It’s a typical weekday in downtown Dallas and I’m spending my mid-day people watching at a local cafe as I normally do while enjoying a meal in silence. With a nonchalant expression on my face, those that walk in my vicinity are completely unaware of my thoughts. I’ve learned to take those in passing and put them into their suitable factions…allow me to explain. First you have the “Sight Seers”, this collection of individuals are easily identified by their constant pointing, picture taking, and looking up at the massive structures that make up the Dallas skyline. Observing this group is always amusing and the consistent “shock and aw” expression that many display never gets old. Next we have the “Professionals”. These are those that walk at a slightly faster pace due to the sands that fall to the bottom of the hour glass of their predetermined lunch break. The Professionals are often identified by their attire which almost always consist of the most uncomfortable choices of high heels or wingtips. In addition, other identifying factors such as the constant bending of necks to stare down at the latest social media post while simultaneously crossing the busiest of intersections is typical. The third and final society of people that I’ve come to identify are by far the most overlooked, neglected, and misunderstood…they are “The Angels”. The angels that I speak of are not the symbolic winged entities that descend from the heavens when summoned. No, in fact these angels are in masquerade. To all other factions they are known as the wonderers, less fortunate, or even homeless, but on the contrary they are the workers, observers, and living opportunities that roam amongst us.
Vendor #Z-2466, or Mr. Earnest as I call him, is by far my most intriguing encounter. Standing on a corner armed with a smile and a small stack of papers held at chest level, Earnest began to engage me with small talk. We discussed the extreme high temperatures of the recent days and found reason and purpose in all four seasons during our in depth discussion. After two to three minutes of conversation and a proper introduction, I finally inquired about the paper. He began telling me about the mission and purpose of Street Zine and in return I gave him respectable amount for his product. After walking away I noticed that I had felt better than I had moments before my interaction with this complete stranger. As I looked back at Earnest I noticed that with papers still at chest level he was engaging the next person with the exact same smile and energy. It was then that I realized that his mission was not to sell papers but was instead, in his own way, a time to reflect on the goodness and power of our Creator with all those that came within an ears reach. Despite his needs, it was as if he was standing on the corner for everyone else rather than himself.
“Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”
Hebrews 1:14 (NIV)
Over the next few weeks Earnest and I had several brief but impactful conversations. We discussed everything from his interactions with those that passed him by to the ways in which we would both achieve our goals. I always knew that a conversation with him would leave me feeling better about that particular day and about life in general. He would always have this smile on his face as I approached the intersection and we would always be laughing about something as I departed. The smile that I had grown accustomed to was not present on one particular day as I approached him with my son.
As we came within a few feet of him he still had the look of concern on his face that I had noticed from half a block away. Without the usual greeting he asked me if he could address my son with a few words. I agreed and could feel that his vibrations were coming from a different state than our previous encounters. With his demeanor never changing he took a knee, put one hand on my son's shoulder, and looked into his eyes as if to address a certain sector of his soul. He began by giving my son in depth account of his experiences throughout life. He thoroughly described time in prison, drug abuse, and poor decisions that were made on his part over the years. He concluded by assuring my son that if he listened to his father and believed in God that similar events would surely miss him. The look on my son's face was one that even as his father I had never seen. As we walked away I could tell by the tilt of his brow and his unconscious stare at the pavement in front of him that the wise words of this stranger would serve as hieroglyphs engraved on the walls of his mind. As I looked back to see if the smile that was missing from Earnest’s face that day had been restored to meet and greet the next commuter, I noticed him gathering his belongings and leaving his post as if to imply that his job for this particular day was done. I knew without a doubt that the words that were spoken would serve as a seed that would cultivate into a veil of protection for my son.
“For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully” Luke 4:10 (KJV)
The two Greatest Commandments as mentioned in Matthew 22:36-40 are truly the foundation of living a Godly life on this planet. (1) To love God with all thine heart and (2) to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. These two fundamental principles would eliminate all forms of separation on our planet if only we would observe and follow them. We tend to put ourselves in factions in order to section ourselves off from one another in an effort to gain validation from likeminded people, but we are actually all one. As we carry on with our days thinking that we are so different from one another we are merely looking at reflections of ourselves in other people. These other versions of ourselves may show the external consequences of decisions made, but in reality each and every person that we pass comes from the exact same source as we do. The true Spirit of God that many claim to seek is not some distant place, but amongst us and inside of us in the form of man. The heaven that you seek to enter is being created by our daily walks in life and will be based on our interactions with God while here on earth.
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me” Matthew 25:34-36 (NKJV).
Having personally experienced what life is like without a place to call your own or a source of income I can only relate it to the experience that Jesus had during his 40 day hiatus in the wilderness. When a person has limited to no worldly possessions to be validated by and survives on the kindness of others they are offered a position to regain what was lost by temporarily serving as the stewards of God, giving us the opportunity to incorporate “Works” within our “Faith”.
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)
Ahhhh...Facebook, the land of Milk & Honey. The place where everyone’s relationship has the stability of Cliff and Claire Huxtable and the passion of Christian and Anastasia. Surely I’m not the only one that scrolls down my timeline and notices the trend that all relationships were made in heaven, am I? The cruises to the Cozumel, happy hour at Pappadeaux, the ‘Netflix and Chill’ nights that you and your man so graciously shared with us is everyday life, right? Of course it’s not! Many of us have either observed or played a role in a relationship that appeared one way on “The Book”, but was a train wreck waiting to happen behind closed doors. As you scroll, the voice in your head says “Didn’t they just get together?” The same couple that you saw carving turkey in November and taking pictures by the tree in December are all of a sudden checking in at two separate events by New Year’s Eve. The relationship, which once showed so much promise, has for whatever reason been terminated. As for the two involved, you will either witness subliminal jabs via their future posts OR you will notice that both parties have taken the high road and have simply chosen to move on with their lives. As the rumor mill spins out of control and the screenshots are exchanged faster than shares of bitcoin, everyone in the world of Facebook continues on with their perfect everyday lives in social media paradise.
Why do we do it? We act as if rose petals fall from the sky and Al Green’s “Love and Happiness” plays on repeat in this mock reality that we’ve created, but offline we read from a much different script. From the couple that just changed their relationship status to endorse their commitment to one another, all the way up to those that are celebrating 50 plus years of marriage, it is all partially a hoax. To all the relationships that are displayed on Facebook, yes we enjoy seeing the love that you have for each other, but why not show us the full movie instead of just the trailer. In other words, the Double or Nothing make-up scene at the end of Love and Basketball gave us reason to celebrate, but it wouldn’t have had the same effect if we hadn’t witnessed the break up scene along with all of the other trials that the relationship faced. All that I am suggesting is that we (myself included) keep it real. Yes, date night at the local theater is adorable, but how about posting a picture of you two when you’re wide awake in bed with your backs turned away from each other and leave the caption “Haven’t talked in three days”. Why not check in at the marriage counselor’s office and tag the 3rd party that texts your spouse’s phone at 3 a.m. How about going live when you two are screaming at each other and pointing the blame because the bank account has insufficient funds! Then we could truly appreciate the love and commitment that you two display on Valentine’s Day…we could all pop bottles together in our own minds when the two of you celebrate that Anniversary.
In a nutshell, all I’m saying is this - we see relationships ending within this forum on a daily basis. Instead of jumping to conclusions and starting rumors, we need to look at ourselves and realize that maybe our own situations aren’t as solid as we portray them to be. Yeah we show the smiles and kisses, but in reality we know that some of our relationships are a façade and that we are one argument away from being Exhibit A in divorce court. Please, don’t act as if your situation is immune to overnight destruction because the statistics show that many of us have tried and failed before. Sure, we know that no one is actually going to air out their dirty laundry on social media, but instead of worrying about what people did to cause their relationship to sink let’s focus on what needs to be done to keep ours afloat.
My two cents?
1) Keep 95% of that extra lubby dubbiness to yourself and realize that not EVERYTHING has to be displayed on Facebook.
2) Know that only 10% of “friends” that like the pictures of you and your man actually desire to see you two win. Half of the remaining 90% are making side bets on how long you two will make it and the other half are thinking about how much better they will treat you spouse once you moved on
3) Realize that we all have the same issues and temptations as the next couple next door. Your relationship is no more anointed than the next.
You want to know what’s interesting? Overhearing the conversation that’s taking place at the table next to me. A very attractive young lady who I would assume to be in her mid-40’s is having the most intriguing discussion with her two girlfriends concerning her recent break up. I mentally detach from my News Feed and take a sip of my Caramel Macchiato just in enough time to hear her remarks about how he’s “dating down” as she arrogantly states. As her two associates pass the iPhone amongst themselves to look at random social media pics of the ‘New Boo’ the flood gates of verbal manslaughter are opened. I hear, “Oh girl he can do better than that”…”Girl, I heard she…” and of course the “Girl, I bet they were already talking” comments. I smile and continue to simulate being entertained by my mobile device, but deep down I’m laughing at the hate bandwagon that her two colleagues have mounted simply out of pure loyalty. The Ex-Girlfriend continues to talk about the things that her ex-boyfriend will be going without in his new relationship. She recalls the history that they have together, the times they’ve spent on exotic vacations, and finally she discusses how she used to put it down on him in the bedroom. Her demeanor slowly changes as she goes into deeper conversations about her experiences with him and despite the Academy Award winning performance that she puts on I can still hear the love for this guy in her voice.
Is this what women do? Come together in clusters to rebuild the self-esteem of their sisters in arms? Sure it is! I’m convinced that every woman at some point in their lives has played the role of one or all of these women. Cheating…lack of ambition on one’s part… financial issues, these are surface level items that can easily be used for justification on why a relationship failed and forced you to walk away, but they have absolutely nothing to do with the root cause. I’m tired of seeing awesome relationships go South. I’m fed up with seeing good women lose their men to THOTS and not knowing why. I’m disgusted with seeing the divorce rate rise like the S&P 500 and it’s time that someone bridges the gap of misunderstanding between the sexes.
I’m going to cut straight to the chase. I could talk forever concerning the EFFECTS or the final acts of a failed relationship (cheating, dishonesty, etc.), but that would give absolutely no value to you as a reader. In other words, why waste energy discussing unwanted outcomes when we can discuss prevention. What I am going to share with you is priceless. I’m going to give you the CAUSE of these events from a man’s perspective. After reading this your emotional cupboard will be equipped with the ingredient that many women seek, but are unaware of. We men have known from the beginning what this ingredient is, but it has the tendency to lose its savor if we have to repeatedly tell our spouses or girlfriends to add it to relationship's recipe. I can assure you that not only is this element the easiest to administer, but it is the one thing that almost guarantees that your man will NEVER leave, NEVER cheat and will practically tattoo “Till Death do us Part” on his aorta! What is this ingredient you ask???
First, you have to understand the inner workings of your man. A man will invest 100% of himself into you and will expect a very small Return on Investment on your part. What do I mean by Return on Investment? A man will work night and day to provide a home for you, put you in a nice vehicle, and ensure that the household is secure and will never expect those same things in return from you. There is just something in us that makes this type of behavior normal once we’ve accepted our roles as leaders of the society. So what does a man’s (ROI) have to do with the most vital of ingredients that so many relationships lack? It’s simple, even though your man expects very little in return from you (on a monetary level) the thing that he still needs from you is reciprocity. Somewhere within the conversations that our grandmothers had while showing the women how to properly fry hot water cornbread the secret to keeping your man forever was either miscommunicated, misunderstood or simply forgotten. So what is this portion of the recipe that so many have disregarded?
APPRECIATION….. Whaaaat?? No, it couldn’t possibly be that simple could it? I mean you always tell bae thanks for holding that door opened just before he wines and dines you … you’re always sending him kissing emoji’s while he’s pulling that all-nighter on the job… and it’s all to recognize him when you post that new car on Facebook or the roses that you received “just because”…right? I mean all men really want in return is for you to look good on his shoulder and to be a beast in the bedroom…correct? This is the great disconnect and here lies the secret that your friends that have been married for 20 years aren’t sharing with you. This is the ingredient that has your grandparents still holding hands and sipping sweet tea on their East Texas porches after 60 years of matrimony. The old saying that “actions speak louder than words” is so cliché, but has so much truth behind it. You want the secret sauce that will make your relationship divine to the tongue, well here it is.
You are fully aware that hubby is in love with classic cars. When was the last time you surprised him with tickets to the Annual Auto Event that he’s always talking about? Your boyfriend is always watching YouTube videos about the late and great author Neville Goddard, but when was the last time you stopped by Books a Million and purchased one of his works for your man for absolutely no reason? Sure, this is only your third date with this guy, but what would happen if you decided to pick up the tab to show him that you had a vested interest in the relationship as well? Contrary to popular belief the information that I’m sharing with you is far more attractive to your man than you looking amazing in those Victoria Secret Pink Yoga pants. This same effort can even be simplified to the lowest non-monetary level and still have the exact same effect. When your man walks in from work smelling like 16 hours of the Oil and Gas Industry do you kiss him on the cheek and go get his shower started or do you continue to talk on the phone to Bonquisha about the latest episode of Housewives? When your boyfriend has to be up three hours before you because he has to catch a 6 am flight do you tell him not to cut the big light on or do you get up with him and make him a cup of coffee to start his day? What many women fail to understand is that this is really all men need to be content in a relationship. You want your man to be a better version of himself? Show him that you appreciate the man that he currently is and I guarantee you that he will break his back to DO more, BE more, and HAVE more just because you are grateful. I know what you’re saying, won’t he still cheat? When the lion is full there is no desire to hunt. In other words, when your man receives back the same ratio of love that he has poured into you he is content! There is not one “bad chic” on God’s green earth that he will take the gamble on and risk losing you.
I know that this seems like nonsense to many, but you have to understand that appreciation to a man is the equivalent of security to a woman. A woman will tolerate massive amounts of issues with her man if she has absolutely no doubt that her man will be there when the smoke clears. The very moment a man shows inconsistency and fails to reassure her that through thick and thin he will still be there he has lost her. Sure she may be there physically for the time being, but emotionally she is absent. So relate this to your current situation. Yes, your man can deal with your minor social media addiction. Yes, of course he can tolerate the occasional overspending on bags and boots. Yes, he forgives you for not telling him your low tire light was on, but as soon as he feels that his love for you is unappreciated your days are numbered.