Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Wait, Part 8: Computer Love (Phone Fast Update)

Image source: Facebook 

Yesterday, I watched a replay of Pastor Jamal Miller's video "God, Deal With My Other Lovers" in the Married and Young 5 Day Challenge group (TODAY is the last day to join the challenge! Click here to join!). I didn't catch the broadcast when it was live, but it felt like it was just for me. In the message, Jamal talked about how we all have other lovers that threaten to take up too much space in our that only God is supposed to occupy. He explained that we may not be having sex with these "other lovers," but we are still physically invested in them. Whether we realize it or not, we literally and figuratively take these other lovers to bed with us. They abide in our minds and hearts.  At first, I thought, Okay, I'm good. I definitely don't have any other lovers. I've never even been on a date. I didn't think the message applied to me until Jamal said that his "other lover" was marriage. He became so obsessed with marriage that he pursued it harder than he sought God...and he even started praying more--in an unhealthy way--to use God and church as a means to get it. Wait a minute, I thought. These lovers aren't always people? Uh oh. Suddenly, I knew what my other lover was--my cell phone.

You probably think that's crazy, right? Well, you're right, it is, but let me explain. I've had a cell phone since 2006. I was 12 years old. Back then, all I used it for was calling my mom, grandparents, and a handful of close friends. As technology evolved, I joined MySpace, then Facebook, then Twitter, then Instagram...and I've kept the latter 3 in my pocket and beside my bed for several years now (and November 2016, I added this blog to the mix, so I'm on my phone even more now). I find myself checking my phone every 2 minutes or so, and I get overly excited when I hear the "ding" of a text message or other notification. My phone is the first thing I pick up in the morning and the last thing I put down at night. I have a Bible app on my phone, but I don't utilize it nearly as much as I should. To be honest, I was spending more time with my phone than I was with God. I had to break the habit.

As I get older, I'm learning that if I'm expecting God to move, I need to show Him how important He is to me. Usually for me that means amping up the praise and worship, but this time, I felt like I needed to do more. As I shared in a previous post, from Tuesday to Thursday of last week, I did my first fast ever...a fast from my phone. I turned my phone off for four hours each day (baby steps 😂). But seriously, I cut out distractions and gave God more of my time, and I've seen a drastic change in my prayer life in such a short time. He sacrificed His life for us. The least I could do was give up something small for Him. No text, tweet, status, or post will ever be more important than hearing from God. He deserves more of me...more of all of us. That brief phone fast taught me a lot of things. It showed me that I don't need my phone as much as I thought I did, and it showed me that above all, I need God more than anything. Tomorrow is the official start of the 5 Day Pray For Your Future Spouse Challenge, and I want to make sure I'm ready. Let us pray:

God, as we begin this challenge, help us to understand that while we should pray with our future spouses in mind, our primary goal is to grow closer to You. During our prayer time(s), help us to put down our phones and cut out distractions, focusing not just on our desire for marriage, but our desire to be filled and used by You. Help us to pray earnestly and unselfishly, thinking beyond just physical characteristics we look for in a mate. Guide us to request only the character traits of a spouse who is led by You and who worships You wholeheartedly; and through their worship of You, may they also honor us. In the five-day span of this challenge, equip us to effectively cover our spouses in every area of their lives, even if we haven't met them yet, and help us to continue covering them all throughout our married lives. As you perfect the hearts that are meant to love us, perfect our hearts and turn them toward You so that we may be used for Your glory in singleness and in marriage. Let our lives and our unions be a reflection of who You are.

In Jesus' name,


For a recap of the previous message shared in the challenge group, click here.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Wait, Part 7: Married & Young Challenge (Extreme Makeover, Holy Edition - In Security)

Image source: Facebook

This afternoon, Monica Umunna, Married and Young's Director of Product Development, shared a word on insecurity in the 5 Day Challenge group. She discussed how both the man and woman in a marital union should be secure in who they are BEFORE God sends them a spouse. She alluded to the story of Samson and Delilah in the Bible, emphasizing that Delilah was able to subdue Samson because he was not secure. In Judges 16, Samson falls in love with Delilah, who was sent as a decoy by the Philistines so that they could find the secret to his strength. He resisted her 3 times, but on the fourth time, she used the fact that he loved her to get him to reveal that his secret was in his hair. It was easy for her to break him down because he wasn't secure in who he was. As we pray for our future spouses, we also need to pray for a spirit of discernment. We need to make sure we won't be so blinded by love (and lust) that we can't distinguish between who was sent by God to help build us up and who was sent by Satan to break us down.

I've often heard my single girlfriends say, "I'm tired of being alone! I need a man who completes me!" And when they find the man (First mistake: they don't wait for God to SEND him to find them!) I was saying, when they find the man, they completely re-center their lives to revolve around him, cutting off ALL their friends (some of whom they've known their whole lives) and their self-worth hangs on his every word. That's not healthy at all. Ladies and gents, your significant other should complement (and compliment!) you, but it is NOT his/her job to complete you. You should be whole with or without him/her. If you're not, you should probably re-evaluate some things...starting with your relationship with God. The reason Monica stressed the importance of finding security in God is because God is the only One who can make you whole. Go to Him when you are broken. When your self-esteem is low, only God can help you truly know who and Whose You are. Having a husband/wife cannot make YOU believe that you are enough. You have to walk in that truth BEFORE marriage. If you don't, you'll find yourself relying too much on your spouse's approval...and you could find yourself walking alone. Let us pray:

God, help us to see our singleness as a remodeling process. Help us to find peace in knowing that the reason You are making us wait is because You are making necessary repairs, finalizing the renovations in our single lives. Help us to understand that a work has to be completed within our own houses before You add on a spouse. In our single season, affirm who we are in You so we can stand on a firm foundation. Help us to be strong in singleness so that we can be stronger together in matrimony. Lay in us a groundwork of unshakeable faith so that we may be adequately prepared to weather any and every storm that marriage may bring. Let our lives and our unions be a reflection of who You are.

In Jesus' name we pray,


For a recap of the message shared yesterday, click here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Wait, Part 6: The IlLUSTrious Life

Image source: Facebook

Today's discussion in the Married and Young 5 Day Challenge group was Pastor Jamal Miller's most transparent one yet. The topic he tackled today was lust. He explained that everything good isn't God, and used himself as an example, speaking candidly about his struggles with pornography addiction. Jamal revealed that he's had problems in this area since he was 12 years old. While it was "good" that he abstained from having sex with his wife until marriage, what he was doing wasn't godly because he was using masturbation as a coping mechanism, as a "safe" replacement for sex and as a refuge when times got hard. Jamal also made sure to emphasize that lust is not always sexual. For him, it was also dangerous emotional connections he was making with people and just self-control in general. He prayed for God to send him a wife because he thought that marriage could fix his addiction. and when he actually got married, he realized that marriage wasn't the solution. The solution was God.

That was my main takeaway point from the message this morning: Marriage is not a cure for anything. One thing I've struggled with in my Christian walk is social media. I think I subconsciously lust after experiences. What I mean by that is, sometimes I find myself scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,  YouTube, etc. and saying, "Oooh, this person traveled to this place this week!" And, "This person met [insert celebrity name here]!" Or, "I wish my hair was as long as this person's." Or, "This person seems to have it all together. I wish my life was like that!" Recently, I've been scrolling and thinking, When I get married, my life is gonna be great! My husband and I will get to [insert everything I've seen every seemingly-perfect, wealthy married couple do on Instagram]! And even with this blog, I was getting way too caught up in how many people read each post and how many people liked what I said, literally and figuratively. It got to the point where I was like, "It's been up for three hours, and so far, nobody commented, only 25 people liked it on Instagram, and 15 people clicked the link to read it." It was consuming me, and for a little while, I asked myself, "Am I really called to do this?" I needed to step away and take a break.

Yesterday morning, Jamal talked about how he was spending too much time on social media, so engrossed in his phone that he couldn't actively listen to people during face-to-face conversations. When he said that, it was like God basically barged into my house, sat on my couch, and kicked His feet up, because that's exactly how I am with my phone. People  speak to me in real life and I just completely tune them out because I "have to" compose the perfect I never want to get to the point where God is trying to speak to me and I tune Him out, so I took Jamal's advice and went on a 4-hour social media fast from 6-10pm EST. I was prepared for it to be difficult, but surprisingly, I kept it turned off for FIVE hours instead of four (Don't laugh lol). This was HUGE for me. I didn't even really miss it. I'm doing it again tonight and tomorrow night. I'm serious about this "less of me, more of Thee" thing, and I need to prove it to Him. A "lit" social media account and the number of followers on my blog doesn't determine whether or not I'm called to be a writer. Marriage won't fix the parts of me that need fixing. Marriage won't automatically guarantee a perfect life. Following God will guarantee everlasting life, and that's what matters. Let us pray:

God, help us to put You first above ALL things. Don't let our lust for sex, married life, or someone else's life distract us from our pursuit of everlasting life. Help us to focus less on who follows us on social media and more on following You. Help us to realize that the only validation we need is the 'yes' you give us, and help us to be satisfied in that. While we wait for You to send us a spouse, and even after You send them, help us to crucify our flesh everyday and submit wholeheartedly to Your will. Let our lives and our unions be a reflection of who You are.

In Jesus' name we pray,


For a recap of the message Jamal shared yesterday, click here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Wait, Part 5: Married & Young Challenge (Plumbing Issues + Why You're "Worth Being Worked On")

Image source: Facebook

This morning in the Married and Young 5 Day Challenge group, Pastor Jamal Miller spoke about the heart. This discussion tied nicely into yesterday's word about perspective, but took things one step further. Now that we know God can see us from all angles, we have to be willing to let Him dig deeper to get to the root of what needs fixing. We have to let Him examine our inner plumbing and unclog our hearts. Once our hearts are fixed on God, He'll send us the gift of our future spouse...but He has to take us through some things first.

I clicked on the video without looking at the title, so I didn't know what scripture Jamal would be teaching from, but as soon as he started speaking, I heard the lyrics to Tamela Mann's "Change Me" from her 2016 album, One Way, ringing in my spirit:

Tamela Mann - One Way album art / Amazon

Change me, O God
Make me more like You
Change me, O God
Wash me through and through
Create in me a clean heart
So that I may worship You

I love this song. I sing it all the time and watch covers of it on YouTube to see if anybody can do it justice, because let's be honest: NOBODY sings it like Tamela can! I knew the lyrics were borrowed from Psalms 51:10, but it wasn't until I spoke the words aloud instead of singing them that I realized that they are actually a very powerful prayer -- a prayer that we shouldn't pray until we are 100% sure we mean every word.

Change is good, but it's also scary because, well, it's change -- new and uncharted territory that we haven't explored before. We don't like change because it forces us to have to relearn everything, so we get comfortable in that job, that town, that person, that sin, because it's what we're used to. A lot of times, we don't feel God moving in our lives because we're afraid change is going to hurt. This morning, Jamal assured us that it will be painful. And ironically, the scripture he alluded to was Psalms 51:10 *cue goosebumps*.

Let's go back to the analogy of unclogging the heart. Has your sink drain ever been clogged? If so, you probably tried to fix it yourself before calling a plumber, right? Some Drain-O should do the trick. So you pour the whole bottle of Drain-O down the sink and continue adding more sludge down the drain for the next two weeks or so, only to find out that the Drain-O didn't fix anything the first time. The clog is even worse than before, so you bite the bullet and call the plumber, even though you really didn't want to pay the extra expense.

It's not a pleasant experience, but it sounds familiar, doesn't it? Too often, we try to fix our problems ourselves. We tell ourselves to suck it up and pretend to be okay, and the drain just continues to clog up until the sludge is almost visible under the surface. We don't want to call the plumber (God) because we know He's going to pull it out of us, and if it hurt going down, it'll be even more painful coming back up. It will cost us something, and we really don't want to pay the extra expense of being uncomfortable. Well guess what? It's necessary. And your expenses have already been paid.

Yes, change will hurt. In order to allow God to change us and make us more like Him, we have to come to terms with those things that are clogging our hearts. As Jamal shared this morning, it won't feel good during the process, but on the other side of the process is the living water of God that will be able to flow freely through our hearts (John 7:38). When we allow God to fix our plumbing, we can start drinking His living water, and in learning how to live for Him, we'll learn how to love like Him. This will eventually apply to our relationships with our future spouses, but in the meantime, we need to learn to love ourselves and our neighbors, our communities. As painful as it will be, we have to look inside ourselves and realize that we are "worth being worked on."

Let us pray:

God, I open my heart to You. You knew the ins and outs of me before I ever did. You know what needs fixing. Help me and everyone who reads this to surrender and accept the change that is necessary in order for us to be pleasing in Your sight. Help us to know that we are worth being worked on, and help us trust You to complete that work. Time and time again, we've tried to fix things ourselves, and time and time again we have failed. We like to think we've got it all figured out, but the truth is, we need You. Help us to understand that needing You is not an "extra expense" because You've already paid it all on the cross. Deal with us and show us how to deal with life. Unclog our hearts so that we may learn to love ourselves and others, and eventually, our future spouses, in a way that glorifies You. Let our lives and our unions be a reflection of who You are.

In Jesus' name we pray,


For a recap of the message Jamal shared yesterday, click here.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Wait, Part 4: Married & Young Challenge (Perspective Prayers + Avoiding Idolatry)

Saturday, I joined a Facebook group called M&Y Saved and Single (5 Day Challenge). This group, run by husband-and-wife team Jamal and Natasha Miller, co-founders of Married and Young, includes singles from all around the world who are preparing for marriage. This FREE challenge, which begins July 31st, is designed to teach those of us in a season of singleness how to pray for our future spouses (even if we haven't met the person God has for us yet). As I mentioned in my last post, I've been thinking about marriage a lot lately. Since I was a little girl, I've always pictured myself being married (and yes, I AM that really annoying person who already knows what colors and music I want for the reception 😂), but this is...different. I've never had a "right time" set for marriage, never a specific age "requirement" to be married by. If you had asked me at 21 or 22 if I was ready for marriage, I would've resoundingly said NO. In this first month and a half of 23, though, something has shifted. I'm not dating anyone, and I don't even see any "prospects" on the horizon right now. To some, this may sound "crazy," but I feel God positioning me for marriage.

Image source: Facebook
I joined Jamal and Natasha's challenge group by happenstance when their live broadcast appeared in my Facebook feed. When I signed up, I felt excitement coupled with a sense of peace that I've never experienced before. I'm not afraid of where God is getting ready to take me, I'm just optimistic about the future. The challenge hasn't even officially started yet and I'm already being blessed by the nuggets of wisdom and encouragement that the Millers and various members of the group are posting on the Facebook page. Before the challenge officially starts and we begin praying for our future spouses, Jamal and Natasha are giving us a kick-starter course on how to get ourselves right spiritually before God brings us the right person.

This morning, Jamal shared a powerful word about perspective, explaining that we need to humble ourselves before God. We need to recognize the one-sided lens through which we see ourselves and acknowledge that because God is omnipotent, He can see us from every angle. Once we recognize that, we have to open up to see ourselves the way God sees us, so He can repair the broken areas before He sends us a spouse.

Jamal also touched on another subject that really resonated with me: How to separate earthly, spousal love from God's love. He explained that in relationship with our spouses, we need to be careful not to place the selfish burden of supernatural love on to our natural spouse. They shouldn't have the responsibility of providing us with a love that only God can give. That's deep! It made me think of something I saw on Instagram Sunday night. Ironically, one of my favorite poets, Jackie Hill-Perry, made a short video geared toward--of all things--women praying for God to send them a husband. Right in my wheelhouse. The clip had a playful tone to it at first, but then, Hill-Perry became serious. She said:

"Sometimes you hear the saints talk about the type of husband they want [and they say], 'I just need a man that's going to love me with all his heart all his mind and all his soul.'...This is the thing: We do want spouses who love us well, clearly, but if that's all we're praying for, that's not enough. What you have to pray for is a husband that loves God more than he loves you, because it's his love for God that's gonna make him love you well.

I think some of these women don't realize what they're saying when they say [they want a man who loves them with his all]. So you want to be an idol? You want to be a golden calf to a man? That's not what you want. You don't want a man who worships you. You want a man who worships God, and through his worship of God, he honors you."

This is exactly what I've been praying about.

Marriage has been weighing on me heavily in the last month or so, but I'm being careful not to be consumed by the idea of it, especially since I've never been married before. If I blow the idea of marriage out of proportion during my season of singleness, it may be harder to appreciate the union that God gives me. No relationship is perfect. My goal is to approach this season with realistic expectations. Let us pray.

God, I come to You asking for guidance in this season. I feel You shifting me towards something new, telling me to position myself to be married. As I and other singles reading this begin to prepare for covenant, I pray that You will open our eyes to the areas we need to work on in our own lives. And while the work is being done within us, we trust that You are also preparing the heart of the one You designed specifically for us. Help us to learn not to question or rush You. Help us to surrender our lives and desires to Your will, knowing that You know exactly what and who we need. And when You send us our future spouses, help us not to worship each other or the idea of marriage, but to focus on You, the One who knew us before the beginning of time, the One who loves us better than anyone on earth ever could. Most importantly, let our lives and our unions be a reflection of who You are.

In Jesus' name we pray,


To join the Married & Young Single and Saved 5 Day Challenge, click here. Challenge starts July 31!

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Wait, Part 3: The Hook-Up on REALationships (feat. Bruno Mars' "Marry You")

I've been thinking about marriage a lot lately. I'm not necessarily ready to get married right this second, but it's been on my mind heavily in the past couple of months. On my 23rd birthday last month, I shared my views on abstinence, and I've also discussed how to stay encouraged while God has you on reserve. In this installment of "The Wait," I'd like to speak to something that troubles me. This is "The Hook-Up."

Image source: Inner Bonding

Since I knew I wanted this post to be about marriage, I took some time to try to think of some songs about matrimony. One of the first tunes that came to mind was "Marry You" by Bruno Mars, from his 2010 album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans. I was 16 when this song came out and I absolutely LOVED Bruno Mars. I still do. I remember riding in the car blasting it at top volume and belting, "Just say I dooooo-ooooo-oooo-oooo!  / Tell me right now, baby!" It was so catchy, one of those songs that made you feel happy inside. "Who cares, baby? I think I wanna marry you!" Yes, I still remember all the words. But I'm not 16 anymore. Back then, I wasn't thinking about marriage. Re-visiting that song after I've lived a little more life has caused it to take on a whole different meaning for me: a not-so-happy one.

Bruno Mars - Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010) album art / Amazon

The song opens with the chorus:

It's a beautiful night, we're looking for

something dumb to do

Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you

Is it the look in your eyes, or is it this 

dancing juice?

Who cares baby, I think I wanna marry you

Right off the bat, this song trivializes marriage as "something dumb to do," and it sounds like the speaker is drunk and just seeing his love interest across the room at a club since they're drinking "dancing juice." They speak of marriage with an air of nonchalance: "Who cares, baby, I think I wanna marry you."

I know "Marry You" is 'just a song,' but this concept is disturbing when we take into account that the relationship described in this song actually happens in real life. This generation's view of love is so skewed. It's sad. Our society has been tainted by hook-up culture. We're all about instant gratification when it comes to relationships and so many other things. Emotional connection and communication isn't important anymore. Nowadays, everybody wants to skip learning about each other and go straight to sex.

The Spouse House / TLC - DCL

I was watching a fairly-new show on TLC the other day called The Spouse House, where singles are put together in a house for 60 days, and if they're not pairing up almost immediately, they get "evicted." Basically, it's 'fall in love now...or else.' I paid close attention to one couple in particular who had brief history years before the show, and a conversation they had led to one of the biggest epiphanies I've had in life thus far. The woman asked the man if he loved her. He said, "I was attracted to you sexually before the show. I'm attracted to you physically [referring to her looks], and I'm starting to be attracted to you emotionally. I'm falling in love with you." That's when it hit me. This is why a lot of relationships/marriages don't work: Men are attracted to women sexually first, then physically, and THEN emotionally. And a lot of times, they think they're ready to marry based only on sexual and physical attraction, oftentimes not even giving themselves time to form an emotional attachment at all. So they tell us women what we want to hear because most of us look at attraction first from an emotional standpoint, then physical, and THEN sexual...the complete opposite of how men approach attraction.

So when Bruno Mars sings,

If we wake up and you want to break up

That's cool

No I won't blame you

It was fun girl

He probably really means it. It was "fun" for him, because 1) he was drunk, and 2) he wasn't emotionally invested in her. Chances are, it wasn't "fun" for her, though, because by that point, she's probably developed feelings for him (at least on some level, assuming the hangover has worn off). There are so many things wrong with this picture.

Often, relationships fail because people simply aren't on the same page: One or both parties fail to clearly outline ALL the expectations they have for the relationship FROM THE BEGINNING. This is why, in my opinion, it's best to wait until marriage to have sex. Sex opens up a big can of worms, making people think they feel emotions that they may not actually feel for each other. Make sure what you feel for the person is what you truly feel in your heart, and not just how they make you feel in the bedroom.

Image source: Pinterest - Loveless Galleries

I've spoken about relationship goals in a couple of posts on this blog, emphasizing that we shouldn't pay too much attention to a lot of celebrity couples because we don't know what goes on behind closed doors. I said we shouldn't look at couples like Ciara and Russell Wilson, Meagan Good and DeVon Franklin, etc. and think that what they have is perfect, because it probably isn't. While I don't think it's healthy to idealize these relationships and try to emulate them in every aspect, I think it is okay to look at what they showcase on social media and pay attention to the ways they do love right. The snippets of their relationships that we see appear to be proof that the right way is the Christ way. Love works for both of these couples and so many others (Kirk and Tammy Franklin, Warryn and Erica Campbell, Travis and Dr. Jackie Greene, Willie and Patricia Moore, Jr., William and LaTae McDowell, Jamal and Natasha Miller, John and Aventer Gray...the list goes on), because they keep Christ at the center. I look at their love and take notes of bits and pieces of things I want in a relationship, everything from family values and how they pray for and with each other to how they nurture and appreciate each other's gifts. I don't want a relationship EXACTLY like any of the couples listed above because no two love stories are the same. However, there is value in seeing positive, achievable relationship goals while I wait. Here are a few of my REALationship goals:

1) I want my marriage to be a positive projection of the love my future children will deserve, in life in general and in their own marriages.

2) I want my future children to see a love that is attainable, a love that endures, but I also want them to see that love is not all fun and games. It's hard work and commitment.

And most importantly,

3) I want my marriage to be a reflection of Christ's love.

If it wasn't sent by God, I don't want it. I want something real, and I won't settle. For now, I'm content with waiting on His perfect timing.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

As Pictures Speak (Inspired By Beleaf In Fatherhood)

I'm a blogger, but I'm also a poet. I started writing poetry about three and a half years ago as a hobby, but I soon realized it was more than that: It's one of my gifts. I find myself struggling with writer's block a lot, so I like to challenge myself to look in unconventional places for inspiration. A couple weeks ago, I was scrolling through Facebook, and I saw a father's day advertisement from As I Am. It was a video where a black father was doing his son's hair and speaking affirmations over him. I  was moved by the ad, which eventually led me to the Beleaf In Fatherhood YouTube channel.

As a YouTube junkie, I'm always looking for more vloggers to watch, especially content creators of color. Representation matters! After watching about three videos featuring stay-at-home dad/rapper Beleaf (Glen Henry), his wife Yvette, and their three adorable #ChocolateBabies, Theo, Uriah, and Anaya, I was sold. Superb editing, cool music to vibe to, and most importantly, the Henrys are Christian. I subscribed and followed the family on all their social media accounts, including Instagram, where they share beautifully candid photographs of their adventures. Browsing through the photos, I found myself working through my writer's block.

One photo in particular caught my eye. It's a simple black-and-white shot dated September 2, 2016, with the caption, "Besties," featuring Theo and Uriah, shirtless, bright-eyed, and smiling. The boys are smiling in nearly every picture on all of the Henrys' Instagram pages,  but for some reason, the purity and innocence of the picture moved me. Suddenly, I knew why.

"Besties" / Instagram

As a writer, and more specifically, as a black writer, I feel compelled to write primarily about the experiences that Black people face--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Black men don't usually smile in pictures. As I began to write, I thought about the significance of that, and the result was the following poem, "Black Boy, Smiling."

Black Boy, Smiling

For now, black boy, in the innocence of youth, you smile in every picture. In stark contrast to gravity-defying, dark brown hair and smooth cacao skin, teeth, small and white, spread apart knowingly in anticipation, to make way for the big boys in a few years. The teeth, solid and sure, are prepared for the fall. The smile, yielding and unguarded, is not.

For now, black boy, your smile bursts confidently from your face in bouts of pure joy, like stars across the clearest night sky, but if the world has its way, your smile will be conditioned to hide its brilliance, and your lips will learn not to speak, but to become black hole. If you let it, the world will teach you to swallow sadness and fear, bottling it up in a permanent lump in your throat, so pride can never go down easy.

For now, black boy, in the innocence of youth, everything and nothing is black and white. For now, everything is simple, and you don't know the difference. You don't see color, and everything around you is vibrant and promising. One day, you will realize that more often than not, promises are broken. Gray areas exist. And everything, to some degree, is divided into black and white. On those gray days, I pray that you remember the magic your smile possesses, and that you will somehow, in spite of, find the strength to keep that smile from falling.

A picture really is worth a thousand words, I guess. Sometimes, it's worth more than that. It's amazing what God gives us when we listen as the photo speaks for itself. May Theo and Uriah Henry, and every black man who was once a black boy, always remember that his smile is one of the most powerful things he owns.