8 short years ago, most of us were filled with excitement; the air abuzz with hope. We were all overjoyed by possibilities; inspired by an event that we never thought we would live to see: the election of a black man as president of the United States. As the election season unfolded, we were all enveloped by the audacity of one man’s decision to give his all. The post-election season, even for those who didn’t vote for the man, was underlined by a positive energy: change was coming and things were going to be different.
And different it has been Many of us can say that it hasn’t quite been what we thought. The dream of bipartisanship was quickly replaced by the nightmare of getting two very different sides to work together. Over time, the hope slowly eroded and was replaced by a completely different feeling, one that culminated in the last few months: fear. Accompanied by uncertainty, this fear has gripped us and propelled us into a place of darkness.
Ok that sounds rather dramatic. But the reality of it is that many people in the world right now are afraid. Ethnic groups are afraid of each other; genders are pitted against each other, nations are at war, religious beliefs have become a reason to become a target. And thanks to our technological advances, fear can literally be spread around the world in a matter of minutes.
Ok let’s dial it back a bit. I found myself this year in a new territory. My usually optimistic outlook had been replaced with endless thoughts about how the world was going to hell in a kerosene-soaked basket. My mind took various trips, replaying scenarios of an unlivable world. I often had to pray myself back to reality and to realize the tormenting power of fear. My bible became a solace for me; I became intentional about listening to positive messages, especially those about how to deal with fear. I found my faith again. My heart stopped racing, the lump in my throat disappeared, and the general malaise that was becoming a norm subsided. During this season, I have learned how important it is to be a part of a faith community, and more importantly how imperative it is to be plugged in at all times. My prayer life has never quite been as strong as it has been in these last few weeks; and I’ve come to accept that while it is easy to be swept by the waves of uncertainty, I serve an unwavering God.
More than ever, I realize the importance of the Christmas season. That while we have shifted focus to gifts and self-serving activities, it is the perfect time to be reminded of God’s goodness. I started thinking about the power of one; years ago, one man inspired us to do more, today one man has many confused and dazed, unsure of their next steps. In both situations, it only took one person. My thoughts focused on what I, as one person, can do to influence my inner circle, my community, my little world. I started to appreciate how important it is for us to constantly bring a positive influence around us; that all it takes is one of us to get it going.
Years ago, we sought inspiration in one man; he didn’t deliver. Not because he was no longer inspirational, but because we didn’t do our part. Inspiration doesn’t require a presidential position, or money. It simply requires a willingness to try, to make someone else’s day brighter, to encourage and to believe there’s more out there.
In the midst of our Christmas parties, picking up extra shifts and gift exchanging, let’s inspire others and in the process, be inspired. I encourage you to lift your countenance, count your blessings and strive to make a positive change for even one person. Be inspired, and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Grace Neequaye MPH CHES
“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains”
– Rosa Luxemburg