First Corinthians

I did a short series on Love Is… the series and the topic. Go back and read it #shamelessplug. But recently, I have been reminded more of what love is not, than what it is.  And like the modern day griot that I am , I thought I would share my lessons with ya’ll.  You ready to learn?  Grab a seat…

At the age of nine, I went to catechism, an intense Bible study before Catholic baptism, for those who don’t know, and it solidified I am a heathen. I always ended up doodling or designing dresses or something other than listening to that woman with post nasal drip and dirty spectacles. But anyway… we read the Bible, Exodus to The Book of Revelation, and out of all of those, the lesson I recall most, and probably the only bible verse I can quote like rap lyrics, is this golden nugget from First Corinthians…

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4–8a

First Corinthians was written by Paul to his struggling church. At the time, Christians were struggling with how to exist together, resolve conflict, live in goodness, and bestow mercy upon one another. This letter speaks to the soul of these men and women, and gives them a blueprint of how to love one another and ultimately live in harmony and righteousness.  Basically it is Take 6… “More love is what we need” in thou shalt nots! It is not just about love of thy neighbor, but it encapsulates all forms of love and the process of being in relationship with another human being.

Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee calls the soul, the “part of us that is one with God”, and since God is love, the soul must be the place in us where love resides. Most say it’s the heart, but the heart beats and gives us life, it is the conduit to living soulfully. And a life of soul is a life of love. Think of every soul song you’ve heard… from Muddy Waters “She’s my life I need her so” to John Legend’s “Love your curves and all you edges, all your perfect imperfections” and the Queen of Soul, Aretha’s “How can I give you all I can if you’re tying both my hands!” … what is that if not love. You knew it really did when Rose Royce claimed love “don’t live here anymore.”

“I think I love her…”

The soul is the place that interprets the real meaning of art, music, and color. It gives our dreams wings and puts our voices in front of the choir. It is the place where love is cultivated, planted, grown, nurtured, harvested. The soil where the vision for our life is grown.  So what it is and why it is, are essential to properly gifting and receiving its ultimate gift…

When two people who care for one another seek to unify, in whatever way they define that unity, both people usually enter the ring with protective gear on, and slowly remove that protection to show their true selves. Over time, they trust in their partner to become a tag team. However, where there is impatience, envy, pride, anger, tit for tat behavior, and distrust… people tend to get thicker gloves, knee pads, elbow pads, and get ready to rumble.  But eventually the fight isn’t worth the reward, so people part.  Souls part.  Two people who once shared life and experience, but have not quite learned the power of love, cannot properly give or receive it.  Broken souls cannot be anything other than what Paul teaches us love is not.

“Gucci you don’t love me…”

I recently had a situation where the man I was dating with intention, started to show signs of insecurity.  About everything.  His finances, my finances… sir my finances, other than my basic  stability, are none of your concern… my dreams, my desire to remove myself from stressful situations, my dealings with my child and his father… like I said, everything.  He found a way to take issue with everything I said or did suddenly, and time has taught me that usually only gets worse.  Plus, I don’t have an MD in insecurity, I could not cure it.  So, after a bit of trying to coax him back to reality, as all of his insecurities were rooted in fantasy, I decided to move on.  His insecurities had nothing to do with me, they were remnants of his broken soul… and his broken soul could not possibly love me properly.  Hell, I’m a handful to my damn self.  More than one person outside of our relationship said he was envious.  Envious that I wasn’t struggling, of my dreams, of my ability to dream, of my NERVE to dream big King Kong sized dreams, and of my ability to see myself beyond the moment.  Love… does not envy.

Similarly, my girlfriends and I have had relationships with men who we were some sort of conquest to, and our decisions to partner with them, nothing more in their minds than a conquest won.  What we did, how we looked, what we wore, the degrees on our wall, awards on our desk, and titles behind our names were all moments they could use to show how accomplished they were in the relationship department.  Which in turn they credited to themselves, us having them in our lives… albeit a short time, cuz… They were only serving self and being arrogant. My accomplishments are not tools for the braggadocio and his hubris.  Loving others is not about you -🎉SURPRISE! 🎊! -it is about others. Love is… showing others the love that God gives us. Love does not boast and it is not self-seeking.

Anyone that will only do for you when you have equally done for them, regardless of your ability or need. Love is not self-seeking.

Anyone that rushes or forces you into a situation or is unwilling to allow you to move at the pace best needed for your mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Love is not impatient.

Anyone that cannot keep their hands from touching and tongue from lashing out in anger, ridicule, disrespect, and hurt towards you. Love is not easily angered.

Anyone who holds your faults and flaws against you to attack you with later, or is simply unkind in word or in deed. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love is kind.

These people are incapable of loving you in the way that God loves you, and therefore incapable of sharing their soul with you as is.  You are Otis Redding and they are Ozzy Osbourne… two completely different individuals, neither better than the other, neither right nor wrong, both singing, just different.  But only one with real “from the diaphragm” soul! (No shade Ozzy…)

Love is also not unsure, inconsistent, doubtful, or painful.  It is unifying, connecting, where the two ends meet and everything comes together, full circle.

No one taught me that, but experience.

At nineteen, I read what would become my favorite book of all time, Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison during one of my few months off from college. One of the characters is named First Corinthians.  Her character is the first born daughter of the family at the center of the novel, and she is born into wealth and education.  However, despite her own education, she ends up working as a maid and falls in love with a porter.  Corrie, as they called her, never found favor with the life of excess she was afforded, as it was broken and soulless.   She is a story in unity, a story in soul, a story in love.  When I first read this book, I was drawn to her character, but I really had no idea why. But over time I recognized she and I were a lot alike.

Like First Corinthians I want to be unified in my relationships, of every kind, and I would rather enjoy the what is than the what it can be, the soulful over the mindful. What is rational and logical is a mix of looking to the past for guidance and looking to the future to apply it. An application of issue, reasoning, analysis, and conclusion that does not fit the bill. While we have to be level-headed and smart… and I’m smart than a mug in these intellectual streets… real love cannot be explained by the Pythagorean theory and the soul is not a science project to dissect and diagram. Its the seventh sense. The ninth wonder of the world. The 13th member of the Wu-Tang Clan.

“ I’ve often said love, could open any door, but I wish we had much more…”

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