I am a child of the King,
I am a father figure, a teacher, a counselor, a brother, a family man,
I am an unapologetically Black man,
I love being a black male, I love black women, I love my history,
I am sensitive,
To the needs of others and learning to be sensitive to my personal needs,
I am intuitive,
I’m good at picking up on vibes, feeling people out and interpreting people
I am eclectic,
I love all kinds of music from Fleetwood Mac to the Temptations; from Kirk Franklin to Barbara Streisand,
I am confident,
Not in me but Confident in HE who lives in me!
Recognizing my power has been a gradual, ongoing process. However, the catalyst was the summer of 2015. The summer of 2015 a relationship ended that left me very hurt and disappointed. I remember that evening asking God Why? I was upset, I was hurt, because I felt like I was being taken advantage of. I’ll never forget what God told me.
He said, “So you feel hurt, used, because she only reaches out to you when she needs you for something”.
I said, “Well yes God”.
He said to me, “Well how do you think I feel about our relationship?”
He said, “The only time you really seek me, is when something has happened to you. Our relationship is reactionary and once things get good, I don’t hear from you. Then you go out back in the world, trying to do things on your own, trying to find love on your own, trying to handle problems on your own. You get emptied out and then you come back to me when the burden has become too heavy, or you feel drained. When you’ve reached your wits end, then all of a sudden, you need a word from me.”
He told me, “I want your fellowship and your time. I actually love you without qualifications, and without your actions. I can do more for you than anyone or anything can. I appreciate that you come to me when needed, because you know I am able. But I want to be more than your fallback plan”.
I realized a lot of my challenges with loving myself, finding value, and in me were linked to having a reactive relationship with Christ and instead of a proactive relationship with HIM. It was at that moment that I decided to take a year to “Hang from the Vine”; This is a concept coined by Joyce Meyer. I decided to take the year to begin being intentional about spending regular time with God every day. There was no structure, but I did journal and converse with him daily around my thoughts, concerns, and spend intentional time in meditation in the word.
It was an eye opening experience and it was the catalyst for who I am and how I understand myself. “Hanging from the Vine” helped me forgive myself for mistakes I made, it helped me understand what true love looks like, it helped me begin the journey of loving myself. It helped me embrace my gifts and strengths. When I was younger, I wanted to be the best jock, the “cool kid”. I hated that my gift was public/motivational speaking and didn’t like being teased. But I’ve come to love that young Redrick. I love who I am and my gift to motivate, inspire, and communicate with others.
Counseling also helped as well. Counseling was a process that was long overdue. The combination of my finding more identity in Christ and balancing that with practical help, allowed me to find more balance. I was able to begin to see the source of my insecurities, doubts, and why I tended to find myself in situations where my value was not recognized. Growing up without my father, I learned, was a source for issues I used to have with self-confidence, self-value. I used to think it was my fault for him not being around, that if I did this or did that, he would come and pick me and my sister up for the weekend.
Unconsciously, this poured over into other areas of my life, where I felt like if I gave people things, if I did everything they wanted to do, if I made all of the efforts on their behalf, they would then love me, or care about me, or enter into relationship/friendships with me. The counseling combined with my intentional efforts to spend time with God, helped me realize that I am enough. My relationship with Christ helped me find value in me. I learned that the love of Christ is beyond what I can imagine. Nothing I do could make him love me more and nothing I don’t do, would make him love me less. His love for me is not an “if- then”, it’s “even though”. He loves me simply because he created me. This realization helped me discontinue trying to find worth and value in man. It also helped me re-ground myself in my identity. It restructured my understanding of what masculinity and “being a man” entails. I am the man God wants me to be. I take care of the people in my family. I value women. I try to walk with integrity. I’m slow to anger and quick to listen. I’m assertive, not aggressive, and I’ve reached a place in my life where I am ok and happy with who I am!
Even though, I am in a better, more solid place both internally and in relation to the world, there are a few areas I still want to grow in. I hope to overcome my apprehension to taking risks. One of the things I think men fear most is rejection. I am learning how to take risks daily and trust that with good intentions things always work out for the best. Another concept I am working through is “owning my awesome”. Learning how to be confident in my gifts and strengths. I’ve always had this struggle with identifying the line between confidence and arrogance and thus, I end up unintentionally being humble to a fault. I am learning how to continue to think the best and highly of others without seeing myself as less.
I’ve been journaling for the past two years. I think this has been the best way for me to measure my own growth. It’s been amazing seeing the things I prayed and reflected on two years ago and how I’ve changed, my perspective has changed, and my prayers and reflections have evolved. I know this is an activity that seems to always be directed at women, but I think men should do it as well. If we as men can work through our emotions, insecurities, vulnerabilities in a healthy manner, I think our society would see a decrease in toxic masculinity, sexism, and other related issues.
Through my journey, I hope to inspire others. Jump, take the risk. The biggest hesitation I’ve come to find with doing this is the fear of how people will receive you or how people will respond when you do so. You have to trust that when you embrace your individual power, you may just find that you’ll be successful, or you may fail. But from failure comes the greatest lessons. And you you’ll learn who you can truly depend on.The other piece of advice I would give is seek counseling. I think mental health is such a taboo topic in our communities but there are so many obstacles and barriers we have dealt with for so many years that are think are magnified when you are a person of color particularly in America. The counseling helped me work through a number of issues from my childhood and adolescent years I wasn’t even aware were impacting me and how I saw myself. As we work on becoming whole (physically, spiritually, and mentally), we will be able to love ourselves more and walk and operate with more confidence.
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