Nearsighted Point-of-View

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.

I've been told that I'm very visual, so here's a picture to illustrate what I'm attempting to say. Faith is the only point-of-view without boundaries.
I’ve been told that I’m very visual, so here’s a picture to illustrate what I’m attempting to say. Faith is the only point-of-view without boundaries.

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 never accept a reality that hasn’t even happened… And even after something happens in my life, doesn’t mean that faith can’t change it. I have to still believe that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

-P.S.

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.

I Was Looking For Me; I Found Black

Towards the end of 2013, I decided that the time for lackadaisical living was over. I could walk the circle of methodical procrastination for the rest of my life, having gained all of the knowledge available and not an ounce of wisdom to go with it. What good is knowing better and not doing better? I thought about the progress I should have made with the guidance that I had been provided throughout my life; the results were inexcusable. Not judging by materialism and not saying that I’m some kind of villain, but when I stripped myself of excuses and thought about potential, no one would be to blame for any regrets but me alone.

Before 2014 started, I had already determined that by the end of that year, I would have a more clearcut outline of my life, my purpose and would begin to take strides to get there. I didn’t realize that what I had set out on was a search for self. I just wanted to cut ties with the unnecessaries and move forward with the necessities. Some were easy; some weren’t. I found that in a lot of areas I had to start completely over. A found a lot of areas where I was standing on nothing but dreams with nothing to back them. I spent a lot of time talking with my dad in 2014, who has never been afraid to tear me down with the truth, but only to build me back up in faith. I think my mom babied me more in 2014 than she had since I was five (literally). Nonetheless, by September/October, I was satisfied with the progress I had made and was looking forward to 2015 as a new completed version of myself.

And then I was faced with Ferguson…

I hate to keep bringing it up, but that was something that forced me to reevaluate myself, not just as this new me that I was creating, but as a young black male in America. It’s almost as if in the process of correctly rebuilding my identity, I forgot all about the black bricks. I had the Christian bricks for the foundation, the work ethic bricks, the bricks for planning and future goals, and even career bricks; my job was looking promising.

But out of the blue, the tragedies of Michael Brown and Eric Garner reminded me that all of those other bricks — except your faith — can be torn down and taken from you at any moment, for no reason at all… and forgotten.

It’s January 2015 now. The magnitude of that realization still has not worn off. I felt as though I had finally figured Reggie out; at least I had that much in life figured out. Then in the midst of that, I had to find out that I have multiple character profiles that must be used interchangeably in order for me to successfully maneuver through life while maintaining a certain moral standard and integrity.

Why can’t I just be Reggie?

If Eric Garner was my father, or if Michael Brown was my brother, and gas was $2 a gallon, I think I could afford to completely burn down a small state… But that’s the unrestricted black Reggie talking. Christian Reggie says, “That’s not the answer.” Black Reggie says, “This is why people think Christians and blacks are pushovers; I’ll take one for the team.” Then Oldest Brother Reggie says, “What kind of example are you trying to set?”

I’m one person that play numerous of roles to numerous people. Whether it’s a following role or a leading role, my actions always have to be the best for those around me. When it comes to a situation like that of Trayvon, Eric or Michael, before I react, I have to make sure that whatever I do falls within the guidelines of being a Christian first. After it clears that standard, I have to make sure that it is the best thing and representation for black people. If it then clears that standard, I have to make sure that it doesn’t set a bad example for anyone who may be looking up to me; even if it’s just my 14-year-old brother.

Complicated.

On top of that, the older I get, the more life changes for me, the more you will have to ensure that your next move is always your best move. One day, I’ll probably be married with children and grandchildren. It would be a shame if I couldn’t provide the same good examples that I was provided by my grandparents; living and lost.

All I’m saying is that there is so much that goes into being a black American man that much of it is easily overlooked. For a short period of time, I felt as though I could just go invincibly through life with this new plan and new me, and all I had to do was to do right and mind my own business. I guess for that small amount of time, I knew what it was like to be white. Trayvon was just simply walking home with a bag of Skittles and a drink; but Zimmerman thought something was wrong with that — and the court system backed his decision.

Of course with the grace of God, I could live a life without incidents of the sort. However, I’m black, and I can’t take the grace of God to myself and forget all of my other black brothers. Some kind of way, I believe finding yourself includes what you can do to help others. I guess I’ll find out in 2015.

Ninja Friends

I think we all have those one or two (maybe three) people, that no matter what, you know they will always be there for you… Even though you only talk every blue moon. These are not your normal friends. You don’t see them every day; every week; or every month. I don’t even think “friend” is a proper term for them. The relationship is weird. It’s a strong bond though that’s held together by… practically nothing.

In my case though, I have two friends from high school — a guy and a girl — that I hardly ever talk to and rarely see. The girl, I haven’t seen for maybe four or five years now! She moved out of the state and out of respect of our dating relationships, our talk time had become nearly nonexistent. She has since gotten engaged and had a child (BUT she and her fiancé thought I would be an excellent Godfather; Yay me!). The guy friend, I may see once or twice a year, but when we get together it’s like we never spent any time apart. He is now married with two kids. I’ve seen him a few times since he’s been married, but not his kids. That’s how bad it is, and I really don’t understand it. Through all the space and time between both these friends we remain separated, but inseparable.

I texted a friend for some help today, and the response I got was, “Well my phone says this is Reggie but nahhhh. Reggie doesn’t text me.” So I’ve accepted the fact that maybe I’m a bad, but loyal friend. I’ve heard other people say they have friendships like this, but now I’m considering that maybe me and those people have problems in nurturing friendships.

I first thought about this one night about a month ago when my brother came over. Now my brother and I are pretty close — the kind of close that can be exhausting — like Shawn and Marlon. However, over the last two (nearly three) years, we have not spent any time together where it was only us two. So that particular night we talked from 10pm until 6am the next morning… and we realized we are no longer as similar as we once were. Since that’s my brother though, we still understand each other and know why our views are the way they are, even though they may differ now.

Shawn and Marlon Wayans in "White Chicks"
Shawn and Marlon Wayans in “White Chicks”

Now let’s consider these two friends that I have. If we really sat down to catch up, what would happen? Not at a birthday dinner, or a wedding, or some group reunion… Just one-on-one and eyeball to eyeball; what would happen?

Answer…

We would leave thinking about how awkward it was. If my own brother and I are having to relearn each other after a short three years of not living together, how much have my friends and I differed since we’ve been apart? We don’t know each other anymore. Our lives have taken different routes, and experiences have taught us different lessons. Yes, it’s a part of life and growing, but there has been no constant communications between us to make us aware of each other’s changes. It’s like seeing your friends in the sixth grade after fifth grade summer break: “Dang you got tall!” It would be to drastic and the thought of it has actually made me paranoid about getting to know my friends as full grown adults.

I believe we all have cases like this. Yours may not be as extreme as mine, but you can relate. Partake in my perspective, will you? I say all of that to say, that relationships of all kinds, have to be strengthened. It’s easy for us to focus on strengthening that bond in a dating relationship because your are fighting to keep that person. We have to do the same for siblings, childhood friends, good friends we made on the job, or wherever. If we don’t that bond that you think is there, just may not be.

The reason that this is important to me, is because I truly believe that the types of relationships you build in life will play a dominant role in determining your measure of happiness in the end. People are your greatest investment. Try not to burn any bridges and stay in good standings with everyone. Now if it can’t be done, then it can’t be done. But a lot of times we give up on people, and possibly good friends, over something as little as lack of communication.

I hear people talk about how they don’t need friends. Well you may not need friends, but everyone needs love… and you can find a lot of love in friends. So if you got throwback friends, or ninja friends (can’t see ‘em, but you know they’re there), call and tell them you appreciate them. Hang out if you can. Keep in contact and keep the relationship what it should be. I mean, I have friends in my favorites list that I don’t even remember what they look like. I’m a bad case, so don’t be like me. Call your friends now… before you realize the number you have saved for them is their pager number.

You Live the Good Life… And Don’t Know It

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. 🙂

Relationship Failure Theory: Revisited

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.

Life Ahead: Drive Safely

The alarm goes off at 6:20. I wake up only enough to snooze the sound away and fall back into a deeper sleep.

An hour and sixteen minutes later, I jump up frantically trying to fit undressing, showering, and getting back dressed all in the same motion. Instead of enjoying a quiet ride on the train to school, I now have to drive and fight through traffic in an attempt not to miss class my whole 8AM class. As I grab my bag and keys, my mom stops me and tells me to wait. She said, “Ain’t no need in rushing. You already late and if you go speeding off, you can end up with a ticket or in an accident.” My dad comes out of the bedroom and follows up with, “And the last thing you want on your conscience is being responsible for taking someone else’s life.”

They made me come inside, sit down and close the door. My mom went on to prepare for her day, while my dad continued the lecture. I was nineteen and completely irresponsible. I had started to make a habit of this morning rush routine, and it had caught the attention of my parents. “You need to start doing what you need to do, to get to where you need to be, at the time you need to be there. Speeding can get somebody hurt.”

Since then, I haven’t rushed to a destination. As I have gotten older, I have tried as hard as possible, to incorporate those same rules with life in general.

“Oh my goodness! I’ll be twenty-eight this month! Oh no! I don’t even own a house yet! Oh crap! Hopefully, I can finish my degree within the next year or so! Oh shoot! If don’t get married soon, I may not be able to have five kids! And what about my writing? Bestsellers don’t write themselves!”

Questions and worries like these will send you into a frenzy (also known as road rage). Keep in mind, that these panic-provoking questions only come in bundles of three or more. These are just a few of mine. What are yours? I’m sure you have a few goals that seem far away or out of sight.

When these panic attacks happen, I try to relate it back to traffic. “Okay, I may be running late, but I can still make it there.” The important thing is to realize that it is not the end of the world. I get up and prepare for work. The only difference is that I no longer have the pleasure of watching the news or stopping for coffee. I don’t look for shortcuts, because the route I take is already the quickest way. A shortcut could easily turn into unknown roads more wasted time. So I drive the speed limit to my job, and it is never as bad as I thought it was when I get there. When I get there, do you know what I get?
“Good morning, Reg.”
“Sup, bro.”
“Everything alright?”
“Tim brought Krispy Kreme.”

You know what I never get?
“Reggie! The CEO came down and asked for your third quarter reports from 2007!”

Now I am in no way condoning being late or not taking care of your responsibilities. I am only saying that we should not be so focused on our shortcomings that we rush into a traffic jam. Ask yourself, “Did I do what I was supposed to do today? Did I make good decisions? Did I waste time? What did I learn? Who helped me out? Who held me up?” If you can ask yourself questions like these to ensure you are on course, you will get to where you need to be. And when you get to where you need to be, you won’t remember the stop signs. You won’t remember the potholes. The roadblocks won’t mean anything, and the other crazy drivers will only be memories.

Realize that you have less time for mistakes and make the most of every opportunity. Don’t waste time, but don’t rush. Rushing comes with penalties and cause accidents; and accidents get people hurt. Shortcuts in life are called cheats. Cheats also get people hurt, and you have to pay with integrity. The thing about integrity is that it is something that you only have so much of; once it’s gone, it’s hard to get back.

Move steadily, quietly and humbly through life. Seek direction from God, because without Him, you’ll crash and burn anyway. Carpool. Pull someone along and help where you can. Enjoy the trip instead of stressing over the race, and everything will be okay.