Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Shoulder-Dusting, Pizza-Cutting Love

Last Sunday night, I sat in a booth at Newks, tired, stressed, confused, and not looking forward to the chaotic week ahead. I figured I would eat my sandwich, have a good conversation with my friends, and then be submersed back into the chaos when I got back to my dorm. Yet, God finds you in the most ironic of places, even from across a cafe. I was minding my own business most likely rambling about how I was going to consume by body weight in candy the next day (Valentine's Day) when an older lady caught the corner of my eye. She feebly stood up, got out of her side of the booth, and stood over a person's plate and began to cut their pizza. I was drawn to the woman instantly as she seemed so weak yet continued to serve this person whom I assumed was a small child. When she was finished, she sat back down, and then I saw that this was not a small child but an old man- her husband. My heart instantly melted (if you know anything about me, you know I have an infatuation with old people especially old couples), and I smiled to myself as I returned to my sandwich and friend's conversation. Yet, a few minutes later, one of my friends randomly stood to get up, so naturally I looked up to see what she was looking at. It was the old woman again. She was pulling the man up to his feet, and she began to zip his jacket and brush off his shoulders. By this time, my heart was completely a pile of goo in my chest as I tried not to tear up which I succeeded in then but completely SOBBED later when I retold the story to a friend. God had sent me a beautiful reminder of a true and powerful love and at a perfect timing.

For in the end, that's what we all want in life- a true love. A love that serves. A love that "cuts your pizza" when you can't find the strength. A love that pulls you to your feet and helps you stand. A love that dusts your shoulders off. A love that conquers time. A love of a best friend who zips up your jacket and protects you from the icy winds of the world. As I watched this precious couple interact, I couldn't help but hope that one day I had a best friend that I could cut pizza for when I was sixty-seven years old or a best friend who would help me get out of a booth because God and I both know that I am most likely going to be as clumsy then as I am now. Although I am most certainly not in that part of my life, I couldn't help but smile as I realized I had my own unique Valentine and "shoulder-duster" in my current life.

When God prepared to send me into the world, I fully believe that He knew that I was going to be one of the clumsiest, most common-sense deprived, most stubborn, and most outspoken of His children, so He had to make sure that I had the closest thing to a saint for a mother. He did just that. I was blessed with the most amazing mother in the world (I am sorry to all of the mothers reading this- I am sure you are wonderful as well but you obviously haven't met my mother), and if you have had the honor of meeting my mom at some point in your life, you know that she is unlike any other person you have ever met and that your life is better with her in it. Therefore, this post is dedicated to the woman (whom I swear is an angel in disguise) that has been the pizza-cutting, shoulder-dusting love in my life for almost twenty years now.

First of all, my mother has been the pizza-cutting love in my life more than any other person I have ever encountered. Frieda McKenzie means selfless and service in the truest form. Even in times of weakness (which are rare), my mother is still "cutting pizza" for someone else. She always has a smile on her face and an outstretched, open hand. On another aspect, my mother has an indescribable gift to take a huge pizza and cut it down into smaller pieces. She takes the huge obstacles in your life and breaks them down until you can conquer them. When my mom gets the phone calls from the drama queen on the brink of anxiety attacks and mental melt-downs over a test or meager assignment, she brings me back down to reality and shows me my huge pizza-problem is just a small piece that I can handle. When she gets calls from the arsonist who just wants to blowtorch someone's car, she reminds me that there's a whole pizza beyond the bad, little piece I am dealing with right now. When she gets calls from the dreamer who has her 343434588th crazy idea, she laughs at each one yet reminds me that it's your pizza to design and to chase after the toppings I want.

Besides her servant-heart, the other arena that my mother completely dominates is forgiveness. If there's one phrase that will always resonate with my mother, it is "Kill them with Kindness" to which one of my friends once replied, "I'm trying Mrs. Frieda but they don't ever die." My mother has an incomparable capacity for forgiveness, and when I find myself in a mistake, she is always there to "dust off my shoulders." When I have trouble forgiving others, she is there to show me (and a lot of the time prod me) how to extend grace and dust their shoulders off as well. For you see, my mother doesn't see the dust on the shoulders, she sees the heart. She sees the joy. She sees the rainbow in every storm. She sees the diamond in the rough. She wipes away the dust and helps you shine. She dusts off your shoulders and sends you out into the world as a better person.

I accepted a long time ago that I will never be like my mother. This is the mom who found a way for me to not only meet my childhood idol multiple times but to ride in a car with him. This is the mom who still holds my hand even as an almost twenty-year-old everytime I encounter a needle. This is the mother who drove 180 miles in right under two hours just to watch me while I slept after my concussions. This is the mother who still let me get my drivers license after I turned into incoming traffic at the busiest intersection in Brandon:). I could strive my whole life to be half the woman, the servant, the giver, the heart, the friend, the encourager, the provider, and most importantly the example of Christ that she is, and I would never even get close. Yet, I can smile knowing that I received a blessing that I never ever deserved. I can smile knowing that I am the child of the most amazing woman. I can smile knowing that my life has been molded and guided by such a wonderful and beautiful individual. I can smile knowing that I have impossibly large footprints to fill but that I will chase after full-heartedly for the rest of my life. I can smile knowing that I am related to a woman who "kills with kindness" and has impacted hundreds of lives and continues to do so on a daily basis.

I can smile because I have the unconditional love of someone in my life who cuts every pizza and dusts off every shoulder.