Have you ever thought about your wedding day, if you’re into that sort of thing? After declaring I will never be anybody’s boyfriend ever again, notions of marriage and husbandry have become an afterthought, to say the least.
But have you ever seen yourself at the alter? Standing opposite the person you want to declare your love for in front of God (or whomever you worship, if at all), family, and friends. Why are you there? Is it just to be married, or is there something bigger at play?
As a strong Black man, understanding what we want from our mate is…well…on the low-end, we’ll say difficult. And on the high-end, we’ll say “nuanced”. When I started this website for our video and written work to be displayed, I played with the name “strong Black man”. Mix strength with my African heritage, and many talked about lions. I was called Simba sometimes, and Sarabi others, but ultimately, lion became the motif and, consequently, the perfect metaphor for what your strong Black man is looking for from you.
The pride always has a patriarch. He’s probably fathered all the cubs, protects the lionesses and reigns like Mufasa on Pride Rock. He’s tested by competitors and the best of us, the strongest lion, always prevails. But within the pride everyone has their role. The male has his hat to wear while the female(s) has/have hers. Such is the nature of a relationship with a strong Black man.
Because we’re men, who seek men, the impetus is to “have it all together” so we can find our mate. We want to have the right job, the right car, the right home, and social circle, the right vacations. We want to be right so we can be Right. But what space are you leaving for your mate? Again, when you’ve found him and you and he make the leap into relationship, why are you there?
Strong Black men are constantly looking for their castle—their space in your life where we can exist and thrive. It’s the throne we seek. Just like the lioness to the lion, strong Black men need a role in your life to play that is all ours. We need space. That space isn’t your weakness. It’s not the soft spot or deficit because then your mate become a bandaid healing your scars. Instead, it’s seat you’ve reserved for him. It’s the role crafted for him, the house you’ve built for him in your life. It is your vulnerability.
There is a big difference between a weakness and vulnerability. Weaknesses are short comings—obstacles that have little to do with you and much more to do with your circumstance: like lifting weights.
Your first day in the gym may not be the day you bench 450. Your limitation has less to do with you as it does with the weight on the bench. You may not be able to lift 450 today, you may not ever be able to lift 450, despite your best and hardest training. This circumstance is showing your weakness.
A vulnerability is much more dynamic. Your vulnerabilities exist in spite of your weaknesses. I dated a young man once. He wasn’t right for me on so many different levels. He hurt me mentally, emotionally, and financially. My ignorance to the reindeer games he was playing on me, at the time, was a weakness. I simply didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Because of him, I learned that
men people can hurt me. They can take advantage of my kindness, my intellect, my age, my background, my career, my upbringing. They can take advantage of whatever they can because that’s what manipulative people do. But despite the pains of my past, I’m willingly vulnerable to love—intentionally available to my future.
Vulnerabilities aren’t soft spots. They’re not the soars on the fruit that make you cast it aside. Vulnerabilities are the residue left by scars. Their the healed skin that’s grown tougher because it’s been broken. Vulnerabilities are those spots that you can willingly and intentionally expose because you know their tough enough to withstand the beating of life. A strong Black man, however, will never give you a reason to bandage those vulnerabilities again.
You see, strong Black men understand their strength isn’t mutable. It isn’t transitory, nor is it fleeting. My strength is not born from my ability to see your weaknesses. My strength comes from my ability to protect your vulnerabilities. My strength, therefore, is freely given not because you’re too weak to protect yourself; rather, it comes because you’re strong enough to realize you don’t have to.
I can remember a time when my parents argued. I knew, from an early age that they weren’t meant for each other. Their relationship was tense and their exchanges were minimal. Notwithstanding, I gained lessons from my mother and father that it took me nearly 32 years to understand.
My parents were both strong beyond measure. My mother carried the weight of the world on her shoulders. My father taught me what dignity looked like. The two of them weren’t bad for each other because they lacked the strength to endure, but because they lacked the vulnerability to give each other a space.
A strong Black man is looking for his throne in your life. What is the part of your day-to-day that you trust him with? Where does he fit and what have you reserved for him? That is your vulnerability. Yes, you will be able to live without him, just as a ship without a captain will still float. But when you’re powerful enough to crown him your king, that’s when your union, your connection, is unbreakable.
What God has brought together, let no man put asunder. That wasn’t talking about your relationship, it was talking about you!