Chapter 4 (Part B)

“I appreciate you taking the time to call.  The information you shared is very helpful.”  Mom’s words invaded my subconscious, breaking through a thick, dreamy fog.  “I’m sure we’ll be talking again soon.  Thank you for your support.  Please give Kathryn my love.  I’ll make sure to tell Hope you say hi.  Thanks again for everything.  It’s times like these you find out who your true friends are.”  I blinked intentionally, trying to focus on Mom’s face.  “Uh-huh.  Will do.  Buh-bye,” she finished. 

I lifted my head from Mom’s knee and rubbed at my eyes.  Kathryn?  True friends?  I shook the grogginess from my brain and fumbled to a sitting position.  Oh, that’s right.  Mom was talking to Pastor Quinn when I fell asleep.  Kathryn’s his wife.  I slowly started piecing the puzzle together.  I glanced at the clock on Mom’s nightstand as she stood to hang up the phone.  “Wow!  You’ve been on the phone for almost three hours.  Guess I fell asleep.”  I covered a yawn with my hand, confirming my theory.

“You were out,” Mom verified, returning to her spot on the bed next to me.  “Sorry the call took so long.  Seems you got in a good nap, though.  I’m sure you needed it.” 

I shrugged, brushing some sleepy dust from my eyes.  “I was afraid to close my eyes last night.  Every time I did, I saw Colleen’s face.  I couldn’t get her out of my head.”  I took in a deep breath, trying to wake myself from the nightmare encompassing my every thought.

Touching my cheek, Mom fingered an imprint her pants had left on my face.  “You’re safe now,” she assured me.  “It’s good you got some rest.”  I nodded, pushing several stray hairs behind my ears.

Pointing at her nightstand, Mom motioned to a black, leather-bound book sitting next to her lamp.  “Would you mind handing me my Bible?  I could use some encouragement this afternoon.”  I reached across the bed and retrieved the well-worn book, placing it in Mom’s hands.  Gold foil letters spelled out her maiden name across the bottom front cover.  Slightly tattered edges testified to its regular use.

“Would you like to stay and read with me?  I don’t mind having some company.”  Mom’s smile unveiled her inner strength.  I nodded.  “Good.  Let’s pray before we get started.”  She placed her hand over mine and waited until I bowed my head and closed my eyes.  “Our dear loving Father,” she spoke with confidence, “Hope and I come before You today confused, tired, and lost.  We can’t even begin to understand why someone who has claimed to be our friend for the past several years—someone who has been so close to our family—would do what Colleen is doing right now.”  Mom paused and released a pent up sigh.  “Our human minds aren’t able to comprehend what would drive any person to act the way she has—or the way Donald has, for that matter—but we know they must be hurting and very angry inside to be lashing out at us the way they are.”  She paused again, struggling to find the right words.  “Please help us have forgiving hearts and minds, even though the hurt is great; and please direct us as we move forward.  May our actions speak of Your love, even while we are being forced to defend ourselves unnecessarily.  May we also feel Your presence and know Your guidance and grace every step of the way.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.”  

Tears trickled down my cheeks and dripped from my chin, exposing raw emotions.  Mom wrapped her arm around my shoulders and squeezed especially tight.  “We’re going to be OK,” she affirmed.  “We just have to trust Jesus.  He’s not going to let us down.”  Tears glistened in her eyes.

Reaching for a box on Dad’s nightstand, Mom pulled out a handful of tissues for us to use.  Dabbing at the moisture under her eyes, she sniffled and opened the King James Bible on her lap.  The delicate, lightweight pages fluttered open to Matthew 10.  Mom started reading at verse 22.  “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake, but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”  My breath caught in my throat as we both blinked back surprise.  Goosebumps peppered my arms, and a chill ran up my spine.  Mom continued with verse 26.  “Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.”  The words felt straight from Heaven.  We both sat dumbfounded for several moments.

“He’s talking directly to us,” I finally whispered.

“That’s because God cares about our situation,” Mom added.  “He knows what we’re going through, and He gets where we’re at.  Our job is to just leave it all with Him.”

I shook my head, suddenly feeling very protective of my anger.  “I can’t do that, Mom,” I objected.  “I’m so angry at her.  I want her to hurt.  I want her to feel the same kind of pain she’s causing me.  She needs to admit that she’s wrong—terribly, terribly wrong!  I’m the victim here, not her.”  Indignation surged through my veins, causing my arms to begin to tremble.  “She can’t get away with what she’s doing.  She just can’t!”  The force of my conviction surprised even me.  I furrowed my brow and dug deeper into my resentment.  “Someone needs to stop her.  She’s ruining our lives!”

“And someone will,” Mom promised, “but, you’re not hurting anyone except for yourself by holding on to all that anger.  Let it go.  Don’t allow Colleen to steal your joy.  She’s sooooo not worth it!  She’ll get her just reward.  None of this has escaped God, but you have to trust Him with the outcome.  It’s not worth your energy or health.”  Her brow creased as she laid a gentle hand on my shoulder, emphasizing her concern. 

I released a long, slow sigh, aware of the heat rising up my neck and ears.  “It’s easier said than done,” I mumbled.

“I know,” Mom empathized.  Thumbing through several pages of her Bible, she arrived at Proverbs 6:16-19 and starting reading aloud.  “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”  I sat for a moment, saying nothing.  “You see?” Mom pointed out.  “God doesn’t just dislike what Colleen is doing, He hates it.  This isn’t the kind of life He wants for you; and this isn’t the way He wants you to live it.”  Flipping to Luke 6:27-28, she continued.  “But I say unto you which hear, love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” 

“How am I supposed to do that?” I objected, again.  “I don’t want God to bless her actions against me.  She’s a sick, sick person!  She shouldn’t even be walking the face of the earth,” I brazenly determined.  Mom sat quietly, allowing me to vent.  “It makes no sense for me to ask God to fill her life with success and happiness while she’s purposefully ruining mine.  No sane person would ask that of God.”  Angry tears raged down my face, staining my soul.

When the proverbial steam around me settled, Mom’s voice broke through my hostility.  “Take a second and listen to what you just said,” she instructed.  “Does Colleen really seem happy to you?”

I crossed my arms and allowed my shoulders to sag.  “I suppose not.”  Mom looked at me with raised eyebrows.  I rolled my eyes in response.  “No,” I conceded.  “There’s no question about it.  She’s not a happy person in the least.”

“And that’s why God asks us to pray for our enemies,” Mom continued.  “We’re not asking for God to bless Colleen’s evil deeds.  We’re asking the Holy Spirit to come into her life and soften her heart so she’ll be receptive to God’s influence in her life.  Only God’s love can bring about that kind of change.  That’s why it’s important that we pray.”

Before I could respond, Mom closed her Bible and took my hand in hers.  “Let’s decide to take the higher ground,” she encouraged.  “I’m not saying it’s going to be easy.  I’m just saying it will be worth it.”

I straightened my back and drew in a deep breath.  “I’ll try,” I promised.  “That might not sound like much, but it’s all I’ve got right now.”

Mom squeezed my hand and smiled.  “And that’s enough.”

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *         *          *

Greg tilted back in his chair, lacing his fingers behind his head, an air of confidence enveloping his words.  “Well, it sounds like you have a pretty supportive and understanding mother.  That’s definitely a plus.  Not every child is as fortunate.”

I nodded.  “Yeah, God blessed me with two very special parents.”

“But…?”  Greg detected hesitancy in my voice.

“But, they’re human.”  The truth about my personal expectations forced me to swallow hard.  “It’s not like I was expecting them to be superheroes or anything,” I defended my position, “but, looking back now, maybe I was.  The only thing that was certain in my life at that point in time was knowing God was bigger than Colleen—whatever that meant.”  I shrugged, feeling a bit defeated.

“I see,” Greg acknowledged my struggle.  “That sounds like it would look great written down on paper, but how did it work for you in real life?”

I shifted in my seat, brushing a few stray hairs out of my eyes.  “Trusting God became a daily battle,” I admitted.  “I lived on an emotional rollercoaster.  It was actually quite nauseating.”  I didn’t even try disguising my sarcasm.

“Not surprising,” Greg grinned.  “Much of life is a waiting process.  Maybe you were just trying to rush ahead of the process.”

Again, I shrugged.  “Maybe—considering I didn’t know what the process was.  Colleen didn’t exactly come with an instruction manual.  We were all flying by the seat of our pants.”

Greg chuckled, leaning forward in his chair.  “So, whatever came of HRS visiting your home?”

A smirk slowly spread across my face, and I chuckled, as well.  “They were at the wrong house.”

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