“When people who are different are given an opportunity to share and build trust, things happen.”
I was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. I was in the church while my mom was pregnant. The African American Baptist Church was a significant part of my life. It was all I knew as a child. It is the place I learned leadership skills, spoke in public and began relationships that I have some 30 plus years later. Strangely enough, I remember spending most of my Sunday’s reading the Bible during services. I learned more in doing that, reading my Children’s Bible at home, and going to Sunday School than I did during the sermons.
When I became an adult, I realized that I didn’t really know as much as I thought I did. As a college student, a cult-like organization came on campus recruiting students. I remember them asking me to confess my sins to them and when I said, “No, I don’t have a relationship with you to do so,” I was left alone and viewed as uncooperative. I thought they were a Christian Bible Study group but after some research, I discovered they were listed on a watch list as a cult. I was fortunate. A dear friend got caught up in their web of lies.
My experiences continued to shape my faith. As a senior in college, I was in a Pastor’s office who tried to assault me. I was able to get away by running out of the office but I heard about so many other young women who did not have a chance to escape his twisted use of the Scriptures to place these unknowing and innocent young women in compromising situations.
It was at that time that I stopped attending church. It was painful to have someone in a position of authority use faith as a tool for something negative. I had to not only forgive those who hurt me and were wrong but I had to forgive myself because I thought I had done something wrong to deserve this. Over time, I understood the value of relationship with Christ and with others authentically–the only way I could do that was to understand myself and my purpose–this became my quest.. I realized that the faith isn’t wrong but so often people will use tenets from the belief system to hurt others for their own good. So often, it is easy to get into a belief system because it sounds good and you don’t know it for yourself.
These experience are a few of many that forced me to go deeper into understanding my faith. I went through a series of denominational changes but I am at a church now that I adore. It is a church that is focused on social justice which is often neglected in the church. To be in a place that not only teaches God’s love but also demonstrates it to the least of these has been extremely impactful for me and my family. I know that I pass so many houses of worship on my way to my church. I am being fed in a way that allows me to reach not only up to God but out to others in love.
There is so much more to Christianity beyond the fundamentalism we see on television.
It is about caring, helping others and becoming your best. I am also able to appreciate those who don’t believe as I do and learn from them. I don’t like the self-righteousness and the hatred of many of those who claim Christianity as their faith. I am amazed that people who call themselves Christians can hate others.
During the election, I was amazed to hear individuals profess to be Christians and yet, they could say the things they did about the President. How can you love God who you have never seen and hate your brother that you see everyday was always at the forefront of my thinking. It also is amazing to watch the condemnation. It is easy to call out something we don’t like if it isn’t our issue but when it is our problem, we want grace, mercy and forgiveness. I am not saying that we should agree with everything but it doesn’t mean that we have
to persecute others.
I think the challenge this creates is that most people see Christians as being mean-spirited and hypocritical when that isn’t true. The world doesn’t get to see the wonderful people I encounter daily who are the salt of the earth–who love, respect and support others.
It is hard to identify one word that describes my relationship with Christ….it is about depth, ultimate love, and acceptance. I just wish others could do this for one another. I’ve discovered that many of us are as mean-spirited as the aforementioned because of we don’t understand forgiveness. When you truly experience God’s forgiveness, it is easy to forgive others. There are a lot of wounded people walking around wounding others who need to be forgiven and forgive!
When I was in India, I witnessed so much pain and suffering in my travels through different cities. I asked a dear friend on the trip for advice: I was really wondering why God allowed this to happen? She reminded me: God didn’t do this. What I saw was a result of man’s greed and his inability to love others. God would want us to know that love is the answer. I use to think that was “hokey-pokey” but I know better now.
It is hard to love your neighbor when you don’t love yourself.
People must begin to love themselves and know that God has more for them if they only believe and receive the love available. When I love myself, I can truly begin to express that to others. So many of the ills we face are a result of a lack of love. Greed is about wanting more for yourself and not caring about the impact it has on others. Babies who do not receive love, affection and attention have died. What happens to adults who don’t receive true, unconditional love and acceptance? They may not die physically but it is manifested in so many other ways: in how they treat themselves and others. I could go on and on…Love is necessary! God is love.
I believe that God has a purpose for my life. I believe that I am living in my purpose each day which is to educate, inspire and empower others to finding their God given purpose through building high quality connections with others that result in transformation. This transformation can be individually, in organizations or in community.
A friend once told me I am a ligament, a connector, and it is something I love to do. I teach others how to use their stories to learn more about themselves, how to feed their emotional well-being and build/leverage existing relationships to create long lasting, beneficial networks. I have been blessed because I am studying these topics in my PhD program and I am elated to have the opportunity to share this with others through training and coaching. My PhD allowed me the opportunity to conduct research with a diverse group of women–an African American Baptist minister, a Jew, an Episcopalian, a Universalist, and a Muslim. They were all my friends but they didn’t know one another except for two. In the group of 8 ranging in age from the late twenties to early 50s, they taught me so much.
I learned that when people who are different are given an opportunity to share and build trust, things happen.
Dialogue is important and when people have the opportunities to do so, the world will heal. I’m working on a workbook for women as a result of what they taught me! More than a year later, they are still meeting, sharing and loving each other in spite of their differences!
I met Froswa Booker-Drew during my studies at the University of North Texas. Through a string of events, I worked for her in an internship and the more I heard her speak, the more I wanted to hear of her story. She is one of the most engaging people I have met. She is currently the Director of the Southeast Region of WorldVision’s Youth Programs and is about to complete her Ph.D. in Leadership and Change at Antioch University. In addition to a full schedule traveling and writing, she is a speaker in high demand and the owner of Soulstice Consultancy, a consulting firm that seeks to connect and strengthen communities by sharing resources! Everything happens for a reason, I believe, and I certainly met Froswa for a purpose. I asked her to share her story with hatch* and she readily agreed despite her hectic schedule! You can reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out her website at www.soulsticeconsultancy.com,