I was reminded today of an incident I encountered with a stranger the week Whitney Houston was sent home with the angels. I thought about what transpired and couldn’t help but reflect on my thoughts that day only because I feel there is some relevancy to it today.
I was in a taxi on my way to see my doctor. I was minding my own business preparing to listen on my phone to Smokie Norful’s “Dear God” when the driver asked, “So how do you feel about what happened to Whitney Houston?” I answered, “I cried the moment my daughter screamed when finding it out on TMZ from her phone.” We were celebrating my only grandson’s birthday.
The driver went on to say, “‘Live by the sword, die by the sword.” My reaction: “Pause, brief moment of silence; clearly not expecting this.” I then said to him in no uncertain terms, “She may have had struggles but who are we to judge. God is our only judge. We all have skeletons in our closets that only God knows. It is not for us to judge another for the life they lived but instead celebrate their life in spite of how they lived.
The conversation escalated too much to discuss verbatim but after being asked my business about why I was seeing a doctor regularly and was I being treated for anxiety or depression, etc. I said, “No.” He then asked, “Are you ever depressed because of your conditions? Have you ever needed to see a psychiatrist?” I said, “No.” I explained my knowledge on the matter based on my previous education and experience working in the mental health field for years. And the fact that I did not see anything wrong with people seeking help as it pertains to this, but there was never a reason for me to do the same.
I told him God is my source. I go to Him for everything. While I have common sense about things and am prescribed medicines that I take that are required, I choose not to depend on medications doctors believe are necessary for healing. I keep it at a minimum. However, every day I pray to God for healing. Every day, I pray for strength to endure. God is the one I profess all my troubles to. I couldn’t help but think, though, where he was going with this. And out of nowhere he begins to express [loudly] his disagreement with people being in denial, telling me how he thinks it is absurd that people think God is the only answer. In no uncertain terms he let me know we NEED to have common sense about things and it mustn’t always be religious.
By this time I started to dishevel but did my best to remain calm and collected. I won’t go into details where this conversation led, but I will say this: I acknowledged his statement but let him know I understood that a difference must exist between spiritual and physical as well as know the difference between common sense and reality. However, my spirituality will never be placed under subjection when faced with a decision about my life. God always will be the priority in everything I do because it is by His Spirit he will give me guidance and direction on what it is I am to do. He is the ultimate source of my well-being. He gives me strength.
I told the driver I am not one to discount the merits of any professional when help is needed to any degree whether it’s for an addiction, for medical purposes, or whatever. I commend doctors for all they do and help with the physical healing process. But they don’t have all the answers, nor will I turn to them for all the answers. I will turn to God. For God guides the hands of the doctors to heal the sick. It is by his authority.
I also made it clear God will give me discernment and wisdom to know when I need to seek further help from a professional based on the severity of the issue I may be facing. But by no means will I ever put anything or anyone above the source I solely depend on; God. Nor will I ever deny my faith in God and what it is I know he can do, regardless whatever situation I face! I guess that was not good enough for him because he made it a point to continue this subject until I reached my destination.
He went on to talk about a friend of his who is a psychiatrist that works with mentally ill and sick people in another country and how he believes they are the ones that matter because they do not rely solely on God for healing but use common sense to seek professional help. In other words, “people like me don’t.” Hmmm was all I could say in my mind.
He expressed his dissatisfaction with people like me who feel that God should be the only one we seek when healing is required. He said, “Let the professionals do their work and let God do what he needs to do outside of that.” Although I had had enough, all I could do was look at him in disbelief and think about how I was going to respond.
My answer was brief and to the point. I told him that while I agree professionals have a job to do, it is because of God that they are in a position to do what they do. It is never up to me to discredit their authority but it is my duty to uphold the ultimate authority God has. He has all authority. He is the one who grants authority to people in their professional capacity to perform as they do. He uses us for his purpose. God does the work, we just work through him.
My second thought was as if he didn’t already know that being in his taxi on my way to see the doctor is evidence that I have wisdom and understand that I need doctors to help with the healing process as well as with keeping conditions I suffer with under control. I am far from stupid. I do let them do their work through the power and authority they possess. At the same time I allow God to do his work through the power he will give them. They are being used by him to serve a purpose.
I was so glad I was almost at my destination. As my hand held the door handle ready to jump out the car before I reverted to the old me, he said upon arrival, “It was nice talking with you.” With humility and a smile, I said, “Thank you. Have a good one!”
As I walked towards the door of my doctor’s office, I began to internalize and reflect on what just happened because I believe every encounter is an opportunity for God to work within us. There is a lesson to be learned.
I realized in a few moments I had become so frustrated and wanted to react with anger and contempt. But I didn’t nor could I let him see my frustration. I managed to keep my composure. The first thing I did was say to myself, “Thank you God. I may not be what I’m supposed to be but because of you I’m not what I used to be.” And he [Mr Taxi Driver from La La land] should be glad too! I will pray for him and for me, too.
Then I thought to myself, there’s something I need to get from this. I realized there should not be a reason to give in to people or things that don’t necessarily fit in with my beliefs. There’s no need to become argumentative, rude, belligerent, or defensive. We all are entitled to an opinion. I am not here to convince anyone to abandon their beliefs. Nor will I argue with them to justify theirs.
However, I believe as a Christian it is my purpose to defend the reason why I believe what I believe with the intent to show others the hope I have in God.
Lastly, I learned this from Bishop T.D. Jakes:
“Before you fully lead, you must withstand controversy and conflict.
A.) Leaders tend to be controversial
B.) Leaders’ decisions create conflict
C.) Leaders are persons of commitment
D.) Leaders are guided by their character
Be COUREGEOUS and accept the leadership responsibility of being controversial. You are not POSITIONED to make everyone like you! That’s God’s job. It’s called FAVOR…and…It ain’t fair.”
(WTAL – 52 Days of Pecking Orders – Day 20)
As for me, I am a leader, not a follower. I don’t force my religion on others. I respect their beliefs. But when I am presented with an opportunity to share my faith in God, I will. A life lost should be a life celebrated. Death should not be such a travesty that we seize opportunities to capitalize, gossip, tear down, fight, hate, and judge. We all must die some day. But until we do, seize every opportunity to make a difference. Never compromise your belief. Live by what you know.
God is the way and the truth and the life. Please, let his light shine. RIP Whitney Houston.
1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”