An Open Letter to Janelle Harris and Black Girls in their 30’s 40’s and 50’s Who May Feel Like Life May Have Passed Them By

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Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed looking for some excitement, someone shared this beautiful work of the spirit, you graciously shared with the world.  A story of your sister-friend who upon reflecting of moments in her life found herself.

I am so glad you picked up the phone. We are so glad you comforted your friend and reflected openly your findings of heart-matters especially pertaining to the black sister-hood. I have been there—we have all been there. The place of reflection where we actually find ourselves.

Here is what I found, and this is another side of the coin, a consideration as we determine the final judgement for what we have actually ‘done with our life’ in our present state.

I am 39. Married twice. Divorced twice. Depressed multiple times. I own a business or two and I have closed a business or three. I preach GOD and I pray for people. I lost my fervency a few times but I gained perseverance.  I had my first child at 17. I have been homeless. I have owned homes. I have lost everything.

I have lived.

I have freaking lived. Yes, my life did not go as planned. I wonder did I even have a plan as I came from a tumultuous beginning.  However, I have beheld life. I have felt the events of brokenness and wholeness, death and birthing…

I have lived.

I have amassed what the world would call success. I have amassed grief which produced a gratefulness that cannot be understood unless you have stood under…the bridge of brokenness.  I have been broken.

I have lived.

You have lived. We have lived. Our stories of turmoil are stories of triumph. We see we are made of all things precious and gold. We can withstand the fire and come out perfection, weighty, and priceless.  Yes, we pay a price for this type of glory.  The glory to walk through pain. The glory to walk through rejection.  The glory to walk through life, and wander through the “Valley of Decision” and judge what have we done with what we have been given.

Dear Black Sister in your 30’s or 80’s, I judge your life amazing. You make me want to be a better me so I can sit at the table with you.  I look at where you have been and see how your past has ordered your future adventure—please take me with you.  Numbers are just numbers, and I believe the agelessness of your beauty is a sign and a wonder of the agelessness of your calling.

Who told you it was supposed to happen in your 20’s?

Who told you babies have to be born in your 30’s?

Who told you it was unacceptable to be married for the first time in your 40’s?

Who told you it was frowned upon to get your degree in your 50’s?

Who told you these lies?

Why have you believed them?

The elegance of your experience is what energizes the world. The juice of your life is in the journey of your life. Success is measured in increments of inspiration. Baby girl, I am inspired by your journey and your experience gives wind to my wings.

Where you are being is where we need you to be.

You have touched many lives along the way. You are a minister of hope, and your life preaches realness.

The reality is you have lived.  Your book of life will exist in the heart-library of little brown girls yet to be birthed. Your words of journey will shape the consciousness of brown boys perception of the strength of ‘black-girl magic’.

Reframe the narrative of what black success look like. Judge your journey through the perception of heaven…and hear my applause.

Girl, you have lived.


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