I have a couple friends in the ministry, and one has been dear to my heart for 20 years now. In January, she posted a Facebook post and tagged me in it, which ye shall read here:
I almost wrote on your wall last night! I thought about you as I passed an old junk yard and saw a tow truck that had been “retired”… I found myself wondering how many vehicles it had pulled over its years of service? And how heavy was the load that caused it to expire? I was like man lol ion think nobody else will get my drift at the moment but Kisha GreatJoy Spencer… (you know we think sideways sometimes lol) It was a question that I would love to read as a blog from you… the question was/is.. What happens when tow trucks break?🤔Shae Reel-Johnson
All this time later, after having touched this multiple times, I realized that the reason I never respond at the time is because I was a tow truck grappling with the honesty of that—and I was never meant to be. That is what women do. No matter how heavy the load, we pick it up and take it on as our own burden. Even if they might kill us. Or worse? Destroy us so that we only exist as objects of misuse instead of living out our full humanity. We do it out of love and duty, of seeing the world as bigger than we are and connected in deep and meaningful ways.
I sometimes envy the young women I see who have eschewed all responsibility (children included) to live life as fully as they know how. I see the wild abandon with which they move through life, thoughts no deeper than the $60 required for a new full set an pedicure with chrome polish and a junk nail on each hand. I can taste the lightness of their being as they flick back waves of 10A weave down to their behinds and laugh at some series of terrible texts some “nothing @&$ nigga” sent after being put out for the next one. I long to remember what it is like to be free indeed, to capture attention and throw it back, to sashay through the years of my life with the only thought being what can I get into today?
Yet here I am, the carrier of loads not meant for shoulders as soft as mine.
Now, listen. Fam. I don’t want to live without bounds; I honor the gifts that God felt me strong enough to care for. I love my two daughters, watching them morph into these beautiful beings whose shoulders I want to save. But I also recognize that I am not required to lift heavy burdens that folks have come to expect me to carry these days. I am still very much (as poet nayyirah waheed relayed in her poetry) “a brutally soft woman”. And I am determined more than anything to remain plush, to not harden myself to accept the challenge of the burdens tossed so carelessly my way. As I run full blast into my 42nd year of life, I cling desperately to that pliancy, grasping at the things that make me light: new hair. old friends. soft smiles. flirtatious eyes. funny jokes. restless adventures. light feet. no worries. no trauma. no loads.
My sisters, my loves. God did not design you to carry weight. He designed you to carry life. And you do that by remaining alive yourselves. Not barely existing, crumbled by toil and unfair burden, but vibrant. Rivers of living water should flow from your belly. And if you find yourself the victim of being mislabeled as a tow truck, let me help you to be great: YOU ARE NOT A TOW TRUCK. Put all that stuff down! Carry yourself. Then guard your heart so that you don’t feel the guilt or pride of being indispensable—cuz understand me: operating in your own power like that is pride incarnate, baby. Keep on laying on the altar of sacrifice if you want to. Jesus looking at you like:
Let God guide your day, your decisions, your destiny. Let Him flow through you as life. Lay aside the weight that pulls you down, and be free indeed. Set limits on how much you are willing to carry, and let your first load be the yoke of Jesus Christ. His burden is LIGHT. Stop dragging around every weight thrown on you like chains–no ma’am. Chuck them burdens off you, and live the life God intended. Because He intended you to carry and nurture life.