My friend in high school and I clicked as soon as we met .Just one of those things. Since we both liked to laugh we took any opportunity we had to, well not just make people laugh, but make them think as well.
Since he was black and I am white, one of our favorite gigs was to walk in a store and engage in a conversation that was meant to get a reaction from people around us.
I might say loudly, ” hey grab some ribs, I know how you black folk cant enough of that”
He would act offended and say ” we changed it back to African American, crackka.”.
Then on the way out I’d tell the store manager that he might want to check his pockets. My buddy would act mad and say ” why- just cuz im a black man I am a thief?”
And of course I would shrug my shoulders , look at him, then the manager and say ” hey cuz , just keepin it real, I mean 88% of incarcerated men are negr..I mean African American”
Depending how much fun we were having we would either quit or just keep it rollin.
Once we were out the door we would be busting out laughing just on the reactions we got. We didnt know it at the time , but we were learning too.
I guess looking back now we were pretty fortunate because we were both brought up to know that racism is on the inside not the outside. I mean I’ve seen hillbilly racism black racism mexican racism every kind of racism.Ugly knows no color.
Those few years were short but they ended up actually defining much of my life and my perspective on how I would communicate and how I would engage in conversation with people.Really whether or not I was going to be a sheep or buck and go solo.
In all honesty as I got a little bit older and got married I was told that I kind of spoke my mind too much and too clearly and wasn’t very careful with my words.
For awhile I’d check myself and try to fit in- polish my speech and act as everybody else was but it never felt right.It never felt normal to me so eventually I turned back into myself.
There were a few things that I had to correct that I didn’t even realize, some of the language that I had used but in general I just stuck to myself and said what was on my mind- not to offend anybody and I never purposely would intentionally offend anybody but I spoke what was on my mind.
It had nothing to do with me trying to impress anybody, just my personality and if I got any criticism and realized that I had offended anybody I would certainly correct it without any hesitation.
As the years went by I continued in my normal way of communicating but I noticed that people seemed to be kind of surprised by the way I spoke or they might inquire as to why I thought the way I did or say that I had an unusual way of expressing myself. Even say I had a special way of explaining things but I never really thought much about it.To me thats what you do, say what you think . But their was more to it .
Fast forward 25 years and just in the last few years I’ve realized that everybody has gifts. Some people are artists some people are accountants some people have administrative gifts and some people have gifts of communication or writing or other gifts.
I really never spent much time focusing on my gifts because fortunately I was brought up not to focus just on mine, but other peoples as well.
But the fact that I didn’t pay attention to it didn’t mean that it wasn’t there and the fact that you might not know what your gift is doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
The reason I’m telling you this it’s because I’ve just recently realized that my entire life I have spoken and written as if I was all alone and really never considered that there are other people watching listening or reading. At first when I recognized that I was a little bit frightend.As if I might have really let loose on some personal and sensitive things. I did.
But it was ok. Because it was the real me and everyone knew that. It never was intended to hurt anyone. There is a big difference between saying or writing something intentionally to hurt someone, and saying or writing the same thing when the person knows you are speaking simply what is on your heart. Even if it is offensive they know it isnt meant for them.
Recently, for the first time in years I actually took time to see why people even read things I have written over the years , this blog and other things I have done. Why people have invited me to speak to large groups of people and run programs with 40 people working for me who all had higher degrees then me. Heck I cant even make a tie hang around my neck.
To my amazement much of the feedback and comments had to do with the fact that I was being transparent. I had to think about that for a minute because I wasn’t trying to be anything .That’s just how I communicate.It really got me to thinking. Is it that rare that people write what they think? What other way is there? Does everyone else have some kind of secret buffer between their brain and their lips or what? It is rare!! Wow.
I was just writing to myself.I was just speaking to myself and there happened to be 150 people seated in front of me. When I write I don’t pay attention to anybody else or anything, I don’t write for other people I write what’s on my mind. No matter the venue, its always the same routine, once I put my head down to start writing it goes until my thinker is empty.
I wonder what I would have written if I had paid attention to who is watching or reading or listening all my life? Would I change what I said? Would I have altered my speech or be careful not to say anything that I thought might not be pleasing to the eye or ear of a reader? What a horrible life it would be.
Here is the key. It was clear to me that this communication style or writing technique was a God given gift, to me, and for me to use to help others in some way. Should I feel like Im bragging ? Of course not! I didnt come up with it. I never studied writing.I never took speech lessons. Im using the gift I was blessed with as best as I know how. The secret to knowing you are using your God given gift, not a manufactured human attempt at having a gift is simple.
Its in the fruit.
As I look back over the years now, I am shocked at all the things that have come from MY work! Lol!
Yeah, its my work alright, but He gave me the tools. I always remember this, and try never to step outside of my true gifts, because well, been there and done that.
The problem there is you notice a sudden absence of ANY fruit! Like a huge drive by fruiting just passed you in the hood…( sorry I couldnt resist)
You get the point.Find your areas of gifting . Every single one of us has gifts from God. Period. To my atheist, agnostic, buddhist , and all other friends, you just insert the name you prefer if God or Jesus seems to really get to ya…
But go after your gifts. Its not about us.Yes we get to finally have some sense of value in life when we in fact find and work with our gifts.. It makes you know you are here for a special purpose. If you are a cabinet maker, be the best cabinet maker you can be. If you build supersonic jets, build the biggest and baddest you can. Whatever your gift is, never ever decieve yourselves in thinking your gift isn’t as important as someone else’s.
You dont always get to recieve praise and accolades while using your gift, although some may more than others.
I have seen a little old lady with the gift of mercy take in a homeless man, hook him up with clean clothes, a shower take him to church and change his entire life just by connecting him with men at the church who give him a job. The story gets better because he meets a woman at that church and falls in love..
A year after he crawled out of his cardboard box in the woods and the little lady using her gift got hold of him, he is holding a brand new baby girl and the woman he loves.
Some things even a supersonic jet cannot produce….
Dont stay stuck if thats where you are. If you wanted apples and planted tree after tree in your yard for years, with not one apple, how long would you keep on?
Is that where you are? Good news. The tree store is still open , to everyone. Go get the right one and watch what it produces..
Go get your gift.
(You can find tests on line to help determine your gifts. This has to come from a bible based organization and many are free or very inexpensive. Remember we are not talking about skills. You can learn skills. Thats great too. But the gift is what you want. )