One of my favorite hymns: “No Letting Go” by Wayne Wonder:
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I should have left my ratchet ways back in 2016, but stick with me people.
Verse 1 (edited to be gender neutral because God is too good to be confined to one gender):
she’sthey’re a beauty
Very special really and truly
Take good care of me like it’s
Want you right by my side night and day
No lettting go No holding back
Because you are my
When I’m with you its all a that
I, am so glad we’ve made it
No letting go No holding back
No holding Back no
When I’m with you it’s all a that
All a that
Really appreciate you loving me
After all that we’ve been thru
Really appreciate you loving me
I can’t think of a better song, or hymn as I call it, to summarize my personal relationship with God.
Of course, I wasn’t exposed to “No Letting Go” in church. My church is lit; but not that lit.
Rather, I was first introduced to this beauty in the basement of the original Headturnaz house at IUP, while dancing in the jam packed, BO-filled basement with one of my many college puppy loves, Royal. As the night came to an end– well, in all fairness, the morning was coming to a start- DJ Nasty Naj would bust out the Reggae. It was the perfect time because we were all faded from the “juice” Twerkz mom would dish out, allowing us to dance like no one was watching and do hoodrat stuff with our friends; that good self-care after a stressful week of being a college student.
Tabernacle Full Gospel Baptist Cathedral has declared 2017 to be the Year of Transformation and “No Letting Go,” just might be my anthem during this journey, despite my pastor suggesting Beyoncé’s “You Must Not Know ‘Bout Me,” during our New Years Eve service.
A part of my transformation is learning what it means to be good Church Folk, while simultaneously defining and embracing what that term even means to me.
It wouldn’t surprise me if my labeling “No Letting Go” a hymn offends some “good” Church Folk.
*Note: Just a quick sidebar for those, like me, who didn’t pay attention in English class, therefore, may not know that one uses italics to emphasize a point or, often in my case, to be sarcastic.
I’m confident my Grammy would not approve.
But, before you “good” Church Folk turn your nose up at me [yes, you too Grammy], remember: You wasn’t always saved!
I’m no more ratchet than my neighbor sitting next to me in the pew. I just happen to put my stuff all the way out there. I’m not ashamed of who I was or who I am, because I know each stage of my life is another piece of my puzzle. Just one piece of many that, once all put together, will beautifully display who I’m going to be; a woman-no, human- of God.
To me, being good Church Folk means finding the beauty of God everywhere. Even in the secular and just down right ratchet things I enjoy. Which is why I can confidently label “No Letting Go,” as one of my favorite hymns.
I’m sure Wayne Wonder didn’t have God on his mind when he made that track and I surely wasn’t even thinking about God on my Sunday mornings in the Headturnaz basement; but I am now.
I’m now able to see the beauty in Wayne Wonders words. No, the beauty beyond, his words.
I’m now mature enough to see God in the secular and ratchet things I enjoy.
And you know what? That’s just what I need during my transformation, as I strengthen my personal relationship with God and become a productive member of my Christian Community. I grow closer, each day, knowing that despite what I do, say or think, God will love me, no matter what; because I’m a work– who indulges in ratchet things- in process.
That’s just one of many things I’ve learned from becoming a member of a church who loves me– no matter what- rather than chastising me for not being “good” Church Folk; what ever that means.
If it wasn’t for that type of unconditional love, I probably would have been out doing hood rat stuff with my friends on New Years Eve. Trust me. I was tempted. Especially when my Soul Sista texted me saying, “Do you HAVE to go to church??? I could Uber it in to Wilmington and we could hang out,” complete with a devil emoji.
Instead of turning up with my Soul Sista, I spent the night at Tab; surrounded by love, “good” Church Folk and good [no italics] Church Folk too. This was a first for me, but, despite that, I was excited because I know Tab will be an integral piece of my life moving forward. Conveniently, my Pastor affirmed my decision to attend, when he made a comment about “how we start our year will set the stage for the year to come.”
I love synchronicitous moments.
Given the year I’ve had, I needed and wanted to be at Tab to hear Doc’s message. I knew, as always, God would speak through him and tell me what I needed to hear.
Pastor Morton’s New Years Eve sermon was “Don’t Hate My Shine,” based on:
29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.
Here’s the spark notes: During the Year of Transformation, we will shine!
It gets better. Especially for those who, like me, are not individualistic and only concerned about their own personal success and well-being.
Just like Jesus’ disciples, those around us will be liberated as they witness our very own transfiguration. For as Doc said, “When we shine, we give others permission to shine.”
Now here’s the part that you may not like as much…
Transformation comes from putting in work.
Our ability to shine comes with– yes, you guessed it- a cost.
If your like me and FREE is your favorite word, this may rub you the wrong way, but fear not, for I have a little equation to help you– and others- reap the benefit of the work you must put in during the Year of Transformation.
But first, a quick sidebar.
I love math. Geometry in particular. All who’ve studied Geometry knows-or should know- the Pythagorean theorem: the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.
I love a good theorem.
I’m type A.
We’re analytical. It’s just in our nature. Us Type A’s love truth, logic and reason.
That’s why I often struggle with blind faith, something “good” Church Folk are okay with. I won’t “do as you say.” I need to know who, what, why, when, where, and how. Only then might I “do as you say,” assuming what you’re saying is logical. If it’s not, forget about it.
So when my Pastor said 2017 will be the Year of Transformation, I was thinking:
“Ok, bet. Now let’s talk about how we’re actually going to make that happen. I need an equation. A How to for Dummies. I can’t just trust that it will happen because I know that, things don’t just happen. So what’s the secret sauce to transformation?”
Fast forward to New Years Day.
I’m outside, jamming to Wayne Wonder as I sit on my stoop enjoying the 50 degree Winter weather and I have one of those “aha” moments.
The secret sauce to shinning– to transformation- in plain sight.
It’s something I’d like to call the Wayne Wonder Theorem.
Wayne Wonder Theorem: Transformation is equal to letting go and no holding back.
To be clear, you cannot apply the Wayne Wonder Theorem to your relationship with God. We should not “let go” of God and must continue with the “no holding backs.”
However, if you want to shine and enjoy the transformation to come in 2017, you must:
- Let go of what ever is keeping you from God and your personal growth as a human being;
- and stop holding yourself back. “Go into 2017 aggressive AF,” as Doc said during service [p.s. Sorry for the language, Grammy… even though you likely won’t know what AF means lol] and [p.p.s., Doc didn’t say AF. I just had to put my spin on his message].
I’m not necessarily suggesting you let go of your ratchet ways. I surely don’t intend to let go of mine; well, not all of them. However, I do encourage you to let go of things that have no benefit to you and others (i.e. hate, jealousy, etc.) and identify/respond to what may hold you back as you develop– and stick to- a strategic plan that will transform yourself– and subsequently your surroundings- during 2017, the Year of Transformation.
What does this mean for you? I don’t know. Tell me.
For me, it means letting go of:
- Fear. Particularly, my unrealistic fears;
- My sas, in some– but not all- situations;
- and independence aka the excuse I use when I refuse to establish intimate relationships with others because, “I can do bad all by myself.”
and not holding back when it comes to:
- Relationships and intimacy;
- Working through conflict and past trauma;
- Engaging in radical self-care;
- and stepping outside of the comfort of my own bubble.
It also means accepting the fact that 2017 may not be a good year; and that’s okay.
I can’t tell you how many social media posts I’ve seen saying “I hope 2017 is a better year than 2016.” Of course, I want-and need- 2017 to be a better year, but I’m mature enough to understand that God will put mountains in my way to help me develop the strength for what is in store.
Through God’s strength, I will move those mountains, when the time is right; but in order for that to happen, I must learn from the struggle and put trust in the process.
I must apply the Wayne Wonder Theorem.
I must let go.
I must not hold back.
My last thought & request.
As a Collectivist, I know that my shine and transformation will set the stage for individual and community growth. As a member of Tabernacle Full Gospel Baptist Cathedral, a culturally relevant Christian Community within the Community, I’m ready to shine in 2017 and join my congregation in transforming the Community while lifting up Christ, Community and Culture.
Will you join me. No, join us?
Sunday: Service starts at 8:00 a.m. (For those, like myself, who struggle with even breathing before 9:00 a.m., we will have a later service starting at 10:45 a.m. on Resurrection Sunday, April 16).
Tuesday: Think Tank, not your average Bible Study at 7:00 p.m. (starting back up on January 10).
I invite you to join us in being the force for transformation in your life, West Center City, Wilmington, Delaware and the world.
I promise, once you experience a woke church, your life will not be the same.
We’re defining the reality we’re moving into and need you on our Transformation Team!
To learn more about Tab, visit http://tabernaclecathedral.org.