Tuesday, June 25, 2013

BEFORE YOU GO (My Words to My Nephew at His Graduation Celebration)

 This is to you, the first little boy to ever become a nephew/son of mine.  You have decided, after receiving my begrudged permission, to grow up and become a man.  You have made the step from being one of “my babies” to being a man of your own.  I decided to relinquish my right to protest, namely because I had no other choice but to accept it.  Protesting would do no good.
And these are my words to you…words of love, advice, thoughts to chew on over and over when you are the inhabitant of a dorm room in a few months…

(1)    You are never alone.  The lonely times in life, the times of indecision, and the times of wishful thinking are ones spent with a Creative God, Who will give you the comfort, the wisdom, and the ability to make wishful thinking turn into dreams-come-true.  Lean so hard on Him that you recognize is the the need for His embrace at all times, and you miss it when you aren’t close enough to Him.  He made you and He knows you…better than any of us ever thought we did.  There is so much more to you than meets the eye, but in His eyesight He sees all of you and loves you so very much.
(2)    You have a brilliant, unique mind.  Use it…over and over…every day…to touch a world that seems to have lost its mind.  Exercise the brilliance so others are blinded by it and come stumbling out of darkness and into light.  Shine forth the brilliance that God placed in you before you were born.  “Can’t nobody shine like you.”  Only you can be you.  Celebrate the uniqueness of your presence on this earth and dare to be the unique individual God designed you to be.
(3)    Do not ever sell yourself short.  When you were a baby, I remember thinking how successful my nephew would be one day – all grown up, walking out the lessons you had learned, shaking off the labels atypical to a Black boy growing up in the home of a single mother.  And I knew that your parenting village would never let you grow up hearing that you could only go so far because of it.  I was part of that village; I am sure that I was not alone in saying that you and your brother would never end up in prison or “slanging dope” or trying to figure out how to parent as a teen father.  And I know we never, ever wanted you to see yourself as anything less than the success you were born to be. 
(4)    Be adventurous; don’t let fear control your life.  Go see the world.  Go meet your life connections.  Go learn that language.  Go shake the hands of presidents, kings, and emperors. Go…go…go…but just make sure you bring us back some souvenirs.   And don’t let fear chase you back to what is comfortable.  Faith puts you in places you’ve never been so you can be the man you never realized you could be.
(5)    Love like you were taught to, like today is all you have.  Love will keep you when everything else is gone, when life takes you on a roller-coaster ride.  Your love is all other people will remember when you have moved on, as well.
(6)    Live with passion.  While making a living is something we all have to do, living with passion is something few people have learned to do.  Whatever you find yourself thinking about most, the activity you enjoy doing more than anything else, it is most likely the source of your greatest passion.  Don’t abandon it or neglect it.  You’ll be sorry when you get older that you ignored the passion and chose to just “grind”.

These are my words of wisdom to you as you enter the halls of college education and beyond.  You will learn so much about yourself, life, and God that you will forever be changed by the education.  But one thing I want you to remember…don’t let anyone change the real you into a false representation of somebody else.  Be the man you were born to be.  Love God.  Love your mama and your little brother.  Love family.  Love true friends.  And everything else will fall into place, as it should.

I am proud of you,
Auntie-Mom  (Auntie Mya)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Opportunity

I have to admit that I have been jealous.

I have been jealous for what the six women at work with swollen bellies filled with babies feel.  I have been jealous because sometimes I don't know if my body can hold a baby, carry a baby for 9 months.  I thought it would have been easier than it is to become a mom and going to work in the face of due dates and birth plans and baby shower invitations has seemed like too much.  I don't want to consider if I deserve to be a mom more than anyone else, because that is what jealousy really equates to: the thought that you deserve what someone else has more than they do.

I do not want to consider the disappointment and avoid any talk of which one of the 6 moms-to-be are going to see her baby boy or girl before I see mine.  They all will.  Mine only exists, I pray, in the heart of God and in my imagination.  I do not want to admit that tears fill my eyes in ways I never thought they would.  This should have been easier.

The problem with thinking you deserve something other than pain is that God never promised a life void of it.  We get so wrapped up in our grandiose ideas about what being human really should be that we forget that we do not shape our own destinies.  We do not necessarily get to define our own journeys, although we have free will to make our own choices.  If we leave life in God's hands, we might have to hurt a little bit, cry a little bit, pray a little more.  And at the end of the day, we realize that the focus should be on helping others - which really does lessen our own pained experiences.  It gets the focus off what we are going through.

I was jealous.

But then, yesterday, I looked into the eyes of two little children whose foster mother no longer wanted to care for them and their parents aren't currently ready to.  They were "tinies", little ones, babies really that had no place else to go but should have.  I played with them and fumed inside.

At first...

I have to admit I was so angry that these beautiful ones had no one to call mommy at bedtime at night but my body couldn't give me beautiful ones to call me mommy at all.  I felt the tears surge below the surface when I considered the ache in my arms and heart as I watched these little ones run and laugh and play with me.  I felt the "mommy ache" in my soul.

And I was jealous of the parents of these children.  The parents that have their own pained journeys...the parents that will not be tucking their children in tonight...the parents that are not able to parent right now for whatever reason.  They could have had these "tinies" at home with them, but instead, I was standing with their foster care worker trying to find a placement for them because yet another foster home could not love them how they deserved to be loved.  I wondered how I could be beneficial in an already flawed system.  What is worse?  For these to be with their parents or to be shuffled around until someone could love them like children should be loved?

The two sides of my jealousy - the desire to be pregnant like the women surrounding me at work and the desire to love children like these - played games with my heart.  And then...as I am wont to do when I feel overwhelmed and sad, I quieted my soul down.  I let go of the feelings of angst and consternation over what I didn't have in that moment.

The truth is I did have something no one else had in that moment.  I had an opportunity to love those babies right in front of me, in a split second of decision-making.  I could love them and laugh with them and chase them around and let them be kids for just a few moments of their lives.  I could be a safe place, a welcome embrace, a smiling face.  I could be what they missed before showing up in my office with their worker.

I could love them like a mommy.  Even if it was just for five minutes.

Four years ago, a little girl that messed my head up with her blue eyes and blond hair called me "Mommy."  I tried to correct her for obvious reasons, and she wisely told me in her 5-year-old rationale: "But you're like a mommy."

And that has stayed with me ever since.

I am like a mommy because I am a mommy to a million children that don't have one.  I can love in milli-seconds "like a mommy" for those little lives that need me.  I won't make the mistake again thinking that because I didn't birth a child that I can't love that child.  That child is a part of me in that moment.  Those eyes and those smiles and those growing minds are part of my life, and I can touch them.  I can love them.

That's what Jesus did.  That's what I can do.  Right here and right now.

God graced me with a moment in time that I could have wasted with my own selfish feelings and desires - as honorable as they may be.  I could have missed the defining moment in a difficult day in the lives of children whom had crossed my path.  I could have complained my way through about having to stay late at work.  I could have missed my opportunity to be "like a mommy" again.

But I decided that living inside grace for the moment is better than being jealous for a lifetime...