We're all human... chances are you have been through something, you've had trials or you've been tested. And you have survived to become the person that you are today. So what's your testimony? And are you willing to share it?
Many people are not so willing to share their testimony. They may be carrying around shame, hurt or embarrassment. And let's face it... people can be so judgmental.
They say things like: "Who do you think you are?" "The nerve of you." "I know where you have been and what you have done... so you can't tell me anything about raising kids or being in a relationship."
And our own friends and family can be the most judgmental. When Lamar and I started this site, I actually had someone who was very close to me say, "Who do you think you are? Who are you to be talking about relationships and marriage?" And that really hurt... but we did not let the naysayers stop us.
It's now been over 3 years, and BMWK is one of the largest sites on the web that deals with parenting and relationships in the Black community. We've won various awards and now have a group of wonderful writers who are willing to share their testimonies. They are willing to be transparent about their experiences and marriages. And the most rewarding thing about having this site is to read the almost daily comments about how our transparency helps people to deal with their issues or provides them with encouragement and the motivation to keep on working towards having a better marriage or relationship.
Author Yolanda (Yanni) Brown says the key to being able to connect with others and to being able to give and receive the love that we deserve is loving yourself and understanding your worth. In the book, Making Love Better Begins Within (A Journey of Love Lessons Learned), Brown states that:
You see, we rush through life, through the process to get to know us and before we take the time to get to know us, we are offering our selves and hearts to someone else. Without preparation or appreciation of self — worth, without pride, without understanding that the time we take to get to know ourselves builds our foundation! That foundation increases our joy, our peace, our strength, our intuition, and our wisdom! This is why loving yourself is so very important.
I totally agree with Yanni. I think that it all starts with loving yourself and understanding your worth. When you start to love yourself, you will be able to heal and start to let go of the pain or embarrassment from past hurts and mistakes. You will be able to see value in your testimony.
For so many years, my husband would tell me and he still does: "Ronnie, you have an awesome story and testimony and you should share it more. There are so many girls that could benefit from hearing your story." And I would always avoid answering him or gave him some vague answer so I could change the subject. But deep down, I was still struggling with the pain, hurt, and embarrassment of my actions. I did not feel like my story was worth sharing or that it could actually help anyone else. And it has taken some time and some work (and I am still a work in progress) to understand just how awesome I am and that I do have a testimony.
So yes, I got pregnant my junior year of college and put my scholarship and all of my dreams at risk. But my testimony is that I did not give up. I stayed in school, I graduated early and with honors, I went on to receive a full scholarship to graduate school, I received a masters degree and that's just the beginning... it gets better... better. But my point is there is someone out there that could benefit from that story: Why did I get pregnant? Why didn't I quit or give up? What would I do different? Who was my support system (because of course I could not do it without support)?
I am not the only one with a testimony to share. I encourage you to find your testimony and share it. We've got to start being better support systems for each other. Brown states:
"While you are wallowing in your pity party saying "woe is me," someone is waiting on your testimony. They may not know you, or why they are waiting, but they are waiting on you to become all that is destined for you to be so that you help someone else."
Essence Family: do you have a testimony? Do you find it hard to share your testimony? Do you find that people are judgmental? I loved the book, Making Love Better Begins Within (A Journey of Love Lessons Learned) , so much that I asked the author for an interview. Please check out the interview later this week with author Yolanda (Yanni) Brown.
Lamar and Ronnie Tyler are the creators of the award-winning blog BlackandMarriedWithKids.com . They also are behind the Amazon.com bestselling DVDs Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me and the upcoming film "Men Ain't Boys" that will explore manhood in the African American community. The Tylers are also the proud parents of four children.
ESSENCE Family: Are you thinking in terms of We and routinely using words like we, our and us? Are you able to put the needs of your spouse and family first and still take care of your own needs? If yes, how do you find that balance?