Jamie Mayes, AOE

Life in the 30’s Lane

In Culture, life, media, reality, Uncategorized on December 6, 2016 at 5:25 am

It was just a few years ago that I was terrified of my 30th birthday. A laundry list of things I felt I had not accomplished loomed over my head and I looked at the encroaching new era with hesitation and fear. It took a traveling summer, a collection of poems and a few teary-eyed break downs to prepare me to f embrace and feel comfortable with turning 30. Though I was finally able to look to the future with anticipation, nothing could have prepared me for what waited on the other side of my 29th birthday. This year, I joyfully reflect on the lessons I have learned since entering the early years of my 30’s:

  1. Life is what you make of it, not what it makes of you.

For many years, I questioned many of the experiences I had, unable to understand their relevance to my life. Yet, this past year has enlightened me in a different way. Every single experience, good or bad, short term or long term, has played a significant role in developing me into the person I am today.  Some experiences have changed the way  I view myself. Other experience has affected the way I view others. One of the most important changes was the way I view my mother and the journey that brought us closer.

The truth is that many people experience the unplanned, unfair and incomprehensible, but so many people have chosen to let life make them grand instead of letting something grand make their life. When we allow factors to control our life we only know happiness based on circumstance, but we when chose to let to control of our life we know pure joy. The best decision I ever made was to make something of this life and not to let this life make something of me.

  1. Choose obedience and everything else will fall into place.

In 2014, I made plans to move. Correction. In 2014, I made moves to move. I had a job offer, friends ready to embrace my son and me, and all the right means to make things happen.  I felt stagnant in Monroe, and I had had more than enough of the “love and energy” I  felt the town was giving me. I missed Baton Rouge and Baton Rouge always shown love to me. Then, one Sunday, I showed up at a church to share a message. I was asked to speak about Ruth and Proverbs 31. It was a teaching and learning experience that opened my spiritual senses and emotions. I broke Ruth and Proverbs 31 down so intellectually that the preacher said she didn’t think she needed a sermon anymore. Yet, before I could leave the church doors, the guest preacher would pray and have a few words.  I had never met her before and I have not seen her since, even though she lives somewhere in my town. She gave me instructions, with the most vital part being to stay in Monroe. I cried…miserably. I’m talking snot slinging, can’t breathe crying. She kept talking, reaching deep into my life, and I had no doubt God had sent her to detour my escape plan. I was crushed.

Yet, obedience has been worth the sacrifice. Many days are rough and I question God from time to time; still, I remember that obedience has yielded more blessings than I can count. He continues to blow my mind and exceed my expectation. I bow my head and remember that He gives me strength and favor and fights all my battles.

  1. I have no shame in proclaiming how much I love God.

God is not always the most popular name in the room. Atheism and agnosticism have become more and more popular. Holidays have modified from Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays and Easter has become more about eggs than the resurrection. Yet, in times when God has become increasingly unpopular, I find myself more and more excited to declare how good God is to me. There was a time when I felt uncomfortable if I didn’t know the level of God-love in the crowd. However, my as I entered my 30’s my God sensor went bananas and I have not been able to stop telling the world how good it is to know and experience a relationship with God. The peace and love of God is so valuable that no one can afford it, but He so graciously gives it away become He loves us. My goal is not to preach or to convert, but to show others that the joy I feel illuminates because I know how good God has been.

  1. Not everything and everybody need a response.

This has been a long, agonizing lesson. When I think back to my years as a young, college student who felt obligated to verbally make my feelings known, I have come such a long way. My mouth was a shotgun and I was aiming to kill. I was ruthless and I had no mercy when people hurt my feelings, betrayed my friendship or mistook my kindness for foolishness. Yet, growth and aging have taught me that not everything and everybody need a response- no matter how badly they want one from me. As tempting as it is to “put people in their place”, I had to learn how to speak when I need to and let God deal with the rest. It’s not easy- trust me, it ain’t easy. My tongue and pen are tools by which I function in this life. However, I have committed myself to growing and improving on a daily basis. That meant when I recognized how lethal my tongue was, I could no longer purposely use it to harm others even when they have used their tongue and actions to harm me. There are still some moments and situations where I dig into my vocabulary and inner being to issue a swift lashing; however, it is my last resort and one I feel no need to defend when I do. However, my goal is for God to continue to give me the strength to remember that all things are resolved in due season, good things come to those who wait, and individuals shall reap what they sow.

  1. Being “woke” is a constant state of evolving; not a specific period of life.

I don’t remember a point of my life when I was not taught about Black History. My mother taught it to me like the school system teaches Math, English, and oh yeah, History. One of the first books she ever bought me was an elementary version of the biography of Dr. King. She didn’t just tell me he marched, she taught me about his life, his wife and his speeches. She, along with many of my black teachers, went on to teach me about Brown vs. the Board of Education and host essay contests to allow me to express my black pride. By the time I got to middle and high school, I had begun studying my history and culture independently, submerging myself in the facts that school history books would never teach me. By the time I graduated from high school, I had written and directed my first Black History play in a community that was over 60% white and only 30% black.

Needless to say, being “woke” (or conscious as they used to say back in the day) has never been a problem for me. Understanding why it has taken so long for so many people to embrace their blackness, learn their history and become vocal has been a frustrating to me. Yet, I am glad to see that the awakening has arrived, but hurt to see how horrible things had to be for action to be imminent. The movement has reiterated for me what I have always believed so passionately, being “woke” is a part of life for black people. Not only must we be “woke,” we must be vocal, active, persistent and insistent. We must look racism and racial injustice in the face and call it as it, no matter the setting or audience. Racial injustice takes no break and neither can I.

  1. This is my life…

And this is such a simple phrase with so many meanings. It took years for me to realize that I am not living this life for anyone except myself. I am not obligated to accept what I do not approve. I am not to be held accountable for what I cannot control. I am not to criticize myself for being human and passionate. I am entitled to feel, to think, to react and to be.

Understanding the true essence of this phrase revolutionized who I spent time with and who I allowed to borrow my time. It changed the number of chances I gave people to betray or disappoint me, and revolutionized my expectations for myself. I work hard, pray hard and try to live the right way. I get one life and it is mine. I must live it on my terms and do what makes me joyful and happy.

 

I am 34 and loving it! I have learned so much about putting my energy and time in the right direction, and eliminating anything or anyone that aims to interrupt my peace flow. I am smiling while typing this. It’s a heck of a feeling. I feel better than India Arie when she said “I am not my hair” and “Because I am a queen.” You get the point. My 30’s were once so greatly fear, now they are so wonderfully revered.

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