People, whether they be black, white, old, young or etc., have this almost inescapable nearsighted view of life in its totality. Because of this limited view of time and possibilities, we respond to situations based primarily on reason, experience (first and second-hand), and emotions. Those are very important, coming naturally through God-given growth, but dependent on them alone, life will be lived in a box… a mental box maybe, but a box nonetheless.
I am probably one of the worst at the nearsighted mindset; well I was anyway. The nearsighted point-of-view, is so limited that when someone says anything to you outside of the way you are seeing it at the moment, they sound insane or even patronizing. However, that person may fail to realize that you both share the same view, but instead finds it a lot more profitable to speak to you through hope. So that’s what I began to do; even if I see a situation that looks bad, sounds and has typically gone bad in the past, does not mean I should expect bad for this particular situation. Thinking that way builds a mental box around what I think the possibilities for my life are. It also, stunts the the luxury of hope and the necessity for faith.
Since this is the outlook I’ve chosen to take with my own life, I think that it would be selfish if I did not share the same outlook about those I come into contact with.
Proverbs 23:7 say, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he”. Taking that scripture, I teach and preach good things to myself constantly.
Luke 6:31 reads, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise”. So if I have to for others, what I wish they would do for me, I will probably being doing a lot more positive talk than I would negative. My words will be centered more around encouraging and uplifting than they would be criticizing.
However, this mode of thinking will be damaged through negative actions (what Christians call sin). The more wrong you do, the harder it is to think positive or expect positive about anything. The harder it is for you to think positive, the harder it is to speak positive. The harder it is to speak positive, the harder it is to believe and hope for positive. The harder it is to hope and believe positive, the harder it is to have faith in anything. Hebrews 11:6 reads, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
So in short, sins and wrong doings will hamper your positive quality of life given to you as a gift from God. And if I’m living all willy-nilly causing my life to be hampered, I won’t be able to hope and believe positive, so that I can speak positive, because I expect positive, because I think positive for me, then I won’t be able to do it for you.
This is just my perspective on how much goes into a genuine kind word. If anyone brings bad news to me, you will be leaving with good news. It’s not that I am insensitive and don’t understand the situation at hand; but if I live under the limits of the my nearsighted mindset, I may never enjoy the freedoms that faith has to offer.
I left links to the whole chapters of the scriptures references above. Hopefully, you will have time to glance at them (particularly Hebrews 11 as it pertains more to this post) and see if they help you at all in your daily life and perspective in it.
Earlier this week, I started writing about the status and progress of Black American men. I’m not even sure what prompted the thought at this point, but I wanted to know whether there was any chance of the improvement of black men. When I say improvement, I would like for that to refer to the mental condition of all of us as a whole; a healing of the social stigmas that we have been conditioned to live by. Considering the fact that it would take generations upon generations to reverse what generations upon generations have done, I settled for the idea of hoping for the change of how the Black American man is viewed. Even though, this would take long as well, I believe it would be a great start to a more permanent change within the minds of black men.
Typically, I try to keep my topics more open, hopefully to broaden the perspective of anyone who may read no matter what ethnicity they come from — But on so many levels, who you are, is who you look like. I am a black man and there is only so much that I can say without exclusively referring to all black men. In the general American eye, we are all the same, and for me to want progress for myself, is to want progress for us all. So even though everything (as far as I am concerned) falls under the umbrella of being a Christian, I, being just a man, feel compelled to address more specific people, even though God sees us all the same.
My core thought process of the entire issued though, was based this theory: All of us want better; all of us want to do better; but not all of us have seen better. Therefore, we have nothing better by which to model ourselves.
Then handy-dandy Google, absorbed a few hours of my time. I came across a video that took place in 1994 of a convention for black men. At that particular session I watched, there were approximately 13,000 men on the inside of a large church and another 18,000 outside surrounding the building. The leaders at this convention were not catering to their egos, or telling them of blessings soon to come. The leaders there were not telling them that everything would be alright. These men were being told the importance of raising families, caring for their women and loving one another, instead of acting out violence towards one another. The crowd was filled with young men who were extremely receptive to what they were hearing. This made me feel that whatever progress had to be made, could be made; until I realized 1994 was twenty years ago. I enjoyed maybe an hour of hope and writing, before I realized “1994”. After just a few minutes more of thinking about all the detriment that has been done since then, I gave up and scrapped the essay.
The deterioration that I’m referring to is not limited to blacks only though; it has affected the entire nation. However, blacks might have taken the longest strides towards progress, while at the same time, taking even larger strides backwards. We have made the most progress in the fields of entertainment, which in most instances glorifies lives of crime and degradation. I am not faulting the artists, and producers, and actors, and directors (completely), but when this media is passed along without the proper checks and balances, we turn and act it out in real life. So the success for one can indirectly turn into failure for thousands. To add a bit of validity to my point, how many times have car accidents and school shootings by adolescent boys and young men been attributed to or linked to video games? Well then why can’t movies and music do the same to the actions of our young people?
With all of that being said, let me explain why I am writing this now. Today after Sunday service, my brother and I stood talking in the parking lot maybe fifteen feet from the sidewalk. From one end of the sidewalk, two young, dreadlocked black men walked towards three slightly younger black men coming in the opposite direction. The sidewalk is barely wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side on. As the two groups came closer to each other, meeting adjacent to where my brother and I were standing, I became quiet… as did my brother. I’m not sure what my brother was thinking, but I was thinking, “It’s about to go down.” That lets me know that my mind is no better than that of general America towards my own people. I expected there to be at least an exchange of words due to simple sidewalk territory. Nonetheless, I was blessed to see my ignorance proven wrong. Without a spoken word, both parties aligned themselves to smoothly pass by each other without incident. But yet and still, in my ignorance, I thought, “That was close.” So to combat that layer of corrupted thinking, one of the guys in the duo turned and addressed the younger trio and said, “Hey guys, I really appreciate you moving to the side like you did. Most people might not have done that.” The younger group thanked them for their gratitude and continued with looks of accomplishment on their faces. I could tell that with those kind words, they would be more eager to be courteous when the next opportunity presented itself. Now I’m left standing there in amazement with a sense of stoopid that I’m almost too ashamed to admit. Even though, I had just walked out of church, neither my heart nor mind showed any hope of common courtesy between these young men. I was shown that it is a lot easier to have faith in my mind that it is with your heart, and in my heart, I did not expect better from my own brothers.
My brother and I chased down the older two guys and told them how much it had encouraged us to see them do what they did. They replied, “You have to give, to get. We show that to get that.” At that point, it was confirmed with me that all you need is a good heart to make a change. Those guys had hearts of gold. I believe I was allowed to see that to encourage me not to give up on what I hope and pray for when it comes to my people, specifically. If things continue in the direction that they are going, things may not get better, but if everyone gives up hope, things definitely will not get any better. I feel 100% better about black men than I did last week, all because of that. I feel like there is hope for a few more black women because of that. Because of what I witnessed today, I feel better about the future of our families and the progression of our people; not monetarily, but in standards and integrity. This was something that let me know that the condition of our men is not completely lost, and with enough effort, their lives can be improved, and their souls can be saved through love and Jesus Christ.
I know a lot of people. Between my family, my friends and their families, coworkers, classmates and whoever else, I know a lot of people. I’m sure the same goes for most. If I had to write out the names of everyone I knew, I would be writing for hours… And would still forget a few names. Now out of all those people that I know, there a quite a few of them that I know pretty well. From that few that I know pretty well, many of them I know intimately.
What I have recently noticed about most of the people I know, and myself, is that we have pretty good lives.
If we had to sit back and consider the things that matter, we would actually have to put more effort into finding something to complain about than we realize; at least from the Christian point of view. From the general point of view, most of us are healthy, with somewhere to live, food to eat, too many clothes and surrounded by loved ones. With those things we should all learn to be content with, Christian or not. The other things that we may find ourselves complaining about are only additives to what the enjoyment of life should be based on. Those things are usually only more of what we already have, bigger of what we already have, or even slightly different from what we already have. If you can’t learn to be happy with those basic things, you will never be happy.
As a Christian though, we have so much more than the comfort of shelter, food, clothes, health and loved ones. Like I said before, those things are more than enough looking from the general point of view, but from a Christian perspective, our comfort should extend past the point of even losing all those things. With God being the source of all of our joy, our well-being, our futures and every possible outcome that our future has to offer, we shouldn’t even worry… Ever… About anything. I know that this is easier said than done, but we should make it common practice to check our complaints as they come to mind, and give thanks for what we have. So often we lose sight of the good things that we’ve been blessed enough to see, and complain about meaningless nothings. Instead of complaining about not making enough money, try being grateful for having a job. I guarantee your quality of life will increase with just a few minor changes in your perspective.
I was actually having this conversation with someone not too long ago when they pointed out that all of this is easy for me to say because of the life that I grew up with. I grew up with both parents, a bunch of siblings, hosts of aunts, uncles and cousins, a good church and always had whatever I needed; maybe not all I wanted, but everything I needed. Without hesitation, I agreed to his point. I grew up pretty carefree. Unfortunately, there could be a couple drawbacks to explain that. First, maybe I’m the type of person that could not handle any other type of life. Maybe growing up in a single-family household would have caused me to err in ways that other people did not. Maybe I’m one of the people that God knew that anything less than the life he gave me, would be too much for me to live a life fit to be called a Christian. To be completely honest, I haven’t even done as well as I should have to begin with; so it would be very difficult to try to take credit or judge someone else. So if you’ve lived a nice easy-flowing life, consider the fact that maybe that’s all you could have handled before boasting on it.
Another way to look at it is that maybe I will need every good memory, every good thought and all the easy, good times that I have ever known in order to get through whatever obstacles that may lie ahead of me. Now, I pray that this is not the case, but He has already promised that I wouldn’t be tempted above that which I could bear. So if I were to find myself in times of hardship, I should be able to be at peace knowing that God will see to it that I am taken care of. This type of confidence won’t come by simply wanting it though. I will have to be confident that I have lived accordingly to be taken care of by God. This does not go for just me, because I know quite a few people who haven’t seen much hardship in life. We who haven’t should be thankful for that and be ever conscious of the fact that it is not by our will or our family history or anything else that has allowed such comfort. If we recognize that it’s God holding things together now, we can trust that He will hold them together if they ever seem to be falling apart.
Basically, all I’m saying is that, if you have a phone or computer to read this from, you are probably in pretty good shape. Be thankful for it. I am not a fan of clichés, but “it could always be worse.” As for anyone who reads this and are not given over to the Salvation of Jesus Christ, there is a peace of mind and a fulfillment of life that can only be experienced as a Christian; and it maybe something that you want to look into. As for anyone who reads this and is a Christian, try not to get lost in the negatives and the have nots of life. Focus on what God has already provided you with and what he has kept you from, even when you were undeserving. I have been living every day with the understanding that the joy of the Lord is my strength. So no matter how bleak or discomforting of a situation I may find myself in, I know that my hope, faith, and future lies within God and he will not let me down.
My perspective to you… So if we ever meet in person, hopefully my optimism won’t get on your nerves. 🙂
After speaking with a few people about my previous post on relationship failures, something became apparent to me. It seems as though I have placed all of the responsibilities of the relationship on the man.
“See, Reggie, that’s what I’m talking about. I wish all guys thought like that.”
Well there’s only one thing about that; when you meet a guy who thinks like that, he will be expecting the same mode of thinking from you. Just because a man has the criteria set for the relationship, and has everything together for a comfortable life, you still have to be able to compliment him. For example, if he has spent the last ten years working hard and saving money, he will probably choose from the women who have done the same. The women who have spent the last ten years partying and spending money, should not expect a hard worker and money saver. It is just not fair.
I wrote the last post from the perspective of what the man should do to secure a sound relationship. I did not anticipate that it would excuse the woman from all responsibilities on her end. I was not writing from the female perspective, but from the males’ point-of-view and what we should do.
Now, for men and women alike, if you are satisfied living a three-star lifestyle, you should be satisfied with a counterpart with three-star criteria. I am not one to tell anyone what they deserve or should have, but I do know that you will work for what you want. You will be disciplined and dedicated to that cause. Now if you are happy with a life with no God, no morals, no values and no money, the one-star route may be the way to go. When the Reverend announces that you are now man and wife, you can both punch each other in the throat, so that the entire congregation knows that you both have a clear understanding of what you are agreeing to.
Please understand too, that the criteria set does not have a dollar amount on it or beauty scale. I hold my religion, morals and values as the primary set of criteria. After that, the most important things would be how many children she wants, physical appearance, and what your food tastes like. Does this consist as five-star criteria? For me, it does. I know that there is a lot more that goes into choosing someone to spend the rest of your life with, but that is where my checklist begin. The rest of the details will be ironed out. For example, there is a 10 and a 7 (we all know what the number scale is), and the 10 wants two children, but the 7 wants five; I’m going with the 7… Hands down. The important things that life will actually be centered around, outweighs the vanity that will only last for a few years. It’s up to every individual, man and woman, to set that standard though. The criterion is not for one-half to set and the other to simply follow and/or be carried; there is a balance that must be met.
Men are called chauvinist or shallow for wanting a good-looking girl who can cook and clean and wants to raise children. Women are called gold diggers for wanting a nice man with a good job, house, and car. How about we decide that those things are all needed to make the typical dream relationship work, and drop all the labels. The labels intimidate both sides into stating what it is that they want from a partner. If you don’t want to raise children, don’t call me a chauvinist, just understand that we have a different set of criteria. I won’t judge you if you will only date a guy who makes a certain amount of money. That is what you require for yourself and it’s okay. Whatever it is you want though, you are expected to play your part in attaining it.
There is one thing that I did not consider though:
“You don’t know what it’s like trying to find a good man out here these days.”
Honestly, I do not. I have never been out looking for a good man. I don’t know what to tell you. That’s when I run out of things to say. I don’t know what a woman considers “good”. It seems like I know a few “good” guys myself, but they all have the same story. It usually goes something like, “she said I was too nice”, or “she said I was boring”, or “she said I don’t make enough money”. I’ve been that guy (typically to unholy women, so it’s fine). The baffling part is when you have to sit and watch her go to a cheating dog of a two-star man simply because he drives a hot car. The “nice guy” will be sitting there thinking, “What the heck just happened?” The hot car may not be the reason the girl went to him, but that’s all the good guy will see.. Because he’s obviously what you, the woman, have already labeled a dog. So I don’t know how to set the criteria for women, so I didn’t address it. Understanding women has already been said to be an impossible task. So the only one that I will even attempt to understand is the one I marry; and from what married men tell me, I will never even figure her out.
All I can tell you is that everyone should be what they are looking for, and that you shouldn’t expect any more than you put in. It’s just that simple.
Over the last few years, experts, and media and everyone else in between has provided an answer for every possible relationship problem there is. However, divorce rates continue to climb, and marriage rates continue to decline. So what’s the problem? Why isn’t all of this advice working? Why aren’t all of these books and movies improving the situation?
It’s because these solutions are only patches to the problem. Most of the time they are solutions that simply cater to the moods of individuals to keep them happy; they are no fixes to the founding basics of the relationship. The foundation of any relationship is what is going to hold it together; and if the foundation is not right, then guess what? “It isn’t going to work.” I put that in quotes because I literally just said it out loud while I was typing.
With that being said, there are two pillars that must be in place before a relationship can work the way that it should. This first one is Christ. I thoroughly believe that if you have a relationship that is not founded on the teachings of Christ, your relationship is always on the verge of failure, despite what it may look like.
Welcome to Perspective Park, where 99% of my perspective is from a Christian Perspective. The other percentage is from the fact that I am a randomly awkward individual that loves french fries.
I say that to simply clear the air about how I come to the conclusions that I do. You don’t have to agree with them, and your feedback is always welcomed. However, on this particular topic, the statistics in America shows that even if you do not agree with me, does not change that fact that you will probably be divorced or continue being single anyway. So your opposition on this matter is futile.
The second part of the foundation needed to stabilize relationship statuses in America is Man. Simple as that. If men would be men, that would resolve just about everything.
Within a relationship, it is expected that the man knows exactly where, when, how and why the couple is going wherever they are headed in their life’s journey together. If you are going to have a successful relationship, it is best that the man have set this criteria even before he finds a partner to travel with. The man should be able to meet a woman and explain to her what his plans are for hislife. He should be planning his life to accommodate his better half even before he meets her. I understand that this is not always the case and a lot of times relationships will work even if two people just happen to end up together. However, within that scenario, the man still has to take the lead and steer the relationship.
For this to happen, the man has to be goal oriented. He has to have a purpose and destination set for himself, and he must be striving to get there. Men within the Christian circles like to quote “We are more than conquerors” when it comes to accomplishing goals. Even though that is taking the scripture out of context to apply it to material gain, if that’s what you are going to use it for… Get to conquering! Go and prepare a kingdom to bring a queen into… Conqueror. A lot of times when it comes to a relationship, the man only wants to work hard enough to attain the prize, and once he has her, complacency sets in. You can’t win a woman over and then just stop working at everything. Or guess what? “It’s not going to work!” When she comes home and you are sitting on the sofa in a tank top, with one hand in a bag of chips and the other in your pants, it’s going downhill from there. She is going to quietly walk past you as you, greet her with, “Sup, babe.” She is going to go and reevaluate her decision on choosing you as a leader. Her realization will probably be summed up as, “Alexander the Fake”.
This even goes back to whether or not it’s a big deal on who makes the most money. For the longest time I thought women were lying when they said that they could care less if they brought home more than their man. Now looking at it from another perspective, I can see how they wouldn’t care. I woman won’t care about that if her man is continuously working and growing to become a better man and develop himself. However, if the man is just complacent with the woman making more, and is just riding the financial wagon that she’s pulling, she’s going to get tired of that. Then when she starts giving you demands, you are going to want to pull the “I’m the man” card. But what have you done to establish that position? Your wife or girlfriend would love to see you grow into a more nurturing provider. She wants to be taken care of and pampered; it’s her nature. You can’t just accept that she makes more than you, and cough it up to, “If she’s cool with it, I’m cool with it.” It shows her your lack of ambition… It’s not about money. I guarantee that she will be cheering you on for your promotion at The Fry Guy so that she can keep more money in her pocket.
Another thing is to be aware that the more you want out of life, the more work you have to put into the criteria of a relationship. A man has to know what he needs from his counterpart for him to be a better leader. He can be the best leader in the world, but if he attaches to someone who doesn’t compliment him, then guess what, “It’s not going to work!” He’s going to get tired of her. Nonetheless, that is why the woman cannot be held responsible for setting the standards in the relationship, because if she starts to realize that she’s making all of the decisions and keeping things together, “It’s not going to work.” She wants to be a support for a solid pillar of a man; not the other way around. The best thing to do when you realize the foundation of your relationship may be shaky, is to stop right then and there to fix what’s wrong. Stutter stepping and second guessing only breeds uncertainty for both people, which it the most dangerous poison in something being built on trust.
A man has to know who he is at all times. Certainty is his strength, but it will be his wife’s security. His character should be synonymous with confidence and wisdom. By the time he is ready to carry the weight of a relationship, he should have set a reputation for himself that no matter what happens, I can handle it. If he can be all of these things, most women who think they have problems submitting to a man will no longer feel that way. He will have provided her the security she needs to love, honor and obey him, by simply taking care of all her needs before she even got there. Even if they start together young, he has to be able to consistently reassure her that she is forever safe with him, and they will be fine. Sometimes it takes a failed relationship or two to realize these things, but if you didn’t learn anything, the relationship was worthless to begin with. The more you learned from it, the more meaningful it was.
We need men to teach men though. Especially in the black communities, the lack of father figures is really the biggest problem we have. Every problem that our society faces, could be resolved with proper leadership from honorable men; not just in relationships. Relationships is probably the most important one though, because that’s where the family stems from; and everyone knows that family is the backbone of any society.
Men should be able to be proud of what they are and how they take of business. Father’s Day is for fathers, but men should have a day when they brag on fulfilling the requirements of being an honorable leader. You don’t need children for that. Unfortunately, that would probably be called chauvinist in today’s world. The only way I can brag on being a man is in a Dos Equis or Old Spice commercial. I don’t want to be a satirical man. I want to be a man the way that God intended men to be; dominant, yet loving. Bold and kind. Courageous, but humble.
I know some men like that – and they all have happy wives and families. When I sit and talk to them, they never tell me how easy it was though. It always took constant work and self discipline to set good examples and role models for those looking up to them. Sometimes it meant sleepless nights and double-shifts, but they stuck to it and learned to be the men they are now.
So overall, I feel that the advice columns, movies, books, Facebook memes and everything could be eradicated simply by men stepping up to the plate. We need to learn to accept responsibility for our mistakes and work them out as an example to those who we expect to follow us. We need to learn to neither bow, bend or break, but to be solid, secure and protect what we stand for. Most importantly, when all is said and done, and life has turned out just right, give glory and honor to God for the knowledge and wisdom to accomplish it.
It’s intimidating sometimes, but it’s just a shrug of the shoulders these days. A man’s gotta do, what a man’s gotta do.