‘Auntie Jojo !’
I had it coming. The increasingly loud sound of his tiny footsteps as he hurried downstairs was hard to miss.
In a matter of seconds, my nephew made an abrupt stop at the door. Then he quietly entered the room without turning on the lights, approached the bed where I was desperately attempting to prolong my sleep, and stared at me until I appeared to be somewhat conscious.
“You’re up!” He yelled, happy that he could address the pressing matter at hand. “Play with me!”
Good God, please send help. I’m not OK. Why would you give this much energy to little humans in the morning?
As they say, time waits for no one. Apparently neither do children. Before I knew it, the lights were on and my nephew was giving me permission to brush my teeth as he rummaged through his toys.
“Hurry please!” I heard him say as I tripped over my overnight bag on my way to the washroom.
In the 10 minutes that it took me to freshen up, he had managed to turn the room into a world where people needed saving, superhero-robots needed a cause to fight for, and pillows were weapons that could be thrown at one’s enemies to defeat the forces of evil. Duty awaited.
The battle was punctuated by sound effects, useful commentaries and numerous close calls. But in the end, good triumphed over evil, my nephew’s imaginary world became a safer place, and my need for breakfast became evident.
“I’ve already had breakfast” was his response.
“Then I’ll have breakfast. Would you like to come with me?”
After taking a brief moment to consider my request, he consented.
“Let’s clean up here first,” I said as I grabbed a plastic tomato that had contributed to the downfall of our opponents.
It did not take long for the room to return to its original state and for my nephew to scurry upstairs in search of a new adventures. I took one last look at the tidy room, only to notice a few of my belongings on the floor next to my overnight bag.
“It’s no big deal,” I thought to myself as I walked towards the stairs. “I’ll be back soon enough”.
“Put them away,” said the Holy Spirit.
I guess it was hypocritical of me to ask my nephew to put away his toys when I hadn’t done so with my belongings. But I only had a few of them and in all honesty, I was quite hungry. Couldn’t this wait?
“Jorelle, put them away” He insisted.
It was my turn to consent. As I knelt down next to my bag, I comforted myself with the thought that it would only take a second. Although I could have done without the hunger pains, I was glad that the Holy Spirit was teaching me about integrity. Honesty. Fairness.
“Respect,” He added.
“Respect…” I repeated pensively.
It hadn’t occurred to me that I was a guest. A family member, certainly, but still a guest.
I had set up camp in a space that was used daily as a playroom, and occasionally as a guest room. Although my nephew gladly shared his space, he didn’t have a choice: he was learning to share. This did not give me the right to take advantage of his age by carelessly using more space than needed.
I zipped up my bag.
I was blown away by God’s willingness to stand up for a child and by his compassion for the vulnerable. Having power over someone for whatever reason did not give me the right to abuse them: it gave me the opportunity to honour them. After all, we are all equal in God’s eyes.
This made me wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t been attentive or obedient to the Holy Spirit. What if I didn’t even know the Holy Spirit? How many relationships are affected by such abuse? How many brothers and sisters, parents and children, husband and wives, pastors and congregants, employers and employees? How many…
My stomach growled.
“Speaking of abuse,” I thought to myself, “I should probably get something to eat.”