Love & Marriage… and Divorce

I happened upon this online “conversation” of sorts about divorce being people “giving up” while I was catching up on Black Love, the show on OWN. It was an odd coincidence that gave me pause. It’s really interesting to see the inside of people’s marriages and how they got there in a way you typically never do. More inspiring is the way they have dealt with the obstacles in their relationships. I listened as many of them considered divorce at one stage of another of their marriages. If you don’t know that struggle… consider yourself lucky but the consideration and decision are a lot of things, but giving up isn’t one of them.

First comes Love, the comes marriage… and sometimes later comes divorce … hopefully and prayerfully not.

Here’s the thing… if you have not experienced any one of the three, you really cannot with wisdom and full understanding, attest to what the experience is like. And while everyone’s love, marriage, and divorce is different, there are some commonalities that exist that really define the experience.


Let’s first clear this up. Love is not defined by physical desire for another person. Period. Love is not made in words. Period.

Love is an action. It is defined by someone’s consideration of you, consistency with you, their constant intention to understand you and show their affection and connection in ways that you best receive them. We often use words such as respect, loyalty, communication, touch, quality time, sacrifice, etc. to describe the actions people who love you show you. But ultimately all those things are included in consideration, consistency, connection, and understanding.

Life is not sustained without relationships, which are not sustained without love. It is the most essential building block of life… water, food, shelter, clothing, and love. We romanticize love so much that we see it only as an emotional outpouring of devotion and adoration… and while that may be how some people demonstrate love, it’s far deeper than that. True love is a demonstration of acceptance and understanding. Accepting a person as they come and navigating growth and change with them even when it doesn’t reflect the growth or change you expected and seeking to fully understand who they are completely and loving them more because of it.


Love alone does not sustain a marriage… let’s start there! A marriage is also not a continuation of a romantic relationship. It is a cleaving of two people into one. Now what that looks like and how it is done is completely up to those two people. Completely. The terms they set upon their marriage spiritually, financially, physically, sexually, and otherwise are based on their values, morals, traditions, and needs. But unless they are one, and operate as a unit, most marriages won’t work. Two people operating from two different spaces and places in time won’t be able to navigate the terrain that is life as a team. Life is a series of hills and valleys, mountains and deep sea dives that tend to happen for two people simultaneously or not at the worst times. Only a tandem working as a unit can pull one person from a lightening bolt onto the other’s rising cloud… or can ride that lightening bolt like surfers until they can jump off and pull their parachutes together.

For Black people especially, many of our ancestral notions and images of marriage and partnership were lost when we were brought to America. We have taken on very “American” individualistic views of not just marriage but success and life, while our ancestors were very much communal in nature. We were kept from the more European notions of intermarriage for wealth building that the wealthy American families practiced, and still practice, to maintain their position in society. African families and the community at large surrounded married couples with foundational support to help them navigate through changes and issues during the marriage. We lack that as a culture. I could see how the couples who had that kind of support flourished, not only on Black Love, but in real life.

But sometimes no matter how much they try, the pairing wasn’t right, they just don’t fit like puzzle pieces, so they never fully come together as one. Read it clear… despite trying their best.


Listen… I know a lot of divorced men and women who would be in jail or dead if they were still married to their former spouses. When you label those people as quitters, you disrespect their journey and their choices. Until you walk a mile in my shoes…

Some people can forgive and move on from cheating, that doesn’t make them better it makes them different. Some people can recover from financial, emotional, or even physical abuse, but others cannot. I personally have a very deep rooted sense of loyalty that will not allow me to be unfaithful. I would rather tell you the entire truth, so you know that no matter if my personal decision hurts you, I would never deceive you or make choices for you. In fact, my main goal would be to make choices that bring joy to us both, but if I’m unable to do that, you can’t ever say I betrayed you. Ever. So of course, I cannot accept betrayal. You don’t get to tell me that a walking alway from betrayal makes me a quitter. To me, that’s much more than “for worse”… that’s a dealbreaker, a covenant cleaver, the dismantling of the unit.

The same is true for many people who experience trauma in the marriages: abuse, financial ruin, patriarchy, family and friend interference, infidelity… when the things that we enter the marriage valuing the most are broken and battered we have every right to evaluate whether this is where we belong. Life is too short to stay with someone who does not value and honor you, because even through tough times, those things should remain true. If marriage is the penthouse, the basement is friendship, and upon that foundation everything is built. When you are no longer friends… well, your whole house is bound to cave in. Deciding to take your half of the bricks and build again is not giving up. It’s starting anew.

“Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage.” One pulls, one rides, and we take turns pulling and riding, until the wheels fall off. Sometimes, the wheels fall off and we realize that horse was never the best to pull that carriage, so we make other plans. Other times, those bad boys fall off, we get more, and we keep pulling and riding, riding and pulling into the sunset. And just maybe, hopefully, we’ll inspire those carriage-less horses and horse-less carriages to pull and ride again someday!

Or maybe they’ll just say fuck this and get a car.

Heal Thy Self

I posted that this morning on Facebook.

I am pretty cryptic on Facebook, because I’m very private and I might have something to say or have learned a lesson I believe is worth sharing, but that’s all I’m willing to share. But this time, I was asked to expound, by people who support and show love to me consistently. What an honor. So you stand tf up in your greatness and do what you do best. So just call me She Will Heal aka Poe-Etta the Human Go-Getta aka Sage StCroix. I’m on my Erykah Badu today. Headwrap and all. (Ok I washed my hair, it’s a towel…whatever).


On Sunday, I was faced with the realization that some people, no matter how hard they try, just don’t know how to love back. At least not in a consistent and dedicated manner, which is the only kind of love I am interested in. They may try, may think they are loving you, but really they are unhealed and projecting their scars onto you.

When you were young and free from the very real responsibilities of parenthood and adulthood, it was easier. Love just flowed from your heart like water. Fairly unscathed by and maybe just unaware of how our experiences would come to shape us. It isn’t until you can process those experiences that you fully understand their impact. Experiencing trauma in any form, especially as a child, is just your experience at the time. It’s not until the real damage the experiences have done hit you as you grow and mature, that the true trauma starts. When you haven’t gotten there yet, you are very free to live and love openly and freely and without fear. But when the trauma hits the fan… Fear!

They say life’s a bitch, well fear must be it’s pimp, because it is stifling, predatory, a mental and physical prison without chains, and controls every move you make and every step you take. It is the bastard of trauma. It robs you of your security, confidence, assurance, and awareness. It’s the little girl from the Bad Seed pushing you into the deep end when you can’t swim and into the fire to burn. And when you aren’t raised in love… it’s you. Slave to your fears and illegitimate child of your trauma.

So many of us try to love people who are still caught in the web of their painful experiences, struggling to get out, but without the proper tools or guidance to navigate that trauma. So we become, naturally, involved in it. Sometimes just as a supporter in their healing but other times as a self-sacrifice. It is the latter that robs us of our needs and wants and puts us center stage in full Joan of Arc character, ready to be burned at the stake. Instead we have to demand the other party rise up in their shit and walk in it… until they reach dry land. They must do their own work. And no you can’t walk behind with a pooper scooper, it’s their shit…. Do the work.

So I’m always ready to do the work. Whatever it entails. Do I need to do more of this and less of that to get the desired result for the team? Sure, no problem, gimme an hour. Do we need the best shovel money can by to dig up these experiences and face them head on? Where is the closest Home Depot? No Home Depot, get me a paperclip, the blade of a metal fan, a brick, two screws and bolts, and a broom handle. Call me MacGalver.

Likewise, any partner, friend, family member, must be ready as well. We each need to get a part time job in solving our collective problems. I’m willing to support in any way. But a person still stuck in trauma can’t give anything their all, and the only out from that is them deciding they are ready to roll up their sleeves and dig in. Acknowledging, processing, talking through, and ultimately healing from the very real things that they experienced. Shit, we all have something. We aren’t to blame for it happening but we are certainly responsible to heal it.

When you have unhealed trauma, you become that traumatic experience for others and self-sabotage in every realm of your life…

So your parent leaving you and not being present; being physically present but not emotionally available; their deception; drug use; ignoring how their new girlfriend or boyfriend looked at you with desire; or simply their failure to properly parent… is abandonment, and until you get to the bottom of that, you will fail to be present for others and will likewise abandon them. You will fail to finish the things you start. You will take on too much that you know you can’t complete, in fear of failure. Your inability to commit to everything will leave you alone, lonely, and unaccomplished.

Your chaotic home; lack of discipline; the failure of those around you to address and maintain boundaries; toxic behaviors; and any lack of organization, order, respect, and peace that you experienced growing up… is turmoil, and it manifests itself in your own chaos and toxicity. So you rob people of their peace. And you have no peace. You bring dysfunction with you into every space, and it lingers around you like smoke, debilitating anyone who comes into contact with you.

If you had to fend for yourself; every step you took was in the face of violence and unsafety; cuz mama had to have a life too you were changing diapers, making syrup sandwiches, and had a switchblade ready in case someone strange knocked at the door; or you just simply had to take care of yourself in hopes that you made it to the next morning…. that’s survival, and when it’s all you’ve known you only know how to hustle and protect yourself at all costs. Loving isn’t your game, and you likely play Russian Roulette with other people’s hearts to protect your own. You project your fears onto everything. You make other people nervous because you are overly aggressive, and yet you are timid in trying anything new.

Yet, when you grow up in love, a nurturing environment that teaches you your value and the value of the other people living in the world with you, that supports you, that protects you, and that imparts confidence and assurance that you can be anything you set your mind to… that’s love, and in turn you know how to support, respect, and honor others. To show love you have to have seen it. That love emanates from you like a light. Everyone sees it and they navigate towards you. Opportunity is at your every corner. Success is yours for the taking.

So again, the experience was out of your control… but the responsibility to heal from any hurt or pain you were left with is yours. Get your shovel, your tissues, unpack that baggage, get a therapist, open your mouth and your heart, and do your work. And vow that until you are healed properly, you will take extra care of those around you by acknowledging that you have limitations and giving them the option of rocking with you or not. Everybody isn’t equipped to deal with the vestiges of your trauma.

As for me, I’m navigating the situation. I am not a sacrificial lamb, but I will happily support someone I care about through their healing. But if you knocked on my door with your briefcase in hand, ready for the first day on the job I expect you to be ready to do what you say you are prepared to do. Because when I answered, I was suited up with my pearl studs on and my blouse perfectly starched. My lowest offer was at the top of the scale, and I promised you an office with a spectacular view. I am worth you doing your work, because I’m already ready to move us both to the next level. Get like me. I’m a healer. Now where is my sage…

Coffee Dates

So you meet a nice man or woman and you all decide to do the first safe date… meet for coffee. You put on your best casual, I’m not trying too hard but I kinda am, outfit and head out. He or she is just as attractive as you recall, and you sit down and talk for hours. You both are sure the other could get it… but while your date seems to be interested in something a bit more serious, you know you just want to casually date, period. But that’s another conversation for another time, right.

Your next date is a bit more involved, you meet for Happy Hour at a nice restaurant and decide to stay and get dinner downtown. It’s a nice night so after dinner you take a short walk and talk about everything from your favorite song, neither of you have one because that’s just too hard; you debate Love Jones v Love & Basketball, you both pick the latter (wise choice); and then your date asks you “so when was your last serious relationship?” and you answer truthfully and return the question. Your date says a year or so, and adds that while relationships are hard work they are worth it with the right person. You think to yourself, relationship?!? But that’s another conversation for another time, right?

So you are both over 35, both been in serious relationships before, perhaps even married at one point, whatever shoe fits…if you are the woman, chances are you’ll be fine, as he’ll likely be ok casually dating at least until he makes a plan to be more serious with you. If you are a man… pump your MF brakes and STOP…

Let me let you in on a little secret, there are very few women over 35 looking to casually date your ass for more than six months. At that point, decisions about exclusivity and some type of commitment are expected to be made. She’s watching from date #1, hell conversation #1 if some fundamental things are present. If your watch is digital, unless it’s an old school Casio and you are also rocking an Eastbay backpack and Converse with a crop to your pants, it’s a no dawg…. cuz you faking the funk and not committing. If you say you will call back but don’t or don’t at least acknowledge her texts, it’s a no dawg, your consistency of communication is clearly off. If you look in your wallet, your pants pockets, inside your blazer, and in your coat pocket for the cash to pay for coffee, it’s a no dawg, cuz chaos and financial mismanagement. So if you are getting signals that she wants something serious, and you don’t, speak on it! Quickly!

Since the beginning of time, men being single and free to mingle has been celebrated…bachelor pads, bachelor lifestyle. Single women over 35 were doomed to spinster status, grocery carts full of Fancy Feast, Vienna sausages, and romance novels. As far as we have come, there is still some unfair and frankly very silly stigma attached to single women… as if every non married woman pines for marriage. That is simply not the case. Less than 15% of women who have been married before consider remarriage (according to Pew Center, 2014) and only half of never married women at 35 or older want to be married (Pew Research, Population Survey, 2013). However, over 80% of unmarried women over 35 want to be in committed relationships compared to 65% of unmarried men over 35 (Pew Research, 2015). Commitment is not casual, so speak on it! Quickly!

The truth is, that many of us avoid conversations about our wants and needs because we don’t want to scare off the person… regardless to whether we want something more serious or more casual. However, those conversations are necessary and important, because you strip the other party of the full ability to decide whether they want to continue to spend time with you, if you aren’t being honest about who you are and what you want. Furthermore, women need to start asking the important questions. I know, I know… women want men to be the aggressor and lead the relationship, but he cannot do that if he is unclear about your wants and boundaries. Notice I didn’t use the word expectations… those are your own personal goals that have nothing to do with the other party. You can effectively manage your expectations by being honest and open about what you want, and being okay with stepping away if that’s not what you get. Letting a man know what you want let’s him know you what you are available for and open to… period.

Bottom line… if we all use our words and communicate with people, our overall relationships will be much better. So let him or her know what your music collection looks like, your favorite restaurant, that you are a dog person and not a cat person, and whether you are looking for a partner or a playmate. Honesty is like sugar… it can make sure you begin and end on a sweeter note…and no one likes bitter coffee!

First Corinthians & Thirteen Flavors

I don’t know much, but I am 100% sure that most of my romantic partnerships have been the stuff of movies or Marsha Ambrosius song lyrics. I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.

I have moved across the country. Wayyyy across the country.

I have been married. That’s it, just married.

I have had love professed to me in the streets, over speakers. “You make me wanna…”

Had men drive in winter ice storms across states to see me.

I even had a man give me his social security card with his phone number on it… I can’t call this one.

And every man I’ve dated says… you are the one who got away. Naw bruh I didn’t get away, I probably just left, but whatever makes you sleep better at night.

Ladies, you too can have a yard full of boys…

Okay, that is clearly not the point here. And I’m currently looking out the window… there is just one boy out there tending to the yard. But he too deserves that same energy that made those other guys want to order from the menu.


Now anyone that knows me WELL is side eyeing at this point. I’m not generally known for my patient disposition. Most of us consider patience this ability to wait on, deal with, or tolerate something we don’t want or didn’t expect without becoming upset, complaining, or reacting with haste. That isn’t who I am. When we accept behavior disrespectful to our time, mental health, emotions, or body, that isn’t patience, that is sacrifice. If it results in you being tired, feeling used, losing yourself, being unsure… it’s not patience, it’s a burden.

I was very disappointed, but remained patient while Michael put our relationship on hold.

But patience that seeks to better the overall relationship or the people in it and that has an end goal, is a compromise.

My son doesn’t like math, so I remained patient as I helped him work through fractions.

“Love is patient.” -1 Corinthians 13:4

It is unselfish, and doesn’t just seek what is self-serving but what is good for everyone. It isn’t self-sacrifice, or putting up with things you detest or don’t deserve for the happiness of another. It isn’t indifference to the offenses of another, because ignoring someone’s misdeeds doesn’t help them grow or become better. Instead, it is the love of God, “slow to anger” and “faithful”. When you truly love someone, the things that could frustrate, disappoint, or injure you must be met with a loving response, every time. In turn, that loving response will be met with a compromise from your partner to change as well. Otherwise, that partner is simply not worthy of your partnership.

My Grandparents were married over 60 years. My Grandfather lived in a house full of real talkative and real opinionated Black women, my Grandmother especially. She could be verbally harsh and critical. She wanted to be the center of attention, and would steal it if necessary. She wore a sequined beret and a mink like it was a uniform. Yet he was fairly quiet. He observed. He kept things running smooth in the house, changed light bulbs, built stuff, drove when we went out as a family, and when too many lips were moving, he retreated to his jazz room and listed to Charlie Parker, real loud. I think he went deaf trying to drown out the voices. She could be difficult to get along with, but for all of her unnecessary ranting, she cooked him great meals and generally left him alone to his hobbies. He wasn’t quite a social butterfly, but he was a provider, and he defended her when the rest of us were ready to explode. To outsiders it could have seemed an odd arrangement, but they compromised in their own way for the sake of the union.

I followed the lead of my female relatives, and spoke my mind, often. In doing so, I learned to make sure I verbalized my needs over my wants and ensured my partners needs were simultaneously heard. I sincerely wanted what was best for the partnership. I allowed them time and the space, once I figured out that space was necessary to correct and get better, realizing I too needed time and space at times. Having seen it, I knew what it looked like. Again, in my house the generous allotment of space and time to replenish oneself was practiced not only in partnerships but along all family relationships.

Few men receive such patience in most areas of their lives after their teen years. Suddenly, they are expected to work, long and hard, and take care of, provide for, protect, commit to you, make room and space for family and friends, keep the screws tight, the lawn mowed, the snow blowed, and you smiling, and then use whatever is left to do all the growing and maturing, demanded and necessary to navigate the world. They are often fed incomplete notions of what being a MAN is, and then enter relationships with those unrealistic expectations on top of our expectations. We expect for them to be emotionally open, communicative, and tender… the antithesis of what many of them are told and definitely what they see growing up. Most men need the peace to be able to process needed changes, without words of frustration and disappointment being thrown at them. That’s not conducive to growth or change.

Love begets patient, and patience begets peace!

Not to be mistaken with “be his peace”… what I’m talking about is other level peace, not just some hashtag shit on Twitter. Peace is quiet and nurturing. In the midst of peace you grow off the charts, you mature into wisdom, and you learn truly how to bestow love unto others. So if you demand something of him, give him time to self correct and bring you what you need. If you want more time with him, let him know, and allow him to figure that out… it might get worse as he figures it out, before it gets better. If he has wronged you, stand up for yourself for the better of the union while acknowledging your personal feelings. If he is pushing you away, let him know your boundaries, and if he respects them, stand by his side so he feels your presence… if it’s meant to be he won’t ever go far.

You don’t have to wait, tolerate, or deal with. If he is as interested as you are in the health and success of the relationship, he will meet your growth and change while actively participating. All you have to do is relax and reap the benefits of his compromise… or use that time to do work on yourself as well. That level of patience demonstrates faithful trust in someone. A man knowing he is trusted by you brings a sense of peace. A man having to deal with your distrust is the stuff of chaos.

So, call him on his bullshit in a loving way and give him time to self correct… and be open to the same. Apologize when you are wrong, self correct, and demand the same. Then get to loving. “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” and brings all the boys to the yard! Be careful though, they always come back to the yard too. Milkshakes are addictive.

This was free, next time “I’ll have to charge!”

Love Let Her

I have loved and I have lost, but no loss has ever compared to the power of the love you have given me.

You have given me life. You didn’t give birth to me (thanks Mom… my head was big… blah blah blah), but you have birthed me into this flawed beautiful creature. Neither perfect nor a failure, neither my best or my worst. You accept me as is, while giving me space and place to grow. I am better because of your presence.

You awaken me each morning with the promise of more.

You feed me morsels of joy. You play sounds of musical mastery in my ears. You display aesthetics before mine eyes, often too beautiful to bare. My skin gets sweaty from your warmth and goosebumps from your chill. I can smell goodness wafting in the air when you take over the room… a sweet and spicy blend of black pepper, peony, and oud. I am overjoyed by your sensory experience.


…support me like a harness.

…protect me like a shining knight.

…forgive me for my debts.

…give me grace when I’m impossible.

…and let me know I’m possible.

You let me soar to the highest heights by giving me assurance that I won’t free fall!

You let me dream my biggest dreams, because you are there to help them into fruition.

You let me shine bright like a star you placed in the heavens just for me.

You let me love because you loved me when I was most unloveable.

Dear God, it’s me, Karyn.

Soul to Soul

So I know some amazing people who have their finger on the pulse of healing, wellness, and enlightenment! I saw this quote above on a healer friend’s Facebook post that spoke to me… and y’all know how I get when something gets my spirit stirring… I write. And immediately I had something to share upon reading it.

Let me break this down for you!

Know the difference between a SOULMATE and a SOUL LESSON… be clear this is not just about romantic partnerships, but relationships period. Some people are kindred spirits, you all just fit, like puzzle pieces. Others are spiritual guides placed into your path to get you back on the right journey, for a reason or maybe even a season, but purposeful nonetheless. So let’s explore this a bit.

I have a few soulmates, these are men and women who feed me morsels of love when I most need them. They connect with me beyond one note, they are friends, family, counselors, confidantes, and lifetime fixtures. I have a set of sistafriends who have been around since I was a young girl and others more recently acquired by my heartstrings, who support me, seem to know just when I need a boost, and are always on point and game tight when it comes to being available to me. I have the best boonapolis (yep, that’s a word… go best fran, that’s my best fran) in the modern world! I have male friends who are always around to protect, big up, and love me no matter what! We don’t always agree, but we agree on the one thing that matters most… we get by with a little help from our friends!

Soulmates are special. We’ve got acquaintances, friends, day ones, BFFs, and soulmates. The latter are like the unicorns of relationships, the virgins on a room of high school seniors, the girl with her real hair at a Bronner Brother’s Hair Show. You may have known them forever or just met them yesterday, but they kinda feel like your earthly twins.

Y’all finish each other’s sentences.

Say stuff like…get outta my head!

Can sense when the other is down or out, and needs your shoulder! Miles apart even.

They just get you!

You are their person!

And although they are a compliment to your existence, these are the folks that God created for you, and you for them… so you kinda do need them in a way that is unlike the rest of your friendships. It’s just different.

But just as soulmates are sent to soothe your soul, others are meant to help you get to the point where you are taking better care of your soul. So that you learn how to heal and nurture yourself so you heed the lessons that the universe has for you.

I had a soul lesson recently…

Without telling you too much of my business, (cuz I don’t know all of y’all like that), I reconnected with a soul I thought was good for mine. Turns out, he liked the idea of me better than the reality of me. He was envious of the successes, friends, networks, and connections I had made in life and couldn’t see over my big King King sized dreams… so he semi-ghosted me. Yep, #nathansnavy was lost at sea and my mirror bitch was like… squo?!?! He wanted to appear and disappear at his whim. Nawwww…. I’m not gon be able to do that, so I walked away. In the past, I would have stayed around much longer than I should have in the name of loyalty and commitment to someone who wasn’t loyal or committed to me. That was a soul lesson, and I got it, I passed. From now on I will take heed to those signs far before a year later…

Just like in school, the teacher keeps giving you tests to determine if you know the material. Only once you have mastered it, you move on to the next lesson. God is the teacher for your soul: injecting folks and situations into your life that you need to ensure you are being good to yourself, your mind, body, heart, and spirit, which resides in your soul.

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.

-First Corinthians by Karyn Lynn DeShields

So learning to love yourself and feed your soul are the soul lessons that we all need! However, we have to identify our lessons and our mates accordingly. A lesson we matriculate into our lives as a mate is a lesson not learned, a bad fit, and will eventually lead to a void of light in our soul. Don’t be afraid to cast out the darkness, learn the lesson, and seek love! Remember love is patient, kind, and food for the soul!

Chrishara Seyanna Dudley-Wilkes is a Life Teacher at Chris and Chrys Spiritual Concierge, connect with her on Facebook here.

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…”

It was all good until…

We were in full “All Hail the Queen:The Blackety Blackness” realness.

Fantasia kicked off her shoes before she even started, in her best funeral fashion. Mother Board Brooch and all!

Bill Clinton professed his love for ReRe and was happy with himself when he played “Think” on his iPhone from the Apple Music Aretha Essentials playlist.

The Clark Sisters, Isaiah Thomas, and city council members paid homage to Detroit’s homegrown treasure, and her love of the city and its culture! And The Clark Sisters SANG… of course!

Run Jesse Run, Rev Al, TD Jakes, and Rev Barber preached about her goodness, civil rights roots, and gospel roots. While Tyler Perry brought Madea, to the chagrin of most Black folks in America, and Michael Eric Dyson gave us a vocabulary lesson in exalting a Queen and damning the” orange apparition, the lugubrious leach, the doppelgänger of deceipt and deviance, the dim witted dictator, the foolish fascist” who would dare sully her name as his employee! I won’t lie, I stood up and gave applause. That brother can string SAT words like my mama can string curse words together!

Rev Shirley Ceasar, Yolanda Adams, JHud, and … oh and uh I already told y’all about Cousin Tasia… they sang with the organs and tambourines for God’s blessing upon us in the form of a woman with her pocketbook and floor length mink singing her own and everybody else’s song better than anyone else could. And Chaka… we love you doll, but you had one of the easiest songs lyrically to sing, and you still needed the words taped to your fan?!? We could see them… that’s all.

Then Mother Cicely did a monologue in her vainglorious hat and even more impressive 91 year old regalness. She is black pride and black history and black girl magic in one little melanated soul! We are not worthy! 🙌🏽🙌🏽

It was a celebration…

then Jasper got his ass up and spazzed out. Rev. Jasper Williams of Salem Bible Church in Atlanta Georgia was hand picked by Aretha to eulogize her… or so we were told. His father was a longtime friend of her father Reverend C.L. Franklin. I personally think he was sent to infiltrate by the KKK. Cuz that display of misogyny, disrespect, and falsity about the impact and importance of race in our culture sounded like it belonged at Trump Rally. Up until that point we all wanted to hand Rick Snyder a glass of Flint water and secretly hoped the pulpit would open and swallow him whole, but this dude…he was baptized in the Flint River and swallowed, ya heard.

Jasper Sir, let’s take a look at your foolishness:

1. “as proud, beautiful and fine as our black women are, one thing a black woman cannot do, a black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man.”

Aretha Franklin was the single mother of four. She had her first child at 12 and second at 14. Her male children, grown men with beautiful and successful families, were sitting in the front pews. I believe they, and all the stellar Black men who were raised by single mothers, would disagree with you. True, the ideal situation is a two parent home. But this is the real world and idealism has no place. If you want to preach about the Black home, solutions are what is needed. We have heard enough empty criticism.

When young Black girls become pregnant, often their parents or grandparents step in to assist. Grown women who have children in or outside of married with grown men should never be parenting singularly, but they often do, well and with love. To disrespect that reality is not of God. Some of our most revered Black men were products of single parent homes run by women. Jackie Robison, August Wilson, Sean Combs, Shawn Carter, LeBron James, Louis Armstrong, Barack Obama, and the man who singlehandedly brought love back to Queen ReRe’s funeral after your mess, Stevie Wonder… all men raised by single women. Your premise is a fallacy! Single parenting mothers seek multiple resources for both their boys and girls to have positive male presence. But they are not incapable of parenting either girls or boys.

Who raised you? There was clearly a deficit…

2. “No, black lives do not matter. Black lives will not matter, black lives ought not matter, black lives should not matter, black lives must not matter until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing ourselves.”

This “black on black crime” diatribe is tired, old, and not at all rooted in fact. Black life matters independently of its senseless taking, whether at the hands of those who look like us or otherwise. Both are rooted, frankly, in the same Jim Crow, segregation, slavery, and racist roots you want us to push aside. That’s our foundation in this country… it’s reality and our comeuppance is the thread that holds together our quilt of many colors.

So, to lessen the impact of “blacklivesmatter” the movement and more importantly it’s message, is the very self hate that causes another Black person to stare into the eyes of another and shoot. Your self hate is just as murderous and disastrous as a bullet. Your shot kills the spirit, or as you say, the soul, that place in man where God resides… For we are Godless if we believe that our very life is empty and without value, for it is God’s greatest gift to us. Miss me with that bullshit Preacher Man.

3. “I’m not saying that DR C.L. Franklin exercised the best parenting skills…because he certainly did not… no way in the world he could adequately raise four children. Something in the home was missing… there was a deficit… we can tell there was a deficit by the way the Queen sang.”

You were there to eulogize Aretha Louise Franklin, not her father. A eulogy, according to the dictionary is “a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly, typically someone who has just died.” There was no praise in your preach. Instead there was condemnation and judgement. To speak negatively about the deceased father of the deceased, a fixture of the Detroit church community, was unnecessary. Sounded like you were preaching to prove a personal point.

Any man who steps up to raise his children when the mother leaves the home, regardless of the time he spends working, the failure of his marriage, his reported wild manner, whatever, is still a father. The very single mothers you speak of are typically made into single mothers by the absence of the father. One who supported his children, even though they sang secular music despite their gospel routes, and in turn raised a woman who was loyal, dedicated, respectful of her gifts and talents, and giving to her people, is a present and accounted for father. A perfect man, he was not, but it wasn’t your place to discuss that at his daughter’s funeral. To use this woman’s funeral to sell your fire and brimstone gospel to the national community is a travesty.

4. “Anytime we stray from God’s design of the home, havoc results”

Anytime we stray from leading with love havoc results… this eulogy was a case study! You used this idea to spit misogyny from your lips… cuz sexism is void of love. Women are fine and beautiful but incapable of existing with purpose without a man? FOH Guy!

5. “Sometimes I think we require and want too much”

Says the dude with a congregation of over 10,000 in a church that looks like the campus of WCCC. I’m sure he has an airplane, a tour bus, a custom S Class, and a mansion in Lithonia. That’s all cool, but don’t question the needs of the needy.

6. “Struggling Single Black Mother’s need a man in the house, …and we can turn the Black community around.”

What in the toxic masculinity is this shit, Jasper sir? First, let me inform you, a single woman parenting is not the same as a single parenting woman. Be clear. I am single, as I am not yet remarried, but I am not parenting alone. The address of the parents is not as important, by far, as the involvement of the parents. Many of us had two parent households, but married mothers or fathers single parenting because of the emotional unavailability of the other, folks having whole other families on the other side of town, trading working hours for living hours, etc. Many of us had mothers or fathers parenting singularly who raised stellar children.

But to imply that a woman is struggling because there is no man in her life is that bullshit. It leads to women feeling incomplete without a man. It leads to married women believing their status as married somehow puts them on a higher plane. It leads to women in abusive and toxic relationships staying out of fear of being alone and “struggling”… struggling financially, spiritually, and just as “a poor old manless woman.” Sounds like you need some Flint water to wash down that toxicity.

7. “Master Sir…”

In one breath you used this moniker for God, in the next, for the slave owner. That is the most blasphemous garbage I’ve ever heard. The only Master, Sir, is God. Slave owners were pawns of the devil.

And you , Jasper Sir, are a clown.

But because I have a soul, “I’ll say a little prayer for you!”