Recently I was told that someone close to me had given birth to her firstborn. In many African cultures, there is a delay between the birth of a child and the announcement of its name. Often during the period, grandparents, siblings, aunties and uncles (even long lost family members) weigh in on the name of a child. It is then shared to extended family, and friends by way of a naming ceremony, celebrating the arrival of the newborn.
My parents were very intentional with naming me, and I have found that names are either prescriptive or descriptive. I have certainly had enough experiences that require faith, and my name reminds me to look beyond my circumstances and hope in things I cannot see. One of my middle names is “Ayodele”. In Yoruba, this means “joy has come home”, and in my late twenties and early thirties, “joy” has been something that I have found myself craving more than anything.
We all have a unique personal relationship with the word “weight.” For some, it may cast a memory of the stubborn fat around one’s midsection that never disappeared after 27. For others, it may relate to the training, resistance, and conditioning of your physical body - that desire to handle more, lift more and push more. The word “weight” may also represent the heavy load that is felt emotionally, spiritually, or mentally, and walks with us in our daily lives. Regardless of how we frame weight, there is always something we are trying to do with it, knowing full well that it is not sustainable to leave it exactly the way it is.
You were born worthy.
However, were you raised knowing that?
Our family matters. The way in which we are raised strongly impacts the way we understand our worth. This dynamic provides the baseline for how we perceive ourselves in adulthood, how we allow ourselves to be loved, how we think others should treat us, and what we believe we can accomplish.
Our family matters.
One thing that we all need to do is “learn to encourage yourself”
Encouraging yourself is an art.
It requires a skill that creates something out of nothing. It commands an imagination that feels the end when you can barely see the beginning. This kind of art has no set style and no perfect method. It just asks that you show up, and paint yourself a different picture. Dream furiously, speak life into your situation and sculpt yourself a different reality.
Where are you running to?
We live in a time obsessed with destination. Regardless of where we find ourselves, it seems like we never arrive. We are always moving. If you are single or dating, society encourages you to marry. Shortly after you’re married, you’ll be asked about your plans to have children. Once your children are born, you’re advised to start saving for college. After they’ve eventually started college, you can seriously address retirement.
Where have you been running to?
The jobs, the houses, the businesses, the relationships – when do you actually arrive? Where is your final destination?
When the handgun is fired, it is the long awaited signal to begin the moment you have been preparing for – the race. The long hours, the training and the sacrifice are finally put to the test. You have been graced with a short period to prove whether your toil has been worth it and to prayerfully perform to the best of your ability.
If only our life courses were so simple, that we had a clear beginning and an end. Too often we find ourselves running, unsure of when we started, where the finishing line is, or how we even got there.
But we realize we’re heading somewhere. We’re always heading somewhere.
So, where are you going?
At some point – the rain must stop, the wind must cease, and the immediate havoc of your experience must fade away. No matter how destructive they may be, storms are temporary. Quite often, they leave as abruptly as they arrive. You are forced to reckon with your wreckage, and make meaning out of what is left, in order to face what is to come.
The scale of damage can vastly differ. As mentioned before, no two storms are the same. What can destroy one person may barely move another. Whatever you have survived through, has also been the cause of someone’s death. Take a moment to celebrate that. Take a moment to celebrate that somehow, you are still breathing even though you have been battered. Even if it feels like there is nothing to be joyful about, take a moment. The fact that you have made it this far means that there is still more for you to accomplish. The storm is passing – and your time on this earth is not over yet.
Storms have the ability to form at any point, in any season and in any place. They gain fame for their destruction. They have an unusual talent for displacement, disorientation and dismantling everything we know. No two storms are the same. Their intensities vary, and the complexities of its wreckage widely differ. Nonetheless, every living, breathing being must face a storm, all with the hope that they survive it somehow.
Nature has an extraordinary habit of teaching the most powerful kind of life lessons. The life cycle of a natural storm is no exception, and provides insight for the metaphorical storms that we may face. Continuing with the “Storms” series, this piece looks at the first of three stages of the storm life cycle. Focusing on the process of cloud formation, it looks at how we may experience “cumulus” in our own lives.