Her apartment was the first one on the first floor, first door on the right. But when you stepped out of the hall into it, you thought you had stepped through a magic door into another world. How could this much space be behind that door in that narrow hall?
It was dark—dark paneling, dark hardwood floors, and only dim lamplight in each room. Only the tiny dining room enjoyed sunlight from a thinly curtained window, while the living room window was hung with heavy, dark, velvet draperies.
I had never seen such furniture—old, Victorian, satin and flocked velvet brocade, and yes, more dark wood, carefully carved, and sinuously curved across the back and arms. The lamps boasted intricately detailed brass posts with frosted glass shades surrounded by hanging cut glass pendants.
We ate Sunday dinner with her once, on a beautiful ivory linen tablecloth, the hem embroidered with ecru, and used the first cloth napkins I had ever seen. I don't remember if I embarrassed my mother by asking what they were or not.
The meal was different too. First, it was, in a word, late, especially for children. Even though she did not go to church like we did, she still did not have the meal prepared when we arrived at 1:00. About 3:00 we finally sat down to something pale and sauced that I scarcely remember, except for the greenest peas I had ever seen in my life. I probably asked my mother who had dyed them like Easter eggs.
I may have forgotten most of the food, but I remember the dishes. The china was small, translucent white, and decorated with real gold paint, and the table was covered with serving pieces that I had never seen before and still do not know the use for. Each adult place setting included a small matching ash tray because in those days everyone, except my parents it seemed, smoked. I must have made over those dishes quite a bit because she left them to me—including the ash trays.
She always greeted me with, "My how you've grown!" I suppose I had if it had been two years, and it usually was. I think it is a perfectly normal thing to say to a child now that I am an adult, but as a child I felt like rolling my eyes—though I knew better than to be so disrespectful if I hoped to be able sit down in the car when we left.
We say that to children because children grow so quickly. Paul calls us babes when we first become Christians. Shouldn't we be growing fast enough spiritually to warrant that comment from others? In fact, shouldn't we always, not just as beginners, be growing? Shouldn't I be able to say to you, "My how you've grown in the Word!" And shouldn't you be able to say to me, "My how your attitude, your outlook, or your perspective has grown?"
Or are we still ignorant of the Bible, and shackled with the same old baggage and weaknesses? We may have a besetting sin that always gives us trouble, but shouldn't we be overcoming more now? If not, then maybe it's because we are satisfied with where we are since, "That's just how I am." The problem is, you cannot stay where you are. If you are not growing, you are dying.
Wouldn't you just love to hear the Lord say to you, "My how you've grown"? Let's encourage one another this week to keep on growing. Let's compliment the changes and let those who hear those compliments take them as they should—a sign of their own growth and evidence of a family member who loves them, even an old maiden aunt who only sees you every other year.
…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (Eph 4:15)