Black women who desire to relate with and love black men, don’t have it easy! [ Click here to review statistical data on African American marriages. ]
The other day, I was in line at a convenience store, waiting to purchase a needed Red Bull, when I overheard a very put together grandmother talking to the teller about her grandson.
The teller said, “Oh you’re buying this for your grandchild?” The woman said, “Yes, he’s the youngest of four grandchildren. He’s spoiled and he lives with me.” She went on to say, “So does my son!”
At this point, my eyes started to twinge and roll around in my head.
By now, stylish grandma is done purchasing her things and is semi trying to get me engaged in her conversation with the teller about her grown son who lives with her. But, I wasn’t interested in engaging her, plus I know my perspective. It’s anti-grown-men-living-at-home-with-momma.
She continued to say, “He left me for 6 months once and then he called me and said, mom, I’m coming home!” She said, “He’s been with me ever since.”
Get this: “He’s 53 years old.”
She went on to say, “He goes out to see his lady friends or goes to a hotel, but he doesn’t bring them back to my house. I don’t have that at my place.” I’m thinking to myself, well at least you set that boundary, but what about him being 53 years old and still living at home with you (with child)?
Let me stop here and be very clear about my biases.
I’m an African American woman. I’ve witnessed multiple black men who’ve been provided for and treated like children by their oftentimes “take charge,” yet compliant mothers. Unfortunately, too many of “these men” grew up without a father present or a reliable example of what it means to be a man, father or leader, which has left them inapt to lead their own families and in many instances disinterested.
In a nutshell, I’ve dated this guy and I’m related to this guy. I know him too well, and it’s troubling to watch “these men” not rise to a certain level of manhood and responsibility. As humans, we are designed by God to create, flourish and reach our full capacity to love and be loved.
The Apostle Paul reminds us of the importance of developing, growing, progressing…
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” ~1 Corinthians 13:11 NIV
I think I’ve made it clear: I don’t support the grown man at home with momma scenario, and how it contributes to the belittling of the black man’s image and breakdown of healthy interactions between black male and female relationships, but I get it.
The oppression and injustices the black community has endured over the years has negatively impacted all black peoples’ identity, confusing our roles, as well as hindering the black man’s position in the community and family. However, all is not lost. With God’s help, the true identity of “these men,” and of all people, can be revitalized and restored.
Dr. A. R. Bernard, Pastor of Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, NY states…
“When a man is the man that God designed him to be it, liberates the woman to be who God designed her to be.” Click here to watch his full interview on the Traits of a Real Man.
But, here’s the thing ladies: given the state of our communities, it’s unwise to begrudgingly or passively wait in the wings for God to awaken the man to himself, or to naively think a man who has yet to know what it means to be “mature, consistent or decisive” (in Dr. A.R. Bernerd’s words) can and will foster your liberation.
Despite what social media or Walt Disney promotes, wholeness doesn’t come through a man, a BAE, or a hubby, it comes through God (John 10:10).
If you’ve ever attempted to be fulfilled through a relationship, then you know what I mean. Whether we like it or not, God has hardwired humanity to be reliant on Him for fullness of life and love (John 15:5). Yes, I agree with Dr. Bernard, “When a man is the man God designed him to be, it liberates the woman to be who God designed her to be.”
However, what do women do in the meantime?
While men are working out their identity, where does that leave women? And, for the sake of this article, where does it leave black women, who are waiting for black men to come to themselves (to be leaders, partners and husbands)?
I believe black women have a divine dual role and responsibility. I’ll explain this in greater detail.
First, let me say this, too many women I know or have worked with are frustratingly waiting for their “Boaz” to come and/or are cursing their singleness season because they believe their best life is contingent upon having a man, a BAE, or a husband. It’s not, but a woman’s natural and normal desire for a man (intimacy, security, companionship) can make it feel like without a “man, BAE or hubby” her life is without meaning or beauty.
Again, it’s just not true. There’s joy, significance and power associated with your life, right now. Whether you’re single or not, when you accept yourself, get God’s everlasting love for you and align with the authentic flow for your life (and not resist it) a beautiful life is what you’ll have.
As women, we do have to contend with this biblical truth…
In Genesis 3:16, God provides us with a warning that we shouldn’t overlook. Due to the sins of Adam and Eve, we are left to bear this burden…
To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
The highlighted part of this Scripture is letting us know, we will have a natural longing for a man (our husbands), yet we will struggle internally because we’ll know that we have the ability to run over him, but it’s God’s instruction for the husband to rule the household, not the wife.
This tension is real, especially for the black woman whose been raised to make it happen, be self-sufficient, and a superwoman of sorts.
Now, back to the question: What do “black women” do in the meantime?
First, it’s imperative that black women #GetEngaged with the fullness of who we are in God, limits and all. Despite what our aunties, mommas and grand-mommas modeled and taught us, we can’t do everything. We are suffering emotionally, mentally and relationally because of an “I got this! and I’m good!” mentality. We must embrace our limitations, and learn to rely on God’s omnipotence, strength and supernatural grace to lead us into harmony with ourselves and with others, including black men.
It’s difficult to fulfill the command to “love your neighbor as yourself,” when you don’t like or love yourself.
It starts with exhaling, facing yourself and admitting you can’t continue to do it all on your own. Also, being intentional about prioritizing “me” time and prayer time, as well as time to listen, to learn God’s voice in your life. Who does God say you are?
There’s no need to fear your capacity to grow emotionally, mentally and spiritually, because our communities and families need our overall growth.
This kind of vulnerable, “God-centered” growth I’m referring to, will increase your level of self-awareness, self-love, confidence and compassion for self and others, yet tame the temptation within you to rule over the man (or BAE), but specifically your husband (read Genesis 3:16 again). Instead of ruling over the man, your essence will inspire him to take his rightful place as a leader and provider.
Second, as you come to a higher view of yourself as a black woman, pray for black men to #GetEngaged with God and self too! Stop engaging men on low levels, i.e. Netflix and chill, sexcapades, situationships, etc. If you know you’re worth more than flighty encounters, stand up for you. If you know there’s more “promise” in the brother beyond what he’s giving off, influence him towards what is good and God, without compromising your body or values (Philippians 4:8).
Praying corporately for the black man’s successful journey to himself and to forming his own home-life as a leader, an intellectual, a provider, a creative, a father and a man of God is key.
Does this seem unfair to black women? Like we have to bear a lot of responsibility, on top of the various responsibilities we have already?!
Yes, of course, but with God’s help, we can do all things (Philippians 4:13) without killing ourselves or emasculating “these men.” Black men are needed. We need God to awaken our love for ourselves and for one another.
Did this article speak to you? I’d love to hear your take on this topic? Please comment below.
With Love + Purpose,
P.S. If you’re a woman who knows you need to take time out for you, to evaluate where you are with self-care, dating and love, consider joining us at the #GetEngaged Retreat for Single Women, August 12 +13. Special guest, Rev. Stacey Hamilton of Pleasantville, NJ has been added. Don’t miss this life changing opportunity! Special code expires July 23 @ 11:59pm EST. Click here for registration details.