I had a conversation with my uncle who spews out pearls of wisdom for 99 cents. It comes so natural to him that passing on valuable information at a discount (read free) ain’t no thang. We talked about going through times of intense struggle and upon coming out, we still reference ourselves and our lives in light of the old instead of the new. He said to think about a person who has never had much money and finally prospers, only to find that person still lives like one paycheck will make them antigodlin (Google it), diagonal, askew, to all things orderly. Or, the person who came from another country to make it big in America yet feels guilty for doing well when the people who were left behind are still suffering. Thinking about these things made me wonder how many people don’t embrace their blessings because of fear, guilt, or not wanting to appear to forget where they’ve come from. In short, they are stuck in what I call Blessings Purgatory.
Weird, right? We pray and fast and sing and dance and spin like a top to get to a new place in life only to constantly remind ourselves not to “smell ourselves”, as my grandmother used to say. That’s old school Southern for not getting too big for one’s britches. But, is embracing our new station in life an act of arrogance or an acceptance that the caterpillar has finally become a butterfly? That point segues into my thoughts about a movie I saw where the protagonist used to be overweight, and in his adulthood finally morphed into a sack of muscles. In one scene he looked in the mirror and what reflected back were the extra pounds he carried in his childhood. However, the lost weight was gained back in his mentality as he did not embrace his new body until the end of the movie. I thought that was such a powerful moment, how he worked hard for years to shed the pounds only to still see himself in his old light. Was it too much to ask for him to look at himself in the mirror and say, “Hey Sunshine! These guns look good-T!” without feeling like he has become conceited?
Showing humility is not about self-deprecation and constant reminders of who we used to be. Having overcome and then some is to be embraced, valued, and strutted with the verve of a runway model. Not forgetting where we come from doesn’t mean we have to regularly replay the days we struggled, but rather allowing its memory to make us thankful for where we are. When I see people go through what I used to my first reaction is to thank God I’m not there anymore, and the second is to see what can I do or say to help them out. Now if I thumbed my nose and said, “I got mine, git y’alls” or “For shame, you still didn’t get what I got”, according to Proverbs 6:17 that haughty look will invite a fall and increase the chances of my perceived one up turning into a minus one.
Let’s enjoy our present while paying respect to the past that got us to a place called Here. But, we must know when to be like the savvy hotel guest and check out before we get billed for another day of allegiance to who we used to be. New wine must go into new wine skins, not old ones (Mark 2:22). My message to you is embrace the new you without the guilt, shame, or fear of no longer being able to fit your ten gallon hat. Truth be told, you probably always had a big head. Ha!