The Tempted Princess

For Snow White, it was a hooded witch and a shiny red apple.

For Eve, it was a slithering serpent and possibly a glossy pomegranate.

Any princess can fall to temptation,  given a clever disguise, a sharp hook, and a marvelous piece of bait.

And what bait could more innocent than the charmed deliciousness of sweet fruit?

The fruit did no damage.

The hook that pierced their souls was the more.

The charm of more.

The allure of greater.

The promise of better.

But a promise of better…from wicked tongues.

Such a proposal would flatly be denied in any other circumstance.

But this was no ordinary circumstance.

These offers were unbelievable.

Snow White’s eyelids fluttered excitedly as the witch spoke.

From her wrinkled jowls, she heard guarantees of true love.  

Thrilling forever goosebumps love.

And not just philosophical wisdom, the serpent whispered to Eve.

But divine powerful almighty knowledge.

Pure love and sharp wisdom.

Irresistible items that ultimately made them suffer and led to calamitous results.

Irresistible items that are given by God and with no strings attached.

Any princess can fall to temptation, given a clever disguise, a sharp hook, and a marvelous piece of bait.

Remember the King freely gives His daughters what others make them pay for.

______________________________________________________________________________________

 “Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
-Romans 5:7-8
 
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
-James 1:5
 
Advertisements

Role

 I didn’t know that I was stepping into a role.

I stood in my aunt’s bathroom, smiling at myself.

My lips were covered in cocoa glass.

My eyelids shimmered with desert clay.

My lashes plumped from threads to ropes.

I was 13 and in preteen girl heaven.

My aunt, a make-up fiend, had bins full of cosmetics…

…that I helped myself to…

…every morning.

Since my aunt left early for work, my morning duty was to get her daughter, 4-year-old Cheyenne, ready for preschool.

I’d help her brush her teeth, pick out her overalls and put a few ponytails in her hair.

But once Cheyenne was ready, I’d turn on the television and sneak into the bathroom.

I thought I was slick.

Surely Blue’s Clues was more than enough to keep a little girl occupied and still.

But as I watched myself in the mirror, Cheyenne was peeking…and watching me.

As she grew older, she went from watching me to asking me.

“Can I wear your shirt?”

“Can I go with you there?”

“When are you coming back?”

And now at age 19, from asking me to seeking from me.

“What do you think about that? I know you’ve done that.”

“That really encourages me because you went there.”

“I don’t know what God wants. What should I do?”

I didn’t know that I was stepping into a position.

Rose was always the cute little girl on the pew, 3rd from the back.

A couple of years younger than me, Rose’s sparkling chatter during the sermon was always a happy distraction.

Now at 22, her vivaciousness was still there.

One Sunday afternoon, as we lingered in the church parking lot, Rose looked to the left.

A woman had just passed by, walking cuddle close with a man.

When Rose turned back to me, her expression was sad and familiar. 

“Has a guy ever told you that you were different?”

The question came from a spot I knew well, my hometown and my present address.

Our conversation became an ocean, deepening with each sentence.

Every sore she exposed, I found myself trying to soothe.

The hour grew late so I left her with a few final words.

She sent me an email days later, marveling about our conversation and saying that she  had always looked up to me.

 Look up to me?

Really?

I didn’t know that I had an audience.

I didn’t know that I was locked in a pose.

I didn’t know that my role as me, in good weather or in bad light, would be used as an example or cited as a source.

 I’ll strive to play my role the best way I can.

————————————————————

“Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”

-1 Timothy 4:12

Natalie

I was sitting on the couch in the living room but I could hear Natalie’s pleading from the office, crystal clear.

“I don’t wanna go to bed! Why do I have to go? It’s not fair!”

Her whines filled the house, carried on the strength of a 10-year-old’s anger.

When it became obvious that her mother was not to be persuaded, the stomps came.

Barging past me came Natalie in her red felt boots, pressing her heels with power into the hardwood floors.

With each stomp, the barrette in her hair bounced.

Her bottom lip was poked out, her eyebrows were bunched together,  and her eyes narrowed.

She was beyond annoyed and it showed.

When she finally reached her bedroom, she slammed the door, rattling the decorative nameplate on it.

I laughed softly to myself as I remembered my own Natalie moment.

When I was around the same age, I was upset that I couldn’t go to a particular restaurant.

So I pouted.

I stomped.

I whined like there was no tomorrow.

And as I sat in my bedroom, fuming and lamenting my poor ol’ terrible life, my parents were readying themselves to leave the house….

….And had decided to take me to the restaurant after all.

But it wasn’t what I expected.

The food didn’t taste as good. The restaurant didn’t glow as much. The conversation wasn’t as jovial.

I remember feeling guilty and bad.  I had been a major brat. I had forced my parents to take me, and it was a miserable time.

It wasn’t fun and it wasn’t what I wanted.

We all have our Natalie moments.

When things aren’t going our way or when we don’t get what we want, our bottom lips droop.

We want to bang our fists and feet against the ground.

We want to run up to God’s throne and whine,

“When?”  

“Why?”

and sometimes,

“Pretty pretty please?!”

And when we do, our Heavenly Father responds in the perfect way He always does.

Sometimes, like Natalie’s mom, He will not acquiesce because what we want is not at all good for us.

And sometimes, like my parents, He may allow us to have what we’re asking for in order to teach, humble, and mature.

Like any good Parent, God only desires to dispense good gifts from His hand.

And like any good child, as we mature, we need to learn obedience.

Acceptance.

Humility.

And patience.

As I age physically and spiritually, I trust more and more that what He says and answers is indeed the ultimate best.

My whine is in the cellar, hopefully never to be opened again.

And soon, so will Natalie’s.  


Tightropes and Sidewalks

Every so often, God refreshes my memory about the tightrope.

I walk a tightrope every day.

I know I’m not the only one because I see people behind and in front of me.

The wire gets tauter when we choose to thank God for anything.

It gets straighter when we say that Jesus is the Living God.

It gets super thin when we believe the Bible and its Words over anything else.

Day by day, we point our toes and try to place our feet on the wire.

Faith steadies us and we’re able to stand firm against the winds of the world

But knees buckle when we glance at those prancing on the wide and easy sidewalk.

I think that’s where Shannon was: smack dab in the middle of a buckle.

“I think I’m getting caught up,” she said sheepishly.

For the past month or so, Shannon had been pursuing a “friendship” with Jerome, a cab driver whose comedic style had captivated her.

Jerome was funny, gallant, and attractive.

Just one thing:

He had a live-in girlfriend.

He told Shannon that the relationship was dead and gone.

Yet, he still continued to live with her and made it clear to Shannon that he wanted more than just amicable days.

She sighed. Her eyes grew glassy and she dabbed at them with a balled up tissue.

My throat felt like it was cracking as I realized that she was contemplating something ill.

“I am so weary of doing good only to get nothing.

What is it all for?”

Tiffany’s knees were also trembling.

A couple of weeks ago, she vehemently proclaimed that women are ending up old and single because of the “God factor.” She herself had begun dating someone and subsequently deleted “relationship with God” from her suitor must-have list.

 “This is why women are bitter at 40. They want to have these men who have relationships with God but don’t give a fighting chance to these good men who don’t.”

Tiffany spat out her arguments like flat soda, always circling back to one thing:  Settle for deleting God from your requirements or suffer the consequences.

 The sidewalk is very attractive.

It can promise relationships.

Guarantee true love.

Assure you of success and triumph.

Surround you with a permanent slot in the ‘in crowd.’

Pledge to keep you rich with whatever you’re longing for.

It makes all these succulent claims. But never delivers. Never.

We don’t walk the tightrope to get a man or a woman. We don’t steady ourselves on a cord to be wealthy. We don’t grip our feet on a wire to be blessed with a house/car/clothes/job/friends/etc.

We do it because we love and want to please God.

That’s what it’s all for. 

Don’t know

It was 3:53 pm on a Thursday afternoon.

The swings were still. Jump ropes were stacked into swirling circles. Balls were lined up neatly against the wall. 


The playground was empty…except for me and my sister. 


School had dismissed over an hour ago and we were still waiting for my mother to pick us up. 


Ms. Rhonda swept dust nearby, working a double shift as custodian and babysitter. 


Whenever a car would pull into the neighboring parking lot, the three of us would crane our necks to look, hoping it was my mother. 


But when it turned out to be someone else, Ms. Rhonda returned to sweeping, my sister to playing, and me to festering. 


I’d pace the pavement in my plaid jumper and fume. 


Mommy is ALWAYS late. 


Renee and Ciara walk home all the time! How come we can’t? 


Where is she? 


Mommy doesn’t care about picking us up.


 If she did, she’d be on time.


She just doesn’t care. 


But my mother did care. A lot.

Enough not to want us to walk through sketchy areas of our neighborhood. 


And enough to have us wait until she made it from her job 45 minutes away to transport us home under her guard.


But my 9-year-old self didn’t know that. 


All I knew was that what I wanted was not here when I wanted it to be. 


So I took the delay as a sign of disinterest. 


When it was the furthest thing from the truth. 


This memory floated to mind when I thought of a sermon I heard about divine delays. 


A divine delay is when God is slow in answering a prayer for a specific reason. 


While listening to the sermon and reading Bible passages, I discovered that God took His sweet time on a couple of occasions.


When Jesus’s good friend Lazarus was sick, He didn’t rush to his side as expected. Instead He stayed where He was for two more days.

When the disciples were battling a torrential storm, Jesus was at the back of the boat, sleeping until they woke Him up. 


God seemed so unconcerned during very serious situations, as if He didn’t realize the urgency at hand.

But that didn’t mean He didn’t care.


 It meant He was in control and proved His omniscience. 


Jesus knew that Lazarus would live before he got sick, while he was sick, and after he died from his sickness. 


He knew that breathing life back into his dead body would prove to onlookers that He is the Messiah. 


He knew that witnessing their brother’s miraculous healing would steel the faith of Mary and Martha. 


He knew that Lazarus would be a walking, talking, living testimony of the power of God. 


He knew this which is why He delayed His trip to see Lazarus.


But all Lazarus’s sisters knew was their brother was dead and Jesus was not there when they wanted Him to be. 


But in the end, they and the world got something greater than they ever expected. 


There are some things that I know God is taking His time in giving me. 


It gets old at times. 


And I feel like that little girl in the navy blue plaid jumper. 


But I remind myself that He cares too much to be unconcerned. 


He just knows something I don’t. 

Change

Whatever they were talking about had to be good. I heard Amy’s spirited alto and Bernard’s stubborn tenor going back and forth like a game of tennis.  As I got closer to Bernard’s desk, I heard, 

“It has to be a certain grade, a certain type.”

He wasn’t talking about meat. He wasn’t talking about a car. He was talking about hair. 


“He doesn’t date girls with natural hair,” explained Amy, her voice coated in disbelief. 


“No, it’s not that,” Bernard countered quickly. “But if it’s the dry coarse kind, then they have to straighten it.” 


His statement made me think.


 I wondered how many gorgeous and wonderful women he passed over because their hair coiled too much. 


I wondered how many of his girlfriends had hot combed their kinks into flat strands.  


And I really wondered, 

How much of yourself should you

modify

alter

 change

 add

 subtract

  for someone else?



Physical appearance is inarguably one of the strongest factors in attraction. Both men and women savor pieces of eye candy that walk into their lines of sight. But I wonder how much of what we do to change our looks is for ourselves.


Is it more to catch eyes….?


Is it more to keep eyes….?  


Even our personalities can be affected by what our significant other thinks. Audacity is carved into meekness. Thoughtfulness is sharpened into selfishness. What’s loud becomes soft. What’s low becomes high. 

Soon, who you were is gone. 

Relationships can be catalysts for change. But sometimes, they can refashion a person into someone altogether new. 


Not better. 


Not worse. 


But different. 

Be sure that you can live with the difference. 


When the relationship is over, you’ll still have to live with you. 

Pain

As a child, I suffered from severe stomach cramps. My stomach would wrinkle and crunch like an accordion and then stretch out like a rubber band about to pop. The pain would radiate from my belly to my thighs to my belly and then wash all over me, and I would lie motionless in a pool of nausea. 


Besides medicine,  I developed ways to deal with it. Curling up in a ball. Walking back and forth. But most of the time, I would gingerly sit down on our sofa and rock back and forth until the pain fled. In my mind, there could be no feeling worse than this. The stings and bangs and aches of the body were tiers above any other type of damage. 


But then I grew up and experienced pain that I didn’t even know existed. 

Bruised feelings. 

Broken hopes. 

A cracked heart. 

I remember one evening where my emotions were in complete disarray. I felt like I was suffocating.  Hurt and sorrow and joylessness were piled, one on top of the other. 

They were crushing me. 

On the phone was my sister, who was trying to lift them. She somehow made sense out of my breathless tear-laced phrases and said, 

“You are emotionally exhausted.

Take a shower and lie down.”

So I did. I laid in my bed with tears sliding down my skin, choking on this pain, praying that relief would come soon. 


I used to think that one was worse than the other. 


Not so.


In all its forms, pain hurts.