In Honor of David Mitchell, His Family, and Yours

By Natasha Foreman Bryant
 
 I shared these exact words in my Breaking Bread blog a few moments ago, but I know that not everyone who reads this blog also follows my Breaking Bread blog. So I share these with all of you….
 
 Last night my dear friend, Carman, called me and painfully muttered the words that I knew would come one day, but never knowing when—she told me her father David had just passed away. David had been fighting Alzheimer’s for several years now and it was taking its toll on David, Carman, and their family.
 
 But in David’s passing I don’t see things as though he ‘lost the battle’ to Alzheimer’s, instead I see things differently. I see that David had the opportunity to spend time with his family and be cared for by his family. During his battle his family was faced with the option of embracing change or resisting it, and they were faced with a reality that they definitely weren’t prepared for or desired. David’s battle challenged his family. David’s battle has strengthened my friend Carman, and their family. They may not see it right now because the reality of him not physically being here is clouding the reality that he will always be here, and that not physically being here means he is no longer suffering, but forever living in and with peace.
 
 I pray that in their mourning they seek out God and seek to rejoice, pray, and give thanks for God and for Him not only bringing David to them, but allowing them to spend as much physical time as they have with David. I pray that they rejoice, pray, and give thanks for the challenges, the battles, and the pain over the years because with these things they have grown stronger and more resilient. I pray that David’s life brings them closer together, helps them overcome past issues, and prevents future ones.
 
 I pray that they don’t see David’s passing as a loss, but as a gain, because David has been promoted to his next level of existence. David has gone on to bigger and better things, experiences, and realities. He physically cannot be seen or touched, but through memories and laughter, he will always be felt and seen spiritually. David was a physically fit man who loved to exercise and roller skate, his condition prior to being promoted didn’t allow for him to do the things he loved—but now he can.
 
 I know what it’s like to ‘lose’ a loved one, I have ‘lost’ many. I know what it’s like to ‘lose’ a parent, my dad was suddenly and without warning promoted by God in 2001. I had so much guilt built up because I didn’t return his phone call ‘in time’ that day, because I didn’t get the chance to say, “I love you dad” and “see you later”, and because I didn’t pay attention to earlier signs of a heart attack. I had nightmares because I would flash back to the moment I found him in his office. I couldn’t shake the image.
 
 I was torn between embracing his sudden promotion and wanting to disconnect for awhile from the world. So I found a reasonable middle ground. I knew my dad would not want me to mourn him because he lived such an amazing life, flaws and all, and he had such a giving heart, so why wouldn’t I celebrate his life, legacy, and promotion to eternal life?
 
 My middle ground was living my life, growing comfortable speaking about his, doing everything and anything I could to be a great student of Christ and servant leader, and doing what I could to make him proud and to make myself proud. I have spent the past 13 years growing, healing, and celebrating life—mine and my dad’s. I have failed and succeeded, fallen but always gotten back up. I know dad is proud of me. Yes, there are times I cry because I miss him, because I want to see and hear him experience the great things that are going on in my life, and because I want to ask him for professional, personal, and spiritual advice. Then I eventually smile, thank God, tell my dad I love him, and talk to him anyway, knowing he can’t interrupt me [smile].
 
 I pray that my friend Carman and her family find a comfortable middle ground that they can eventually grow and mature into a higher ground of acceptance and celebration, because honestly, David wouldn’t want them to be constantly mourning him, depressed that he’s not physically around, and falling short of the greatness that he challenged himself and them to reach each day. David always wanted the best for his family, and flaws and all, David did his best to provide what he could when he could to his family.
 
 I hope by sharing David and Carman’s life and experience, and by sharing my own, that each of us take this time to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. I hope that we make this a natural habit each day. Life as we know it has a time limit, and we don’t know when that time will end, but what we can do is live our lives to the fullest each and every day, forgiving ourselves and others, shaking off depression and guilt, pushing ourselves to greatness, so that we and our families are better prepared for the day when we too are promoted.
 
 Carman I love you and your family. You all are a part of my extended family and I want you to know that you can thrive and shine brightly because God has equipped you to do so, and your dad gave you many examples of how to do it here and now. Don’t let the enemy convince you that life can never be good or better because David isn’t physically here. David is in each and every person that he encountered, embraced, and spent quality time with. Just as we are to look for Jesus in others, look for your dad in others—then smile, laugh, and say, “thank You!”
 
 I share these same words with and for all of you reading this. We must be selfless during change. We must embrace the change in order to grow and see the rainbow after the storm. The longer we resist the longer it takes for us to breathe and be free.

 
 Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks.
 
 
 
 Copyright 2014. Natasha Foreman Bryant. All Rights Reserved.
 
 
 

Dealing With the Disruptive and Dysfunctional Family Member—Or is This Person You?

I just posted to my Breaking Bread blog a prayer and reflection that I felt could also be shared on my other blogs. It doesn’t just focus on our family members who lie, cheat, steal, and get high. It focuses on you, on us, and how we deal with that person. It also focuses on our lives and those frequent moments when we betray God with as much or more intensity and intent as the family member who betrays us. It’s such a crazy cycle.
 
 How do we heal from our self-inflicted “crimes” and how do we heal from heinous acts committed against us? How do we go through the steps needed to forgive ourselves and others? How do we factor in the person who hurt us? Do we disown them or slowly begin to allow them back into our lives? When do you let them back in? After they are “healed” from their “infliction” or during the healing process? Below please read the excerpts from this post and then share your thoughts.
 
 Excerpts from Breaking Bread:
 
 

Has a loved one ever stolen from you? Blatantly lied to you? Been abusive towards you? Coldly disrespected you? Manipulated you into believing that they were a certain type of person, or lived a certain type of way? Have you suspected that they were stealing from you and others but your interventions fell short of any real results?
 
 Do you have a loved one who is abusing drugs and/or alcohol yet you keep ignoring the problem? How many times have you known that this person has been behind the wheel of a car? How many times have you witnessed the aftermath of their binging behavior? How many times have you bailed them out of jail or financial binds?
 
 I just spent the past hour reading forum threads about family members, young children and adult children, who stole from their family, were abusing drugs and/or alcohol, were blatantly disrespectful and sometimes abusive, and their family didn’t know what to do. I read of parents and other family members who just couldn’t take the betrayal any more and they kicked the perpetrator out of their home and forbid their return for any reason. Then I read of instances where people continued to forgive and let “slide” the offenses even when extremely valuable and sentimental items were stolen.
 
 Have you ever experienced this phenomena? Are you experiencing it now? It’s painful to have a stranger steal from or betray you. But it feels like your insides are being gutted when it’s done by a loved one….

 
 

…I think that just like God lovingly allows us to stumble and fall into valleys, yet never completely cutting us off, we too must lovingly let our perpetrator-family member go so that they can stumble and fall—-because we can’t go farther down when our faces are on the ground. We can either stay there or get up, and we can’t get up without God.
 
 Lovingly keep those who are inflicted with the thieving, lying, abusing/abusive “bug” at a safe distance, so that you can allow God to have complete access without your interference. Every time we interfere and think that we can do God’s job and fix something faster, we end up being the victim. There’s a big difference between an intervention with tough love, and trying to “fix” someone. Set and stick by boundaries and rules to protect yourself and other family members, and let God handle the details. The perpetrator will only get and accept help when they want it and see the need for it. Until that time they are like a nonstop tsunami that will destroy anything and anyone in their path.

 
 If YOU are the perpetrator then you will either deny wrongdoing (and continue spiraling out of control until you hit a hard enough force that stops you) or you will get professional and spiritual help, and make right your wrongs.
 
 
 Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved. Natasha Foreman Bryant.
 
 
 

Spiritual Quotes of the Day: Hope

“You may be experiencing an extremely painful or difficult moment in your life right now, and you aren’t sure what to do, what to say, where to go, or who to turn to—I encourage you and pray that you would turn to God for strength and restored hope”- Natasha L. Foreman

“In those desperate times when we feel like we don’t have an ounce of strength, He will gently pick up our heads so that our eyes can behold something—something that will keep His hope alive in us.” -Kathy Troccoli

“The choice for me is to either look at all the things I have lost or the things I have. To live in fear or to live in hope…Hope comes from knowing I have a sovereign, loving God who is in every event in my life.”- Lisa Beamer (her husband Todd was killed on flight 93 on September 11, 2001).

Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. Some Rights Reserved.

Natasha’s “Revenge” Quote of the Day 12.15.11

“The best revenge is living well. I don’t need to focus my attention and energy on ‘getting even’ with anyone– because I’m already ahead of them. It would require me to turn around, go back, and invest time and resources trying to hurt them. I’d rather carry myself with grace all the way to victory. I don’t need confirmation of my greatness. I don’t need someone to tell me I’m special or brilliant. I don’t need validation. I know who I am, whose child I am, what I’m made of, and what I will and won’t tolerate in my life. I also know that the eternal will stick around while the temporal will eventually fall to the wayside, so I don’t need to hold on to things or people. As my Dad always told me, “you can’t lose what’s rightfully yours”. Everything has its purpose and place in life. So heal and let go of the past. Heal and move forward in your life. Heal and live with dignity. Seek greatness and not revenge in your life so that your remaining days on Earth are well-spent and legacy-defining.”                                        

– Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman.

Forgiveness is for the Forgiver More Than for the Forgiven

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

I have had the opportunity recently to forgive some people in my life who wronged me over the years. I had forgiven them already, but I guess for them, it was necessary to ask…and in some cases, this was not the first request. In all relationships- business and personal I believe that when we part ways, even on bad terms, you should still forgive the person that you believe wronged you. It’s not so much for them as it is for you. This is your opportunity to leave the past in the past, release the weight you have been carrying around on your shoulders and in your heart, and free yourself from the venom inside that causes you to roll your eyes and suck your teeth every time you think of them.

So a few years ago I walked away from a personal relationship. I had forgiven that person for misleading me, betraying me, and mistreating me. I forgave that person for not treating me with the respect that I deserved- that I had given him. He thought money and gifts were good enough, and they would make me overlook his indiscretions in our relationship. He thought that material possessions and a ‘status’ and ‘title’ excused his behavior and treatment of me. He thought that telling me lies and misleading me were excusable offenses because he was, “a man” and “men will be men”, and some other nonsense.

He forgot he was playing games with a child of God. He also forgot my clear declaration that I shared with him, and every man before and after him…”Be honest and upfront. If you want to see other people then let’s just casually date, so we can both be free to date others” because “Once I’m through I’m through, there are no re-takes, breaks while we figure things out, or break-ups to make-ups…if you cheat I’m gone….”

But what was I thinking? Women didn’t leave him, he left them, so I was obviously delusional and way in over my head in his opinion.

It would appear that he was actually the delusional one. Once I walked away from the relationship there was no looking back, no holding on to memories and hopes for something more with him. No desire to punish him, get even, or parade around him and his friends as a reminder of what he had and lost. I was at peace. I had already moved on before I made the decision to say, “this isn’t working out.” But to have this overwhelming sense of peace and resolve it required me to forgive him, which I did.

Years have passed and it never crossed my mind that this individual would spend the time and resources to track me down to ask for forgiveness. But he did. So once again I forgave him. No emotion, no questions of why, how, and “what did I do to you to make you think I deserved this?” Instead, I calmly and rationally told him that I forgave him years ago, have no interest on rekindling flames or even being friends. I wished him well in life and said a quick prayer hoping he receives the life he has always wanted, and that it falls in line with what God believes he needs.

For him he felt he needed clarification; he needed to know how I knew he was cheating because he had been so careful; he needed to know if we could be friends (I guess he thought the first time I said “no” it was a typo), and if we could meet up from time to time. Quickly, clearly, and succinctly I explained the following…

I knew he was cheating because I pray throughout the day every day that God always reveals the truth to me and never allows me to be hidden from it or blind-sided by it; I told him that he should never attempt to mislead or battle with a ‘believer’ because no weapon formed against us shall ever prosper. I firmly yet respectfully told him again that he had no reason to contact me after that point, that if he has learned from his past and has no intention on repeating it then it’s time for him to move on and learn his next lesson.

Had I still been carrying around resentment, anger, desperation, or even a romantic-type of love for him, this moment would have been destroyed because I would have reacted and responded emotionally, and would have allowed myself to be engaged in a lengthy conversation. I would have allowed his need to feel like he closed the chapter on ‘us’ or manipulative desire to start a new one overwhelm me. Instead this dialogue lasted no more than 10 minutes (the time it took me to finish eating my sandwich, chips, and most of my drink).

Forgiving him once more was again for me.

I have learned over the years that I am quite capable of walking away, moving on, weeding out people who serve no purpose but to distract me, and doing so lovingly. My high self-esteem is an added benefit, because I know that no matter what I go through and who I go through it with, that there is always someone better out there for me; that God is there watching over me and setting things in motion where I eventfully (through obedience) afterwards end up with bigger, better, and more beautiful experiences each and every time…and this has happened after each and every ‘failed’ relationship- both in business and in my love life.

The only way to truly prepare for bigger, better, and more beautiful experiences and blessings is to unload the weight from anger, guilt, fear, and negativity. We have to drain the venom from our minds and bodies that poisons us and everyone in our path. We have to forgive those who wronged us past and present. If you haven’t done it, if you haven’t let go, release that weight and start living your life fully…today!

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

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A Focus on Dignity and Non-Violence at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

On April 15th I was honored to lead a Dignity Day session as a HOPE Corp Volunteer through Operation HOPE (HOPE) at the Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (CSKYWLA) in Atlanta.

What is amazing is how the majority of this class of ninth graders were initially completely turned off to the idea of having to listen to yet another speaker that day as they were just returning to their classroom from an assembly that focused on the theme of 100 days of Non-Violence…so they were shifty and closed off. But about 15 minutes into our conversation some of the girls who had crossed arms were soon raising their hands and answering questions.

I started off by talking about the concept of legacy and that that day we were laying the foundation and road map for them to create and eventually leave behind a strong, dignified legacy. I had them define the term legacy in their own words and then share some of their dreams, goals and aspirations. Then as our conversation deepened I shared with them the history of how HOPE was founded, the services and programs that HOPE offers, and I started to weave a story where life included them and their legacy.


I think helping them share the names of empowered and dignified women they see in their family, community, and elsewhere who had similar or worse lives growing up helped them to see that they too could be those same type of women- that they are these women but in-training and with the potential to do more and help more in the long run because they are being equipped with the tools at a young age; and our adversity isn’t an excuse to let life pass us by or a crutch to coast through life doing and expecting the bare minimum, but a reason and motivation to excel and succeed.

These young ladies were shocked to hear that the civil rights movement as it pertained to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Ambassador Andrew Young was sparked, motivated, and pushed along due to their wives Coretta Scott King and Jean Childs Young- two women who endured and overcame adversity and strife. Hearing this information made many of these girls sit up straight in their chairs and listen intently.

                        

When I spoke about not holding grudges, and that forgiving people is not to benefit the person they were forgiving but to help themselves heal, grow, and overcome- some girls shifted in their seats their seats, a few others rolled their eyes in disbelief; but then when I mentioned Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Iyanla Vandzant and their ability to forgive their abusers and using strife as a launching pad towards success- some of the girls started naming other people like Fantasia and Tyler Perry who was sexually and physically abused and how he also overcame and pushed himself to success.

We discussed the concept of family and that it isn’t just our immediate family we need to be concerned about but our neighborhoods, cities, state, our country, and our global family. Because I know that girls can be equally as cutthroat as boys, I made sure that we had a heart-to-heart chat about trash-talking and “clowning” people and how although initially it can be lighthearted and funny, it can also be crippling and tear apart our “extended” family.

We discussed being relevant not only in this country but globally, and that true wealth (spiritual, financial, etc) can only be maintained long term by leading a dignified life, not by living up to the negative stereotypes that are projected globally about Black females. We discussed self-empowerment and not waiting on the government or specific programs to help us, that we have to help ourselves. That we shouldn’t be waiting for someone else to pick up trash on our sidewalks- we should pick it up ourselves.

We shouldn’t be waiting for someone else to cover the graffiti on our walls and buildings- we should paint over it ourselves; we shouldn’t wait for someone else to beautify our streets and parks with trees and flowers- we should plant them ourselves. I explained that they should be volunteering in their community through church or some other organization taking pride in restoring, building, maintaining, and beautifying their neighborhoods.

We had a pretty good time. We laughed and talked about boys and expectations of being respected by males and all people when you carry yourself with respect and dignity. We discussed the language of money and being financially literate, and how this literacy will empower them. It was refreshing to see that many of them have savings accounts and that two of the students had traveled abroad- one to London and the other to the Bahamas. Two young passport carriers living in an underserved and underrepresented area of Atlanta- doesn’t that give you hope? It gives me hope and encourages me to continue my work in the community, and my work through Operation HOPE.

I hope more men and women find it in their hearts to invest one hour of their time at least once per month to volunteer in a church, in a class room, or in a youth center through Operation HOPE. One person can make a difference!

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.
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