Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Genesis 1: 27-28
27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Worship Song: Constant Mercies by Phil Thompson
Happy Twenty Seventh Day of Thanks Everyone!
Today I give thanks for conversations about male/female relationship dynamics. This day of thanks is inspired by a book I read many moons ago, “The Conversation” by Hill Harper and a series of conversations I have been privy to hear of males and females discussing relationship dynamics.
If I can be honest, at the beginning of this year, I was over men of color. God put me on assignment to fast and pray for them one day a week. But the deeper I got into my fasting and prayer, the crazier the stuff I would hear about one of them as it related to engaging in domestic abuse, abandoning their families, abandoning responsibilities of taking care of their children, drug use, committing suicide or murder, changing their sexual gender and orientation, “on the down-low” tendencies, and a host of other things. I guess that is why I needed to pray and fast for them in the first place. It was in this state of mind (of being over men of color) that I attended a men’s mental health program at an open mic night hosted by a friend. I had no idea that at the end of that program, I would have the most amazing, stimulating conversation with a gentleman that would reignite my hope in men.
I invited another female friend to the health program with me because she was interested in starting a program for teenage and adult males of color. I wanted her to get a more thorough glimpse of some of the issues plaguing the population of people she wanted to work with from their perspectives. At the end of the night, with one minute left to the program, she posed a deep, thought-provoking question to all the men in the audience that, of course, wouldn’t and couldn’t get answered because of the timing and the question’s complexity. However, once the program ended, we networked a little and the dj walked up to my friend and said, “if you don’t mind, I’d like to answer your question.” He began to unpack her question and address the many levels of its complexity first from a biblical standpoint and then from the nature of male/female relationship dynamics. I was floored and awed. This was the first time in a very long time that I engaged in such a stimulating conversation with a man of color from a biblical perspective about female/male dynamics and roles, accountability, and so much more. We were so engaged in the conversation, we went until after midnight and I forgot that I had to get home to relieve my babysitter. It was amazing!
The gentleman even relayed some wisdom nuggets for my friend about her relationship, which she needed to hear from a man. Although I had given her this same advice repeatedly, as a woman I knew that the information given would not sink into her core and translate to a behavioral change until she heard about her “craziness” from a man’s perspective. It is quite sobering to hear the message, with sugar or honey on top, that one lacks self-love and self-worth. Oof! But, he broke the news to her very gently and lovingly and encouraged her to leave her gentleman friend alone until he figured out his life and had more accountability in it. He shared with us how most men think and process responsibilities of work and providing for family. My friend shared what she wanted to do for teenage and adult men and the gentleman shared with us how having accountability among other male peers and mentors and the intentionality of wanting to change oneself plays a big role in people’s actual life transformations. He told her that providing a space for conversation did not translate to the men changing at all and pointed out the example of the open mic space. He said that the many men there came each week, talked about the problems, then went outside afterwards to drink and smoke weed and came back the next week to do the same thing all over again. There was no change at all in their lives.
That evening left such a lasting impression upon me. It really inspired me to keep going harder to pray and fast for men of color so that they could be good men, husbands and fathers. It also opened my mind to hear and receive some of the other wisdom nuggets that would come later on how to approach certain conversations with men. In another conversation about male/female dynamics I heard several weeks ago, I heard a gentleman say that he hated to hear the words “we have to talk” from his girlfriend because it gave him severe anxiety. He said that he knew his “entire night was shot” because his girlfriend would want to talk about her emotions and feelings instead of directly addressing the points she had to speak. (I laughed internally at hearing him say that because most of the women I know want to have those long soliloquy discussions about their feelings and emotions as well.) In the discussion, one woman asked what was the best way to talk to her partner and tell him that she missed him without “sounding like she was nagging him” as he put it. One gentleman gave the advice of writing notes to her partner so that there is clarity on how and what she feels without inviting “tone” into the conversation. There was so much good conversation and advice being given in that discussion. And I am so grateful that the gentleman after that mental health program inspired me to hope in great male/female dialogue and conversations about the state of our relationships and prepared me to hear the wisdom nuggets that I could hold dear and use as guiding tools to better navigate the conversations I have with the males in my sphere of influence.
Today as we give thanks for the conversations that make our male/female relationships so much better and healthier, I invite you to donate to Alliance of Families for Justice (https://afj-ny.org/), https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=YQY9DVHELQEQA, whose mission is to empower, support, and mobilize families and people impacted by the criminal justice system.
Have a Great Day of Thanks!