As I sat down to write about legitimate power this morning, I heard a flash from the past as the early 1990’s hit from Hammer fka MC Hammer started to play in my head . . . “too legit, too legit to quit, hey hey.” Legit, of course, is short for legitimate and to be “too legit to quit” is to be too real and truthful to give up. Now, I don’t know for sure what Hammer was referring to, but for the purposes of this Lenten Safari, we are “too legit to quit” on truth, on Spirit, on the yin and yang of legitimate power.
Now, just so we are clear, when we speak of legit power, that does not equate to and is oftentimes diametrically opposed to legal or lawful power. There are volumes upon volumes of lawful powers past and present that were and are legal but have never been legitimate or just. They all flow from an ego-centered culture that has repressed the feminine energies of Spirit, a culture that believes power comes from exerting force over others instead of practicing restraint over oneself. In the words of the Rev. Timothy Patterson of the Servant Leadership School of Greensboro, “the ego is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.” And so, when we lift up the more masculine form of power without balancing it with the feminine, we deny and negate the inherent yin and yang partnership between the feminine and masculine, between the heart and head, between the intuition and intellect.
An over-reliance on the ego not only rejects the divine feminine, but rejects God and one’s own self. God is Spirit and encompasses both feminine and masculine energies, and since we are made in the image of God, the yin and yang of legitimate power also resides in each of us. Jesus’ 40 day journey in the wilderness was not about the exertion of excessive masculine power over things or people–which is the societal default for power–but instead Jesus demonstrated balanced feminine and masculine power that was over himself and that demonstrated mastery of himself.
This mastery of oneself comes through embracing the yin and yang of legitimate power, which enables us to fulfill the first and great commandment recorded in three of the gospel accounts–Matthew, Mark, and Luke–and first recorded in the book of Deuteronomy.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'” (Luke 10:27)
While the ego relies heavily on the intellect of the mind, the order in which we are commanded to love God in all four passages begins first with the heart and then with the soul. In other words, the initial work of loving is an inside job that begins with the essence of our being–the feminine energies, if you will. The reality is that we all have both the feminine and masculine energies within us, and when I say feminine and masculine, I am not referring to traditional gender roles, but to ways of being and knowing that God designed to be complementary. These complementary ways of being and knowing were not designed to be in opposition to nor in competition with each other. For instance, feminine energies might be more heart-centered, intuition-driven or derived from our divine essence and our spiritual sense of knowing. Masculine energies might be more head-focused, intellectually-based or derived from our cognitive abilities and five senses. We each have access to both energies. We have a heart and a head, intuition and intellect, Spirit and ego, and we are commanded to love God with all of these aspects of ourselves.
It is when we embrace the wisdom and knowing of the feminine that we can balance the divine spark of feminine and masculine energies into the embodiment of our full expression. Bringing into balance the yin and yang of legit power is what makes one “too legit, too legit to quit.” Instead of quitting, it makes one “ready to strike, trained for the mission” according to Hammer’s lyrics.
Tara LaShawn Seabrook is a self-proclaimed “free spirit,” a public, practical, and prophetic theologian; a spiritual and social justice activist; a creative and cultural artist; and a prolific teacher, speaker, and writer. Currently, she resides in Guatemala where she is finishing up a 2-year volunteer in mission commitment with a non-governmental organization before returning to her native Charleston, SC in the spring of 2017. Her book based on her original poem, “I Am She: The Anthology” will be released later this year.