We are almost at the end of 2022 and what a year it is! Everyone is dealing with (what I consider) the new PTSD, pandemic traumatic stress disorder, the global version. Whether you understand it or are associated with someone who is dealing with it please know we must face it with care and compassion. Our systems have been displaced, people are distressed, and communities are trying to rebuild. Your perspective determines how you label the pandemic and for me it was good. Some saw a 6 while others saw a 9 which all depends on your view.
My homegirl from Baltimore always screams "I have options and I don't have to take this." She is absolutely right. Louise Hayes was an extraordinary teacher and I had the privilege of taking her Health Psychology class at Touro College during my undergrad. She shared, "responsibility is the ability to respond." Simple. You can respond positively or you can respond negatively. How you respond is just as important as what you are responding to. I started reading Genesis again and was struck by the story between Cain and Able. Genesis 4:6-7 in the message version of the bible made me pause, "God spoke to Cain: “Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.”
I asked God to help me understand Cain's sin. I believe sin simply stands for "someone in need." I look at this part of the story not to analyze Cain, but to analyze myself. This verse sheds light on the need to master my emotions, so they do not take me out. How do you respond when you don't do well? When others do well? I recognized that I was giving away my power to breakthrough situations and allowing my emotions to have a stronghold on my life. The pandemic helped me to master my feelings, so I can use my emotions and not let my emotions use me. Cain is an example of one who lacked emotional intelligence. If we took the measure of Cain's EQ (Emotional Quotient) it would be very low. He did not kill Able because of something that Able did to him, but simply because he could not handle God's feedback. He did not appreciate God's approval of Able's sacrifice. The concoction of jealousy and anger led to physical death for Able and spiritual death for Cain.
This pandemic triggered me to use my emotions to be aware of my own heart. I responded differently to my uncomfortable challenges. I did not sulk and get an attitude when they moved my neighbor before me after being first on the wait lists for over a decade. I confronted God, I addressed management, I contacted my attorney, I started the civil rights lawsuit, and waited. Finally, we moved July 1st from the 1 bedroom where I experienced sexual violence, children sleeping on the couch, and a baby in a playpen to a 3 bedroom in a different building, with great neighbors, and a clean environment. I had every right to be angry. I was raped in that building. My child was raped in that building. There are former peers who called authorities on me to separate my family, my younger cousin threatened to smack me publicly, the one person who had the power to assist me sided with my enemies, and ALL OF THEM LIVED IN THAT BUILDING. I was angry. I used my anger to respond differently by leveraging my resources, attending Safe Place church by phone on Sundays and some Wednesdays, staying on God's Prayer Line, teaching classes on trauma, using tools from The Reprogramming Institute to posture up and understand how bosses talk, but I never gave up or into my emotions.
God's energy is contagious and I am spreading it. My children are kind. They have experienced injustice. Yet, they are learning to use their emotions to change their circumstances, not their disposition. We understand the power of kindness is like heaping coal on our enemies' heads because they can't figure out how you can stand in the midst of everything they are doing to take you out. Are you willing to master the areas of your life that challenge you to prevent yourself from going down unnecessary roads? I understand it to be the road less traveled. I suggest you follow The Way. I had to leave the way I grew up to GROW UP in Christ. God showed me the way. My mom, aunts, and uncles never mastered this lesson, so I repented from it. I turned away from the fighting, throwing things across the room, spreading gossip which kills the spirit, and holding grudges. I want to go where God is and I could not find him in any of that behavior. He has been asking us to get a grip on our emotions from the very beginning. Open the (b)asic (i)instructions (b)efore (l)leaving (e)arth and apply the lessons. You've got to MASTER IT!
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