Before I begin to electronically indict, may all readers especially my friends on the Ways & Means Committee, Welfare Wesley, the Barbershop clan, Genius, et al, kindly permit me to express my stance regarding anything that I have ever written about in this community newspaper.
My goal has never been to make up anyone’s mind, but to open minds and to make the agony of the decision-making process so intense that the reader can only find relief by thinking… So here goes.
Truth be told and known, Black folks lead the nation in church-going, praise-dancing, shouting, call-and-response, and meeting and greeting… We like to “get our church on” and feel good while we are there. We do our holy dances, and run down the aisles to lay our money at the feet of preachers and ‘screechers’ some of who “anoint” it by doing holy things on it, before they spend it.
During a 2 to 3-hour period on Sundays, Black churchgoers display their finest clothing, which in many cases pretentiously shrouds our misery, pain, anger, contempt, double-lives, and any number of issues we face during the other six days of the week.
For some, in fact a good majority of us, church service is a release, an ecstatic elixir for what ails us—at least for a few hours. It serves as a time for us to exchange pleasantries with others: How are you this morning Sister or Brother?
Fine! Just fine! is the usual reply, despite knowing all along that we are stressed out about something. Within the church community many of us do not share our problems or any of our innermost feelings with each other. In fact, in most cases we do not even let the preacher be privy, just in case.
We have all the sayings down pat.
“Too anointed to be disappointed; God is good all the time, and all the time God is good (This one is quite true); and “I’m too blessed to be stressed,” just to name a few. But what is really behind the masks that we wear? What is beneath the fine clothes and the forced smiles?
One would think that Black church folks would be the most content seeing that many of us say we are Sanctified and Holy Ghost baptized. But every day many of us prove that we are not content, we are not happy, we are not satisfied, and we are far from being “too blessed to be stressed.” Rather, we are really “too stressed to be blessed.”
The vast majority of our lives is spent dealing with financial issues in the form of working a job, with all the overtime we can get, trying to figure out how to pay our bills when we end up every 30 days with more month than money, and studying numerology in an effort to hit the “Lootery,” better known as the lottery.
We are stressed out about that car we bought that we could not afford or that house we purchased just to impress the Joneses. We are angry because our husband, wife, partner, lover, paid too much for a pair of shoes, designer jeans, or a big flat screen TV. We argue about whose money it is, who earned it, and who will spend it. And to make matters worse we go on shopping binges to get even, spending money we don’t have, buying something we don’t need to impress someone who doesn’t care.
More stress, but that’s alright, we can get a recharge at church, right? We get paid on Friday, spend it on Saturday, go to church on Sunday and fall down on our knees to pray: Lord, have mercy on me. Just like the song, Stormy Monday Blues by B.B King.
Economic stress, in addition to all the other stressors in our lives, can cause us to miss out on our blessings, thus, too often we are just the opposite of the cute saying, “Too blessed to be stressed.”
We are indeed blessed each day we are allowed to live, but we take that for granted, and the rest of the day is shot because we failed to acknowledge that all-important blessing. Each morning we immediately allow stress to engulf us, we wallow in it and give in to its sinister motives. All we know is “Gotta make that money!” “Gotta get paid! We have already been blessed, but we are too busy acknowledging our stress to recognize our blessing.
According to statistics Black folks earn more than $1 million annually. Where is it? Are we too stressed to be good stewards of that blessing? Anything someone else makes, we buy it, and we are usually the first. Is that good stewardship of our financial blessings? We fail to see our blessings because we are blinded by the stress to obtain more things.
Our problem is that we give away our financial blessings in exchange for stuff other folks make, thereby denying ourselves the greater benefit of our financial blessings…
I have a suggestion to make to the pastors of black and white churches alike, but especially the ones with a high percentage of Black worshippers. A very practical agenda for Black churches should include stewardship seminars, forums for members who have their own businesses and for those who may want to become entrepreneurs, and the church leaders should always do everything they can to empower the members collectively.
Being too stressed to be blessed is a sad state of affairs for anyone, especially Black folks. I know we are the most stressed people in this country, but it does not have to stay that way. By implementing some very practical economic strategies we can start telling the truth when we say, I am too blessed to be stressed.
Aleuta—- The struggle continues.