering why I had not realized my natural desires before? It was simple yet so profound. I wasn't spending nearly as much time in the 'word' as I needed. You know, not delighting myself in Him! Why is that important? Well, I'm glad you asked; Paul explains it so aptly in Hebrews 4:12 NLT "For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit and between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
The NIV says:...it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Do you want it because you want it, or do you want it cause someone else has it?
The more I read, the true essence of me is still being revealed. The more I question (ask), and the more I search (seek), the pure content of my heart becomes apparent. Finally, now I can knock on the doors that could make those dreams a reality.
Here's the thing; life already comes with some sorrows built-in. I mean, baked right in there, in all the cracks and the crevices. Do you honestly want to compound that with 'grief' that you went looking for? Romeo surmised that parting is sweet sorrow, but I tell you again, letting go of some things is not a loss as much as it's a necessary gain. All I am saying is if you check real good, under all those mink lashes or swagginess, sometimes the source of your added sorrow is, well, you! #straightnochaser