At this stage of my life, I am trying to become the best version of me that I can be. Not to attract the attention of a partner, but to earn the sense of pride I will have for myself to know I am doing the best I can with what I have and knowing that I deserve a love that will complement this beautiful ice cream cone I call "my life" like a beautiful sprinkle.
However, this morning, I came across clips from an interview with Pastor John Gray giving his perspective on his marriage and more specifically his beloved wife, whom he admiringly recognized as a pilar in his journey to becoming the influential man that he is today. I have nothing but respect for him because who am I to judge someone else's interpretation of their own experiences? However, many of the problematic statements made me clutch my pearls and whisper, "What in the Lemonade is this?" Let me tell y'all something:
If a man is looking for me to love him unconditionally, regardless of the circumstances, using my strengths as blocks to build him up into the one he has the potential to be in vain of my happiness and emotional health, for me to fill him, even when I'm empty, and put more labor into him than I do birthing my own children, I'm gonna need him to do one thing: Call his momma because he has the wrong one.
Pastor Gray recounts his wife's dutifulness in their marriage:
"My wife has endured more pain birthing me than both of our children. She has sacrificed, these last eight years, uncovering the painful areas of my manhood and covering the areas that could have exposed me. She deserves anything I can give her... I'm going to live the rest of my life to honor her because she gave me what I couldn't give myself, which is chance to heal, while I still seeing the God in me."
Though endearing, this sanctified version of the hood rhetoric of a 'ride or die chick' needs to go straight in the trash. Why? Because you can search the whole world wide web and come up scarce with recounts of men dedicating their lives to build up a woman. Pastor Gray admits himself that he married a woman who was a coat that was two sizes too big, and in order to manifest as a person, it is much better to partner with one that can propel you instead of hold you back:
"If a man marries a lid she stops your dream, but if you marry your covering, she will push you to your destiny."
This statement in itself is hypocritical and implies that it is perfectly fine for men to enter relationships with the expectation for a woman to come with her toolbelt 'Bob-The-Building' him up, but she has to be whole in order to be considered worthy. Let's take the attention off of Pastor Gray and on women in general who give and give into their broken relationships until they have absolutely nothing left except for bitterness, resentment, and feeling of not being good enough after trying to fix a grown ass broken man? Is she considered the lid, the pot, or the oven? Someone please help me out.
Popular self-love advocate Derrick Jaxn weighed in:
"What is the price that any woman can expect to have to pay to try to love a broken man? What scars is she still dealing with 'till this day that will never heal. If no scars, then just in that eight-year time span of trying to love you, and raise you, and give birth to you as a man, what would you say she risked resorting to because she already had her own battles to fight and here she is fighting yours because you didn't get them to a point where you didn't need her to fight your battles for you or cover you in places that you still need healing?"
Nothing against Pastor John Gray personally but this is glorifying the idea that the love of Black women is to be measured by the amount of pain that we can endure, while the man we love grows up, and I am not okay with it.
Our love is more valuable than our ability to be a man's second mother.
My Nana dropped a gem on me during a particularly painful break up I had recently in the form of a simple yet comforting statement: "There is a lid for every pot."
In that moment where I was questioning if I should change myself for this man I felt I could not live without and took our breakup as a measurement of my ability to love and my value as a woman, she was able to relay to me that I am worthy and there are people out there that will love me healthily without breaking me down first. Why?
Because I am the whole kitchen.