“Remember love is what brought you here. And if you’ve trusted love this far, don’t panic now. Trust it all the way.”
-Sharon Rivers (Regina King), If Beale Street Could Talk
I love you. I love cake. I love Netflix. I love lamp.
“I love ______” may be the most powerfully destructive, delusional and diluted phrase in the English language. Like a shotgun blast, this phrase sprays in every direction, hitting and missing its target.
Tish (Kiki Layne) aches over the wrongful incarceration of her external heart, Fonny (Stephan James) while caring for their collective seed growing within her womb. Despite their struggle, Tish and Fonny’s star-crossed love resembles a rose blossoming from concrete. A concrete rose sounds poetic but in reality, it wears frayed petals, torn leaves, and a crooked stem. This breed of love only grows in the soil of perseverance while absorbing the water of endurance and subsisting on the sunlight of persistence.
Their breed of love is different from our “modern” view of love. In America, love is just another word for good, synonymous with everything from lust to leisure. In Greek, there are six different words for love. Our society places a premium on either eros (sexual) love or ludus (playful) love. These types of love are like Oreo ice cream: flavorful, fleeting and fattening. This stage of love is necessary for any sprouting relationship. However, growing love must mature or wither. Tish and her family’s fight for Fonny bloomed into agape love.
Agape or altruistic love cost everything while promising nothing. Me, myself and I are sacrificed on the altar of self. Jesus planted this scary but sacred love in his followers, challenging Christians to cultivate this love in themselves and others.
Tish and Fonny do not get the happy ending they deserve. Fonny accepts his reality. Tish’s voice grows wearier. Their son, their budding flower, grows up visiting his father in prison. Yet, their breed of love endures. While not always beautiful, agape love is picture perfect. Agape love is planted with a prayer, cultivated with care, and reproduced for someone else to share. Remember who planted this love inside you. If you’ve trusted agape love this far, don’t panic now. Trust it all the way.