There were about six of us sitting in her dungeon-esque office in the basement of the administration building at SAGU. We found ourselves there often… I suppose because we just enjoyed her company. It was a new phenomenon for me… we could actually be friends with our professors. And she seemed to enjoy being friends with us, even if we did interrupt her grading of papers and planning for classes.
To be clear, I didn’t have a class with Dessita Rury. So, technically, she wasn’t “my” professor. But we did work together on Student Congress since she was the faculty sponsor. (To see how well that went for me, read the post from a couple days ago entitled, “Rejected.”) And she was a great friend and mentor to me. So, we hung out with her as often as possible.
But something happened this particular day as we sat in her office which I will never forget. We were all relaxed and goofing off. Apparently, someone made a statement and I apparently retorted with something I thought was funny. It must have been because people laughed.
Then out of nowhere, Ms. Rury looked directly at me and said, “Stop doing that.”
I was like a deer caught in the headlights, frozen and confused. The conversation stilled. I paused and asked, “Stop doing what?”
“Stop always cracking jokes. You play that part all the time. It’s the only side of you that you let others see. But there are other sides of who you are… great sides… sides you need to let others see. You are kind, tender, smart and spiritual. Start letting people see that there is more to you than just being the class clown. You let me see those aspects of who you are, and maybe a few friends, but you hide those great parts from everyone else. Why? What are you afraid of? I’m convinced that, if you’d let people see those sides of you, they’d appreciate you even more.”
I was stunned. Very few people, if anyone, had ever talked to me like that. And she wasn’t scolding me. There was this deep love and concern in her eyes and in her tone. There was this sense of frustration that she really did want to help me see what I couldn’t seem to see on my own. I didn’t know what to say. I’m sure I fumbled through some response. I don’t really remember how the conversation ended or how we all ended up leaving her office that afternoon.
But I don’t think I will ever forget that moment. That was a turning point in my life. That was a landmark moment. It was the day someone spoke life over me and informed me that I was more than a one-trick pony… that there was more to me than met the eye… that I had something to offer people beyond one-liners.
I love bringing joy and laughter to people. It’s a powerful thing. But that day I discovered that it’s also okay for me to hug someone and cry with them… it’s also okay for me to give a brainy answer when I have knowledge which others need… it’s also okay for me to speak kind, encouraging words to people who are hurting or discouraged. It’s okay because Dessita Rury gave me permission that day to be all that God intended for me to be.
And today… I give you permission. I give you permission to let your light shine in front of people so that they can see the good things you do and give God credit for making such an amazing individual. You don’t have to be afraid anymore of what people will think. Put yourself out there and let people see all those spectacular sides of who you are. The world around you needs to see God’s love and power shining through you like a light shining through a prism and radiating out of multiple facets in myriad colors. Those parts of you that you think people aren’t interested in… well, they are.
So, stop doing that! Stop hiding behind one characterstic and share all the greatness put inside you with those around you. You have my permission.
P.S.- If you’re reading this, Dessita Rury, thanks! I’m a better husband, dad, friend, son, brother, uncle and minister because you were willing to call out greatness in me and challenge me in love to become more. I’ll do my best to pay it forward in others.