Tag Archives: Love

The Prisoner’s Wife by Asha Bandele

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Price: $15.99
Purchase: Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

As a favor for a friend, a bright and talented young woman volunteered to read her poetry to a group of prisoners during a Black History Month program. It was an encounter that would alter her life forever, because it was there, in the prison, that she would meet Rashid, the man who was to become her friend, her confidant, her husband, her lover, her soul mate. At the time, Rashid was serving a sentence of twenty years to life for his part in a murder. The Prisoner’s Wife is a testimony, for wives and mothers, friends and families. It’s a tribute to anyone who has ever chosen, against the odds, to love.

 

***  Vlog Review: https://youtu.be/N4kqoD6gDmw ***

 

Review

I decided to read The Prisoner’s Wife after reviewing Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor. Shaka listed it as one of his favorite books, and I can see why. Asha Bandele is a beautiful writer, who penned a powerful memoir like a poet that she is.

I must admit, it was not an easy read. She touches on topics which gave me pause and had me reflect on my own life. In some ways, she and I share similar pasts which is why I identified and was profoundly moved by her writing.

The Prisoner’s Wife is a love story, but not an ordinary one. It was about her personal journey of falling in love and marrying a man named Rashid, who was serving a life sentence for murder.

One of the things I learned from reading this memoir is when someone is incarcerated, not only are they doing time, but so are their loved ones, which is what happened to Asha. She spent the majority of her time alone, other than the letters, phone calls and occasional visits.

I commend her for writing the truth and not painting an unrealistic picture. She did not romanticize her experience, but was bold, brave and courageous. She exposes the truth, shows the difficulties, and obstacles related to loving someone in prison.

If you were ever curious about what it’s like to be married to someone serving time, I highly recommend The Prisoner’s Wife. 

Asha Bandele is an author and journalist. A former features editor for Essence magazine, Asha is the author of two collections of poems, the award-winning memoir The Prisoner’s Wife, and the novel Daughter. She lives in Brooklyn with her daughter.

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Why Affairs Happen

You see it all around you, in commercials, advertisements, billboards, movies and books. Everyone is looking for love.

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We search here, there and everywhere for the “one”, the one who will complete us, and finish our sentences.

I am one of those people who searched for love her entire life, only to find myself in jacked up situations. Instead of finding love, I got a whole bunch of other stuff I didn’t want.

What is it that we long for? What is it that we want? This proverbial love we all desire, seems elusive and out of reach.

You would think that when you get married this tug or yearning would go away, but it doesn’t.

Why do you think romance novels do so well? Most of the readers are married women. This should tell you something.

You meet someone, you fall in love, you get married, you have children and then all of a sudden, you wake up to find… where did the love go?

I don’t know about you, but when I look back over the course of my life and the various relationships I’ve had, I see the same pattern repeat itself.

In the beginning, everything is fresh, new, and exciting. Slowly, but surely, the excitement dwindles down to nothing and you are left with the usual monotony.

This is when affairs happen. But, what people fail to realize is that affairs are never a solution, they only complicate matters, and destroy lives.

Think about it a minute… you are in a miserable marriage, you meet someone and connect with them, you start messing around to get what you think you need, only to find out that what you need doesn’t come packaged in a human being.

No, unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. There is no quick fix solution in filling the void and emptiness you feel.

I’m not religious, so I won’t ever preach to you, but I can tell you this… God is the only one who can get into the crevices of our hearts and give us the love we long for.  No human being will ever be able to do it because we are broken and imperfect.

In the short term, you may think you are getting your needs met or your desires fulfilled, but in time, the illusion lifts and you see the truth for what it is. Affairs become routine and monotonous too, so instead of having one problem, you’ll have two.

So if you are contemplating a quick fix to your misery, do yourself a favor and think twice before indulging.

Have you ever contemplated having an affair? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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What Is Love?

Yesterday I was having an impromptu discussion about love. It started out light and then morphed into something deeper.

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We went from discussing booty calls, to the value of women, not consisting of what’s between her legs. Which of course, I happen to agree with. But I am also aware of some realities. In that, I don’t see marriages lasting. Christian or otherwise.

I believe the cause of this is a number of factors. For one, people come into relationships with their baggage and issues. I mean, let’s face it, we all have issues. And if anyone tells you otherwise, they are lying.

How do these issues come about? The answer is childhood. Whether we choose to admit it or not, whatever we were exposed to as children is what we will mirror in our adult life.

Let’s take me for example. My earliest recollection was handing my parents each a piece of toilet paper. Tears were rolling down each of their faces. I must have been about 5 or 6 years old. I remember the longing of wanting to help them feel better.

Truth be told, all they did was fight, every day, for years. This was my introduction to relationships and marriage.

I remember sitting with my friends in high school. We were eating lunch and they were talking about how they wanted to get married and have children. I was the only one who didn’t want that. All I knew was that marriage equaled misery and unhappiness.

Since then, I’ve been in several romantic relationships and married twice. In retrospect, I think it would have been best for me not to get married at all.

Reason being, if you don’t work on your issues, you will either attract the wrong person or mess up a good one.

I can write a book on my relationships alone. The stuff I went through, would make your head spin. I don’t know how I’m standing today in my semi-right mind. But it must be the grace of God.

Yes, I’ve survived, but there are scars that tell the tale. You know the expression, “If I knew then, what I know now…” Well, I’m living this reality. If only I knew then, what I know now, I would have made different choices.

The damage of some choices are irreparable. As much as you would like for things to be different, or change what is, you can’t.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that based on my past and choices, I’m damaged. I am unable to truly love, and allow someone in. My trust level was destroyed years ago. I care and have compassion, but based on the damage I’ve experienced in my life, I’m incapable of truly loving anyone, except for my kids.

What are your thoughts on love, relationships and marriage? Has the affects of your childhood framed your relationships for good or bad?

 

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Chasing After Fantasies

What provokes us to look outside of ourselves to fill the void? Is it an unfulfilled longing? An insatiable need? Past hurts? Lost dreams? Lack of love or intimacy? What makes us chase after fantasies?

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Perhaps it’s something you want so badly, you are willing to risk everything for it? But when you do, you discover, it was only a fantasy.

Like a thirsty man walking in a hot desert who falsely sees water. He musters every last bit of energy he has and runs toward it, only to discover it was a mirage.

We are like this thirsty man, only that, we are not chasing after water. We are chasing after things, dreams, success, fame, money, power, sex, love, intimacy, you fill in the blank.

We are all on a pilgrimage sojourning this earth. Each trying to discover who and what they are. Some seek it through religion, others through relationships, or careers, etc…

But the bottomline is this, we are all seeking to fill that insatiable void… with things that will never truly satisfy us. It’s only a temporary bandaid to a deeper issue.

We run and chase after things, relationships, sex, whatever. And we somehow convince ourselves that this is the answer or solution to our problem. But it isn’t.

Some repeat the cycle, until they finally reach the conclusion they’ve had enough and that none of what they are doing, is actually bringing them any happiness or fulfillment, but pain.

This chasing isn’t beneficial, and only results in more loss, disappointment and hurt. When will we learn this isn’t the solution? How many mistakes will we need to make in order to stop the cycle and arrive at a proper conclusion?

I wish I had the answers, only God knows. I will say this though, every mistake we make is not meant to destroy us, but to teach us a lesson. However, when we keep repeating the same mistakes over again, we have to ask ourselves why? We need the courage to dig deep within ourselves and face the truth.

The way to overcome things in this life is by facing them; not by avoiding, escaping or chasing after fantasies. We need to keep it real with ourselves. If something is not right, instead of running from it, pray and ask God to show you the root cause of the issue, so you can break the cycle and heal.

If not, you will continue to chase after fantasies under the guise of believing it will bring you everything you’ve ever wanted or desired, when in actuality, it will only leave you feeling more empty.

Have you been chasing fantasies lately?

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Be The Church

In 1995, I had the pleasure of traveling to India. It was a dream come true for me. I had this romantic view of India, until I stepped off the plane and faced the reality of what real poverty looked like.

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When I arrived, I went from being ecstatic, to sad, to depressed in a matter of minutes.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was such a disparity between the poverty and opulence I saw. What especially broke my heart was seeing the children, dirty and living in shacks made out of garbage.

I stood there dumbfounded. I whispered under my breath, why God? Why must these children be so poor? They didn’t ask to be born into hunger and pain. Why such a cruel fate? My heart was faint.

I was despondent for the rest of my stay there. I walked around like a zombie, going through motions. It seemed like everywhere I turned, I saw poverty, hunger and suffering.

In India, I learned that no amount of religion or theology could reach the heart of the poor and hungry. The country is filled with people who believe in religion and worship a multitude of gods. Religion is part of their spiritual infrastructure.

But religion doesn’t give life, and it certainly isn’t the answer. Do you know what the answer is?

Love.

But not the sappy, sugar coated nonsense being propagated from the pulpits across America today. No.

Do you realize we are the Church? It’s about demonstrating love to those you wouldn’t necessarily show it to.

It’s about getting out of our comfort zone and doing things we wouldn’t normally do or going places we wouldn’t normally go.

I don’t refer to myself as a Christian anymore, because saying I’m a Christian holds a different connotation to whomever you are speaking to. Some people call themselves a Christian, but they are “religious”. They tithe and go to church regularly. But they never stop and love others.

How many Christians are bringing the church to the outcasts and rejected of society? The porn stars, strippers, murderers, gang bangers, drug addicts, drug dealers or satanists?

What Christian steps out of their safety net to be the church to those who are hated, rejected or despised? The poor, the suffering, and the sick? Those who are shunned, isolated and ignored by people.

I personally know Christians who don’t want to associate with those who have problems, who are depressed and walk around with dark clouds over their heads. They are afraid it might rub off on them.

But if we are the Church, we shouldn’t shun or avoid those who are suffering or struggling. How will they ever know that hope and love exists?

The true love that Jesus exemplified and demonstrated when He walked on this earth.

Folks, it’s much deeper than religion or religious acts that appease our own conscience. We must be willing to be the church and bring the love and compassion of Jesus to those who are broken, rejected and despised. If we don’t, who will?

In James 1:27, it says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (KJV)

In Hebrews 13:3, it says, “Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” (NLT)

This is not to boast, but even with my limited time between home, work, college, and writing, I’ve decided to use the gift God has blessed me with and write to those who are in prison. I also try to minister to families who have loved ones who are incarcerated. Families do the time along with their loved ones. It’s heartbreaking.

I’m not saying you need to do what I’m doing. All I’m saying is to be the church in whatever capacity God is calling you.

It’s no longer enough to preach or try to bring people to your Church. It’s time to be the hands and feet, and be the Church to the lost, the hopeless, the poor, the rejected, the shunned, the outcast, the incarcerated, the abused, and the sick.

Have you felt a burden to serve in your community, your neighbor or co-worker, but have been afraid to do so? Why not step out of your comfort zone and reach out? Why not take a step toward making a difference in someone else’s life? If we all do our part, we can bring hope to those who really need it.

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Mad Faith

You’re probably wondering why am I using the word “mad” in connection to “faith”.

The word “mad” is commonly used in New York City. The urban dictionary defines “mad” as “extreme” or “a lot”.

I decided to connect the two; mad faith.

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I’ve been thinking madly about faith. What makes one have more faith than another, and that sort of thing.

It’s a mystery.

My desire has been ever increasing for my faith to be authentic.

In Christendom, I see many chasing after signs, wonders, miracles and manifestations, to the point of idolatry.

I’m not judging, but merely making an observation.

Truthfully, I used to be one of those people. I would chase after God here, there and everywhere.

I was seeking some kind of sign or experience and chasing after Him as if He couldn’t be found.

Frankly, I had it all wrong.

It sort of reminds me of Moses, when He went up to the mountain to get the Ten Commandments and left the people behind. In time, they all started making physical idols to worship instead of worshipping the God who miraculously parted the Red Sea and delivered them from the Egyptians.

What is it in us that inclines us to chase after other gods, instead of Him? Why are we restless and unsettled in our faith? Why must we chase after experiences? Why isn’t Jesus enough?

These are the questions which gnaw at me daily. I don’t have the answers. All I know is that I’ve already tried it all. I’ve traveled around the world in search of Him.

I am certain of this, it is not by signs and wonders that our faith increases, not in the least. I tell you this from personal experience. This doesn’t deepen our faith.

One thing that does though, is adversity.

My faith was strengthened, when I shook with fear, felt hopeless, thinking God wasn’t going to deliver me out of something, and He did.

To me, that’s miraculous. Not manifestations of angel feathers, gems or gold dust appearing at some gathering, where the attention turns to man and not God.

This is where the confusion begins. Everyone starts worshiping and idolizing the creation instead of the Creator. The credit for these so-called manifestations becomes attributed to man, instead of God. If something is going to take the focus or pull you away from God, you should run the other direction and don’t look back.

I’m sharing what I’ve gleaned from all of the mistakes I’ve made in my life.

I’m not claiming to be an expert or have it right. I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t have all the answers. All I know is my heart longs for the authentic. For the living God of this universe to be real and present in my life.

I don’t want my desire for signs, wonders, miracles and manifestations to take precedence over Him. He already gave and did it all by dying on the Cross for me, what more do I want?

I want to have mad faith which is undeniable and unshakeable. I want to experience more of His love and presence in my life. Not experiences, sensations, imitations or cheap substitutes. The real deal.

What about you?

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Christian Know-It-All’s

Do you know them? Have you come across them too? They’re all over the internet.

Everyone has a blog, or a platform lately. Have you noticed everyone has something to say?

Christians bloggers especially, with their puffed up piety and superiority. They swear they know-it-all.

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I can’t help but detect a hint of arrogance and condescension in their writing. Reminds me of those judgmental Christians you find at Church. You know the ones I’m talking about? The ones who act like they got it all together, who do no wrong and tell you their false opinions of you?

It’s amazing what tone a blog can take, when the bloggers themselves write as if they know-it-all.

I hope to God I don’t ever come across that way here. I do not claim to know-it-all and never will. I am forever learning.

I have had bloggers who are in the “niche” unfollow me on Twitter or Facebook, because of my stance on topics such as homosexuality, gay marriage, pornography, etc. They seem to believe their opinions are worth more than mine and they’re only reserved the special right to speak their minds and write what they believe. Even if I don’t personally agree with it.

Truthfully, I come across and read a lot of things I don’t personally agree with. However, you won’t be find me unfriending or unfollowing them because they believe differently than me.

Yes, there seems to be a certain “acceptable” group, I shall call them, the cyberspace clique. Reminds me of high school. So glad I’m passed all that. Perhaps this is why I don’t care for the term, Tribes, it doesn’t hold a good connotation for me.

One thing I do notice among these peers is they are young. I have nothing against the youth. But to whom I refer, they seem to come across as know-it-all’s. Which quite frankly, they have not fully lived life yet to be giving such assertions.

Mind you, these are “Christians” we are talking about here.

Where is the humility? How are they truly representing Christ in their writing or actions? They act superior, all knowing ones, who will correct others in a heartbeat. They will point blank disagree with you, unfriend you and then write about it on their blogs, hoping you won’t notice.

They are good writers, they are mastering their craft well. Yes, they are accepted and revered in their cyberspace community. They pat each others back, speak sweet nothings to each other and then shun those who don’t believe as they do.

They spout their arrogant and pious pontifications while hiding behind the cloak of religion and doctrinal precipices.

I can understand why Ghandi said, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” I couldn’t agree with him more. I would add to this, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christian bloggers.”

Dear readers: This is my platform, where I have the right and freedom to write uncensored, share my thoughts and speak the truth. My prayer recently has been that we go beyond the superficiality of religion, piety and cliques, to representing Christ in action, with love and humility. Even if we don’t agree with each others stance, theology or position. We should be mature enough to treat others how we would want to be treated, even if we don’t agree. We need to remember that we are not know-it-all’s or better than anyone else or superior to one another. Only Christ reserves that right, stature and position, not us. Thank you for reading and God bless you.

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I’m Not Used To Being Loved

After I read a comment from a friend of mine on Facebook, tears streamed down my face while I popped M&M’s in my mouth.

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Something about peanut M&M’s soothes me.

I sit here, typing and thinking, why am I crying? My friends are saying wonderful things and I’m crying when I should be happy.

It’s just like when my husband says I’m beautiful, and I respond, you just love me. Or like in this case, when my friends tell me they believe in me and I cry.

What is it with me?

It seems I’m not used to being loved.

There is the deep seated sense of unworthiness plaguing me.

My husband tells me he loves me, my friends compliment me, and sadly, it doesn’t compute.

*****

This weekend I was really down. I started telling my husband how I must be a real disappointment to God.

I know what you are going to say. I’m being too hard on myself, right?

And you would be right to say that.

However, this is what I believe. It’s not some ploy to fish for compliments or anything.

It’s the fractured self I live with every day.

Broken and battered soul who hasn’t fully healed from all the pain and hurt life has dished.

If you met me in person, you wouldn’t see this side unless you were looking closely. I have learned to survive and put up a good front.

But, the mask I wear is slowly crumbling.  

No, I do not see myself the way God sees me. I see through a tainted glass. My perception is warped based on years of repetitive traumatic experiences which I don’t care to get into at the moment.

I see the damage it has done and no, I don’t want to remain this way. I continue to pray for healing in the broken and painful places.

The places where others looking on the outside may judge me for.

It’s so easy to judge someone without knowing their story. We all do it, but it’s wrong, because we really don’t know why a person is the way they are or acts the way they do. We just label.

Meanwhile, I find, the people who judge severest, are the ones who are most damaged themselves. We reflect on to others what we ourselves are; like a mirror.

I want to see myself through God’s reflection and not my own or anyone elses for that matter.

I want to be able to receive and accept love from others without feeling the shame and unworthiness of it.

I don’t want to live my life always fearful, anxious, suspicious or guarded.

Yes, I want to use wisdom and discernment in setting firm boundaries where I must with others; whether it be family, friend or foe.

However, I don’t want to blanket everyone who has genuine intentions by putting them in the same category of those who have hurt me either.

I pray for myself and for all those struggling like me. May the Lord continue to touch and heal the broken places in our lives and make us whole.

Do you struggle with allowing yourself to be loved? How do you think God sees you? How do you see yourself and others?

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Oh Religion, How I Hate Thee

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No, no, I haven’t thrown in the towel. I’m still a Christ follower. Jesus has nothing to do with this. He is in a class by Himself, for the obvious reasons. Jesus is Jesus. He died for me, you and the whole world. Someone who would be willing to die for the likes of me, well, let’s just say, they score big time.

I have no problem with beautiful, amazing, lovely, sweet, gentle Jesus Christ. He is a rock star. I love Him, plain and simple.

What I do have a problem with is religion. The Pharisees. The arrogant, stuffy, stuck up, know-it-all, condescending, judgmental, legalistic Christians. You know the ones who have an answer to every problem, and spout a bunch of scripture at you in one breath with saliva and all… yeah, those kinds of Christians.

I don’t have anything against Scripture. I love the Word of God, even when it cuts deep. Like I said, my issue is with those who call themselves Christians, but will be the first to criticize, judge and gossip about you.

Oh religion, how I hate thee… Where is the love?

I have to say, I don’t love others nearly the way Christ wants me to. I realize I don’t have it in me. If Jesus doesn’t love through me, it ain’t gonna happen.

Hollywood portrays their version of love, but that’s not what biblical love is about. Love isn’t about feelings or moods… it isn’t about goose bumps and racing hearts.

Mature love is grounded, steady, selfless and resilient. Real love stands the test of time. [Tweet this]

Religious people don’t know how to love others. All they know is how to preach scriptures, which doesn’t even penetrate… because half the time, they have trouble believing in it themselves.

When the Word really buries deep in your heart, it will manifest in your life. Love will be evidenced by how you live, act, speak and treat others.

Unfortunately, there are tons of people in the pulpit who don’t know how to genuinely express love toward others. They preach something they themselves don’t live or practice from a real and authentic place. There is a total disconnect.

To me, this equals bondage and death. There is no life, only rote and ritual. Where is the passion?

I look to my left and to my right, and I don’t see it evidenced anywhere. I just see a bunch of people filling up the pulpits and pews every Sunday. When they leave, you wouldn’t even know they went to church. And if you watch closely, there is no evidence of Jesus in their life, just a bunch of empty words.

A sad state of affairs indeed, which is why we need revival.

So what’s the answer? Surrender. How do we surrender? We pray and sincerely ask God to change our hearts to reflect His. We do not have the power to change ourselves. But God can and wants to. He is waiting on us to give up our “act” and come humbly to His throne.

God wants us to be real and authentic, not a bunch of actors memorizing lines on His stage called Life. [Tweet this]

I’m reading a very provoking and convicting book right now called Kingdom Journeys by Seth Barnes. This book is helping me understand why religion doesn’t work. It’s a dead end. God has so much more in store for us if we really take Him at His word.

I woke up this morning with this song on my mind, “Love is a Movement” by Switchfoot. The lyrics really speak to me.

Have you been struggling with religion? What are your thoughts on this? Please share in the comment section below.

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