I recently heard Bishop T.D. Jakes say, “I’ve never seen so many tired young people in my life.20.30, and can hardly get out of bed.”  His statement is sad, but true, at least from my personal experience.  I’ve met young men and women who are weary when they go to bed and exhausted when they wake up.  I, myself, have gone through seasons of my life in which I was just mentally, emotionally and physically drained.  While I believe deteriorating diets and sedentary lifestyles play a big part in this unusual wave of fatigue, I think the mental stress, drain and trauma of our day also plays a part.  As co-founder of Living Word, I have had the privilege to counsel many women.  Some of the things I have discovered in my role have shocked me.  Since this is “Black History Month”, I want to share some of the things I’ve discovered counseling black women.  Most of the black women in church have been sexually molested as children and/or young adults.  A! nd as if that trauma isn’t devastating enough, many are still keeping the abuse a secret. Some of those who have mustered up the courage to no longer suffer in silence, have exchanged shame for bitterness when their mother, father or guardian dismissed or minimized their trauma.  Most of the women have, at one time in their life, been abandoned by one parent, and in some cases, both parents.  Sixty percent of marriages are ending, not in death as was promised, but in divorce court.  Every year the number of black female headed households increases so numerous women are bearing the primary responsibility of raising their children.   There are more women in the work place than ever before and many are frustrated because they are being paid 60% of what their male counterparts are being paid and for black women, that percentage can be even lower.  Just reading all of this is draining so imagine living it.  This is why there are so many exhausted young people.  Every day, black women are battling for their sanity and fighting for their survival.  They wake up tired thinking about the eminent battle that lay ahead as the day unfolds and they go to bed weary from fighting all day.  Fighting haunting memories, parasitic family members, racism (both subtle and blatant), unappreciative supervisors; fighting to hold on to allusive dreams, all while preparing a next generation of people.  Are these women doomed?  Are they hopeless?  I answer these questions with an unequivocal, unwavering, “NO!”  How can I be so certain?  Because we have a history.  America has labeled it “Black History”, I simply call it “Hope” because to understand this history, one can remain nothing but hopeful.  We come from a lineage of strong, African women.  Women who were ripped from their families in Africa, laid in a ship, one on top of the other, like mere cargo and forced to endure long spans of time rocking on the waves.all the while, the stench of rotting flesh and feces hovering in th! e air.  These women were brought to a country and introduced to a language with which they were unfamiliar.  They were forced to stand on platforms where they would be groped and inspected like cattle.  They were sold to plantations where they were raped at whim, worked to complete exhaustion and many times, death.  Their children were taken from their arms, stripped from the warmth of their love and sold to far away places- often, never to be seen again.  Yet, enduring shame, degradation, suffering and the depravity of others, these women did not surrender to their circumstances.  Instead, they drew strength from them and became leaders, writers (Phyllis Wheatley), revolutionaries for freedom (Harriet Tubman), orators (Sojourner Truth), educators and eventually, business owners (Madame C.J. Walker).  These women evolved and carried a nation on their shoulders.  During the era of Jim Crow, they spoke life into their men when the pressures of life caused them to contemplate givin! g up.  They kept countries prospering from their labor, families from falling apart and a culture from dying.  These women are our ancestors.  They came before us and with their blood, sweat and tears, paved a better road for us to tread.  They are not dead.  For, they live on in us.  They have passed the torch to us and each time I read a history book, I can hear them whispering, “Lift the torch, carry it high and carry it long, until your daughters are equipped and empowered to receive it”.  I can hear them whisper, “I know you’re tired.  I know life is difficult sometimes, but faint not!”  While it is true that we must not live in the past, we must reflect back sometimes to move forward.  In my reflections, I have grasped a hope that cannot be squelched.  I want every black woman who has been abused, abandoned, underappreciated, overlooked, rejected, traumatized.broken, to know from whose loins they have come.  I want them to know that we are not doomed and we are not hopeless, we! are strong; we are jewels in the crown of our culture.  And as such, we can overcome anything.  As long as there is life in our bodies, there will always be hope.  Reflect back on the grace and fortitude that we have inherited.  Look to our lineage and you will find the vitality to prepare a legacy.

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