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?

 

 

112’s Q. Parker Along With Dietrick Haddon & More Release New Single ‘Made For’ Under eOne – Available Now!

Hello World,

I love me some 112, but Q. Parker is branching out from the trademark R&B of his group…

Featuring the voices of Deitrick Haddon, Avery Wilson, & Eric Dawkins, Q. Parker has just released his new single “Made For,” from his forthcoming album, “The Bridge Project.”  The track features melodic tunes that supports the album’s overall theme of unity. Available on all digital platforms, Q‘s new single is distributed by eOne Nashville. “The Bridge Project” is a musical and visual body of work that has a goal of unity, cultural advancement and bridging the gap in genres of mainstream and gospel.

Listen To “Made For” Here.

For more information on Q Parker follow him on all his social media channels using the handles: @QParker112 – @TheRealQParker – @officialbridgeproject

Any thoughts?

 

 

Gospel Trailblazer Rev. Luther Barnes Releases New Single ‘Look To The Hills’ Ahead of New CD to Come in Spring!

Hello World,

The Grammy nominated Reverend Luther Barnes has been a stalwart presence on the gospel scene for over two decades, scoring hit records as a solo artist, with quartet and choir’s, as well as alongside such artists as Shirley Caesar, Kirk Franklin, John P. Kee, The Mighty Clouds of Joy and numerous others.

Raised in the church from a young age, Rev. Barnes‘ call to music ministry came early and he embarked on a hit-making career as lead singer, producer, songwriter and director of the “quartet” gospel group Luther Barnes & The Sunset Jubilaires. He also founded The Red Budd Gospel Choir which also scored a string of hits, including the Stellar Award-nominated “Somehow Someway.”

In 2016 Barnes released his first project with Shanachie Entertainment in conjunction with SRT Entertainment, “The Favor Of God.” The well received album was his first in a decade and featured his then brand new choir, the Restoration Worship Center Choir, and a stunning set of new compositions including the single “God’s Grace” which hit Top 5 on the Billboard Gospel chart.

Luther Barnes was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina in 1954, the son of the late Bishop F. C. Barnes and the late Willie Mae Barnes, who instilled in him a desire to trust and obey God’s word. His father, Bishop F.C. Barnes, wrote and scored a hit with the gospel standard “Rough Side Of The Mountain.” On graduating from high school he became the lead singer of the successful gospel quartet The Sunset Jubiliares, who went on to score a string of gospel hits. Luther’s style was notable for its refinement and dignity; he did not employ the flamboyant style of many other gospel vocalists. He pursued and attained a degree in Music Education from St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina and in 1985 formed the Red Budd Gospel Choir, who broke through with such hits as “I’m Still Holding On,” (which features a lead vocal from his cousin Deborah Barnes), “So Satisfied,” “Spirit Fall Down,” Fall Fresh,” “That Other Shore,” “Somehow Someway” and “No Matter How High I Get” (written by Bobby Womack).

In 2006 he accepted a call into the preaching ministry, following the leadership of his father. But he continued his music ministry, which took him all over the country, garnering a multitude of awards and honors including a Vision Award, Stellar Award, and a GWMA Excellence Award. He also received a Grammy nomination and a Gospel Heritage Award. Having produced over twenty-eight CDs, he found time to perform or record with such gospel greats as Shirley Caesar, Kirk Franklin, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, John P. Kee, and The Mighty Clouds Of Joy. He established the Restoration Worship Center in Rocky Mount, North Carolina in 2014 and serves as its Senior Pastor.

Even though Rev. Barnes is steeped in the gospel tradition and in many ways is continuing that tradition, he sees himself as an innovator. As he told journalist Bill Carpenter in Carpenter’s Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia: “At an early age, I would always listen to the difference between the sound of gospel music and the sound of popular music. The Temptations and all those artists sounded so much better. I said, ‘Goodness, why can’t gospel music come up and be just as right musically as the other forms of music? I thank God for people such as Kirk Franklin and James Cleveland who have helped us get our act together and upgrade our music.”

Always, modest, the Rev. Barnes did not mention himself as one of those who is elevating gospel music. But, as his new single “Look To The Hills” shows, he definitely is! He is also delivering hope and inspiration that is so needed right now.

Click HERE to listen to “Look To The Hills.”

“Look To The Hills” Is available On All Digital Platforms Now  & Is Currently Top 30 On The Billboard Gospel National Airplay Chart!
Anticipated New CD Out Spring 2020
Any thoughts?