High Maintenance

Sharpay 1I don’t get how some girls just don’t get worked up about stuff. And I am totally jealous of them. Like, hello! You should be freaking out about this right now. You should be having a melt down. How are you not totally and completely stressed out of your mind?!?!

Last night, I volunteered to teach bible stories to a group of kids at an after school program in a low-income neighborhood. Partway through the night, I was talking with my friend Diana – a gorgeous, newly engaged twenty-something – as she reached into her purse and–

“Ugh!” Her white-and-gold Michael Kors iPhone case was covered in gooey, melted chocolate. She started digging through her purse and gingerly pulled out the culprit: a half-unwrapped Hershey’s bar. Diana started laughing as she shook her head and said, “One of the kids must have stuck that in there!”

She went right on with our conversation as if nothing had happened. She was laughing and smiling, completely unfazed by the fact that the entire inside of her purse was full of smeared brown goo that looked like poo. A gooey, pooey mess, and she’s still smiling.

I was floored. And insanely jealous of her attitude. She’s kind of a high maintenance girl from a materialistic perspective – Prada bags, Kendra Scott jewelry, business clothes from The Limited and Banana Republic. But what I realized last night is that, although she may be materialistic, she is low maintenance from an emotional perspective. In that regard, I’m the one who is high maintenance! Me. High Maintenance. What?

I’ve never seen myself that way before. I’m rocking a $15 purse from Target, and my fashionista self has been sporting the same pair of plain black heels to work for two years. What can I say? I’m practical and down-to-earth when it comes to material goods. If only I could say the same about my emotional state!

Sharpay 2I’m a Christian. Diana’s a Christian. I know that I should not be anxious for anything (Phil. 4:6), that I should cast my cares on God (Ps. 55:22), and that prayer will result in my heart and mind being guarded by the peace of God (Phil. 4:7). But I get worked up about stuff. Easily. I am easily frustrated, quick to anger and live in a perpetual state of stress. Diana, on the other hand, in all her fashionista-ness, has a lightness of heart that stems from her faith in the truths of God’s goodness and sovereignty.

I’m like totally J of Diana’s fabulous outlook on life and, like, I just can’t. I seriously need her mad skills. She’s on fleek. Hashtag killin’ it. Low maintenance girl right here. Am I right, ladies?

Authentically Aurora

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Simple Joys

Young Old HandsI was sad yesterday. So I called my grandmother.

She lives within ten minutes of my apartment, just on the other side of the freeway. I don’t make the effort to see her often enough.

I said that I just called to check in and say hi, but she wasn’t fooled. After a few minutes of small talk, she asked in her gentle voice, “What can I do for you, sweetheart?”

I started crying. “…will you pray for me?”

“Would you like to come over?” she asked me in her knowing way.

“Yes, please.” I was five years old again, and I just wanted someone to hug me and tell me they love me.

I was at her house in just a few minutes, wearing sweatpants and no makeup. I kicked off my flip flops and settled onto her old, familiar couch. As she poured me some water in the kitchen, I heard her say with delight, “Oh, the cardinal is back!” I walked over to the window, where she eagerly showed me her bird feeder, full of color from the reds and blues of visiting cardinals and blue jays.

“Oh, and look at those squirrels!” Two squirrels chased each other around a tree. Grandma was genuinely delighted, childlike in her enthusiasm.

There is a sweetness to her – a gentleness and simplicity that comes with age. She truly finds joy in the little delights of every day. It was healing for me to see her – a graceful woman in her 80s who has weathered life well. Her life was not without seasons of pain and difficulty, but she speaks with fondness over the years of her life; even the trying times.

She reminds me that I can do this. She is a testament to the fact that there are survivors of the life’s heartaches and that it is possible to suffer well; to come out stronger, kinder, gentler and more loving. I don’t want to be selfish, heart-hearted and bitter. I want to be humble and selfless, looking to the needs of others and not drowning in my own self-interestedness.

Grandma is a portrait of how to walk this out. She has fought the good fight; she has finished the race; she has kept the faith. She is leaving a legacy of love and faithfulness and, Lord willing, someday I hope to be able to inspire a granddaughter of my own in the way she inspires me.

Authentically Aurora

Conflicted – Part II: JOY

Today I saw a couple walking into work side by side. Their faces were lit up with delight as they laughed together. Bryan rarely laughs, and I certainly don’t feel that he delights in me. As far as I can tell, I am a companion to him; nothing more and nothing less.

Relationships are supposed to bring joy. They require work, yes, and there will be seasons of more sowing than reaping, but healthy relationships result in joy, and Bryan doesn’t bring me much joy. Mostly he causes me stress, anxiety and increased insecurity. Words have power for me, and Bryan is a challenger, not an encourager. He also doesn’t seem to be teachable. I have communicated to him multiple times that I need words of affirmation to feel cared for –  words are one of the top ways I receive affection – but I haven’t seen much of a change.

Nick the Strict – who I’m not even interested in – makes me smile on an almost daily basis with his persistent texts, like today’s: “Good morning, young lady. Be blessed today!” Nick tells me all the time that I am a smart, beautiful, talented, godly woman. I rarely receive that kind of affirmation from Bryan.

Even Kevin – a guy I haven’t been on a date with yet – has sent me 49 texts in the past week, including comments like, “Wish you were here!” and “I am intrigued by you.”

Bryan constantly misses opportunities to build me up. Two days ago, he looked me up and down and commented that I looked really tan. “You look Mediterranean,” he said. I asked him if my tan looked nice. Instead of responding with, “Yes, you look lovely,” and taking me in his arms and nuzzling my neck, he shrugged – shrugged! – and said, “You tell me if it looks nice.” And he wonders why I roll my eyes at him all the time. This man exasperates me.

Is this normal man behavior? Was I spoiled by my ex-fiance, who doted on me all the time? Is Bryan just not an affectionate person? Or is he simply not speaking my love language?

I know his lack of affection is not specific to me, because his best friend has told me that he’s never seen Bryan head-over-heels in love or really invested in anyone. I wonder if part of the issue is his fear of emotional intimacy, which leads to Part III…

Authentically Aurora