Becoming a Blessing, by Paula Rose Michelson

As often happens, we intend to become one type of person, but because of circumstance become another. This has been Naomi’s journey, mine, and maybe yours as well. I say that about us because although we might make plans, life and the needs of others may cause us to feel or force us to make other life choices. Having spoken with many women over the years that gave up their dream, I can attest to the fact that though the end result might look different than the one you intended, whether you are other or self-centered, you will probably remain so unless you learn to evaluate everything through a different lens. In Naomi’s story we see that the girl, who left hearth and home to help her family, has now been appointed to help everyone. One wonders: Can she do this while hiding who she is? Can she reconcile herself to the situation she is in and find joy in doing for others while she continues to deny herself? You might ask yourself these questions as you read today’s blog. God Bless!

The Text

                Naomi was finally able to leave the confines of the casa. Though she rushed from citizenship classes to the market, visited Victor at immigration, and allowed some married niñas to take her shopping for a wardrobe befitting her new station, she savored her freedom. Yet as busy as her days were, the time she valued most was her daily meeting with Madre Vida. There was much for her to learn, and her American madre knew what and how to teach her. Every night she and her mentor would have their meeting in the old woman’s room while they ate their dinner together. Sometimes she was with her for hours. At other times the old woman’s fragile health caused them to end their sessions as soon as dinner was over. The time they spent together had a single focus, to prepare the young woman for the world outside and the work she would carry on. Though Naomi was grateful to be able to study to become a citizen, she knew that what Madre Vida taught her would allow her to fulfill her obligation. Although she wanted to understand all she was told, it never failed that just as she began to grasp what the old woman was saying, Madre Vida would wave her away. “That is enough for tonight. You think about what I have taught and tomorrow you can tell me how you applied the lesson.”
                “Are you never pleased with me, Madre Vida?”
                “My child, I know the doctor told you everything about my condition so you know this will most likely be my last spring.” The old woman wheezed. “I must do everything I can to prepare you.” Naomi gasped. Madre Vida turned, locked eyes with her, and willed her protégé to act, as she must. “When I was given charge of Tía Esperanza’s affairs, little notice was taken of me. I was able to learn as I went through the tasks of each day. But did you not notice the cunning looks that crossed the faces
of our good padre and Mr. Martinez when they learned that you were to become my own daughter? Surely, you could not judge, as I did, that you may be in danger from the men I hoped would assist you. Learn what I teach you so that you and our work will flourish. And you, in due time, will find another to take your place. Remember, do not put your trust in men, but trust in God alone.”
                Naomi nodded, aware that she had noticed these things. However, these concerns paled when she thought of Madre Vida’s life ending. Do something to help Madre Vida, she scolded herself. As she did, she knew there was nothing to do except keep faith with the pledge she had made so she
forced a smile. “Do not worry, Madre Vida, I will do as you have taught me.” Before she finished speaking the words, she remembered herself as an adolescent telling her mamá in Spain the same thing. In the next heartbeat, she thought about the night she fled rather than deal with that life. After all these years, Naomi’s feelings of shame drew her back to Spain as nothing else had. Then just as quickly, her mind brought her back to the present.
                Madre Vida watched the telling play of emotions cross her daughter’s face. “I see that you understand. Let us use our time to prepare you and give you what is necessary for success. In success, there is much pleasure, especially when it means the lives of the little niñas are changed. People you have never met will have better lives because you helped these girls stay here. Is that not something to strive toward?”
                Eyes alight with unshed tears, Naomi nodded and said, “Yes.” As she did, she found herself rejoicing, Me, the girl who was a curse, now a blessing. What magic is this?
                “I see that you understand.” Madre Vida glanced at her bedside clock. Aware that this was her benefactors signal for her to say good night, Naomi stood, kissed the old woman on the forehead, and left the room.
                What would it feel like to be a blessing? Naomi wondered while she walked through the  house. Would it be evident to everyone? Or would it be like the last time mi mamá was with child? Oh, do not draw attention to yourself. If you do, others will discover you are a liar and a thief, she told herself, for though she had agreed to become all her American madre was teaching her to be, she still feared exposure.

Author’s Comment

It seems that no matter what Naomi chooses, she, like us, finds herself at the crossroad of life. Fear lurks on one side, and she might choose to live in fear because she has been schooled in that reality. Each of us deal with choices sometimes daily, or weekly, or yearly. The sum total of our choices colors our world, affects our state of mind, and defines us.

Breaking free of the tyranny of choice or the consequences there of have caused children to disown their parents, adults to move so they can reinvent themselves, and (I believe)  made some therapist wealthy.

When everything is rearranged to our liking, underneath it all, we are still as we started out. For the human condition draws us back to the familiar. Therefore, all I can suggest, the only change agent that I know works, is putting our trust in God, so I end with the three Scriptures below and pray that as you read them they will speak to your need and bestow upon you Messiah’s Shalom, the peace that transcends all understanding.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:13 For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Isaiah 43:1 But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

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