Benjamin + Judah
Black folks have never been afraid the blues - just look at our history and what we accomplish. We're such a fearless people.
We know how to take something blue and bring gospel from it. Every single time.
So. I was at church today - for those that don't know, I go to Trinity United Church of Christ here in Chicago. It's really an amazing place - I've been in church my entire life and Trinity does something for my spirit I've never experienced before. Really. Part of having an obsessive personality is wanting to know EVERYTHING about something I find interesting. So when I joined a couple years ago, I was already familiar with Dr. Wright (I even remembered when he came to my church in Detroit when my family lived there) but I took it upon myself to learn about the United Church of Christ and the history of Trinity itself. The combination of African history, blackness, social justice and Christianity is phenomenal. They wholeheartedly live up to the motto: unashamedly black, unapolegetically Christian. I'm so fortunate to be apart of it.
Rev. Otis got to tuggin' at my heart strings today. The message was, "Delivered From Discouragement." The text was Ezra 4 - and to do a really brief summary of the story, this is what happened: the Jews were trying to rebuild the Temple and they were harassed, discouraged and mocked by "the people of the land" for 15 years. FIFTEEN YEARS. The "people of the land" (enemies of Judah + Bejamin) were simps - simple adversaries that claimed and pretended to be servants of God, when really they were not. Their intentions? Who knows. In any case, they didn't care about serving God and their only purpose was to cause strife and be in the way of progress. Point blank: they weren't true believers.
People are really trying to figure themselves out in their twenties. Teenagers are horrible,they really are, but your twenties are a horse of another color because most are getting a taste of adulthood for the first time - and as you move into your later twenties (have mercy), you see folks getting married, having children, buying houses…just real grown up things. But as we make all these physical changes are we making spiritual changes as well? Are we tapping into our purpose? Or are we…just…out here. Doing what we gotta do from day to day.
I don't have a lot of friends. Never have. I've never been the type of person to travel in a pack, but I do interact with a number of people regularly. I mean, I work in communications, so I obviously deal with people on a daily basis - whether I want to or not. But at the ripe age of 25, I've learned that you can listen to the advice and commentary of "people of the land" all day long, but YOUR choices must be based on what the Spirit brings to you as an individual. PLEASE do not take the advice of your "friends." You have no idea what place that advice may be coming from. I'm always hesitant of (unwarranted) "advice" people give me. I told my mother, I don't take advice from many people (including my blood) because folks are…folks. Your purpose is the work God intends for you to do - and if He brings it to you, what "people" say should really be irrelevant. In the biblical text, the Jews were simply trying to do God's work (re-building the Temple) and sometimes the people around us are not going to understand why we do the things we do. Or they might not approve of things we do - which automatically makes them harass us. Twisted right? But if our actions are a reflection of what God has spoken to us, their opinions/mocking/harassment/ negativity will not prosper. It just won't.
The "people of the land" were enemies of Benjamin + Judah. The name Benjamin comes from Ben-Oni, meaning "son of my sorrow" or loosely, just sorrow. Judah means "praise Yahweh" or (Jehovah). No, not Jay Z hova, the REAL Jehovah.
Benjamin + Judah. Sorrow + Praise. Catch it.
In those 15 years, in trying to fulfill their purpose, I'm sure the Jews got discouraged. But you know what? Discouragement only lives when sorrow has no praise.
Life is not perfect - in fact, it's really, really hard. We're going to have down periods. We're going to cry. We're going to feel bad about any number of things (sorrow). But nothing is horrible all the time. As many sad moments we have in life, we have an equal amount of praise-worthy moments too, if not more. But in all honesty, the best prayers you will ever pray are the ones you cried; because it's just coming from a totally different place. Sorrow in one hand, praise in the other. The two entities work together to make well rounded people. The only way to overcome those moments of discouragement, is to develop the power of discernment - know better and DO better. We have the right to determine our own destinies - we're not who they say we are! We don't have to accept anyone's labels (ask Richard Sherman). We need to take the discouragement that sometimes meets us in life and use it as gasoline to light our flames of greatness.
If there are people around you that don't support your purpose or believe the greatness that's already within, cut 'em off. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgASe3CIw9E&w=450&h=253]
Let. them. go. Or better yet, they may just remove themselves without you having to do a thing - they're just dead weight. It's pretty simple. God already has this figured out for us - he knows the plan. He's just waiting for us to grow up into the crown He's already created for us. Can we just grow up already?!
But tt's not an overnight process and it's really difficult in your twenties - temptations are constantly at your neck, you're trying to live to certain expectations, sometimes you doubt yourself and your capabilities, etc. It's enough to drive anyone mad. But remember this - you don't have to accept anyone's labels of you and your greatness has already been established. God is just waiting for you to walk in it.
Remember your Benjamin + Judah. Trouble don't last always.