The man who offered his genes to bring me into existence was never a part of my life. I lived many years of my life believing that he never gave me anything. It was difficult for me to think of just one good thing about him. I wasted so many years searching for a vital gift from him, all the while ignoring the fact that I have some pretty amazing siblings! We have different mothers, but his blood runs through our veins. Together, we are his lineage.
Each of my siblings have warmed my heart.
My brother Omar is like a personal body guard. His outward demeanor is that of a super hero, yet inside he is a teddy bear. He’s strong, yet gentle. A lover of his family and a strong defender of what he believes is truth. His lovely children have made an honored aunt and great aunt.
My sister Shakeerah, God rest her soul, spent hours at a time talking with me over the phone. She and I opened up to one another in so many special ways. I’m sure that she is with Christ now, I remember our conversations about Him and the prayers she prayed with me. She left us sweet treasures which make me an extremely proud aunt.
My sister Javonta isn’t really the eldest, but I would never tell her that to her face! She, at a very young age, stood up to the plate to raise our younger sisters. I have deep admiration and respect for her. If a prize existed for the “Best Big Sister” she should win it. Her daughters are precious too and one of them recently made me a great aunt!
Then there is my baby sister Nikki.
I remember her calling me from college to talk about her dreams. Now she is all grownup and it doesn’t really seem like she is that much younger than me. When I’m in Virginia, she surrenders to the seven hour drive from New Jersey to spend time with me. She speaks my love language loud and clear! Its no big deal for her to change into something comfortable and to snuggle up under the covers on my bed to talk and to laugh with me. We actually spent her last trip to Virginia that way. She even endured my PureFlix movies! We enjoyed our time together as we all overfed ourselves on ice cream and junk food. Nikki usually comes to visit with my niece Shardonay whom is sure to create smiles on my face. It brings me so much joy to watch Starr, Soli and Shardonay enjoy life together.
At some point in the day, we all sat around the kitchen table telling funny stories. I was sure to chime in a scripture each time I felt one was needed. Nikki turned to me and gave me one of those looks that clearly spoke Vicki.Please.Shut.Up, then she proceeded to say, “Vicki, you are like a breath of fresh air. At the same time, you are suffocating!”I became silent for a moment. I had to process. In a split second I realized she was right. I looked at her and bursted out in laughter. We all laughed. My response was real as I agreed with Nikki. I can be suffocating at times. Prior to my sister’s proclamation, I believed my way of suffocating was love.
Yet, the New Oxford American Dictionary defines Suffocate as follows: to die or cause to die from lack of air or inability to breathe or to feel or cause to feel trapped and oppressed. Hmmmm….that doesn’t sound like love.
Love gives life.
Love allows its object to breathe.
I’ve realized that love releases and that love sets free.
Love doesn’t hold so tight that it’s victim feels trapped. Love opens the door and freely allows it’s Love to leave and believes that it’s power is strong enough to bring that one back.
God loves me like that.
He lets me choose.
He keeps loving me, even when I don’t make the right choice. His confidence in the Author of that Love allows Him to let go. He doesn’t smother.
The more I ponder His love, the more I realize I have not loved correctly.
I have not released enough.
I have not let go enough.
You see, Love frees people to be who they choose to be. Love does not require a change in behavior in order to operate.
Love persists to love.
Love is powerful when done correctly.
In taking yet another look at the love chapter in I Corinthians 13, I’m stuck at verse one. “If I could speak all the languages of the earth and angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” Why would we even need to speak all of the languages of the earth if we aren’t willing to love those who speak those languages?
Like the good homeschool mom I am, I made most of my eight children memorize 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and recite it often. I put in their heads, but didn’t always do a great job at modeling it for their hearts. I’m not beating myself up here, I’m simply exposing a truth about myself that needed God’s intervention.
Though most people think I’m patient and kind, I’m sure the cashier at McDonalds thinks otherwise when they give me cold fries. Jealousy has also played out in my heart as I watched others dreams come true while I suffered and struggled over my own. I didn’t always rejoice in other’s achievements. I’ve most definitely boasted, especially when one of my kids got something right. Demanding my own way has really gotten me into trouble. Yikes! I’m only at verse five! Yup, I get irritable, especially when the males in my midst leave the toilet seat up or when my hubby lies on top of the covers for bed every. single. night. Just thinking about it makes my insides burn up! Is it really that hard to pull the covers down before getting into bed? I sure have kept some accounts of wrongs done to me, I had my ways of pay back. There has been a time or two when I was happy to see someone who hurt me fall. I’ve given up on a few things, I’ve lost faith and hope more than a couple of times and I haven’t always endured every circumstance.
I’ve learned to keep loving while I wait.
To be kind while I wait.
To not give in to jealousy while I wait.
To not boast with the intent to make others feel insignificant.
To rejoice with the accomplishments of all.
To not give ultimatums or to make demands.
To not smother my family and friends with my opinion and with my way of living.
To give those I love the chance to live how they choose.
I’ve chosen to not suffocate with my “perfect” way, instead I set everyone free to be who they are. I choose to love them that way.
I’ve even chosen to love the man whose blood runs through my veins. His body is in the ground, but I can still love him. My heart releases the “record of wrongs” I held against him. That powerful love causes me to recognize him as my father. I never had the chance to “do life” with him, yet a portion of his life resides within me. I love him. I’m grateful to him for giving me life and for allowing me the honor of sharing this earth with my siblings.
So love today. Love right now. Release. Let go. Get off of them. Let them be. Choose to love them as they are. God holds us tight, yet He lets us go. Better yet, He holds us tight in order to let us go. He is so confident in the power of His love, for He is love. That same Love will draw us back to Him. That same Love keeps us in Him.