**Trigger Warning** to those who are still in the healing process. This post may be a little graphic in nature, so please proceed with caution.
Between yesterday and today, this post was imminent. Yesterday, I was watching UnSung and the artist profiled was Miki Howard. And after UnSung was TV One’s featured film entitled Love Under New Management: The Miki Howard Story. For the benefit of those who don’t know who she is, she’s a female vocalist who mainly did R&B as well as jazz (she’s been in the industry as early as the 80s, but really established herself as a female vocalist in 1986/1987). I was just entering middle school when her first solo recording was playing on the radio. I want to use her story as the base (and the inspiration) for this post. Now some of you might be wondering, what does this has to do with lemonade? It’s a great question so let me explain (and this post has absolutely nothing to do with Beyonce’s Lemonade). There’s a saying that goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well, if you just take water and add lemons to it without adding any sugar, you have sour lemonade. I don’t know about you, but sexual abuse, emotional abuse, domestic abuse, neglect, abandonment, divorce, death of a loved one are lemons. You didn’t ask for them, so how do you make lemonade out of them? Again, that’s a great question so let me get right into the post by sharing her story and I will answer the question as to how to make lemonade out of all of this as this progresses.
Well, Miki Howard grew up in a musical home. She is the offspring of Josephine Howard, of the gospel group the Caravans, and Clay Graham of the Pilgrim Jubilees. Both her mother and father were gospel mainstays, and her sister could hold her own as well. Part of Howard’s story is having grown up in a household where homosexuality was being practiced. This subject was far more taboo in the 60s than it is today. Coupled that with the fact that her mother was a lesbian gospel singer, one can begin to understand why she may be torn about her relationship with gospel music. That could be one lemon that Miki received. During her childhood, her parents were separated and at one point, Miki was placed in a foster home (and I can’t remember if she has been through 2 foster homes). Either way, her being placed in a foster home could be a lemon that she received. In fact, there was a time that Miki’s mother had a man in the home that even tried to come on to Miki and it was overlooked. Of course, that’s a lemon she received. To add insult to injury, her mother not only took the man's side, she would accuse Miki stating that she was coming on to him. As a result, Josephine threw Miki out when she was only 16 years old. That in my opinion is at least 3-5 lemons (if not more).
One could imagine that when you don’t have that parental love that you so desperately need, you try to find love from the world. And because we know that the devil is the god of this world, the result is not going to be pretty. So, it only made sense for Miki to crave love during her late teen years. She would reveal the following, “Most people, at that age, are out going on dates and they’re learning about men and boys and things like that. I was learning about singing, I was learning the music business and I didn’t have the opportunity to learn the things that you should learn. I lost my mom at 18 years old and the show says it was later, but it was 18. She put me out by the time I was 16. So, there was no parent to tell me. Besides that I grew up in a completely gay environment. So, I had no idea about men. I knew nothing! When I tell you nothing, I mean nothing. I just put them on a pedestal and held them in high esteem, whether they deserved it or not. That’s not a good thing, so I had to learn the hard way that you don’t cast your pearls among swine. There are men that are swine and, most likely, they’re the first ones that come up. When you don’t have a lot of time and you don’t have a lot of knowledge you kind of go with the first Joe. ‘Hey you like me, you love me? Ok, let’s do this!’ I didn’t go to the movies, smooch in a theater or fondle in the backseat of a car. I didn’t do any of those things that teenagers are supposed to do in learning about your sexuality. So, in all of my 20s and early 30s I made serious mistakes with men.”
How many lemons can you find that Miki received during the course of reading the above paragraph? Here’s how many that I found:
- She lost her mother at the age of 18 years old.
- She was put out of the home at the age of 16.
- Depending on your spiritual conviction, her home environment would be one.
- Putting men whether deserved or not, were placed on a pedestal.
- Lack of knowledge as it relates to men and/or the true meaning of sex.
If you are looking at your life and you see yourself in it, please keep reading. I know that this may be hard for you (and granted, I see myself in some of what we’ve been discussing so far), but we are going to get to that place of healing and wholeness together.
When she was 20, she met a man in a singing group who was 28, and she ended up having two children with him. He was very adamant in not marrying her even though that was what she wanted. I’ll let you decide if that is a lemon that she received.
When she was 26 years old, she released her first solo album. And a few years later, she would marry a man named Eddie Phelps. He appeared nice from the beginning, but as the marriage progressed, he blackballed her in the music industry for several years after frequent outbursts with her record companies. Of course, it goes without saying that he physically abused her to the point of breaking her nose. And during the marriage, she ended up being addicted to cocaine. With the help of the late Gerald LeVert, she checked herself into rehab at the turn of the millennium. During the course of her time in rehab, the therapist was calling her a junkie (to the point that she felt degraded, and it’s definitely understandable). When she decided to stick it out in rehab, the therapist asked her a pivotal question, what happened in childhood that may have started all of this? Many people would be like Miki and think that question came out of left field. If you have lived in a state of denial and/or blocked out things that happened, it would make sense to think that. She started sharing about the abuse she endured, and he would nicely state that she has post-traumatic stress syndrome (or we could simply call it PTSD). I’m glad that question was stated because it got to the root of a lot of childhood pain that has been held inside. And truthfully, it can explain every lemon that has been received to cause all of the sourness and bitterness that’s in a hurt soul’s life.
The reason why I wanted to use her story is because I know every abuse survivor can relate to this in some form. And let’s face it, we overcome by the word of our testimony, and the testimonies of others can encourage others to keep going and to fight for their healing. I was very touched by her story and I’m so glad she shared it (as I am in the healing stage of some childhood wounds that I received).
So, if you happened to think of how many lemons you have received in your life, how are you able to make lemonade (and a good one at that)? First, add water to those freshly squeezed lemons (yes, I know the squeezing part is painful, because it consists of rolling it on the counter, and pressing it before cutting it open to be squeezed). But we’re trying to make great lemonade so others can taste it and it is refreshing to their soul when they come to you to drink from the story that you have to share.
Now that you added water to the pitcher where you freshly squeezed those lemons into, we need to add some sugar to it. Don’t stir it just yet. If you noticed, the sugar is all at the bottom. So if you were to drink it, you’ll find that it’s still bitter and sour. This is where some of us are, still bitter because we haven’t made steps to be sweet. Don’t worry, I’m not condemning you, this might be where you are in the healing process. If you’re taking baby steps, I’m with you; and if you’re not ready, I’m with you. We’re in this together.
Now we’re getting ready to stir that sugar in. If you are involved in the faith community like I am, then I will just share one scripture with you from Psalm 119:103 - How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! God’s Word is sweet, that’s the sugar needed in our lemonade. We just need to get that from the bottom of the pitcher and get it stirred into our hearts and any other type of professional help you may get.
So, let’s talk a little bit more about the stirring process. This is the part that many don’t want to go through, because this will affect every part of your inside, and stirring requires some good muscle if you want all of that sugar to dissolve in this lemonade you’re creating. Can I encourage you for a minute? Because you are still alive and are able to read this after all that you’ve been through, you have some muscle. You took every lemon and are on the verge of creating some awesome lemonade. Many of you have shared your lemonade with me, and I have enjoyed it. Likewise, many of you have enjoyed mine even though I’m still in the stirring process. Part of the stirring process will require a thought renewal (and having to fight the urge to quit stirring when you’re right at the point of finishing up your lemonade). If you quit, you’ll just remain bitter lemonade. You were born with such sweetness, and life threw many lemons at you (of course, the horrific lemons you received were not deserved and are no fault of your own). Let me encourage you a little bit more: don’t be discouraged about the time you may have thought you wasted in your life and the time that you lost. But you can get back all the things that you lost in the time that was wasted. The God that I serve is a restorer of all things. I want to challenge you to close the gap between what you what you want to see for your life and where you are right now. Your results are determining by your thoughts. As I challenge you, I want you to challenge me.
Are you ready to finish off the lemonade? Here we go. If you have your wooden spoon out, let’s start stirring until all of the sugar is dissolved and you don’t see anymore in the bottom of the pitcher. That sweetness has overshadowed the pain that you’ve experienced in your past. Make sure that you keep things and/or people away from the sweetened lemonade that you have made that will do everything they can to try and make it bitter again. And cherish those who will stir you to keep your lemonade sweet and ensure that the sweetness that you are doesn’t go to the bottom of the pitcher and it’s unnoticed when people go to partake of it.
Miki’s lemonade was sharing her story on UnSung and creating a TV Movie based on her life. And I was truly blessed by her story and I pray many others will be as they hear.
Of course, I can’t close this blogpost without telling you how many lemons I received in my life. I’m only going to share for the sake of time the obvious lemons I received: physical and sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment and rejection (which will equate to PTSD in a nutshell). My lemonade is still in the stirring process but believe me, if you had a chance to partake of it, it’s refreshing (smile).
If you are in the healing/wholeness process, your lemonade is under way; if you are healed/whole, let others partake and help others make their lemonade great. Healing and wholeness is for us. It’s a promise from God. He wants us to be made whole and for your lemons to truly be lemonade.
The Mayne Man