A Word on Names

I was infatuated with falling in love when I was younger. I was more than a bit boy crazy and I could imagine the beginning, middle and happily ever after of every relationship. It was intense. When I decided that a boy would fall in love with me, they had very little chance of outsmarting my plan. I chased them down and became irresistible.

I would see a guy before the bell for first period would ring. Once my target was identified, the infatuation would start with daydreaming. I could lose time thinking about their cuteness. I would barely pay attention in class because I would try to figure out how to catch his eye or slip him a note, unbeknownst to the teacher.

I would open my notebook and pretend to take notes. Instead I would be doodling my name and my crush’s name. The adrenaline that would pump through me as I considered if their last name “matched” my first was electric! It had to sound right to be a good fit.

Mrs. Rozella X

Mrs. X

Mr. and Mrs. X

Dr. and Mrs. X

After making sure our names matched and sounded perfect together, my imagination would take me off into the future. The perfect wedding, with the princess dress. The large wedding party with all of my best girlfriends perfectly in the most AMAZING bridesmaid’s dresses. I would make sure that my friends met his friends and that they looked heavenly together as they glided down the aisle during the ceremony. There may even be a love match or two. I was a benevolent friend in my dreams. After the wedding, we would have a reception that would go into the wee hours of the morning followed by a honeymoon filled with breathtaking sex and adventures. We would return home deeper in love and ready to conquer the world! See Exhibit A: Continue reading

A Word on Falling in Love

Below is a picture of me in Cape Town, South Africa last week. You may not know it, but the smile that’s on my face is for the person behind the camera, for the man that has infiltrated my heart.

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I’m falling in love and it sucks. How can something simultaneously be so beautiful and so brutal? Glennon Doyle Melton coined the perfect phrase for this reality – brutiful.

I’ve been divorced for six years. I’ve engaged a few different men over the course of this time but if I’m honest (which I’m learning is non-negotiable), I haven’t been in love with any of them. I’ve loved some of them but I’ve not been IN love. I’m glad that over the course of my 35 years I’ve learned the difference. I love everyone. I truly do. I love anyone who shares a piece of themselves with me; with anyone who is vulnerable, raw and authentic. It’s the way that I’m wired. I can’t help it. Continue reading

A Word on Value

One of my favorite quotes is, “Don’t tell me what you value. Show me what you do and I’ll tell you what you value.”

There’s an image that always comes to mind with this quote. It’s winter in Chicago. The ground is frozen and the winds are fierce. I’m walking from the train station home and I encounter many people walking their dogs. These pets have on coats and booties to protect their paws from the icy ground. In the same moment I pass by a person experiencing homelessness who is huddled under blankets, with newspapers stuffed in their coat to provide insulation against the bitter cold. Here is an image that greatly troubles me and reply grieves my spirit – the pet that is provided care and the human who is ignored. 

Show me what you do and I’ll tell you what you value…

I’ve been thinking a lot about value recently – value as defined as the amount of meaning we give to something on someone; how we understand and demonstrate one’s worth and importance. I’ve always struggled with feeling valued, with wondering if I am good enough to be worth it – to be worth loving or worth spending time with or worth committing to. This is something I continue to work on, but there are days and moments when I wonder about my worth. 

I often say that the things you hear people talk about most often are the things people struggle with on a regular basis. Well, I consistently talk about self worth and self love, two things that I am desperately trying to figure out. While I intellectually believe that I am a child of God and that this identity supercedes any other identity, my heart wonders why this designation isn’t enough; why I still seek value from things and people who are external to me. 

And this is the rub – I cannot control those things and people that are external. Any attempt I make to seek meaning from that which is outside of myself will continually end in disappointment. We cannot seek that which can only be given by the Creator from those who did not create us. My work, my relationship, my friends or my family can give me the sense of meaning, worth and identity that I do believe is given to me by God.

On some days this is easier said than believed. I’m realizing that my actions towards myself have to continue to point back to my belief that I have been created in the image of the Divine and my worth is not based on anything or anyone else. It’s not based on anything I do or say or don’t do or say. It’s based on who God is and the fact that God breathed life into me and gifted me to show up in the world as a participant in God’s plan of restoration. 

I’m still struggling with how this knowledge translates into belief and action. I want people to see what I do and say, “Rozella is a woman who values herself, honors the Divine within and loves all whom she encounters.” I’m not quite there yet but I’m  working on it. 

Show me what you do and I’ll tell you what you value…

#AdventUs: A Word on Birth

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I love the church. I know that I’ve said many things and written many words that may cause some to wonder, but my emotion and passion about things such as church, faith and life together stems from my deep and abiding love for God’s church. I define God’s church not as a specific denomination but as an already but not yet reality where people who recognize their identity as beloved children of God gather to worship and grow. These people then engage in their communities – local, national and global – to seek change and transformation because their faith rests in a  God of new life and healing and restoration. This is the image and practice of church that I love and this is the church that I fight for.

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#DearBlackMen: A Word of Love

I love black men. When I heard about the #DearBlackMen effort to share love letters following recent happenings, I knew that I had to participate. As the year closes I wanted to take a moment to send some love to the men in my life, most of whom happen to be black.

To my father and father figures…

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I think about the men that have raised me, from my biological father Walter, to my step father and to my godfather. Each of them came from hard lives, lives that were rife with trauma and despair. Yet, they all seemed to persevere, to rise from ashes and truly become roses that have grown from concrete. They have taught me the importance of hope – of believing in the impossible, in the unseen. They have created lives for themselves and their families that many within our society believe is not possible for the Black man.

To my brother and those who have allowed me to be their sister…

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My brother Cole is my best friend. He is the Yin to my Yang and he has introduced me to a collective of young men whom I have grown to love as brothers. I count my cousin Nathan in this group as we are more like brother and sister than cousins. Even though these men are younger than me, they embody unconditional love and respect. They constantly teach me the importance of loyalty and bring abounding joy to my life.

To my uncles and those who have nurtured me from afar…

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I think about my uncle Karl and my uncles from the “rooms” – the men of AA and NA who became family and watched me grow. Their wisdom has been invaluable and I am often reminded of how they loved me as one of their own. I thank God regularly for the love that they lavished upon me and as some have gone on to eternal rest, I carry each of them in my heart.

To my friends…

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I have a couple of male friends who have spoken hope into my life during the darkest moments. Brady and Ulysses are men of honor. They are men who care for the women in their lives without limits. They are respectful and giving and kind. They show me what it means to be a man today and continue to hold me accountable to becoming the person I have said I want to be and the person they know that God has called me to be.

To my lovers, who shall rename nameless…
I have a deep and abiding appreciation for black men that I have had the honor of being in romantic relationships with. I love their skin and their smell and their pride. I love the way they protect me. I love how they love me – mind, body and spirit. I love them.

To all the black men I have encountered and I have yet to meet:
Remember that you are made in the Imago Dei, in the image of God. That the Creator and the Creator alone defines your worth and identity.

Remember that you come from a line of ancestors who survived the Middle Passage and that this reality makes you stronger and more powerful than you could ever imagine.

Remember that your passion, compassion and creativity have inspired generations upon generations and that you have changed the course of history.

But most importantly, remember us, your dear black sisters, who have held you down, had your back, supported you, nurtured you and will continue to lift you up, regardless of what happens. And you know why? Because we love you. Forever and always and there is nothing you can do about it. Period. End of Story.

Love,

Me

A Word on Lessons

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This post is actually about my most recent break-up, which has taught me some lessons. I’m pretty sure the reflection will continue, but so far, there are a few things that stand out. I am no longer a child. When I was a child, I acted like a child. As I have grown older, I have put away childish ways of being. For me, maturing and becoming an adult means that I understand the ability that I have to make choices. I understand that my choices have consequences; that there is a cause and effect relationship between what I do and what happens. I’m choosing to learn from my choices. That being said, I made a choice to enter into a relationship, even though my gut was telling me something different. And there were consequences. Lesson number 1: Always follow your gut.

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