The first ten years of my life, I was an only child. By the age of twelve, five siblings came on the scene, and never have I thought to be such a big brother. Growing up in that household forced me to become a third wheeled parent. All the help I was assigned to contribute, challenged me to be a super active older example. When I was twenty-seven, I reunited with my biological father and found out that I had two more siblings. Now with three sisters and four brothers, I have seven pairs of eyes who all look up to me. They are all individually intelligent and creatively different. I love them all dearly, and want the best for them as they grow by the day.
However there were times when looking after them got completely under my skin. In and out of my bedroom, tampering with things valued and disturbing the only privacy I wanted to have. Looking back, a few of them confronted me recently to tell of how mean I was in the early days. Living for myself with pride and an, “I don’t care attitude” didn’t think of consequences that could affect others along the way. I remember stealing candy from the grocery store in order to sell it in school to earn the lunch money my parents wouldn’t give me. I was a rebellious and angry kid growing up wearing so many masks that you could have called me a professional facade. I just wanted to be my own person and run away to a place where I would be accepted. Knowing today the deep insecurities that reigned over my life, took me for a ride without my consent.
One day the shock of my life came when I found out that one of brother of mine took some of the same traits that I took on once before. This time his consequence came with more than what I ever faced as a kid. This meant jail time. Running away and being part of the system. Immediately, “this is because of me, it’s all my fault,” screamed into my brain. All those times that I paved the path of the least resistance, looked for the easy way out, avoided the hard things and what I suffered fell, into my then reality. I blamed myself for the actions he displayed.
I remember the shame that drove me crazy when somebody would ask about him. I would somehow feel guilty of the results of his actions and then took his burden onto my own shoulders. Heavy were those shoulders, not that my life had enough issues to deal with, but I thought it to be my responsibility since he was the second oldest. Not realizing at the time how detrimental my example had not lead others on to the right path, but astray. This brother was next in line to take the mantel. He was next to have the respect of the crew. The next to get out of my parent’s house and make a life for himself. He was next to succeed. What was I going to do with myself?
A mentor once told me, “every day you step out, you are on an interview”. When I was in high school, I would wear what is called a durag EVERYWERE I went, until one mentor pulled me to the side and told me, “take that rag off before you walk out the door! The purpose of a durag is to prepare your hair to be seen in good standing without frizz, not for some ghetto boy walking around like it’s a Fashion Statement!” Think about it… when have you been to the mall and not observed people? People watch how you walk across the street; drive your car; react to customer service; eat your meal; do your work out; do your job; how you treat others around you; how you respond to ill treatment. All of us are unconsciously pre-screened before we get a chance to introduce ourselves. As you observe the mases, you begin to see trends of one original thought of that most people copied. So many people walking around with a fashion statement, acting like everyone but themselves. Every party, gathering or social meet, people scan the room to see who they can identify and relate to the most and then go towards what’s familiar.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
It is said, that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Your teacher can be beyond just a person who can come into your life and guide you as a mentor. Teachers come in all types of forms, such as experience; failures; quotes; books; loss just to name a few. These are called life teachers, meaning that these are lessons that you can only receive when you live a while. These will come at you without apology and is up to you to take charge of going in the right direction. Nobody can live your life for you or take the hits life throws on your behalf. You have to stand up and face your challenges and fight with faith to move forward.
One man said to me, “for things to change for you young man, you have to change” You see the moment I realized that I had to change, I found out that the battle I was facing, was with myself. With a poor self-image, I expected others to feel sorry for me with self-pity. That is the same tactic that my brother used to lure people into feeling sorry for him and to carry his burdens for him while he continued in his mischief. I found out that this extra burden I allowed my brother to put on me needed to be returned to his shoulders. My shoulders were heavy enough with what I had to deal with for myself! I was set free and began to focus on how I could become a better me. This was a teacher that taught me a powerful lesson. It’s hard to help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves, and it’s doubly hard to help others if you can’t help yourself. Be wise in who you allow to sow into your life because you don’t know whose looking.
- Have you ever led astray a loved one from your actions?
- What are you doing appose to blaming yourself for what you may have led?
- Who are the teachers in your life?
Selah: Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise.32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding. Proverbs 15:31, 32