Tis The Season

I’ve been away for a while.

Adapting, 

Folding my life into neater sections.

Amending, 

Transforming block lettered hope into calligraphic reality.

Adjusting, 

Retiring from the snug warmth of what was

To reside in the tingly shiver of what may be…

…and what will be…

…and what is.

The final quarter of 2014 was a dramatic experience. 

A reminder of a few things.

Of God’s love.

His provision.

Most especially, His faithfulness. 

A season is changing.

Preparing for 2015. 


“Look, the winter is past,
    and the rains are over and gone.
The flowers are springing up,
    the season of singing birds has come,
    and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.
The fig trees are forming young fruit,
    and the fragrant grapevines are blossoming.”

-Song of Solomon 2:11-13

Amnesia

Hailey’s laugh sounded like ice cubes rattling in a glass.

During a recent phone conversation, I expressed a concern about a heart matter to which she responded with a dismissive chuckle.

 “You’ll be all right,” she said flippantly. “It’s nothing.”

Over the past few years, Hailey and I shared countless conversations about dating, love, and solid relationships.

I encouraged her as she lamented, soothed her as she mourned, and laughed with giddiness as she celebrated.

But recently, she fell in love and gotten married.

And had taken a shot of amnesia.

Amnesia is a heady drink.

Part pride, part apathy.

A frothy spirit served in oversized martini glasses.

Brown sugar pebbles surround the rim while a maraschino cherry bobs back and forth on a wooden toothpick.

The sweet flavor delights the senses while its heavy composition is ingested.

And then memory… becomes a memory.

I think we begin to sip on amnesia after we’ve accomplished a goal.

Passed a test.

Been released.

Jumped a broom.

Gotten a raise.

Our history before that point suddenly becomes alien.

We become estranged from those who are not yet where we are.

We forget how complication feels.

We don’t remember what insomnia is.

The former struggle, tears, pain, and trouble are no longer things we can or want to relate to.

Instead, we lift a glass of amnesia in the air as a toast to the present tense.

I shrugged off the slight, knowing that the hurt was unintentional.

But it hurt all the same.

It is very easy to soak in present pleasure, current peace, and existing joy.

But remembering the battles from yesterday, the sores from last week, and the sadness from 2 years ago keep us grounded,

keep us connected,

And keep us grateful.

Praying that my memory has staying power. 

Age

My coworker Marcus took a bite of his tuna sandwich and chewed thoughtfully.

I tapped my spoon against my bowl, waiting impatiently for his answer.

“No,” he finally said. “She’s too old.”

My mouth dropped slightly in disbelief.

“Halle Berry, in all of her gorgeous glory, wouldn’t do it for you because she’s too old? You’re 41, though.”

“I know. But I want to have kids. So I’m looking for a woman who’s younger.”

My eyebrows arched involuntarily. “Only younger?”

He nodded with steadfast assurance. “Only younger.”

I stay in my own peer group.

I never choose strictly from the naïve hearts of tender youngsters or from the weathered ones of secure veterans.

But interestingly, I’ve gotten offers from both ends.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Leon was getting on my last nerve.

My absolute last 9-year-old nerve.

My friend Samantha and I were playing with her toy kitchen when her little brother interrupted us.

For the 15th time.

He’d steal the plastic burgers from my hands.

He’d sing at the top of his lungs whenever I’d try to speak.

When I’d walk over to the tiny sink to “wash” the dishes, he’d pull my braids and run away.

Samantha would threaten bloody murder as big sisters do.

But seconds later, he’d return.

Always with me as the target of his activity.

One day, I complained to my mother about it.

And she responded with a horrifying thought:

“I think he likes you.”

What?! No, he’s too young. He’s in the second grade, for goodness sake. It can’t be.

But it was.

And as time went on, it always seemed to happen that way.

Maybe it was my small stature or quiet spirit. But whenever a friend had a younger brother, he would inexplicably develop a crush on me.

Now, as an adult, I’m garnering attention from the opposite end.

One day, I was walking leisurely when I felt a pair of eyes on me.

I stopped and looked to my right. There was a man with a beard the color of smoke and a leathery worn face.

He eyed me for a second and then began walking toward me.

I stuffed my headphones into my ears and quickly turned on something, ANYTHING, to muffle what was sure to be a pseudo complimentary yet unsuccessful greeting.

I recounted this to Marcus, who, responded in the expected way.

“You are attractive. Well, why wouldn’t he try to talk to you?”

“But he’s definitely older than my father. That’s a nearly 30 year age difference.”

“So? He could be your sugar daddy.”

I shook my head vigorously. There’s not enough sugar in the world.

Lesson: Age ain’t nothing but a number, depending on who’s doing the counting.

Love You

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

I came across this quote some days ago. It’s rather old, first written more than a hundred years ago.

But it was the first time I’d ever heard it. 

Such an elegant way to describe such a necessary act. 

Can’t say that my romance has been lifelong.

But I can say that I am currently head over heels. 

Officially loving me. 

Pulling A Hagar

Josephine is staring down her 50th year of life and has never had a circle of gold wrapped around her left ring finger.

That fact bothers and saddens her.

As I tried to share words of encouragement, rancor crackled in her voice as she nearly cut me off.

“I’ve heard all that before,” she said. She quickly wiped away a tear before it could spill down her face.

“It used to help me. But I’m tired of waiting.”

Whenever I think of Christian women who are single, the train of thought always leads to biblical women who were childless.

Their stories of longing are abundant throughout the Bible and are rich with emotion.

And while the object of yearning is not the same, the intensity is.

Bitter envy, furious frustration, teary grief, and pure passion are seen in both wishes.

And the elongated duration of either condition, singleness or childlessness, can lead to pulling a Hagar.

Sarai, like Josephine, was tired of waiting.

The couple was well into their golden years; her husband, Abram, in his nineties and Sarai in her eighties.

God knew their desire and had promised Abram a son. But ten years had passed since then without the slightest hint of morning sickness.

So Sarai, anxious, impatient, and convinced of God’s forgetfulness, decided to fulfill the desire herself:

“Sarai, Abram’s wife, hadn’t yet produced a child. She had an Egyptian maid named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, “God has not seen fit to let me have a child. Sleep with my maid. Maybe I can get a family from her.” (Genesis 16:1-2)

But Sarai didn’t get the family she wanted.

She got drama instead.

“When Hagar learned she was pregnant, she looked down on her mistress. Sarai told Abram, “It’s all your fault that I’m suffering this abuse. I put my maid in bed with you and the minute she knows she’s pregnant, she treats me like I’m nothing. May God decide which of us is right.” “You decide,” said Abram. “Your maid is your business.” Sarai was abusive to Hagar and Hagar ran away.” (Genesis 16:4-6)

Heavy yearning can blind eyes and invite trouble instead of turning it away.

I imagine that Sarai’s faith and hope had dwindled down to such a wisp that being a stepmother of sorts was better than being a mother of none.

But that arrangement was not arranged by God.

Sarai and Abram’s promised son eventually did arrive just the way God intended.

But the effects of Sarai’s tactic were still felt years later.

In the midnight moments, when the last drop of faith has evaporated, it’s tempting to pull a Hagar.

But it’s even wiser to wait for God. 

Checking Scales

It was pretty.

Sitting daintily upon Lucille’s neck was a gleaming gold necklace. The chain caressed her clavicle as it dipped down her neck, holding a small diamond studded ball.

“Travis gave it to me for my birthday,” she said proudly.

I smiled until I heard her next statement:

“According to the Coach website, it’s worth about $80.”

Lucille appraises every gift her boyfriend gives her.

Every. Single. One.

From the Build-A-Bear teddy to the Bath & Body Works scent set to the tawny snakeskin sandals, every material donation to her personal repertoire is…

Assessed

Marked

Measured

And labeled for its monetary worth.

“I want to be sure we are giving equally,” she explained casually. “That way, I’m not giving more than he’s giving and vice versa.”

I shook my head in disbelief.

“There will have to come a day where all this appraising stops.”

Lucille just looked at me and I could see that that day was a long way off.

How can a relationship survive when you’re perpetually checking the scales?

Explosions

It’s funny how God will expound on something you believed was only a passing thought.

I fell asleep thinking about love last night.

This morning, I read a passage that made me contemplate it even more:

“Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called ‘being in love’ usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,’ then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else.

‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise.

It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run;

being in love was the explosion that started it.”

-CS Lewis

Explosions are great. Like fireworks, they sparkle. They provide excitement, entertainment, and thrill.

But they are only seconds long.

Soon the flames die down.

The smoke evaporates.

The glitter and glow of colored light melts into the night sky.

And it’s done.

It’s the sound barrier shattering eros love that should continue and transform into still smooth agape love.

Unconditional love.

No limit love.

Real.  Love.

A friend of mine told me that she loves her husband more now than she did the day they married. I see what she means.

Praying that whenever I explode, it smolders into something that can make an engine run.

Simple Power

There were no red flags about Amanda that morning.

She walked into Rebecca’s office with her clothes crisp, her smile bright, and her head high.

But when the door clicked shut, the crumble began.

She leaned against the corner of the wall as sobs poured out of her.

The dam was broken and her sorrow was spilling out.

Rebecca and I were paralyzed for a second, completely blindsided by the display.

But then natural instinct took over.

I wrapped my arms around Amanda, leaned my head against hers, and held her. Each cry made her shiver and I felt my arms tremble along with her body.

I don’t know how long we stayed there in that position. But it was long enough to make her crying die down.

The following day, Amanda admitted,

“That was the first time somebody’s hugged me in a long time.”

Growing up, I had no need to worry about where my next hug was coming from. My parents gave hugs to my sister and I daily. Every time a relative would come by, it was a given that they would bring a good squeeze with them. My baby cousins always showed their love by trying to wrap their chubby arms around my legs.

 But now as a single adult who lives alone, I definitely see how rare they are.

 Maybe it’s due to vulnerability.

As we get older, we develop some cynicism.

Everyone isn’t to be trusted.

Personal space is craved and expected.

Lines are drawn.

Inner circles bubble up.

Brick by brick, walls are constructed to keep out undesirables.

But when something or someone destroys those barriers, leaving us exposed and open, that’s when we find ourselves wanting, having, and needing hugs the most.

The number of hugs I got at 7 is definitely higher than the number I get at 27.

But that doesn’t mean I need them any less.

A hug is such a easy but potent way to show love and ease pain.

It’s simple power that everyone has.

I’m going to use mine more often.

Sunglasses

I lost  a pair of sunglasses the other day.

I had on Jackie O shades the same color of ripe grapefruit flesh.

Double lenses dipped in Elmer’s glue-thick fuchsia.

My glasses were more than rose-colored.

They were completely covered.

And I didn’t even know I had them on.

Until they were off.

The last time I saw them, I was talking to a recently betrothed friend.

Michaela’s usually playful demeanor was more serious than usual.

More sober.

She and her fiancé had decided to write their own wedding vows.

And she had come down with a writer’s block of sorts.

She said,

“I struggle with writing these vows because I break promises. 

I feel their weight.”

When you are pledging before the one you love and the One who loves and created both of you, it is a serious matter.

But what type of oath can you make?

How can I promise to forever, always, and until death when it’s difficult just promising for tomorrow?

Wait a second.

I remember having my sunglasses on when I went to see another friend.

Because my tears were pink.

A man she knew and loved for 15 years had left her.

For another woman, it seemed.

She mourned the break-up and tried to move on.

But in the lowest southeast corridor of her heart, she believed he would be back and that he was the one.

But the candle she held for him was blown out when news of his wedding reached her.

The event sent her into a spiral of despair.

As she wept, she tried to comfort herself with the prospect of his unhappy marriage, a thought that would still leave the door for her wide open.

The situation burdened my heart with sadness and questions.

Is love so unattainable and rare that it can flee at a moment’s notice?

Do diamonds really have to convince a buyer that they are worthy of purchase?

How much time and energy do we waste pining for someone who isn’t designed for us in the first place?

I lost  a pair of sunglasses the other day.

I had on Jackie O shades the same color of ripe grapefruit flesh.

Double lenses dipped in Elmer’s glue-thick fuchsia.

My glasses were more than rose-colored.

They were completely covered.

And I didn’t even know I had them on.

Until they were off.

Bridesmaid

The rhinestones on her veil twinkled as Natalie tiptoed onto the carpeted dais. The huge bridal mirror before her reflected her beauty three times before she turned to her wedding party for our say.

“You look so pretty!”

“That’s gorgeous!”

“He’s going to love you in that!”

She played with the veil and studied the gown’s detail before she went into the dressing room… for dress #8.

It had been a long afternoon.

The glow of beginning the search for a wedding dress was starting to dim and after dress #7, we needed to recharge.  We took the intermission to stretch, yawn, and adjust ourselves in the store’s uncomfortable folding chairs.

I took the break to go on a mission: Try on bridesmaid dress #3.

It’s only 3 dresses.

Not quite 27.

Only 3.

But when this year began, I never thought that I would be in 3 weddings, all within 6 months of each other.

And I never thought that, in addition to that, there would be 3 engagements before the first leaf fell for this year’s autumn.

And I never thought that such happy news could make me feel…

Wistfully curious.

Kissed with daze. 

Unsure and scared. 

What was the norm is now becoming what used to be. 

I can probably get that adjusted.

Brand new reasons will be the source of get-togethers.

I like these spaghetti straps.

My inner circle is being seated…

Let me take this dress to the register.

without me…

I don’t have my card. Let me give her cash.

…at tables for two.

Why did she give me back all of these coins?

But I’m behind them at a table for one.

                                                I don’t know what to do with all this change.