I’ve learned that the effort to remain in comfort and to take a risk are one in the same. They both exude a level of strength if done effectively, but what makes us choose one over the other? What makes one decide that they will rest in the comfort of their today and not seek after tomorrow? What causes one to refuse to dream in spite of the wooing of their potential? I think unrealized potential is perhaps the most frustrating but it is also the most painful.
We devalue ourselves every time we choose our past experiences over the visions that God gives us. We put ourselves on sale every time we allow the pain of our heart to overrule the fragrance of our future. We tend to think that it’s easier this way, to remain this way, but it’s really harder because the perception of yourself becomes skewed. We flirt with the risk, the feelings of euphoria, but when they lend themselves to us we turn our backs on them. Maybe we thought we were ready. Maybe we knew that we weren’t. Whatever the case, it is clear that sometimes the unknown is just as paralyzing as the past. Even though we don’t have context, language, or experience for this new place of belonging we carry we us the baggage of our yesterday.
Recently, I read an article entitled 4:43 written in response to Jay-Z’s album 4:44. The woman lamented over very real emotions linked to her ex-boyfriend and I found myself agreeing with majority of the article. I cried with her as I could see myself in the lines of her truth. I cried because I know the pain of which she speaks. I know the mental cycles of wonder, re-wondering, and re-re-wondering if there is something we could have done in our past that could have changed our present, our future. I know what it’s like to replay old conversations at night to candlelight and darkness. I know what it’s like to gain weight, lose it, and regain it when a certain season creeps upon you. I know what it’s like to stand in the vestibule of your emotions and ring the bell of your own heart only to have you not show up to answer. I know what it’s like to cry to God and ask for the feelings of inadequacy to leave as seeping steam under the restroom door and nothing happen. I know what it like to give yourself completely over to a situation, a person, a dream and it not return on investment.
In essence, I cried with the author, I cried for her, and all the women who have been plagued by experiences that cause them to stagger, become stagnant, and immovable. I cried for their (my) hardened-hearts, the tears they refused to shed because they felt that they should be over it, their worries, their minds, their emotions, or the lack thereof of. I found myself wondering why I had such a visceral reaction to the article. Why I felt the need to open the valves of my heart and let the liquid flow. Why I understood the pain of those words. Why was I crying?
I was crying for me. The ME who internally gave up on the feeling of love because of heartbreak. The ME who wanted someone to see her for the mess of a person that she was but still choose her. The ME who didn’t know how to receive attention in its proper context. The ME I pretended to be. I cried for the layers of myself that I shed and the ones that I am shedding. I cried for the present woman and who she would become. I cried for the acknowledgement that a part of me is still fearful of being dropped by someone who doesn’t realize the weight of who I am. I cried for the future tears. I cried because I now know my worth. I cried because I thought that knowing my worth would prevent the tears. I thought that once I came into the knowledge of myself everything would be easy. I thought that taking a risk on myself would restore ME in my sight.
But tears and taking a risk don’t stop everything. The risk itself opens the emotional flood gates. The risk you take or not take shakes the foundations of your stability. You will not be stable and you cannot be. You cannot stabilize in the quicksand of your transition but the pain hurts so good. It hurts. Yes. It hurts. Yes. But will you go afraid? Will you go crying? Shaking? Schizophrenic?
I cannot promise you that the risk you will take will always yield the fruit of your expectations. I wish someone would have told me that. I cannot say definitively that you will be strong as you walk through the doorways of your future, but what if you don’t? Do you allow the essence of your past to dictate your future? Do you pass your comfort and courage down to your children? Contrary to popular belief, it takes courage to stay in your comfort.
The risk may not be a risk at all but merely a decision. A decision to do better. A decision to choose better. I decision to be better. What does that mean anyway? Sometimes we ascribe words to things that we cannot describe. We place meanings on things that we don’t understand.
The author of 4:43 identified the women who somehow missed the mark with a man and stayed. She identifies them as the women who bore a man’s dreams only to allow another to reap the benefits. But, what about the 4:42 women? You know, those women who gave up on themselves long before the men decided that they weren’t good enough. What about the woman who the 4:43 women mourn for? These 4:42 women who were broken long before they became 4:43 ladies? Where is the space for the 4:43 women to nurture the 4:42 women into believing that they are better? Is it in the risk? Inside of every woman there is a girl and inside of every girl there is a woman. Inside of every 4:43 woman there is a 4:42 woman screaming for acknowledgment.
I do not have a conclusion for this post, or wrap up with a pretty bow because I’m still moving through this myself.