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blog post -black in America

Growing up, I vividly remember having a big heart for life and for people. I wanted to connect with people and get along with others.

I was a different kind of kid. I didn’t really get along or connect too well with most of the kids I went to school with. I didn’t really enjoy all too much the music they enjoyed. I didn’t watch the same stuff on TV. I was not into sports at all.

I was a book reading, story writing, comic book collecting, cartoon drawing, science obsessed, TV news watching boy with an imagination that was more active than a volcano.

I could imagine that if I had not spent half of my boyhood daydreaming and drawing cartoons or writing I would’ve lost my mind from all of the bullying and the experiences of being a social outcast.

From elementary to college, I was often accused of “acting white” and my racial identity was constantly being challenged because of what was considered the social norm for a black male.

It was the beginning of war on my heart and mind.

When Bullying Mutates To Hate

On the surface, I didn’t think I had an issue with race, or even with my identity as a black man in America, that is until things started coming up in my 20s.

I thought I had the issue of race straight in my life. I didn’t have an issue with white people, but, I did have an issue with my own people.

I always felt completely unaccepted by people from my own community. Often ostracized and humiliated before my peers, I came to the conclusion early on in life that when it came to being yourself, you couldn’t be you and be black at the same time.

To be black did not mean being Kendall Lyons. It meant being something other than.

For a long time, and most people don’t know this about me, I held a kind of disdain and hatred for my own people and for myself. The years of bullying mutated my view of race and black America into something ugly, bitter and void of compassion.

The kind of self-hatred I struggled with also turned into classism.

I saw myself better than people who were “ghetto.” They were the loud, obnoxious “cool” crowd who thought they could get whatever they wanted through displays of blissful-like ignorance and prideful arrogance. This was the best classification for the people who treated me terribly.

Ironically, I gained more acceptance from people who didn’t look like me. I was considered unique, charming, different and someone that was good! They wanted exactly what I wanted, to be accepted and to accept others and treat them as the way they desired to be treated.

The Cause

I wouldn’t confront the issue of racism and prejudice and classism until a little after college. I was working for a major bank at the time and it was there I met an older black man.

We quickly became friends and he later would be a mentor. I thank God for placing him in my life. He actually paid attention to what I was saying and sharing about my life. He was genuinely interested in who I was as a person.

He asked about my love for cartoons and comics. He asked about my Faith in the Lord. He shared his relationship with God and Christ Jesus with me.

He actually cared about me and I was not judged.

Then, he encouraged me to consider the plight and the pain and the poor treatment of black Americans.

Yes, the black kids who did bully and talk about me throughout school, as my mentor and friend said, might have been kids who just didn’t understand. In fact, they might have been kids who have never been exposed to the things that I was exposed too…music, culture, art and the list could go on.

Because they’ve never seen someone like me before, I was a prime target for teasing and taunting.

But why did I not acknowledge those facts so quickly? What made me so reluctant about accepting that?

Because it felt like the bullies won if I chose to do so!

I didn’t want to be a perpetual loser of a war that was still going on inside of me. It felt like…since I couldn’t fight them on the playground of boyhood, I could win on the battleground of manhood.

Looking back, that was foolish. I would’ve merely destroyed myself.

I thought like that because I was hurting. I was angry.

I still struggled with self-esteem and self-confidence from those days. I struggled for a while to forgive and move on.

The Cure

A few years after college, a few issues had come up to the surface in my life that I knew couldn’t be ignored any longer.

I met a Christian counselor in Dallas, Texas to talk about my identity and to talk about the issues I dealt with. He was a black man who not only understood where I was coming from but also got to know my story just like my mentor and friend did.

As time went on, I got a better understanding about the condition of black America and the systemic racism and prejudice that placed us in less than decent conditions throughout multiple American institutions.

During the time I was praying and asking the Lord to walk me through this issue, to heal the broken places in my heart regarding the issue of race and identity. Mainly because I would find myself getting angry and frustrated with the obvious racism and prejudice that I observed. And yet, wanted to believe that there were surely other explanations to the moments that I saw unfold whether it was on TV or even in person.

The Lord said to me, “I couldn’t claim to love God and hate my brother.”

It was the beginning of conviction, but, it was also the beginning of healing. The Lord knew that a lot of unjust and cruel things were done to me and towards me. Jesus wanted access to that part of my heart, but, I also had a responsibility as a believer.

I had to want to change. I had to repent and never, ever return to that dark space in life.

Because of the change in my life,

I’ve also stopped telling people that bullies will someday get theirs. The truth is, though, they might not.

I wanted to believe that those who bullied were going to receive some kind of major punishment in life. They would get pay back for the things they did.

It was my own little piece of solace to remind me that somewhere, somehow, there was justice for me in my time of trouble and need.

But, I learned that my real victory over bullying came from Jesus…to live and love like Him regardless of what people say and think. The real victory in Christ over bullying and other issues took the place of what was originally my hope for the bullies and enemies in my life to get their punishment.

Victory in Christ removed the necessity for me to have vindication.

The Way I See It Now

It has been a long time since I believed and thought the way I used too. I am still in the growing and maturing process as it relates to my identity in Christ and as it relates to who I am as a person.

My Pastor preached on Romans 12:14-21, and verse 21 stuck out to me:

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

In some ways, I can see how someone can be driven to a kind of hatred that it leads them to believe they are either justified or threatened.

And yet, whether you are Christian or not, there’s still no excuse.

Once we release our just or unjustified hatred towards one another and learn to love one another even to the depths of our imperfections can we really experience true freedom.

As for me, I’ll take the road less traveled, the narrow way, the freedom and victory that is in Jesus. It is far better for me to do that than to try and protect my heart on my own. And if I am called to suffer, at least I know its real love that’s in place for me to do so…genuinely.

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Making Investments

August 23, 2016

making investments

I love talking with my friend and mentor. He’s much older than me and is full of wisdom.

He has been like a Father to me, encouraging me and sharing with me wisdom that he hopes that will make me go further ahead than what I dream and even further than him.

In one of our most recent discussions, he spoke to me about making sure I keep making investments in my life. He was pretty blunt with me!

“I had to change!” he said. “I couldn’t wait on my circumstances to change.”

Something boyish rose up within me. Something unsettlingly immature. A lot of men know what I’m talking about here…the feeling of the inner boy exclaiming, “no…I shouldn’t change! Why should I! Shouldn’t things just work the way they should! This is unfair! Why should I put in extra work!? I paid my dues!”

Looking back, it was the condition of my head and heart. But my mentor, with grace and mercy, let me know what the reality of it all is. We we have talked for years about the old thoughts and mindsets I used to have…the woundings from my boyhood and the responsibilities of manhood…everything that I needed to understand to be all that God created me to be! That helped…believe me!

Now, I was in advanced classes as I sat with my mentor and gained insight that years ago when we met I wouldn’t have been ready for.

If I want change in my life…real change…changes in my life spiritually, mentally, physically, financially….I would need to make investments. I would have to make the time. I would have to make…(gulps the inner boy)…sacrifices!

I had to let go of the notion that I “paid my dues” and that I was owed something. That was hard, because it seemed like I was waving the white flag to those who claim that others are “entitled” when in fact some claim it under the guise of self-proclaimed humility.

I also had to let go of the idea that “it was too much!” My friend told me, “you have everything you need!” He was right. It was time to simply grow up. It was time to make investments…and double up into the ones I have already made…into what mattered to me the most.

Faith.

Relationships.

Career.

Finance.

Entrepreneurship.

Writing

Cartooning.

I could only imagine what your list might be!

When you sacrifice and decide to change, from the way you think to the way you act and react, you began to approach things from a different perspective.

blog post 3

Years ago, I answered the call from the Lord to do ministry, writing and cartooning. I’m beginning to see, through this blog and through my interaction with people, how all of those 3 can actually exist together.

I’m sure they can exist in other ways, but, I am merely learning how over time.

I have always had an affinity, dare I say it, passion for cartoons and have always expressed the influence it has had in my life. Reading comics, watching cartoons and doodling became as much of a staple for me as church on Sunday morning. It was more than just “something I do,” it was a part of my life in a way that actually mattered.

What I hope happens is that as I share my passions you’re inspired too. As I tell my story…the story of a the boy who became a man and defeated all odds…the man of faith who tries to daily live for Jesus in a really real way…the geek that loves to geek out over the most peculiar things…..that you enjoy the journey.

After all, we only have one life, and I think we tend to speed past it just to get to an end when in fact the journey is the most important part of the entire experience.

Hmm…that sounds like another blog post right there!

 Those Days!

Today was one of those days! The deep desire to write today rose up and I just couldn’t help myself. I had to say something that would be meaningful! but what!?

Over the past few weeks, I have had intense highs and am dealing with some valley struggles. And yet, I know everything is going to be fine and okay.

It is like God has been whispering into my ear, telling me, “keep going” and “I’m with you” and “I put this in you…go forward.”

And yet, my circumstances sometimes seem to be just as loud as the conversation.

But, perhaps that’s the point. It is the decision to trust God…the decision to step forward…the decision at that break neck moment when the urge to write kicks in but the feeling of utter false failure and humiliation kicks in to try and keep you from being all that you are supposed to be.

Then again, it is the moment that you have the urge to do something that you really, truly enjoy and feel called too, and you make that decision right away to just do it. Why!? Because letting that moment pass my literally mean missing the opportunity to help and bless someone else!

I have people in my life who really trust me, love me and believe in me that helps make it worth while. The people that I am referring to have been my supporters and biggest fans from the beginning. It is all the more a good reason for me to not quite writing and blogging.

Now What!?

Lately, I have really been considering what I need to do to this blog site. The obvious answer is to keep writing. The other obvious answer is to keep writing about the things that I’m passionate about…and…share with all of you.

I think more than half of the reason I actually stopped writing for a period is because I actually forgot to share what was important:  My life and how much it has changed because of Faith…people….challenges….from childhood to adulthood.

With that, I am back and ready to put in the extra effort, and, even throw in a couple of sketches here and there.