An Open Apology to my Friends

6 10 2013

Hey everyone!

It’s Tomi.

I want to apologize to you, for I have been a tad manipulative in our friendship.

I’ll just jump right into it!!

On far too many occasions, I have falsely assumed that you would be my personal “yes-man.” I have assumed all your support, your assurance, your comfort, your well-wishes and good-lucks. I have assumed a lot from you – for me.

I have assumed that your affirmations will somehow solidify my ideas and hopes; that your saying “yes,” “great idea,” and “you’re right” will somehow help what is within me manifest in its fullness – that it will now somehow be right because you provided validation that what I thought was right.

I have given you total power to affirm me. I put too much pressure on you to hold my self-esteem for me, to be the final stop before I got to my destination in believing that what I said, thought, did and knew was…good.

But frankly, this is too much for you! And too little for me.

If I give you everything to carry and to determine for me, then I do not have enough to hold within me, for myself. I start to feel empty.

I begin to feel that anything I hear from you outside of “yes” means “bad” or “wrong” instead of “help me see it” or “sharpen that more.” I begin to hear anything outside of “yes” as the death of my ideas and hopes.

My ideas are extensions of me – and I falsely and continuously believe that if they are not celebrated, they are wasted. I falsely believe that if you do not save them through your affirmation, that they cannot live.

I put too much pressure on you. I put too little confidence in myself.

So again, forgive me.

I want to hold my own self-esteem and perceptions of myself in myself, and in concert with you.

And I want to have the strength to receive correction or expansion from you.

But I have to release you first, from being my esteem to esteeming you as my friend – my wonderful, but human friend.

I have to release you from being my inner voice and a god of sorts. I have to stop consulting you to affirm my being.

I must stop this wild divination.

I have to allow myself to rest assured that what I think and say will be understood because I think that they are worth knowing.

But even if they are not seen that way, I hope to remind myself that they are still good – because I said so.

Or maybe because God said the same thing about both of us.

Good.

Sincerely,
Tomi

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I can’t figure out the Black Church.

27 07 2010

I can’t figure out the Black Church.

I love it sometimes, but I hate what it represents a lot of the time.

It’s almost as if the Black Church needs the emotionalism of the church to jolt them out of their depressed and hopeless state. And maybe that’s the point.

Conservative churches can learn a lesson about this. Sure, the black church seems like a container of emotionalism, but at least it’s a container. There’s community in the passion. There’s togetherness in the high energy. There are people there. In the place of pain and greeting each other when, somehow, the Holy Spirit shows up and manages to pull people out of the utter depths of despair.

Together.

It can’t be an individual event but is a communal testimony of God’s power. Tears testify to God’s mercy. Screams and yelling explain how God has been present even during the dark times. Shouting and dancing interpret hearts that have had enough, and re-discovered the God who is more than enough.

I wrestle with the Black Church. Every single day. I am split on a lot of things. I’m also disappointed with a lot of things, because ritual, tradition, and stubbornness have hurt me and people I’ve grown to love. But I’m torn because it also makes a lot of people happy.

So how can I process the Black Church?

Should I conclude that it’s for some and not for others? I think that would be too easy. I don’t want to affirm separatism, but I want to acknowledge community. But I guess if community is formed in the crucible of separatism, then something has to give.

Churches are supposed to form together in crucibles, not apart.

This message is for predominantly white churches as it is for predominantly black churches. It’s just for the church. We need to be careful who we cater to.

We shouldn’t even be catering. Catering implies hierarchy and that’s not supposed to exist in Christ.

I think.

Or maybe I feel this way because I’m a first generation (or 1.5 generation) American African Christian, homeless in many a church home…








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