My Grandma Lorene was a very dark-skinned woman. Sun-kissed deep in her genealogy, her melanin was POPPIN! And she was a dark woman, a bitter woman. My Grandfather was a mixed man. He took a dare to sleep with my Grandma who got pregnant with my mother. He then left them both, joined the army and didn’t claim either one of them. I believe the very color of my mother’s skin was a constant reminder of the pain from the man who betrayed her, hurt her and left her. My Mother, her daughter, was the one who had to teach her to choose that the proverbial glass can be half full versus half empty. She took the bitterness out on her whole life, right up until she passed from cancer. Even I felt her disdain. My brother was her favorite. She’d call him her Godiva Chocolate boy; for my brother has truly been kissed by the same sun. Skin so dark and smooth, you see him and want to kiss him.  The sun didn’t kiss me like that, but I was beloved by her mother, Great Grandma Lola – Mama Lola and I have no idea why. Lola was a strong woman. Her very cheekbones spoke of the life that she endured. Died at 102, or at least according to the birthday that we gave her. When she was 13 her mother gave her to a man to marry. When she found out what married people do, she came running back to her mother who sent her back to that same man. Lola walked 5 miles to pick cotton for $.50 per day.  She talked about feeding her child, “chugged her full,” she’d say, because she had to leave her to go to work. She said she could hear that baby crying a few miles away when she was, I’m sure, speed-walking home. One day, when she returned she couldn’t hear that faithful cry. Someone had taken her baby. Nevertheless, Lola outlived everybody – her siblings, 3 husbands and all 5 of her children. Yet, she was the sweetest most compassionate woman you would ever meet. Don’t get me wrong, she could put down a piece’a cussin. That was my favorite! She’d tell it like was. She’d say “Now Tif, don’t tell yo momma, she’s a pastor’s wife.” LOL! It was our thing. If you went to my Grandma’s house, she was gonna make sure that you ate. In fact, there was always “somenaeat” (something to eat) to share on the stove. I remember my Grandpa, he wasn’t the easiest man to be married to. But she honored him til the day he died. Lola flat out refused to put her husband in a home during his last days. And my Grandpa was a BIG OLE MEAN MAN. The day he died, before she called the EMS to come to get him, she washed his body and clothed him. She would not have him shamed even in death.

Now, the butNaked point. What’s the difference between Lorene and Lola? Lola should have been the most bitter bitch on wheels, but she wasn’t. She just wasn’t. I have often wondered what made the difference. What makes people who have endured so much pain choose to be compassionate?

Matthew 14:14. “And moved with compassion, he healed the sick. This doesn’t mean much because we expect Jesus to have compassion. Except we need to understand that He had just heard that his cousin was just beheaded. Some lil-lil girl did a lap dance that bewitched the ruler so good that when she asked for His cousin’s head on a platter, he had no choice but to honor his word or the people would’ve called him a punk. Off with his head! The ruler kept his word. But this was no ordinary man. Not only was he the complete fulfillment of the great prophesy, John was the only man to date who truly knew Jesus’ identity. Now, Jesus endured the temptation to feel truly alone in the world and while He needed to be alone to grieve, news travels fast when Jesus is in town. Moved with compassion while in a desperate need of a quiet moment; Jesus conformed by his love for others, was moved to press through his sadness and give of His power, His energy and His time.

Comparatively, I’d like to be like Jesus…I almost feel like a broken record rehearsing the pain that I have endured. The thorn in my side is neglect. Every March for 20 years I had to celebrate my birthday on a day other than on my actual birthday because my parents were away. Both my brothers left to travel the world and my cousins and best friends left to be loyal to their own families. Not even marriage could protect me from being jilted. I’m 43, single and I have no children. While some of these instances have been good and have ended up good, I am very acquainted with the griefs of being lonely. I am tempted to hold my compassion to myself, for myself, by myself; because if I don’t who will be mine and whose will I be? Either I can choose to be like Lorene or I can choose to be like Lola.

However, if I am going to be like Christ, I have a responsibility to be conformed by Christ’s love for others and be moved to press through my sadness and give of His power, His energy and my time. I choose, no matter what to be like Him…

I’m Tifiny and iambutNaked…

Tifiny Johnson