I always bristle when I hear one person say to another, most frequently in a romantic context, that they need them. Someone has even said that “I need you” phrase to me. And though I genuinely appreciated the sentiment, I had to correct him. “No, you don’t need me.” I’ve wanted people, desired people and even yearned to be with one person in particular; but never needed him.
To need someone means that without him or her, I wouldn’t be able to survive. And that’s not true. I need water. I need food. But I don’t need another person. I think people assign that need word to people they love because really, at the end of the day we do need love. But if one person decides they’re not going to love you or love you in the way you require, will you perish? Even if that person leaves you unwillingly through death or some other unfortunate circumstance, will you perish? No.
The truth is we do need love. But fortunately we don’t just receive love from one person. If that were the case, mere mortals would hold our very existence in the power of their hands. That’s way too much. And even if they don’t intend to, people will disappoint you…repeatedly.
What I think we often fail to realize is that simply being created and living everyday is evidence that God loves us. More than we could ever hope to comprehend. God is and has always been omniscient. He knew from before the beginning of time that he was going to create you and I and love us unconditionally. In the Bible, God tells Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”
And that’s not just a message for Jeremiah, it’s for all of us. God knew us long ago and loved us so much that he designed a life for us to lead and purpose for us to fulfill. Long before we even come into the world, long before we’re even conceived, we’re equipped with everything we need to not only survive but flourish: the love of God.
That’s the ultimate love. That’s the love we need. Because if God didn’t love us, we literally would never have existed.
This happens often at work. But today I wrote “Kim Kardashian reveals the sex of she and Kanye’s baby.” Instead of her and Kanye’s baby. And someone on Twitter said, “Can I buy a possessive pronoun?” And in addition to the names I called her in my head, I’m sure my face looked just like that. I wish people knew how to communicate to educate instead of belittle.
Last night Susan L Taylor embarrassed me. Even though I’d never met her personally and had yet to speak to her, Susan L Taylor, editor Emeritus of Essence Magazine, took the stage and said something that made me look at myself.
Taylor was being honored with the Ella Baker & César Chavez award at a gala/fundraising event for an organization called Brotherhood Sister Sol. Brotherhood Sister Sol is a Harlem based organization that provides long term support and mentoring services for students between the ages of 8-22. They focus on issues like developing leaders, educational achievement, sexual responsibility, misogyny, Pan African and Latino history and many more. In addition to the work they do in Harlem the students also participate in summer camps and study abroad programs in Africa and Latin America.
Needless to say it’s a very worthy organization; and when Ms. Taylor took the stage, after she said thank you for the award, she reminded the audience of that: “I’m a bit ashamed of us. I’m ashamed of us because most of us come for the party and not the purpose.” Yikes. As my pastor would say, “If you can’t say amen, say ouch.”
Ouch. When I got the invitation to attend, I was excited about learning of the organization and supporting them by informing others of their mission; but I was even more excited about the chance to possibly hear Esperanza Spalding play. (She didn’t by the way.)
Instead of what I’m sure would have been an awesome performance, I walked away inspired by the organization, the honorees, the children and now grown adults Brotherhood Sister Sol has helped and a drive to make sure I continue to give back, in one way or another to the children in my community.
The need and the drive to give back is the same reason why Esperanza is who she is today. In a brief conversation with her she said growing up in Portland, it was dedicated teachers who fostered and nurtured her musical talents.
“Just so happens that in my hometown there were a lot of really incredible community music programs that were free or next to free and the teachers were in it for all the right reasons. They didn’t get paid. They were there every Saturday or however often it was and that was really crucial just for well being and community and support and education in the arts.”Read the rest here.