|Posted by [email protected] on March 10, 2018 at 9:30 PM||comments (0)|
Forgiveness at Work in 2018
Contributor: Anthony Hall, Clarkston, GA
If you work anywhere in this country you will at some point have to practice some form of forgiveness. Perhaps a coworker betrayed your confidence. Your boss treated you unkindly. Maybe you are the one in need of the grace of a forgiving spirit. Opportunities to capture our workplaces for Christ through forgiveness are many. However, these occasions too often slip through our fingers.
Unfortunately, participants in the work world today routinely respond to errors, mistakes, and bungled relationships in an angry, unhealthy, and unchristian manner. Many Christians believe an angry and unforgiving spirit is acceptable in "the real world" of work. How many times have we heard someone say, "You had better let them know who is boss? It is good to show your temper. Anyway, Christ showed his anger when he threw people out of the temple. If he yelled at people, why shouldn't we?" Can we even compare an error or mistake made at work, whether careless or intentional, to the desecration of God's temple?
In your week of work, how did you respond to the hurt and disappointment of the failings of others? The time has come for believers to absorb the pain of our own and others' failures and, with the help of Christ, offer forgiveness to the unforgivable. Put off anger and disassociation, and follow the teachings of our forgiving God. I believe the Scriptures offer inspired teaching on how we can forgive even the most difficult people.
Step 1: See Others from God's Perspective
The first step to forgiveness is seeing your coworkers from God's perspective. Take your eyes off the offender and look to the Savior. Jesus sees each of us as eternally significant beings with brilliant potential. God's vantage point teaches that we have all sinned and that we are all helpless without the blood of Christ.
This admonition to look through godly lenses is tough when a fellow laborer steps on us to get ahead. Looking around our workplace with godly eyes is difficult if we have been displaced for no good reason.
Yet over and over we see how Christ responded to the scorn of others with compassion and forgiveness. "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matt. 9:36).
You may work with people whose lives are defined in that verse—helpless and harassed, sheep without a shepherd, aimlessly meandering from one day to the next. It is little wonder that many of your coworkers suffer from unbearable anger, an unforgiving spirit, and a me-first attitude. Our human perspective on the person at the next desk or in the next office or on the next line is not good enough. We must seek the perfect perspective, the forgiving perspective of the Creator of us all.
Step 2: Leave the Offense at the Cross
Have you been the victim of a coworker's mistake? Have you said to yourself, "Every dog has his day? My day is coming." That is the easy response. The Bible describes a different response: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Eph. 4:32). What is your pain compared to the pain Christ endured on your behalf?
When Christ died on that cross, He created a lasting reminder of His loving forgiveness. Remember he said on the cross father forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:24) Sometimes we have to charge things to a person’s head and not to their heart.
Step 3: Operate Out of Your Will and Reason
The third step to responding with godly forgiveness is to operate out of your will and reason, not out of your emotions. After you have gained God's perspective and left the burden of your error at the Cross, then, with a reasonable heart, meet to discuss the error and the future.
The prophet Isaiah communicated to the people of Judah and Jerusalem God's dissatisfaction with their behavior. He related the wages of their sin and then announced a marvelous offer from God: "Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord" (Isa. 1:1 God asked the failing people of Judah and Jerusalem to come and talk about the situation rationally and with cool heads.
God had given humans a special ability to reason that distinguishes us from other creatures. But in the jungle of commerce, we sometimes act like animals. Like the territorial lion, we quickly dispose of coworkers whose actions annoy us. With lightning speed, we unleash our anger on the very one in need of forgiveness.
In your job, you may have experienced the quick hand of a boss responding angrily, not reasonably. Maybe a coworker told a lie about you. These people need your forgiveness. Follow the instruction found in Isaiah and slow down. Calm down. Do not rush to judgment. Pray. Meet and discuss the conflict. Listen and reason. Forgive.
Step 4: Rebuild and Restore
Restoration and rebuilding are what Christ is all about. Imagine the hurt you would feel if one of your closest friends betrayed you. Would you try to restore and rebuild your relationship with you betrayer? During the biggest crisis of Jesus' earthly life, Simon Peter denied knowing the Savior. Did Jesus brood and hold a grudge? Did He exact vengeance on His fallen friend? No. Christ rose from the grave and embraced Peter. Jesus forgave His friend, and a hurting Simon Peter was rebuilt and restored.
Transforming your company into Christ can be a difficult task. It is possible only if you will humble yourself and seek and offer forgiveness. We must slow down and reason with godly wisdom. Seeing others from God's perspective, we should take our pain and the pain of others and leave it behind us on the Cross. Then we should look to the future as eternal builders and restore our broken relationships.
Take a minute to reflect on the situation this week when you should have used forgiveness. Were you the victim, the offender, or the innocent bystander? Did you represent your Lord in a manner that would be pleasing to Him? What actions can you take in the next twenty-four hours to open the pathway to forgiveness? Tomorrow we look at the physical effects of un-forgiveness…until then expect to be blessed in 2018….
|Posted by [email protected] on February 13, 2018 at 10:25 PM||comments (0)|
Resetting in February to Find our True Love
It's February 2018 and as you know this is heart health month and, of course, it is also Black History Month. The 2018 Black History month’s theme is “African Americans in Times of War”. Of course, the 2018 Black History theme marks the commemoration of the centennial of the end of the First World War in 1918. This theme also explores the complex meanings and implications of this international struggle and its aftermath. As I scan the American landscape, I believe that the 2018 Black History them aptly describes not only the role of African Americans in the First World War, but speaks to the physical, emotional, and spiritual war that African Americans and many other Americans find themselves in today. We are busy fighting each other and our nation is more divided than ever before. Somehow, we have forgotten that “we still bleed the same” and that “they will know us by our love”. We are no longer united in brotherhood and are often far from loving to each other.
Yet, it is February, the month of love, an unusual year when we celebrate Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday on the same day. So, Pastors all across America are preaching on love and relationships, flowers are being sent by the tons, and we are all running in a million directions. We are busy, but many of us are failing to thrive. Why, because we have lost our first loves~ our love of God and self. Instead, many things; football, money, car, sex, and material possessions have taken over. Yet, many of us are running on empty. We have acquired what we thought would make us happy, but we feel empty. We have fallen for the schemes of the enemy and yet we are still discontent. In fact, in speaking to many, some are not certain how to feel whole again, since shame, regrets and guilt have pushed us far away from the source of all true love~ God
Given this situation, I think it is time for us to stop for a reset. A reset you might ask, what is that, and why. Well, let's see, we are several weeks into our New Year’s resolutions, and for many, we have already forgotten what we prayed for and vowed to achieve this year. For others, we gave up on resolutions years ago. Some might have turned their backs on God and even dammed those who follow his name. So, yes, a reset might be needed after all. Do you agree, its time to push that reset button? If yes, let's do that together right now!
Now that you have pressed reset, let's start over on the right foot by taking a fresh look at February. To do so, I posit that we must do the following:
• Start and end with GOD, he is the ultimate lover of our souls.“ Our hearts are restless until they rest in YOU” ( St. Augustine). Stop and ask the man/woman in the mirror, where is God in my life? Once you receive an answer, push past your fear, and start moving back to the source of all peace.
• Remember to keep the main thing, the main thing. “God first, people second and career third” (Mary Kay Ash). Many of us have these in reverse order and we are empty for it. Stop to prioritize and get back on track, so you can thrive.
• Love yourself or if you don’t, figure out why, and do the hard work to fix it. Living without self-love is like living in a glass tomb- you can see everything, but the world is passing you by.
• Give more, and yes, this does not always have to be monetary. Give of your time, de-clutter and give away to those in need, use your talents to help where your community needs you. If nothing else, give a smile and a compliment to those you meet each day.
• Forgive often, even if it is the same person, give them another chance. By the way, unforgiveness and love cannot coexist in any heart. Where love exists, unforgiveness is not welcome. After all, who wants to live with a millstone around their neck?
• Work daily to improve your relationships. It is all about relationships, whether at work, school, church or at home, everything is built around relationships. In fact, I will go as far as saying that deep down in all of us, is the need to be loved and appreciated. This, I believe might be one of the biggest voids in our relationships.
• Seek peace and remove any source of dis-peace in your life. Life is too short to be a walking dead. If war is within and without us, before long something will break. Nothing, not work, career, money, or anything else is worth your peace.
• Find a need and fill it, if you are lonely this Valentine’s day, take a walk to encourage those who will visit cemeteries, visit a nursing home, etc. Give what you need and very soon, you will find that you are the better for it.
As you celebrate Black History Month, Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday this February lets get back to our first loves by following these simple tips, keeping the right perspective, and loving until it hurts.
Please send me your thoughts on how to reset our hearts, so that we can thrive.
|Posted by [email protected] on December 31, 2017 at 6:25 PM||comments (0)|
Starting 2018 with Godly Success in Mind
The bustle and hustle of Christmas has ended, and like people all over the world, we are counting down to 2018. Excitement is in the air! Will your New Year’s celebration consist of watching the Peach drop or a trip to New York for the ball drop? Will it be a night to stay at home or the night to attend watch night service for the first time? Regardless of what you do, I have found from experience that the way one starts the New Year often dictates how that year will unfold. For many Pentecostals, starting the New Year in God’s house is the way to go. So, for my family and me, we will start 2018 in God’s house. During this time, we will celebrate the New Year, pray for God’s will and direction in the New Year, and encourage one another to trust God and to grow in our faith and relationship with Christ.
But you might say, Dr. Meg, my faith and relationship with God has never paid my bills, provided for my family, or saved me from the pain of broken relationships and issues that I will face in the New Year. So, how can one be sure that putting God first in 2018 will be good for my family? I am glad you asked. Maybe, 2018 could be the year for you to make the leap and try to trust God to do this and more for your family. You have to learn to lean on him! I have a few tactics to share that has worked for our family:
1. Pray constantly to God- for his direction, his will, his purpose, his church, and his people. and for him to perplex and amaze you in 2018. Remember also to pray for your family, friends, and your spouse. Together, you are stronger and can do greater things than you alone. Start and end your day with prayers.
2. Spend time daily in God’s word- this is the only thing that can change us. Reading God’s word transforms, renews, and provides us with the direction and guidance we need to live lives that are blessed with Godly success.
3. Give at every opportunity- whether of your money, time, talent, or other resources, giving to God’s work and advancing his kingdom are a must to receive his blessings. The bible clearly reminds us that as you give it will be given back to you. God is not a debtor, and he always returns what you give multiplied.
4. Commit to using your talents to advance God’s work here on earth. Your talents were specifically endowed to you to make you unique, and for you to leave your indelible contributions to HIS work. No other individual alive or death is like you in your gifting, and your contributions are needed to fulfill God’s plans for this world. As stewards of God’s talents, he will call us to an accounting of how we have used these gifts. Don’t live with regrets; use those talents to make a difference in our world.
5. Live daily by demonstrating the love of God with everyone you meet. “They will know us by our love”. Of course, this is hard, but loving the unlovable and loving those who have hurt us is only possible with God’s help. None of this is humanly possible, only God’s grace, love, and glory can help us to love those who hate us.
6. Forgive those who have transgressed against you. Yes, I know that this is easier said than done. So, keep loving the loveless and offering forgiveness of those who have caused you pain. This is only possible with God’s help. Most importantly, remember that forgiveness does not mean that you have to resume a relationship with those that have hurt you. But, this is freeing and healing for you more than others.
7. Be quick to confess your sins or when you have missed the mark. God knows anyway, so be quick to say that you are sorry to man and God. Refusing to do so will hinder your prayers- you cannot afford that since most of us want our prayers to be answered.
8. Keep a stance of thanksgiving. Give thanks for everything. Your praise is often the only thing that stands between your prayers and its answers. Even with little, you have much to be thankful for. Don’t let stones offer your praise. Count your blessings and praise God for them in the good and bad times.
9. Be purposeful in all you do. Don’t be a “jack of all trades and a master of none”. Ask God to show you his purpose for your life, so that you don’t spend your entire life trying to find it. Once he reveals this to you, use this as a filter for all you do. This way your roots will go deep and your influence even further.
10. Confess your worth to Christ and never quit. You are valuable to the kingdom. Your contributions are necessary to move HIS work forward. So, speak God’s words about, to, and in your circumstances, and never quit or lose heart. God is with you in the fire, flood, and any other situation that you might face. He will never leave or quit on you. Can he count on you to do the same? Step in 2018 boldly, keep close to God, and watch how he will amaze you.
Finally, do you have tactics or practices that have worked for you and your family? If yes, feel free to share these with our readers.
Have a happy and healthy New Year!
|Posted by [email protected] on August 10, 2017 at 2:30 PM||comments (0)|
To recap our previous blog, many singles that have turned to online dating could be setting themselves up for disaster by not adequately getting to know their dates. Last month’s blog stated nine questions from the article “15 Mental Health Questions You Should Ask Your Date” on Blackdoctors.com. Below, we will include the next six questions. I hope that these suggestions will help you better assess your date’s personality and preferences. With these questions, we hope to help you determine whether asking for a second date or politely rejecting this person would be the best course of action.
Here are tips #10 - #15:
“10. Do you/have you ever smoke / drink / do drugs?
Why: You likely have a preference one way or the other.
11. Do you collect anything?
Why: Do they spend a lot of money or time collecting something?
12. How do you feel about…. [insert what you are most passionate about]?
Why: Whatever you’re really passionate about, do they respect it? For example, gaming.
13. Have you been to any good restaurants recently?
Why: Tells you something about whether they seek out new experiences.
14. What are your thoughts about the upcoming election (any upcoming election)?
Why: The main point here is not to jump to assumptions about your date’s politics. If you jump to an assumption that they have the same politics as you, they might feel too awkward to say that their politics are different.
15. When was the last time you really had fun?
Why: This gives you a glimpse into what the person really loves to do. Not just in their spare time, but really makes them happy. If it’s something strange, then you may want to back off (Causey, 2016).”
If these questions prove to be helpful to you, we would love to hear your stories!
|Posted by [email protected] on July 21, 2017 at 10:15 AM||comments (0)|
Are you single, divorced, or widowed? If yes, then like many singles across our nation, you know the struggles associated with finding a friend or even a date that worth keeping around.
With the modernization of online dating, it can be a scary time as single men and women try to balance life while trying to reenter the dating scene. So, it has occurred to me that this might be an area of interest during this time of weddings, family vacations, holidays, college trips, etc., when many singles are feeling the most vulnerable.
Some particularly good advice to assist you during this season comes from an article on BlackDoctors.org called “15 Mental Health Questions You Should Ask Your Date.” The article suggests the following advice about dating and offers a few mental health questions to ask your date. Here’s an excerpt from their page:
“Dating is hard enough as it is. Now, pile on mental health issues stemming from his or her past and it’s a recipe for disaster. So instead of finding out later that the person you're dating may have some mental health problems that you didn't sign up for, here are a few questions you should ask and they should answer (and you should answer too).
1. Do you like your job?
Why: Is the person about to make any major life changes e.g., leave their $200K/year job to go back to school? What's their attitude to their work? Do they see it as a job, a vocation, or are they primarily motivated by climbing the career ladder?
2. What sort of vacations do you like to take?
Why: Different vacation preferences or amounts of vacation time can be a major source of ongoing incompatibility. For example, if one person likes to take very long trips and the other person has a more standard two weeks’ vacation time.
3. How was your day?
Why: This question helps establish if your date has a positive or negative attitude? If asking this question leads to five solid minutes of them complaining you'll know the person sees the glass as half empty. Also, if anything out of the ordinary has happened that might be affecting your date's mood, it's good to factor this in.
4. Tell me about your friends?
Why: When you enter a relationship with someone you're also entering a relationship with their friends. Also, it's nice to give your date an opportunity to answer a question that isn't directly about them.
5. Are you a dog person, a cat person, or neither?
Why: If one of you doesn't like pets and the other has three dogs?
6. Would you like a bite of my food?
Why: This question shows you’re open to sharing. On a first date go for a friendly tone rather than an intimate tone when asking this question. If the person is against it, he or she may be against sharing in life or have some sort of issue with sharing from his/her past.
7. Is it too noisy in here for you?
Why: This shows you’re considerate of other people’s comfort. Don’t be afraid to change plans if you arrive at a restaurant and find it’s too noisy for a good conversation.
8. Are you close to your family? Or, tell me who’s in your family?
Why: Are they very involved with their family of origin? Is this something that appeals to you or not? Are their family intrusive?
9. Is there anything you don’t eat?
Why: Helps you plan future dates but also gives you an opportunity to choose not to pursue dating someone who has very incompatible food preferences from you.”
Can you use these tips now as you navigate the dating landscape? Also, do you have any stories or tips to share as singles work to assess the mental health of their dates. If yes, please send me your story!
Dating is hard work, but it is a time for gathering information in order to weed out those with whom you might be incompatible. Next month, I will follow up with other tips in our Mental Health and Dating Part II blog. So, let me hear from you about how if any these might have helped.
|Posted by [email protected] on February 10, 2017 at 10:05 PM||comments (0)|
Time for a Heart to Heart Conversation
It’s February 2017, and Americans are celebrating American Heart Health, Black History, Mental health month, plus a host of other health observances. February is also the month of love when we will celebrate Valentine day and share special gifts with those we love. Love and a focus on the heart are everywhere. For instance, my credit union has a monthly competition and all you have to do to enter to win in February is to draw a heart on a check you are depositing. All stores, supermarkets, and even online sites are sending out the “love” as they try to entice us to spend money to purchase gifts, flowers and other trinkets to show our love.
But why should anyone care about these topics? First, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Heart disease kills on average more than 610,000 Americans each year and accounts for one in every four deaths in our country. An interesting fact reported by the CDC is that more than 50% of these deaths occur in men. So, Heart disease and mental health both have one thing in common, they affect millions of Americans.
As we celebrate Black History Month, it is, even more, starting to realize that African Americans have higher incidences of heart disease and the highest reported use of inpatient mental health services than other races. So, for me, it is becoming more obvious as I reflect on what to do in February, it seems a perfect time for all Americans, but especially African Americans, to stop to have a “heart to heart” conversation. This heart to heart, I believe must first start with themselves, then their families, friends and colleagues, and then, of course, a heart to heart is needed in our communities.
So, you might ask what this should heart to heart include. Can I suggest that we could start by discussing what might be behind these very high rates of heart disease in the African American population? Are there genetic or environmental factors that contribute to these conditions? What is the role of stress, discrimination, and racism on the heart health of our people? What might be the role of diet and physical inactivity? What are the impact of smoking and high blood pressure on these data? What is the impact of unforgiveness on our cardiovascular health? These and a number of other questions should be taken out of hiding and discussed in an open and public dialogue. Not only should these questions be brought out in the open and discussed with no blame, but as a people, African Americans must collectively develop a plan of action to change these data. Since we know that “Black Lives Matters”, this Black History Month, let’s start a conversation about how to reduce heart disease and its related complications in our community. Only then will we be able to live long and healthy lives. After all, it is the time for us to live to see our grand and great grandchildren!
As an African American, please share your story about how you changed your lifestyle to reduce your risk for heart disease or develop healthy behaviors after a heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure or another scare.
|Posted by [email protected] on December 31, 2016 at 6:00 PM||comments (0)|
A New Year: A Time of Hope, Resolutions, and More..
It’s New Year’s Eve, and 2017 is almost here and many of us wait with excitement for the holiday parties, Watch Night Service, family board game night, sleepovers, the Peach Drop and many other ways to mark the beginning of a brand new year. It’s a time of excitement, wonder, trepidation, uncertainty, and hope. Hope that this year will be different. Will this be a season of change that will usher in one’s dreams and delivery long-forgotten goals?
Tomorrow, millions of Americans and people all over the world will make New Year’s resolutions. In 2015, the top ten resolutions were as follows: 1) Lose Weight; 2) Getting Organized, 3) Spend Less, Save More; 4) Enjoy Life to the Fullest; 5) Staying Fit and Healthy; 6) Learn Something Exciting; 7) Quit Smoking; 8 ) Help Others in Their Dreams; 9) Fall in Love; and 10) Spend More Time with Family. While all of these were quite noble goals, not many of these were kept. In fact, it is estimated that about 45% of Americans make resolutions, but only about eight percent ever succeeds at these resolutions. I am sure that you would also find it interesting that 47% of all resolutions are related to self-improvement, 38% are related to weight, 34% are related to money, and the remaining 31% are related to relationships. Once followed, about 75% of those making resolutions will achieve them during the first week, but this number falls to 46% at six months. Of course, as one would imagine, the number of people continuing to keep resolutions after six months continues to fall and often by the end of the year, most people have forgotten these resolutions.
2017! Biblically, number 17 symbolizes "overcoming the enemy" and "complete victory." God overcame the sins of rebellious humans when he began to flood the earth through rain on the 17th of the second Hebrew month. Noah's ark and its eight passengers rested on the mountains of Ararat on the 17th of the seventh month (right in the middle of God's annual Holy period known as the Feast of Tabernacles). In addition, the Bible shares many victories that were associated with the number 17. Could this your year of victory? Can I submit that it could be, but only if we approach the year in a different way.
Dr. Meg you ask, are you suggesting that we do away with resolutions. Not at all! Yet, even for Christians, we tend to make resolutions to pray more, read the bible front to back, attend church more regularly, etc., and while these are great goals, these fall aside like the non-Christian resolutions, as there is no power in resolutions. So, you ask what then can we do differently. Here are my suggestions. First, pray to God for his wisdom about what kind of resolutions, if any you should make. Second, ask for his favor, grace, and mercy to fulfill these resolutions. Third, rely on God’s strength to help you stick to your resolutions. Fourth, find an accountability partner/s (a pastor, spouse, friend, etc.) to whom you can share your struggles and look to for support. Lastly, keep God in the center of your year and resolutions and only then will it have a chance to succeed. God’s word is clear, “many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21).
So, get before God, ask for his help, and who knows 2017 might really be your year of victory.
Please feel free to comment on our post as well as share your experience with New Year’s resolutions.
Have a victorious new year!
|Posted by [email protected] on December 31, 2016 at 6:00 PM||comments (0)|
So, can you believe that we are in December of 2016? How time has flown by. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is deafening, as people scurry to and fro trying to get ready for Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and the New Year. 2016 is on the way out, and the New Year is almost here. It is a time for reflection; did we achieve our goals and dreams? What happened that we could have prevented? Where were the rough spots across the year? What would we do differently? All these and a myriad other questions swirl around in our minds. After all, this year was going to be different, we have promised this to ourselves and screamed it at God. This year, I am going to find that dream job, meet the right person, take that dream vacation, lose that weight, go back to college, slow down and smell the coffee… the list was endless. But, I believe that you will agree with me that most of us will have many gaps between our dreams and our realities.
So, what then are we to do when instead of joy we found dis-peace, new friends- loneliness, dream job- unemployment, a new house-homelessness or moving back into your mother’s home? None, not one of those New Year’s resolutions have been met. In fact, your life in 2016 would be great for a movie about the blues. What you say, that sentence might be too generous of a description for life in 2016. After all, you cried more than you smiled, you are still alone; with not a date in sight, now, not only you, but your friend and his girlfriend are in your mother’s home, and you feel lost and alone.
Can you relate and if yes, what does one do in this situation? First, can I suggest that you dig through the rubble of 2016 and you find something to be thankful for, anything. After all, there was that accident that should have killed you, that purse that was returned, that gift on your doorstep, the smile of a friend… Dig deep and remember them! Second, think over the year and consider what of any of the many crises’ you faced, that were in your control. For most of us this will be a very small number. Looking back in hindsight, did you do your best? Did you give it your all? If yes, then learn to forgive yourself, your family, and God and let it go. Next, lift up your head and be resolute in your desire to move past the pain, hurts, humiliation, rejection, discrimination, injustice, and disrespect that you might have faced in 2016? Let it all go! Keep your hope and faith, find peace with you, your family, friends, enemies, and God and face the New Year unafraid. Forgive and start afresh in 2017!
Would love to hear your thoughts on our post and about your experiences in 2016.
|Posted by [email protected] on August 20, 2016 at 11:15 PM||comments (0)|
Breastfeeding and Cancer: How if Any Are They Related?
I recently spoke to two friends who had both being diagnosed with breast cancer. For one, she was celebrating her 20th year been cancer free, and she was getting ready to retire from a long and illustrious career. My other friend had just been diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2016, and she was getting ready to start her chemo and radiation treatment. These women had a few things in common, they were both mothers and grandmother, they were hard workers who had led very stressful lives, but another common bond was that when they had the opportunity, they opted not to breastfeed their children.
Now, this is not to say that women who refuse to breastfeed always end up with cancer, but multiple studies continue to show a strong correlation between breast feeding and cancer. In fact, according to the Susan Komen Foundation breastfeeding lowers a woman’s risk for breast cancer, especially during premenopause. In addition, the longer a woman breastfeed the greater the protection. Research also indicated that women who breastfeed and ended up having breast cancer are less likely to die from breast cancer and to have the cancer reoccur, than women who don’t breastfeed.
So, given all of these benefits, why then do women choose not to breastfeed? What swayed my friends away from breastfeeding their babies. These are great questions given that August is National Breastfeeding Month. As a former Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) nutritionist, I remember working hard to share the benefits of breastfeeding with my young African American or Hispanic/Latino clients. Many would listen intently to my spiel about the benefits of breastfeeding, but they would often ask whether I had breastfed my children and I was proud to say that I had. In fact, I had breastfed one child for several years. This by the way is still a family joke and something he is often teased about by his siblings. So given, the benefits of breastfeeding and the close bond that is formed when women breastfeed, what then stops a woman from breastfeeding.
This is the million dollar question, and so I decided to ask my friends to weigh in, given that this is National Breastfeeding Month. Here is some of what I heard from these women. One woman reported that she was very young and no one encouraged her to breastfeed. Both women view their breast as “sexual organs” and cringe at the thought of having them sucked on by a child. They saw their breast as only for sexual pleasure, not for breastfeeding a baby. One reported being separated from her second child because of medical complications, and never having a chance to breastfeed. Another reported never producing enough milk to breastfeed. All in all, between medical issues, or sexual preferences, both these women missed the opportunity to breastfeed a total of six children.
Whatever the reason, the CDC reported in 2015 that only 59% of African American women breastfeed compared to 79% of Hispanic/Latino and 75% of White women. Also, 63% of women with less than a high school diploma breast-fed as compared to 84% of college graduates. Only half of young mothers under the age of 20 breastfed, but 68% of mothers between the ages of 20 and 29 breastfed. Seventy seven percent of older mothers over the age of 30 were the ones most likely to breastfeed.
Choosing to breastfeed is a personal issue and is influenced by several factors including, a woman’s race, age, culture, and medical condition, yet it is always important to keep in mind the benefits of breastfeeding, including a lower risk for cancer. So, here’s to all breastfeeding women and to all breast cancer survivors. In our small way, we have made a difference in our world. So, have you had any experience breastfeeding your children, or been diagnosed with breast cancer. If yes, add your voice to our blog this month.
If yes, lets hear from you.
|Posted by [email protected] on July 7, 2016 at 9:05 PM||comments (0)|
Injustices in Health Care: Getting to Forgiveness after an Untimely Death
July 31, 2016 would have been a very important day, yes; it was supposed to be the 35th birthday of our son, brother, and friend Jeff, who unfortunately passed away on June 13, 2016. When July 31 arrives, it will be a very sad day, as we stop to offer a moment of silence in honor of a great man, whose life was cut short. Because of this and the continued problems in our health care system, this month’s blog will be dedicated to Jeff and the issue of injustice in the health care system. Over 50 years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr., said these words, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Alarmingly, Martin Luther King, Jr. words could be describing health care services in 2016, for any minority living in the USA. Despite having the first Black President, and Obama Care, equality has still to not come to health care in the United States. In fact, I will beg to suggest that this shocking and inhumane treatment afforded minorities in our health care system is another form of the “new Jim Crowe”, to stifle and annihilate Blacks.
In 2016, as I reread Martin Luke King , Jr, words, I cannot help but think of Jeff and the countless other African Americans and other minorities, who despite their insurance status, continues to receive less aggressive, and a different quality of care in our health care system. In a developed nation where health care costs, exceeds 18 % of our gross domestic product, Americans of a different hue, can still expect to receive poor quality, fragmented care, despite their insurance status, and this makes me mad as hell.
The 2003, Institute of Medicine Report, “Unequal Treatment” clearly articulated that there were inequalities in the American health care system. But almost 13 years later, why are we still discussing this issue. Most importantly, how do we, as a people, ensure that 13 years from now, we have not taken steps backwards, and are worst positioned than we previously were, to live long and productive lives in the “land of the free and the home of the brave”.
After all, Jeff was a true American born legally to upstanding Americans. Jeff was free to come and go as he pleased, and except for a speeding ticket, he never got involved in the New Jim Crowe (our justice system and its massive incarceration of Blacks). He was highly educated and earned his MBA about two years ago. He was going places. So, why will we stop to take a moment of silence in his honor instead of having the huge 35th birthday party that we were planning? Simply this, the American health care system, failed him as well as countless others that met an untimely death in the claws of our discriminatory health care system.
So, apart from being mad as hell, what else can we do? I suggest that we have several options which we should immediately employ. First, we must become advocates for those of a different “hue” who seek services in our health care system. Second, we must visit our doctors, armed with relevant information about our symptoms or conditions, and remind ourselves that we are paying the doctor for his/her services, and not the other way around. Therefore, we must ask questions, ask them in a variety of ways and demand the support of the health care team to ensure that as a patient, you are at the center of your care. No longer is medicine a paternalistic regime, we are evolving into value-based, patient-centered care. Yes, doc, it no longer about YOU, when you can meet, when you choose to do a test, it is about aggressively treating the patient, who must be at the center of his/her care.
This begs the question, are American paternalistic doctors, many of whom see the health system as their “cash cow, going to survive the move to value based care as well as the many lawsuits they might find themselves involved in, since people are no longer willing to take their foolishness lying down? Yes, we live in a litigious society and malpractice costs are high, but have we bought some of this on ourselves, by providing discriminatory health care services? Only you “Doc” can answer this question, but I would suggest we all will sleep easier and celebrate many more birthdays, if all of us as Americans followed the golden rule- do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This way, you ensure that the treatment you provide to the” Jeff’s” of this world would be the same services, you would offer to your own son, if he were lying in that hospital bed. If this is not the case then your oath to do good and to heal has already been violated, and this might be the best time to consider a career change.
For me and the many who hurt from the untimely death of this young man, our plan is to take our broken hearts daily to our Maker, so that he and only he can touch and heal us in those broken places of our hearts. Yes, we know we must forgive, but the sting is still raw and God’s grace and mercy are so badly needed, as we pray for total surrender, so that true peace and healing may come.
Jeff is gone but not forgotten, so, join me in this fight to ensure that a decade from now, Martin Luther King, Jr’s words will be a stark reminder of times past, and the worst days in the US health care system, and not our current reality. After all, Black lives matter, so this month, share your thoughts and comments about our imperfect health care system.