Over 1,000 people were in the room and eyes were on me. At 6 years old, I didn’t care about much beyond what Strawberry Shortcake was up to or what I wanted for my afternoon snack.
But I did know one thing: I loved poetry. I also loved being on stage.
After that Black History Month performance of The Negro Mother by Langston Hughes, I was hooked. I performed every chance I got!
Now I’m a lot older and a lot has changed in my life. I’m a mother. A wife. An employee. An aunt. A best friend. And hundreds of other things. But one thing has remained: I still love poetry and being on stage.
I used to compete in poetry slams and loved the rush I would get when I would win or at least place in the top two or three. But immediately following the slam I would begin to compare myself with other poets. Was I as good as they were?
Did my words flow as smoothly?
Was my stance as confident as theirs?
Even if I was the winner for the night, I still spent a lot of time wondering if I’d ever be a ‘good’ poet, a poet like the ones on Verses and Flow or Def Poetry Jam.
In Galatians 6:4-5 we learn that we are never to compare ourselves with others. No matter what! God made us unique, one of a kind. He didn’t make us to be carbon copies of others. We are called to grow our gifts in order to represent who we are in Christ Jesus. I had it all wrong before, back when I thought my gifts didn’t measure up to the gifts of others. When in reality, I’m the only 'me’ I can be.
Now I accept invitations to perform but it’s no longer about being in the hottest 'poetry spot’ or earning the biggest honorarium (although money is good too!) Instead I put my all into creating and performing what comes from my heart, so that my story and my words can possibly inspire, encourage or maybe even heal another person. I don’t even consider who performs before or after me. All I focus on is ME!
What gifts do you have? Think about it for a moment. Are you a great singer, writer, dancer or painter? Do you like to cook, organize events or visit with others? Whatever your gift is, don’t waste another day without putting it to use. Be the best 'you’ you can be! Don’t worry about how someone else does it, God blessed you with your gift for a reason: to share it with others.
Scripture: Galatians 6:4-5 MSG
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
Mama. Wife. Poet. Teacher. Maniac.