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Self-loathers don’t know what love is (Pt 1)

I write these things to you concerning those who would deceive you. As for you, the anointing that you received from Him abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him.~ 1 John 2:26-27

A friendship of two decades is in its final death-throes.

The friend has most likely been holding on due to my potential as a donor for regular emergencies. I was holding on because I hoped she would walk out of her self-imposed doom-and-gloom prison and begin enjoying something of life.

For the vast majority of the time, I have known her, since her break-up with her ex-boyfriend, she is the one person who has been able to suck all of my light-infused energy from my being and inject her angst and unsettledness into me, creating instant exhaustion.

Nearly a decade ago, I began consciously not speaking to her while at home. I would take her calls while walking about town or sitting outdoors. The darkness coming from her during these conversations was too much to sit in while in my own space. Prior to this practice, I had been telling her for a few years that I had no place to go with her emotional dumps. Her bitterness and anger were too great for me to mediate. Add to that her stubbornness and a willfulness not to listen, and we have a toxic one-sided relationship that’s over-due for a curtain call.

She claims to be a seeker of Christ, but there is no light in her. She claims to live according to God’s law, but she has no understanding or expression of love. She has studied the Bible for years but only focuses on text supporting her worldview – any passage on hate and condemnation to shore up her belief in a vengeful God who only loves vengeful children.

Early on I was cast in the role of countering her fire and brimstone biblical interpretations with more rounded interpretations that take into account God providing His own sacrifice for our sins and transgressions. But after nearly two decades of trying to balance a dark-hearted view with light and joy, I’m done.

Today, this woman told me I am not a good or supportive friend because I don’t hate the people she hates or ignore the people she ignores.

She knows I don’t hate the people I used to want to hate. She knows my faith journey has been all about forgiving, releasing and growing forward. She has been around as I’ve confronted and vanquished demons attacking my life. Yet and still her ultimatum today was, if you want to be friendly/greet/reach out to people I’m not talking to then you can’t be part of my circle; count me out.

“God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.” ~ 1 John 4:16-21

My reply was that I was not seeking relationships with the people she’s angry with. I greeted one, her sister, when we saw her at a restaurant yesterday. She chose not to acknowledge her sister and only said “things are awkward” between them and I should “read between the lines.” I reached out to the other, her ex-boyfriend and the father of her children, through their oldest, my godson, who lives with him, to ask for contacts and guidance for contractors after closing on my first investment property. My asking for help from her ex is apparently what set her on a warpath. He’s been in construction and auxiliary services for about twenty-five years. I’m new to the industry. It made practical sense to me to reach out to those I know are connected to the business. I had also reached out to another friend to see if her husband could help or offer guidance. He provided a list of contractors that got me started. And my cousin’s husband was my first helper. None of this seemed outrageous to me.

After dumping her anger on that, this friend attacked my creative works. Her continual dumping about her contentious relationship with her ex was featured in My God and Me: Listening, Learning and Growing on My Journey, a book I published in 2009. She brought that up today as an example of my poor performance as a friend. Quite honestly, I don’t remember what I wrote about her and her ex or the lessons I learned from them, but I am disturbed by the fact that she’s only now expressing how deeply impacted she felt about me sharing my interactions with her in my book. This tells me she hasn’t been genuine at all in the last twelve years. How could she be if she’s been resenting me all this time?

Several portraits I took of her in 2018 are featured in I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood. She doesn’t like the way she looks. She said, “ I only see my pain when I look at these pictures.” Mind you when the photos were taken, it was for this project. Shortly after, she asked me to delete my work. I considered it, but I was angered at the thought of deleting my creative work simply because she couldn’t stand looking at herself. That being said, one of those images had been selected for two gallery shows in New York City. After the first show, she signed a photo release for the second. There was no complaint about having her image in a gallery, but I’m a horrible friend for putting that image and others in my book?

She has a four image spread that compliments a letter to Michelle Obama, as well as speeches by Michelle and Kamala Harris. In a book that explores the bondage and silencing of Black Women, she was paired with our two proudest historical accomplishments. But all she saw was her pain. She didn’t see how her story is so many others story. She didn’t see that we’re all overcoming everyday. She doesn’t see that in her attempt to hide and control her portion of the narrative she’s impacting and distorting the larger collective narrative.

It wasn’t until she unleashed about her images being in my book – images that she doesn’t like – that I realized that all the hatred I thought was directed outward was actually ricocheting from the inside. She’s been in the throws of self-loathing for many years and I didn’t identify it as such. However, I did begin to understand she truly doesn’t know how to love when she rejected her son a couple of years ago for choices he made in his life. Her whole life has been wrapped up in smothering her children while hating their father. Despite her confusion with the Word, she has kept her children in the Bible. When she cited her belief in God as the reason she rejected her son, I began stepping back. That’s when I acknowledged I was no match for her destructive reaction to people living their lives on their own terms.

I have assured her I will remove her images from I AM WOMAN as well as references to her story in future publications of My God and Me. I had debated including her images because I didn’t want the negative energy attached to her to infuse my project. I should have heeded my gut. Lesson learned.

My hope that she will wake up and present a version of herself that isn’t bitter, hateful, manipulative or controlling is put to rest. I throw in the towel. If someone doesn’t know the difference between an honorable tribute and a hateful act then I’m really out of words.

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” ~ John 3:17-21

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Womanhood: Evidence of God’s Goodness

A Song & Verse Post: Evidence by Josh Baldwin

evidence: the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid

Every time Evidence comes on in the car I want to pull over and praise God. Today, I came to home to write.

All throughout my history Your faithfulness has walked beside me.

There is not one period of my life that I cannot identify the presence of God and His work in me. I remember being baptized around the age of six. Though I had no understanding of what that meant at the time, I can literally look back on my life to that moment and see how God has held on to me through every devastation, betrayal, abuse, disillusionment and every step of rebuilding and healing.

I remember my one-dollar lock and key diaries from Walgreens that were full of my seven-year-old pleadings for God to save me from the near daily sexual abuse I was subjected to. “Dear God, he did it again. Please make him stop!” Years of one or two line prayers. Silent screams. One day, four years later, God called me out of my house (I didn’t recognize His hand then, but I certainly do now) and guided me on a walk to a nearby police station outpost. I knocked on the door and said to the officer who answered, “I’m being molested.”

From that moment forward, I was never again forced to share space with my violators.

The winter storms made way for spring. In every season, from where I’m standing I see the evidence of Your goodness all over my life. I see Your promises in fulfillment all over my life.

I grew up in families – both sides – that didn’t acknowledge abuse or trauma. Everyone is either a victim or a perpetrator. If anyone could claim to be on the sidelines, they would act deaf, dumb, blind and incapable for standing against any wrongdoing.

A few years after I had forgiven my dad, and a few years before he died, he asked me why I act better than I am. “You’re from the ghetto, you’ll always be ghetto.” This was during the “healing and repair” of our relationship, mind you. It was also one of our last conversations.

Imagine being told by someone who should have molded you for greatness, that you were never expected to rise above his level of filth, disease, psychological, sexual and spiritual bondage. Imagine being looked upon with disgust by a man who, for all intent and purpose, murdered you as a child and then being told as an adult woman that you were expected to remain dead.

At that time, I hadn’t yet started my dedicated faith walk. I was still journaling – writing prayers to God – but the Bible remained a mystery to me. Nothing was catching or keeping. However, I can look back on that time now and see it as the beginning of release in my life. I tried so hard to reconcile that relationship, but when I stopped holding on – when I stopped trying – it was easy to see that I had been on my own the whole time.

I believe firmly that God desires willing hearts most – a desire to conform to His Word in practice and deed. However, He has never allowed me to remain open to those who intentionally harm me repeatedly. I view this as God’s judgement on the other person’s heart condition, rather than my inability to be faithful and obedient to Grace and Mercy.

Imagine telling your sire: I’m more than my beginnings. I’m more than the seed you contributed to my being. I’ve become more than a little girl from the ghetto.

Help me remember when I’m weak, fear may come but fear will leave.

It’s said that we can do anything we can imagine. Yet our imagination is limited by what we’re exposed to. What if we’re exposed to people who can’t see beyond their own dark pits?

I went into a deep depression in my late thirties. My mom died at the age of thirty-six and when I reached that age, my future dimmed to darkness. It was difficult to climb out of my second grave by letting go of the woman I thought I would have become by then. My mother began life as a sharecropper’s granddaughter in rural Mississippi, but I only ever saw her as the best of all created beings. As difficult as her life had been, she had at least accomplished the Holy Grail of Womanhood (according to society) – marriage and children. No matter that she tied herself to a rotten man and worked multiple minimum wage jobs to house and feed her children, she remained the epitome of everything to me. It was difficult to see myself as worthy of more time in this world than she had. Harder still to face the length of her lifespan without even a taste of the Holy Grail of Womanhood.

The end of beginnings is the beginning of letting go.

You lead my heart to victory. You are my strength and You always will be.

My birthday this year will put me at ten years beyond the lifespan of my mother – and still not even a lick of the traditional Holy Grail of Womanhood. Today, I can say I am completely fine with that. In recent years I’ve not only learned to embrace my solitude, I’ve come to appreciate it, honor it and protect it. There’s something being forged in me that I can’t articulate. That glimpse of greatness that repelled my dad fifteen years ago, is unfurling in a wondrous way. I’ve grown from hiding my light under a bushel to Clarkeshia Kent exposing her S with a declarative chest thrust. Yet my light is still gaining strength. I foresee beaming across the Universe.

Why settle for tradition when the Universe is already mine?

I’m becoming a Woman I never imagined I would be. Nothing about my life today was part of the dream, fantasy or hope. Everything about my life is better than all my mind and heart conjured for me. There’s something to be said about what we’re exposed to. Exposure sounds expansive, but it’s actually limiting. If we only trust what our eyes see, we will be satisfied with that view for our life. However, when we begin to let go of all the dead things – relationships, hopes, dreams, ideals, culture, tradition – we will have room to invite the previously unimaginable in. We will be able to develop into beings of light with experiences beyond the confinement of the world. Living beyond the construct breaks the paradigm. At which point, you’ll actually be able to imagine what previously seemed impossible. Thus, within your reality all things are then possible.

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth.

But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.

So when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued[d] the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.

Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.

~ Revelation 12:1-2, 5-6, 13-14, 17

 

[NOTE: More of my story is shared in Clichés: A Life in Verse, My God and Me, and Desert of Solitude. Some poems from Clichés will be reprinted in I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America. All books are available on Harvest-Life.org/shop and Amazon.com]

 

Evidence

by Josh Baldwin w/Dante Bowe

All throughout my history
Your faithfulness has walked beside me
The winter storms made way for spring
In every season, from where I’m standing

I see the evidence of Your goodness
All over my life
All over my life
I see Your promises in fulfillment
All over my life
All over my life

Help me remember when I’m weak
Fear may come but fear will leave
You lead my heart to victory
You are my strength and You always will be

See the cross, the empty grave
The evidence is endless
All my sin rolled away
Because of You, oh Jesus

Why should I fear
The evidence is here

 

See a Victory

by Elevation Worship w/Brandon Lake

The weapon may be formed but it won’t prosper
When the darkness falls it won’t prevail
Cause the God I serve knows only how to triumph
My God will never fail
My God will never fail

I’m gonna see a victory
I’m gonna see a victory
For the battle belongs to You Lord
I’m gonna see a victory
I’m gonna see a victory
For the battle belongs to You Lord

There’s power in the mighty name of Jesus
Every war He wages He will win
I’m not backing down from any giant
I know how this story ends
I know how this story ends

You take what the enemy meant for evil
And You turn it for good
You turn it for good


Sources:

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Kingdom of Heaven (ACAD: Matthew 5)

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.

Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:1-48 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Matthew%205:1-48&version=NRSV

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Sermon: Foundation for Favor by Holly Furtick

Sermon Notes

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.Jeremiah 17:7-8

  • Like a tree planted in the water.
  • Leaves are always green
  • Never fails to bear fruit.

Having a relationship with God does not exempt us from troubles. It gives us a foundation to draw from when hard times come. It enables us to not only survive, but to bear fruit during the most difficult season. Droughts and storms, summer, winter. Fake trees look good but they can’t bear fruit.

Strong people do not happen by accident. Strength is not revealed during the dry season. It just reveals itself

Key Verse

And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.Luke 1:28-38

Foundation Elements

  1. Awareness of God’s Presence. Are you aware of God’s presence or is your life so loud, crowded and back to back with busyness that you can’t hear Gods Voice?
    • Make time and space for to fellowship with God
  2. Acceptance. Have you accepted the calling on your life? Living in favor requires work.
  3. Action. Favor requires action on your part. What is your response time? Every calling starts with a small step. If you won’t do and act with the small things, you won’t get to any big things. God does not give you step two before you perform step one.
  4. Attachment. Sometimes favor is the people God has placed in your life. Align yourself with those who confirm your calling. Supportive relationships are helpful to your faith walk.

Blessed are you among women. Blessed is the fruit of your womb. ~ Luke 1:42

Related Bible Study

Discussion Questions: Marriage & Relationship, Part 5

Related Posts

Sermon: Favor Over Fear by Steven Furtick

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Be Your Own Best Present

2020 year-end reflection and message for those of us used to putting everyone else first and feeding into situations that don’t nourish us. Just as we try to be available supportive and our best selves for others, we should be equally, if not more so, for ourselves.

 

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Everything I Thought I Knew About Diabetes Was Wrong

The getting-overness of it all.

 

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Poem: Why did God make me Black? by RuNell Ni Ebo

Lord, Lord
Why did You make me Black?
Why did You make someone
the world wants to hold back?

Black is the color of dirty clothes,
the color of grimy hands and feet.
Black is the color of darkness,
the color of tire-beaten streets.

Why did You give me thick lips,
a broad nose and kinky hair?
Why did You make someone
who receives the hatred stare?

Black is the color of the bruised eye
when someone gets hurt.
Black is the color of darkness,
Black is the color of dirt.

How come my bone structure’s so thick,
my hips and cheeks are high?
How come my eyes are brown
and not the color of daylight sky?

Why do people think I’m useless?
How come I feel so used?
Why do some people see my skin
and think I should be abused?

Lord I just don’t understand.
What is it about my skin?
Why do some people want to hate me
and not know the person within?

Black is what people are “listed”
when others want to keep them away.
Black is the color of shadows cast.
Black is the end of day.

Lord you know my own people mistreat me
and I know this just ain’t right.
They don’t like my hair.
They say I’m too dark or too light.

Lord, don’t You think it’s time for You
to make a change?
Why don’t You re-do creation and
make everyone the same?

God answered:

Why did I make you Black?
Why did I make you Black?
Get off your knees and look around
Tell me, what do you see?
I didn’t make you in the image of darkness,
I made you in likeness of ME!

I made you the color of coal from which
beautiful diamonds are formed.
I made you the color of oil,
the black gold that keeps people warm.

I made you from the rich, dark earth that can
grow the food you need.
You color’s the same as the black stallion,
a majestic animal is he.
I didn’t make you in the image of darkness.
I made you in likeness of ME!

All the colors of the heavenly rainbow can be
found throughout every nation.
But when all of those colors were blended,
you became my greatest creation.

Your hair is the texture of lamb’s wool.
Such a humble little creature is he.
I am the Sheperd who watches them.
I am the One who will watch over thee.

You are the color of midnight sky.
I put the star’s glitter in your eyes.
There is a smile hidden behind your pain.
That’s why your cheeks are so high.

You are the color of dark clouds formed,
when I send My strongest weather.
I made your lips full so when you kiss
the one that you love, they will remember.

Your stature is strong, your bone structure thick
to withstand the burdens of time.
The reflection you see in the mirror…
The image that looks back is MINE.

– RuNell Ni Ebo

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Film Review: Queen & Slim

As I left the movie theater after watching Queen & Slim, I spoke with a friend who asked me what I thought of the film. I prefaced my comments with, “It was good and disturbing.” A couple of days later, my aunt asked me if I liked it and if I would buy it or see it again. Pensively, I responded, “I liked it. I no longer buy movies. I thought about seeing it again but the subject matter was a bit intense for me.”

One of the sound bites in one of the trailers calls the two protagonists the Black Bonnie & Clyde. Many other reviews are leading with that misleading comparison. There’s no crime spree. There’s no pleasure taken in hurting others or breaking laws. The film is about two Tinder users who meet for a date. Viewers suffer through their very awkward conversation with them. If the film ended at the restaurant we would all be sure that these two young people parted with no intention of ever seeing one another again.

The pace of the whole movie is smooth and unhurried. So much so that I grew tense anticipating expected anticipatory moments. However, Queen and Slim remain mostly unhurried and unbothered throughout the film. Their lack of urgency truly bothered me. Honestly, it wasn’t until the end that I understood what they knew from the beginning: none of us are getting out of this alive. We all rush through life consuming experiences, emotions, people, and opportunities while not really being present. Ignoring the poignancy of now in a headlong rush for a goal or a hope.

This film is both a snapshot of oppressive America and a love letter to Black People. My summary of the overall message is: the biggest threats to the power structure, world order, global oppressive systems and the overall ruling class is 1. A Black Woman who stands up for a Black Man and 2. A Black Man who carries a Black Woman (holds her in his arms). Deadly threats both. The whole history of this country and colonial systems around the globe have been based on making sure neither of those two things happen freely, naturally or often.

Community

It would be easy to say Queen & Slim is a film about Black People. It’s more insightful to articulate how the whole film was about humanity and our varied nuances. It showed how people rally behind anything that gives them a reason to stand on their feet. It showed how people are willing to help, sometimes at a steep cost to themselves, just because someone is in need. It showed how some people take advantage of others for personal gain. It showed how we can grow in love and admiration simply by proximity and shared time. It showed how hate and fear is an infection that spreads like wildfire. Yet compassion was also sprinkled throughout the film with slightly subtler flare. 

I thought the film was disturbing because it was so real. Being pulled over by an aggressive police officer. Deciding to fight for your life rather than being killed for someone else’s pleasure. Seeking refuge. Trusting strangers. Going from someone simply living your life to national symbols and targets overnight. We’ve seen these actions played out repeatedly in the news, on our timelines and in our neighborhoods. Yet as familiar as it all is, Queen & Slim did a good job of not painting everyone in primary colors. There were kind and compassionate police officers, as well as lazy and uninterested, conflicted and compromised cops. None of those cops took away from the largest presence of police officers in the film being those whose “fear for their lives” justified their use of deadly force.

Family wasn’t prominent in the film, but family was certainly part of the fabric of the story. From early on, we knew how important Slim’s family was to him and how disconnected Queen was from hers. Family relationships were fraught with tension. Safe havens erupted in unnecessary violence, but the support was always there. It was the protective acts that proved love despite the distance of time and space.

Black people recognized Queen and Slim every where they went. They were embraced as they were and praised for what people thought they were. Resting in the bosom of the Black community could have been a theme. Until it wasn’t. What’s betrayal without access and knowledge?

Love & War

The most disturbing part of the film was the jolting inter-lacing of two scenes. Queen & Slim on the run ran into themselves and each other. Their coming together in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature, was extremely tender and lovely. Unfortunately, the viewer didn’t get to watch this scene play out in peace. The screen cut to a protest against police brutality that was building in anger and intensity. Every few seconds the viewer was jolted from the natural serenity of two people coming together in love to the violence of the tools of oppression (police officers) and the oppressed charging towards a collision.

It was painful to watch because the truth is we have to find our joy in chaos. Violence and oppression don’t take breaks for self-exploration and human connection. If we don’t stop where we are and enjoy now, experience one another now, decide to grow in understanding and compassion now, we will learn that tomorrow may be too late.

Queen & Slim

Queen & Slim could have been their Tinder handles or the nicknames assigned to them by an adoring public. Two people clashing in the night who eventually ended up clinging to one another. Isn’t that the story of any woman and man learning each other? First circling in suspicion, then dancing together. This was a story of the evolution into the fullness of womanhood, manhood and vulnerability. Our lives are more than our circumstances. We can choose who we will be in every moment we have breath. We can change what’s of value and importance to us as we move through life. We can live fully in the purpose of the moment, in the now, unbothered by what may or may not be our future. Faith & Joy could have just as easily been their names, it would be an equally fitting title for the film.

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All Is Meaningless (ACAD: Ecclesiastes 12)

Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come, and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return with the rain; in the day when the guards of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the women who grind cease working because they are few, and those who look through the windows see dimly; when the doors on the street are shut, and the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low; when one is afraid of heights, and terrors are in the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along and desire fails; because all must go to their eternal home, and the mourners will go about the streets; before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is broken, and the pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher; all is vanity.

Besides being wise, the Teacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs. The Teacher sought to find pleasing words, and he wrote words of truth plainly.

The sayings of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings that are given by one shepherd. Of anything beyond these, my child, beware. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:1-14 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Ecclesiastes%2012:1-14&version=NRSV

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All Is Meaningless (ACAD: Ecclesiastes 11)

Send out your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will get it back. Divide your means seven ways, or even eight, for you do not know what disaster may happen on earth. When clouds are full, they empty rain on the earth; whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie. Whoever observes the wind will not sow; and whoever regards the clouds will not reap.

Just as you do not know how the breath comes to the bones in the mother’s womb, so you do not know the work of God, who makes everything.

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hands be idle; for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.

Even those who live many years should rejoice in them all; yet let them remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.

Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Follow the inclination of your heart and the desire of your eyes, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

Banish anxiety from your mind, and put away pain from your body; for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.

Ecclesiastes 11:1-10 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Ecclesiastes%2011:1-10&version=NRSV