I have inadvertently been the subject of a longstanding battle within my family for approximately a decade. You see, growing up, I was considered what many would call “the ugly duckling.” While I was known and well-respected for my sharp intelligence, my external beauty was… well… non-existent…
5th grade school photo… and I see you laughing through the blog…
In addition to that, my family sometimes struggled to make “ends meet” and as a result, we often went without many of the material possessions that many of our peers and friends enjoyed.
If you are someone who can relate to my experiences, then you know all too well how difficult such a lifestyle can be.
Anyway, as I got older, I began to redefine my life. I slowly became less and less concerned with traditional forms of beauty, and began to improve my self-confidence. An increase in my self-confidence has benefited various areas of my life. The most important one has been reflected in my amazing capacity to provide interpersonal skills that nourish and protect my relationships with others. By the grace of God, I’ve been blessed with a loving and pleasing marriage. See… don’t I look like the happily married new bride? (This is your invitation to comment on how I turned from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan… lol)
Thinking while the hot sun was blazing in my eyes…
Loving this Moment…
Singing… Finally it has happened to me right in front of my face and I just can not hide it...
Additionally, my intelligence has positioned me to receive a competitive education which makes me highly employable. Therefore, I have fortunately been able to matriculate from my lower socio-economic class, into one that is more compatible with the middle class status of the United States. I personally hate the term “social class” and thinks that the whole concept exemplifies arrogance, but for the sake of understanding I am going to leave my wording as such… if you feel the same, bear with me… I’m too tired to think of a more socially acceptable connotation.
Due to my increase in self-confidence, healthy marital status, and improved financial resources, I am no longer perceived by my family (and others) in the ways in which I was during most of my childhood. For many of my loved ones, this has been a blessed experience. After all, I have a supportive family where we are encouraged to cheer one another on and hope for their best.
See… I told you we cheer each other on!
But unfortunately, this characteristic does not extend to everyone. In my case, people who were the very ones who were proactive in my life during adversity, suddenly don’t want to have anything to do with me once I have redefined my life and am in a better position than I was before.
Not one to blame others for my potential role in conflict, I’ve decided to give my family members the benefit of a doubt…
Some may suggest that with change brings arrogance, that is unapproachable and off-putting for relationships. However, in my case, I use my testimony, my experiences, and my life circumstances, to promote, inspire and encourage others to be their best selves. Don’t believe me? Take a moment to review the other elements of my blog and personal website. While none of this counts for the fact that I am perfect and without fail, I make a conscientious effort to be a source of inspiration for others, and I for one hate arrogance more than the next person. 1 Samuel 2:3 reads Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. I truly believe that the only spirit who is “da bomb diggity” is our Heavenly Father above and as a result, I take pride in my sense of humility to this effect. As such, arrogance is something that I would like to think that I am proactive with eliminating from my life as much as possible because I hold myself accountable when I am aware of its emerging presence. I believe that my openness to considering its presence as well as my openess to be proactive against it, helps me to eliminate (at least reduce) its overall presence in my life.
Trust me, the conflict with my family is not ruled by my arrogance.
So one might ask, if the motivating factor for this conflict is not my arrogance, what could it be?
In Oprah’s Life Class, Iyanla Vanzant described a detailed account of the ways in which women are programmed to belittle one another. Basically, Iyanla Vanzant proposed that due to the fact that women are still vying for equal rights in various areas of their lifes, they continue to live with the threat of having their successes, stripped away. Hence, once a certain level of accomplishment has been obtained, many women feel that it is important to hold on to it, AND NOT allow it to be overthrown by someone else. When the next up and coming woman poses a threat to their success, they innately become oppositional such that they may try to interfere with the success of their counter parts.
To test this theory, I decided to see if this concept was applicable in my family relationships as well. I did so by examining the way that the aforementioned family members relate to other women in my family. One day, I was talking with a family member, who is physically attractive in her own right, but has struggled in academics, financial independence and employ-ability, and the pursuit to obtaining a meaningful and rewarding relationship/marriage. These factors, which are important indicators for success according to my family, positioned this particular family member to be less threatening to the very women who hate me because I have all three. In a recent conversation, the family member (who knows of the longstanding conflict that resides between myself and our mutual family members) reported “well they [other family members] don’t treat me the same way that they treat you…”
All of my suspicions were confirmed with that minor, yet validating statement. At the very words which my cousin confirmed, internally, my heart wanted to sink within my stomach because I longed to be treated with respect by my family as well. But then I realized the truth… my family responded to me with adversity, not because I was a bad person because of my ability to overcome many barriers, but because my ability to overcome many barriers posed a threat to them.
I realized that Iyanla Vanzant was right… And I want to inform you that this is not a novel incident within my family, for it is common in various elements of life.
This concept has long-standing biblical support as indicated by James 4:2 which reads You desire and do not have, so you murder, You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. For those who lack insight, it is so much easier to be judgmental and ridiculing of others who have what you want. It is harder to look introspectively at yourself and realize that what you are doing is actually “hating” on others and hindering your process to achieving your goals along the way. Furthermore, spiritual growth is obtained when you realize that instead of exercising negativity towards others for having what you want, God has a way of giving you what you want, when you can ask with a genuine heart and motive. James 4:3 goes on to read You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
So what does all of this mean for you?
Basically, if you don’t have some haters, then you’re not doing something right. It is normal for people, especially women to be jealous of those who have obtained a certain level of achievement in their lives or who are threatened by the achievement of others. While it is an undesirable character trait, it is a normal trait nonetheless. Hence, I encourage you to realize that if and when this happens to you, it’s only because you are the most awesome person that you can be. The people in your lives don’t know how to give you credit, so they put you down. That’s their stuff… Don’t take it on as yours…
Also, be conscious of if and when you are emerging upon the concept of hateration yourself… (uhhh… yeah… I just made up that word but you should understand what it means by now). When someone does, thinks, or acts in a way that rubs you the wrong way, but is doing “their thing” in the process… Ask yourself… are you truly upset with them because of something they did, or would you secretly like to be where they are, don’t know how to, and as a result have jumped on the hater bus.
Is that you on the hater bus?
And finally, remember that God has your back no matter what. He might not have given you what you wanted when you wanted it, but he’ll give it to you right on time. Be encouraged by Isaiah 40:31 which reminds us Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
So the next time someone’s attitude abruptly changes towards you, ask yourself,What is it that you have done in your life that poses such a threat to others around you? Then, smile, hold your head high, and walk that Sacred Lady walk that is within you…
What are you doing right, that has the haters coming after you?