I am. It’s a complete sentence and a complicated one.
I exist at many intersections of identity. Some of them clash at times.
These clashes make them no less valid.
I am complicated.
I am gentle and intense.
I am fire and water.
I am so many things.
I once hated this reality. I wanted to hide the parts of me I perceived to be undesirable.
With time and experience came a change.
I spend years wanting those around me to celebrate me.
I betrayed myself for the approval of others.
Now I love ME completely.
If someone asks me who my biggest fan is, I won’t look around for anyone else to point out because well….
As a trans man who is called to ministry, I’ve been slacking.
I’ve been afraid.
I’m not afraid anymore.
Now I’m hustling and building. Challenging systems and cistems. I’m grinding.
It’s not about me.
It’s not about the money.
It’s all about the message.
God is love.
God is in all of us.
We should be love.
I’ve heard it said over the years that it’s okay not to be okay.
I have often wondered if that was true.
Like, is it really okay to not be okay? Is all the mess that comes with not being okay allowed? If we’re honest, in the larger society, it is NOT. We live in a world where there is so much pressure to have these picture perfect lives. Lives that, while they may be a little messy, should not be too messy for a good selfie, filter, and obligatory social media post.
This bleeds into our personal lives as well. Statements concerning legitimate concerns are often met with, well intentioned, toxic positivity. You know the type where our friends and neighbors tell us to smile through it or that “the Lord” won’t put more on us than we can bear. Honey…… Let’s just be real. Being not okay will often get you written off as negative, lacking faith, or weak. The kicker is, the negative messaging about these totally valid feelings/states of being are so ingrained in our minds that when it really gets rough, the criticizing comes from within.
What are we to do about this? How can we take a breath and actually acknowledge that we are not okay?
It’s tough but over the past month I have learned how to do just that. It came at a moment in which I was overwhelmed by what seemed to be stressors coming at me from every angle. Typically, I paste a smile on my face and keep it moving but this time……. this time I couldn’t. This time, I could not even find the will to get out of bed in the mornings, let alone do anything productive. I had pushed myself and pushed myself until I had nothing left.
Finding myself in this state sparked a lot of negative feelings toward me from myself. I felt worthless. I felt like a failure. I started to remember every negative thing that anyone had said to me in the past few years and play it over and over in my mind. The more I had these thoughts, the deeper into the darkness and self-condemnation I went until I had a moment of clarity as a result of speaking with my wife. The words she said to me were simple. “It’s okay.” I paused…. cried a little….. and thought about that statement. Now, I’d be lying if I said that I instantly felt better about being a mess in that moment because…. I didn’t. I did, however, change my internal narrative and gave myself permission to not be okay. I gave myself permission to feel every bit of what I was feeling and to process it.
It was hard ya’ll. There were days when all I did was sit on the couch and cry. There were days when I had to wrestle with myself and with God over some things. I had to get to the root of what was sending me into this seemingly endless cycle of not being okay. I had to face some ugly truths about my past, about some of the relationships in my life, and about aspects of my personality that I developed as a result of years of trauma. It was, and continues to be a humbling experience. It is one that is necessary if I am to become the kind of man I need to be.
You see, in giving myself permission to not be okay, I made space for ME. I made space for myself to show up exactly as I was in that moment with no apology and just be present with myself. Though healing has come from this, healing was not the original goal. The goal was just to take a moment to acknowledge that I was not okay and just sit with myself in that state without judging myself for being in that state. Make sense?
Now, I’ll get into the healing journey in future posts but, for now, I just want to encourage anyone who may feel that the weight of the world is on your shoulders and you’re tired of pretending to have it all together. Take a moment to make space for that. Take a moment to be gentle with yourself for a few moments and acknowledge where you are. Love on yourself in that moment and reassure yourself that struggle is a part of being human.
In case you didn’t know before reading this. It really is okay not to be okay. Learning to be gentle with yourself when the world is beating up on you with pressure from all sides can be the beginning of a renewed relationship with YOU.
Until next time.
I love you.
I wanted to take a moment and say, “Happy New Year!”
2020 was a year where a lot of things were disrupted due to COVID-19 and other issues. Many people across the world lost their lives and, as the pandemic continues, more lives will be lost. I hope that this pandemic is behind us all soon and that we will move forward keeping in mind the lessons learned from this.
2020 also revealed many of the things in our society that we like to pretend are not there. We have seen unapologetic white supremacy rear its head and we have been challenged to respond. We cannot afford to move forward without clearly rebuking white supremacy and the behaviors it leads to. I believe that people are waking up and that we will continue to see white supremacy be challenged until it is wiped out. I hope that I’m not being overly optimistic.
Now that we are in 2021, my question for each of us is simple…… What are we going to do with this year? This is an important question because, while there are some things that are beyond our control, mindset is not among them. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to future generations, to leave the world in a better situation than we found it. This does not happen instantly but it does happen as a result of consistent effort over a period of time. This effort will be challenged. Life will happen. The key is to make sure that each time life knocks us down or slows our progress, we keep our eyes on the prize.
Personally, I spent 2020 figuring out what I really wanted from life and working to align with that. The first thing I did was leave a job that did not speak to my sense of purpose. This was difficult because in doing so, I walked into a job that I knew had an expiration date. I also started to address some health concerns that I had not yet made time for. This has included fighting to lose weight and get my diabetes under control. I wish I could tell you that this particular battle has been easy but it has NOT. I love to eat and I love carbs so I have fallen off of the keto bandwagon a few times. My commitment to myself if that I will stick to keto this year and reach my goals. Another step I took was to reorganize my home work space in such a way that is conducive to actually getting things done. This was key because I have difficulty sleeping at night so, a workstation that allows for too much lounging is one that leads to unintended naps during the day. Lastly, I made my first major networking move since moving to the Midwest by pledging to a fraternity that will allow me to connect with others and build a better world for the next generation.
Now to the hard part. The hard part is being consistent. It is making sure that I don’t find myself falling short of my goals and standards this year. But how? How can I do this. Well, I’ve used the first days of 2021 to put a few things in place that are working well so far. The thing I want to highlight, however, is not giving myself permission to be a poor steward over my health. I do this by doing to difficult job of telling myself NO. This was particularly handy earlier today as I was sitting on the couch after enjoying a bowl of collard greens. I found myself craving a cheeseburger. This was a full-on craving that caused my mouth to water and tempted me to pull out my phone and have a burger delivered. I wanted to bread, the meat, the cheese, the condiments, the fries and a big cup of soda on the side. The craving was so strong that I could practically taste it. I almost gave in but I remembered what it would mean for me to not resist this urge and that was enough for me to do the right thing.
I encourage you to follow this example. If you are following this blog and you need to change the way you eat in an effort to get your health on track, please join me on this journey. I intend to spend 2021 doing hard things so that I can help others to do the same. This will get me into trouble in some circles but obesity comes with a price. There are a lot of illnesses that are obesity related and losing weight can result in a better quality of life for many. I know this from personal experience, research, and from watching others lose their lives to obesity related illnesses.
Having said that, I also know that losing weight can be very hard for a variety of reasons. Eating right, moving our bodies in certain ways, knowing what foods are good and what foods are harmful, and a host of other things can be very real barriers to weight loss. So, what’s to be done? How can we combat obesity against the odds? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question but there is room for conversation.
Please join me as share my journey and explore topics related to overcoming obesity.
Silence is amazing. It gives me space to sift through my thoughts. It grounds me.
I find that by intentionally seeking out quiet moments, I am able to lead a more thoughtful life. I am able to not have knee-jerk reactions to life as it comes at me.
Take 5 minutes each day to sit in silence. Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply. It may change your life.
I love you.