A conversation with a friend recently posed the question, “How do you stop loving?”, a question I wasn’t not prepared to answer. Let me pause for a moment and say that this is not one of those “friend of a friend” posts which actually is talking about me. This is really about a friend, a real, live friend. For sure. Okay? Not me. Alright? I digress.
Anywho, the question was posed, leaving me speechless because I just don’t know the answer. She shared her multiple failed attempts to be removed from the feelings she’d carried for a gentleman for several, several years. I’ve been in a relationship or two, so I could totally relate to her as it relates to a couple (as in only two) persons I’ve been in relationships with and faced this dilemma where they obviously didn’t get the “you are evicted from my heart” memo. (Now, friends and family, before you boggle your brain trying to figure out who those two gentlemen are just know they are more than likely absolutely not who you think they are…LOL!) Again, I digress.
Anywho, having my share of expertise in love and life I started to reflect on my past loves/likes/”undefineds”. Some have ended as cut and dry as a slice of roquefort cheese. Others were not so smooth in transition with leftover feelings which either served me well, making me pause and pump the brakes for a time being or lingered around too long royally messing some other things up for the long haul. Either way the answer to “how do you stop loving” escapes me.
I’ve been thinking about it and the best answer I can muster is that you don’t. I believe you don’t stop loving, not once you’ve really loved the way love was intended and ordained to be. I believe you can stop being in love. (And I believe there is a strong difference in loving and being in love, but that’s another post at another time.) I believe you can transition from romantic love to genuine, heartfelt, platonic love (from a distance, whether you ever speak to or see one another again) for one human being from another simply because of the impact they’ve had in your life. I believe the lessons learned, the love once shared and the fact that, as I just stated, you’re both human and we’re required to love can be sufficient and is more than enough. I absolutely believe you can stop exercising the actions (and reactions) that spawn from love. I believe God can shield or heal you from the side effects of love if you let Him. I believe you can accomplish the purpose the relationship was allowed in the first place, and move on to something God-ordained without unhealthy remnants of the past. I believe you can be equipped to be empowered to know what God desires whether He’s saying “no”, “not right now” or “NEVER”, and move on peacefully either way. I believe you can realize that all endings aren’t negative, but some simply are necessary.
In playing that question over in my mind, I now hold to the thought that real love, not that homemade rendition man has concocted over the centuries, but the kind that’s a gift from God, part of His purpose and a reflection of His love for us doesn’t stop. I believe it just knows well enough when to step back, step aside or step away and take it’s proper place for the greater good of God’s plans.
At a career fair back in February 2014 a fellow vendor approached me about the YWCA’s mission. I didn’t know this 50-something-year-old man, so I didn’t know his history with racism, but something prompted him to ask, “Do you ever think you all will totally eliminate racism?” I was initially shocked, and eventually grateful as I didn’t have an opportunity to answer because of a student who approached saving me from a conversation I wasn’t prepared to have. I didn’t want to talk to him about race.
Much to my chagrin, that same vendor was at a career fair I attended in early March. During a less busy time he strolled over to me to again asking his burning question. He approached just as I was getting ready to head to the hospitality room for a second helping of chocolate covered strawberries and petite ham sandwiches. Knowing there must have been a reason he asked this question of me twice at two different schools in two different cities I simply didn’t want to talk to him about racism. This time, there was no student distraction. I was trapped. But this time I asked myself why I was hesitant to talk to him. Did I not want to hear views different from mine from a man who clearly was reared in a day and time different from mine? Did I not care to hear his story with ears which were listening and a heart which was set to receive his personal perspectives on whatever it was which shaped his points of view? Did I think a disagreement would ensue? Did I not have the courage to share my own thoughts and experiences? What was my concern with communicating about race?
I again heard him pose the question with the same seriousness, almost desperately inviting me to hear what he had to say. Following his “deja vu” inquiry I shared how I didn’t believe the agency I worked for could singularly eliminate racism from the world as a whole, but that we wanted to do our part. I told him I knew we needed help, not just from women and not just from men, not just for blacks or browns, but with and for us all. I shared that my point of view derived from my background growing up among blacks and whites, now working in social justice on behalf of all who face racism. I told him how I believe that every person or agency serves as a catalyst to cause conversation, stir action, change minds and help heal wounds. I wanted to tell him, but for some reason didn’t, how I believed we needed the “domino effect”, where each participant played a part in knocking out racism starting simply by talking about it in healthy ways, hearing each other’s stories, going out of our comfort zone to connect with those who appear to be unlike us (but likely are like us), not furthering unhealthy communications, protecting each other as brothers and sisters regardless of race, and knowing that at the end of the day, hopefully we will all make it to Heaven where color won’t be a concern. He stood and listened to me talk. I sat and listened to him talk as he interjected his interesting perspective, that was definitely rooted in pain, fear and witnessed injustice that my mind could only imagine. I felt bad about not wanting to talk.
In that talk as a black woman in a role of leadership standing on a predominately white college campus talking race with a black man in a role of leadership it struck me that if there were times I didn’t want to talk about racism I can imagine how some others might feel. I was reminded that good, healthy and respectable talk about racism even when we don’t want to, even when we don’t agree, even when it’s uncomfortable or even when we would prefer to be eating the chocolate covered strawberries is the only way we have a fighting chance at removing racism.
We have to talk about racism, people. There’s no way around it. Every cause starts with conversation. With all that is going on in our country and around the world it’s time to have the talk again, and again, and again again if necessary. Whether:
- in girlfriend groups
- through panel discussions
- in upper-level board meetings
- via town hall meetings
- on social media forums
- on the golf course
- in the country clubs
- in places of worship
- at the barber shops
- in the carpool line
- on the neighborhood blocks
- at the watercooler
- in the grocery store
- with our neighbor we’ve never spoken to
- with the person who offended us
- or with the darker hued man we fear or don’t understand
we have to talk about racism to get to the root and remove it once, finally and for all.
Let’s talk. Shall we? Meet us at the YWCA Central Alabama on Thursday, July 21 at 11am for Face to Face with Race. Registration is $20 and includes lunch. RSVPs are requested at firstname.lastname@example.org
Life is “interesting” enough as it to make it even more complicated by frowning, pouting, sulking and sinking into a negative pity party. Now, I’ll be the first to say that it’s okay to cry. Crying is cleansing and sometimes gets a bad rap. But staying, and being comfortable in a place of despair is not meant for us. Life is too short and too long to linger in sorrow. We have to find a reason to laugh!
It tickles me, literally sometimes, to see the new generation’s thought of beauty that is often depicted as a growl or grimace, that, in my opinion is simply not cute. It’s becoming more and more acceptable to be angry, mean and mad, and walk around with a sourpuss face like the mouth isn’t designed to also turn in a more happy, pleasant direction.
We have to be determined to find a reason to laugh…
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