When God Says No

   Photo by  Jason Betz  on  Unsplash
Photo by Jason Betz  on Unsplash

I’m a writer. I freelance and I’m working on a book series. So, I hear the word no a lot. Like, a lot. I even have a folder in my email full of nos from book agents, job opportunities and pitches to editors. It seems cryptic doesn’t it? Who wants to relive their failures over and over again? I don’t. But it does fuel me. It’s a reminder of where I’ve come from and where I’m headed. 

Last week marked three months of unemployment. It doesn’t even feel like it’s been that long. I didn’t realize it until a coworker posted about it on Facebook. Then this sinking feeling set in. Like, damn. Here I am, again

If nothing else, the last two years have tested my faith and brought me closer to God in ways that would not have happened otherwise. When you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, like no one understands what you’re going through or even cares, God does. He’s always there, He’s always listening. 

This time around when I’ve been at my worst, I’ve cried out to Him. “Lord, what are you doing?” or “What am I supposed to learn from this?” or my favorite as of late “What is your plan? Show me your plan, order my steps.” 

Over the last three months there have been some opportunities that felt perfect. Ones that I knew I was going to get, but then I didn’t get them. As I write this, I have about 20 days to figure it out. Twenty days until my lease is up and I have to move back home. 

Last week, I read a three-day devotional titled When God Says No. It was just what I needed. Growing up in church, I was always taught that God doesn’t say no. He either says yes, or, I have something better. That brought me comfort. It still does. Every time I get a no, I believe it’s because God has something better planned. And if an opportunity that seems so perfect wasn’t right for me, that means He’s really got something amazing up His sleeve. He even says so in Ephesians 3:20:

“God has more in store for you than you can even imagine.”

And He does have something amazing planned. For me, for my family, even for you reader. Even if you don’t believe in Him or haven’t opened your Bible in weeks, months, years, He is still working on your behalf. What’s amazing about God is that He doesn’t hold grudges. He doesn’t hold our failures against us. He continues to work on our behalf. 

Growing up, when my dad told me to do something I didn’t want to I’d ask why. His response would almost always be “it builds character.” I don’t even think I knew what he meant at the time, but I knew it was a battle I couldn’t win. So, I’d complete whatever task was asked of me and move on. 

Over the last few months I’ve asked my heavenly Father why I have to go down this path. Why whatever He’s trying to teach me had to happen this way. As I read day one of the aforementioned devotion, I got an answer: 

   Romans 3:3-5, Amplified Bible
Romans 3:3-5, Amplified Bible

There’s that word again. Character. 

In my short 24 years of life, every no, every denial that felt like the end has always really just been the beginning of something great. It’s hard to see when the sky is so dark and the fog so thick that you can barely see to take the next step. But that’s what faith is. 

I’m writing this knowing that I have no idea what happens next. I don’t know what God has in store for me. But I know it’s great. This waiting, this heartache, is preparing me for something better. 

I want to close with a short story. On Saturday, as I wrapped up my workout a song from my god-fathers wedding playlist came on shuffle. It immediately brought me to tears. The song has a message of encouragement, of holding on and pressing forward even when you want to give up. It says that there is a master plan in motion being set by our creator. And what He has for you friend, is really going to blow your mind. 

So, if your find yourself in a slow season. A time of depression, unhappiness or failure. It’s okay. Know that you’re not alone. Know that you are valid in how you feel. But please, keep going. I promise you, the best is yet to come. 

-BK


There is power in prayer. If you’d like me, or anyone who may be reading this to pray for you, leave a note in the comments and we will lift you up in prayer. If you don’t want it to be public, you can email me, or DM me on Twitter. You’ve got this!

The Weight of the N-Word

Originally published March 21, 2016.

I grew up privileged. I was raised in a suburb of Indianapolis called Fishers, which has been voted one of the countries safest cities multiple times.

Although I’ve always lived in Fishers, I attended a private school in Indianapolis that housed grades K-8 before trekking out to the suburbs for high school. Even though my high school education was free, I still was fortunate enough to attend one of the best high schools in the state. That was the first time I was surrounded by white people.

My first month there was truly a culture shock. After being in racially diverse classes for the first 14 or so years of my life, I was one of maybe two or three black students taking AP and honors courses. I hated it. I wanted to be in classes where I fit in, where teachers didn’t talk to me like I was stupid and my peers didn’t assume that I didn’t understand the material.

My entire freshman year and throughout my high school career, I felt like I had to choose between being an “oreo” (black on the outside, white on the inside) and being black. I chose to be an Oreo, (I now know there are many ways to be black) but at the time I felt like I had no choice. Especially if I wanted to be accepted into the courses I was trying to take. So I separated myself from other black people. In doing so, I spent much of my four years hating everything that I felt made me black.

In those four years, I let a lot of stuff slide, but the thing I regret the most is letting people who were not black use the n-word.

The word is rooted in hate. It has since been reclaimed by the people it was once used against and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s dope that we’ve taken a word and made it a part of our culture. It no longer defines us in the negative way that it used to. My gripe with white people and their use of the word, in high school and still to this day, is the strong desire they have to say the word and the equally strong desire they have to separate themselves from “those types of people.”

In 2016, 58-year-old Gregory Gunn, a black man, was racially profiled and killed by Aaron Smith, a white police officer of Montgomery Alabama. Gunn’s only crime was walking while black. It’s unbelievable. Equally unbelievable is the radio silence from my white peers in instances such as these. The same people that use the n-word consistently in my presence (and on social media) have nothing to say about the consistent slaughtering of black lives that has been happening.

I have a problem with that. You see, when you choose to say the n-word, you’re choosing to accept all the baggage and history that comes with that word. You’re saying that you understand that blacks are systemically oppressed and that the problem isn’t black on black crime or a lack of education, but that this country was quite literally built by us, but not for us. You’re saying that you understand racism is institutionalized and goes so much deeper than a white kid not wanting to play with a black kid during recess. It’s not a word that is exchangeable with ‘homie’ or ‘friend.’ It’s deeper than that.

My only problem with this word is those who use it freely and don’t get what it means. You see, you can’t use the n-word and then say black lives don’t matter, you can’t use the n-word and then not stand up for your black friends when you see something unjust happening to them. You cannot use the n-word openly on Twitter and then have nothing to say when 12-year-old Tamir Rice18-year-old Mike Brown and too many others to name are getting killed every week in our country for being black.

James Baldwin once said,“To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” Well, here I am, 6 years removed from high school and furious. I am furious that I never spoke up and that I let that hate speech slide. That’s why I’m speaking up now. I’m furious that I worry about my boyfriend walking home alone at night. I’m furious that every day it seems like another black life is lost to police brutality and racism.

I’m upset, I’m pissed off and I am tired. Because all I’ve ever done is live; and somehow in America, living while black is punishable by death.

-BK


How do you feel about the N-word? Have you reclaimed it among your group of friends, or do you prefer not to say it? Tell me why below and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for more unpopular opinions.

This post originally appeared on Ebony.com.

Book Review: Year of Yes

I set out to read 12 books this year. That’s one a month. I felt pretty good about it too. I knew I could do it. I’ve read two and half books. Yikes. Still, I’ve learned a lot in those 2.5 books and I’ve even lined the pockets of some great black writers. So, I’m cool with it. 

I can’t promise that all 12 book reviews will be on the blog by December, but there will be some. And I promise, they’ll be worth it. Now, my review of Shonda Rhimes Year of Yes (here’s the journal and the Kindle version as well). 


I’ve got a secret.

I’m a bit of a pushover. Well, I was. Especially in high school. You didn’t have time to do the homework last night? No problem, I have the answers. If a yearbook staff member was about to miss a deadline because they waited too long to contact a source, I’d just write the entire thing myself. Need to talk to someone at 3 a.m. after your boyfriend (who I told you wash trash a month ago) finally admitted to cheating on you? Might as well call me, I’ve got nothing better to do.

I said yes a lot because I was afraid of what would happen if I said no. I hated letting people down and I hated asking for help. I still do.

Then, I went to college. And I needed help. A lot of it. That’s when my dad reminded me that this was my time to be selfish. My time to do my own thing. My time to say no.

So, I said no. The world didn’t end. I said it again, nothing. I said it a few more times and felt inspired. It’s amazing what you can get done when you choose to prioritize yourself.

There came a point when saying no didn’t work. In summer 2015, when I landed my first job at an ad agency, I was still in selfish mode. I had my own dreams and plans and that’s what nights and weekend were for. While I was at work, I was all work, but when 5:30 came around, I was gone.

The first time a work email came through at 10 p.m., then another at 11 p.m., 12 a.m. and 3 a.m., I stared at my screen, said “nope,” and closed my laptop.

I found out pretty quickly that’s not how it worked in that agency. My time there was short lived. I loved saying no too much.

When Shonda Rhimes book first came out, I avoided it, heavily. There was too much buzz around it. Women were talking about how it gave them a new outlook on life, how it made them want to say yes to everything. I didn’t want that. I wanted to keep saying no. I wanted to be selfish, answer to no one. Which is the same way I reacted when people kept suggesting I read more to become a better writer.

So, it’s fitting that after years of avoiding books, my first book in my year of “saying yes” to reading would be this book.

But guys, I didn’t like it.

I know. I know.

I didn’t hate it either though. But I didn’t like it. I’m a huge fan of TGIT, I want to be a badass combo of Olivia Pope and Annalise Keating when I grow up (maybe a little less messy though). But this book didn’t do it for me. I thought I’d be getting a book of advice. Clean cut steps that I could take to let people in, not be afraid to ask for help and take risks.

There was none of that. Instead, it was 300 pages about Rhimes and her incredible year. There were stories of her Dartmouth graduation speech, her HRC award and landing another (as in a third) T.V. show on Thursday nights; making her the only person to own a night of prime time T.V. besides the NFL. Oh, and she lost 100+ pounds. Superwoman. Truly.

Going on a journey of Rhimes’ year of yes was amazing, but as a reader, it wasn’t practical. I couldn’t take her advice and adapt it to my own life.

I did find a few gems that I loved though and I want to share them with you.

  1. Life can’t be all work and no play (pg. 128).

“I make a rule that I will not work on Saturday or Sunday unless it’s an emergency or unless the show is filming. I’ve been guilty of working straight through far too many weekends in order to ‘get ahead.’ There’s no such thing. The work is always there in the morning”

2. Do not let being successful while marginalized be the only thing your fans (and haters) talk about. You aren’t successful because you’re black, trans or asian. You’re successful because you’re the shit (pg. 139).

“I am what I have come to call an F.O.D — A First. Only. Different. We are a very select club, but there are more of us out there than you’d think. We know one another on sight. We all have the same weary look in our eyes. The one that wishes people would stop thinking it remarkable that we can be great at what we do while black, while Asian, while a woman, while Latino, while gay, a paraplegic, while deaf. But when you’re an F.O.D., you are saddled with that burden of extra responsibility — whether you want it or not.”

3. “No” and “I’m scared” are not the same thing, but often, instead of being honest about our fears, we say no. This ruins us (pg. 141).

“Losing yourself does not happen all at once. Losing yourself happens one no at a time. No to going out tonight. No to catching up with that old college roommate. No to attending that party. No to going on vacation. No to making a new friend.”

4. Women aren’t brave for doing things that erase their presence (pg. 187).

“I don’t think it ever occurred to me before how much and how often women are praised for displaying traits that basically render them invisible. ‘She sacrificed everything for her children…she never thought about herself…she gave up everything for us…she stood in the shadows, she was the wind beneath our wings.

The message says, mothers you are such wonderful and good people because you make yourselves smaller, because you deny your own needs, because you toil tirelessly in the shadows and no one ever thanks or notices you. That makes you amazing. YUCK!

There are tons of reasons that mothers should be praised. But for cultivating a sense of invisibility, martyrdom and tirelessly working unnoticed and unsung? Those are not reasons.”

5. Keep your tribe close (pgs. 241–259).

If you read no other chapter, read this one. Chapter 13. It talks about friendships, honesty, love and support. At a time in my life when nothing feels consistent, Shonda reminded me that my tribe has got to be that thing that holds me down. The people that tell it like it is. The ones that call me out. The people who hug me when I’m crying and are down for celebratory happy hours. Anyone who isn’t interested in this type of relationship doesn’t need to be in my life. They don’t need to be in yours either.

There’s no rule that says you have to hang out with high school friends, coworkers or family members who make you feel awful. Relationships are work, but they shouldn’t drain you. They shouldn’t dull your shine.

In the end, starting my year off with Year of Yes was the best choice I could have made. Rhimes reminded me that I’m the best because I say I am. Her confidence in her work jumped off the page and gave me, as a reader, permission to love and believe in myself just as much as she loves and believes in herself. I’d give it 3.5 stars out of 5.


What’d you think of Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter

I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for heyitsbkay.com to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

I Thought People Like Me Didn’t Get Depression

  Vic Tor via Pexels
Vic Tor via Pexels

Originally published on February 8, 2016. 

When my first therapist told me that I had depression I didn’t believe her. I had too many things to be thankful for and happy about to be depressed. Frankly, I thought that I was too busy for depression, as if it was something that those who suffer get to choose.

I left her office with a spring in my step doubting everything that she’d told me. There was no way a one hour session told her that I was depressed. I refused to listen.

I went off to college and I never saw her again.

I spent the next six months unexplainably sad. There were times that I’d miss weeks of class just because I couldn’t get out of bed. I’d cancel plans that I was really excited about because there was something telling me I didn’t deserve to go. I found comfort in food and alcohol but never in friends and family.

Still, I refused to believe that I was depressed.

Depression just didn’t look like me. To me, depression looked like someone struggling to pay their bills every month, someone who couldn’t afford to eat, someone who just lost their job or got kicked out of college. Depression looked like someone who had suffered abuse, a person with no one to lean on. I didn’t fit that mold, but still it took hours to get out of bed every day and even more to shower and leave my dorm room.

There are so many narratives that tell you that your depression is not real that it’s all in your head, that you aren’t really suffering because of how good you have it on the outside. But depression doesn’t attack based on looks or socioeconomic status; there’s no rhyme or reason, it just is.

It’s been six years since I was first told that I suffer from depression and each year it looks different. There’s no one way to be depressed. Some days it looks like me staying in bed for 12 hours, other days it’s me turning off my phone so I don’t have to talk to anyone.

What I wish people would understand is that people with depression don’t need messages of “it gets better,” sometimes, we just need someone to listen.

I don’t want to be held or coddled through this. I want to be respected. I want to be talked to like an adult. I want a chance to speak, really speak. I want to answer a phone call and know that I’m going to get to talk about me, my issues, what I’m dealing with sometimes.

That doesn’t make me selfish, it makes me honest.

In February 2016, BMX racer Dave Mirra committed suicide. I’ve never heard of him before, but as I scrolled through different articles rehashing his life all the comment sections looked the same. People asked “why didn’t anybody do something?” “Why didn’t he get help” “How did his family not know?”

The answer is simple: because we’re selfish. It’s easier to talk about things that don’t matter then to talk about being depressed. It’s easier to crack a joke and smile then it is to admit you aren’t feeling your best.

Depression doesn’t look the same on everyone, it’s not supposed to. But what if as a society we stopped asking “what happened?” and “what’s wrong?” when it’s too late. What if we encouraged our loved ones to seek help, helped talk them through their feelings and supported their progress, no matter how small.

Just because you can’t see that someone is hurting doesn’t mean they aren’t. Be there for the people that you care about. Support them, tell them you appreciate all they do and mean it.

Get off your phones, stop feeding into drama you read online; and live.

You will never regret being there for someone when they really needed you, but you will regret not being there. 

-BK


Struggling with depression? You’re never alone. Call 1-800-273-8255 for help. 
This post originally appeared on Thought Catalog