The soft, gold morning sunlight was gently beginning to shine through my bedroom. I was still in bed. I smiled to myself. I had no where to be, except in bed. Plus, I love Autumn lighting. It's so perfect, so gentle, so full of a different type of expectation. I turned over in bed to snuggle my blankets happily.
And something somehow whispered to my soul.
Nervousness began to creep into my entire body.
You know when you have that feeling that you've forgotten something dreadfully important but you don't know what it is. But somehow your body knows...
"You forgot to call her on her birthday..."
The "her" was my aunt. And her birthday is pretty much like Christmas to her soul. If you don't acknowledge her birthday, it is a complete slap in the face. I knew I would never hear the end of it.
Plus, my mom (Who knows I'm horrible at remembering birthdays---even her own) gave me a reminder the day before to call my aunt. And yet...
So I lay in bed, knowing that I would have to make the belated birthday call today, a week after the fact. The tension level in my body was starting to rise. The last time I had forgotten my aunt's birthday, and tried to call her to make amends, I think she hung up on me. But definitely chewed me out.
Some of you know that I grew up bi-coastal. From ages 6-16, I would spend my school year in Southern California, and for the entire summer, I would spend 2-3 months with my aunt and grandma in Upstate New York.
Those were the best of times, and occasionally the worst of times.
Somehow I was the favorite grandchild and the favorite niece. My aunt pretty much spoiled me rotten. Trips, tons of new clothes, any concert I ever wanted to go to I went to, more trips and adventures, and did I mention clothes? She's invested thousands and thousands of dollars in me, years of her lifetime, and her special version of caring, yet tough love.
Yes, her tough love.
She's a New Yorker, in every sense of the word.
And I'm so grateful that she's in my life. I think I would have been an oddly unbalanced person if not for my aunt. My mom is literally one of the most patient and kind people on the planet. And I would have been a life-less noodle the first time any one disagreed with me or criticized me if not for my aunt. You see, my aunt and grandma are cut from that legit Ol' School cloth. They give it to you straight. Like for real. At times, while growing up, their words were completely cutting but at the same time, they strengthened me.
Their words strengthened me in a way that helped me to know who I was and who I was not. How I wanted to be, and how I didn't want to be.
But I think there's still pain there in my heart because of the mixture and bluntness of this experience.
I'm cut from a different cloth. I am my mother's child indeed. And there's a tenderness in me that continues to be a solid characteristic of who I am. And my heart has always responded profoundly to kindness.
And knowing in my heart, that my interactions with my aunt would be forced in some way, and knowing that I would simply be berated, left little room for anticipation of wanting to make that call.
But I know that there's still pain in her heart. Her responses are still that of someone carrying the load. Pain that planted itself in her heart before I even arrived on the scene. Pain of a life of unmet expectations. Pain of being betrayed. The pain of being forgotten about...
I'd like to think of myself as an intentional person. A person who cares.
But this week, God was ever so gentle in showing me a major area of improvement. He is the kindest one I know, and the most truthful.
Patrice, one of your blind-spots is that you are careless, you can easily forget about someone or something that does not benefit your immediate needs, in all your pursuits, slow down, take time to remember...people not just deadlines, things to do, work, and ministry.
I'm convinced, more than ever that "rushing" is of the devil. I have no problem doing things quickly, but when you rush to do something, fear is present. And things just start to get weird real quick.
And likewise, when our minds our so preoccupied with so many things, our lives become disjointed, uneven, and indiscernible.
Case and point: Multi-tasking doesn't seem to be as beneficial as once thought. (See Article)
My mind was full and busy last week with work. And if your name wasn't connected to the project at hand, I probably would not have called you, texted you, or responded to you in a timely manner or at all...
Which is actually a pretty standard human characteristic.
But I was being challenged to love better. To not simply love in an ordinary, unmoving way. But To love like I had been loved by the God of the universe.
As I reminded God that Kindness was a fruit of the Spirit, an aspect of who He is. God simply reminded me that Carelessness was a painful counteract to that very Kindness that I demanded I receive first from my aunt.
It was now time to get low--to get humble.
I was still nervous.
But I dialed anyway.
Sometimes we become careless out of habit and not necessarily out of some vindictive motive; and other times, we become careless because we do not want to confront our own demons.
But God simply says, to come to Him and He will give our hearts rest.
I hadn't talked to God recently about my ongoing heart issue with my aunt. And I know that God was using the platform of this circumstance with my aunt to heal both of us and to also show us a new aspect of His beautiful countenance and love by walking us through the pain of confrontation.
Through life's confrontations. We always have 2 choices:
+To become Bitter
+To become Better
So how did the phone call go?
It started smoothly, got incredibly rocky and confrontative, and ended with my voice shaking and me almost in tears. We were both being confronted with who we were and our perceptions of one another. But I could tell that we were both choosing to be humble, forgiving, and loving. I do think it's the beginning of something. And I genuinely hope in the years to come, it has the chance to truly be completed.
I did cry after that phone call. Heavy, salty tears. But it was a cry of release more than anything else.
Nevertheless, I still love the sunlight of Autumn.
It's so perfect,
so full of a different type of expectation...
“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”
― Mary Oliver (1983 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Poetry)