Its Your Story Too My wife has always inspired me to be better.  She has an internal drive that causes her to get bored very quickly if she is not being challenged. Before we got married, she talked about how Jesus had impacted her life.  I had heard of Him and even heard others talk about Him when, but in hindsight, I had never met Him for myself.  I decided to attend the church that she frequented and it changed my eternity. Early on in our marriage, she decided to pursue a Master’s degree.  That meant that I would not have home cooked meals on nights that she had class, but that was a sacrifice required for her to accomplish her goal.  As I sat by and watched her study, I realized the importance of growing together, so I decided to pursue a Master’s degree as well. (Fast forward about 8 or 9 years)

About 2 years ago, we were talking about our 2014 Family Vision Plan.  We were discussing what made us happy.  After I shared my list, I realized how sad it made her.  She had been in a little slump that was uncommon for her.  During our conversation, she made a statement that kinda rocked me at my core.  I paraphrase, “I feel like there is more! I do not even have a hobby right now! Event Planning is what I love to do and where I find my joy.”  I decided that I would do all that I could to help her get her groove back!  We signed her up for classes, set aside money in the budget to purchase event decor items for her to practice, and we took the proper steps to relaunch her event business.

Fellas…the theme above is clear.  I made a decision to change, to improve, to support her.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to make a decision to support your wife while thinking about the negative impact it will have on you.  Each decision above meant that I was going to have to sacrifice my current way of being, thought process, habits, hobbies, comfort, and time to ensure that she is properly supported.

“Happy wife happy life.” is so cliche, but so true when you dig deeper.  It is not just about making her happy, but positioning her to be the best she can be; which will benefit you as well. Ladies…balance is still important.  In the course of becoming, you can not completely neglect your role.  Be sure to support and continue to encourage him in the process.  If you both are meeting the needs of each other, no one will feel neglected. The two of you should have fun building together.

An “EMPIRE” is defined as “a very large business or group of businesses under the control of one person or company. Think of your family as the owners of an empire that you all are building together.  It is not hers and yours, but ours!  Her successes are your successes. Success does not mean who makes the most money.  Money may be a need, but should not be the driving force.  When you are seeking to discover your true passions, using your God-given gifts, with proper motives, everything will fall into place (Proverbs 18:16 & Matthew 6:33).

Below are some tips I have used to support my wife.  I hope they help:

1.  Don’t Be a Dream Killer

  • You may be very successful in your field and matriculated at the finest institutions, but there is more than one road to success.  Just because your road may seem shorter, does not mean that there are not benefits to traveling a route that may take a little longer or even cost a little more.  Be a mentor, but allow for mistakes without, ” I told you so.(Proverbs 15:1)

2. They Have Dreams Too

  • Dismissing her wants, dreams, and desires is a sure way for you all to grow apart.  Security may come because you are a provider, but that cannot replace the feeling of fulfilling a purpose.  Imagine how they may feel about you helping everyone else become prosperous, but you are not willing to take the time to help them.  Their success is yours too.  You are building an “empire”! (1Timothy 5:8)

3. Give a Little, Take a Little #Compromise

  • I know you travel and have important meetings so that you can continue to provide.  However, just like you put your family on hold for work, there has to be a consistent time where your colleagues are put on hold for family.  Balance is important.  What is MOST important? It has to be more than just words.  With proper planning, anything is possible. (Philippians 2:3)

4. Don’t Sabotage Their Success

  • Remember…their success is your success.  If you have the type of marriage that lifelike roommates and separate everything, fix that first.  When you married you became ONE!  A house divided against itself cannot stand.  When one is jealous of the success of the other, it is a sure sign that you are not operating as one.  If you feel like they are doing more, then DECIDE to do more to support them so that it becomes “ours”.
  • WARNING:  Do not decide to start your own business just because they did.  It cost time, money, and effort to run one business.  Timing is important.  This is still a form of sabotage, disguised as ambition.  Check your motives or you will destroy your own Empire. (Matthew 6:1-18)

5. Be Patient

  • Rome was not built in a day, neither will your empire.  Despise not humble beginnings (Job 8:7).  Building a strong foundation will ensure that what you build will be around for your generations.  After all, the goal is not only to be rich but to build wealth.  Wealth encompasses far more than the amount of money you have.  You will face trials and setbacks, but there is no failure in a lesson learned.  In the end, you will be mature, complete and lacking nothing (James 1:2-8)

married, Eugene Gatewood, Original Mentor, LaTanya Gatewood, Victory Cathedral Young Adults, Couples, Love, Marriage,

Last night my wife and I were honored to be asked to be apart of a panel for the young adults, at Victory Cathedral Worship Center, who shared their thoughts about marriage.  We have been together for 20 years (in December 2015), married for 13 years (September 2015), and it has been a joy.  Joy…not perfect.  We have had our ups and downs, but we have worked very hard to make it this long.

The facilitator asked the panel several questions.  We could have talked forever, but we did not want to be selfish and monopolize the discussion. 🙂 After all, there was another panelist couple who have been married for 39 years!  We needed some of their wisdom too!

Below we have included the questions and our answers from last night (not verbatim, but generally).  We are turning 40 this year, so our memory doesn’t always go back that far.  Ha!  We both did not respond to every question, but we have added some comments to, hopefully, give a little more guidance.  Lastly, we even got the remaining Twitter questions and answered those as well.

We are not experts, just sharing what has worked for us.  We pray that it helps someone.


1. Based on your spouse personality, what nickname would you give them?

LaTanya: The Principal: He is always giving people “a talk”. No one wants the Principle to know, but always ends up in “his office” when they need to “get right.” 

Eugene: If I am the Principle, then she is “The Counselor” they go to her office first and she refers them over here to me.  We just thank God that He has blessed us to share what we can and that people trust the God in us to come.

  • Tip: Lighten up!  Pet names are fun.  They make a relationship personal to the two of you.

2. What role did faith play before you got married? 

LaTanya: I always knew the Lord, he was a heathen! (well…maybe she did not say it quite like that). LOL   I would invite him to church, but…?

Eugene: Last Night I did not respond, but I will give my perspective.  I have always believed in God but did not have a relationship with Him.  However, I was never averse to church and did not oppose her going.  I just did not go.  I went a few times in college, but it was not until after college that I began to go to the same church she attended.  I was baptized as a little boy, but this is when I say I was Saved “for real”.  I understood what it meant to be saved and my relationship began to grow

  • Tip:  Wait and see!  Do not force them to go to church.  They must want a relationship with God, which is different from simply attending church.  That is not something you can make people do.  God does not even force us to have a relationship with Him, so why would you think you could force it?  LaTanya and I were friends for more than a year before we got into a relationship, then together for 7 years before we got married.  She took the time to watch my personal growth and development but stayed true to her faith.  Her relationship with God encouraged me to want to have one as well.  She never forced the issue, simply encouraged it.  I had to want it for myself and not just do it because she wanted me too.

3. How did you know that they were the ONE?

Eugene: On one of our first dates we spent the entire day together.  We did breakfast, then a movie, lunch, then Go Cart Racing, Dinner, then Arcade.  It was a good day.  The next morning, I called and asked her what she was doing and if she wanted to hang out again.  That was “different” for me.  If I had just spent the entire day with you before, I typically did not want to talk to you for a couple days (stop judging me, I been Delivert!).

LaTanya: “Just Look at him!”  LOL (Just Kidding…she did not respond to this question, because her answer was the same).

  • Tip: Wait and see. Stopping telling them what you are looking for in a mate on the first couple dates.  Simply wait to see who they are.  When you tell them too soon, sometimes, they try to become a representation of what you want instead of being who they are.  You will typically know that someone is worth keeping around when they genuinely care about your well being and best interest, above their own.  It takes time to determine that.
  • Quick Story…The summer before my 3rd year of college, I had a tuition bill from the previous semester that I had to pay before I could register.  I worked and saved thousands, but was short a couple hundred dollars.  I asked everyone, but resolved I was going to have to sit out a semester and come back a semester late.  When she came to my house later that day she handed me the balance I needed to pay my bill.  I never asked her, but she cared enough to make sure I was going to stay in school.  #SheHadMeAtGoPayYoTuition (Jerry Maguire Reference)

4. How has marriage impacted your relationship with your family?  Did they have a role in picking?

LaTanya: My family LOVES him and always has.  There was a period of time where we broke up and my mother called me and said: “What did you do?” #WTW I think that if we would have broken up they would have disowned me.

Eugene: Our family dynamic is amazing.  My family and her family, my friends and her friends, all come together for the holidays.  It is great because we do not have to really choose where to go.  My mom and her mom talk independent of us.  It is really great.

  • Tips: Wait and See…Family dynamics matter, but should not be the determining factor.  You chose your spouse, not them.  However, you do need to consider the influence that your spouses family has on their decisions.  LaTanya and I are both only children from families where our moms raised us.  However, both of our mothers respect our marriage and have never imposed their views on our marriage or parenting styles.

5. How do you make time for each other to keep the passion in the relationship?

Eugene: Funny thing…when I worked in Corp America, I was home for dinner every night. Now, not so much.  We are intentional about setting aside time and doing things together as a family.  One summer we decided to only do NEW things.  We made a list and tried all new experiences for us and our son.  We also made a bucket list this summer, posted it on the refrigerator and checked things off as we do them.

  • Tip:  Marriage is what you make it.  Be Intentional!  You can succumb to the routine of the rat race, or you can step outside of the daily routine and try different things.  Trying new things exposes you to new people and sparks new conversation.  It does not cost money to make memories!  One summer, when money was tough, we challenged ourselves to find FREE things for the family.  Our summer was FULL!  So much so, that our son still asks to this day, “What are we doing fun this weekend!”

6. How do you handle money?

LaTanya: We have always talked about money. We just had two different views.  I was taught to save, he was taught to spend. But we have never allowed money to become a hindrance in our relationship.  Money has not always been good, but we talk about it.  We have a budget.  I HATE THE SPREADSHEET! But it works!  He provides me with a version that I can read without all of the formulas and color coding.

Eugene: My money is her money.  Her money is my money.  We are one.  A house divided against itself can not stand.  We have multiple accounts, but we have access to all accounts.  The various accounts are simply to help us budget.  All bills come out of one account, Gas and Groceries come from another, then spending from another.

  • Tip:  You are not roommates.  Roommates split bills not married couples.  Genesis 2:24 says that they shall become ONE flesh.  You cannot get married and still keep principles and practices of single people. Once LaTanya and I became engaged, we began to operate as ONE.  We shared one another’s credit reports, bank accounts, investment accounts, etc. We had nothing to hide.  If you go into the marriage avoiding the subject of money and not setting the proper expectations, you will continue to operate independently of one another, thus not being as effective as you could be as a unit.

7. How do you feel about living together before marriage?

LaTanya:  “We are not perfect. We meet in college and I will just leave it at that. Even after college, he had his own place.  I spent the night at his place.  He said it was ok for me to leave items there, but I did not want him to get too comfortable, “playing house.”  I always felt so convicted when I stayed because I knew it was not right.  I did not want him to think that I did not like him, but my spirit was so unsettled.  Recently, he even apologized for having me compromise my faith.

Eugene: The Bible says, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” It also says, “shun the appearance of evil.”  I know this now but was not mature in my faith back then.  I now realize the pressure I put on her and I regret it.  We did not live together before we got married, but we still were not perfect.

  • Tip: I have witnessed the effects of sex before marriage and living together before marriage.  I believe that the break down of the family structure begins when people make the wrong decision about who they are with.  Then, before they realize it or correct decision, they begin to do things that the Bible reserves for married people; which further complicates matters.  Having a child with someone who you were not supposed to be with and can not even get along with, causes the cycle of dysfunction to repeat itself (Wrote a blog about it…wanna read it, here it goes) CLICK HERE “You Picked Em!”

Additional Twitter Questions

1. For saved and single, what is some advice you have on entertaining the right person?

  • Avoid the Representative | The “representative” is the person who people become, to get you to like them.  To prevent a person from bringing their “representative” on every date, delay telling them what you like in a mate.  Instead, ask them who they are?  If you tell them what you like, up front, then ask them who they are, it is easier for them to adjust based on what you said; thus the representative is born.
  • Be Yourself | On the other hand, it is so much easier to be who God created you to be.  It is easy to answer questions, it is easy to meet family and friends because there is no pressure.  You are not “trying” to make people like you.  Either they will or they won’t.  Worst case, if you all figure out that you are not compatible after the first date, it saves you time, money, and heartache.

2. Is it wise for people in relationships to hang out with single friends?

  • Well… Generally speaking, the answer is no.  Single people and married people have different motives and hang out spots.  It does not mean that a married person would succumb to the temptations presented while with single friends, but the probability increases each time the married person is exposed to “temptations.”
  • …It Depends | Depends on what?  The type of friends that you have.  If you have friends that respect the sanctity of marriage and your best interest, they are more likely to change what they do and say around you.  They are more likely to ensure that you are not being placed in or around the things that enticed you in the past.  But there is always that ONE friend…LOL  JK!  Prayerfully you have friends who are all traveling on the same path, but some reach their destination sooner than others.  If they are your true friend, they would not try to run you off the road, simply because you got in the car with someone else.

3. What is the best part about being married?

  • Companionship | Life is hard.  It is great to have someone on your side who will be there with you no matter what! A Companion is defined as “one of a pair of things that intended to complement or match each other (A.K.A. Friendship).  When you take the time to match up with the right person, you have two healthy, whole individuals coming together who fills the void for one another.  Not complete one another, but where I am weak, she is strong and visa versa.  His or Her strength does not compromise who you are or what you mean to the relationship.  When rough times come, you have a person you can lock arms with and know that for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness or in health…WE got this.

Throughout this blog, we have stressed “wait and see” so much, because if you link up with a person who only wants you because of your Better, Richer, and Healthy; where will they be when the other happens? Allow them to stay around long enough to see both sides.  In those low moments, If they care more about you than themselves and are willing to compromise to fill that void, you have the right one.


Valentine’s Day is approaching…so I wanted to remind you that (You Are) Worth The Wait.  Do not give in to the societal pressures that tell you that you need someone to love or love you because of a date on the calendar.

(You Are) Worth The Wait.  

Most may feel that I am talking to women, but men…boys…fellas, you are worth so much more than you can even image, because ONE late night decision can not only impact your destiny, but the potential of many generations to come.

(You Are) Worth The Wait.  

Worth is a price tag, typically, given based on who designed the thing.  The value is increased based on the notoriety, acclaim, or how accomplished the creator was.  If Michelangelo were alive to sculpt just one more masterpiece, I am sure every appraiser would deem it priceless. If he can create something priceless, how much more value do you have, because the one who made him sculpted you and breathe life into your very being; making Him the ultimate creator.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

(You Are) Worth The Wait.  


I love this story. She had a dream and she found a way. You may not agree with her methods, but she did not allow traditional, culture, and social norms to trap her in this rat race. I am so inspired by your story #KateFromTheStates!!! Your bravery is remarkable. I pray that God covers you as you explore the world. I hope that your experiences help others discover how to live their dreams, instead of someone else’s.

Kate from the States

The honest truth – I never have the money I need to travel, but I buy the ticket anyway. I’ve realized that money comes and goes, but the more I make, the harder it is to part with it and weirdly, the less I have, the easier it becomes to budget.

I don’t do that saving account, checking account, travel account thing either. I am not rational. I am extreme. I want to travel and so I do. There is no in between. While I was working my first career job in public relations, I realized early on that it was going to take me forever to save all the money I would need to see the world. I come from a middle class family, I’m the middle child of five and I live in one of the most expensive places in America – Long Island, New York. I don’t…

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You Are More Than What They See

OK…I will get straight to the point.  Parenting is only a “role”, NOT who YOU are.  Do not lose yourself trying to help someone else discover who they are, even if they are your children.  This is easier said than done.  We are only 3 sentences in and you have already quoted or remembered advise that someone told you before your first one was born.  “Make time for yourself!”  But in reality, with all of the demands (task) that others place on our schedule, we feel an overwhelming burden to make sure that everyone else’s needs are taken care of that we forget that we have needs, wants, and desires of our own.

Parenting is only a Role

The above image (courtesy of www.rebirthofreason.com) is a great depiction of our lives.  It is easy to become consumed with the many tasks associated with the various roles that we lose who we are. Parenting is no different.

Before becoming a husband or wife, a mother or father, a professional or tradesman, I was (Insert your name here).  You never ceased being (Insert your name here) when you took on these roles.  These roles simply meant that you have new responsibilities and tasks associated with who you are, but they should not redefine who you are.

The Danger in the Chaos

You can not delegate the responsibilities of being (Insert your name here) to anyone else.  Therefore, if you do not make the time to remember, discover, and cultivate (Insert your name here), you may wake up tomorrow, or even worse…years from now, wondering where all of the time has gone.  You may even resent the roles, task, responsibilities and the people associated with each because you now realize that it was all for them and not you.

The Battle Within

Selfish, huh? NOPE!  Maybe from their perspective, but not when you have neglected other God-given assignments, passions, dreams that have been lying dormant inside of you because of your focus on all of the other “stuff!”

When kids move out, some parents realize they have lost their sense of self and for others their marriages fall apart because a disproportionate amount of time, talent, and treasure was spent on one role (name your role/task here) than on others (husband/wife or name your role/task here).

Parenting is a role that lasts a lifetime, but should be redefined as your children reach various milestones.  I believe some parents enable their kids, self consciously or purposely, so that they do not leave the home at 18.  This allows them to continue being a parent and not face the reality of it only being a role.

Digging for Treasure (Discover & Cultivate You)

There is a treasure, a passion, a calling that was hidden inside of you at conception (2 Corinthians 4:6-7 KJV).  When we were kids, our self conscience allowed us to live in that place for hours at a time, imagining (visioning) what life would be like when we were older. To cultivate something is to prepare and develop it for a greater use.  We must put down all of the tasks, even the ones that we feel are most important and even define who we are, to discover and cultivate our true sense of self.

When you know who you are, I would venture to say that you will preform your tasks at an even higher level of excellence, because they will be wrapped in the true essence of who you are.

So…Tell Me About (Insert your name here)

I just love that interview question, “Tell me about yourself.” Even when meeting someone for the first time, we define ourselves by the “role(s)” we value most. “Hi…I’m a Doctor, a Lawyer, Stay-at-home Mom/Dad.”

Why don’t we say “Hi, I’m a Christian, an optimistic, adventurous, generous, caring creative, resilient, hard worker, etc. These descriptions actually give a glimpse into who you are and how you handle the various roles, task, and responsibilities assigned to you.

Start TODAY!!!

Below are a few steps that you can take TODAY to discover and cultivate the true YOU!

  1. Find Quiet Time. Find at least 30mins a day, when you do nothing but sit in silence.  I know..30mins seems too good to be true.  Start with 5 mins, then work your way up.  I hear you, I need more time! MAKE THE TIME!  Delegate some of those other tasks and responsibilities. This is important to your mental and physical health and well-being. Remember, quiet time.  Not reading a book or browsing social media.  Complete silence.
  2. Find Your Frequency: Drown out the noise, so that you can hear what is going on inside of you.  Your brain will be used to being overstimulated, thinking about what you should be and could be doing.  Relax!  Give it time.  This is kinda like a finding the frequency to your favorite radio station.  It is always on air, but it is up to you to “tune in” to the proper frequency to hear what is being said.  Give it time.
  3. Write YOUR Vision: But Not Yet!  You must take the time to retrain your mind on how to drown out the noise so that you can hear clearly.  After a couple weeks, your true self will continue to speak.  Do not worry about forgetting what you thought about.  If it is really who you are and not just another good idea for someone else’s benefit, it will come to your again.  Listen for patterns and themes of thought.
  4. Cultivate: After you have written down who you are, begin to take the steps required to prepare and develop YOU!  This is a journey, not a destination.  When you are tuned in, you will continuously discover ways to become the YOU you were born to be.

TheOriginalMentor

 


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Story: Author Unknown
A man came home from work late again, tired and irritated, to find his 12 year old son waiting for him at the door.

Son: “Daddy, may I ask you a question ?”

Dad: “Yeah, sure, what is it ?” replied the man.

Son: “Daddy, how much money do you make an hour?”

Dad: “That’s none of your business! What makes you ask such a thing?” the man said angrily.

Son: “I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?” pleaded the little boy.

Dad: “If you must know, I make $100 an hour.”

Son: “Oh,” the little boy replied, head bowed.
Looking up, he said, “Daddy, may I borrow $50.00 please?”

The father was furious. “If the only reason you wanted to know how much money I make is just so you can borrow some to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you’re being so selfish. I work long, hard hours every day and don’t have time for such childish games.”

The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door.

The man sat down and started to get even madder about the little boy’s questioning. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money.
After an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and started to think he may have been a little hard on his son. May be there was something he really needed to buy with that $50.00 and he really didn’t ask for money very often.
The man went to the door of the little boy’s room and opened the door.

Dad: “Are you asleep son?” he asked.

Son: “No daddy, I’m awake,” replied the boy.

Dad: “I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier,” said the man. “It’s been long day and I took my aggravation out on you. Here’s that $50.00 you asked for.”

The little boy sat straight up, beaming.

Son: “Oh, thank you daddy!” he yelled.

Then, reaching under his pillow, he pulled out some more crumpled up bills. The man, seeing that the boy already had money, started to get angry again.
The little boy slowly counted out his money, then looked up at the man.

Dad: “Why did you want more money if you already had some?” the father grumbled.

Son: “Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do,” the little boy replied.
“Daddy, I have $100 now. Can I buy an hour of your time?”

Work-Life Balance
It’s sad, but true. Our kids pay attention and begin to formalize priorities based on how we respond to what life throws at us. I know….I know….if you don’t work then your family would not be able to afford the “life-style” or “quality of life” that they have become accustomed to. But is that really what’s most important? Really…If they had to choose between having “stuff” or family, you may be surprised at their answer.

A couple Christmas’s ago, my 8 year old son was getting very excited about all of the toys that he would receive from family members (as most kids do). I asked him, “If you had to choose between all the toys in the store and playing with them alone or no toys and having fun just playing with family, which would you choose.” There was a long pause and a few questions, but eventually he landed on family over “plastic stuff”!

Challenge
I challenge you to ask this question to your kids. If they choose “plastic stuff” over family, you will know that you have some work to do. Relationships are priceless!

5 Ways to Reconnect with Your Kids

1. Create New Traditions: It does not have to be anything large or costly. Make Thursday’s Pizza Night (pick a local restaurant), go for a $1 ice cream at McDonalds after dinner one night a week, no technology night (you included) play board games instead, Cook dinner together and have them participate by setting table, actually eat dinner together!

Plan well and plan in advance. Whatever date you choose, DO NOT BREAK THE DATE! If you can not make a consistent day every week, plan at least 90 days in advance. Remember, traditions are built with consistency.

2. It’s Not About YOU! This means you may have to do something that you do not like. Like it, because they love it. Remember it is about spending time with them. It is about them inviting you into their world. You want to learn what they think about and why. Relationships are about self sacrifice and making other people happy.

3. Be Patient! . If you have spent years not connecting, just like any relationship, it will take time. Do not become impatient because they are “acting” like they do not want to be there. In reality, they may not appreciate the time spent until much later. Stay The Course! Understand that they may be hurt because they felt neglected. Invest the time it will take to repair the relationship.

4. Unplug! Yeah I said it….Turn the phone off! This means that EVERYONE must unplug and give undivided attention to what is the priority at this moment. Empower your team to make decisions. Take advantage of slow times at work. Just like you tell your family you must call them back because you are in a meeting, in that same way, you should make time for your family that can not be disturbed by work. Oh…this also includes unplugging from iPods, iPhones, iPads, Etc.

5. Talk! Relationships can not form without it. If It feels like forcing a square peg into a round whole, it is evidence of a neglectful past. Remember, you must be patient. Do some homework? Prepare questions to ask as conversation starters. Be sure that they are open ended questions. Be vulnerable! You were their age once. Allow them to ask you ANY question.

Create a question box, that they can put questions in throughout the week. They may feel on the spot and can’t think of any the day of. Tell them fun stories and life lessons from your childhood. Keep it short and not lecture. Either way, the goal is to get them to talk or talk about what is important to them.


F-You

Think of everyone who has ever made you MAD…Everyone who has ever BETRAYED you…everyone who OWES you something…Think of all of your HATERS…Think of everyone who has ever said they loved you, but BROKE YOUR HEART…Now…scream as loud as you can… (((((( F-YOU!!!! ))))))  again  ((((( F-YOU!!! )))))).  Feel better?  Whew…I Do!

I was reading a social media feed and someone asked, “what is the number one quality for creating a lasting relationship?” I read the typical answers of Communication…Faithfulness, Loyalty.  My typical answer is always “friendship”, but after I typed my answer I was surprised to read it. It was like an out-of-body experience.  In my mind I thought “friendship”, but to my shock, I typed “FORGIVENESS”?  I erased it, to retype Friendship, but “Forgiveness” appeared a second time.  #BlankStare

I sat and pondered what just happened.  I have never considered “forgiveness” as the #1 quality of a good relationship, until that point. As I thought about it more, I decided to hit enter. #FinalAnswer.

Relationships end when a person decides that they are not willing to forgive a person one more time than they mess up.

As parents, we tend to forgive our kids more than anyone in any other relationship that we have.  Our kids make mistakes daily, but our unconditional love for them enables us to forgive them and even reward them on the very same day.  Of course, any good parent does not reward negative behavior, but when I say “reward” I mean we feed, cloth, shelter, and love them in spite of.

With most other relationships, if someone betrayed us, it may take us days, weeks, months, or years to even speak to them again, if we do at all. Some of you reading this have people who you have not spoken to in years, due to how they wronged you.  Why can we so easily offer forgiveness in the context of parenting, but not to other relationships that we seek to nurture?

Even as husband and wife, we do not offer the same level of unconditional love to them as we do to our kids.  We hold grudges and give a false sense of forgiveness, only to reveal that what you did 6 months ago was only tucked away until you did something new that reminded me of how you hurt me before.

F-You! is an empowering phrase that allows you to release the weight and stress from a past hurt.  It gives you permission to love again, to care again, to be vulnerable, to the point that allows you to experience the connection with others that you long for, but reject because you are afraid of being hurt again.  Failure to forgive is, really, self-punishment that creates a landmine in relationships where the other person has to tiptoe around praying that they do not step in a spot that sets off an explosion In you

Forgiveness is your WILLINGNESS to let go of bitterness toward someone who has wronged you.

It is a choice.  You chose to take offense.  You are choosing to be unhappy.  Forgiveness is more than words, it must be a change in heart, a change in how you feel about a person.  It is not to simply think of them as if they no longer exist. Forgiveness is being able to speak to someone or be in the presence of someone who wronged you and not wish ill will upon them.  When you do not forgive it takes root in your heart and then spreads and choke out every good trait that is within YOU.  Yes…Within You! Forgiveness is for you.  The person that did you wrong often continues to live life none the wiser, while you continue to devote energy in a direction of someone who does not deserve it.  You are now distracted from concentrating and focusing on you, your life and accomplishing the goals that you have set.

Dealing with Unforgiveness

Your future is your responsibility.  Take control of your future, by taking back the power that you gave to the one who harmed you.  By allowing them to have a piece of you, you are not able to give all of your self to the ones who truly deserve to benefit from who you are. You are cheating the people who love you because you are not willing to let go of what was done in the past.

#1 – Pray

Allow God to deal with it.  We spend too much time trying to control things and people who are outside of our control.  Ask God to remove the bitterness from your heart.  Unforgiveness is a sin.

#2 – Demonstrate Forgiveness

Do something for that person to serve them instead of resenting them. Generosity is the ACT of Love and prevents you from being imprisoned by things of your past.

You know you have Forgiven when:

  • You see the person and your bitterness is gone.
  • The Love of God causes you to want the best for them.

Perhaps you are the one who wronged someone else.  Go to them and ask for forgiveness. Read Mathew 18:15

#3 – Forgive Yourself

Sometimes the person we need to forgive most is ourselves.  Love yourself, God Loves you and will forgive you, no matter what we did.  Read Psalms 103:12 

If you want a relationship that last, that is meaningful, fruitful, and happy, you must determine if that person is worthy of being forgiven one more time than they mess up.  Are you willing to tolerate their flaws one more time than they get it right?  I am not talking about the big things, because far more often, it is the little things like leaving underwear on the floor, not letting the toilet seat down, not putting the toliet paper on the spool, and leaving the lights on that weighs become the landmine that destroys the relationship.

Do you love them enough, to remove the conditions, and accept them for who they are?  At that point is when you know you have found someone you can be in a relationship that lasts a lifetime.

Micah 7:18-19 18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. 19He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.


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I did a Facebook poll a couple weeks ago where I asked my “Friends”, “Mom vs. Dad: Who has the hardest role?”  Instantly, they began to answer Mom…Mom, MOM (no question), Mom!  I even challenged them to really think about it before answering, but it did not appear that anyone had to ponder long.  After a couple post, a few people responded Dad, then the answer that I was looking for sprinkled into the conversation. BOTH!

I was raised in a single parent home, by my mom.  I did not meet my father until I was about 4 years old (he was in prison).  I watched first hand the struggles my mother endured to ensure that all of my needs and wants were met.  Without thinking, I could easily determine that a mothers role is much more difficult than fathers, but then I became one.

I understand that perspective has everything to do with how a person answers this question, which is why I wanted to challenge everyone to reconsider who has the more difficult task of raising a child.  The gravity of the responsibility, I believe, is one of the reasons why some fathers run instead of embracing it.  If more men embraced their role, we would not experience the many societal ills that plague our communities.

According to the Father’s Manifesto, statistics show that:

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
  • 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes
  • 85% of youth in prisons grew up in fatherless homes
  • 75% of all adolescent patients in drug treatment centers come from fatherless homes

Children from fatherless homes are:

  • 5 Times more likely to commit suicide
  • 32 times more likely to run away
  • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
  • 14 times more likely to commit rape
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of school
  • 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substance
  • 9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution
  • 20 times more likely to end up in prison

My goal is not to paint a doom and gloom picture.  Scores of single moms do an amazing job raising their children.  My mom did.  I am fortunate to say that I am not ANY of the statistics above.  However, considering the statistics should give you some indication of how important the role of a father is, because, without it, the wheels seem to fall off.

To know the purpose of a thing you have to go back to when it was originally created.  We can not judge who’s role is hardest based on our perception of that role.  Societies subjective view of fathers has caused us to demonize, forget and even minimize the relevance that fathers have.

And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction. – Malachi 4:6

A father’s role is to Guide, Guard, and Govern the family:

Guide

When you are lost, a compass can be instrumental in helping you navigate to your destination.  A GPS is helpful, but only when you know where you are going.  A father’s role is to, first, help their children determine where they are so that they can have an understanding of which direction they are trying to go.  Not just physically, but instilling a moral compass provides a foundation which helps the child(ren) make good decisions when their parents are not around.  (Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Guard

Generally speaking, God made men physically larger and stronger than women.  Instinctively, men embrace the role to protect and guard their family.  However, threats come from many directions. Men buy guns and home security systems to protect their homes, but many of the things that we should guard against were walked in by our kids.  Whatever influences our children’s thoughts determines who they become, which impacts their behavior.  Men, we must be gatekeepers and watchmen of our homes to prevent anything from invading the minds of anyone within our household.  The music they listen to, the TV shows they watch, the websites and social media sites they surf, the video games they play, should not have a greater influence than our words and the behaviors we model. Being on guard against the unseen may be more important than guarding against who is trying to sneak up behind you…at least you can see and hear them coming.  (Read Ephesians 6:12)

Govern

Learning to respect authority begins at home.  Although, as of late, I do not agree with the actions of law enforcement, I will continue to teach my son to adhere to the laws and even demands of a police officer.  Properly disciplining him and reinforcing what his mother says teaches him to love, honor, and respect women, not only his mother.  Without these lessons at home, children develop a trigger that causes them to challenge authority, not because the authority is wrong, but because it is not what they want to do at that moment.  Fathers should not abuse the authority given to them, instead of governing their household in a way that everyone develops a healthy respect for all authority.  (Read Ephesians 6:4)

I invite you to think and evaluate parenting outside of our circumstances and consider the true role of a mother and father.  When each role is fulfilled as intended, I think that it is difficult or even impossible to say that one is harder than the other.  Both are needed and required to help children maximize their potential and fully develop into who God intended them to be.

“Mothers teach children HOW to love, but Fathers teach them WHO to love.” – Pastor Smokie Norful

When the mother or the father is absent,  the child will either know how to love, but never find the right person or know who to love, but never realize the benefits, because they do not know how.

For The Single Mothers: Some of you may take exception to this blog.  In no way is this intended to minimize the exceptional role you have played as a single mom.  As I stated above, I am a product of one.  If you have been forced to parent alone, my heart goes out to you.  However, I would like you to objectively imagine how different your life would be if you had someone, a true partner like I described above. It is possible! Perhaps not with the one you chose to be the father of your children, but it is possible.  Click Here and read another blog that I wrote about that very topic.  My prayer is that it will liberate you and empower you to keep going.


Great Article! Parenting starts at the very first hello! If you are not good in this initial partnership called “marriage” becoming parents does not make it any easier.


protect and serve

“Hi, Mr. Police Officer!” I recall my son saying when we walked into the Wendy’s on Telegraph and 5 miles. #Detroit Two police officers were enjoying their lunch. I remember the surprised look on their faces when they saw a little black boy cheerfully greet them. A few moments later, I also remember the joy I felt when I realized that my son had not yet developed a bias for the very ones who are called to “protect and serve.” The two cops engaged my son and I allowed him to approach them and talk because he had nothing to be afraid of. Although I struggled as I had flashbacks on the 1….2…3…4…5…6…7…numerous times when I was pulled over and confronted by police since I began to drive at 16, I will still teach my son the importance of respecting authority.

Below are a few instances that I recall:

1. As recent as 4th of July weekend of this year (2014), I announced and warned the officer prior to reaching for the glove compartment to get my insurance papers, in fear of making a sudden move…All while my other hand stayed perched on the steering wheel making sure it remained in plain view. Many of my precautions have become second nature to me because I have learned from my “experience”, stories of others and news reports. Be cautious.

2. I recall another instance of helicopters overhead and a 12 gauge in my face. “Get out of the car now!” I refused, keeping my hands held high, with a look of wonder, only to be snatched out and slammed against the car, handcuffed, car searched and trashed. I overhear one cop say, “this is not him”, but the one cop refusing to give up and continues to press against me and question me. In the end, with no apology, they simply let me go and refused to give an explanation as to why I was treated so. They realized I was only guilty of being a second-year college student at the Michigan State University, who was driving a nice rental car. #mistakenidentity

3. I recall a time being pulled over because my “windows were down and it was cold outside.” #brokenwindow?

4. I recall being pulled over because my “headlights were on and it was daytime.” #nowstandard

5. I recall being detained and demanded to searched because “they assumed that we were trying to steal the car…this is a nice car.” Well, sorry to disappoint, we are friends who were wrestling because we all wanted to sit in the front seat. Our reply, “now that you see that it is our car, not stolen, tell me why you are requesting to search for it again?” We knew our rights, so we refused. They let us go. #havingfun

6. I recall being pulled over because I was trying to “avoid a traffic signal” but I was going to Office Depot. #ineededpaper

7. I recall a time with my wife at my side and my son in the back, while they approached with hands on the guns screaming to “stay in the car.” No worries, my hands will remain visible at all times. “Next time wear your seatbelt and do not place your GPS on the windshield.” I replied, “Mr. Officer, where do you suggest I place it…and I always wear my seatbelt.” #Wheaton, IL …I could go on and these are just a few that I recall.

Reminiscing brings back the feelings of betrayal, disgust, confusion, and anger that cycled through me back then because I was never really told “why” or their motive for pulling me over. Instead, I was given an excuse to justify what I believe was in their heart. It is unfortunate, but there will come a day when I will have to school my son on the protocol and precautions that are required for him to minimize the chances of those who are supposed to “protect and serve”, saying that he provoked them to take actions that could harm him, embarrass him, or even end his life. Although I will not pass down any bias or cast dispersion on the whole because of a few, as a parent, father, black man in America, I feel that is it my duty to prepare him for what he may encounter.

It does not feel fair or right, but unless you are “me” you can not relate to or understand the pressure I still feel as a Black Man. Unfortunately, they do not take the time to realize that I am a God Fearing, educated, gentle, kind-hearted, polite, well mannered, son, husband, father, HUMAN BEING, that is Black.

My heart cries out for the families of ALL the young men who did nothing to cause their demise. #praying Police have procedures to follow and levels of protocol and progressions that should be adhered to, EVERY TIME. I respect them for putting their lives on the line every day, to “Protect & Serve.” However, we must not tolerate negligent and even blatant disregard for life.

Does the shot have to be a fatal one? Especially when no weapons are found on the individual?

The Internet and social media have allowed us to witness and contrast the way officers detain and arrest minorities vs. Whites. Example, in Aurora, Colorado James Holmes was “arrested” after killing 15 people and wounding 50. Arrested, not killed. He proved he was a threat, however, the polices reaction was not a fatal one.

Media must stop being bias and even silencing their own when it does not benefit their “corporate interest” and “political agendas”. We can not tolerate the slaughter of a community and crippling of family structure. I understand that all cops are not bad, but we must look deeper to determine why the “fatal shot” is becoming all too common.

Saddened and troubled because it is far deeper than what we see. If we do not get to the root and continue to treat the symptoms, it will be just like rubbing alcohol on an open cut to cure Cancer….action that is painful but has not a solution.

The Original Mentor