I found out this week that Jesús’ grandmother is visiting in Chicago from México and my heart jumped with excitement. I wanted to see her right away. After a quick mental calendar check, I realized with marked disappointment that we would not be able to travel to see her for a couple of months.
I was relaying my internal thought process to Jesús and found myself reflecting more deeply about my desire to see her. Yes, I want the boys to spend time with their great-abuelita. Yes, I want her to meet our youngest. But more than those things, I just want to be around Abuelita. I want to be in her presence because in her presence, I feel fully accepted and extremely loved. I have done nothing to win or earn her love but she showers affection and care on me. Abuelita and I have a language barrier because she only speaks Spanish and my Spanish fluency is elementary. Even so, I experience through her actions, she loves me.
Image credit: Mary Chong Carrera
Jesús’ aunts are just like their mother in this way. From the very first time I met them 10 years ago to the present, they embrace me physically with warm hugs and kisses on the cheek every time they see me. They lay their hands on my shoulders and they hold my hand. They did this even before they got to know me. They did this, not knowing anything about me. I did nothing to deserve their acceptance and affection.
With them, I am protected. When I was in México one summer, we were in the middle of a very large crowd. Tía Socorro looped her arm around mine and led me through the crowd, making sure I was okay. She did not let go until we were inside her home.
With them, I belong. It does not matter that I am not Méxican and speak broken Spanish. They have decided I am part of the family and I have a place in their hearts and home. I have never felt like an outsider.
As I think about my abuelita and tías and the way they express love, something stirs deeply within. Their expressions of love reflect God’s love. God’s love is described to be without condition, one of full acceptance, not to be earned but just given freely. And experiencing this kind of love is so deeply freeing and life giving.
I want to love like the way my abuelita and tías do. I want others to experience acceptance and protection and affection. I know I have a hard time doing this because of the judgments and expectations I hold. I hope I can learn to release those. My abuelita and tías have formed a legacy that I hope to be able to contribute and continue.
Mary Chong Carrera was born a friendly, fiery extrovert with a flair for drama. Growing up has brought a healthy dose of wisdom; she's learned to appreciate being still and quiet.
Mary attended Santa Clara University, where she cultivated great friendships, studied accounting, and fell in LOVE with Jesus (Christ, not her husband--that Jesús came later).
Mary has a passion for people and loves developing friendships, empowering leaders, and walking with others as they explore faith. She's wife to Jesús, mom to three adorable sons, Jesse, Ángel and Sebastián, part-time InterVarsity campus minister, and full-time human trying to engage with the world with love. Though her big Chinese family drives her up the wall sometimes, she loves them to pieces and knows she wouldn't be who she is without them.