Author's Note: This is not a political post. I have purposed not to write politically on my blog because politics is so polarizing. Politics will cause you to lose and gain friends quickly because everyone has an opinion and most think that their opinion is correct. Well, today we won’t have to agree or disagree about the political climate in America today because while this post is about President Barack Obama it is not about his policies, but about his family.
Growing up in a predominately black community, there were not a lot of examples of good marriage and family. Most of the kids in my neighborhoods were being raised by single moms, by a grandparent – usually the Grandmom, or some other female head of household. I knew very few kids that were living with both their Mom and Dad in the same house. Growing up, there was not a whole lot of healthy love and affection displayed on TV shows with actors who looked like me. Until the Cosby Show. The Cosby Show transformed not only how America saw black families but it also redefined how we as black people saw ourselves. We had an example for ourselves of what love in a black family could look like. Cliff and Claire were great parents with great educations and great careers and they really loved their children. But the Cosby Show was just a TV show and while I knew that there are living examples of this type of loving, well-educated, well-spoken, well-read family in the black community it was like a well-kept secret that was almost too good to share, at least that is how it felt to me. We all wanted some aspect of that life – The Cosby Show life – whether it was Cliff and Claire’s love for one another or the love they had for their children or just their life in general – there was something wonderful about seeing an image on TV that reflected the good we (black people) could be. But again, it was just a TV show.
When Barack Obama became the first black president of these United States, almost immediately he began to show the world what real love should look like. Having matured by this time, I realized that finding, keeping and displaying real love was not just a black issue. Growing up in a black community “us” was all I knew, but in 2008 I was an adult who knew that America’s divorce rate was hovering around 50% and I also knew that in certain communities, including the black community, the divorce rate was much higher, if we married at all. But just like Cliff and Claire did in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, President and Mrs. Obama defied the stereotypes for love, marriage, family, and education.
Almost immediately, I could see that President Obama was completely and totally in love with his wife Michelle. Even after years of being together, you could tell that if she ran to the moon he’d be right behind her. After years of being together, their public displays of affection were akin to two teenagers in love – she could not keep her eyes off him and he could not keep his eyes off her. It was so beautiful and so influential. With Hollywood A-listers getting divorces like new dresses; women deciding to just become single moms because they were tired of waiting for the right one; and men deciding that they’d rather play the field than settle down, Barack and Michelle were showing the world a different view. They were showing the world that you could be educated (they both graduated Harvard Law), well read, well spoken, be black and love your family. They showed the world that the stereotypes regarding marriage in the black community and in America can be broken. The Obamas showed us that a husband and wife can both be successful and cheer each other on. They showed us that PDA (Public Displays of Affection) with our family is not just possible, it’s actually cool. The Obamas showed us that we don’t have to sacrifice family for our career, we just need to work hard at achieving greatness in both because we can have a successful career, a wonderful family and not have to compromise on either. The Obamas showed us – not just Black people – but all of us that a good marriage is possible even after 20+ years. For the last 8 years, I have watched the Obamas not just for political reasons, but because I absolutely love their love. They displayed the perfect balance of cool, charm, grace, and poise no matter where they were all the while, showing the world that being happily married with a beautiful family is not just on TV but it’s happening in real life and it’s on display for all of us to see.
Today, as President Obama and his family leave the White House for the last time as the First Family of these United States, I am thankful for the example that Obamas have set for marriage, education and family. It is an example that I will never forget.
Did you know there is something more precious than diamonds, rubies, and gold? Yes, time is one of the most precious commodities we have. It is the one thing we will never get back once it is gone; Time is the one thing people who are dying wish they had back. Time is the one thing parents wish they had more of with their children and spouses often wish they had more of when they get to the end of their life. No matter who you are, where you come from, what your religion is, or what your race is – time is universally something we will use (or waste) and when it’s done – it’s done.
I am thankful for time but I must admit there are days I do not feel like I have enough of it. My son, Malachi, will be 18 this year and to be honest with you I don’t know where all the time went. There were only a few days that I did not spend with him but it seems like overnight he went from this little guy who’s feet I used to hold in my hands and now he is now taller than me with more hair than me; someone with his own opinion about life and I think “woah, what happened?” I was present for nearly every milestone and it does not feel like 17 years have come and gone but they have and he is staring manhood in the face as I cover grey hairs.
Time is a beautiful thing, and it is something you can never get back. As I mentioned earlier, time is one of the most precious commodities we will ever have. Unlike money, gold, and jewelry, time is something we can never get back. Knowing this makes me keenly aware of how I spend my time. When I was younger (early 20s), I did what I wanted and wasted a lot of my time doing things I had no business doing but as I got older and had my son, I began to see how very precious time was. Now that I am 40, I understand better the phrase, “don’t waste my time,” because now at 40 I have the understanding that time is something I would rather not waste on foolishness.
Our time is so precious, whether we realize it or not, and one day we will get to the end of all of our days, I want us to be able to look back at our life and enjoy the time we had and the time we used wisely. Today and every day I am thankful for time. I want you to remember that while time is precious so are the moments. One thing I have to work on is balancing my need to work with my family time. I am a hard worker, mostly because I am always thinking about a book or a project and because I have multiple businesses operating at once, but I have to remember to stop and enjoy the time I have with my family because every moment with them is precious.
Malachi and I are avid Marvel movie fans but that was not something I did, it was something he wanted to do, but years later we still talk about the trailers and the previews and the movies. We watch them over and over again until we know all the scenes then we eagerly await the next Marvel wonder. It’s our process and while some may think that it’s foolishness, for me it is the best time ever! We laugh until we are crying at the silliest things while we wait in line and as his wall comes down, we talk and he listens and if you have a teenager you know that is time well spent. I know that when he is older with his own family, I will look back on our Marvel movie days with joy because it was time well spent. When he is older, and I have gone on to be with the Lord, Malachi will still be able to think back at those times and laugh at our silliness. That is time well spent.
So today I just want to encourage you as I encourage myself to spend your time wisely, use balance and remember you only have so much time so make the best of it, I know I will.
Recently, I was having a discussion with my Aunt about a challenge I was having relating to giving of my time and myself. Let me go back a little bit, I am a giver – I used to be a really bad giver in the sense that I gave until it hurt, but thankfully now I have grown to a level of giving with wisdom rather than just blindly giving. But, when I give I have a tendency to expect that when I am in need those I have given to will be there to give to me. They may not be able to give at the level that I had given to them, but I expect at the very least a supportive “I’m here for you.” After talking to my Aunt, I realize that I am alone in my feelings on this and so I decided to write this post so together we can work through it.
So, how do we get past it when the people we give to (and the giving could be tangible items like money or non-tangible items like time) aren’t available to give back to us. How do you handle it? How do you get past the frustration that could occur from not receiving from those that you have given to? The answer is simple - be thankful for who is with you. That sounds a little different, but it’s what we have to do - be thankful for those who are there for us. Let me explain.
When I first learned about the principle of seed time and harvest time from a biblical perspective years ago, the one thing I expected was that my seed would come back to me the same way or better than it was given out. So, if I sowed $500 I expected to receive that or more back, but when my understanding matured, I understood that my seed would not always come back to me the way I gave it (and sometimes it would). For example, I have sown books into people, but I did not receive the books back, I received what I needed at the time (money, time, favor, etc.) as a harvest. So, what does this have to do with being thankful? Everything! You see when we give to people, whether it’s our money, our time or something else, we are sowing seeds into their lives that will one day produce a harvest for us. Here is an example, last year I won a prize that included a significant amount of grocery store gift cards and I knew that a friend of mine had a need for groceries, so I took her grocery shopping and let her get what she needed for her family. But, recently when I was in need of groceries, it was not my friend that brought groceries for my family, it was someone else. Even though I did not sow a seed into the person who brought us groceries, I received a harvest from the seed I had sown into someone who had a need last year. The example I gave is just one of many I could point out and yet, when faced with a different situation earlier this week, I was frustrated by the lack of harvest I received from someone I'd sown into and I had to take the moment to really find out why. The reason I was frustrated was simply because I was looking for my harvest in the wrong place. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever expected someone to do something for you only to end up with disappointment? Have you ever been on the expecting end of a deal only to be let down after giving all that you had? If so, then you know exactly how I felt (past tense).
In my situation, I was frustrated because someone that I cared deeply for and admired very much had yet to acknowledge a need and in fact, they were in my estimation having a very selfish moment. I didn’t need anything from this person, but I did want their support, but I was met with a conversation that lacked empathy and compassion. When I sought to reap the harvest I had sown into them, there was no harvest available. I had sown seeds, but when it came time for me to reap the harvest, I realized that was not where my harvest was. When my Aunt said to me, "be thankful for who’s with you and don’t worry about who isn’t" I was reminded that your harvest does not always come the way you think it should. We have to be thankful for the harvest when it comes and that may not be from the place you planted the seed. I believe God honors seed sowers, even when the seeds are non-tangible, and when the harvest comes, it may not be the way we think, but we have to recognize the harvest and be thankful for it.
As for me, I realized that I was expecting something that the other person was unwilling or unable to give me and I am now OK with that. I also understand that in the midst of my frustration about not seeing a harvest where I’d sown seed, God sent my Aunt to uplift me, encourage me and love on me (the harvest I was looking for). So, today I can tell you that I am not only thankful for her being there (harvest) but I recognize that God sent my harvest at just the right time to be a blessing in my life.
So, I say to you today, don’t be so caught up on where you’ve sown seeds that you miss the harvest coming up in a different location I know I almost did and boy, what a disaster that could have been. Be thankful for who's with you and as for those who are not, don't stop doing for them but do so with wisdom. This is a journey we're all taking together so as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Liela Marie Fuller
Author, Mother, Friend, Believer in Jesus...Really Just Me.
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