In 2014 an old love was rekindled. Little did I know, at that time, that this familiar person also carried with him the power to resurrect hurts & traumas that I had long buried deep within my soul. He too was unaware of the impact that the particularity of his personhood would have on creating space for my soul to crawl out from hiding. The short-lived specifics of our experience together brought to the surface memories that summoned me to embark on one of the most painful, confusing and frustrating healing journeys that I have ever encountered.
My body was overwhelmed with memories of male-gendered and romantic relational traumas that could only be characterized by visceral groans of a wounded soul. I traveled back in time to my first, second and third encounter of being physically and emotionally abandoned by the cowardliness of my lovers’ ghosting proclivities. I was terrorized by memories of the face of that one stranger that invaded and dominated my body without my consent. I was terrified by that one time my lover asserted his power over me, wrapping his large hands around my neck in an attempt to rob me of the breath in my lungs. I was enraged by memories of my encounters with charming narcissists, deploying their weapons of destruction in their game of psychological warfare. I wrestled with the self-centeredness of men who called themselves “friend” yet possessed a self-interest that betrayed and exploited the nature of friendship.
Little did I know, that it was God in the midst of the particularities of that rekindled love, calling my soul out of hiding to confront some of my deepest romantic relational wounds. It was God that created space and opportunity for me to embark on a journey of inner liberation that had the power to redeem the brokenness in tangible ways.
It was the expansiveness of God’s presence through sisterhood that filled the void of abandonment. It was the warmth of God’s hope that invaded my body, giving me a place of belonging amongst a tribe of women that loved me back into wholeness. It was the power of God’s solidarity through the shared stories of wandering, struggling, wrestling & liberating women that wrapped around my neck to breathe new life into my lungs. It was the vulnerability of God’s love, embodied in the making of new experiences and memories with an authentic sisterhood that unraveled and released the stronghold of psychological warfare. And, it was the erotic love of intimate friendship with my tribe of women that redeemed the nature of friendship.
When I think of these women, I am reminded of the tribe of men that broke through obstacles to carry along, lift up & lower down a disabled man who laid on his mat. They set this man before Jesus so that he could be healed. Jesus looked upon the men and saw their collective faith and said, “friend, take heart, your sins have been forgiven” (Mathew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26). Jesus asked the man to get up, pick up his matt (his stuff) and walk. The man stood up, gathered his belongings and walked home to his community of belonging, praising God.
Sin seeks to pillage individuals and communities of the concrete particularities that are necessary for human and communal flourishing. Sin separates and divides us from the bonds of love & care that are innate to our humanity. It was God in the midst of communal faith that healed & restored this faithful yet disabled man in the ways that he needed to be healed, forgiven & restored for his individual and communal flourishing.
Little did I know, at that time, that it wasn’t a life-giving romantic relationship with a man that I needed to redeem the brokenness, it was God’s love that was embodied by the romantic love of my tribe of ride-or-die women carried me when I couldn’t walk. It was these women, like the disabled man’s tribe, that had faith, hope and love when I had little to give. They carried me along, they lifted me up and lowered me down through their collective faithfulness and intercession. In their actions of love and solidarity, they set me down at the feet of my Beloved. God healed my wounds in all the ways that I needed healing so that I could return home to a community of belonging that includes authentic and life-giving communion with men.
My experiences weave together threads of beauty and ugliness that reveal a messy tapestry of resurrection, redemption, and liberation. It is a collective story of us, and its power to liberate is in the retelling. As Brittney Cooper prophetically proclaims in Eloquent Rage, “One way to start shedding the baggage is to start telling our truths, to start opening the bags and exposing the lies that weigh us down. The weight of the nation is not ours to carry.”
Wherever you find yourself on your journey, tell your truth, find your tribe & grow where you are planted. In those dark moments, cling to the wisdom and power of Assata’s Chant:
It’s our duty to fight for our freedom.
It’s our duty to win.
We must love and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.
Cheering you on…