Hello beautiful people!
A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History–it is literally one of my favorite museums ever. For all the times I’ve been there, I never noticed that there was an African Voices exhibit behind the ocean stuff. GUYS. It is WONDERFUL! There is drum music playing, cloth and cowries and sososo much information. The kids that I went to the museum with had a mutual understanding that we didn’t need to stay all up under each other for the entire visit, so they went their way and I went mine.
Anyway, so I am in the exhibit, and I notice this picture that struck me as being dope on multiple levels:
So of course, the female/ Black empowerment bones in me stood up and rejoiced at the fact that these African women created a system for not only their success but the success of the other women in their village WITHOUT the intervention of a colonialist, capitalist “savior”. They are out here doing the dang thing. My aunt has been talking about Kiva and other microfinance programs that enable people to help themselves for years, but this seemed like it was completely set up and managed effectively by the people it was designed to help (Yaaaas, Asset Based Community Development!)
But recently, I have been thinking about this picture along the lines of friendship and sisterhood. I have a friend who literally called me at 11:20 last night–well past the time we should have both been asleep (though I didn’t have to work today) and just POURED into me. Like, she left me feeling so cherished and so loved on a soul level that I didn’t even realize that I needed. Today, I was able to be there and pour into (I hope, just by being present) a sisterfriend who suffered a loss.
See, I love really hard. This isn’t braggadocio, it is fact. Whether it is a product of Jesus, nature, nurture or all three, the fact is that I have a unique ability to love people up as they learn how to love themselves at all or harder than before. My twenties were full of fits and starts as I learned how to put in practice for myself what I had been preaching to others about self-love. I was and still can sometimes be an insecure mess–but I am ever a work in progress. I spent literal YEARS trying to force myself into heels and my face into a makeup regimen and my body into a size 8 because I felt like that was what the communities that I walked in required of me. Oh, we could be COOL if I walked past in sweats and Nikes–but we could be FRIENDS if I wore foundation, acrylics and wedges. My thirties, thus far, have been about releasing the fear that if I do the things I want to do, people won’t love or accept me anymore.
props if you get the reference!
My thirties are about saying “take me or leave me” in the most loving way possible, and waiting to see what happens.
You gon’ get these locs and these Converse and maybe this Michael Kors purse ifIfeellikecarryingit and these b-ball shorts and this Ankara skirt with a witty tee shirt and these corny jokes and this ball of emotions and this prayer warrior and this ratchet and this IwantafivestardinnerfollowedbyPinnacleandOJ and this random fact machine of a brain and this size 14/16/18 andandand… you are GONNA LOVE IT. Or not.
My thirties is also about demanding more from the people in my life and being more vocal about what I need. It is about releasing myself from doing all of the work in friendships and stepping back to reevaluate when necessary. I mentioned to the friend on the phone that it is hard not to feel used when people come to you broken, you find yourself speaking into them what never was and reminding them that God calls them whole…and then they leave, confidently armed with the truth about themselves but no longer in need of reminders. It sucks when the -ship cannot healthily transition into something that works both ways, equally affirming. After she finished telling me about how the growth that I’d helped her with enables her to do the work with others, I thanked her for still being here to love me and let me love her. This reminds me of the picture of the ladies above.
I believe that the best friendships rely on a kind of love microfinancing. The picture says that these women contribute monthly to a credit system, and then on a regular basis, they receive a deposit back into their business that overshadows what they could have done on their own. How secure would our friend groups be if people in them–all the people– were paying in in effort constantly? If there were a reserve of prayer and patience and laughter and wine and faith and memories that everyone contributed to, and every so often (not every two years, haha!) each woman could withdraw. Sistafriend A needs a little extra love in March because she lost her job. Sistafriend B desperately needs a withdrawal in May because her dad is terminally ill. Sistafriend C is relying on us all to keep her going because she is applying for a REALLY big promotion–she thinks she has it in the bag, but the insecurity that seeks to steal, kill and destroy comes like a thief in the night to whisper that she’s not going to get it. And so on.
Microfinancing love requires two things, though:
- You gotta be willing to contribute. I love the word of God for many reasons, but one of those is because it gives us such a beautiful blueprint on how to love. John 13:34 commands us to love each other like God loved us–relentlessly, sacrificially, patiently. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 reminds us that love is kind, trustworthy, protective and perseverant. Romans 12:10 instructs us to outdo each other in showing honor. In order for this love microfinance thing to work, all parties have to be intentional about contributing to the pot. An empty bank account is useless. Here is the kicker:
2. You gotta be willing to withdraw. This is where I find myself now, and it is something that I realize that I struggle with. If I work (which I do, duh), and I set it up so that 20% of each paycheck gets automatically deducted and put in a vacation account so that I have resources when I go somewhere, I am not going to have any hesitation about walking into the bank before I go away and taking money out of that account. Why is that? It is because I earned it! That money belongs to me. To anyone reading this, if you take nothing else from this soliloquy, take this: do not be afraid to ask for the love that you deserve and that is rightfully yours. If you have been contributing to the pot, adding into the bank account, have an emotionally rough spot, go to withdraw and you are given hell for it, find a NEW BANK. There is nothing wrong with withdrawing from the structure that you not only deposit into, but that is set up for that purpose. NO SHAME in asking, no demanding to be loved the way that you love.
So yeah, let ’em have you in all your glory–your faith, your intellect, your emotion. Your sweats and Nikes or your winged eye and glossy lip or E, all of the above. Your corny jokes and logical reason. Your left brain and your right one and the times when frankly, you aren’t using any part of your brain. (Leave him, sis! Or shoot, fight for him. IDK…but do you, boo!) Microfinance the crap out of the love at your front door and make the transaction work for you and bless you more than you could bless yourself.
Happy Monday, and may you never find your love account overdraft,