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allow yourself to love him

#LoveWins is THE hashtag celebrating #SCOTUS’ decision Friday for #MarriageEquality.

I posted on Facebook:

candi's lovewins facebook post

I read friends’ celebratory words and viewed their pictures, including profile pics awash in rainbow colors.

Then I began to see other friends’ subtle and not-so-subtle rejections of SCOTUS’ ruling – proclaiming that the end is near, that G~d’s word is the same though times may change and even some posts that intend to support our LGBTQ community by saying that we all sin and fall short of G~d’s glory. All of these posts are equally irritating to me.

The affirmation of love, the call to love elicits very close-minded, bigoted and discriminatory replies from those who self-identify with a faith tradition that, on paper more so than in action, professes the world will know us by our love. They claim to still love the other while condemning the other for anything and all things from who they are to what they do – loving with very unlovable words and tones of voice.

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Until now, I’ve not responded much online – after all, I am on vacation. Besides, rarely do these kinds of conversations over what the Bible does and does not say lead to any sort of fruitful dialogue. Rather, my response has been to think about it all and to refuse to linger in irritation or allow my irritation to transform into anger.

#POTUS has been reflecting on #grace. I’ve been reflecting on #love.

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My reflections began as personal ones, not even considering that they may intersect with national events unfolding this weekend, as I continue to seek resolution within myself, to seek a settling of the matter of how best to be in romantic relationships – as I continue to seek how to love. My quest returns me again and again to myself, to the places of lack in my soul – whether I call them empty places or unhealed places or half-filled places. Being close to another shines lights, rattles foundations and rips open closures. That’s what true love is, a call to oneself – whatever kind of love it is, it always requires inner self-work. It actually becomes more about me than the other person, a reality that is the antithesis of what our culture touts as true love.

“I am on the hunt for myself in everybody else. I’m looking for myself in you. And perhaps I can’t find myself until I find it in you. … Just as to love oneself means to deal with oneself beyond all of the limitations, all of the things, the not-good things in oneself that one knows, to look beyond all of that to a center, which if I can ever become aware of it in myself. Then it is out of that center that I move towards all of the other relationships by which my life may be surrounded. And because I am unwilling, despite all of things I know about myself, I am unwilling to give myself up. I cling to myself with a kind of abiding enthusiasm.” ~Howard Thurman

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“There is scarcely anything more difficult than to love one another. … [W]hoever loves must try to act as if he had a great work: he must be much alone and go into himself and collect himself and hold fast to himself; he must work; he must become something! For believe me, the more one is, the richer is all that one experiences. And whoever wants to have a deep love in his life must collect and save for it and gather honey.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

And so as we call on the world to celebrate love, to wave rainbow flags and shout that love wins, we must remember that we are actually calling for a deep love. We must remember that most of the world has not collected or saved anything to this end. They have not done the work, the grueling inner self-work to be able to regard another’s triumph over discrimination without thinking that their victory somehow defeats the world’s senses of salvation, holiness and righteousness. Most in opposition will not change. They will continue to default to conservative, traditional and dying biblical interpretation and theology as their responses to progress rather than confront the lack and the pain inside of themselves. After all, black churches continue to be burned in 2015 and southerners are publicly protesting the removal of the Confederate flag in 2015. African Americans know that changed laws do not change hearts.

Only each person doing her/his own work within can change one heart … and one mind. Only becoming self-actualized individuals grants us the capacity, the bandwidth to open up broadly enough to even approach truly and fully loving the other. Perhaps we can begin with our personal relationships and grow to extend love beyond our inner circles. That hasn’t exactly been my path; yet, my path to personal love is requiring me to reevaluate what I mean when I declare my love for my neighbor.

Am I truly allowing myself to love “him”?

(Read more, if you like, to see what I mean, a bit of back-story on this quest for personal best-love, regarding a past romantic relationship.):

I recall my counselor’s words to me one rainy afternoon. I was exasperated and drained from all of the unfulfilled desires and unresolved emotions I had been carrying around within me since my then-lover severed our connection. Sharing my angst with my counselor, I expected him to encourage me to be strong, persevere, focus on myself, re-route my thoughts to thanksgiving for all that I had in my life rather than all I considered to be a loss, etc. But I didn’t get that.

Instead, he said, “Allow yourself to love him.”

“What?”

“Yes. Are you in any danger? Does he hurt you physically or abuse you emotionally?”

“No.”

“Then allow yourself to love him.”

Well, that meant also, allowing him to continue to hurt me via my love for him. That also meant allowing myself to feel the vast land beyond the keyhole smallergreat void of his absence. What I’ve come to know, that I suppose my counselor intended for me to learn and from which to grow, is that somehow this allowance of simultaneous love and pain facilitates a maturity of being that we never obtain by avoiding it, by wallowing in anger, hurt, resentment, betrayal, etc. – all of the, ummm …, more acceptable emotions when we end ties with someone that means so much to us.

What I know is that after all the emotions subside around the cause of the breakup, we’re left with the love that was present all along. During the angry rants, it never left. During the weeping, it never left. During the miscommunication and realization that it’s over, it never left. And somehow we can feel it deeper later than we ever did before relationship ended.

As I continue to feel love, the question then becomes, “Do I keep moving forward without him or do I let him know that I still care?” Because, right?, we have this need to communicate our feelings. Not communicating passionate feelings like love for another is a heavy thang. But to what end? Am I sharing because I want to get back together? What if he ain’t even thinkin’ ’bout me? What, then, do I do with the counsel of allowing myself to love another – no matter where the other is?

We realize that our loving others has way more to do with ourselves than with the object of our affection. (Revisit Thurman and Rilke.) And so what we do is we decide to discard tradition’s ineffective, shallow notions of love. We decide instead to embrace the deeper thing. We return to self, to solitude. We grow taller, stronger so that we can indeed love the other with a love so great, so strong that we can abide with each other in true harmony and peace amid all of our differences and disagreements.
Then, love truly wins.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~Yeshua (Matthew 22:37-40)
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(c) 2015 candi dugas, llc

when will a black woman be free enough 2 love whomever she chooses?

when will a black woman be free enough 2 love whomever she chooses?

“Is Olivia Pope the New Sally Hemings?” Stacia L. Brown’s question as penned in a recent article in Clutch Magazine has gained little traction. Most responses to her question have been a resounding “NO.” Online commenters tend to think the comparison is a huge stretch for a number of reasons including a few listed here:

  • Olivia and television’s “Scandal’s” President Fitzgerald Grant (Fitz) are fictional characters. Sarah “Sally” Hemings and her slave-owning lover, President Thomas Jefferson, were actual people.
actors tony goldwyn and kerry washington in abc's scandal, created by shonda rhimes

actors tony goldwyn (president grant) and kerry washington (ms. pope) in abc’s “scandal,’ created by shonda rhimes. image from http://hiphopwired.com.

  • Olivia is not a slave; she’s a powerfully influential business owner. Ms. Hemings lived her entire life literally owned by other people. (While she died in 1835 residing with her two sons, historians report that neither President Jefferson nor his heirs ever officially granted her freedom.)
  • Olivia, a fully grown and educated professional woman, consents to her relationship with Fitz. Historians attest that Ms. Hemings was about 14 years old when she began her romantic relationship with President Jefferson. Even accounting for women marrying at younger ages in past eras, Ms. Hemings’ age and slave status call to serious question her ability to consent to such a relationship.

While Ms. Brown’s comparison does not receive much support for the sake of online debates, it does raise a critical question.

Olivia may be independent, but is she free?

olivia pope of abc's scandal, created by shonda rhimes and an artist's rendering of sally hemings for barbara chase-riboud's novel

olivia pope of abc’s scandal, created by shonda rhimes and an artist’s rendering of sally hemings for barbara chase-riboud’s novel

Are any of us black women, descendants of slaves, free if we cannot love any man we choose (adultery and other betrayals of commitment aside) without attracting comments and inquiries regarding our choices? The attraction of these comments and inquiries indicate that we don’t choose, no matter how tangibly successful we are, on a level playing field. This conversation is certainly a reality check; black women are still connected to the vestiges of American slavery.

When will a black woman be free enough to love whomever she chooses?

Perhaps creative work like “Scandal” and Shonda Rhimes’ other shows (Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice) advance us toward true freedom. Ms. Rhimes’ characters and storylines never hinge upon race. Whenever race happens to be a factor in a story, it isn’t magnified and is done as one feature in a larger picture. We know from history that music, arts in general, and sports help connect us across boundaries like race. These connections assist in reducing and eventually dissipating the issue of color lines forever.

Bravo, kudos, and AMEN to Olivia Pope, the cast of Scandal, Shonda Rhimes and all others associated with this fabulous show! Olivia is not today’s Ms. Hemings, but because Sally Hemings was, we are.

SIDEBAR:

Ms. Brown’s article was written prior to Scandal’s season finale, so she didn’t have an opportunity to take into account the final scenes. In these scenes Ms. Rhimes seems to hint that President Grant’s wife is aware of and supports her husband’s relationship with Olivia. When Grant’s presidency is threatened, she tells Olivia something like, “Because you didn’t do your job, now, I have to take my husband back.”

Scandal FLOTUS’ support of the extramarital relationship reminds me of another complex trio – Hagar, Sarah, and Abraham from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Again, in this story, the dark-skinned mistress is a slave and without full citizens’ rights. And just like what may be happening in the Scandal world, Sarah not only approved of the affair, she orchestrated it.

What do you think about that?

LINKS for your consideration:

© 2012 candi dugas, llc

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