No, I’m not married nor I have ever been married. I’m a single woman that works hard and whose value is seen before I even present my curriculum vitae. When I came across Pastor John Gray’s comments concerning his wife, my heart melted. It wasn’t until he said this phrase that I begin to become slightly annoyed:
My wife has endured more pain birthing me than both of our children. She has sacrificed, these last eight years, uncovering the painful areas of my manhood and covering the areas that could have exposed me. She deserves anything I can give her... I'm going to live the rest of my life to honor her because she gave me what I couldn't give myself, which is chance to heal, while still seeing the God in me.
Let me establish this first: I’m not attacking the marriage of the Gray’s. They are happy and I’m happy for them and their marriage. Furthermore, my issue with this snippet of an interview is the implication that it’s normative for women to suffer in a relationship in order to “birth” a man. Why is it socially acceptable for the woman to be offered up as a living sacrifice to mature a man? Contrary to popular belief amongst Evangelical and Pentecostal circles, women are more than baby making machines. We are more than sex objects, we are more than a safe place, we are more than home chefs, we are human. Women are persons that desire to be loved by God….. and man. We desire attention, affection, praise, consideration, and public affirmation JUST like men do. However, I KNOW plenty of women that suffer silently because they have become the casualty of a man’s immaturity. While John’s Gray’s remarks about his wife were beautiful, it still perpetuates this misogynistic belief that women have to suffer for the sake of a man’s growth. And that my friend is a lie.
It is unfair to me for men to believe that they can enter situationships or relationships broken in hopes for the woman to become a self-inflicted surgeon to heal them. The truth of the matter is this: public praise won’t undo the pain. It may lessen it, but it won’t heal it. While my apology language can be called into question, I can say from experience as woman (because I’m never been another gender) that “I’m sorry” doesn’t cause amnesia. When a man acknowledges his faults… it’s powerful. But the process of getting a man to mature to that place is beyond painful and quite frankly, plenty of women are over this whole Wife/Mother 2.0 thing.
As a proud charismatic, I’m ashamed at how we’ve allowed this lie to be passed down through generations. We’ve spent so much time trying to train women on how to be Proverbs 31 women without teaching men how to become husbands. Like I said, I’ve never been a wife but I am a daughter. Based on that experience alone, I can assert that just because a man is financially stable does not mean that he’s ready to be a husband. The evangelical church pushes financial stability as the main prerequisite for a man to become husband, but what’s the point of being a rich spiritual infant that makes his wife an unnecessary recipient of pain because of his lack of maturity? Men need to be whole for a whole woman.
Now, there are plenty of variables that can be pointed out in this argument. Remember, my perspective is that of a single woman. Now as a single woman, I have to remind myself that I’m worthy of mature love. A man breaking me down is not Paul’s concept behind Romans 8:18 :
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
I am in NO WAY trying to bash the Gray’s, it is their marriage and therefore, it is their experience. Nevertheless, the remarks of John Gray laid the foundation for a much needed discussion. In my opinion, Gray highlighted the notion that the value of an African American women is not measured in her relationship with God, her skills/abilities, her accomplishments, her grace, her integrity….. but by the amount of pain she can endure while the man she loves matures. Pastor Gray is highly influential and his comments can lay an unhealthy foundation for women to think that toxic relationships are God’s will. Applauding for your woman for the sacrifices she’s made is admirable. But what would be even MORE admirable is if men are taught how to mature so that their wife doesn’t have to endure that type of pain.
So here’s my overarching question: what do women get? As a female, I’ve been taught to cook, clean, cover, and endure pain for your man… but what do women receive in return? A ring? A Facebook shout out? I’ve literally sat in services and heard members of clergy tell women that it’s their duty to “spread their legs” for their husband when they get through preaching, as if a woman is nothing more than sex doll to be used for a man’s pleasure. I’M OVER IT.
Let me bring this in, relationships will make you lean on the Holy Ghost. I understand this but probably not on the level I will have to understand if God graces me for marriage. I believe in the institution of marriage and I also believe in reciprocity. There is this "idea" that African American women aren’t looking for a man to follow, they’re searching for a man to control because they view themselves as being more resourceful than their mothers and grandmothers. There may be some truth to this, but that's up for debate. A blogger, that I will not name, posted this exact statement,
“Black women impose unrealistic standards on their partners, but rarely practice what they preach. Too many black women are waiting for a prince but they look and live like a frog”.
This opens the door for discussions on gender roles and expectations, which I am more than willing to have. I'm sure plenty of men agree with this as well... and they are entitled to their opinion. But as a single, educated, black woman, this whole idea of being Wife/Mother 2.0 without reciprocity is getting old to me. I don't think my standards are too high but I'm pliable.
As I said before, I am worthy of mature love. Every woman is worthy is of mature love and yes, it takes work on both sides.
Women are not rehab centers for men. Facts.