Saturday, December 26, 2015

Falling in Love

     I have been listening to my two beautiful cousins give detailed narratives about how they met their men. They are both gorgeous women, both inside and out; I admire them greatly. As I was intently listening to them, I noticed that they both said similar things. They both had given up trying to find a man and then got brought them wonderful, Godly men out of nowhere. It hit me today. They did not find a man because they were beautiful. They found a man because they were God’s daughters and He saw that it fit into His timing.

     Sadly, I had unconsciously come to the conclusion that I was not going to get someone out of chance. There was no way that I would be noticed out of the crowd of girls who are all fighting for the same thing. The majority of girls better fit the common description of what a girlfriend should be. I would be left as a consolation prize. God could find a man for me if He wanted, but if left up to chance, there would be no way. Gosh. I wouldn’t even choose me! If someone was going to notice me, then I had to take matters into my own hands.

     It had gotten to the point where I was secretly trying too hard. Others may not have noticed it because I am a generally nice person to everyone, but I know myself too well. I’m annoying. I catch myself striving to get attention. I’m good at it too. I know the right phrases to say, when to say them, how to say them in a way that it not immediately noticeable. It’s terrible! Being a generally nice person comes with the perks of manipulating people kindly without them knowing it.

     This is not how I want my love story to be. 

     When I am telling my children and grandchildren about how I met my love, I don’t want it to be a story of how I caught him. I don’t want it to be a narrative about how I said the right phrases, got him to ask me out, and manipulated him to notice me out of the crowd. That is not the story that I want to tell. That is not the legacy I want to have.

     I want to fall in love. Have you ever actually thought about that phrase? Falling is never a naturally pleasant action. It goes against how we were wired. We were created to catch ourselves when we feel that we are falling. It is commonly embarrassing and awkward. Some people fall for the thrill of it, but I don’t think anyone has actually ever been completely confident about falling. It is unexpected.

     I don’t want to plan my romance. That is not the role that I think women were made to play. We try to plan out every detail of our lives, from the school where we will go to the color of the flowers at our wedding. Love is something you shouldn’t plan. It needs to be God-inspired.

     Recently, I have learned that I cannot guard my own heart. I am a terrible guard. I get hopelessly distracted and by the time that I realize that I am I have already lost a bit of what I was supposed to protect. Thankfully, the Lord has saved me from losing much. However, it is exhausting, all that running back and forth. Every time that I come back I am even more discouraged that I went away. 

I cannot trust only myself to guard something so precious as my heart.

     So Lord, Daddy, My King, you have got to get a better detail on this treasure. It has got to be more than just me, because I am not doing so well. Cover my eyes when I get distracted, even by good things. Stop my wayward thoughts if it is not the time or the place. Guard me so that I may guard my heart better. Help me to see those around me as just people, not as all future soulmates. Make me totally oblivious to the romance world so that when it is finally time, I can actually fall in love.

Your Princess,

Saturday, December 5, 2015

By the Bedside

She felt absolutely useless. 

     Her grandpa was suffering in the hospital. Her family was already in a state of anticipatory mourning. Her siblings were crying. And there was nothing she could do about it.

     She was stuck at college. Although she loved being on her own in a new place, she wanted to be with them to try and help in some small way. She wanted to do something! Her big sister instincts would rise in her suddenly and the only thing she wanted to do was grab her younger brother and sisters and hold them tight. She wanted the be the strong one, the sister who they could depend on.
But she was too far away.

     Those feelings of absolute uselessness tore at her off and on for the weeks her grandpa laid in a hospital bed struggling to get better. She didn't stop praying and hoping. Her optimism often came in handy as she hopefully recited the kind words that she knew were what she was supposed to say. However, she would tense up involuntarily at every phone call or text she received from her parents. When her tender emotions would rise up within her, she would cut them off with factual knowledge of death, grieving, and medical terminology. It was how she coped with the tense wait for the news.

Unfortunately, you can't predict emotions. 

     Eight text messages and one missed phone call alerts flashed on her phone screen when she turned it on after choir practice. Instinctively, she knew it was bad news. On the phone, her dad told her that her grandpa was in bad condition. The family was going to leave that night to make the twelve hour trip from Indiana to Georgia. Without a second thought, she decided that she was going to Georgia as well, no matter how high the stack of homework was or how many finals there were or how many rehearsals she would have to skip before the concert. Family was more important.

     She tried to mentally prepare herself. Between the catching up and the cheerful laughter with her family, she tried to mentally picture how her grandpa was going to look. He wouldn't be strong. He wouldn't be healthy. He wouldn't be cheerful. He wouldn't be the grandpa she had seen all of her life. When her dad asked if she wanted to go in the hospital room to see him, she felt conflicted. She wanted to be there for him, but she did not want his sickly state to be the last memory she had of him. However, she knew that she was supposed to go and see him.

     The hospital was so quiet. The whole family talked and joked around to somehow dissolve the unnerving silence. Once they got to his room everyone was solemn. Although, there was always the chance of a miraculous, God-given recovery, she just knew deep down inside that it was the last time she would ever interact with grandpa.

     They all crowded around his bed in the little white room. Her little brother wandered around, inspecting all the strange tubes, blinking lights, and boxes of blue gloves. All the siblings unconsciously lined up in chronological order from oldest to youngest. Grandpa's bloodshot eyes wearily scanned each young face and said their names. That's when the tears started flowing. Not one eye was dry or one throat relaxed.

     After a few loving words were said, he mumbled something very softly that she could barely hear.

"Can you sing for me?"

     At a time like this?! She could barely speak words much less sing! Her throat was clenched so tightly that it hurt to swallow. How could she produce a harmonious melody? Nevertheless, she couldn't say no.

     Her mother and her two sisters crowded around her and they began to sing Amazing Grace. The four of the them had sung together so many times before. They had enthralled many church audiences before with how well they all sang together. Yet this time their music gave joy to only one.

     They sang for almost half an hour, recalling every hymn they could remember. Each time he would close his eyes peacefully during the song, just listening as the songs gradually grew from a shaky single melody to a confident three-part harmony. At the end of each song, though, he would open his eyes like he wondered why they stopped. At last, through his labored breathing they could hear him snoring as he fell asleep listening to the music of his girls.

     My grandpa died the next morning in the presence of his wife and two sons. My family is all together in Georgia comforting one another. No one is going through this alone.

     I thank the Lord for letting me enjoy my grandpa for eighteen years. My grandpa tried to make life full of fun and learning experiences. He would always take us to a movie and buy a giant box of popcorn that we always said we never needed. He taught us how to shoot guns, patiently setting up the Coca-Cola cans and metal spoons the back of his yard again after we hit them. He took us to the Dollar Store every Christmas so that we could learn how to buy presents for everyone else before we thought of ourselves. He was a genius. I always thought it was so cool that I had a grandpa who was a scientist, and he would tell us stories of lab rats and experiments. He was amazing at computers. He would try to explain to me what he was doing and I would always nod like I understood when really I was lost once he got past the common terms. He was funny, and always told us the same nostalgic stories over and over, but we didn't complain because we just liked listening to him.

     Thank you, Lord, for making Royce Runner my grandpa!