Friday, July 28, 2017

Lessons Learned from Momma (Honey)

And What Did You Do? 

I've seen a lot of memorials posted on Facebook. This is my memorial to my mother, Honey, who would have celebrated her 88th birthday today.
I'll preface this by stating my mom was never one to act like she had a halo floating over her head, and I’m not going to try to give her one now that she’s gone.  Honey was just Honey.  If she thought it would help someone, she was quick to share where she came from and what she came out of.

From my perspective, my life with my mom went through 3 major phases:

Phase I:      Family togetherness and Christ-centeredness. 

My father was an anointed preacher, Pastor and church Elder.  My family ate together, prayed together and traveled together.  Prayer meetings and bible studies were held frequently in our home.  I experienced an instant healing miracle when my parents prayed over me.
Phase II.     Alcoholism, domestic violence and terror.

This phase began when my father died and my mom chose to walk away from everything—including Christ—and return to her hometown from Delaware where we'd been living. This choice initiated a period of alcoholism, domestic violence and terror.  I still remember the fear and anxiety I felt because of the violence.  

During this phase, I learned 3 lessons from Honey: 

1.       You don't have to be a victim (Of course, this excludes criminal victimization.) 

                      When mom chose to be sober, there was no domestic violence because...well, I'll
                      just say she was a force to be reckoned with when not under the influence, and the
                      aggressor backed off.

2.       Characteristics of a good man. 

        It may be hard to believe, but she also taught me what a good man was during this

 When we had to seek shelter elsewhere late at night after incidences of domestic 
 violence, she'd say, "Your daddy was a good man.  Your daddy wouldn't have treat 
 me/us this way.  Your daddy was a good provider.  He took good care of us."  Instead of turning me against men, she reinforced a positive image of a good man.

 3.      Don’t wait around for somebody to do something for you.  Do it yourself. 

 Honey's focus for her kids during this time was our safety, so she sold the home my
 father had provided for us in Delaware and had a home built for us in her  
 hometown.   She wanted to make certain we always had the security of a
 permanent roof over our heads.  After that, when someone had to vacate the
 premises, it wasn't us.  We stayed put secure in our home.

Phase III.     Normalcy and the S.I.T Principle

 The final phase occurred when momma decided to renew her relationship with Christ.
 Instantly, the alcoholism, domestic violence and terror stopped. No
 violence.  The whole atmosphere in our home changed.  Her focus on her kids
 expanded and she became a strict disciplinarian, employing the S.I.T Principle—Swift,
 Impactful and To the point. She didn't believe in repeatedly telling us to do the same
 thing.  She didn't have to.  For instance, she only had to backhand me once about
 something and I got it.  The behavior was never repeated again.    

 During this phase, I learned 4 key lessons from Honey:   

 1.     Love can be painful.

 If you love someone, you should be honest with them.  Speak the truth.  My
 mom disciplined me because she loved me.  She told me many things I didn’t want
 to hear but very much needed to hear.  She wanted to be the person who point
 out things to me that I could change or improve upon before a stranger did it with 
 hurtful cruelty.
2.      How to be a giver.

My mom didn’t have a lot of money, but she was a giver.  She freely shared what she had: grits, flour, meal, rice, fatback, etc.

She cooked big, delicious Sunday dinners and welcomed all who stopped by our home to her table.
             3.     The importance of a good work ethic.

My mom worked hard, and she took pride in her work.  She didn’t take “sick of my job” sick leave days.  She went to work even when she was ill.  The only times I remember her staying home from work when she was sick was when a bout of illness put her on her back.

Once, her supervisor said something to her that was way out of line.  Honey respectfully applied the S.I.T Principle to her boss and that was the first and last time the lady tried to handle her that way.

4.     My choices can directly influence what happens around me.

When I'd go to mom to tell her about something that happened to me, she’d always ask me a question I absolutely hated: And what did you do?  Honey was not like those parents you see on TV saying, "My child would never..." Guess what?  Ninety percent of the time, my answer to her question began with "I just said..." or "All I did was..." 

The overall lesson I learned from all three phases is our choices create our environment.   
Think about your current situation/environment.  Don't focus on what you feel was done to you, but rather, on what you did.  YOUR choices shaped your environment.  Did your choices make matters worse?  Did they bring unity and peace?  Did they foster deep division and cause pain?  If you are a Christian, did they line up with biblical principles?  Hopefully, it's not too late for you to turn things around and create a better environment.  The following will see you on your way:

       1.   Silence the “yes” people around you.

 The first thing you need to do is silence the "yes" people around you.  Who are the  "yes" people?  The people who are supporting you in your wrong choices—in your
 mess.  As I've had to periodically tell my son regarding some of his friends, "Those 
 people are poison to you."
 Sometimes, we get comfortable in the environment we've created, it  becomes 
 normal  to us.  Our conscience becomes seared and wrong becomes right and normal
 for us. This is why we need to make sure we have people in our posse who will do
 as Isaiah 58:1 says, "Cry loud, spare not..." 
2.     Put yourself in time out.
               Put yourself in time out and honestly reflect on YOU.  What's driving you?  How did
               you get so far off track from where you should be right now?  If you are
               a Christian, without  cherry-picking scriptures, measure your choices against the Word
               of God.  Remember, focus on what you did.  What choices did you make that
               contributed to creating your situation/mess/environment?

        3.   Put things right.
              Once you've pinpointed your bad choices, correct them.  Put things right.  It’s way past
              time to stop the foolishness.  Put everything within your power right and that includes
              forgiving.  Remember, forgiving someone is not only a choice it's a biblical mandate.

Every phase I experienced with my mom was initiated by her choices.  The environment that existed during those phases was shaped by those choices.

Sometimes, the key to having the environment you want is you.  In other words, change begins with you making a choice to change. 

When your situation becomes jacked up or your environment is less than what you want it to be, please ask yourself my mom’s question:  And what did you do?