A Letter to My Younger, Pre-New Orleans Love Story Self

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G_Osheta

Dear Younger Self,

As you’re reading this, you’re probably in between two books: I Kissed Dating Goodbye and something on intercessory prayer. We were quite pious back in the day, Love. Your goals are quite simple: finish college, marry a godly man, make lots of babies, and maybe lead a youth ministry someplace in there. (Probably in those lovely honeymoon years between “I do” and “It’s a boy” because, why wouldn’t our first be a boy?!?)

I know you’re worried about how to achieve those goals so you have “Delight yourself in the Lord” written in pretty script and taped to your dorm room wall. And that’s your plan: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you all the desires of your heart.” You delight. He gives. Cut and dry, isn’t it?

Well … I really hate to do this, but since postage to the past is expensive and my sole purpose for sending this note is to give you a heads up, I’m going to have to burst your sweet little Amy Grant ambient bubble.

Baby girl, things are not so cut and dry.

Your love story starts out ideal—you meet an incredibly sweet man on a mission trip, but it’s not all Nora-Ephron-perfect from there on out. There’s opposition from friends, long distance, miscommunication and heartbreak. Don’t let that scare you away though, because there are also romantic gestures, wise words from mentors, road-trips where you fall a little bit more for our man, and the most Kingdom wedding you could have ever dreamed.

There’s hard parenting in the Big Easy and finally, you and your Future Hubby will have to flee the city you’ve grown to love with a toddler, your cat (Yes, I know, right now we HATE CATS because they are the pet of Satan, true. But one charmed us into joining the family and we’ve been a crazy cat lady ever since  #sorrynotsorry), your two closest friends, their rat, and a second baby in your womb. Crazy times for the Moore family. Wait … I’ve said too much. Your last name will be Moore. (Cute, right?)

What I wish I knew when I was your age is that our life, and in this case, our love story, is not as formulaic as we’d like. It’s fluid and flexible, people moving in, ideas moving out, dreams bubbling over, and circumstances bringing them down to a gentle simmer.

You remember Mama’s bean soup? How there were a billion different ways she made it: with ham hocks, without. With onions, without. With pinto beans, red beans, really any bean she had on hand. Do you remember how that frustrated you? You just wanted to know exactly how to make the soup, but she stayed vague, just dancing on the perimeter of a recipe, never fully committing. You blamed her free spirit, her boldness, her otherness from your burgeoning Type A personality. Really, honey, I think she understood something about the soup that bled into her everyday life.

You make the best with what you have in front of you.

Oh, honey, there will be so many moments like that coming up for you. I wish I could tell you more right now, but I’m not sure you can handle it. You need to make peace with  disorder—dash of this, a handful of that.

So let’s start with Mama’s bean soup: you’ll never replicate hers exactly in 25 years of cooking, but when we moved to New Orleans, our love mentioned he’d like red beans and rice for dinner one night and you figured you could make that. Didn’t you watch mama make bean soup and rice almost every week as a child? So we rushed to the Piggly Wiggly, grabbed a bag of red beans and followed the recipe on the back.

It was disgusting.

Future Boyfriend smiled and swallowed, and chased his forkful with a large glass of sweet tea. You blamed Mama. Why couldn’t she have just taught us the perfect way to make beans! But here’s the thing, there’s no perfect way.

You’ll soon find out that Boyfriend likes andouille sausage, not ham hocks. He prefers a lot of Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning. Lawry’s salt will do, but he’ll comment no less than four times with, “You know what would set this off? Some Tony’s!” You’ll grit your teeth and ignore him because you prefer Lawry’s.

Your second son will be obsessed with this dish and he’ll prefer white rice over brown even though you keep trying to “health-up” this New Orleans staple. You’ll make red beans and rice once a week because it’s the ideal dish for a stay-at-home mama. Sometimes, you’ll follow tradition and make it on Monday, or “Wash Day,” but you’ll deviate from the expected (I know, shocker of all shockers) and make it on Friday so you’ll have a pot ready for the weekend.

Today, I want to encourage you to loosen your grip on the “perfect” way, or even the “right” way and explore your way. Take risks, like going on a mission trip to New Orleans and devoting your life to urban missions. Add spice, like a new theological frame work or a friendship with a real bona fide hippie and let it all simmer together to make your own version of bean soup with rice.

To this day, I’m not sure our Red Beans is authentic enough, but that doesn’t matter anymore. The people we love love it and that’s all that matters.

Love,
Your Future Self From California,
Osheta 8/2015

++++++++++

Dear Future Self in California,
Thanks for your advice. I have a lot of questions. Like, how did we get from Texas to California? What’s our husband’s first name? And seriously? Cats?

But one question’s bugging the heck out of me? What’s #sorrynotsorry? Was Tim Lahaye right and the Antichrist has taken over and the economy is so bad we can’t afford spaces between letters so now we’re reduced to a form of communication of mashed together letters and signs?

Please advise because this intercessory prayer book I’m reading has a whole chapter on spiritual warfare and I will pray away the bad grammar. Oh yes, I will!

Sincerely,
Osheta 8/2000

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Osheta Moore
Osheta Moore is an Anabaptist-y, stay-at-home mom right in the thick of moving her family from Boston to Los Angeles . She's passionate about racial reconciliation, peacemaking, and community development in the urban core. At the top of her bucket list is dance in a flash mob—all the better if it's to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" or Pharrell's "Happy." Catch up with Osheta on her blog, Shalom in the City.
Osheta Moore
Osheta Moore

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Osheta Moore
  • You.Are.Gorgeous.Osheta. I wish we lived closer.

    I too have found that things aren’t so cut and dry! Who knew?! Your writing is so strong and transparent and your heart shines through like a megawatt search lamp… love it! Thanks.

    • Oh the stories we could share over coffee if you lived closer Bev! I’m so grateful for your encouragement and I’m glad my heart came through.

  • This whole thing is just too funny and too scary all at once! Still longing for the cut and dry, but learning to live with those recipes that don’t give all the details. Thanks for this amazing piece of writing.

    • You’re welcome, Michele! I’ll be praying for you!

  • Nicole Walters

    Beautiful! Oh, I so relate. As a young believer I lived in such worlds of black and white and wish I could talk to her and tell her there is so much in between. Also, I lived in Southern Mississippi and went to school in New Orleans (left shortly before Katrina) and it was a time that changed my life and my cut and dry views.

    • Nicole! Where did you go to school. My husband was supposed to start Tulane the Monday the storm it. Crazy times, crazy times… I really love black and white so much, it makes it so easy to create boxes and put people/ideas/callings in “right” and “wrong”. I’m so glad God has grace on me as I grew out of this.

      • Nicole Walters

        I went to New Orleans Baptist in 2003-04. I fell in love with the place, the culture, the people.

  • First: FUN! Love this. Second: thanks for putting voice to what I’m living on a near-daily basis. Oh, the striving for perfection/right/order/control. My grip has loosened and I’m beginning to enjoy it. (Says Kirsten 8/2015.)

    • Kristen, 8/2015 sounds so balanced and healthy! I’m praying you continue be open handed with the need to be “perfect”.

  • Sonya

    giggling at the end. I just find this the sweetest truest thing. Thank you.

    • You’re welcome, Sonya! I love that you were giggling at my post. I have to admit, I was giggling a bit when I wrote it.

  • Kristy

    This was a pleasure to read. Your voice mixed with the truth of this message was wonderful.

  • Your voice. It shines through, Osheta!

  • Anne-Marie

    The humor – so so good! But underneath that, I appreciate the analogy Osheta. At big change points, like we are at with youngest finishing high school, it’s impossible not to look back a long way and wish some things were different. This is a good helping of spice in the process of figuring out what to set aside, what to change, what to move forward for in vision. Best to you!

  • – “We were quite pious back in the day, Love.” // Haha. This made me chuckle.

    – ” I’m going to have to burst your sweet little Amy Grant ambient bubble.” – Oh my goodness. DYING.

    – “Right now we HATE CATS because they are the pet of Satan, true.” // Still dying

    – “You remember Mama’s bean soup? How there were a billion different ways she made it: with ham hocks, without. With onions, without. With pinto beans, red beans, really any bean she had on hand. Do you remember how that frustrated you? You just wanted to know exactly how to make the soup, but she stayed vague, just dancing on the perimeter of a recipe, never fully committing. You blamed her free spirit, her boldness, her otherness from your burgeoning Type A personality. Really, honey, I think she understood something about the soup that bled into her everyday life.” // Love this whole reflection and writing.

    – “You need to make peace with disorder” // Lord, I’m learning this!

    – “You know what would set this off? Some Tony’s!” // This level of observation is GOLD, Osheta. Gold!!!

    – “…you keep trying to “health-up” this New Orleans staple.” // I’m going to start using the term “health-up.” It’s perfect! 🙂

    – “this intercessory prayer book I’m reading has a whole chapter on spiritual warfare and I will pray away the bad grammar. Oh yes, I will!” // DYING again.

    Oh. My. Goodness. This post shook the sleepies right out of my head and eyes. I am smiling from ear-to-ear.

    Pray tell. When can we meet? And when we meet can we eat “Red Bean” soup?

    F’reals tho,
    T

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