The Makings of You

Add a little sugar, honeysuckle lamb
A great big expression of happiness
Boy, you couldn’t miss with a dozen roses
Such would astound you
The joy of children laughing around you
These are the makings of you
It is true, the makings of you…

Those are the opening lyrics to Curtis Mayfield’s ‘The Makings of You’, a beautiful song I rediscovered this morning before my afternoon “appointment” at Bess Walker Park in Avondale Estates, Georgia near Decatur.

The song was on repeat as I drove the 17 miles to the park and as beautiful as the lyrics and melody are, it’s the title that’s resonating most with me as I write this. ‘The Makings of You’ is an apt description of what my life has been since 2010. I could say 1996 when a broken ankle forced me to a place free from the distraction of work and started me on the journey to peel back the layers of what had become my life on that dark night in 1975 when my sisters, brother, and I waited alone and terrified that strangers would break into the house at any minute to hurt us.

I say 2010, though, because it was then that I made the conscious and deliberate decision to get to know God on a level deeper than I had known Him before. In her book, Venetia Carpenter calls it Life Outside the Matrix: A Journey Into the Supernatural Lifestyle’. I’d never heard of her until her book showed up in one of those free eBook emails to which I subscribe. Having read its description, I knew it was one of those God things because it so perfectly described my journey, and it was FREE!! So, I downloaded the book and began the journey to yet another awakening.

Prior to my discovery of ‘Life Outside the Matrix’, I’d begun stressing and worrying about my lack of finances. Out of fear and panic, I began applying for jobs, any job, and only received two responses, both from the one company whose politics and employment practices I abhor. I was desperate, though, and responded. When I followed up, however, one HR manager couldn’t locate my application and the other customer service rep who answered the phone hadn’t even heard of the HR person I was to contact. I figure that was God protecting me from my plans!

Before all of this stress, worry, and frantic job searching began, I was focused on my writing and editing my photos. Once the stress began, however, those endeavors fell by the wayside, and I have yet to recover. What I did do, though, was to face a few giants…the giants that dictated that I maintain the facade I’d been wearing for umpteen years.

One giant had convinced me that I was a failure; that I must have done something wrong to find myself in these circumstances. The other giant had persuaded me that I should be ashamed of those circumstances and that no matter what, no one was to know the details of my situation. I totally ignored the obvious significance of having maintained a household until December 2011, of having paid those sky-high COBRA premiums for medical coverage for over a year, and of having driven across country from January to June in 2012, all without employment! So yes, despite other life difficulties, I’ve been incredibly blessed, even if I couldn’t see it at the time.

It wasn’t until a friend got what I call “in my stuff” did my perspective about my situation began to shift. I’d asked that he say a prayer for me because “my life is a challenge right now.” He wanted to know what I was talking about but since I was heeding the commands of those giants, there was absolutely no way I was gonna spill those beans that Sunday evening! His question was sincere and innocent enough, but I didn’t like it one bit.

I needed to explore why his question prompted such a reaction; I needed to know why I was so adamantly opposed to revealing that part of my life when I’d been just as adamant about flexing that vulnerability muscle at other times. I’d done it a few months prior so what was the problem now?

I awoke that Monday morning with “it’s all about perspective” replaying in my mind and despite conversations with friends as well as readings and prayers from Vanzant, Carpenter, Osteen and Charles Slagle (‘Abba Calling’), it took an entire week for me to wrap my head around the idea of letting go; to ‘fess up, as it were. In the process, I had to face some other uncomfortable truths about myself: that I had not been practicing unconditional love, not with myself and not with others. I was full of judgment and expected that same judgement from others if I told them me story.

I also had to acknowledge my feelings of unworthiness; unworthiness that said I was undeserving of love no matter what my “temporary” circumstances happened to be (yes, temporary; I came to that realization, too). Along with that truth came the realization that I was also deeming others in similar circumstances as unworthy.

It was a difficult process, yes, but what a relief it was to finally disabuse myself of those beliefs and judgements. Let me say, though, that despite those realizations, mine continues to be a work in progress and I have to remain vigilant and aware of what I’m thinking.

Those giants slain, or at least severely crippled, fast forward to today’s “appointment” in the park. I was meeting a friend who I knew was going through a very difficult time emotionally. As I prepared to leave home, I kept thinking about what to say. I asked God to take the lead and allow me to be the instrument to help heal this wounded soul.

During the 30-minute drive, ‘The Makings of You’ continued to play as I continued to pray. At the park, I discovered that we shared similar experiences, which, if you know how God works, was no coincidence. So I shared my story and offered what I pray was hope for a new beginning. I was reminded in the process of the many times God has worked behind the scenes orchestrating the tune to which I’ve danced most of my life, providing precisely what I’ve needed even when I didn’t know what to ask, and assuring me repeatedly that “I got you, daughter, so stop worrying!” I still struggle with that one, but it’s getting easier and becoming second nature…or is it first?

These are the photographs I made while in the park on this amazing afternoon. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them!