The Most Powerful “F” Bomb…Forgiveness

Forgiveness.  It’s elusive. It’s complex. It’s deep.

So deep that some drown in the pursuit of it, flailing about, gasping for air, hoping to receive it. And they perish for the lack of knowledge that they already have it and it’s available to us all.

We hold onto forgiveness like collateral, withholding this precious resource from someone in a compromised position. And we grasp it ever tighter from those who are closest to us, who betray our trust and our love.

We place it in our forgiveness bank, racking up interest daily, compounding it with bitterness and loathing. And it builds and builds, gaining weight and size spreading throughout our lives, enlarging its territory.

And why?

Because the one who hurt us took something from us…our pride, our trust, our self-esteem, our money, our property, our hope or maybe even our loved one. And we need to hold onto something that we’re positive they can never take away.  If we give it up, we’ll have nothing.

So we keep the upper hand, with our full forgiveness bank, which we don’t realize is our heart. And our heart is full to capacity. Our arteries are clogged, our beat is erratic and our blood supply is deeply diminished.  And we still think we’re winning…but we’re not, because heaviness on the heart is never good for us and the weight of unforgiveness is immeasurable.

So isn’t it time to make some withdrawals from our forgiveness stash?  Why not find those we’re withholding it from and drop the “F” bomb on them. Blow up the bitterness and destroy the damage.   Take a weight off ourselves and lighten our load. Improve our health, our heart and our life.

We don’t have to allow them back in our life or be in relationship with them again. In fact, they’ve likely forgotten what they did and moved on. The favor we’ll be doing is for ourselves.  It’s a win-win. And best of all…it won’t cost us a thing.

Ask yourself today… If Forgiveness is Free, why are you saving it?

Free yourself.

 

Forgiveness is Free…Why are you Saving It is the upcoming book by April Randolph, available everywhere soon.

What I tell my African American son

My son was locked out of the house yesterday, in the middle of a snowstorm.

He called me at work to ask me to drive home and let him in. None of the neighbors we knew were home, and the neighbors across the street are brand new. So he had nowhere to go.

When I told my co-workers that I was leaving because my son was locked out, one mentioned that they used to climb in a window, or pry the door open with a credit card, when they were locked out.  And my reply was, “I can’t tell my son to do that”.

My son is African-American and he’s fourteen years old.

When we go shopping after school, I tell my son he has to leave his backpack in the car.

When he’s hungry in the grocery store and sees customers eat food they’ve yet to pay for, I tell him he can’t do the same.

When he wants to take a walk past dark with his friends, I tell him “no”.

If he bounces a ball in the sporting goods store, I make him stop.

He’s not allowed to play with guns that aren’t clearly Super Soakers.

If we’re stopped by the police because our headlight is out, I say, “Remember what I taught you.”

Because my son is African American and he’s fourteen years old.

When my son couldn’t get in the house, he walked down the street to the local drugstore, to seek refuge from the relentless snow.

I drove to the drugstore as fast as I could and when I was near, I called to let him know I’d be there soon. I suggested he stay inside until I arrived, but when I got there he was out in the snow.

When he got in the car, shivering and wet, I asked why he didn’t wait inside.

His reply was, “Mom. The people who work there kept staring at me and following me around. It was like they thought I was going to steal something. I felt like I didn’t belong there.  It was awful. And I had no money on me to prove I wasn’t a thief.”

Because my son is African American and he’s fourteen years old, he can’t just be a teenager shopping for acne cream. He has to make a purchase to prove he’s not a thief.

Those who know me will tell you that I’m not one to claim every scuffle with the police is police brutality. And I’m not one who sees racism in every unique article of designer clothing or every news anchor’s slip of the tongue.

But I do remember moving to a nice neighborhood as a child, and being awaken during the night by a cross burning in the front yard and the “N” word carved into the fresh concrete sidewalk that led to our front door.  And I remember the nails in our tires, every morning when mom tried to leave for work.

I remember the neighbors staring at us, like we didn’t belong. And I remember, for our safety, mom told us things that other moms didn’t have to tell their children.

Yes. That was over forty years ago. That was then and this is now.  But just because you’re uncomfortable talking about it, doesn’t mean it no longer exists.

Accept it. Talk about it. Change it. And don’t get caught outside in a snowstorm.

 

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Calling All Hustlers

Attention Hustlers:

I’m not talking to those who are hustling illegal products or nefarious services. I’m talking to the ones who are busting their behinds, every day, to make their dream a reality.

I’m talking to the people who rise early and rest late, writing that last word, sewing that last stitch, sharpening that last design or putting the last period on that proposal.

The ones who are stepping out of their comfort zone and into the unknown.  Who are striving to leave their 9 to 5 behind to one day be their own boss.  The ones who do a little something each day, to inch ever closer to their destiny.

I’m talking to you.

I want you to know that I appreciate your hustle, because I am a hustler too.

I know what it’s like to work on your job, then come home to work on your journey. And I know the journey is exhausting. And for those who have quit their job to work on their journey, I know the journey can be terrifying and the hustle is real.

I know, because of it, you don’t have time to sit down and watch This is Us, Chicago Hope or Housewives of Wherever, because the hustle requires your attention and your determination won’t let you.

And I know, if you’re a writer, that you’re surrounded by people who have no idea that being an author is way more than writing books, because books are nothing unless you do research, have a social media presence, an author platform, find an agent, attend conferences, work with editors and designers, manage a website, a newsletter, a blog, attend book signings and speaking engagements, make ads, garner media attention, work with Amazon and other retailers and the list goes on and on. And none of these tasks include actually writing the book!

And all of this is after you’ve made dinner, done the laundry, played chauffeur and helped with homework.

So Hustlers, I’ve asked for your attention today, simply to say… I salute you.

I honor you and your hustle and I know you’re going to make it.  So don’t give up!

Keep moving. Keep grinding and keep your head high.

Because if you can do all of this, you can do anything.

And one day soon, you’re going to hustle all the way to the bank.

 

Tell me how you honor your hustle. Follow me at lovingmiddleagedlife.com

A Kinder World at Walmart

I was in line at a busy Walmart the other day with a cart full of grocery items. The cashier, a lady who appeared to be in her late sixties, didn’t smile or say hello as I unloaded my cart. I was buying so many items that my purchases filled the counter from end to end. As she looked at my order, the cashier turned off her light and snapped to the woman in line behind me “I’m closed!”

As I turned to look at the woman behind me, I noticed that, not only had she pushed a cart full of items to the counter, but she was also pushing a large wheelchair holding a developmentally disabled teen-aged girl who was curled up in a fetal position.

When the cashier turned off her light, the woman softly said “Oh no. I have to go find another aisle.” She didn’t make a fuss or tell the cashier that she was in line before her light went off, she simply dropped her head and proceeded to try to turn around her heavy cart and the wheelchair. Having just searched for an aisle myself, I knew that all of the aisles were full of customers and this woman would now have to push her passenger to another full aisle, then return to ours to get her cart of groceries and push that, too.  And my heart sank.

I wanted to ask the cashier if the woman could go ahead of me, but she was halfway through my order and my heart sank further still.   As I stood there throwing darts at the cashier with my eyes, I wondered how such a sweet looking lady could be so cruel.  I contemplated finding a manager to complain and I had some very not-so-nice thoughts about her in my head.

I continued to look back and forth between the lady who was struggling to move both the cart and the wheelchair and the cashier who looked like she could care less, and I began to pray for this world to become a kinder place. And the more I prayed, the less animosity I felt toward that cashier.  I began to think that perhaps she cares for a sick person herself, at home… someone she was anxious to get home to. Or perhaps she was sick herself and just desperately needed to leave. I began to stop judging her and started to pray for whatever her situation was.

As she murmured my total and I began to pay, the cashier reached over and turned her light back on! I stared at her in disbelief, wondering if I was on an episode of What Would You Do.  Surely, if she took another customer after turning away that woman, I was going to start looking for a manager.

Then the cashier leaned over her counter and yelled to the customer she had turned away, “Come on back. I’ll take you.” The customer had so much to push, between the cart and the wheelchair, that she hadn’t gotten far and turned around.

Though I don’t know what made that cashier change her mind, I was able to leave Walmart with a lifted spirit and a renewed hope in the kindness of our world. And I believe that if we all  pray for the same, that more lights will turn on in dark places.

Let’s get together sometime!

These four words…we utter them often, don’t we?

We see each other in the grocery store, hug, smile, chat for a while then walk away with a “Let’s get together sometime.”

We sit together at ballgames and concerts, cheering our kids on to victory and enjoying each other’s company. And when the event ends we wave and say “This was great. Let’s get together sometime.”

We worship together in the sanctuary, shake hands and chat after service, then wish each other a blessed week and shuffle off with a “we really ought to get together sometime.”

And to show our commitment, we even exchange numbers with a casual, well-intended “I’ll call you this week, so we can get together.”

These occasions occur frequently to most of us… but how often do we actually receive or make that call?

About a month ago, my husband and I were chatting with two couples after church that we chat with often before going home. When it was time to leave, we said the usual “Let’s get together sometime,” and headed for the door.

But that Sunday, something magical happened. One of the other husbands said “No! We’re not leaving here until we make a plan to get together, right here, right now!”

He said it with such intensity and authority that we were jolted into submission. It was fantastic! We made arrangements, right then and there, to have brunch two weeks later. When that day came, we had a wonderful time and we’re going to be fast friends. And did I mention she’s Anita Baker’s number two fan?

So, my readers and friends, I encourage you to follow through with the good intentions you’re putting off today and to do it right now. Don’t shy away from these opportunities. Many good things come from networking. Enlarge yours. Make those plans.

And your other good intentions…do those too! There’s no time like the present to begin that exercise program. Start that business. Write that book. Apologize to that loved one. Reach out to that old friend. Apply for that new job!

What are you waiting for? Tomorrow is not promised. If you meant it when you said you’d get together, make it happen. Someone out there needs someone just like you in their life. That friendship or thing you’ve been meaning to try out could be just the blessing you’ve been waiting for.

So get together!

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Long Live Legendary Singers

What do you do when legendary singers come to your town?  Do you purchase tickets and start searching for that perfect concert outfit or do you google them to see what they currently look like and read their recent reviews?

Do you go to the show with your ears and heart open or do you stay home because somebody said, “They sure don’t sound like they used to!”

If you’re the latter, I’d like to ask a few things…

When you go to an event, do you search your closet for an outfit that looked good on you twenty years ago?

Do your outfits from twenty years ago still fit you?

When you do that dance you did in the 90’s, do you think you look the same doing it now?

Are the things that jiggle now the same things that jiggled then?

Is your hair color naturally the same?

Do you have the same energy you had at age 20?

How about your lung capacity?

If you answered “NO” to any of the above, do you expect people to treat you differently because of it?  Do you feel any less capable or gifted in your art? Have you lost all of your passion?

If not, then you should go out and support the legends that sang the songs you love…especially the ones you still know all the words to. They’re likely just as passionate about their work, as ever.

Treat your mature self to a concert of mature sound, remembering every moment that your legends aren’t the only ones that have aged. Expect a great time and you’ll find one, because good music, like good love, only gets better with time.

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On Turning 50

The month of April is here and I’ll soon be 50!

Yes, April was born in April.  What can I say…my mom was a little tired when I was born and there was a calendar in the delivery room, so….

I’m often asked if I’m excited to turn 50 and my reply is always “Yes!”  50 is a whole new chapter in life, and I can’t wait to turn the first page.

I recently read a list of things that every successful woman should do before she’s 50 and I’ve accomplished only some of the list. But, as 50 fast approaches, I don’t feel compelled to rush out and do the rest.   I believe that each woman’s journey is unique and so should be her pathway.  So, I’m skipping along on my uncharted road, knowing that there will be potholes and breakdowns, but I’ve got the number to AAA and some Fix a Flat, so it will be OK.

My successes aren’t measured by the big things.  I count every little success in life. And my 50-year-old advice to you would be to count every little success, too.

Every day you survive as a wife, husband, mother or father, is a huge success. Every time you make someone smile, you’re a success. Every time you bring someone into the knowledge of Christ is a success. Each time you give, you’re a success.  Every day you show up for work, when you don’t want to, you’re a success.  Every time you take the high road when you could’ve gone off on someone, you’re a success.  Every moment you beat sickness or disease, you’re a great success.

Every day you live is a paragraph in one huge success story.  So write until you’re out of lead and use your eraser, when needed. Re-writes and edits are acceptable.

Am I excited to turn 50?  You bet I am!  I’m excited just because I’m here and I intend to make every moment count.

So, wrinkles and gray hair, bring it on!  I’m ready to show 50 who’s boss!

Who’s with me?

 

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Until you run out of pages, there’s still room to write an epic ending-Kevin Ngo

When is the Last Time You Learned Someone’s Name?

Have you ever thought about how important it is to learn someone’s name?  I’m sure that’s not something we sit around and contemplate each day, but perhaps we should.

I’ll bet there are a number of people we speak to, each time we encounter them, whose names we don’t know.  I’ll bet we’ve had conversations with some of them, numerous times.

There’s likely a cashier, server, security guard, bus driver or custodian that we speak or wave to all the time, whose name we don’t know.  Worse yet, there are probably neighbors right next door that we could pick out in a line up, but couldn’t identify by name.

And the friendly old lady who hugs us in church every Sunday… the one who always sits in our row… what’s her name? Could she be related to the nameless co-worker that we talk to in the cafeteria?

Using someone’s name when we address them shows they’re important. It confirms that they are worth notice and that their existence matters.  It shows them respect.

If you already know all the names in your sphere, then you deserve a round of applause. But, if there’s someone whose name you should know, but don’t, ask them the next time you see them.  And use it when you see them, after that. Yours could be the only acknowledgment they’ve received in a long time.

Sounds like common sense, right? It is, but it’s worth a reminder.  Because every person should know that their existence matters.

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Are We Listening to Our Kids?

How often do we listen to our kids?  I mean REALLY listen.

It’s so easy in the busyness of our days to give a casual glance or an automatic “Umm Hmm” when our kids are talking to us. After all, while they’re rambling on, we’re cooking, cleaning, studying, chauffeuring and working on the answer to world peace, all at the same time.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about teens, it’s that they aren’t overly excited to run home and tell you about their life unless they’ve just made the varsity team.  They’ve been raised in a world where conversations are typed, hugs are virtual and feelings are expressed in emoji’s.  Verbal communication takes time and effort and they’ve got better things to do.

When your youth starts talking about their day, without prompting, something important is going on in their life.   If it weren’t of some significance, they wouldn’t be talking.  They’re likely looking for some parental advice that they’re way too cool to ask for and it may come in the form of “asking for a friend.” So dig in, question them and ask them how the situation they’re describing makes them feel.

It’s time to “stay woke” parents.  Let’s put down our phones, turn off Netflix and tune into our kids.  Let’s capture those rare moments when they’re communing with us to find out what’s causing them to acknowledge we’re in the room. Because if we don’t show them they’re important, someone else will, and whose influence would we rather they have?

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For the Love of an Aunt or an Uncle

On Thanksgiving, my niece had a seizure and became non-responsive.  She is a healthy young lady who had never had a seizure before.  She was rushed to the hospital and the family followed, desperate to see if she’d respond to emergency efforts and, if so, what her brain functionality would be.  Thankfully, she was revived, spent time in the ER and ICU, and is now home.

Those moments of not knowing her condition were horrible. My heart ached with the thought of what would happen if she didn’t wake up. She’s my sister’s child and though she’s all grown up, she’s still my little niece and I’m her “Auntie”.

It made me think about how special the relationship is between aunts and uncles and their nieces and nephews.  I know many doting aunts and uncles that love their siblings kids like their own.  They’re connected by an unbreakable bond that transcends generations and reaches down to their nieces kids and their nieces kids’ kids or their nephew’s children and their offspring.

They wouldn’t think of missing a holiday or birthday gift, graduation or recital and they keep many a secret from their siblings, on their nieces and nephews behalf.  They know who their nieces’ crush is and are willing to play defense attorney when their nephew dents the car (or vice-versa). And if the unfortunate need should arise, most aunts and uncles would be the first to step in to raise their sibling’s children.

Aunts and uncles aren’t included in the bereavement policy list of “immediate family members” at most companies, but they should be.  The legacy of love that aunts and uncles leave should be highly respected and time off should be granted for mourning their loss and for comforting parents who have then lost a sibling. I sure hope more companies see that some day.

Keep up the good love, aunties and uncles! Your family is blessed to have you!

 

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