Letters to Everett: Mastering the Art of the Emotional Pivot

My mother used to say she just about lost her religion trying to get us ready for church. While it wasn’t quite to that point yesterday, there was a whole lot more to all that happened before people saw those smiling faces I posted to Facebook last night.

Hence this letter, titled as succinctly as I could make it while accurately describing an Achilles heel that has plagued me most of my life (note that I said “an” and not “the one and only.”)

All God’s children are deeply flawed many times over, my child. Remember that always, and give grace upon grace please, both for yourself and for others.

It’s only been in recent years that I’ve learned to master the art of the emotional pivot.

You see, I’m a routine person. A let’s follow the schedule person. A better when there aren’t stress triggering surprises sort of person. But bruh (to speak in the vernacular that you and the rest of our small group used around me during last week’s hotter than Hell field trip to Six Flags), that isn’t at all how the typical everyday world works.

Idyllic moments happen, for sure, but they are typically fleeting, and more often than not flanked by long stretches of all-out tail chasing chaos, because while it sounds easy to plan and execute on a super organized, orderly daily series of tasks, that’s not sustainable. People tend to get tired, or they forget, or things come up that push good intentions into “Oops I didn’t get to so and so today like I wanted to do.”

And that, my love, is how we ended up with dad searching for your blue button down and khakis, which were neither dirty nor hung neatly in the closet, but instead ready to be fished out of your dresser drawers because confirmands are 12 years old and what boy do you know who keeps his closet well organized?

Which then necessitated a rush session of steaming out wrinkles, except the steamer was in your sister’s bathroom which meant dad got to huff it back up the stairs once more because we weren’t in a hurry enough.

Which meant when you went to put on your dress clothes for the confirmation service, they were slightly damp from being steamed and did not feel awesome to wear, all the while in rush, rush, rush overdrive.

Thank God for Jesus.

Not an hour before, I’d let loose with a string of expletives just outside the Dollar Tree parking lot, because Texas wind picks up at the absolute worst times, and I had just learned the hard way that when buying a dozen little helium-filled balloons for my confirmand small group goodie bags, the handle part should be facing out from the bag, lest you want to chase them all the way from your open SUV trunk down to the flippin’ Cinemark, while your wallet and purse and shopping cart are in the middle of the lot, just waiting to be plucked by God only knows who.

And then I broke another one of my rules yesterday. I was so dang rattled from the balloon-wallet-purse fiasco that I, to my shame, did not return the shopping cart back to the store. Instead, I hoisted the front two wheels onto a concrete planter area, figuring that was sufficient not to let the wind carry it away. It did not lift up easily (more swearing).

Only after I’d gotten into my car in a total huff did I see that the car across from me had a mother and a daughter in it. They exited their vehicle and the mom took the cart I’d left in haste.

“God bless you,” I thought, after at first being mad that she didn’t get out and offer to help me chase those bleepity-bleep balloons. Then again, she probably thought I was a crazy person. Sorry lady. If only you’d known what I was buying them for. Mentor of the Year right here – ba ha ha!

Again, thank God for Jesus.

Because that is the ONLY reason I can think of that when you and I got in the car on our way to the church, while the rest of our family rode in Pop’s car, that we were able to turn that afternoon around.

I didn’t have any tissues, but I did have a soft Goodr sunglasses case and that helped you dry your eyes.

We talked about how handsome you looked, and how quickly you’d be able to shed the coat and tie after the service.

I told you about my Dollar Tree fiasco, which by then was sort of funny, and then we made each other laugh, which was the best part of all.

With literally one minute to spare before the service, we squeaked into a parking space at church, jamming out to one of your favorite pump up songs (“I Ain’t Worried” by One Republic will always make me think of you and smile).

And even though we couldn’t find our reserved row (because people were sitting in it), that was just another minor blip. With the help of our pastor’s wife, we found it, got settled, and proceeded to share with you and with our church family the most meaningful hour while you and your classmates committed your lives to Christ.

There was lots of love and laughter, and the only tears were joyful ones.

We went on to have the best family evening we’ve had in a good long while, with a scratch-made Sunday supper and a friendly competitive card game – nothing really fancy at all. Just the happiness of being together, made all the sweeter because we mastered the art of the emotional pivot, and refused to let a little bit of first-world stress sabotage our moods and moments.

Thank God for Jesus! And for you, dude. I love you so much, and could not be any prouder of you.



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