Updated: Aug 22, 2019
“I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me” (Proverbs 8:17).
Only until recently, I’ve come to truly love myself, — in the most spiritual way. Flesh couldn’t fix it, neither were my emotions capable of the work. Growing up, I didn’t always receive love the way that I believed I deserved it. Not from my mother, my grandmother, nor myself. Obviously, my father was not present, thus limiting the ability to receive adequate love from the womb. Why? Because his absence did not only affect my statistical chances at love, but my mothers as well. It affected her love for me and the way she expressed her love to others. Not long after my experiences with failed relationship after failed relationship, did I realize that something was not right with my self-value as well as my involvement with the word, love. Yes, I knew God and yes I had standards; yet and still I was failing at love. So I took things a little deeper and decided to learn to love myself.
What I will start off by saying is,— I am still learning. And my way, may not be yours.
First of all, I chose Jesus. He is the living epitome of what love is, the sacrificial evidence of everlasting. Secondly, I chose purpose. Without it, one can not have life more abundantly. Lastly, I chose my children as they are the closest reflection of unconditional love that there can ever be, here on earth. Nowhere in this, will I encourage the self-sabotaging decision to choose yourself. Loving yourself and choosing yourself are very much different, as the true love for self can sometimes cause the sacrifice of fleshly disappointment. Now as cliche’ as this may sound, no brown girl has ever won in love by choosing money or a man. Think of the Oprah’s and Iyanla’s. Or even the Maya’s as well as all of the other strong black historical women of influence. They chose purpose. They chose God. They chose the generation to come. What I have come to understand in recent day, while also being a millennial, is that we don’t value relational love anymore nor do we value the love for the future generations. The enticement with “side-chicks” or “gay for pay - trans play” have all seemly overpopulated our generational foundations of love and culture, and we’ve settled for it. All the while, so many brown mothers are breaking down the esteem of little brown girls because they’re broken;—And their mothers, they’re broken too. And even for those whose foundation is strengthened in the “best way”, they’ve come to marry too quick or not at all, lacking the balance to adjust to circumstantial need. Now having that understanding, what we do appear to find significant within this generation is purpose; — purpose be it influential and financially hungry, we value being seen. We value unity in that way, we value the efforts of self-growth and counsel. We value passion. We, being women. Sometimes, it can be the availability of being seen by one or online by many. However it be, with that being said, if everyone just wants to be seen, the relevance of real love grows frivolous. So when I say purpose, I simply mean to focus on your craft. Whatever your gift to the world may be, to focus on that.
Now to address the transition from wanting love to learning love, is remaining in hope that one day the desire will shift into manifestation. Being a single mother is a job designed for a woman of great faith and hope. As it has been said many times before, “Faith is the evidence of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1)”, meaning that one must believe that even in the midst of the difficult conversations of preparation and honestly with our children, that we keep a sound of belief and action toward the goal of traditionalism. For me, a woman of inspiration has always been, Sarah Jakes-Roberts, daughter to The Bishop TD Jakes. Her story of motherhood as a journey and of womanhood as a ministry has been real and I commend her.
But back to the realistic perspective of waiting...
It can be discouraging to wait. Hearing friends say things like, “Girl, marriage ain’t easy either”, or seeing the social media praise of women expressing the pain of raising multiple children while staying at home because their husbands are CEO’s, COO’s or CFO’s, it can burn. Single parenting is not always about the presence of the father, but also about the pockets, the passion, and the persistence to remain. To play devil's advocate though, honestly it has also been alleviating to see these marriages on “reality TV” suffer as a result of consistent praise and promiscuity. We, the single mother’s, we acknowledge that we are not alone. There is a balance of both strain and struggle, but either way — the wait can be difficult.
In the meantime, how I’ve learned to love me and my girls is by way of God. We’ve learn to be patient with one another. Kind in the most vulnerable of moments and to remain conscious in our talk and walk with one another. We create together and we strengthen one another through the Word and through words of encouragement. And who would’ve ever thought that my eight year old would inspire me in the ways that she does? Learning to play guitar or writing a children’s book to uplift other little girls of color. Even my eleven month old has a confidence that’s out of this world, almost to say “Mom, we’re okay without my dad and we’re going to boss up, regardless. So get with it or get lost”. With these two and their ability to rise in spite of, my drive increases to a level of self-love that I’ve never experienced before. I just want to be a mother that they can be proud of and never question why I didn’t do this or that, for the sake of a man. I never want them to see a ceiling that I could’ve cracked open but didn’t. I never want them to question my motive for stagnation. I only want them to see me win.
I want them to wake up and call me blessed, to say my mom was single but SHE DID THAT (Proverbs 31:28). What will your children say about you and your self-love? Will you settle for the generational discrepancies of love or will you prepare for the love that you deserve by way of God, self-preservation, and the power of your children? I don’t know about you, but as for me, I want it all. So I chose to love me, now and forever.
De'dria Louise Bynum