Sometimes the Dream Isn’t About You

Sometimes you have a dream/vision that transcends you and your own hopes of grandeur.  Joseph had a dream, so did Martin Luther King Jr. Your dream may help you, but the real beneficiaries are others that need a word in season to encourage them to stand upright and put one foot in front of the other to get over oppression, death, illness, failed businesses, and love lost.

Until you have experienced the death of a loved one, endured a major illness, or had your heart broken in so many pieces that no amount of glue will work, you can’t really help other heal. You can sympathize with their grief or suffering, but empathizing is hard. Your intentions may be noble and sincere, but it is different. It’s like when people say “how are you?” Most say it out of politeness. However, you get a different feeling when someone says “how are you” and they mean it. There is something that tugs at your heart to let you know this person is vested in your feelings.
After losing my dad, I learned how to comfort those who mourned because I knew what it was like to feel comfortless – as if everyone else is living their normal lives but an essential piece of yours is gone. They expect you to go back to “normal” after the funeral?! Maybe people fear that grief is contagious, so encouraging you to get over yours prevents it from jumping on them. I understood that the true heartache begins after the funeral, when American culture dictates you should be done mourning because you’ve buried your dead. The time leading up to the funeral I think your body goes on auto pilot. I remember getting up, showering, eating, and a barrage of people coming and going from my parents’ house. I retreated to my home just to have moments of quiet. That was quickly interrupted within 15 minutes by phone calls checking on me because it was “not good” for me to be alone.  If it was not good for me to be alone before the funeral, what made anyone think I would be fine after when nothing but loneliness and heartache become a constant companion. “Good morning, heartache. Good morning, heartache – sit down.” (I hear Natalie Cole singing in the background).
It is after the funeral, when the house is empty of well wishers, when everything reminds you of the person, when their absence is unnerving like a scary movie. That’s when you need someone to remind you not to cross over to the dark side. It is then you have to remember not to turn your home into a tomb that sucks the life out of you. My advice: cry when you feel it, but don’t be afraid or feel guilty for laughing or smiling. That laugh will help you get through when a bout of grief stronger than codeine overtakes you.
My father’s death taught me the art of knowing when to let someone wallow in the middle of the floor, tears so salty it stains, and when to say okay no tears today. For one day, you must cry from laughter and rediscover your smile. I learned because I had someone that experienced grief guide me through mine. “Okay Ronda. It’s been too long and you have not cried or smiled. I’m renting a bunch of old sad movies and it’s okay to say that’s why you’re crying.” I found someone that allowed me to be completely vulnerable in my grief, yet feel safe.
Whether it is the death of a loved one, love gone wrong, or a business gone bust – there is a lesson and a blessing in it for you and someone else. Finally the tie-in to the title! King David was anointed king as a teenager, but he did not ascend to the throne until he was thirty. In the time between, he learned to lead, show mercy, and humility. The story of Joseph always gives me pause. It didn’t help his cause hat he was his father’s favorite and Jacob made no secret of it with the coat of many colors. He probably should have kept his dreams to himself, especially considering it involved his elders (father and brothers) bowing to him (never a good way to make friends). What hurt my heart was the familial betrayal.  He should not have bragged about the coat or the dream, but that did not warrant being sold into slavery by your own blood. Joseph’s story is one of learning grace and humility, patience, people skills, and the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness is that virtue that seems counterintuitive. Someone said that unforgiveness is like “taking poison and hoping it hurts the person that injured you.” Forgiveness gives us power over hate.
What modern day American better illustrates the power of forgiveness than Martin Luther King Jr?! His nonviolence in the face of hate so vicious is astounding. What’s my point? Like David, Joseph, and Martin, your temporary struggle may have a greater purpose.
Lately, I have been asked about how I maintain an honest tone in my blog. First, I believe in bluntness. People can tell a fraud and it peeves them off. Second, honesty gives credibility and an authenticity that even your biggest critic and opponent cannot deny. The vulnerability of honesty is attractive. In our world of “fake it till you make it” or “name it claim it positivity” – people want authenticity. I believe in being positive, but when it hurts or is not working, I say it hurts or I am tired and frustrated. If I screw up, I own up to it. Otherwise, I am setting myself up. We love an underdog. We like Rocky even though he lost because he tried. With odds against him, he didn’t give up. As a result, the theme music to Rocky inspires all.
For my blog, books, and everything I do, I want it to be authentically Ronda! That is why the blog is called Ronda-isms. My name is attached so I to be true to myself. My dream chasing is more than me. It is meant to inspire others. It gives me pleasure when I get an email or call that a post touched someone. I would love for the blog and writing to be my full-time gig. However, I don’t want becoming a published author to change the essence of me. It simply offers me a bigger platform to reach others and have them learn from my Good Bad & Ugly. If that becomes my full-time gig, then that is not a job – it is my joy!
2013 brought love in my life only because I was willing to be vulnerable and honest. I did not go looking for love. Actually, I almost messed it up – remember the post “That Thing Called Love?” Fortunately, like the lyrics to Chrisette Michele’s  “Love Won’t Leave Me Out” – he did not leave me but overwhelmed with more love.
Now I know how to love somebody
I’ve learned love is out there for me
I know love there’s no way that love forgot
Love won’t leave me out

All of my experiences gave me more substance for my three books. It made me a better writer, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. Ultimately, my journey is not about me. It’s about the people I help along the way. That was my father’s legacy. He was not famous or a person of power, but he influenced the lives of many. At his funeral, neighbors took their kids out of school to pay their respect. I saw grown men, I remember as annoying little boys, weep because one man decided to take time and teach them something (fixing a car, bike, carpentry). After his death, the homeless would stop by my mom’s house to see if she was okay. They even helped us move when she sold the house. Why? Because my dad took time to talk to them. My father had a strong personality and was a man’s man. You knew exactly where you stood with him and if there was any confusion he told you. Whether people liked him (most did) or didn’t, they all respected him. I never knew how one regular person could affect others until his death.
It was humbling because despite his flaws, my dad left me a legacy. I am my father’s daughter in many ways. Maybe my blog is my way of continuing the legacy of helping others. It’s not about me in the end. I think the genius of the greats, like Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and Mandela, is that they quickly realized the dream was bigger than them and accepted the consequences (positive and negative).
Stay encouraged. Be focused. Be forgiving remembering to be “wise as a serpent but harmless as a dove.” We are all in need of someone’s forgiveness at some point in our lives. As we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., show mercy and kindness. Every year about this time, I love to read Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham.” Not only was he a great orator, but his writing leaves me breathless. Below are excerpts from the letter. Enjoy.
Happy Birthday Dr King!
Ronda Lee
Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Ronda is an attorney, writer, and entrepreneur. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Originally from Chicago, she has lived in Los Angeles and New York. She loves to travel and is passionate about education equity, especially for first generation college students.