Living as Opposed to Surviving the Elements

This status hit me as I was drifting into sleep last night so I decided to expand on it a bit this morning:

“There’s a strong wind blowing through my life right now that’s shaking loose the damaged tiles of disappointment, the guilt-laden gutters of shame and the delusions of Disneyfied relationships. It’s time to be real.” I think at different times in our lives many of us find ourselves playing at relationship.

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

You meet a guy and there’s just something about him that you find oh so attractive, you have things in common and enjoy being around each other. But you’ve dated some real dogs before (maybe even survived a bad marriage) and as much as you wanna believe this guy is the real thing you just don’t trust that he isn’t like the last guy. So you find things “wrong” with him and convince yourself that he’s just like the ones before until he gives up his pursuit of you and moves on. or how about this one…

You’ve been good friends with a young lady for years, you love hanging out with her, she enjoys a lot of the same things that you do (yeah, even SportsCenter), you realize that you spend more days of the week with her or talking with her than not and your boys tease you behind closed doors about how you treat this girl like she’s your wifey. But you’re young and you’re not sure that you’ve gotten all of your oats out of your system and you know this friend girl is important to you so you’re torn about what to do. If you ask her to be your lady for real and she says no then you lose her as a friend. If you ask and she says yes and it doesn’t work out you’ll be crushed. So there’s a 2/3 chance of this ending badly for you so why mess up a good thing by changing anything at all, right?

And one of my personal favorites…

The object of your affection tells you that they love you and that they think your relationship is something serious and you’re soooooooooo happy you run and tell EVERYBODY! Then your friends come back at you with “Are you sure, man? You know she used to mess with …” or “Girl, be careful you know such and such says that’s they baby daddy, you might wanna let that lone…” or “You know she just lookin’ for somebody to pay her bills…” or “His daddy wasn’t no good so how you expect him to be any different…”

Or God forbid this one…

Two young people committed to a Christian lifestyle rush into marriage because they really care for each other and they feel the pressure to move their relationship to the point of physical intimacy. They get married to be in accordance with the Word by having sex within marriage as opposed to outside of the union. (Take a breath, yeah, I’m about to go there.) Five years and two kids down the line they realize that they weren’t ready to be married and both have far too many unfulfilled dreams and ambitions and begin to resent each other as the cause for their unhappiness.

Each of these scenarios can land folks in relationship hell on earth. Women develop issues of trust as opposed to looking to God for discernment of relationships and the intentions of their pursuers. Men develop fear complexes instead of trusting God to show them how to commit to the woman he already holds in his heart. A friendship in transition to loveship can get steered off course by sometimes well intentioned, sometimes malicious outside interference.

Societal views of how to deal with sex can leave a wake of broken-spirited families even if both parents live under the same roof. Why are we like this? I don’t really know. I do have some thoughts on how we perpetuate the behavior though.

We’ve normalized this crap! We now have generations of young people growing up with the expectation that they will have to deal with baby mama drama, that they are freaks if they make it to college before having their first sexual experiences, that marriage ends in divorce and that men and women are pitched in a power struggle with no end in sight. That one of the greatest miracles of our existence (procreation) is something to be feared and argued and wielded as a battle-axe in the political arena in a two-party system that some days makes me wanna holla and throw up my hands!

As many of you know, I’m a Christian and that works for me. I’m not one to tell folks how to live their lives because as a Christian, I study my Bible and I know that it’s not my job to judge people nor to beat them over the head with my beliefs. Every human being has the right to choose what they believe.

However, one thing I do know that transcends all the faiths I’ve ever encountered is that at the root there is love and that life is about more than just surviving the elements.

I spent far too many years stuck in survival mode. I was convinced that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to do. Taking care in who I invited into my friendship circle, avoiding what I perceived as the risky practices of some of the folks I encountered, trying to “take care” of people and much of what I did was good work. But there were two relationships that I played at that almost cost me my life.

I played at my relationship with God and I played at my relationship with myself. Don’t get excited, I wasn’t off dancing naked in the streets and whatnot. I was guilty of leaning too much on my own understanding of the world and not trusting God as much as I should. That’s playing with God in my mind. I cannot call myself Christian if I don’t trust God. That realization hit me 15 years ago when I faced the toughest challenge of my life to that point.

The second relationship I played at was with myself. I didn’t take care of myself at all. I justified it by saying there were folks in need of what I could give but I had things all twisted and backwards. I was so busy helping people that I quite literally almost lost my mind.

Helping others is good, but it’s best when we look to God to show us who He has ordained us to help. I’ve found this is how I avoid becoming bitter in my service.

In my relationships with others I spent far too much time putting their needs ahead of my own until I reached a point where I felt like there was no one there for me in my times of need and we all have times of need. I learned that a lot of that has to do with asking yourself who your true friends are and who are the folks who simply need you all the time but don’t make time for you to need them. My mama calls them desert people.

You know what’s nuts? I still feel guilty sometimes for letting the phone role over to voicemail when some folks call me.

It’s because I know that they are calling in need of my water and sometimes I’ve gotta protect the well, you know what I mean? Sometimes I still feel guilty for saying no to folks when they want me to do this and do that especially if I know that it will increase their burden if I don’t help. But it’s not for me to lift the burdens of everyone I meet.

I am not Jesus!

If I say no, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you or care about what you’re doing deeply. Sometimes it just means that Big Daddy (yes, I call Him that sometimes) hasn’t told me that this is something He wants me to do. And y’all, I don’t want anymore whoopin’s from Big Daddy, I’ve had enough.

Marta C. Youngblood is the founder and creative engine behind TheWRITEaddiction creatives co-op founded in 2014 as a virtual community supporting writers from all over the United States of America. Marta’s passion drives her to support the success of creatives from all walks of life to honor their talent and share it with the world. She believes that working in our creative callings does not have to be synonymous with being a “starving artist” and helps creatives master the business skills and strategies they need to work in their gifts.

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