Today I am so happy to introduce you to my new friend Ralph Monroe III. He is a modern day renaissance man. He is a poet, father, husband, podcaster, graduate student, preacher, audio and video producer, graphic artist, and business owner. But I knew he was my new best friend when I read in his bio that bookstores are like candy stores for him. We are kindred spirits. Unfortunately, you don't have the benefit of seeing him while he is talking. If you did, you would see a man who never stops smiling. His joy of life is contagious. He is a deep thinker with a poetic mind, and a captivating way of expressing his thoughts. Without further adieu, here is Ralph Monroe...
The odds Ralph overcame to get where he is and become the person he is today are overwhelming. His path is not a straight one. But it's precisely the path he needed to take in order to grow in the grace, knowledge, and understanding he encapsulates at this time in his life. His life story reminds me of the quote by Alexandre Dumas in his book, The Count of Monte Cristo, "Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss."
I feel I can relate to so much of Ralph's heart...his love of learning, his desire to go deep, how he wants to help affect change for good on a large scale and for the future benefit of his children. I appreciate his balanced approach to life. He holds the tension of systemic racism in the here and now along side his hope for change for future generations. He said it perfectly, "the battle that wages inside of me." His poem, Vexed, captures this tension with poiniency. His hope in a better future does not negate the pain and hardship of the present. But he chooses not to focus on it. He embraces the feelings experienced by living in a society riddled with systemic racism, but he also embraces hope. It doesn't have to be one or the other. Ralph is the living breathing example of the motto he posts on his website: "The greatest message you will ever speak is given without words; it's how you live your life."
I'm so glad he quoted Dr. King on Sincere Ignorance. It is dangerous. Intentional or unintentional, it certainly seems to fuel hate, self-preservation, and racism. I appreciated his practical advice for how to place ourselves in others' shoes...by reading a book or listening to a podcast, or educating ourselves in order to help us foster understanding. I'm thankful for the reminder that understanding does not equate to agreement. It is simply a way of showing respect. May we all remember that only we can control our responses to situations and choose to live with hope and humility...as Ralph has.
Ralph's Quote: "Everyday can be beautiful if you make it." - Ralph's Grandfather
Vexed by Ralph Monroe III
Vexed, annoyed, irritated, infuriated.
Disturbed, exacerbated, perturbed, frustrated.
Heartbroken, anguished, crushed, isolated.
Grieving, shattered, downcast, mentally suffering.
Oppression, suppression, injustice.
Tired of it.
But God's suffering, pain, sacrifice
think of it.
Stay steadfast, unwavering, unchanging
Is what God speaks to me
How do I keep loving, interceding, believing
In this society?
My faith, conviction, hope
Is in Him
God's grace, His Spirit, His Truth
Break through us
Like waters breaking a dam
God's justice will roll on through
And righteousness will flow
Like a stream leading back to You.
Yes, I'm vexed
But will remain steadfast
And be a voice until I breathe my last.
Ways to find Ralph online: