I just got finished watching Beyonce’s visual album Lemonade and I’m blown away. First of all, let me just say that if my husband ever cheated on me, I am not going to change musical history unless it’s from a prison cell, so the fact that a woman could make such a beautiful work of art, with the support of her husband, after healing from such betrayal is just simply amazing.
I have seen people say that the visual album is vulgar and doesn’t pass their “purity test”. These are the kinds of things that make me look up to God in Heaven and ask Him why I’m even here, because I just don’t get where exactly I belong among people who have purity tests. Life doesn’t pass a purity test.
We just observed the Passion and Death of our Lord a few weeks ago, how quickly we forget that it was not pure or vulgar free. The spit on His Face, the Flesh being torn off His back as they flogged Him, the swelling, the blood, the pain, the insults being hurled at Him along the way as well as when He hung on the Cross and the betrayal of Judas. It was ugly. Sure we look at our pretty Jesus with rock hard abs on our crucifixes but do we really think that is how He looked as He died for our sins? Our sins are vulgar and we all sin over and over and over, each time adding a blow to the Body of Christ. Yet is is through His pain that redemption comes, even if we can’t stand to look at the reality of it. There are a lot of ways to avoid reality.
Birth is also full of pain, blood, tears, the tearing of a body, sometime even shit is in the mix (that isn’t a very talked about fact, but it is pretty common) and yet from that comes new life.
Why then do we seem to think that art is supposed to be some sanitized version of love and life instead of a reflection of what life really looks like? Painful, vulgar and redemptive. I am highly aware of this at the moment since I just watched the strongest man that I’ve ever known fight death to to his last breath and it was not pretty. It was disgusting, scary and heartbreaking, yet beautiful.
What I saw as I watched Lemonade was the story of a woman coming into herself though the pain and love in her marriage. I saw the power of love and the redemption that comes when you look at the ugly of life and face it so that you can overcome it. So many times I see women deny what we do to impress men in order to make ourselves feel in control of what happens to us. I’ve done really stupid things to be the down chick to impress a man or two. I also did things to feel in control. At one point in my life I was sleeping with different men at the same time and had them all working really hard to be #1 on my call list. I’m not going to lie, it felt good to have men fighting for my attention, but when I was alone with myself at night it didn’t fill the hole in my heart that could only be filled by true love.
I found that love and married the love of my life in a wonderful wedding where I was walked down the aisle by my uncle (the one that just passed away) thinking that I would never again feel the pain of being betrayed by the man that I loved. I was wrong. My marriage has suffered tremendously for various reasons. When I watched Lemonade I saw every single emotion and stage in healing that I’ve been through in the last few years. My husband has grown and healed too, but that’s his story to tell, not mine. I can only speak on my own journey.It’s easy for most people to think that when you are betrayed the thing to do is to leave, to divorce your husband and move on with your life. That the feminist thing to do is because a strong woman doesn’t put up with that kind of treatment. I beg to differ. There are things that we never should tolerate, such as abuse, but betrayal comes in a lot of different forms and they don’t always merit leaving. The strength of a woman is not in becoming bitter but in allowing herself to heal and forgive, which comes when she faces the pain in order to be able to forgive a man who has taken responsibility for himself and begun to change his ways. Becoming bitter is easy. Taking a man to court to get as much money as you can out of him so that his life is miserable is easy, I know, I’m also and ex-wife so I have been down that road too. What isn’t easy is to face the anger, the denial, the pain and then accept the apology, then work with the man you married to rebuild the marriage that you both vowed to stay faithful to on your wedding day. Newsflash: it wasn’t all about the cake. No, that isn’t easy at all. But the one thing that I do know, and I think that Beyonce is trying to show in her visual album, is that the love of a man who has accepted responsibility and has been forgiven is the kind of love that creates women who can pass down the wisdom of love, life, pain and redemption in our stories to our daughters and granddaughters. Those men also become the kind of men who can sit with their sons and grandsons and tell them to stay away from the hoes, because nothing is worth hurting the woman you love and who gives you life with her smile. I know that goes against everything we hear about female/male relationships because women don’t need men to do anything… well, that’s all bullshit. We are created for relationships and all relationships bring pain.
As my Tio passed away, my Tia sat by his side. She told him she loved him, he smiled at her and she led us all in a Rosary for him. The life of a married couple of 53 years all came down to one of them helping the other prepare to die. All of their fights didn’t matter in those moments, all that mattered was that they loved each other. It was that love that gave them the strength to say good-bye. It also helped each of us who witnessed it to let go of my Tio when it was time. That love was powerful. I am sure there was plenty of times when my Tia wanted to leave him in their 53 years together and she probably had good reason to, but she didn’t, instead they both forgave each other. In that forgiveness came the kind of love that changes everything. The kind of love that is redemptive. Those are true love stories, the ones that come with a cross, just like the greatest love story ever told of God’s love for us that He gave us His only begotten Son.
It is that kind of love that creates marriages that can move mountains. There is a freedom in those marriages that survive the worst of times.
**When I talk about staying in a marriage and forgiving our spouses, I never mean to stay in an abusive situation or a situation where a spouse is doing nothing to help in the marriage. If you are in danger, that isn’t a time to stay, find a priest or a domestic abuse shelter and find a way out. If you are married to a lazy bum, then start working on finding your worth.