I Know What You Said, But That’s Not What I Heard
The words were like pulling the pin out of the grenade that set me off. They were a trigger to set off the internal bomb of my emotions.
I could hear you talking but somehow the words that fell so effortlessly from your lips didn’t flow as easily through my ears. They were painful. And internally it set off a ball of emotions that took me back to a place I never wanted to be.
Like when you said to me, “You dropped the ball one too many times,” all I heard was “you’re unqualified” and “you’re not good enough.” It told me that all the times I sacrificed and went above and beyond didn’t matter because in your eyes I was my mistakes and not my success.
At least that’s what I heard…
Or that time when you said to me, “you’ve just got to get over it,” all I heard was “your feelings don’t matter.” You wanted me to walk in your shoes not realizing those weren’t meant to fit me, they were only meant to fit you. So while “just get over it” was your coping mechanism, for me it just reaffirmed that my opinion wasn’t meant to be heard.
And I tried to just get past it but then there was the time when you said to me, “You just need some time but I’m sure you’ll go back,” all I heard was “You’re too weak to really stand by the decision you made.” It was as if you were sent to shatter the little bit of confidence that I had and to keep me in the cycle of catering to the wants and needs of other people while leaving myself unfulfilled.
But I pressed past those words only to be hit with the time when you said to me, “I’m not really upset about what happened but it bothered the people I’m with so I had to say something,” but all I heard was, “I care more about these people’s feelings than I do about yours.” It was something I should have been used to but those words stung a little bit more this time than they did other times. Maybe because I never expected you to say them, maybe I felt like we were better than that, maybe it was a harsh reminder that I’ve always felt like other people’s opinions mattered more than mine.
But that's what I heard.
And I know some are reading this and saying, “Well Jasmine, you just misinterpreted what they were saying. You can’t blame them.”
And I don’t. Because when I look back, I now realize that their words were sent on divine assignment. To the deepest places of rejection, low self-esteem and confidence, the need to please others, and the lack of value and worth I had placed in myself. I needed you to say those words because instead of sparking an emotional response, they started an emotional healing. So even when I hear those words or something similar to them, I don’t bow down in fear, self-pity, and doubt, but I stand confidently in knowing who I am and whose I am.
I know what you said, but what I heard was, “Jasmine, you are who I say you are and not who others think you should be.”
I heard Him and His words were the only words that mattered.
I’ve tried to hide her. I’ve even tried to deny that she exists, but I can’t fight it anymore.
There’s a young girl inside that never recognized that she was a beautiful swan because she can remember all the times the kids pointed at her laughing and telling her that she was an ugly duckling. The gap toothed girl with the stain on her teeth and thick glasses that no one considered pretty until she traded the glasses for contacts and the braces straightened her smile but couldn’t brighten the negative thoughts of herself that constantly ran through her mind. The girl who thought she had to constantly fix herself to be who people thought she should be rather than being true to who she knew she was supposed to be.
There’s a young girl inside who felt like she had to dumb herself down because she was intimidated by the success and achievements of her father. So rather than recognizing the greatness that was in him was also within her, she chose to settle for mediocrity, convincing herself that she was a disappointment to the only man that loved her through every moment of life – the good and the bad.
There’s a young girl inside that longs for the conversation that most girls have with their moms during their teenage years about boys, clothes, simply becoming a woman. Longing for the many missed hugs and intimate moments stolen by unresolved feelings that were addressed in the time that seemed to be too little too late.
There’s a young girl who never learned how to love herself so she tried to create love in her own way. Feeling that if she gave everything she had – emotionally, financially, sexually- that would some how create the environment for someone to love her. But it only led to a black pit of depression, loss, and self-hate.
There’s a young girl inside that’s longing to be connected to the Jasmine that exists today. Desiring to come together and let go of the hurt, shame, fear, and guilt that created the divide and come together and share the story of a young girl who overcame every obstacle set before her and became a young woman that was unafraid and unashamed. Living in the present and using the past as the motivation to pursue purpose and obtain a prosperous future.
There’s a young girl crying out God heal me and free me so I can become the woman you’ve destined me to be.
I’m sorry that I used your name in vain.
I’m sorry that I never really took the time to understand the essence of what you really are and instead I used what you are not to define what you are.
I’m sorry that I shunned you rather than embracing you and experiencing the joy, the warmth, and the comfort that you bring.
I’m sorry that I allowed people who had no clue of how to truly use you paint a picture of you that did not capture the very essence of who you are and tainted my perception of what you really could be.
I’m sorry that it took me so long to realize that you are a vital part of my life.
I hope that you will forgive me.
I hope that you will fill every part of my being to the point where your aura is felt by everyone who is in my presence.
I hope that this is just the beginning of a relationship that will last for eternity; where my knowledge of you will grow deeper & my faith in you will never waver.
I hope that I can share you with someone who knows the true meaning of who you are and will help me paint a new picture of you that captures your essence and the beauty of who you really are.
I promise I’ll never give up on you again.
Dear Love, I need you.
Please accept my apology.
A Woman Who Knows Your Value
As you go into 2018, I want you to have a clear focus for the changes you want to see. I have developed this free tool that will help you be focused, intentional, and deliberate in working towards your goal. It also provides you with the opportunity to assess your progress and make changes as needed, along with keeping yourself motivated while working to achieve the changes you want to see in 2018!
The Not So Happy Holidays
For some, this is the most wonderful time of the year. Turkey and all the fixings. Christmas tree decorating. Present wrapping. The joy of seeing your kids and family members’ faces as they open their gifts on Christmas morning. While many bank accounts may be empty, many hearts are full from the joy that the holidays bring.
But for some, the holidays aren’t such a joyous occasion. The holidays are a reminder that another year has gone by and a love one isn’t there to celebrate. Some are trying to scrape up every penny, nickel, and dime they can find just so their children can have just one gift under the tree. While some are celebrating, others are hoping and praying that they could snap their fingers and be past the holiday season.
Getting through the holidays can be rough, but it is doable. Below are a few quick tips to help you get through this holiday season.
I pray that each of you has a wonderful and happy holiday season – Jazz Lynn
I have a thing for bags and purses. BIG bags and purses. Like take me to the store and I’m headed for the biggest bag in there.
Things weren’t always this way. When I first started carrying a purse, I had something small. Enough for a lip gloss and a couple dollars. But as time went on and I went through more things in life, the bags I carried got bigger. And the bigger the bag got, the more stuff I felt I had to put in it. Oftentimes, a lot of pointless stuff. So much stuff that my bags were so heavy and overflowing, it was unbearable to carry it…but I felt I had to.
I look back and realize my purse was a reflection of my life. Internally, I was carrying so many things that I needed to let go- the hurt and pain of past relationships, undue guilt and shame. My mind was overflowing with irrational thoughts that kept me weighted down and unable to move beyond my past and my mistakes into the bright future that God had destined for me.
I didn’t realize how much baggage I had been carrying…until today. When I looked at my purse and realized that it was probably the smallest bag I had carried in years. And I checked its contents and it was only filled with things that I needed. And when I put it on my shoulder, I didn’t lean to the side because the weight was too much to handle.
What are you holding on to and carrying with you or within you that’s keeping you from the life you’re destined to live? Whatever it is, let it go. Let go of anything that will hinder or stop you from getting all that’s destined for you. I promise, you’ll feel so much better when you stop carrying all that baggage.
They say the only thing consistent in life is change. But for some reason, we fear change. We become so comfortable with staying where we are that we are unwilling to obtain greater even when we are dealing with life’s worst.
2017 has been the most rewarding yet uncomfortable year in my life. When I entered the year, I was firmly rooted in my comfort zone with my walls built up around me. And out of nowhere it seemed like God came in with a bulldozer, tore those walls down, pulled me out, and put me in situations I had never faced before, connected me with people I would have never thought I would have a conversation with, let alone share parts of my life story.
And I’m human. So I questioned God.
“Why like this?”
And the answer He provided was “If I didn’t force you, you never would have done it.”
Comfort breeds complacency. My comfort zone was a place of stagnation – no growth whatsoever.
But, I’m changing.
And it’s a process. But I’m embracing it rather than running from it – the good and the bad. Nothing changes if nothing changes and I wouldn’t be the woman that I am now had I stayed where I was, connected to the wrong people, and doing the wrong things.
I liked who I was because I was used to her. But, I love who I’m becoming because she is the me no longer controlled by fear, the opinions of others, and the stereotypes of this world.
Unapologetically, I’m changing.
We are living in a time where everything is a #goal...#relationshipgoals...#careergoals...#bodygoals...but instead of wanting to achieve our own goals, we want to obtain the perceived identity of what those people are portraying. So much so that we lose who we are to become something we aren't meant to be. I'm not saying you shouldn't aspire to be better or that you can't look up to others. But what I am saying is figure out who you are, what you want out of life, and what drives you and go after it. There's only one you. You were designed to be unique and not a copycat version of someone else!
I pulled the covers over my head. I put my hands over my ears. The thoughts were so loud. With tears streaming down my face, I could barely see as I picked up my phone to text the only person I knew could help me at this moment.
“No one loves you.”
“You don’t matter.”
“You should just take your life.”
These were the thoughts constantly repeating themselves in my mind.
I had never had thoughts like this before. I wasn’t sure how to deal with it.
How would you handle a situation where suicide shows up on your doorstep? Maybe your situation isn’t as personal as mine, but maybe it’s a friend, a family member, a random stranger that comes calling out to you for help. What do you do?
Statistics show that suicide is the 16th leading cause of death for African-Americans of all ages and is the 3rd leading cause of death of young black males ages 15-24. Suicide has been deemed by some as the “easy way out” but if you only knew that for some people it may be the only way out. The only way out of the negative thoughts. The only way out from people who don’t take them seriously. The only way out from the issues that have plagued them for so long.
Suicide can show up in different forms.
Sometimes it will show up and be very direct. Other times it will show up as sad and hopeless. Other times it will show up with a happy exterior but an interior that has already let go. No matter how it shows up, be there for that person. Don’t brush them off. Encourage them to get the help that they need.
Suicide affects people of all ages, races, genders, and occupations. If you or someone you know is battling with suicide, please contact someone immediately for help. Make sure you take it seriously when suicide shows up on your doorstep.
I Almost Did It…
The number of likes and shares decreased on my pictures and posts. I didn’t feel like people were receiving what I was putting out. A cloud of doubt came over me and rained down many negative thoughts that made me question could I really do this? Should I do this? Fear grabbed me and put me in a prison where I talked myself out of every blog or post that came to mind. Don’t expose yourself like that, people will judge. Do you really want them to know that about you?
I would go to my computer only to close it or get distracted with some other task. My notebook and my pens sat collecting dust waiting for me to bring them together and write down the many ideas that were swirling around in my head like a violent hurricane or tornado just waiting to be released. But, I wouldn’t write or type convincing myself that no one needed to hear me.
I’ve struggled with this for some years now. Where in the beginning, I put my heart and soul into something. I’m all in. Daily I’m working towards my goals, dreams, and aspirations. But then, I stop. I give up. I convince myself that I’m not good enough. That I’m not needed. That I can’t keep doing whatever it is that I’m doing.
But this time, something different happened. I got to that point of quitting and it seemed like something awakened in me. Something inside of me said you can’t give up. There’s someone out there that needs to read what you have to say. They need to know that they too can make it through. That small still voice told me not to focus on the numbers and focus on the purpose. I realize now that what I do is much more than the number of likes, comments, or shares I receive. Even If I help one person along the way, I did what I was supposed to do. So now it’s no longer about what I do, but why I’m doing it.
I almost did it.
But thank God I didn’t.
I'm learning that sometimes we aren't dealing with issues with other people, we are really dealing with issues within ourselves. We haven't forgiven ourselves of past mistakes and the unforgiveness keeps us trapped in our pasts so we aren't fully living in the present & don't have hope for the future. God forgives you now forgive yourself!
I can be honest and say that I suffer from "trying" to be perfect. I say "trying" because the truth is I'll never be perfect. But I know that I can be successful in whatever way I define that to be. Don't box yourself in trying to achieve perfection. It'll only slow or halt the progress you're trying to make.
For the last five years, I have worked in the mental health field. Being young and new in the field, it was hard for me to understand how people could be seeking “treatment” for their mental health while not really accepting the fact that they had an “issue.” I just didn’t make sense.
That is….until I had to confront my own mental health issues.
Let me set the stage: February 11, 2013 I went in for what I thought would be a normal 4 week check up with my ob-gyn but this appointment wasn’t so normal. The words, “I can’t find your baby’s heartbeat” fell off her lips so effortlessly. After multiple attempts with the Doppler and multiple ultrasounds, she confirmed my worst fears; my baby was no longer alive.
The next week was hard, as I had to prepare myself for surgery. The surgery came and went and I quickly made my life return to normal. The doctor wrote me off of work for four weeks, I went back in two. I thought I could force myself back to normalcy.
But I couldn’t. As the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, I found myself battling tears almost daily, I felt worthless, hopeless, some days I just felt like giving completely up.
And it wasn’t until I was meeting with a pastor for another situation that I was encouraged to seek counseling. But how could the person giving help to people with mental health issues need help for her own mental health issues?
Something that I struggled with then, that I still sometimes struggle with now, is that I have to take care of myself first. But I was so fearful of the stigma that comes with mental health that I was slowly killing myself mentally and emotionally.
All too often, it seems that mental health is the forbidden topic, especially in the black community. We feel that if we don’t talk about then just maybe it doesn’t seem to exist. And even if we do talk about it, it’s just a temporary situation and “eventually” it will go away. And for some it will, but for many others it won’t and it will take things like counseling/therapy, medication, but most importantly acceptance of your issue along with the support of family and friends for things to get better.
It took a long time to realize that my mental health matters. I had to realize I can’t others if I can’t help myself. Recognize that your mental health matters. Don’t let stigma and fear keep you from being the best you you’re supposed to be. Your mental health matters, too.
Today is the day I’m supposed to be walking across the stage to (officially) celebrate my accomplishment of receiving my Master of Science in Social Administration degree from the Case Western Reserve University. But, I’m not there. I’m home preparing for my typical Sunday routine. The tickets are on the shelf of my bookcase and I could just get in my car and drive to Cleveland, but I’m not. Why, you might ask? Because I lost sight of what this degree really represents. I took the focus off of myself and put it on every other obligation I have in my life.
Today should have been about me. Celebrating being a young black woman obtaining her 2nd Masters degree, being an overcomer, surviving in the face of adversity, achieving when failure tried to overtake me. But, instead it became about everyone else and everything else. Who wasn’t going to be there, who needed me to do something, what obligations needed to be fulfilled.
I forgot about me. I forgot that it is really ok to celebrate your accomplishments and achievements. And even if no one else wants to celebrate you, it is important that you celebrate yourself.
My grandfather has been a gardener for practically all of my life. I remember when I was younger, he would go out to his gardens weeks before he even planted a seed and take his tiller to soften the soil and to assist with eliminating weeds and rocks that could prevent the seeds that would eventually be planted from properly being able to take root and grow abundantly. As i reflect back on that, I think of my own life and how for so long I wondered why purpose wasn't manifesting in my life. My heart was hardened with unforgiveness and my mind was cluttered with the weeds of distraction. None of this was the right environment for God to be able to plant His seeds of purpose in my life. When we allow Him to remove the things we don't need, we open ourselves up to receive the things we do need and to become who God meant for us to be. Allow Him to be your tiller & watch the growth that will come when the seeds of purpose are planted in the right environment.