I have heard the statement over the years, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." This is usually meant to suggest that, at different points in life, you will be required to "take a stand" or declare your position on something even when it is difficult and may cost you something like family, friends, popularity, status, credibility, etc.
I can recall several times in my life when I was required to make a decision as to whether I should or could stand, and if I was willing to pay the price either way. (This is a good place to remind you that every stand taken or not has a price associated with it.)
As a teenager, my first major stand was to confront my boyfriend, who I had allowed to physically abuse me for several years. I've often recounted that the choice was to continue to be abused or to stand up to him with the possibility that he could kill me. I chose to stand because to remain battered was no longer an option -- my future was worth the risk of death.
My second major stand was the decision to release myself from an unhappy marriage, even though I had vowed never to divorce as my parents had. My ex-husband is a great person, but we married for all of the wrong reasons. It took my having a mental breakdown to confront myself and him with my newfound knowledge that life was too short to waste it on unhappiness when I had the ability to choose differently. Because of that stand, I went on to marry my solemate and best friend 32 years ago.
Other instances in my life that I've taken a stand have at times given me notoriety (or infamy, depending upon the person telling the story), but I was willing to go through the process, whatever the outcome, because I believed that the cause was worth it.
As I've grown older, I've realized that it's important to me to take a stand when it allows me to give a voice to those who feel they can't be heard or when it's necessary to "speak truth to power" -- real or perceived-- because to do less makes me part of the problem rather than a contributor to a solution.
In the final analysis, I have learned to take the advice of Donnie McClurkin, one of my favorite gospel artists:
What do you do,
When you've done all you can and it seems like it's never enough?
And, what do you say when your friends turn away and you're all alone?
Tell me, what do you give,
When you've given your all and it seems like you can't make it through?
Well, you just stand, when there's nothing left to do,
You just stand, watch the LORD see you through.
Yes, after you've done all you can, you just stand!
Dr. Jacklyn A. Chisholm is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland (CEOGC). Connect with her via DrJacklynChisholm.com