All Love is ‘Struggle Love’ – Breaking Down the Humans of New York Instagram Story of Bobby & Cheryl Love…

Hello World,

As the week of love begins today with Valentine’s Day on Friday, I thought I would write about something that has been brewing in my mind ever since I heard the term “struggle love” a few years ago or so. According to the Facebook page “Just Say No Struggle Love,” ” below is the definition of “struggle love” –

And last week, I heard about the curious case of Bobby & Cheryl Love whose love story was featured in an 11-part Humans of New York Instagram Post…The gist of the story is that before Bobby Love was a husband to his wife Cheryl for 40 years, he was a criminal named Walter Miller. After Walter Miller escaped from prison in North Carolina, he traveled to New York where he began going by a different moniker and he married Cheryl, who knew nothing of his past. Bobby Love seemingly became a different man, having and raising four children with his wife and named a deacon in their church to boot.

This charade went on for 40 years until the FBI showed up at their doorstep on morning, and his secret was revealed to Cheryl and his new family. Bobby Love went to jail, but his wife advocated on his behalf, sending letters to the governor, testifying for him, getting testimonies from others who knew Bobby Love not Walter Miller including church members and children he coached. Luckily, he was only in jail for a year as Cheryl’s advocacy worked. After he was released, Walter Miller officially changed his name to Bobby Love, and Bobby and Cheryl are still married today.

 

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(11/11) “I got to work. I wrote letters to the governor. I wrote letters to Obama. I gathered testimonials from everyone that Bobby ever knew: all the kids he used to coach, all the people at our church, all of our family members. I testified on his behalf. I didn’t know a thing about Walter Miller. But I told them all about Bobby Love. And the parole board took mercy. After a year in prison, they let him come home. The day after he was set free, I sat him down and asked: ‘What is it? Are we the Loves? Or are we the Millers?’ And he said: ‘We Love. We Love.’ So I had him change his name legally. And now we’re moving on. I still have my resentments. When we get in a fight, I’ll think: ‘This man better appreciate that I forgave him.’ But the thing is– I did forgive him. And when I made that decision, I had to accept all the territory that came with it. I can’t make him feel that debt every day of his life. Because that’s not the marriage I want to be in. The whole world knows now. We’ve got no secrets. But I think this whole mess was for the better of things: better for me, better for the kids, and better for Bobby. He doesn’t have to hide anymore. He can look at me when I’m speaking. Not only that, he’s hearing me too. My voice is heard. I used to walk on eggshells. I used to just go along. But I told him one thing. I said: ‘Bobby, I’ll take you back. But I’m not taking a backseat to you no more.’ Because I got my own story to tell. I can write a book too. I might not have escaped from prison, and started a whole new life, and hid it from my family. But I forgave the man who did.”

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It was a fascinating love story of forgiveness that is worthy of a book and a movie…While Veronica Wells of Madame Noire writes that Bobby and Cheryl’s love story was “beautiful,” she notes the love story is not “romantic.” She also writes,

“And while I certainly appreciate the story, the fact that they were able to work things out, and that Bobby is a free man. I want the Black community to place it in the proper context. It’s not relationship goals. And honestly, while Cheryl and Bobby seem happy together, I don’t think Black women should be applauding this type of narrative. Women shouldn’t have to deal with not only liars but emotionally unavailable men for decades. They shouldn’t have to marry men who are harboring life-altering secrets. Secrets are a trope in the Black community.”

Veronica Wells did not use the term “struggle love,” but based on the definition above, I would imagine that the writer of these “Just Say No to Struggle Love” Facebook posts would probably put Bobby & Cheryl’s love story in this category. But I would like to submit that all love is struggle love. Yes, I will admit that I would not sign up for Bobby & Cheryl’s love and this is an extreme case of the struggle love, but in all love, there are struggles. I know of another fascinating love story of forgiveness that I also wrote about the Sunday before Valentine’s Day in 2011…I wrote about Betty T. Smith’s story that she wrote about in her book, “Nothing Wasted: When Evil Befalls You, Know That God Keeps You Standing.”

See the description below –

When her husband announces that he has been unfaithful and asks for a divorce after twenty-eight years of marriage, it appears to Betty that her dream has died. However, in the midst of her pain, God gives her a promise of restoration. Clinging to that promise, she chooses to stay faithful until her husband’s return, however long it may take. With candor and courage Betty Smith shares her highs and lows, from the courtship, to the birth of her children, to seeing the man she loved walk out the door, and how she weathered the storm by standing on the promises of God. “Nothing Wasted” is a love story, not just between Betty and her husband, but also between Betty and the God who was always there, always faithful, and who never let her down.

Her husband Bob left her in 1978, and it wasn’t until 2008 when he was sick and about to die that the two reconciled. He revealed to her that he had never stopped loving her and asked for her forgiveness, and Betty confessed her love as well. But secretly within, she grappled with other emotions…

“I had waited thirty years to hear those words, but they came from a broken man, and I never wanted that. I wanted my strong, virile Bob to knock on my door, confess his undying love, sweep me off my feet, and then we would have many more years of wedded bliss. But we were running out of time.”

Bob died days later…After the funeral, Betty went to the cemetery to take fresh flowers to his grave. Mysteriously, one faded yellow rose lay on his grave.

“I took it home with me, for I recognized its name: Acceptance with Joy. My Lord retrieved for me one yellow rose as confirmation that He does not waste anything. He kept every promise and gave me a happy ending.”

Betty dedicated her book to Robert Lee Smith, “her soul mate.”

To me, that story is a “struggle love” story and is a white woman’s story. Truly, I’m not envious of Cheryl Love nor Betty T. Smith, and I hope that I don’t ever have to be in a love that requires that amount of struggle and forgiveness. Though all cases of “struggle love” may not be as extreme as these two cases, trust and believe that if you endeavor to love someone, there will always be a struggle…(Even self-love requires a struggle, but that is another post for another day…)

In the love chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, it is stated that,

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

If love is not supposed to be “struggle love,” why does love have to be “patient?” If love is not supposed to be “struggle love,” why does love require not being “easily angered?” If love is not supposed to be “struggle love,” why can’t you keep a “record of wrongs? And then at the end, it is said that love “perseveres.” By definition, to persevere means to struggle…

And in traditional marriage vows, where “better” is mentioned so is “worse,” where “richer” is mentioned so is “poorer,” where “health” is mentioned so is “sickness.” And then at the end, staying together until “death” is mentioned. Staying with someone until they die is a struggle…

I understand that by coining the term “struggle love,” it is meant to keep black women from making stupid choices in love. And there are stupid choices to be made. I understand that Lori Harvey is having fun with Future right now, and I get that as a young woman on the scene to be seen…But chile, please don’t make him your future and become one of his baby mamas…

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But I don’t care if you marry Barack H. Obama, there will be a struggle or struggles…Now, every love story won’t require what was required of Bobby & Cheryl Love or Bob & Betty Smith, thanks be to God who sits on High but yet looks Low, but if you aspire to be in love, know that a struggle will be required…All. love. is. “struggle love.”

With that being said, Happy Valentine’s Day, LOL?

 

Any thoughts?

 

 

Kanye & His Sunday Service to Appear at Pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church Today & I Don’t Know How I Feel About It…

Hello World,

Imagine you’ve entered into my prayer closet…This is what is what you will hear today…

Dear Lord,

Your child Kanye is back in the news again (not that I really needed to inform You of this because You are omniscient)…as if he has ever been out of the news since his first album “The College Dropout” dropped in 2004…I loved his song “Jesus Walks” Lord because it glorified your son and it was banging…And although he didn’t seem like a usual Christian artist based on his repertoire, I knew that song had to mean something to him. It was so in your face. And then he was dating a Delta at the time (“Through the Wire” – “She was with me before the deal she been trying to be mine. She a Delta so she been throwing that dynasty sign.) And he was cute.

And it’s true that his first album was his best album to me anyway, but everything ain’t for everybody and that’s fine. And then he dropped his woman who he was with before the record deal and the fame and fortune and got with different women. But you don’t have to be a famous and fortunate man to have a revolving door of relationships and with fame and fortune, the revolving door probably turns at whiplash speed. And I appreciated his outburst about Hurricane Katrina. It may have not been true, but I respect the sentiment behind his delivery…He spoke from the heart and used his platform to highlight a critical issue…

And Lord, I really don’t understand why his mother had to die when she did in 2007 and so tragically too. I don’t care how famous someone gets and how much fortune someone amasses, nothing compares to having a loving family including your parents in your corner…And let’s be honest Lord, that’s when he started being in the news for not-so-good stuff. I mean it’s been 10 years this year since your child interrupted another one of your children Taylor Swift during one of her first big moments at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009 and people are still talking about it…Even then your child President Obama, who is from Kanye’s hometown of Chicago, had to weigh in on your child’s tomfoolery…

And Lord, correct me if I’m wrong, but do you think that then President Obama’s rightful critique of Kanye has caused him to latch on to current President Trump, who is also your child, like he has? And then, your child allowed the words slavery was a “choice” to drop from his lips. He may as well dropped a bomb on the black community with that hate speech! But I did feel compassion for your child again when he opened up about his bipolar disorder.

And then Lord, your child seemed like he was trying to return his first love…Your son Jesus…with his new Sunday Service. And yeah, I was a bit put off by the high-behind Sunday Service merch…(By the way, Lord, did you know that I was yesterday’s years old when I realized that ‘murch’ was actually ‘merch’ and short for merchandise. Why didn’t you reveal that to me sooner? All this time, when I would hear people saying ‘murch,’ I wanted to ask, ‘What is that?’ But I didn’t want to look stupid.) But on the other hand, nobody can force me to part with dollars unless that’s what I already wanted to do.

And then Lord, after your child took his Sunday Service on the road, he finally came to the capital of the Civil Rights, Atlanta, and brought his Sunday Service to New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. I didn’t make it, but I read the glowing reviews. I heard your child had folk waitin’ in line for hours just get into church. Ain’t that somethin’ Lord?! That’s what you been tryin’ get us to do. Spread the word that Jesus is King. But we are so disobedient some time…And by the way, thank You God, he no longer refers to himself as Yeezus. Lord, You stay forgiving us when we falter… Lord, your hashtag should be #GraceandMercy…I kid Lord, You know and I know You’re above all of that, but I know You’re cracking a smile because I’m one of your favorites…Just kidding…all your children are all blessed and highly favored…

And then Lord, your child acted like he didn’t even visit the civil rights capital of the world when he made some controversial statements following his visit…Your child New Birth Pastor Jamal Bryant, who once welcomed your child Kanye to New Birth, had some thangs to say ’bout that too…although his “Jesus Is King” album is spreading your word in a way that many other Christian artists aspire too…I mean, when was the last time You saw, “Jesus is King” as headline in the New York Times?!! (Here’s the exact headline…Kanye West’s ‘Jesus Is King’ Is No. 1)

And Lord, the American Bible Society has informed me that over 6,000 Bibles have been given away to Kanye fans!!! According to the society, his album generated more than a million queries on Google alone and prompted fans to search questions such as “What do Christians believe?” And now the American Bible Society will continue to give away free Bibles to Kanye fans through Nov. 22!!! Lord, I’m scratching my head on this one. What am I supposed to do with this? One one hand, he is making controversial statements that hurt the black community and on the other hand, he is reaching the masses for You…

And then as I was cooking this morning, I heard he performed in a prison on Friday and some of the prisoners became believers…(And You know that the average your child, me included, aine really standing in line to volunteer for the Prison Ministry)…I know You know this, but here’s the video anyway…

And in just a few hours, your child will be at Lakewood Church, which I’ve heard is the largest megachurch in the country…I just don’t know how I feel…

But although your child President Obama jokingly referred to your child Kanye as a “jacka$$,” it’s true that you definitely used a a talking donkey to convey your message in your Word

And then Lord, I know you also said that not everyone who calls your name really knows You

So…I’ma just end my prayer right here Lord. I’ma let You sort through it all. In summary, help me stay on the narrow way to Heaven because You know I want to wander off from time to time. And Lord, guide all of your children because You created them and know their ways and how they wander off. May we all make it there, some way, some how and some day…

Amen….

Any thoughts?

Executive Produced By Stephen Curry & Viola Davis, New Documentary ‘Emanuel’ Comes to Theaters on June 17 and 19 Only!

A Review of the Documentary That Honors the Emanuel A.M.E. Church Shooting Victims & Highlights the Power of Forgiveness in the Wake of Tragedy...

Hello World,

Tonight, thousands of churchgoers throughout the country will convene at their respective churches for Wednesday Bible Study. Where Sunday Morning Service can be a spectacle in many churches, Wednesday Bible Study is less of a production and as a result, more relaxed. Many of those who show up on Sunday don’t on Wednesday so the gatherings tend to be smaller. In many smaller churches, the members gather in a room that is not the sanctuary and even sit in a circle of chairs. Although the church is primed for visitors on a Sunday morning, a visitor or two may amble in and be welcomed to the fold without much ado on a Wednesday.

Maybe that’s why 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof chose a Wednesday Bible Study to show up at South Carolina’s Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church, the oldest A.M.E. church in the South, to slither in and sit among the people he intended to slaughter. In the Bible, it says the Lord will show up like a thief in the night so we must be ready but the devil knows the Word too. Roof’s slaughtering of 9 Emanuel A.M.E. members, the historical threads that led to what unraveled that fateful day, the astounding forgiveness of Roof by the family members of those whose lives were stolen and more is explored in the documentary EMANUEL. Marking the 4th anniversary of this distinctly American act of terror, EMANUEL will be in movie theaters across the country on Monday, June 17 and Wednesday, June 19 only. I was able to see a screener of this movie, which is from executive producers Stephen Curry and Viola Davis, co-producer Mariska Hargitay, and director Brian Ivie, and I was in a word “moved.”

While the news coverage of the church shooting was rightfully plenteous, EMANUEL was an exhaustive exploration that simply cannot be covered in the constraints of a news story. It has been said that “nothing comes from nothing” and that is true in the case of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church shooting as well. Apparently, Charleston, where Mother Emanuel A.M.E. is located, is called the “Holy City” although the unholy had a safe harbor there. Charleston was the capital of the slave trade and roughly 40 percent of slaves who entered this country entered through this city. In fact, the amount of black people in Charleston was so voluminous that the city had a black majority. Freed slave Denmark Vesey, who helped to found the African Methodist Episcopal Church, planned to lead a slave revolt there until his plan was discovered. Vesey’s church, where he able to galvanize members to revolt with him, was burned after he was executed for his actions.

And then in modern day times, you have Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was not only senior pastor at Mother Emanuel A.M.E., he was a member of the South Carolina Senate.  (Thank God for progress!) He spoke about black people having the freedom to be what God intended intended them to be and that sometimes death would be required for that freedom to come to fruition.  Saints, it was no accident that Roof choose Charleston and Mother Emanuel A.M.E. church.

Family members of the slain members were interviewed in EMANUEL. I was touched by all of their testimonies by I was most touched by the testimony of the Reverend Anthony Batiste Thompson, who is the pastor of Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church of Charleston. Rev. Thompson was married to the late Myra Thompson, who was killed in the shooting.  Thompson, like Samuel in the Bible, was called to the ministry as a boy. While Samuel heard the voice of God in the house of the Lord, Thompson heard the voice of in a Piggly Wiggly parking lot! He heard someone call his name three times although he was in the parking lot alone. It was after the third time that he realized it was God and that God wanted him to be a preacher.

Many years later, on that tragic Wednesday night, he wondered why his wife Myra was so happy as she readied herself for Bible Study. He said she was “overjoyed” and “floating in the house.” He wanted to ask her why she was so happy because he had nothing to do with it. (Just like a man to say something like that, LOL. My husband is not only source of my happiness and he should be happy that’s true!) He said he decided he would ask her why after she returned from Bible Study so as not to affect her high. He usually hugged or kissed her before she left the house but this time he was in the bathroom just as she was leaving and she was in a rush. She told him to catch her at the car. But he didn’t get to her car on time either. He said after the shooting, he realized why she was so happy and why he couldn’t touch her. “God had already scooped her up.” Imagine that? She was already in the loving arms of Jesus. No earthly love can compare.

Thompson said it was the voice of God, which he originally heard as a five-year-old boy, that told him to forgive Roof and tell him so during a bond hearing just TWO days after Roof murdered his wife. Since then, Thompson penned his book “Called to Forgive: The Charleston Church Shooting, a Victim’s Husband, and the Path to Healing and Peace” which was release this month through Baker Publishing.

Many of the family members of the victims expressed their forgiveness of Roof, which shocked many and angered some. But not all family members were able to instantly forgive Roof. Melvin Graham, who is the brother of shooting victim Cynthia Hurd, has not been able to do so. While expressing admiration for those who forgave, he said, “I’m a work in progress.” I get that.

Other key points in the movie that affected me:

  • Polly Sheppard’s account that Roof let her live so that she that she could “tell the story.”
  • Felicia Sanders, who was a human shield over her granddaughter, watched her son Tywanza Sanders get killed, after he confronted Roof. Tywanza told Dylann that “we mean you no harm” but that did not matter to the terrorist. Thankfully before he passed, Sanders was able to tell her son, “Tywanza, I love you,” and his last words were, “Mom, I love you too.”
  • Charleston’s Chief Coroner Rae Wooten’s examination of the bodies revealed that Roof had ambushed them without warning.
  • Not only was Roof captured and arrested without being killed in the process, he was given Burger King.
  • When President Obama sang “Amazing Grace” at the homegoing for Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Lord knows I miss me some him. Can I get a witness?

There are many astounding accounts such as Felicia Sanders’ pink-paged Bible and Chris Singleton’s wrist-written Scripture, but I cannot give the whole documentary away. But hopefully, I have told you enough to make you want to see it for yourself. I highly recommend doing so…

Below is a trailer for EMANUEL:

EMANUEL focuses on the incredible forgiveness that was demonstrated by the victims and their family members, and how that forgiveness prevented potential backlash by the in response to the racially motivated crime. The movie was made in direct partnership with the City of Charleston and the families affected by the tragedy . The producers of EMANUEL will donate their share of profits from the film to the survivors of the shooting and the families of the victims

For more information on EMANUEL, please visit, www.emanuelmovie.com.

Any thoughts?