2012 was a hellish year for me. It was nothing to write home about...on paper; however, I’m now a living witness that how your life is going does not have to dictate how you feel. Everything must change. There’s a lesson to be learned in all things. Get your lesson and get on to the next phase of your life. What I learned:
1. Who I Am- An introverted, Jesus-loving, benefit-of-the-doubt-giving, fun-loving, sexy, hard-working, purpose-seeking, family-loving, discerning woman of God.
2. Whose I Am (He said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” [Jer: 1:5] And He showed me that He not only knew/knows me, but that He’s got me. The best lesson I could have learned this year. Because I belong to Him, I will NEVER go without what I need. GLORAAAAY!)
3. Fruits of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Forbearance, Kindness, Goodness & Faithfulness ( They were tough lessons to learn but they shape my character. You can learn a lot by what you DON’T get)
4. Who my REAL friends are. And I love them and appreciate them dearly.
5. Hope (Jeremiah 29:11; ready for the future and prosperity)
6. Flexibility: the only way I can accomplish what I am to accomplish is to be flexible)
8. What it means to suffer like Christ, for Christ.
9. I don’t have to feel the same way everyone else does; nor do I have to respond the way they do.
12. Submission. This is a great lesson as I hope (and plan) to be married one day. I know what it is to surrender to God; his will be done, not mine. I REALIZED (cause it was not obvious before) that the same way I submit to God is the same way I’ll have to submit to my husband. I also noticed that most women can’t submit to their husbands because they don’t submit to God. (Same for men) Food for thought.
I’m SO looking forward to 2013. I think things will line up a lot more for me and I think it’s going to be a beautiful year. Peace & Blessings, Tierra
Sometimes I look up or converse with God and find myself feeling jipped. In my mind, at my age and with my credentials and work history, I feel I should have more. This isn’t just a fleeting thought of entitlement, no; I become frustrated or disappointed; “vexed” as one of my friends would say. Then I begin to talk to my creator and say things like, “What am I missing?” “What am I doing wrong?” and “What is the hold up?”
He asks me—with no condemnation and with utter patience that only a parent can muster—“Who told you you were supposed to be doing anything other than what I have you doing? How can you get frustrated with what I have you doing or with the path I’ve chosen for your life when you’re MY creation? You’re here for my benefit and glory, so why are you so concerned with achieving your own [glory]?”
And while it doesn’t feel great to be corrected, I know that His words are both true and won’t return void. For many believers, this isn’t an issue; not because I’m doing anything wrong or because their walk has lasted longer than mine, but because for a lot of believers, being a Christian is one of those things you use to describe yourself, the equivalent of “Mr.” or “Mrs.” or “Sir.” Whereas for me, it IS my self. Many people don’t/won’t understand my plight, not because they don’t love Jesus, but because they’ve never respected him ENOUGH to acknowledge that He has a plan for their lives, that He’s speaking to them or that His will may not coincide with their plans.
However, for me, I reverence God (not bragging and through no greatness of my own). I no longer see my life as my own personal playground, unsupervised and free for me to do as I please, but as God’s blueprint that He’s courteous enough to allow me to develop to fruition alongside Him. That means when He says today I need you to be a foreman or a painter or a construction worker, I simply (must) accept the task. I can’t argue and complain that yesterday I was in charge or that after X amount of time on the job—working for Him—I expected to be somewhere else or promoted. If I want to be employed by Him I must simply accept the roles he gives me.
It’s not easy, nor is it pretty to set aside my own desires for my life and society’s expectations that say I should have more, do more and be more, but it’s what has to be done as a believer committing one’s LIFE to God’s will. So stay strong fellow lifers. Accept the tasks and put away the things that distract, confuse and deter you from following God’s rules (and path). The things of this world are only temporary and shall pass away, but greater works shall we do (if we’ll just accept our assignments).
She said, “You’re just a bitter single bitch.” I was confused. She was married but spent more time online looking for a social connection than I did. She was married but hated her job, was a chain smoker trying to quit and apparently had no friends. Not to mention, everything she said was negative; it didn’t matter whether she was talking about marriage, family, religion, kids, there was no joy on her part. It was amazing to me that her life was supposed to be better because she had a companion. What I saw wasn’t something to be envied. It was someone covered in the trappings of conformity without a leg to stand on. I could almost see the wheels of her mind spinning, wondering why she still wasn’t happy. If she had the man of her dreams, who was willing to commit, a picture-perfect life, why was she so unhappy? I guess it’s because married, engaged and taken women can be bitter too.
Sometimes, having one element in your life that’s right makes the whole thing worth living; other times, having one good thing while the rest is in total chaos can be deadly. She made the mistake many women make: hiding behind their relationship. You can’t use a man to cover up your insecurities, flaws and discontentment. Additionally, you can’t make them your everything. A relationship is one aspect of your life, you still have to get the rest of it together. Don't ever confuse a relationship status with someone's happiness, pleasantness, or sweetness. Whatever you are alone, you'll be in a relationship, including a "bitter bitch." That's not just reserved for the single ladies.
Live & Learn
Today I went to a local park to watch my 13-year old nephew play basketball. Along with me were my little sister and her daughter—my niece—Tierre, who’d brought along her Barbie-esque doll, Polly. Now, today was Polly’s first day out of the bag. In fact, Polly had only become a free woman minutes before we’d gotten out of the car. At this point, it’s imperative that I note that Tierre is 2 years old.
Holding her prized-possession close to her, Tierre refused to let her go, not even to hold on to the chains of the swing she was being pushed on. Tierre and Polly were inseparable. Before you become engulfed in memories of your favorite childhood doll, I’ve got to stop you. This moment was short-lived. It didn’t take long for Polly to undergo “life outside the box.” As soon as my niece was loosed from her swing, she immediately squatted into the woodchips used to decorate the park and began dragging Polly back and forth along them. If that wasn’t bad enough, knowledge sat in with Tierre that the woodchips could be used to bury Polly, and that’s exactly what she did.
This brown-faced doll—that had just been released from her plastic protection—was now covered, face-up, in woodchips, her silk dress not being a factor. By the time Tierre picked Polly back up, her dress was down, breasts were out and woodchips were sprouting from her hair. This turn-of-events was interesting to me. Not because a 2-year-old child didn’t appreciate her birthday gift, but because as terrible as Polly looked, she was still smiling. That was the first thing I’d noticed about Polly: she was still smiling. She’d just stepped out of the box, had gone through hell, but she was still smiling.
Polly’s abuse wouldn’t stop there. In an unfortunate accident under her owner’s care, they’d both hit the ground, hard, after Tierre walked in front of a swing. Of course, our first concern was Tierre. As her mother asked in a concerned voice, “Are you okay?” I looked down and said, “Polly’s not okay.” Polly’s head was laying in one spot, her upper body in another and her lower body in yet another spot. She’d just come out of the box and here she was in 3 separate pieces!
I know that Polly is an inanimate object, but there’s still something to be learned from her. She’s made of plastic; if she can withstand the turmoil she’d been through and her smile still be intact and her body still able to be put back together, then surely we can withstand the trials we go through. After all, we’re stronger than plastic, right?
Sometimes, like Polly, we find ourselves in certain situations where we don’t stand a chance; the odds are stacked heavily against us. It doesn’t make us invaluable, though. Tierre still wanted and regarded Polly with the same affection even though she looked a mess and wasn’t at her best. She was still valuable to her.
Just because the odds are stacked against you doesn’t mean you’re not valuable, it just means you have to push through the obstacles and keep being who you are. Like Polly, you don’t stop being who you are just because you’re broken, dirty, chipped, damaged, feel run-down or because life didn’t turn out the way you thought it would. What better way to move on from the hell you’ve been through than with a smile on your face, joy in your heart and purpose oozing out of you? Learn from Polly; no matter the circumstance, what you look like or what you’ve been through, persevere! Be great!
We waste so much time complaining about things we haven’t done, can’t do or need to do and little time actually getting things done. Instead of complaining about not finishing school or having the job of your dreams, start working towards it; otherwise, shut up. Yeah, I said it. Stop complaining about being in the same old spot when you aren’t even taking any steps. There are no excuses: your background doesn’t matter—criminal or employment—; your financial status doesn’t matter. All that matters is your mentality.
You have to pay attention to what you’re doing: be conscious! Because we just move through life with no real purpose, no real intentions and no awareness about ourselves, we don’t see when we’re self-sabotaging; we don’t notice our laziness and negativity and we fail to see how counterproductive we’re being. You might not be where you want to be, but if you were to list all of the things you should’ve done or could’ve done, I guarantee you that list would be much longer.
Things don’t just happen; that business is not going to start itself, school won’t enroll you automatically, and life won’t just change in your favor without your participation. Instead of sitting back building a monument of things that are too hard to do, get something done. It really is that simple. Most things seem impossible to complete when you only look at the ways they can’t be done. Instead of focusing on what can’t be done, come up with some solutions to get it done. Then try, try again. This isn’t just a rule for children; it’s a rule for life. Principles don’t change; if it’s good for the goose it’s good for the gander.
Let me paint a picture for you. Tami wanted to be a doctor. She was well on her way. Her junior year of undergrad she became pregnant. She had every intention of continuing toward her goal; however, taking care of her son, being extremely tired and not having enough time to study caused her to take a break. That was five years ago. Tami could never find the time to go back to school because she needed money for her son, he required her time and she felt that she was too old. Tami’s dream of becoming a doctor didn’t die but her will to do so did. Now she spends her days working a job she hates, kicking herself for not finishing school.
What Tami is missing is this very crucial point that we all tend to miss: get out of the past. She “didn’t” finish school; that doesn’t mean she “can’t.” As long as you focus on the shoulda, coulda, wouldas, you’ll never get to the “gonnas.” The past is over. What you should’ve done didn’t happen, what are you going to do? And when are you GOING to start? Today is as good a day as any.
“Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today.” ~Thomas Jefferson
I understand giving credit where credit is due. I also understand that many [black] women have had to/are having to raise children alone. I get it. However, what I can’t get with is people wishing their mother a happy Father’s Day. I understand the concept, hell, I’ve probably even been guilty of it at one point in time myself, but as I’ve matured, I’ve come to realize this: mothers have a day, it’s called Mother’s Day. Single fathers aren’t congratulated on Mother’s Day so why do we diminish Father’s Day by giving our mother credit?
A friend stated it is because women have had to play both roles. They’ve had to be both mother and father. I responded with, “No, she was just mother.” She may have picked up the slack financially, as the disciplinarian and took you to all of your football games, but she wasn’t your father. If it were that simple to replace fathers, we wouldn’t have such chaos in the Black family. There wouldn’t be generational cycles of men not taking care of their children or teenage pregnancy or low self-worth in females. If mothers were taking on the role of fathers, there wouldn’t be such a low disparity of women who understand men. The fact of the matter is, yes, mothers step up and do much more than their share because fathers aren’t around, BUT, they’re still mothers. They haven’t stepped into the role of a father just because they’ve picked up the slack. This is evidenced by the fact that girls (and boys) are still running around with “daddy issues.” If the void was being filled, that wouldn’t be the case.
The fact of the matter is, when men don’t take care of their children and aren’t present in their children’s lives, there is a void there that goes unfilled. The relationship between a father and his child is important (we see what happens when kids-turned-adults go without it). And while it’s true that women have stepped up to the plate to pick up the slack of absentee fathers, they have not replaced fathers. So even though the numbers may be embarrassingly low for [Black] fathers taking care of their kids, they still deserve their day. Let’s not diminish it by giving it to someone else. After all, mothers have a day, and it comes first.
Remember, it was mama who taught us, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” If you can’t honestly say “Happy Father’s Day” don’t say anything at all.
“Tierra, why don’t you date?” Ah, the age-old question. I know it’s confusing. I’m not ugly by any means; plenty of men would love to have me, blah, blah, blah. Then, between the hair, the clothes and the overall edginess, I anticipate—and don’t even get upset by—the follow-up question, “Are you gay?”
Instead of cussing out the person on the other end of the conversation, I just calmly say this, “No…I’m just not a conformist.” Why don’t I date? Cause I don’t have to. Why don’t I have kids, why am I not married, why don’t I work a traditional 9-5? Again, because I don’t have to. I choose not to conform. I choose to determine which side of the statistics I’m on.
99% of the population doesn’t even understand what it means to be in relationship so why would I waste my time? I’m not trying to add to the 72% of Black women raising children by themselves so why would I have children, and why would I do it outside of marriage? That makes no sense. My motto is, “If it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t work.” I’m a realist. Beyond that, I understand how to handle things that are within my control.
While we can’t control everything, we should at least do a good job controlling what we can. I didn’t create time, but I can control what I do with mine. I didn’t create the single-parent epidemic but I can choose not to become a part of it. I’m not the force behind 1 in 2 marriages ending in divorce, but I can control whether I opt into that mess. This isn’t a forum I’m using to toot my own horn, it’s a wakeup call for you. You have the same control.
Much of where you find yourself in life is a direct result of the actions you’ve taken (or refused to take). Don’t let people/ “society” influence you and push you into something you don’t even want. Don’t be so consumed by fitting in and having things done by a certain age that you end up living in misery. The next time someone asks you why you aren’t doing something according to society’s standards simply let them know, “I don’t have to.”
You really don’t have to be anything other than who you want to be. Food for thought. Be easy.
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
Author Tierra Allen before book signing, OKC
Sometimes we find ourselves waiting on people—men, women, friends, family—thinking that when they come around, whether mentally or physically, everything is going to be better. Other times, we find ourselves waiting on a job: a callback from an interview, a call FOR an interview or a call to come into work. Again, we think, THIS call is going to change our lives. I’m reminded of a scripture, Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the Lord” I could stop quoting here. There’s a message there, but we’ll get back to it. “Shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
We take these (and other) scriptures for granted. We cease to take them literally. There’s a blatant message here. First, we should be waiting on the Lord; not on money to come through, employers to call, men or women to come to a joint understanding with us, family and friends to come into our physical presence; we should be waiting on the Lord. Like I said, there’s depth here. For someone, that’s all the message they need. But this particular scripture gets deeper. It lets us know that WHEN we wait upon the Lord, THEN shall we renew our strength, mount up with wings as eagles (soar), run without weariness and walk without fainting.
If life has become tiresome and relationships have just not been what that “is” for you, think about what you’re waiting on and putting your hope in. Is it the Lord? If you’re tired, weary and on the brink of fainting, it’s probably not. The difference between waiting on God and waiting on man is that with the latter, they may never come. A parent may never stop abusing drugs or alcohol, someone you’re interested in may never reciprocate those feelings, children may never become all-star students, and some people will simply never show up, but God—we could take a praise break right here!—will show up. He won’t leave you waiting like a child in the rain whose father has forgotten to pick him up from soccer practice. God will show up, show out and show you. Refocus your attention. Make a conscious decision to pay attention to what God is doing and how he is moving; for all you know, He could already be there but you’ve been so busy waiting on other things you thought would make your life better that you’ve completely missed out on Him.
As a pastor of mine, Keith Somerville, recently said, “Quit giving your power to people who are powerless.” Wait on the LORD, He is the only one worthy of your time and the only one guaranteed to show up. After all, He will never leave you, nor forsake you. Be encouraged!
I’m tired of people complaining about the cost of freedom. Death sucks, especially when it happens to someone close to you. Poverty is bad. War is worse. Got it. This whole catch-22 view on America, our soldiers and our people has got to stop. On all ends. First of all, America needs to stop pretending to be the end-all-be-all on morality, change and what is right, ‘cause we are not. But, the fact is, in order to be competitive; you have to play the game. The basic truth is, when it comes down to it, we’re not that different from other countries: we’ll go to war, kill our own citizens (AIDS, hunger, drugs, terrorism to name a few), and invade the privacy of our people just like any other country. We’re not that different. But we are different, no matter how minute it is. We go to war, but we have rules. We don’t use toddlers to detonate towns, we don’t use martyrs to take out property (not intentionally anyway) and we try to make amends for the wrong we do. While there are some instances where we should probably mind our own business, i.e. Libya, that’s just not what we do.
What Americans need to understand is that somebody—many “somebodies”—gets deployed from their homes and families, works tirelessly and puts their lives in danger every day so that you can sit back and talk shit; so that you can enjoy your freedom of speech. You’re upset because we killed Osama: “Murder is wrong!” you shout. “This is not a victory,” you continue. But had either one of our presidents come on the tube and said, “You know what, we’re not going to take an eye for an eye, we’re sorry for your loss, and we’re sorry for the detriment this attack has had on our country, but we’re going to be the bigger person,” people would be livid—rightfully.
What kills me, is all these citizens who love freedom but hate America, yet they live in America, as if they don’t realize that they are free to move somewhere else. Again, the next time you turn to the news and get upset about soldiers being deployed and the enemy being attacked, think about the freedom you take for granted. You’re not forced to stay in your home; you can go to school without fear of being bombed. You can talk shit about the government and there be no recourse. You are pretty much free to do whatever you want. That freedom comes at a price. If you aren’t paying the cost directly with your service to the country, don’t complain about it. If you don’t like being free, there are plenty of places you can go to be enslaved, limited and silenced. America isn’t one of them.
Just remember that Star-Spangled Banner waves o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave. Bravery isn’t about being punked, and freedom doesn’t come without a price.
What do you really believe? No, really; what do you really, really believe? Do you believe you’re successful, that help is on the way, that you’re a great parent, worker, friend?
Now, think about your answer and explain this; if you feel you can be a millionaire, why aren’t you working toward it? If you feel you have a great story waiting to be told, why aren’t you writing it? If you feel that God has redeemed you, why are you still walking around ashamed?
Is it starting to make sense now? Your beliefs affect your actions. If you believe you have a good man, stop following him around, checking his Facebook and Twitter pages, emails and his phone. If you believe your best days are yet to come, stop living in the past and stop allowing people to reprimand you for things you’re no longer doing.
The reality is, our “mouth-piece” is much bigger than our walk. We talk a good game about all these things we believe, but we spend so much time sitting on our hands that we look more like liars than believers. When we know better, we do better. The world can tell a lot about you by what you spend your time doing. So, no, I don’t believe that you’re in love when you look so unhappy, when your mate is a stranger to me and when your actions don’t reflect it. Sorry, love has never been clad in insecurity, depression and abuse to me. Fashion 101.
You can talk to someone all day, but you can’t change their mentality. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him thirsty (as my big sis always says). You can have a million ideas, great things, concepts to change the world, but until you step out on faith, with action…I don’t believe you. Be a doer not an intender. Be Great!