Deception

Pop-Up Sermon: Stop Crippling People

Stressful Practices

(Photo Credit: Odyssey)

Although a true commitment to helping people is commendable, don’t become their crutch—don’t cripple them. At some point, you have to allow them to do things on their own. Yes, show them how it’s done, and then leave them to demonstrate that they want to put your teaching into practice. If you fail to end an unhealthy practice of attempting to solve everyone’s problems, or fail to discontinue doing everything they don’t want to or cannot do, then you’re placing yourself on a path to experiencing serious mental health issues (if you don’t already have them).

When will people ever grow if you never give them an opportunity?

Without a change of these toxic practices, people will take advantage of you—and you may never recognize it. You will inevitably destroy your body by trying to be a Superman or Superwoman for everyone. Let me take a moment to unsettle you: you’re really not a Superman or Superwoman—you’re really a “do-boy” or “do-girl,” meaning you’re getting used, hoodwinked, bamboozled.

Ameliorate the quality of your life by teaching people how to execute tasks, and then let them do the work. Learn to be more than a crutch for others.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Overcoming Undercover Enemies

Backstabber

(Photo Credit: Money Matters 101)

Your greatest enemies may not be the folks you think: they may be the people you least think.  It’s vital for you to keep your eyes and ears tuned to what’s going on around you. By doing this, you can become more aware of things that can be transpiring behind your back.  Unfortunately, too many people hang around individuals who they think support them, but behind-the-scenes they’re stabbing them in the back.  Yes, folks will laugh with you on the phone and when you hang out, but that does not mean they really like you. They may be using their ability to stay in close connection with you to plan and execute their evil hidden agendas.

Watch out for those people who are always talking about someone to you; chances are they’re talking about you with someone else.

We often don’t engage in enough careful thought about the people in our lives.  Those people you allow in your lives can be some of the very individuals causing you to experience the most vexing problems.  From my experience with people who have been my undercover enemies, I can tell you that I didn’t take serious the warning signs they might be or become my enemies.  While I placed trust in them and devoted significant time to them, I failed to recognize the impact their selfishness and low self-esteem would have on me.  When you love someone, a natural proclivity to accept all that comes with him or her surfaces.  I Peter 1:8 informs us that “love covers a multitude of sins.”  When you have true love for someone, it will, indeed, cover a multitude of  his or her sins.  What you have to do, however, is not allow your love for people to keep you in a state of blindness.

When people don’t really care for you, they will do some direct and subtle things to you.  It’s your job to look for those direct and subtle things.  The subtle things can be the most challenging to detect, however.  What I have found to be one of the most useful ways to determine if someone close to me or someone I spend a considerable amount of time with is really against me is to have honest conversations with him or her about our relationship.  I’ve learned to ask the following questions and more: What do you like most about me? Why do you enjoy spending time with me?  What do you dislike most about me?  What’s one quality you adore most about the person you admire most?  When you ask the aforementioned questions and more, observe any selfishness you see in the responses and any low self-esteem that could ultimately cause problems in your relationship.  Look for any uneasiness the person has speaking about the relationship you share.

If you talk to a person long enough, he or she will tell you everything.

Again, I’ve had some enemies I was unable to identify, but I’ve provided you with ways to recognize your own undercover enemies.  Although you might not want to hear it, you should watch out everyone; nothing’s wrong with being too careful.  Even your closest friends and family members may allow themselves to be used by the forces of evil.

What do you do now that you’ve identified your undercover enemies?  Don’t let them know you know who they really are.  Discontinue hanging out with them and talking to them on the phone.  Let the relationship die a natural death.  Most of your undercover enemies are arrogant enough to think you’ll never discover who they really are, and they will think they hold a certain power over you with this “secret knowledge.”  You will, however, be the one with the real knowledge and power.  You will have removed their disguises and they will not even know it, and you will have the power to turn their evil plans upside down—they’ll never see it coming!

What are some of the problems you struggle with?  Share those problems with me.  We may be able to arrive at some solutions together.  It’s a good thing to converse with people who are genuinely committed to helping you solve your problems.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

There’s Nothing Special About Phony People

When you are afraid to be who you are and never show people the real you, there’s nothing special about you.  Unfortunately, phony people try to pretend like they are living happy lives, and many of them want you to envy their false identities.  What’s to envy about living a phony life?  A life that’s not grounded in truth is a life that’s not worth living.  Phony people never have an opportunity to rest because they always have to put on a performance for an audience—that has to be an exhausting way to live.  What’s to envy about never being able to just relax and enjoy being yourself?  You shouldn’t count on people not discovering who you really are inevitably.

Although many people are fooled by the falsehoods of phony people, there are many people who can see right through those falsehoods.  What’s going to happen when there are moments that arrive in the future that don’t give you an opportunity to put on your falsehoods as quickly as one can put on makeup?  When you live a life that is a lie, you are not qualified and prepared to live the type of life you are currently trying to live.  When you are living a life that hides who you really are, the longer you live this type of life the deeper you move yourself into getting exposed in such an embarrassing way that you may never be able to recover from the shame associated with being exposed.

Far too often, individuals living a phony life assume that people who are living authentic lives are trying to expose them and hurt them intentionally.  Phony people will often assume that things people say and write are about them.  This results largely from the reality that phony people are never in a safe place, considering they always have to be concerned with being exposed.  What phony people need to realize is they shouldn’t feel shame about the things that they are attempting to cover up.  The things you are trying to conceal are things that are a part of you.  Have enough love for yourself to love all of the parts of your comprehensive composition.

In no way does this article advocate for people to tell everything about themselves to everyone—that would be unwise.  What this article does contend is you should not get up every morning having to plan out how you’re going to hide the aspects of your live you don’t want people to know about.  Phony people have to think about how they’re going to hide who they really are each morning even before they are able to think about taking a shower and brushing their teeth.  Now, why would someone want to be envious and jealous of this type of life that phony people live?

Dear phony people, you’re living a miserable life and no one wants to live a miserable life, so stop thinking that people are envious and jealous of you.  Envious and jealous of you for what reason or reasons?

Even when it may seem that you can gain a competitive edge by not being who you really are, resist this temptation.  Make up in your mind that you’re going to be yourself no matter what other people think.  You will have an easier life when you decide to be who you naturally are.  Live the life you want to live and not the life you feel you need to live to please other people.  When you resolve to be who you are, say what you want to say, and do what you want to do, you are going to receive some serious criticism and resistance.  Don’t let this criticism and resistance keep you from enjoying who you genuinely are.  Live free.  Be yourself.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Black Men Masquerading: Part 1

One thing that gets my blood boiling almost more than anything else is Black men who are afraid to be themselves. In general, I really dislike when any individual is afraid to be himself or herself. I am, however, concentrating on the Black male in this piece. People who are afraid and/or unwilling to be themselves suffer from low self-esteem or problems with their self-esteem. In Black Skins, White Masks, Frantz Fanon communicates the provenance of the serious problems with Black masculinity, originating from the humiliating and barbaric treatment of Black men during slavery. Although I still see some of the impact that the legacy of slavery has on Black masculinity, I have a news flash for you Black men: slavery is over! No longer should you be allowing the problems that racist White slave owners created for Black masculinity to affect your insecurities about your sexuality in the postmodern epoch.

Many Black men have a difficult time admitting that they are gay or bisexual because of the high expectations of the socially conservative Black community. On matters of sexuality, I would have to say that the Black community is ultra-conservative. Many Black men have been reared in families that are fervently Christian and have been taught that being gay is a nasty and sinful thing. The Black community places such unrealistic expectations on Black men’s masculinity because it expects them to be the hypermasculine mandingo that racist slave-owning White women and men created. It’s unrealistic for a man to be hypermasculine but great pressure within and outside of the Black community demands that the Black man be hypermasculine.

Unfortunately, too many Black men have adopted and embraced the hypermasculine expectations that have been placed on them. This has led to many Black men being thugs (or trying to pose as thugs), the academic underachievement of many Black men, many being imprisoned, many getting HIV/AIDs, significant Black male poverty, high drug use, great domestic violence, increased gang membership, and I could go on and on. Too many Black males have not resisted the negative expectations placed on them by a society that has not wanted them to succeed. Many Black men have not taken the time to seriously consider their sexuality or sexualities. For example, many Black men who strive to be perceived as “pimps” have not given themselves an opportunity to have a long-lasting and meaningful relationship with a woman.

Regrettably, the Black Church has not been there to help Black men to develop a healthy sexuality. The Black Church has proffered too simplistic responses to the needs of men and their sexuality. Basically, the Black Church has simply told Black men not to be gay, get married, don’t fornicate, don’t masturbate, don’t look at pornography, be the head of their households, and don’t beat their wives. Black male sexuality, however, requires much more than that. The Black Church has simply been unwilling to deal with sexuality in a sophisticated, in-depth, and educated way. Many Black preachers are still simply spitting rhymes instead of nurturing, teaching, and cultivating a healthy Black male sexuality, a sexuality that resists the hypermasculinity that has been engendered to destroy Black men.

Many Black women are also responsible for Black men having to take on identities that are truly not authentic. Many Black women have placed unrealistic expectations on Black men: they want them to be both successful thugs and successful scholars—it’s simply not possible! One of the identities is going to cause the other to fail. Many Black women will say that they want a man who can take care of them, but by selecting a thug they often just get a baby and a baby’s daddy who is in prison. Many Black women think that the Black man who is serious about his education is gay; thus, not allowing him to be the “thug” they desire him to be. When a Black man dresses professionally and does not “bust slack,” then many Black women think he is gay—they will say, “His gay self—with them tight pants on.” Wake up you dummies, this is the type of man who can provide you with the home, economic stability, and quality family you long for.

The man busting slack is a man headed to prison, and this is the type of man you should be more concerned with being gay because his busting slack represents prison culture. He is advertising that his booty is available, and without a doubt his booty will be available when he gets to prison and has a ton of men waiting to get inside of that booty. Now, tell me, how much of a thug is he now? If you would open your eyes you will see that many of the Black men who are busting slack are the main ones giving you sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Be more sophisticated about how you perceive Black men—we are more complex than you make us out to be.

To you Black men who know you are gay but elect to have sex with women just to cover up your homosexuality, be real with yourself and stop doing this. I am not saying that you have to go ahead and admit to the world that you are gay, but stop commodifying and reifying women as your trophies to cover up the reality that you are afraid to be who you are. Many Black men are married to women, dating women, and having sex with women just because they are afraid of what their families and friends are going to think about them if they don’t have a woman or women in their lives who they are sexually involved with. I often see Black men, whether they are pretending not to be gay or not, denying themselves of the lives they want to live because they feel obligated to be with women who they are really not interested in being with sexually. Many Black men have devoted their lives to proving how masculine they are by having sex with so many women, but they are denying themselves of who they really want to be: simply themselves.

In no way is this article written to try to suggest that all men are gay or bisexual, but what it does suggest is many Black men are denying themselves the opportunity to simply be themselves because of their low self-esteem or problems with their self-esteem. I have resolved to pen a series of on this topic, “Black Men Masquerading,” to address the aforementioned issues and others in a little more depth. I believe that addressing the various ways in which many Black men masquerade—not just with their sexuality—is important to ameliorating the progression of Black men in the postmodern moment. As always, I hope that there is something I have said in this article and in the future articles that will be written during this series that will unsettle, unnerve, and unhouse you. More importantly, I hope this article and this series will help at least one person. If I am able to help at least one person, then I feel like I have done my job.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison