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Whispers from Heaven

Thanks, Sweetie!
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By Carol Einarsson | 03/08/2008
Category: Whispers from Heaven
 

I have occasion to spend quite a bit of time on the phone, and if there is one thing that has always put me on edge, it's those women that call me "Sweetheart" or "Honey", as a term of endearment. I don't know why it grates on my nerves, but grate it does. And when you have one woman that calls you Sweetie, she is not likely to be the kind to use that only once in a conversation.

I've pondered ways to prevent this from happening, occasionally interjecting politely that my name is Carol. It's all to no avail, however, because to anyone that is comfortable enough to call a stranger Sweetie, a subtle correction like that will be as effective as trying to use a toothpick to rotisserie a turkey.

Sometimes I'm so annoyed by this practice which I consider to be an emotional intrusion that I even pray that God will give me words to gently correct those that verbally hug me against my will this way. And in a loving parental way, God sometimes says no. Today I learned why.

It was a lady who had called me Sweetheart and then even (gasp!) "Baby", and while my voice remained solidly in the "smile tone" that is polite, inside I was cringing. And then she changed everything for me with one little statement.

"I'm sorry to call you Baby and Sweetheart, it's just habit for me; that's what my momma used to call all of us. But I'm 60 years old and I still do that."

I felt the inside hardness of my heart turn so soft I thought it would fall to my belly. I now had the answer that I'd prayed for. Not the solution I'd requested, but something even better. I now had new understanding that had never come to rest on my consciousness in all of my forty-some years.

My mind flashed to this woman's life and the love she had in her family, with a giving and loving mother raising a big southern family some fifty years ago. These loving words spoken so easily by her mother had carried through to her children, and likely to their children and grandchildren, too. I had a picture in my mind that spoke not of an intrusive familiarity, but of an invitation to join the family. She called me Baby like I was one of her own. If I'd been standing in front of her, she likely would have invited me in for pie.

Everything changed for me in that brief conversation. Have I become someone that will readily call people sweetheart? No. But I now look upon those gentle words as a gift from a stranger, as sincere as an invitation to come sit on the porch and have some sweet tea while filling the afternoon with childhood memories.

Now if I could just find a way to end my irritation with, "Do what now?"

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