As an African-American male, learning how to be vulnerable is like learning a foreign language. Growing up in the Deep South taught me how dangerous it could be to show weakness. Sandwiched between the regular occurrences of both racism and gang violence, I learned that my survival depended on my ability to quickly access and raise my emotional shields. In fact, one of the most infamous statistics that loomed over my generation was the high percentage of African-American males that were killed before the age of 21. I vividly recall arriving to class one morning in high school only to learn that one of my close friends had been murdered the previous day because he was wearing the “wrong” colors in the wrong neighborhood. He was one of many victims of gang violence.
For me, showing any signs of weakness could mean becoming easy prey, and would possibly be the difference between life and death. In essence, I had to appear to be someone I wasn’t in order to survive. I developed the habit of projecting a tough, callous exterior, while suppressing fear, anxiety, and dread. The interesting part of it all was the notion that learning could take place in this type of environment. I was expected to solve for “X” while simultaneously trying to figure out how I was going to avoid getting shot…but I digress.
Needless to say, that mentality got me through high school, but did not serve me very well in adulthood. Today, as I am drawn deeper into the fulfillment God’s design for my life, I am discovering the power and necessity of authentic transparency. There are territories that God has called us to reign over in our own lives. However, before we can take the throne, we must deal with the enemies that stand between us and our destiny. Our most formidable foe is the person we have always been. The one who loves the way things currently are, and does not want to change. We have allowed the enemy of “Ease” to take the throne that is rightfully ours.
Enter my own personal epiphany. In an effort to simply survive another day, I found myself burying and suppressing experiences and traumas that were much to painful to deal with. I buried the pain of two divorces, a layoff, “church hurt,” and grief from the death of loved ones just to name a few. I now realize that I have sacrificed my emotional health on the altar of hypocrisy, attempting to appear stronger that I really was. I donned a glass mask that eventually shattered under the weight of real pain. I was an actor on the stage of my own life. Little did I know I was doing a great disservice to the people who loved and needed me the most.
Since starting this journey of self-discovery and self-awareness, I have learned that healing is contained in sharing my story. Though vulnerability is daunting, the victory is worth the struggle. Seeing people liberated as I take the throne of my own story has initiated a deeper level of healing for me. I have realized that my story is not just for me, but for every king and queen that may be searching for their throne. As I take ownership of all the parts of my story, I now understand that we humans are one, and our mission is simple…to reign as kings and queens of our own stories and to proudly showcase the scars that validate our journeys to the throne. We are royalty!!!
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I am Brian Evans, and as always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.
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