Thursday, September 29, 2005

Cheating: Is It Ever Okay?




"What if

he's treating

her right?"

I was reading a book yesterday as I waited for the bus. The main character, a blonde Georgia peach, had just broken up with her fiancé.

While she was out fundraising, he had cheated on her with a newly hired co-worker, someone Ms. Georgia Peach considered to be loud, scandalously dressed and improperly made up. Someone who although she hadn't all the advantages in the world, still spoke her mind and was comfortable with her sexuality. In fact, this woman was someone she, herself, had never dared to be.

O...k.

That's the point where Ms. Georgia got me. That's the point where we connected. Because I could remember my best friend in high school. She didn't have much...not much hair, not much clothes, not much looks, (at least not compared to me). But darn if she didn't have some smarts, some great dimples and some sex appeal. Whoooooa. (In fact that's how we met, but that's another story you can read here).

Anyway, Ms Georgia peach decides to be daring, picks up a fabulous looking pilot who is in Chicago for his friend's wedding, (Why is it that the only pilot I've met had a paunch, sparse hair and bad breath?), and they head back to her apartment.

In the aftermath discussion, she mentions to Mr. Pilot that her breakup would be such a disappointment to her mother. Why? Not because her mother wanted her happy, but because she'd be breaking the mold.

How so? Well, her mother had knowingly accepted the same behavior from her father for years, how dare Ms. Georgia Peach act like she'd not been taught better? Trying to act like she was superior to her elders!

Didn't she know that as long as he was taking care of business in the bedroom and was providing the bankroll, all she had to do was make like Queen Elizabeth and smile and wave?

  • Have we become complacent with regards to what constitutes "right" treatment?
  • Have we settled for legalized prostitution?
  • He's late repeatedly, but if he brings a little bling, it's all forgiven?
  • I'll up your allowance if you up your "ig" factor?

What say you ladies?

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Butterfly Principle

By Christopher Donaldson, Sr.

The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. ~ Exodus 14:8
Overprotective parents do their children a great injustice. The caterpillar that lies inside the cocoon will never become the beautiful butterfly if someone cuts open the cocoon prematurely. It is the struggle itself that allows the butterfly to emerge as a strong, new creature of nature.

God understands how necessary this process is. That is why we are allowed to experience difficult, often life-changing events. He even orchestrates them-all for our benefit. What the Israelites thought was a cruel joke when Pharaoh sent troops to pursue them after they had been freed and penned against the shore of the Red Sea became the stage for the most publicized miracle of all time-the parting of the Red Sea. Generation after generation has heard this incredible story of deliverance. God puts us against the "Red Seas" in order to show His power in and through us. If we do not know God can deliver, then we can never learn to trust Him. Circumstances that go beyond our capabilities of solving them place us at God's complete mercy.

This is how He likes it.

Do not fear the calamity that comes your way. If you are faithful to Him in the test, you will see God's power manifested like never before. Just as the Israelites were able to sing a song of deliverance, you too will have your own testimony of the Lord's faithfulness; and you will be able to recall it for others to build your faith and theirs.

Copyright (c) 2005 by Christopher Donaldson, Sr.
Saturday, September 24, 2005

Practicing Abstinence


"So, does

abstinence

mean that

we can't

take care

of each

other...in

other ways

...you know..."

I'd never really paid much attention to the words abstinence or celibacy till about the year 2000 when God came a-calling. I've been a Christian all my life, but I've recently come to realize that baptism, attendance at Sunday School and Sunday morning worship, ushering, singing in the choir, and participation in any of the various offices to be had in the church do not constitute or replace one-on-one time (read: relationship) with God.

In 2000, I was on the fast track at work. I was in a middle management position, making a good salary for someone with a degree--in my case, a great salary for someone without one. I had also begun a business in my "spare" time. At church I was the choir president and director of the Youth Choir. On the home front, my daughter was away at boarding school, my mother's health was stable, and my fiancé and I were busy tussling over wedding arrangements. All was well with my world.

In the midst of this, God began speaking to my heart and my situation. The message was simple: "You know you wrong." I was like, "What? Oh you mean that...but we're getting married next year!" Silence. "But...we've been doing this for twelve years and now, now you want me to stop?"

I tried to shrug it off, but it seemed as though every sermon for the next three months was directed at me! Forget stomping on my foot, the Pastor was stepping on my whole leg! She preached about the body being a temple, she preached about fornication, she cited examples of officers laying up in bed the night before and coming to church the next morning, carrying on business as usual. I actually did look around the sanctuary during that sermon, wondering who she was talking about, because I just knew she wasn't talking to me...cause I never, ever had sex on Saturday nights.

After another three months of this, I couldn't take it anymore. I spoke to my fiancé about the cessation of intercourse until our wedding in six months. You know that went over as well as Bush's election in New York and Pennsylvania, right? I mean how do you convince someone, when you're reluctant yourself, that something you've both been doing for twelve years needs to be stopped... for six months?

Anyway, I gave it a shot. It entailed weeks of discussion back and forth. Finally, although he couldn't resist the urge to warn me that I was putting a strain on him and on our relationship, he agreed to give it a shot. Strain? Heck, we'd weathered so much in twelve years I was confident that, though those six months would be a mild to moderate annoyance, we'd be alright. I had faith enough for both of us. After all, we were doing the right thing...

Week one was a gosh-durned struggle, but with reassuring phone calls three to four times a day, we were alright. Week two, the coaxing and questioning reasserted its head. Oh don't play; you know what I'm talking about. "So, does abstinence mean that we can't take care of each other...in other ways...you know?" For once in that relationship, I held firm. I actually said no. Why? Although I daily endured physical symptoms of frustration, something strange was happening to me mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

I began seeing things more clearly than I had in years. In fact, I began seeing my fiancé, myself, and our relationship with more clarity than I had in years--or perhaps more than I ever had, period. I realized that he manipulated my emotions to avoid discussions, to provoke guilt, to win arguments etc, and I had been unaware of it. Well, not unaware--I just thought he didn't realize that he was doing it. But with my newfound clarity, I realized that it was a deliberate act. Wow...

I also began to realize that I, in part, had helped to create my monster. I had begun to treat him as God, and he had taken to the roll better than any Academy Award winner ever could. So now I was taking away his God-like authority without warning, and he didn't know how to react to my new purpose or my burgeoning self-confidence.

At that point, abstaining no longer became a reluctant obedience, but a necessity. I wanted to discover what else I'd been blinded to...unfortunately, I found out.

###

The Bible is clear that fornication is a no-no, and that the body is a Temple, a house for the indwelling Spirit of God, and should be treated as such. Just as we enter the Temple with reverence, ready to worship, the same should be upheld for our bodies. Powerful thought.

However, in what I call God’s sense of humor, He gives us the end result but not all the little steps in between. Some call it faith building, which it is, but sometimes to me it’s just plain funny. Why? Because there surely isn’t a chapter that tells you how formerly married folk are supposed to abstain.

With long-term abstinence staring me in the face, I decided to do what I usually do when I want to know something: find a book about it. I looked up some books online. Of the few that caught my eye, I bought three. Well let me tell you, what a waste of money! I wasn’t expecting much from the Caucasian authors but the sistah, she just plain let me down! By the time I got through reading her book, I was checking my Christian membership card to make sure I was still a member of the body of Christ. I was like, these people lying! Where’s the angst? Where’s the keeping it real stuff? I could write something better myself!

A light bulb went on, and I began to do just that. (Don’t be too surprised if this is an excerpt.)

In questioning friends and acquaintances, I began to realize that the word “practicing” was really apropos. Folks seemed to be practicing abstinence until they could get it right, myself included. There is a program for teens wherein a teen is fitted for a silver ring that will symbolize a commitment to sexual abstinence until marriage; so right off the bat, they have a support group. No such thing for adults in the secular world or in the body of Christ.

I know in the body of Christ we’re supposed to be able to talk these things out, but I’ve been in church all my life and I’ve never been a member of a congregation where I could call someone up and say, “Girl! It was close last night!" or “Girl, pray with me, so I don’t end up with my drawers on my head saying, 'What’s my name again?'”

So what’s my point?

  • We can’t be so busy playing church and putting up fronts that, when we hit upon a sensitive area where we need the support of the body, we have no where to turn.


  • Although practice makes good, surrender is a better thing. Surrender it to God. He can take it from you, but He waits on your surrender; for in your surrender, you obtain His strength to deal.


  • Realize that nothing worthwhile is ever a popular or easy choice.


  • The tenets of AA still hold true. Stay away from people, places and things that will encourage your addiction (in this case sex), and replace them with positive things (not that sex is not a positive thing--it’s just not a positive for you, outside of matrimony). So, dinner at his/her house…? NO.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Infidelity: Where Does It Begin?

I dreamt about my ex-husband last night. Disturbing? A little, since we’ve been divorced for over fifteen years. But in my defense, I will mention that before I fell asleep, I was reading a copy of “Grown Folks Business” by Victoria Christopher Murray, which deals with infidelity. The husband didn’t actually commit a sexual act, but he fell in love with someone else, a man.

Some folks would disagree and say that the main topic was homosexuality and the down low trend, which I’ve been aware of since the eighties, but is just now coming to light in the mainstream world. And they’d be right. In fact we both would, because there are many issues being touched in this story and since matters of importance are subjective, and this is my blog...I’m going with the infidelity issue this morning…lol.

Merriam Webster defines infidelity as unfaithfulness to a moral obligation : DISLOYALTY marital unfaithfulness or an instance of it. The protagonist’s husband, Quentin, is clear to point out that although he’s in love with someone else, it has nothing to do with sex and although he doesn’t come out and make a bold statement, by the author’s skillful wording, his very tone comes through loud and clear and you get the idea that he feels confident in, and maybe even takes pride in the fact that he has not been unfaithful.

Which segues nicely into the question: Where does infidelity begin? How is it defined? Does it begin the moment we entertain thoughts about others beside our spouse and refuse to squash those thoughts? Or does it begin only when we proceed to act out our thoughts?

(Now if you've taken note of my skillful wording, you should have figured out which way I'm leaning...lol)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Unexpected Death

It seems that since April of this year, everywhere I turn, death ups and smacks me in the face. First a member of our congregation, my brother-in-law's dad passed away. (I had the honor of doing his obituary and singing at the services).

Then I visited a church in August (around my birthday 8/15) and ran smack dab into another death. A young woman in the congregation was shot to death by her boyfriend. She was just 24 years old and left behind a 4-year-old daughter and some angry/grieving parents. A fairly young Christian herself, convicted by her recent study on "a Life of Purpose" she began making new/different choices, one of which was to break up with her boyfriend--that choice cost her her life.

Then Katrina in all it's grim, poverty stricken, political, religious, just-not-going-away glory rolled in. I was assailed with stories of dead bodies floating by and I couldn't even begin to envision myself in that situation. Eventhough I cared, and contributed, and exhorted others to do the same. A constant barrage of the same information, can create a desensitization, if you will, and I quickly approached the "enough already" zone.

So just as I was about to get comfortable, pat myself on the back for my "Christian" contribution, and get on with my life, I got to work on Monday, just past, and was greeted with the news of the death of a co-worker in a car accident. I began bawling over someone I couldn't even describe if given a million dollars. (Although for a million, I would at least make a stab at it).

So...how do you deal with death? What do you say to the family and friends of the bereaved? How do you handle your grief?

If, like me, you never know quite what to do with yourself, besides hope it will go away, the following posts might be of some help to you:

Dealing With Death - Part I
Dealing With Death - Part II
Dealing With Death - Part III

Have a blessed day all!

Peace,
Dee
Thursday, September 15, 2005

Voices: Black Writers for Relief

Voices: Black Writers for Relief

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Book auction at 5:30 p.m.

Reading begins at 6:30 p.m.

Brookdale Community College Performing Arts Center
Lincroft, New Jersey campus.

Please see Web site (www.brookdalecc.edu) for info and directions.

Reading will feature:

Constance Bridges
Jericho Brown
Ross Gay
Amaud Johnson
Yusef Komunyakaa
Dr. Elaine Olaoye
Tim Seibles
Tracy K. Smith
Rodney Snell
Rasheda Young

Funds raised will go to the Black America Fund for families who have taken in other families in the crisis.

For more info, contact:

Laura McCullough, Chair, Visiting Writers Series, at 732-224-2053

Rodney Snell, at 732-224-2393 or rsnell@brookdalecc.edu.

For more information about relief efforts and fundraising events of particular interest to writers, please visit www.pw.org/katrina/.

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