Saturday, March 29, 2014

Do We Have Enough in Common?

Working and living with someone is not always the easiest thing to do, especially if you don’t have much in common. No, you don’t have to like the same things or share the same beliefs. No, you don’t have to both be morning people or night owls. You both don’t need to be from the same region or even from the same country.  No, those variables are not important, and in some ways, those differences could be assets. But in any “ship” there a few things that you and your friend/partner must have in common to successfully function and live together.  They are a few beliefs that must be agreed upon, shared, accepted and enforced.

The first belief that must be shared is the belief in COMMITMENT. Yes, commitment. Commitments are promises; they are pledges of  support, faith and fidelity.  Commitments are important because they represent an emotional guarantee that you can be counted on in times of tragedy, triumph and transition.  It assures your partner that despite the vicissitudes of life that you will be there to love and lift her, celebrate and motivate her, challenge and cherish her, and value and validate her.  Make no mistake about it. True commitment is important because it communicates loyalty and undergirds trust which helps couples enjoy the good times and endure the bad times.

Even though commitments are vital to the success of our “ships”, many people “toy” with them.  Many people retract their commitments when they are angry or frustrated. Some people use their commitment as a tool to manipulate, bargain or threaten their loved ones. Some treat commitments as if they are optional, discretionary or insignificant. In other words, some people cheapen them or they devalue them.

But here’s the truth. A commitment is a bond; it is a covenant. It is something that should not be trivialized, minimized or marginalized. It is a vow that should always be cherished and honored. And, it should never be subjected to or dependent on transient emotions, temporary situations or momentary circumstances.  Remember this - if your commitment can not withstand the stresses and strains of life, your relationship will not survive. 
The second belief that must be shared is the willingness to engage in productive CONFRONTION. Believe it or not, confrontation is not only healthy, but it is vital to all “ships”. Remember, peace just doesn’t happen; peace must be made. It can only be made when people have the courage and spiritual maturity to explore their feelings, consider their feelings and then share their feelings.  Peace can only be made when people are concerned about their viewpoints but also acknowledge and appreciate the viewpoints of others. Without valuing the needs and perspectives of others, confrontations are just unproductive fights and not what they could be, relationship fortifiers.

The ability to work through obstacles and to deal with opposition fairly and fully will sometimes require conversations that are uncomfortable. If you love and value your partner, don’t turn away from her. Try your best to turn toward her so that you can hear what she has to say. Hearing always precedes healing and hoping. I look forward to sharing more thoughts about healthy confrontation in future articles.

The third concept that two people must have in common is COMPETENCE.  Competence is not a sexy word, however; believing and striving for competence will add to your personal and relationship satisfaction. Let’s face it. Many times people who strive for competence are also life-long learners. They are usually people who are open to continued exploration, discussion and education. Now, that’s hot!! There is nothing sexier than a SMART woman committed to get getting smarter, stronger, healthier and better.  So competency may not be a sexy word but it is an attractive action and a stimulating attitude☺.
Just remember…… if you are a person who strives for competence, people who don’t will frustrate you. Trust me, nothing will irritate you more than a person who is satisfied with mediocrity and only exerts enough energy to be average. Eventually, you will outgrow them, resent them and/or lose respect for them.

What’s unfortunate is that people with a “just enough” mentality are usually comfortable with living below their potential, not only personally but also professionally. And since average is all they hope for or strive for, they are unable or unwilling to understand your desire to be proficient, equipped and capable. It may not be a good thing to say as a minster, but people who embrace mediocrity eventually become leeches and distractions. They don’t want to put in the work to elevate their own lives and they will do their best to prevent you from elevating yours too.

If you want to be in a mutually satisfying relationship, the person has to have a common desire for competence. They have to be willing to leave their comfort zones and their familiar silos to stretch themselves, challenge themselves and expect more from themselves.  If they want to embrace incompetence and be ordinary, that’s fine. But if you want to be extraordinary and strive for excellence, you may want to reconsider if you really have enough in common.

The final principle that you need to have in common is CHARACTER.  Character has multiple definitions and many variables. It is shaped by your experiences, beliefs, childhood and your perspectives.  Character is important; it is the sum total of who you are and it reflects how you navigate in the world.  It influences your behavior, informs your perspectives, determines your ethics and communicates your integrity.

Partners must have a shared meaning/understanding of what constitutes good character; they must have a similar moral compass. Also, they both must be committed to using the shared compass to guide and gauge how they interact with each other and with others. Why? Because to be in a healthy relationship, both partners must have a shared understanding of where the proverbial line is AND both partners must be confident that the proverbial line will never be crossed. Each partner must also be convinced that her reputation will be protected and valued.   In other words, some things must be "a given".

Here’s the truth.  You and your partner don’t have to have the same temperament, but you have to have a common understanding of trust. You don’t have to have the same skills, but you must have similar emotional strength.  You don’t have to be spiritually uniformed, but you must be spiritually unified.  Some things must be similar. In the Christian faith there is a scripture that says  “how can two people walk together unless they agree”. Character is an area that you and your partner must agree.

Being in a partnership or relationship does not require you to be same. But, it does require you to have a common belief in commitment so that your partner knows that whatever happens -good or bad- that she can depend on you to be there with and for her.  It does require that you engage in healthy confrontation so that peace is made and peace is maintained. It requires that you strive for competence in communication, compromise and collaboration and never settle for being or doing “just enough”. It requires a common understanding and a common definition of character so that trust can be nurtured and strengthen. No, having those things in common does not make you a clone, but commonality does support your friendships and partnerships.

Do you have enough in common to have a “ship” that exemplifies faithfulness, love, honesty, transparency, passion and happiness? Can your "ship" weather the storms of life?  Only you can decide.


SharRon Jamison

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What if LOVE went viral?

After deep reflection of the amazing Create Love Conference 2014, I am still in awe. I am still trying to soak in the love that we received and witnessed from the more than 125 women in attendance, at our second annual conference. It exceeded our expectations in so many ways. However the most pervasive questions left looming in my mind are as follows: How can we magnify the love felt in that room? Can LOVE really go viral?

I am a YouTube connoisseur. And if you are even slightly inclined to social media these days, you too have perused the plethora of videos on YouTube. You've seen the videos that go viral overnight: a talking cat, laughing babies, or God help us all--the well-sighted twerking mishaps. Well if that amusing ridiculousness can reach millions and millions across the world, why not a message of love? Is it such an incredulous idea to think that love could multiply, spread the globe and connect billions of people? Call me crazy, and it really is okay if you do, but I believe that it is possible! I definitely think it is necessary. One need not look very far to see how a "love deficiency" has reached pandemic proportions.

I once listened to an audio of self-improvement author, Louise Hay, in which she declared that people don't go hungry due to a lack of food, but rather a lack of love. That statement immediately resonated in my soul. There is so much suffering in the world that has nothing to do with the lack of resources to resolve it. I believe that when egos rise, love dies a slow and painful death; People suffer from a love deficiency

Evidence of a love deficiency in our society is glaring, baffling and cunning. It is cloaked in the haves and have-nots, the rich and the poor, race debates and social justice platforms. Yet at the end of the day, it all amounts to the ways in which we minimize the humanity of others to advance personal agendas--The ego rising. It is, in fact, a love deficiency. Below are the statistics that illuminate this deficit quite clearly:
Nationwide there are fewer than thirty safe homes for victims of sex trafficking to receive treatment and services. This severe shortage regularly causes their inappropriate placement in juvenile detention facilities. (Streetlight Tuscon, 2012) 
Children below the age of 18 years represent between 40 to 50 percent of all forced labor victims.  
As many as 2 million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade. (U.S. State Department, Trafficking in Persons Report, 2011) 
After drug trafficking, trafficking in humans ties with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world today. It is the fastest growing criminal industry. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011) 
Women and girls make up 98% of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation 
Preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia take the lives of 2 million children a year who are too poor to afford proper treatment. 
270 million with no access to health services (1 in 7 children worldwide). 
An estimated 400 million children lack adequate access to clean drinking water.
870 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat.
Nearly half of the world’s population (more than 3 billion people) live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty (less than $1.25 a day).
Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. 
Daunting, to say the least! If those statistics don't bring tears to your eyes, inspire you to action, or touch your heart deeply, then I implore you to read them again and check your pulse. This level of suffering should shake up our humanity regardless of religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or socio-economic location. It should arise above the barriers that separate us and meet our souls in a common place. If love were a vitamin, we would need high doses to restore the world to a place of stability. For those of us who believe in God (however you speak the name), we must wonder if that omnipotent force is in utter disbelief at the state of our humanity.

Now, I am an eternal optimist. I believe that as long as we have breath, we have opportunity. There is an opportunity to do something different. We have an opportunity to choose something different; We can choose to CREATE LOVE as a way of life. Simply put, love really can go viral! HERE IS MY CHALLENGE TO YOU - 5 Simple Steps to Magnify Love:
  • Make a decision to believe in the power of love. It doesn't matter if it sounds like hocus-pocus, or metaphysical jargon. The truth of the matter is that belief is the foundation for manifesting any vision into reality. You must be willing to believe, with every fiber of your being, that it is possible.
  • Write the word love on a piece of paper and hang it, tape it, or place it somewhere you can see it every day. This will anchor love into your subconsciousness, as well as your consciousness. We need to soak in the energy of love at every level of our being. In addition, it is the subconscious that dictates much of our behavior.
  • Before you wake up in the morning and before you close your eyes at night, take a mere 3 minutes to meditate on the word love. Breathe consciously while you do so. Breathing always activates the life force, helping us bring thoughts into existence.
  • Ask yourself, daily, how can I be love in the world today? It is not a matter of having more loving, but rather the art of being the love what to see in the world.
  • Finally, share this article with someone else and offer them a random act of kindness. Share this message with someone else and ask them to do the same. Love is healing; Love is true power, Love is a dynamic, always full resource: Love is all there is: And love is for everyone!
It is my deepest hope that this message of love will go viral and touch the lives of many. Either way, only healing and positive shifts can come from our attempts. So let's make this a joint vision to change the course of humanity! I wish you great success as you embark on your journey to be love and to create more love in your life. Do you accept the challenge?

Nya Akoma! (Take Heart)
Imani Evans, MA
Create Love for Women Who Love Women