I HAVE AN ETERNITY AHEAD OF ME
TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE
PART 5 BE YOURSELF:
WHEN THE WORLD IS TELLING YOU TO BE SOMETHING ELSE
Until we become fully aware of our spiritual selves, as connected to God, MOST often, WE ARE BEING WHO WE CHOOSE TO PRESENT TO OTHERS.
My Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I'd like to share with you a series of disturbing experiences that are not unique to me, by any means. By themselves, each experience seems unrelated and isolated. Together, they are traces of the hand of God opening my eyes to myself and the world around me. When we look at our lives, each of us has had experiences that God allowed in order to show us who we are or who we should be. The hurt and pain we endured was God's purifying fire to remove the dross and refine us as pure gold. Such are the three experiences below when I thought I was just being myself.
- A one-on-one situation with someone telling me to be myself and evaluating my behavior; choosing to evaluate me from their first impression. Yet, the first statements from this individual were a result of their inability to see beyond my skin color, revealing their ignorance of people of color. They attempted to relate to me by telling me that they always knew they would probably marry a black man. What White person knows these types of things and why? It makes one feel as if there is a secret crystal ball that they don't share with Black people. On other occasions, I was told that I didn't have to worry about being out in the sun and tanning or having visible varicose and spider veins in my legs. This makes one want to ask, "Did they make up another species for Black people, lied about our skin, and they're trying to keep it a secret amongst themselves?" Are they still teaching white children that Black people have tails? Yes, it is very disturbing what some people don't understand about being yourself and allowing others to be themselves.
- A situation in a taxi with someone expecting me to be what they had fixed in their mind as a stereotypical black person
- A situation where I had a telephone conversation with a job interviewer, who expected me to be white, based upon my name, resume, voice and fairly decent mastery of the English language. Then, when I showed up for an interview and they discovered that I wasn't white, they reacted negatively, by quickly pointing out ways in which I wasn't qualified, without allowing me to be tested or interviewed. I was intentionally left with the implied impression and unspoken statement, "How dare you pretend to be somebody else--someone you don't have a right to be." All along, I thought I had legitimate identification, a proven record, and I was being myself.
Of course I am making light of very serious and grave situations, that have severely impacted billions of lives and are clear examples of discrimination and stereotyping, but, only because I have overcome, conquered and look to prepare others to do the same. Yes, many of us have experienced similar degrading and discriminatory situations, especially if we are a minority. People may want to be themselves, only to find that being yourself is a freedom only afforded to certain individuals, a particular race, or economic status. Therefore, to be ourselves within this world, we must look to God.
What keeps the world turned upside down is what we believe we've conceived in our minds, but, what we instead have conceived and hidden in our hearts; for the mind follows the heart.
Our impressions of other people are affected by what is in our heart, whether it be a first or a last impression. We can base our opinion of others on what we hear or what we see and know, but, how much of what we see, know and feel is factual, if we aren't seeing and feeling through God's eyes? To understand and know others, we must first know our true selves,that is, who God created us to be.
Not until I realized how disturbing these previous experiences had been to me, did I become aware that it was not just another attempt of the enemy to attack my pride, but, another way of God to show me or remind me of who I am and who He created me to be.
It is easy to see how adversity wins when people lack understanding, compassion and empathy for others. If we could only take the time to find out how, why and where they obtained their preconceived notions, impressions and prejudices, we can find ways of counteracting instead of resorting to negatively reacting.
What made the aforementioned experiences somewhat disturbing was the fact that those I was interacting with were at that time, neither capable of understanding the situation in which they had put me, nor, could they possibly understand me (and you know how we all like to be understood). There are millions of people out there in the world, everyday, who are forced to live the same experiences, or as it is often put, they are forced to wear the same shoes. How can we be ourselves when others are trying to force us to be or become someone or something else?
Published by Mishael T