Chapter 1 — Ever Changing: Inside Outward by Rhonda K. Herring
Author Rhonda K. Herring is releasing her new book, Ever Changing. She gives a bold account of spiritual development and growth that led her to look within herself for the strength and courage to make a difference in her life and in others. Her journey takes her readers from childhood, to adulthood, to purpose.
Rhonda Herring lives in northern Virginia and is a Senior Program Analyst for the Department of Defense. She has been with the Department of Defense for more than twenty-two years. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, majoring in Accounting, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration.
Ever Changing is the story of how one woman submitted herself to God’s will and how He sustained her in her darkest moments. She describes the intimate details of her relationship with God and how He transformed her life. Based on the beloved “Serenity Prayer” that was instilled in the author as a young child. How she learned the true meaning of the prayer and how it sustained her through her trials and tribulations. She finds the courage to change the things she can and the “wisdom” to know the difference.
Ever Changing was written for those who do not understand why they are going through difficult times and experiencing constant changes in their lives. It is for those who are seeking the wisdom to identify the things they can change and to be wise enough to leave those things they can not change to God. This testimony teaches self-acceptance, acceptance of others and the acceptance of change with the understanding that unless God sails the ship we are afloat.
Rhonda states, “I have always loved to read and to write since I was a child. I began to write in a journal some years ago and to communicate with God as I went through some struggles in my life. A few years prior to maintaining the journal I had a vision of change. From the vision I understood that God would use me in some capacity to promote change. As I began typing my memoirs on my computer a story began to unfold before me. Only then did I realize the correlation of my writing to my vision. Thus leading me to write Ever Changing.
“Ever Changing is triumphantly wonderful, painfully dynamic and is the ultimate road map to purpose.” —Rhonda
Chapter 1 — SECTION ONE-READY OR NOT
Train up a child in the way he should go:and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”– (Proverbs 22:6)
In the beginning of my process of change, it came and did not care if I welcomed it or not. This section is the story of my upbringing and how important a role it played in my life. I would be remiss if I did not start from the beginning, although the memoirs came first. As I changed into adulthood, I thought I knew what I wanted. I thought I had what all young adults think they have—the right insight and perspective, and in the right order, mind you. This section demonstrates a youthful awareness of how life changes and how my life changed and how this affected everything. Change was happening, and I was simply reacting to the change, but with absolutely no direction. The purpose of the change was slowly being revealed, but my carnal eyes could not see.
Chapter 1: In the Beginning
You could say that I had a pretty good upbringing. Back then, I did not think about it at all. My world revolved around my mom, my sisters, my brothers, and our small suburban housing development. My mom told me what to be, and that is what I dreamed of becoming. She said things like, “There’s not a person on this earth better than you, and you, young lady, are no better than anyone else”; “Work hard and do what is right”; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” She taught us to stand up for ourselves and what we believed in. She taught us not to be afraid of anything and the value of getting an education.
For the most part, she showed us how not to give up, how to get back up again and again when you fall, and to keep going no matter what. She taught us that quitters never win, and winners never quit. She led by example. My mom never gave up, no matter how much she hurt, no matter how much she endured. She never gave up on us or on life. Of course, I did not realize this until I started going through my own life experiences. I just thought my mom was immovable, invincible, unstoppable, and tough as nails. Little did I know that even when you are all those things, life still hurts! I was and still am inspired today to have a mother like mine and so thankful for that upbringing.
My mother made me learn and recite the “Serenity Prayer” over and over again. This included before meals, at bedtime, and any other time it seemed appropriate. I recited it probably a million times in my young life. But back then, it just seemed like something that I knew and something that I said to get praise at dinner or to impress my mother’s friends and to make her proud of me. Little did I know that it would play such an integral role in everything I did in my life. Little did I know that it would take me down and over the paths that were set before me. What is instilled in you as a child carries with you throughout your lifetime. It is what shapes our personalities, our drive, our character, and even our goals in life—everything.
My mother was a strong woman and did not tolerate much ignorance. She was a firm believer in discipline and appropriate behavior. I knew she loved us back then, and as I reflect back to those times, I know for a fact she did her very best to guide us in the right direction. Now, whether we always followed that direction or not is an entirely different story. My mother was very stern and authoritative (as am I), and when she spoke, we listened. She spent most of her time with us, working for us, feeding us, teaching us, talking to us, or playing games with us. I have fond memories of playing board games, jack rocks, baseball, kickball, volleyball, and watching television game shows with Mother. We loved Ponderosa, Eight Is Enough, Good Times, and, of course, our all-time favorites Jeopardy and The Price Is Right. These are just a few things we did together when Mom was not working.
Mom didn’t date much, but a lot of times we ended up in the back seat at drive-in movies with her and her date. I remember once at the drive-in I won a huge jar of popcorn with candy hot balls (as we called them). The jar was about as big as I was. We were so happy. With five of us, it did not last very long, though. For a little girl, winning that was an awesome feat, and it is still one of my favorite memories. I cherish the fond memories, and still today we play Scrabble, Trouble, and watch Jeopardy together every chance we get.
Life as I knew it was good. Of course, we had our share of problems like most families, but we held it together and loved each other in spite of everything. We knew Mom would be there no matter what, and it felt wonderful growing up with such an awesome, supportive mother. There were times in my teenage years I certainly didn’t appreciate her being there and setting curfews, but now that I look back, I am glad she did. I am glad she laid down the law and demanded that we follow it.
I have been told and reminded many times of things that I do not remember or things that I choose not to remember, as someone put it. I guess these things are on the dark side of our upbringing. Maybe I have subconsciously blocked out the things I choose not to remember, but I am not sure. It seems so pointless in my life to ponder over things that I consider a normal part of one’s upbringing, and even more pointless to ponder over things that supposedly happened that I absolutely cannot remember.
Of course we were spanked, we got scolded, we had a lot of responsibility (cooking, cleaning, etc.), and no, my mother was not the sweet, permissive mother I would have liked to have had back then; but what matters most is that we were fed, clothed, and taken care of immaculately, and that is no lie.
We were taught everything in this world on how to survive and make it. We had the best example, and that example still shines brightly in my mind today. This is what I know, and those are my thoughts and memories. I have pondered over my upbringing for years. Nothing bad happened, and my mother was the reason for that. She was on the case. That is why I think to this day I have been able to be the mother I have been to my children. Now, that is not to say that my mother has been perfect and certainly not to say that I have been perfect. I mean, I can remember sometimes when my mother yelled, fussed, and tore our behinds up. I can remember sometimes when I yelled too much, fussed entirely too much, and tore up some behinds myself. I guess back then it came with the territory. Although, I must admit I would certainly do things so much differently if I had to do it all over again, and I believe my mother would do it differently also. At this point, she probably would not admit that.
Discipline was not negotiable back then—not in my world, anyway—and bad behavior was definitely not tolerated. I did not appreciate it back then, and as I got older I really grew to resent it all. However, as an adult with children of my own, I know that discipline is very much lacking in this generation, and it is very obvious. I would say it contributes to over sixty-five percent of the issues we have with young people today. But some will say the way my mother and I disciplined was too harsh and that we stripped away so much from our young people. Now, for the most part, our children are saying, “I will never be such a harsh disciplinary as my parents.” They are sparing the rod and definitely spoiling the child. Two generations, two extremes. Lord, have mercy.
I guess the only thing negative that I can say as far as my upbringing is concerned is that we grew up without a father. When I think about most of my friends and the other families in my world, the majority of us were fatherless. Therefore, I did not feel burdened down with thoughts of where the father figure was or where my own father was. He was a mystery man that came around occasionally and gave us a dollar or two and then disappeared until the next time we saw him. I do not remember calling anyone “Daddy,” not even him. It is mind-boggling even now to think that as important as fathers are in children’s lives, I had no thoughts of or longings for my father, or a father, or so I thought. Today, as a mature woman, I know that there had to be some kind of void there, but at the time it seemed so unimportant.
Little did I know back then that just as things we are taught shape us, unfortunately the very things we have no control of also play an important role in shaping our very being. Imagine having genes and DNA from someone that you do not even know and possibly picking up traits and characteristics from this elusive “father.” Imagine trying to understand who you are and why you exist and why you act and laugh and feel the way you do. Even though it didn’t really seem to matter growing up, it did.
Religion – Inspirational/Spirituality — Christian Life – Spiritual Growth
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