For as long as I can remember, I have always been a daddy’s girl. And even though my father has been present in my life, I am fully aware that that is not the same story for others. Regardless of if you are close with your father or not, a father/father figure in your life shapes you as an adult in ways that you may not even realize. Fathers, especially Black fathers, are so important to our community and should be honored just as much as mothers. So it is only right to shine a light on some amazing Black fathers who are out here doing the best they can to enrich their children's lives.
In honor of Black fatherhood as a whole, xoNecole chatted with Kier Gaines is a licensed therapist, a content creator, and the founder of the lifestyle brand Kier and Them; Tony Ingram who works in the U.S. Navy and is well known for his Black Loveepisode he appeared in with his wife, Brittany Ingram; and Anthony Edwards, a digital creator and the host of his podcast, No Guru Ish, where he talks about birth, motherhood, and fatherhood. Each of these men comes from different walks of life.
For this Father’s Day, these Black men were open and honest about their perspectives on what being a father means to them, how their father figures shaped them, and the kind of legacy they hope to leave behind.
xoNecole: Who would you say was a role model for you while growing up?
Kier Gaines, 35: I don’t think I really looked up to anyone when I was growing up. I grew up in the projects of Washington D.C. and during the crack-cocaine epidemic, so I had a weird mix of environments. Outside my home, there’s violence and crime. But inside my home, there’s love, culture, and comfort. I saw older guys with things that I wanted like clothes, cars, and women. But at the same time, it was clear to me that those same guys lived lifestyles that I didn’t want. So I never saw myself in them. Now as an adult, I do have a couple of people that I look up to. But back then, I didn’t.
Tony Ingram, 38: I had a unique situation growing up. I have two dads. I have my stepfather and my biological father. They were both very present in my life. My stepfather raised me. My biological father and my mom were young parents and they didn’t work out. Then, my stepfather met my mom and raised me as his own. He fostered an environment for me to stay connected with my biological father. Both of my fathers had great attributes that really helped me become the father I am today.
Anthony Edwards, 33: For me, it’s a no-brainer that my role model is my father. My father worked hard and was a hustler. He was born in Jamaica and he had three jobs. Despite working a lot, he always tried to make time for me, even though it was hard at times.
xoN: How has your relationship with your father shaped how you display fatherhood to your children?
Kier: I didn’t have a relationship with my father. It was really my peers that were my father figures. My friends are the people I chose at the rawest stages in my life, so we were able to grow together. It’s different when it’s your peers because they do not have the wisdom of "years of experience" compared to you, but you still respect their lived experiences. At the end of the day, after all the trials and tribulations, my friends are still good fathers, good husbands, and most importantly, good humans. That is what I relate to the most. We feed into each other.
Tony: My stepfather was my coach. He taught me how to be respectful, and determined, and how to stand on your word. Now I pride myself on chivalry. I display that with my wife and both of my daughters. Now, with my biological father, he is the kindest person you would ever meet. He is the type of man that will give the shirt off his back for someone. He is also an adoptive father. He and my stepmother adopted my little brother at birth. The kind of heart that you have to have to do that is next level for me. I learned how to be compassionate [toward] others from him.
Anthony: It’s a little different for me. My father worked a lot which made him miss certain events in my life that I wish he was present for. I think those moments made me realize that, when I have a son, I will make sure to be completely present with my son. So you can say that my relationship with my dad made me want to do the opposite of some of the things he did as a father.
"At the end of the day, after all the trials and tribulations, my friends are still good fathers, good husbands, and most importantly, good humans. That is what I relate to the most. We feed into each other."
Courtesy of Kier Gaines
xoN: What is something that you wish you could've asked your father as a child that you didn't get a chance to?
Kier: It’s so funny. My brain has a protective mechanism where it leads me to believe that I do not need those kinds of answers. That is something that I am currently working through. I am less interested in asking why he wasn’t present. But one thing I am curious about is the origin story of my mom and his relationship. I don’t know anything about it. Like what did they talk about? Or what made them gravitate towards one another? You know, outside of the romantic side of things.
Tony: If I could ask them a question it would be about relationships with women. Like, how to establish a healthy relationship with a woman. To be transparent, yes my stepfather was a great father, but he wasn’t the greatest husband. He told me everything I was supposed to do, but I didn’t see it always displayed with my mom. With my biological father, I remember that he and my stepmother got divorced when I was a senior in high school. Honestly, that really crushed me. So I would ask him, how do you maintain a healthy marriage? I am curious about what happened there.
Anthony: You know, my father is really good at soccer. He still plays soccer to this day. I think I would ask him what his life was like before he met my mother. I know I had a life before my family. I didn’t have the heart to ask my dad those questions back then. I want to be able to share that kind of stuff with my son when he gets older.
Courtesy of Anthony Edwards
xoN: What do you enjoy most about being a father?
Kier: Man, being a girl dad is different. When you become a girl dad, you become a feminist. Automatically! For me, I have a weird relationship with parenthood. I don't always love it, I’m not going to lie to you. But I am always deeply in love with my children. I think the main thing is watching them grow. It’s crazy to me! You hear people talk about it all the time, but there’s a true bond there. I grew up as an only child, so watching both of my daughters grow as individuals and growing together is such a beautiful thing. It brings me so much joy.
Tony: The coolest thing I love about being a father is that I get to be a role model for my daughters. I’m able to show them what ‘doing things right’ looks like in my eyes. I can set a precedent for my daughters on who to give your energy to based on setting a standard and honoring your values. On a smaller scale, I love when I come home from work, I walk through the door, and both of my daughters welcome me at the door. They say “Hi Daddy!” like 30 times and it is just the best feeling in the world. Coming home from work to them is a whole new joy for me.
Anthony: Honestly, I like the responsibility of being a father. It makes you poke your chest out a little bit. I see fatherhood as ‘I’m a captain of my team and I am leading my team to victory.’ I like the challenge of being a father and being able to learn along the way.
xoN: What have your children taught you about the definition of what being a father means?
Kier: So my first daughter wasn’t planned. I had my daughter with my then-girlfriend, who is now my wife. At that time, we actually decided to break up a couple of months later. Sometimes in those situations, it is a tough hill to climb. So falling in love with my first daughter was a different journey. Now my second daughter, whom I had with my wife, was planned. What my daughters taught me, I could write 40 novels about it so far (laughs). But overall, how I came to love them taught me a lot about love, life, and about myself.
Tony: Harleigh is my first born. With her, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and I felt unprepared. But to be honest, becoming a father is nothing you can ever be fully prepared for. Admittedly, I was more stern with her because I was very protective of her. With Willow, I was more lenient about things. I figured out which things matter and which things didn't matter as much. I have learned to be patient from Harleigh to Willow. I have also learned about being more in tune with my feelings because of my daughters. Man, I can cry at the drop of a hat now!
Anthony: I was a stepfather before having my son. My daughter, I have known her since she was 2 years old. My daughter plays a huge role in everything that I do as a father. She has taught me patience and setting boundaries as a stepparent because her father is still a part of her life. My son has taught me something different about what being a father means. On my podcast, No Guru Ish, I express that my wife and I had to go through IVF because I am infertile.
When we talk about infertility, we always highlight women. But there are men out there who experience male infertility and I’m one of them. The process was very stressful and to say that I needed help to have my son still kind of bothers me, if we are being completely real. But I am so grateful for my son because IVF is still not guaranteed. It is a miracle to have my son and it is an honor for me to be his father. Every minute is so precious to me when it comes to fatherhood.
"When we talk about infertility, we always highlight women. But there are men out there who experience male infertility and I’m one of them. It is a miracle to have my son and it is an honor for me to be his father. Every minute is so precious to me when it comes to fatherhood."
Courtesy of Anthony Edwards
xoN: Are there things that you wish you had done differently as a father?
Kier: No. I’m a firm believer in 'a series of doors leads into a series of doors and that leads to another series of doors.’ You make decisions and those decisions trickle down. I will say though, that I am glad I went to therapy before becoming a father. That is something I am really proud of myself for doing. I believe this journey of fatherhood would have been much more arduous if I hadn’t.
Tony: I am in the Navy. That requires me to travel a lot. The last three years, I haven’t been home as much and time is what I miss the most. You can’t get that time back. I wouldn’t say I would make another career choice because I am very grateful for the position I am in now. But looking back, I would take my career choice more into consideration when it comes to how it will affect my time spent with my family.
Anthony: I will start with my son. My son is only 6 months old, so I will say that I would push him to do things like make him roll over and stuff but I had to take a step back and remind myself that I need to slow down. I need him to do things on his own in his own time. With my daughter, she’s 15 now and I’m 33 years old. So the age difference is at the point where we can hang out, but when it comes to discipline, I have to be that authority figure. I didn’t set that boundary in the beginning. I wish that I could’ve set that boundary between friend and parent earlier than I did now.
xoN: How has being a father shaped your views on love in your marriage?
Kier: Parenthood has made my wife and I a better team. We are both committed to the idea “I got into this relationship with you and not these kids. We put ourselves first.” Now I know that’s a very controversial thing to say. I know people have different hierarchies where they place their children. And hey, that thing (hierarchy chart) moves too! But being a father has taught me how to take care of my wife as a person beyond motherhood. I know she still needs me as a friend, as a husband, and as a companion.
Tony: Being a father has allowed me the space to demonstrate to my daughters what authentic love looks like by the way I love my wife. I am very intentional about how I communicate with my wife and vice versa. My wife and I respect each other’s boundaries and prioritize being on one accord, even if we disagree on something. I need my daughters to witness and understand what a positive healthy relationship looks like. Because if I am being toxic to my wife, then there’s a chance that is what they are going to seek without realizing it. Model behavior is key.
Anthony: The love I have for my wife has grown and I didn’t think it would. The fact that my wife stuck it out through IVF for me is amazing. Now that I’m a father [biologically], my son definitely completed the circle. The bond between us has really gotten deeper after we had our son and it is true unconditional love.
"Being a father has allowed me the space to demonstrate to my daughters what authentic love looks like by the way I love my wife. I am very intentional about how I communicate with my wife and vice versa. My wife and I respect each other’s boundaries and prioritize being on one accord, even if we disagree on something."
Courtesy of Tony Ingram
xoN: What advice do you have for other men that are looking for that sense of community of being a father?
Kier: I say to broaden your circle. Sometimes we automatically look for people who look like us because we assume they have shared the same life experiences and have similar perspectives. That is mostly true. But when you are able to connect with someone on a human level, those differences aren’t a huge factor. There are some things you could miss out on if you do not connect with people with different backgrounds.
Anthony: With my situation, building a sense of community can be a little challenging. I would be vulnerable with some people about my infertility and you never know how people are going to respond. It can definitely be triggering. So what I’m learning now is when I talk about dismantling the stigma on male infertility, I have to look past the negative responses that I might receive. It’s about making awareness and knowing that the awareness helps so many other couples feel seen. So the advice I can give is I think it’s important for men to first know their status with producing children. There are fertility specialists out there and to not only depend on women to know those things. Whether you are a biological father or not, being a father is a blessing and having space to share those experiences with other fathers is important too.
xoN: How would you like your legacy to be remembered? What would you like your children to keep with them about their father, years down the line?
Kier: I think that when you talk about legacy, it’s not really on you. I can bring things into the world, and people are going to read into those things however they want. But the main thing that I want my children to keep with them is to pay it forward. I want them to be satisfied with who they are as individuals because they saw their father happy with who he was. My daughters do not need to be perfect or widely accomplished women. I know there are women who have multiple degrees and multiple businesses but are still unhappy with themselves. So as long as my daughters are happy and know that their father is/was a good man who tried to put good in the Universe, that’s the only thing that matters to me.
Tony: When it comes to legacy, your character and integrity are non-negotiable. The values that I have, have to be solid. For my daughters, I want them to know their father was courageous, his character and integrity were intact, and how to stay ten toes down for what they believe in. Now my wife and I will be having a son soon. When I tell you when we found out we were having a son, there was something that came over me. I thought to myself, ‘You are about to have a mini you.’ My prayer for my son is to be a healthy masculine young man that walks with courage, faith, and integrity. I want him to respect himself and be mindful of his feelings. I want to teach him that it is okay to feel his feelings. Manhood is vulnerability as well as being firm. I want to teach him to not allow others to put him in a box. I want him to be great in his own right. I want him to look up to me and be proud of me.
Anthony: I want my children to know that their dad is relentless and I invested so much into them. I want them to know it is important to believe in themselves and not allow society to throw them off the course. I want my children to also know that if things do get hard, it’s okay because their father made sure that there is a soft landing for them to bounce back from when they fall.
Featured image courtesy of Anthony Edwards
This post is in partnership with Amgen.
The seemingly simple task of taking a breath is something most of us don’t think twice about. But for people who live with severe asthma, breathing does not always come easily. Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs, affects millions of people worldwide – 5-10% of which live with severe asthma. Severe asthma is a chronic and lifelong condition that is unpredictable and can be difficult to manage. Though often invisible to the rest of the world, severe asthma is a not-so-silent companion for those who live with it, often interrupting schedules and impacting day-to-day life.
Among the many individuals who battle severe asthma, Black women face a unique set of challenges. It's not uncommon for us to go years without a proper diagnosis, and finding the right treatment often requires some trial and error. Thankfully, all hope is not lost for those who may be fighting to get their severe asthma under control. We spoke with Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq. and Jania Watson, two inspiring Black women who have been living with severe asthma and have found strength, resilience, and a sense of purpose in their journeys.
Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq.
Juanita Ingram has a resume that would make anyone’s jaw drop. On top of being recently crowned Mrs. Universe, she’s also an accomplished attorney, filmmaker, and philanthropist. From the outside, it seems there’s nothing this talented woman won’t try, and likely succeed at. In her everyday life, however, Juanita exercises a lot more caution. From a young age, Juanita has struggled with severe asthma. Her symptoms were always exacerbated by common illnesses like a cold or flu. “I've heard these stories of my breathing struggles, but I remember distinctly when I was younger not being able to breathe every time I got a virus,” says Ingram. “I remember missing a lot of school and crying a lot because asthma is painful. I [was taken] to see my doctor often if I got sick with anything so I was hypervigilant as a child, and I still am.”
Today, Juanita says her symptoms are best managed when she’s working closely with her care team, avoiding getting sick and staying ahead of any symptoms. Ingram said she’s been blessed with skilled doctors who are just as vigilant of her symptoms as she is. While competing in the Mrs. Universe competition, Juanita took extra care to stay clear of other competitors to ensure she didn’t catch a cold or virus that would trigger her severe asthma. “I would stand off to the side and sometimes that could be taken as ‘oh, she thinks she's better than everybody else.’ But if I get sick during a pageant, I'm done. I had to compete with that in mind because my sickness doesn't look like everybody else's sickness.”
Even when her symptoms are under control, living with severe asthma still presents challenges. Juanita relies on her strong support system to overcome the hurdles caused by a lack of understanding from the public, “I think that there's a lot of lack of awareness about how serious severe asthma is. I would [also] tell women to advocate and to trust their intuition and not to allow someone to dismiss what you're experiencing.”
Jania, a content creator from Atlanta, Georgia, has been living with severe asthma for many years. Thanks to early testing by asthma specialists, Jania was diagnosed with severe asthma as a child after experiencing frequent flare-ups and challenges in her day-to-day life. “I specifically remember, I was starting school, and we were moving into a new house. One of the triggers for me and my younger sister at the time were certain types of carpets. We had just moved into this new house and within weeks of us being there, my parents literally had to pay for all new carpet in the house.”
As Jania grew older, she was suffering from fewer flare-ups and thought her asthma was well under control. However, a trip back to her doctor during high school revealed that her severe asthma was affecting her more than she realized. “That was the first time in a long time I had to do a breathing test,” she describes. “The doctor had me take a deep breath in and blow into a machine to test my breathing. They told me to blow as hard as I could. And I was doing it. I was giving everything I got. [My dad and the doctor] were looking at me like ‘girl, stop playing.’ And at that point [it confirmed] I still have severe asthma because I've given it all I got. It doesn't really go away, but I just learned how to help manage it better.”
Jania recognizes that people who aren’t living with asthma, may not understand the disease and mistake it for something less serious. Or there could be others who think their symptoms are minor, and not worth bringing up. So, for Jania, communicating with others about her diagnosis is key. “Having severe asthma [flare-ups] in some cases looks very similar to being out of shape,” she said. “But this is a chronic illness that I was born with. This is just something that I live with that I've been dealing with. And I think it's important for people to know because that determines the next steps. [They might ask] ‘Do you need a bottle of water, or do you need an inhaler? Do you need to take a break, or do we need to take you to the hospital?’ So, I think letting the people around you know what's going on, just in case anything were to happen plays a lot into it as well.”
Like Juanita, Jania’s journey has been marked by ups and downs, but she remains an unwavering advocate for asthma awareness and support within the Black community. She hopes that her story can be an inspiration to other women with asthma who may not yet have their symptoms under control. “There's still life to be lived outside of having severe asthma. It is always going to be there, but it's not meant to stop you from living your life. That’s why learning how to manage it and also having that support system around you, is so important.”
By sharing their journeys, Juanita and Jania hope to encourage others to embrace their conditions, obtain a proper management plan from a doctor or asthma specialist like a pulmonologist or allergist, and contribute to the improvement of asthma awareness and support, not only within the Black community, but for all individuals living with severe asthma.
Read more stories from others like Juanita and Jania on Amgen.com, or visit Uncontrolled Asthma In Black Women | BREAK THE CYCLE to find support and resources.
A hill that I am forever going to die on is nothing, and no one (including your spouse or your kids) should come before your purpose — ever. The reason why I say that is because your purpose is literally why you exist. And so, aside from the Creator who assigned you to one, there is nothing and no one greater.
And because of that, you should be laser-focused on surrounding yourself with people, places, things and ideas that will help you to manifest “the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.” (one definition of purpose) as it relates to you specifically and then you should be intentional, both daily and consistently, about manifesting “an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal” (another definition of purpose) when it comes to elevating in that very space.
In order for all of this to happen, you definitely, without question, need to surround yourself with purposeful relationships: relationships that exist, largely in part, to help you reach certain intended aims and desired results. And in order for that to happen, you’ve got to be highly selective about who those people are — and it needs to go well beneath the surface of merely having certain things in common or enjoying someone’s company.
Keeping all of this in mind, let’s explore what it means to have purposeful relationships and why you are doing yourself a serious detriment if you don’t prioritize having them in your life. Ready?
What Is Your Purpose?Giphy
I once read an article that said that only 25 percent of people actually know what their purpose is (a lot of other articles say that it’s actually lower than that!). To me, that’s alarming because, again, since purpose is literally why each of us are here, it’s important to prioritize discovering what your own purpose is all about. It’s basically what Oprah Winfrey once said: “Your real job is to figure out what it is that you are called to do” because, once you know that, it helps you to know what direction your life should actually take — including when it comes to your relationships.
And so, before getting into anything else — what is your purpose? If you’re unsure, a “purpose hack” that I recommend is to think about what you were put on this planet to do. If you can explain it in three words or phrases, you’re probably right on the money.
For instance, my purpose is “marriage, sex, and the Sabbath” — all are biblical covenant principles (that folks, en masse, are totally flippant about), and all are things that I study, research, and talk about on a daily basis and all are things that I have been told, consistently, that I seem to have supernatural insights on. You know, in Hebrew and African culture, names speak to purpose, and I discovered in my 30s, from an Israeli, that my name is Hebrew and it means “Mine; Belonging to Me,” which basically means that my name even means “covenant” (Ezekiel 16:1-14).
And you know what? Even if I didn’t get paid to write, public speak, and life coach on those three things, I would still do it because, for me, those topics come so naturally to me that they are like breathing; even when I’m tired, it still feels like a huge life source.
Okay, so what do you feel this way about? If you’re still unsure, there is a leadership website that features over 132 questions that you can ask yourself here. Also, if you go to your favorite search engine and put “find my purpose quiz” in the search field, there are all sorts of (free) tests that you can take. You might also want to see a life coach for some clarity because we are trained to ask certain questions that can lead you to some pretty profound “ah-ha moments.”
Whatever path you decide to take, it is super important, critical even, that you know what your purpose is. So many people waste valuable time, effort, and energy, not just on the wrong career path but with the wrong partners and in the wrong friendships because they have absolutely no clue.
NOTHING Should EVER Come Before Purpose FulfillmentGiphy
Although I touched on this in the intro, before getting into how you can know if you’re in truly purpose-filled relationships, since this revelation may immediately cause you to do some reassessing and reprioritizing as far as certain folks are concerned, I need to speak to the part of you who may feel guilty about shifting and realigning, perhaps even after reading all of this. Yeah, please hear and hear me good when I say that you are doing yourself the ultimate disservice if you are out here living your life without fulfilling your purpose in the process.
So, what are some signs that you are, indeed, in a state of purpose fulfillment:
- Your gifts and talents are being utilized.
- You feel a sense of holistic wholeness and calm.
- Even on the hard days, you enjoy many moments within it.
- Others are directly benefitting from what you do.
- No one is doing, what you are doing, quite like you are doing it.
- You are constantly feeling challenged, inspired, and motivated.
- You can connect what you do to a profound sense of spiritual elevation.
- You are becoming a better, not worse, person.
- Money is merely a bonus.
- You feel fulfilled.
Fulfill: to carry out, or bring to realization, as a prophecy or promise; to perform or do, as duty; obey or follow, as commands; to satisfy (requirements, obligations, etc.); to bring to an end; finish or complete, as a period of time; to develop the full potential of (usually used reflexively)
Synonyms: accomplished, satisfied, pleased, crowned, gratified, realized, perfected
- Feeling fulfilled has so many layers to it.
- Being fulfilled has a spiritual element to it (prophecy, promise).
- Being fulfilled means that you are being led to execute certain things.
- Being fulfilled means you are here to complete something.
- Being fulfilled means that your full potential is to be developed.
- Being fulfilled brings a sense of accomplishment, gratification, and supreme realization.
And when you break all of this down and then really let it set in — how in the world could — or should — you let anyone or anything come before all of this? You shouldn’t. Yet, because this isn’t taught, nearly enough, folks end up (for example) miserable in marriages because they didn’t choose someone who complements their purpose. People end up on roller coaster rides in their friendships because they are not connected to those who complement their purpose. People never really learn who to hold on to and who to release because they don’t get how important it is to stick with who complements their purpose and to let go of who…doesn’t.
And just what do I mean by that? I’m so glad that you asked.
Who in Your Life Complements Your Purpose?Giphy
An article that I wrote for the platform a few years back that people will sometimes still write me about to this day is “If He's Right For You, He Will COMPLEMENT Your Life.” A part of what inspired it is a verse in Scripture. The Classic Amplified Version of Genesis 2:18 says, “Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.” Yeah, it’s kind of a message for another time how, nowhere in this, does it say that God would give Adam someone to “fall in love with;” it says that he would bring him HELP in the form of his COMPLEMENT. Nothing’s wrong with love, yet some of y’all are hinging too much on Disney and rom-coms and not enough on who complements you. Like I said…another time.
Okay, yet even beyond your life partner, what does it mean for someone to complement you? If someone is your complement, they are able to bring forth some sort of completion in your life. Not in the Jerry Maguire (film) “You complete me” kind of way (that’s basically an inside job) — more like in the “You help me to bring certain things together in order to COMPLETE things” instead of “You are so much work to deal with that you are taking time, effort, energy, and resources away from me being able to COMPLETE things.” Make sense?
I’ll give you a personal example (not with graphic details, but enough). There was someone, back in the day, who used to really try to be my friend. Another matter for another time? I’m not big on that. Life and discernment have taught me that if you’re “trying hard,” you usually have an agenda. Friendships should happen…organically. Anyway, one day, out of the blue, she decided that we fell out (LOL). I know this because she told someone we mutually share without ever talking to me. Fast forward to now, and we both have platforms; ones that couldn’t be more different.
I mean, what she talks about is so diametrically opposed to what I do, and because she is so opinionated to the point that no one else can really get a word in unless it’s to praise or applaud her — I already know that we would’ve had a lot of conflict. So much time would’ve been spent via her trying to get me to see things her way that I wouldn’t be focused on what I am called to do…over here. She’s simply not my complement; not as far as my close inner circle is concerned. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that it’s a good idea to see folks for who and what they are so that you know where to place them in your life.
So yeah, if you’ve got people in your life who contradict your purpose, challenge you about your purpose, try and gaslight you out of your purpose — they do not complement it.
Now let’s see and raise this point.
Who in Your Life Helps to Elevate Your Purpose?Giphy
A couple of weeks ago, my godchildren’s mom treated me to a trip where she spoke at a moth. What is that? Long story short, people from all over the country get to share a 10-minute story, based on various themes, before audiences. If they go over 10 minutes, they’re kind of “Apollo-ed off” (the real ones know what I mean by that). Anyway, the main reason why she wanted me to come was because she wanted to publicly thank me for planting a seed into the platform that she has now, which is advocacy for Black and brown people in country music. My role? Telling her to start a podcast for it in the first place (because she was wearing me out talking about country music history all of the time!). I stayed on her for a couple of years, and she finally followed through. Since then, it has taken off in ways that she never imagined, and now there is a major resurgence in her career. Love to see it!
You know, confession time: It took me a long time to fully rest in the fact that another huge part of my personal purpose is to be a “doula” for people. Yes, I am one in the traditional sense. However, the Most High has also used me, so many times over, to help people with “creative pregnancies” (Romans 8:22-29 — Message) — to get them to see them, to help protect them, and then to provide support in the execution of them. And on this side of really getting that, it’s an honor.
Anyway, it wouldn’t make sense to write on this topic and not also mention that when you are in purposeful relationships, you should also be seeing some sort of elevation as a direct result of being connected to those individuals. It doesn’t always, automatically or necessarily have to be monetary yet— yes, you need to be growing, thriving, flourishing because they are in your life. So should your purpose.
It’s kind of like something that I recently heard the comedian Earthquake say on Drink Champs. He was talking about splitting assets in relationships and he basically said that if you help him to acquire more since being with someone and there’s a break-up, sharing makes sense. At the same time, if you leave with the same amount that you came in with, why is anyone else owed anything? My favorite line in his narrative: “We didn’t prosper.” Boy, if that ain’t a way to end stuff: WE DIDN’T PROSPER. LOL.
To prosper is to be successful. To prosper is to flourish. To prosper is to thrive. And I promise you that if you are linked up with people who are a complement to your purpose — whether it be personal or professional, romantic or platonic — you are going to see some prospering going on. Things are gonna multiply. You’re gonna produce some newness. Progress, yielding, and advancing are gonna be a given.
Hmph. Don’t get me started on how some of y’all need to “relationally demote” some of your own familial relationships because they are some of the greatest enemies of you fulfilling your purpose. STRAIGHT UP.
Closing out this point by saying — no YELLING — that when you are in purposeful relationships, one way to know is, one way or another, your purpose is gonna elevate. Now, think about your relational dynamics as they currently stand. Is that what's happening? Are you sure?
Why You Should Prioritize “Purpose People” Above All OthersGiphy
When it comes to relationship-related stuff, something else that time and maturity will (hopefully) teach you is there is a ton of space between “friend” and “enemy.” What I mean by that is, even if you realize that someone doesn’t need to be in your inner intimate circle or even that they shouldn’t be deserving of the official title “friend” (check out “Allow These Things To Happen Before Calling Someone 'Friend'”), that doesn’t mean they can’t be a cool acquaintance, a seasonal connection or simply someone who you enjoy getting drinks with from time to time. Y’all, some people can be pleasant additions without being highly prioritized. Always remember that.
Who should you prioritize, though? Your purposeful relationships. Now that you know more about what those people look and act like, it should be a given that your spouse would qualify because surely you wouldn’t choose a partner who doesn’t complement your purpose…CORRECT? And, of course, your kids would fall into this as well because two people in purpose create children with purpose…RIGHT? And then there’s the rest of the folks in your world who make you manifest your purpose clearer and easier.
Me personally? I know exactly who those individuals are for me. They’re the ones who can call me at 4 a.m. They’re the ones who can get money even when it’s a bit inconvenient for me to give it (check out “Life Taught Me That True Friendships Are 'Inconvenient'”). They’re the ones who I am happy to lend my gifts and talents to. Why? Because they would do the same for me. How can I be so sure? It’s because we have both agreed that we are in each other’s lives, in part, to make sure that our individual purposes are indeed fulfilled — and whatever it takes to make that happen…so be it. We’re in this thing until manifestation transpires. And those are the kind of people who deserve to come above all else. Truly and fully. And they do — without hesitation or reservation. To this day, I’ve never regretted it.
The late and oh-so-great Dr. Myles Munroe’s purpose was largely about helping others figure out their own purpose. That’s why he used to say things like, “Purpose is when you know and understand what you were born to accomplish,” “We were placed on earth to fulfill a purpose, which gives meaning to our lives; you were sent to the world to make an impact and a difference,” and “Your purpose can be fulfilled only during the time you are given on earth to accomplish it.”
And you know what? It would be a shame to have wasted so much of your time trying to make relationships work and last that never really were supposed to, all because they have nothing to do with you fulfilling your purpose, and you never realized that therein was the supreme disconnect.
It can’t be said enough: purpose is why you’re here. So, make sure that you’ve got relationships that help you to live your best life — IN PURPOSE…until you complete it.
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Featured image by Willie B. Thomas/Getty Images