Engraved: Doubts

Usually the police didn’t declare a person missing until 48 hours but a friend from work, Phillip, noticed that he didn’t return after lunch. He called his cell but there was no response. He had tried his wife’s too but to no avail. Grace had abandoned her phone just like Sarah, meeting the same intrusion like her husband. He comforted himself by saying probably Malcom got the rest of the day off. When he left for the day, it was his shattered car glass in the parking lot that alarmed him. Phillip then called the police.

After analyzing the scene they deduced that he was kidnapped. The blood on the ground near driver’s door, the jagged piece of his jacket left behind and the stolen car keys. The cameras showing him being put in another car that sped off.

It was 7 pm when they arrived to question Grace. Just like the day when she didn’t look up at Malcolm under the tree, she didn’t look at the police men. Answering each emotionless. One of the men shot her look and then turned to his partner who understood. “What if she was involved?” he had said with his eyes.

They decided to keep a close watch on her. Sarah didn’t get a word out of her mother who walked zombie like to the ‘room’. Sarah’s heart flung violently against her chest, she wanted to say, “He doesn’t care,” but the ball in her throat wouldn’t allow it. Instead she tucked Ruth in even though it was early, all the crying made her tired anyway. She waited until she fell asleep. Sarah was headed to her room when Benjamin stopped her.

“It isn’t fair to keep me in the dark any longer.” He said.

He was right. Benjamin had always been more mature for his age. Sarah knew spending a lot of time with her father can do that to a person. He used the simplest things to teach them lessons. They had gone to the river to fish on a Saturday. It was right in the middle of summer. After the children splashing and the parents sitting on a rock nearby watching, they gathered for lunch.

“How did you know the river would be here today?” Malcolm asked. The children giggled at the question. They told him because they had come before. He continued to prod and asked why they thought the river couldn’t move. They were laughing now. “That’s not what rivers do.” Sarah had blurted out. “How do you know that? He challenged. Benjamin said according to the geography book he was reading, Sarah was right. Malcolm seemed pleased. “That is exactly How we learn to trust God, through his word.” He said finally, “Faith is the bridge to God. Without it we cannot reach him.”

Just as serious as her father looked then, Benjamin stared at her.

“Come in” she said.

She started slowly, pacing herself but somewhere between Rachel finding her and the knock on the door tonight, she lost herself, screaming her thoughts and her fears. Wishing for everything to go away, wishing for dad to come home, wishing uncle Ray had dropped dead, wishing she was never born. She only stopped when the words, “Not even God can help me,” flew out.

She placed her hands over her mouth when she realized, in her mind begging, not sure who, that Benjamin didn’t hear.

But he did, his bent head rose up and he looked in her eyes. Anger, disappointment and pity all mingled on his face.

Sarah cried even the more. “Now he knows I’m a hyprocrite,” she thought.

He held on to hands and said, “That’s a whole lot to carry in there,” pointing at her heart.

She barely heard him over her sobbs. Brushing back her tangled curls he pulled her in. As if getting some unspoken permission Sarah allowed her self to truly feel all the things that were bothering her. She found herself thumping the bed with the side of her fist and all her brother said was, “Yes, you can express that too, it’s ok.”

She said things but Benjamin couldn’t make it out, choking mid-sentences and sobbing even more at the mention of names. If the clock on her desk was right, she was weeping and shouting and thumping for an half an hour.

Bewildered, she slowly raised herself, greeted by Benjamin’s cologne now mingled with sweat. He got up and gave her small towel. She felt a little embarrassed but relieved. The ball that was on her throat was no longer there. Only a pounding of her left temple that happened whenever she cried.

When she calmed down enough, he said to her. “Your doubts don’t scare God Sarah. I don’t pretend to understand how any of this make sense. I sometimes get angry and confused too. But one thing I cannot deny, is the presence of a God. Nothing else makes sense without him.” He paused before continuing, “I am not worried Sarah that you doubt, I am only worried if you hide it from him.”

She felt like a five year old when she asked, “You mean, I can tell him about them, even if they persist longer than I want them to?”

Benjamin smiled and kissed her clamy forehead, “Yes, where else can you go?”

He left and Sarah never felt more hopeful. No where else promised any better. No where else had eternal hope. It was better to be broken in the hand of God than be broken by it.

The conversation sparked a new desire in her. She had remembered the phrase and looked up the story. Things might get rough, she may not understand why it all happened but one thing was true, the response of the disciples, “To whom shall we go, when thou hast the word of life?”

From there she went to read parts Job, Psalms, Lamentations, Hosea, Joseph’s life and finally Jesus in the Graden of Gethsemane. For once, she thought maybe there was something greater at work than her pain.

Road to Faith

None of us trusted God from birth. It was something we learned to do. For many of us it started from a place of doubt. Whilst others boast in having the gift of faith, people like me have to battle with doubt daily. They say faith comes by reading the word, I agree with that. I was just misguided that simply knowing it was enough. I know he is a provider but I still doubt he can. I know he is a healer but sicknesses usually make me anxious and feel hopeless. Maybe I was doing something wrong, maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough. Faith for me has become not a moment but a journey. It started with me accepting that I really don’t believe a promise but I tell God I desire to. I tell him, it has to be a work of his spirit because it is. There is only one requirement from me – surrender. Then in surrender, obedience is born. In my moments of doubts, my prerogative is not my feelings but my ability to endure. Who is in control? You or your feelings? You will only know the end of faith if you hold on to it.

A famous poet called Joe said in the perspective of God, “Before you doubt Me, doubt your doubts!” Why is it easier to believe what we see? Because we are human? Possibly, but also because we choose to believe it.

Our actions follow our real beliefs not the things we want to believe. Want to change your actions? Change what you believe. As a man thinketh, so is he. Or as a man believes, so he will do.

Perhaps you have been praying for a while about a particular circumstance. Perhaps, you fear God is not hearing or even cares. Niether of this is true. He cares more than you. What he wishes to do, is his choice, simply because he knows best. Until we can accept his sovereignty, we will never fully believe in him. Remember, you are precious.

Engraved: Unspoken

Malcom pulled up in his driveway. He had maintained a civil disposition upon hearing the news. What he was to make of it was beyond reach. For the first time since this all began, he loosened his tie, placed his hands over his eyes, and cried his eyes out. What a fool he had been? The man who prized himself on having a good judgement, deceived and deceived publicly. He walked in with hunched shoulders. 


His wife met him at the door, she had been waiting in the sitting room. She wrapped the pink night gown tighter as she met the cold air. Sarah got her frame from her, plump in all her feminine forms. Noticing how puffy her husband’s eyes was, she hesitated in asking about the details. But one could only bear so much when things have gotten even more out of control these pass few days. Helping him with his jacket, she asked if he would like tea first. He accepted half smiling. He had always appreciated how well his wife knew him. He knew she saw he needed to gather some strength first. 


Returning, she took her seat beside him, handing him the tea with a slice of banana bread. He took two sips then began. 


“Other victims have come forward.” he said flatly.


He sat expectantly as the gravity of the situation weighed in on his wife. Her eyes widened and pupils small. Even in the lamp’s flicker, her hazel iris shone. He remembered the first day they met. It was her eyes that drew his attention. Not the colour really, but how focused they were on sketch she was making. It was his umteenth summer camp at 19 years old. She sat under a tree with a drawing pad and a dark pencil. Her maxi skirt covered all of her legs even though she held them close to her chest. He had somehow wandered over to her looking at the sketch.


“Is there something I can help you with, sir?” She had said without lifting her eyes. 
He was quite dumbfounded, staring at the elegantly clad woman on the drawing. Her drawn posture did something that made him think of one thing, “Grace,” he heard himself say. This time, she looked up at him quizzically, “How did this stranger know my name.” she thought. He pointed to it and said again, “Grace.” She only looked at him. Even though they said no other words that day, Malcolm recognized the word meant something to her the way she reacted. He made a mental note to find out to what extent and after seeing her often at conferences and of course camp. It was only after when he had asked for her name he realized.

The two easily became acquaintances. 
She was hesitant about their friendship, always cautious of him. A previous heartbreak teaches you to be wise. He was that hard to figure out. Always open, always honest. Whenever he called her, she could tell what mood he was in. How easily he switched from playfulness to a sober tone. 


She noticed him staring off in the distance and gently squeezed his hand. 


She said, “Tell me what happened.”


He explained to his wife that after going over the details with the detective; they had enough evidence to prosecute Ray. To put him behind bars for a really long time. Most of the girls were minors including girls he knew. Grace placed a hand on his back. She felt a pang in her heart against her husband. This reaction puzzled her.

“It’s all right, dear. We will get through this.” she said. 


“Did you see him?” she asked distracting her thoughts.


“I couldn’t —  ” Malcolm managed. 


Making some soothing noise, she rubbed his back more. Finally, he gave up and hugged her, breaking down frantically. This display somewhat surprised Grace. She knew he loved his brother. But crying, in front of her, was very much unlike her husband. If it was another circumstance, she might have laughed at him. He’d always have a command over his emotions, it seems this, this was too much. 

Sarah shuffled out of her bed. Recently, only two things get her out of bed this early, Ruth or her bladder. Today it was the latter. Racing for the bathroom she had already started despising the fact she drank so much before bed. A good night’s rest was rare. When she was through, she cleaned her teeth and her face. She made a hot cup of cocoa and headed to the garden. The ‘room’ was no longer a place of solace just somewhere she had gone to expose her shame. Just somewhere she wasn’t ready to encounter again. 


She found her seat. The dew dripped off the leaves near her as she shook the tender plants. She had grown fond of the lavender bud. She felt it understood her, as she knew how to well to remain tightly concealed. She wondered how she kept the secret so long.

 
“Hypocrite” she muttered to herself. 


Not too long after, she heard a voice calling her name. The waist high girl came and sat beside her, nuzzling into her side. At least Ruth didn’t think she was, and at the thought she exhaled. 


“For someone who doesn’t go to school, you are up early.” She pointed out. 


She didn’t know what to say. How could she explain?


“Just enjoying the view.” she said.


“It quite beautiful Sarah.“ Ruth added. “Almost as beautiful as you.”  


Sarah didn’t respond. It’s been a while since she saw herself like that. When she looked at her face, at her chest, at her legs, all she saw were the scars he left behind. It was the unseen ones that were the worst though, the ones that tore her apart mentally. Broken was no longer a description for her, it was her name. 


“It’s time to get ready, let’s go inside.” Sarah said. 


She hadn’t quite figured out what to do while away from school. She spent mornings in bed. After noon in front of her TV and dinner with her family. Her mother worked from home so she would pop in now and then. She was in the middle of a series when she heard her father’s car pull in. Things have been awkward between them, he doesn’t seem able to meet her eyes. He only really talks with her when others are around. He didn’t always come home for lunch, this was new. That means something was wrong. I turned down the show just enough to hear their exchanged. He asked where Sarah was, and her mother directed him to her. 


He forced a smile and asked how she was. She answered shakily and then he took a seat, Grace entering the room.  He told her what the detectives told him. She didn’t blink; she didn’t move. When he mentioned that Camelia was one victim, that certainly got a response from her. She pulled down her sleeve even though her sleeve covered it.

Her father went on but she heard nothing else, “Poor Camelia,” she thought. How could she haven’t picked it up? She was distant too but only attributed it to deserting her. “Right” she placed her hand on her forehead. “I am an awful friend.” she thought.


He said Ray could go away for at least thirty years if they testified. What was she to say, that she was happy other girls went through what she did so they could prove his wrong doing? Would she have to testify? What about the other girls? This was stirring up way more problems than she hoped for. If he only he hadn’t—. She fled to her room overcome by emotions and shut the door. In there she was safe, from court, from Ray and from eyes that would only judge her.


She heard her father’s car leaving, her mother saying she would talk to her. She agreed with herself to apologize tonight and hear him out further. Only her father didn’t show up that night. It was only a knock on the door by Police saying curtly her father was missing.

Unspoken

11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. 12 There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. 13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!

2 Corinthians 6:11-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

I have been dealing with possibilities I wasn’t quite sure I’d ever imagine. It seems with the economy almost toppling over; I am no longer simply unbothered by corona but moving on to concern. Health risks were seemingly no threat, heaven sounded sweeter but now with lay-offs at our heels, I have a new faith to take a firmer grip onto — that God will provide. Whilst my family has food and a little savings, my heart flutters to the thought of future needs. At work, they are having the agents work from home. Every day we release a new batch. As a receptionist, if there are no workers at work, then — you get the point. 

With the uncertainty of the length of this outbreak, I could start working week on and off at a time. I have always enjoyed taking in my share. It seems only fair. Maybe things aren’t all that serious and all I have to risk is my pride, still I am concerned. I don’t intend to add to the noise of panic on the matter, rather my encouragement is way less economical or medical. How many persons like Paul have showed love (with no evil desire) and we closed our hearts to them? Whether from getting help or simply forming prejudices about them to hide your mistrust for people. I want you to be honest with the people closest to you. 


Not a hard request seemingly, but what if for one week you shared how you really felt? To share why something has been irritating you for months possibly years?

To share that you really enjoy someone’s sacrifice, company or kindness?

To share that you loved them?

What if you shared your deepest struggle with someone who could counsel you and pray for you?

What if you connected more with the community that you see than the one on your phone? 

What if you tackled the hard issues? Like why you have been avoiding someone and even why have you muted their status? 

What if saw your heart for what it was and not what you wanted it to be?

What if you obeyed God, accepted his will? 

What if you did open your heart to love?


Oh, what a week we would have had, full of honesty, realness, and probably a little brokenness? But in no wise greater than the joy of being you, of walking in your identity. There is brokenness that needs healing in all of us. Steffany Gretzinger says the more we encounter God, the more we become undone. The more we become conformed to his image. Take it not lightly that the bridge to wholeness means reconciling with our counterparts.

With that said, I wanted to say I really do appreciate you taking the time to read. People always say how much the blog helps them but I believe it helps me more. Thank you for giving me a safe space to express myself. The grace you extend to me is mind blowing. Your feedback, excitement, comments, corrections and thrills adds so much life these black and white pages. I cannot thank you enough. I am working on something for you but I can’t say yet. It’s having me giddy every time I think about. But, it will have to wait, blessed is he who endureth. Until next time, remember, you are precious. 

P.S. I am waiting on those predictions. *winks*

Engraved: Seasons

Sarah understood that it was a word of caution rather than notification. 


Ruth leapt off the bed. “Aunty Tracey!” She hollered. 


Dashing down the stairs, Ruthie ran into her arms. Staggering back from the impact, Tracey held on to her shoulders for support. Her silver bangles clung together as her small hands smoothed Ruth’s dark loose curls back. 


“Happy Birthday.” Tracey said with a fainted smile. Ruth had always loved her voice. When she was a toddler, she read stories to her when they visited. When she ended one, Ruth would beg for one more story that turned into many. She thought too Uncle Ray was the luckiest man to have her. To Ruth, she was the most beautiful woman she knew. 


Ruth blushed.


“I brought something for you.” Tracey said holding out the purple gift bag. Ruth gasped. “For me!? Thank you!” 


Her father, who had been sitting in the corner chair of the hall, interrupted the exchange and asked Ruth to give them a moment. 


By this, Grace had entered the hall and offered Tracey a drink. 


“I heard what happened on the news this morning.” she started. Tears were already gathering on her lower eyelids. 


Malcolm immediately looked down. 


“I should have said something, I …” she said. 


Grace gave her the drink and noticed how Tracey’s hands were shaking. 
“It’s all right dear. It wasn’t your fault.” Grace said. 


“But what if it was?” She shot back. 


Malcom straightened in his chair, “What do you mean exactly Tracey?”

 
Tracey took a struggled breath. 


“I have been experiencing some abdominal pains over a year now and it has made every thing down there unbearable.” Grace reached out her hand to her.


 “The doctors say they are not sure what it is and they are still running some test. They have a feeling that it is some form of cancer.”  


Malcolm stood up. He felt he no longer knew his brother. What kind of man would do this to his wife? “No, no, no.“ He thought. She must be guilty somehow. 


“What about the night he came here? What was the argument between you two.” He roared. 


Grace wished her husband would talk more calmly, the woman’s dispair was obvious.  


“He started staying out late, coming home drunk. When he was home, he was irritated with everything. The kids became withdrawn. That night he hit Jacob so bad with his belt that it left marks. I told him he needed to take some time to sort out whatever was going on, then he came..here.” 


“I should have know he would have done something like this.” She said, with tears streaming down her face. 
Grace hugged her and whispered in her ears. Malcolm didn’t linger. Instead he said good night and slipped away. 


“We will get through this Tracey.” Grace assured her. She left and Grace went to her room. 


“How could you talk to her like that Malcom?“ Grace said. 


“Please Grace, can we talk about this tomorrow? A lot has happened today and I would just like to get to bed.” 


Grace looked dead in his eyes and said, “Tomorrow? Tomorrow might be too late.” 


“What’s that supposed to mean?” Malcolm asked.


“We will discuss it tomorrow.” She said, turning off the light and turned her back to him. 

The sun peered through Sarah’s windows. The light played on her skin as she turned in her bed. She stood up and grabbed a robe. There was a slight throbbing of her temple. The fact that she never left her room after her aunt’s visit should have meant that she got some rest. Instead she was up fixating on what their relationship would be like going forward. 


She didn’t have the answers. She didn’t have peace and the one person who she knew she could get it from was deadly silent.

Her home had a back yard garden that held her heart. Walking through it on the stone pavement always helped to relieve her mind. She sat on the garden chair, staring off into the distance, she sighed heavily.

“What could she say to make the pain all go away?” She thought.

Not one word came to mind, not one word accurately embodied her thoughts. She whispered ever so softly, “Jesus.” 


She noticed a lavender flower zipped tight in it’s bud. A hummingbird was buzzing around trying to get the pollen. Without success, it moved on to another flower. She watched it for a while until she heard her mother’s voice.


“AAhh, you’ve found my loves.” She said with a smile. 


“You won’t see their beauty yet, it isn’t their season.” She shared.

 
Sarah gazed even more intently at the delicate sprout. She wasn’t quite sure what was special about it but it imprinted on her heart. 


Things were calm at the house. Her father had gone back to work, Benjamin and Ruth went to school too. 


It was 12 pm and Sarah finally sat down to complete the application. She hit print and leaned back in the chair. She heard a strange vibration and turned her head quizically. “Oh, yes! My phone.”

She hadn’t seen it in days. When she finally found it far under her bed, she heard Rachel on the other line. She practically reprimanded her for her avoidance. It was after she had calmed down that she asked her about the details. Sarah found it extremely hilarious that  she cussed her out first. “Only Rachel” she thought. 

She told her every thing, it was no use trying to hide anymore. Rachel listened intently. She only asked this question at the end, “Have you talked to God?” 


Sarah wasn’t prepared for her response. “I think you mean if he wants to talk to me.” she said angrily. 

Rachel asked her to explain.

“I understand how you feel. But your faith has to be greater than what you feel. Knowledge should always trump emotions.” she said.


Sarah agreed reluctantly. She wasn’t in the mood for a lecture but held on to the fact that she tried. 
She told her about her break from school and Rachel queried if church was included. She wasn’t sure she could face every one just yet. She told her that she would let her know. 
Sarah enquired about her family and Rachel realized she hadn’t told her about ‘the father’ encounter yet. 


“Will you reach out to him?” Sarah asked. 


“I will have to. But I actually want to this time. I hope he can forgive me.” 


They ended the call. Rachel lay paralyzed in bed. She thought, “God things are getting really out of control, what are you up to?” 


She had a class in the evening so she got dressed and left. 


“Rachel! Rachel!” a voice startled her.

“Is it true? Tell me it isn’t!” he said. Mark looked ruffled and wild. 

Rachel stared at him. She couldn’t be the one to tell him. She didn’t want to but look in his eyes told her he would find out either way.


“Yes Mark, he did.” Rachel said in a whisper.


He sat on the lush grass underneath him and rested his hands on his head. He just started bawling. 
Rachel couldn’t believe her eyes. He didn’t care who saw him or how loud he sobbed.  People had started to gather when she knelt beside him and held on to one of his shoulders that jerked between the sobs. 


“I am sorry Mark” she managed to say. 
He wiped his tears frantically and stood up. “Thanks.” He said and walked away with his shoulders bent.


Rachel walked absent mindly to class. She knew she wouldn’t be learning today. 


Malcolm had a stressful day, it seemed every one at work knew and every one had an opinion. It was all he could think about as it was all he was asked about. He pulled up in the drive way and stared at his home. “ Have I failed as a father?” He thought. He was startled by a call from one of his friends at the station. “What now? Will they be releasing him now?” He thought sadly. 


“Reverend Maxwell?” The detective said. 


“Could you drive down to the station now?” he continued.


Malcolm said yes instantly. He called his wife and told her that he will be there after visiting the station. 


“He rushed through the door and said, “What’s going on? Are you letting him out?”


The detective said something but Malcolm didn’t believe. “Are you serious?!” He said. “Oh my God!” 

A Time and A Season 


This social distancing has me talking to people I hadn’t spoken to before and going places I have never gone. Today, I am by an unfinished house. It’s foundation is way lower than the land mass. So, as I sit on what would be a window sill, I am looking directly at sediments of rocks. The expanse demonstrates to me that it was conjured up over time. It needed time to be firm. It needed to pass through seasons. 


The Perfecting Work of Patience

I struggle with patience. I would have rather God not tell me some things. I would have preferred him just doing a thing when the time is right. But promises, that takes faith and endurance. I have learnt over the years that God is always trying to mold me to conform to his image. One of his attributes is long suffering. I have realized it’s in the moments when I had to wait that he was most seen in me. 


Our bible study at church has been focusing on Romans. Every Thursday, I am learning that our salvation is about faith. It’s about waiting for the promises of God. That’s what was so attractive to God in Abraham, his faith. He declared him righteous because of it. 

Do you have faith?


Has present circumstances caused you to waver in faith? Are you troubled, weary and doubt his presence? There is no other solution that allowing him to hold even more tightly to you. Be reminded we are governed by seasons, a time to weep, a time to laugh. A time to leap and a time to bow. A time to repent and a time to rejoice. A time to be tempted and a time to be free from temptation. A time to rest and a time to war. Your desires might not be in the right place right now but they can be. Let grace do its work. Know the season you are in and trust in God. Remember you are precious. 

Engraved: The Encounter

Pastor Montique called Mark before Adrian could tell him. Mark apologized and told they will definitely talk about soon. 

Pastor Montique was a statuesque man, even Mark, 6 feet, had to look up to him. He always seemed to always have a smile. Everything about him screamed, follow me. He had the poise, the voice, education and most of all, the hearts of the people. The children flocked him after church. Some came for sweets, others hug and some, to show off their art work from Sunday School. Impatient adults always never liked that he attended to everyone first before they needed his attention for ‘real’ issues. His team seemed to revere the dust under his feet. Dashing into action at his bidding. Mark had grown to love him. In more ways than he considered him, his mentor. He always checked up on him and encouraged him.  

“I saw your message. What did you want to talk about?” Pastor asked.

Mark pulled him closer to the wall and said, “I have been struggling financially…” Mark didn’t continue, he couldn’t. His pride stuck in his throat. Pastor quickly said, he understood, and he will see what he can do. Mark had this odd feeling when he heard his response. He said okay and thanked him in advance.

Sarah avoided Rachel the entire time. It was strange how easy it was. Rachel would have come up to her by now. She sat at the back looking ‘out of it’. She would ask her about it soon. But today, she couldn’t deal with a reminder of her terrible secret. She was going home for Ruth’s Birthday. She was turning six on Monday, and she vowed to make her favourite breakfast for her. 

Sarah’s mom, Grace, was a guru in the kitchen. They endowed the table with Curried Goat, Baked Chicken, Coconut-Cream Shrimp, Mashed Potatoes and Tossed Salad in Raspberry Dressing. 

It was a peaceful for her to watch her family. They laughed and teased each other.  Her father looked up after pecking his wife on the cheek. “Are you ok Sarah?” he said. 

For once she could say from her heart, “Yes dad, I am.”

Benjamin was in the middle of a hilarious story when they heard a knock on the door. Sarah’s father pulled away to see who it was. 

“Malcom!” Sarah heard and all the blood drained from her face. Her father responded, “Ray. What a pleasant surprise.” 

They were still hugging when they came in, “How long has it been? A year?” Malcom asked.

“Hardly, I was at the family reunion.” Ray said. Sarah shifted on the seat, remembering she faked sickness not to be there. He greeted everyone but his eyes lingered on Rachel. “Do you want a rag?” Grace asked. Sarah didn’t realize that her blouse had grown sweats marks. “I am fine.” she said and reached for her drink.

After dinner, the parents sent the children up. Ray and his wife were having problems. She didn’t want him home. So, he needed to stay there for the night. Ray said it was her overreacting and his brother believed, his easy going brother couldn’t have started the squabble. 

Sarah went to her room early. His presence alone made her edgy. She couldn’t afford her parents to see the truth. 

She covered in a grey blanket from head to toe listening to music. Or rather overthinking with music in the background. She relived the moment repeatedly. Her thoughts finally gave her a break when her eyes couldn’t stay open any longer. 

Slam!

Her eyes flew open. The darkness illuminated her confusion. But the person on top of her felt familiar. It was Ray. He turned on the lamp, placed his index finger on his thick lips, and motioned to the shiny metal in his hand. Sarah heard her heartbeat drumming in her ears. Ray started trying to find the end of the blanket. Sarah realized she couldn’t live through this again. She couldn’t give him power over her again. She stretched her hands towards lamp and smashed it in his head. Ray threw his hand to his temples, dropping the knife. Sarah quickly loose the sheets and stamped her foot in his groin. Scurrying off the bed, she ran to her parents’ room. Her father met her in the hallway with a machete in his hand. 

“What’s going on Sarah? Is someone in the house?” Her father questioned.

She didn’t know what to say, she only saw his expression move from surprise and then hardened. 

“Ray? Is that you?” Her father said: squinting. He lifted the blade of the machete. “What were you doing in my daughter’s room?” He thundered. Ray’s undone zip seemed to blow a gasket in Malcom’s mind. Ray was slender so Malcom easily pinned him to the ground. He lifted his fist and said, “How could you!?” His wife called him mid way and he rested his fist on the floor. Without turning around, he said, ” Call the police. We have a rapist in the house.” 

If the noise didn’t wake the children, the flashing lights did. They bewildered the children. Police came and detained Ray while others took statements. Sarah told them everything.  The Paramedic noticed Malcom’s breathing and checked his blood pressure. He urged it to calm himself down as his pressure was rising steadily. The neighbours started gathering on the street in front of them. 

The police interrupted and told Malcom they would do more investigations as they needed more evidence to go to trial. He might only face a fine for tonight. When they left, Grace tucked Ruth and Nathaniel into bed again. Trying her best to soothe them. 

When she came down, she found Malcom arguing with the fifteen-year-old Benjamin about going to his room. Benjamin had wanted to know what had happened, but his father insisted they needed to talk to Sarah alone first. He reluctantly obeyed and went to his room. Malcom beckoned for grace to sit beside him on the coach while Sarah sat on the pouffe in front of them. She started playing with the edge of her left sleeve. 

“Why didn’t you tell us?” her father asked.

“He threatened me. He told me he would kill me and make it look like a suicide.” she admitted.

She saw an anger in her father that she never knew before. He didn’t utter a word, but his whole body showed what he was thinking. 

Her mom then asked, “When did it happen?”

“Last year around tax time, when he carried me home.” Sarah said.

Grace looked intently at Malcom, almost accusingly.  

She saw guilt tore up her father’s face. She didn’t want her father to blame himself or worse; she didn’t want him to feel that she blamed him either. She burst out into tears. Both her parents flew to her. Grabbing her and crying there for about an hour. 

Her father encouraged them to get some sleep, they would finish talking in the morning. Her mother slept with her for the night.  Warm tears awoke Sarah, but it wasn’t her own. She soon realized it was her mother’s. She was praying. Asking for help for their family. Sarah stayed still for a while and waited until she had long ended. She yarned and sat up in the bed. Her mother sat up too. She looked to her and said, “You are such a brave girl.” 

Sarah couldn’t help but nod like a complimented five-year-old. Then she remembered it was Ruth’s birthday. She ran to the bathroom and washed up. She started the breakfast and got to singing. She was putting the eggs on a plate when Benjamin came in with an expression she couldn’t read. He held out a paper to her. She took it and wished she could fall through the floor. It read, “School Teacher Accused of Raping Minister’s Daughter.

What’s Next!?

Things are getting stranger by the post! What would your advice to Sarah be!? Tell me in the comments or email me at shanyesica@gmail.com. The best advice will be given a special gift! Precious Thoughts will be having a give-away too for our tenth post in the series! Look out for that Next Friday at 5 pm!

Engraved: Severed

Devon Dixon’s presence felt calming. Maybe the sight of the flash of his dimples or his angelic smile. Or how his eyes had widened when he recognized her. The warmth of his hands enveloped hers. She had waited for this, since she left her house. The grey clouds hid the heat she desired as soon as she stepped through the door. Jerking away at the blending of coffee beans, Rachel sat. The tantalizing aroma of baked goodies filled the air. She loved coming here to just read. This spot would never be the same to her after today.

Rachel focused on her fingers and queried the intricacies of his flight. Devon responded and dove into details of his job as a pilot too. He sipped the water. Devon witnessed a tsunami of emotions when Rachel lifted her head.

“Why did you call me here?” Rachel ordered, glaring at him.

Sympathy ran in Devon’s bones, her eyelids looked so swollen. 

“I… wanted to make amends.” Devon declared.

Rachel shook her head. 

“Why did you ask her to kill me? Isn’t abandoning me enough?”

Devon rubbed the circle of his silver Rolex watch. 

He stared through the window and stated, “I didn’t wish for your mother to bear the shame. It was my fault, I shouldn’t have…” then sighed.

He met her angry gaze. “My actions were selfish and irresponsible. I am sorry.” 

“Why should I believe you?”

Before Devon could answer, the waitress walked up to the curve of the table and singed good morning. Her shoulders dropped after meeting two pairs of not-in-the-mood eyes. She got their orders and stepped off.

“I am trying to be a better man. I have some things to straighten out. This is one of them.” Devon admitted.

The insides of Rachel lit up like wildfire. 

“So, I am just a part of some checklist!?” she said.

“No, no, no, not like that.” Devon drew a breath, “I have been praying too-”

“I will not help to sooth your conscience Mr. Dixon, I mean, Father.”

Devon couldn’t think of anything else to say, “I am sorry. I truly am.”

“So, the villain wants to become the hero?” Rachel spat. 

Devon shifted in his seat. 

“All I am asking is for a chance.” Devon pleaded.

“To do what? Leave again!?” Rachel fired. “This is wasting my time. I have to go.”

She sped through the doors faster than a deer being chased by a lion. 

Mark only caught up with her when she was entering a taxi. 

“Rachel?” was all he could say.

She didn’t look up, “I will talk to you later. Thanks.” 

Adrian found Mark and asked what happened. Mark said he was just as clueless as he. 

They both journeyed back to school. 

They discussed the events and Adrian clarified that Rachel should be grateful. He had been longing to meet his father, all his life. 

Adrian had grown up in a garrison in Kingston. Guns were no strange commodity, and funerals were too many to track. He got saved when he was just about to enter the most dangerous gang in the constituency.

He was in his room one night when God spoke to him. He only kept it in his heart. On a cool Saturday evening, on his way home, a group of Christians handed out invitations to a crusade. He visited the Thursday service and that night he received the holy ghost and got baptized. He never saw an alternative. His mom is a street vendor who hardly had funds to send him to school. Leaving home gave him an escape and football became the way he expressed his turbulent emotions. The gang leader had promised to pay his college tuition if he joined but walking this new path, that was no longer an option. God prepared an opportunity for a sports scholarship for him. That’s how he met Mark. They played on the same team. Mark had noticed that something familiar to him despite his unfriendly countenance. He asked him questions, and they confirmed the connection he felt. 

“I hope the situation works out though.” Mark added. 

“Then again, some things are thorns in our flesh.” Adrian finished, gazing off in the distance.

The rains began just as Rachel reached her dorm step.

She rushed up, fumbling for her keys. At last, she crashed on her woven carpet. 

Her thoughts came rushing in, and she couldn’t keep her warm tears from escaping. The rain masked her screams while every drop dug deeper into her peace.  

Her phone vibrated; it was her mom. She silenced it and opted to talk to her later. 

She changed and curled up in her bed, scrolling through social media for the next few hours.

 She was in the middle of a tik tok video when her mom’s face appeared. She answered, and her mom quizzed her on the meeting today.

She placed her palm on her forehead and told her everything.

“What happened to the word you received from God.” her mom challenged.

She crossed her legs. 

“Rachel, there’s a place in you that’s hidden. Anger always walks with a friend.”

She ended the call, cooked dinner and watched a movie until she fell asleep.

Sunday arrived too soon. Rachel grimaced and turned at the sound of her alarm. It went off again and 10 minutes felt like seconds. Dragging herself along, she got dressed in an hour.

When she entered the church, her seat was the near the third column. She kept her head low while the service flew by in a blur. She was gathering her things when a woman with little streaks of silver hair beaming from under her hat approached her. Her expression was serious, but her eyes shone with love. Her frame hung a black dress around her. Not drawing onlookers to her generously proportioned chest. 

“God told me to talk to you. He never told me what it was though.” Sis. Williams said. 

Rachel struggled to back her tears. 

“Can we talk on the veranda?” She said and strolled off. Rachel followed like a child summoned by their parent. 

Settled on the hardwood benches, she asked, “What seems to be the problem?”

Gazing at the multi-colored board houses below, Rachel felt oddly at ease with her. She gushed out everything except naming her friend and the specific abuse. Giving a long loud sigh at the end. 

Sis. Williams looked up and said, “Jesus, You remain faithful.” Turning to Rachel she said, “I understand exactly how you feel. My father left me when I was 5.” 

Rachel’s eyes widened. She sat in awe as the prim Sis. Williams told her about her horrible past. She spoke of hungry nights and abusive days. Her mother had beaten her so bad one day that she had to go to the clinic to dress the wound. Her mother fed the nurses lies, which they believed. Her father had come into her life 10 years ago when she finished school and engaged. He was battling prostate cancer and needed help. 

“How did you deal with all of that?” Rachel asked. 

She smiled and said, “Grace.” 

Rachel leaned back.

“But he doesn’t deserve grace.” 

“That’s exactly what grace is.” Sis. Williams said and smiled. 

“You can’t rely on yourself to do it though, it is an act of the Spirit. I believe that’s why you are struggling. You are trying to fight with your weapons. Any act or word that should please God that doesn’t flow from him is not of him.” 

“I think I understand. Thank you.” Rachel stated. 

Sis. Williams hugged her and then prayed. They exchanged numbers before parting.

Rachel passed Mark and Adrian in the hallway. She apologized and thanked them for being there. They didn’t ask the details, and she didn’t say. 

The two started towards the cafeteria.

“Mark, I am having a problem.”

Grace

The demonstration of the love of God. That’s what I understand it is. The power of God displayed. The truth of God defended. The judgement of God prevented. The sovereignty of God applauded. The wisdom of God rewarded, and the mercy of God lauded. Philip Yancey says it is the last best word of Christianity. It has not been corrupted by evolving language. Grace never lost its grandeur. We just closed our eyes to it. He cited David Seamands, a counselor:

Many years ago I was driven to the conclusion that the two major causes of most emotional problems among Evangelical Christians are these: the failure to understand, receive, and live out God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace to other people… We read, we hear, we believe a good theology of grace. But that’s not that the way we live. The good news of the gospel of grace has not penetrated the level of our emotions. 

(What’s So Amazing About Grace, Philip Yancey, Pg. 15)

Shame Room

To give grace, we must first embrace it. Have you experienced the grace of God? How do you know? It’s not to experience freedom from guilt but to live free from sin. 

Until God has complete access to our shame room of our hearts, we missed out on an opportunity of freedom. Until he gets to open the volumes of our former and present wrongs, brush his hands over the portrait of our carnal mind, with us confessing to him our evil conditions, there can never be healing. God sees your mess, but do you?

Grace Springs

Are we so blinded that we cannot see the callus growing over our hearts? Prostitutes flocked Jesus. Why? Would they throng to you? Do they gather to the church? Why? There is a key ingredient missing from the pot we have cooked up. It is the season of grace. Without it, we taste bland, worthless and are therefore irrelevant to the world.

Do you consider yourself above the offender? Are you 100% certain you would not have acted the same provided the individual’s upbringing, cultures, and present situation? What makes your evils better than theirs? Who is the judge? We give grace because we see ourselves. We recognize our frailty or a terrible need for God to do righteousness.

The Grace-filled Life

For me it is to be like Steven, full of power and grace (Acts 6:8). For my speech to be seasoned with grace (Col. 4:6). To truly deny ungodliness and worldly lust by the power of grace (Titus 2:12). To experience the joy of considering my life as dung so one day I can stand before all men and testify of his bountiful grace (Act 20:24). This is attainable because the Word says it! I will press towards it! Even when I have to press me.

What’s next?

Rachel is in a battle and it’s not the battle you think. She is fighting to be severed from hate and anger. Will she be able to? What problem is Mark referring to? What’s going on with Sarah? All this and more next Friday at 12 pm! Our theme for this year is ‘Celebrating Individuality, Embracing Our Identity.’ To know we are, we first need to know we are not. We are not judges. Remember you are precious.

Engraved: Bruised

“Who raped you, Sarah?” Rachel asked seriously.

“Ray,” Sarah said, looking at the floor.

“Who?” Rachel asked with a quizzical look on her face.

“My uncle,” Sarah responded.

Rachel’s heart sank.

Sarah noticed that Rachel was reluctant to respond. She then said, “Yea, I know, I wouldn’t have expected that either.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” Rachel asked considerately.

Sarah contemplated all the possible people she could tell and decided she wasn’t close to anyone she didn’t want to hear.

Sarah let out a sigh and began, “I used to respect him very much even though he isn’t a Christian. When I was a child, he used to play with me all the time. On my birthday, he would buy me the best gifts too. He was always the life of the party, charming everyone with his eloquence of speech. He is a teacher by profession and lives with his wife and two children.”

Rachel was stuck on that last phrase, “He has a family?!” she thought.

Sarah continued, “I started noticing little changes when I started puberty. He told me I was growing into a beautiful young lady. The way he said it did not sound innocent. After that, I would catch him staring at my breast from time to time. I never told anyone about it as I was giving him the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to believe he was my intelligent, fun, and responsible uncle. I thought he wouldn’t desire his niece like that, right?”

Sarah shook her head as if feeling like a fool that she did.

Sarah said, “Things got strange when I saw him one day at my past school, and I found out he got a job there. I was in the sixth form at the time. He would ask me to sit with him during lunch, but I would always say that I have homework or something else to do.”

“The evening when … it happened,” Sarah swallowed before continuing.

“My father was supposed to pick me up that day, but he had some report to finish at work. He called to say Uncle Ray would be the one to carry me home. I pleaded with my father to let me take a taxi, but he said I would be safer with family, little did he know that wasn’t true. I knew my father would listen, convinced my feelings were immature, I kept my mouth shut.” Sarah said regretfully.

She continued, “Anyways, he had evening school to teach so, I waited in the library until it was time. He called me when he was through, and I went to the parking lot. I greeted him as usual and sat in the back. Ray tried picking a conversation with me, but I barely answered and put in my earphones. I noticed that he missed a turn, then I took them from my ears and asked. Ray said he was going to a nearby shop. I settled back in my seat only to notice more bushes than I can recall from the journey. My heart started racing. Then all of a sudden, the car came to a stop and, he began cranking the engine.”

Sarah added, “The large brick wall you saw is what’s left of the burnt-out children’s home.”

Rachel thought, “I knew I had seen the place before, her church had visited it before it’s destruction.”

Sarah continued, “Ray stepped out of the car and went to the bonnet. It was dark out, and the only flickering street light was present. He called me out to help to find the flashlight. I did, all I wanted was to get home as soon as possible. As I started saying, maybe we should call someone, he grabbed my neck. Then, he pushed me to the passenger’s door glass. He took out a black-handled knife and, and rested it on my throat. He whispered in my ears and told me that he has been watching me. He told me he knew I wanted this too. I said no, and he snapped at me and told me to shut up. He took out the white thing they use to tie the rims and tied my arms behind my back. He then pulled me over to the bushes and pushed me on the ground. I felt prickles sticking me all over my body. Then he knelt over me. He lifted my uniform skirt,” Sarah broke off and sobbed.

She continued, working hard to keep her voice steady, “Cut my underwear with the knife and placed his knees between my legs. He took a condom from his back pocket. He opened his buttons and pulled down his trousers. I couldn’t believe this was happening. All of my senses froze. I couldn’t move.”

Rachel heard the helplessness in her voice. She couldn’t bear the details but knew this was important to her friend and, after all, she asked.

“He placed a hand over my mouth and forced himself in me. I have never felt such acute pain in my entire life.” Sarah cried.

By this, Rachel found herself crossing her legs at the thought. She was blinking unnaturally to hold back her tears.

Sarah continued, “Every move he made increased the amount of pain I felt. No matter how I pleaded through his fingers and fought with what little strength I had, he didn’t stop. He never looked in my eyes.” Sarah sighed, “After what seemed like an eternity to me, he got his release and rested a while before getting up. I heard the sound of his zip and the rustle of his buckle. He then cut the strip that held me captive and threw me a little white towel to clean myself up. I might not have been able to see the substance, but I knew it was blood. Painstakingly, I attempted it. He dragged me to the car and gave me his jacket to put on over my uniform. He drove me home, and when he stopped at the gate, he threatened me. He told me if I said anything, he would deny it, kill me and make it look like a suicide. He went as far as to say he would rape my little sister too. I couldn’t bear the thought of Ruth going through the same thing. So, I kept my mouth shut.”

“When I got through the door, I told mom I wasn’t feeling well. She brought up dinner and told me to get some rest. Dad came home at almost midnight that day, I know because he stopped by my room like he does every night. That night, I pretended I was asleep. He took my wrinkled fingers from the length of my shower and said he was sorry he couldn’t pick me up, and it won’t happen again. If he had stayed one more minute, I would have blurted out everything, but he left. From that night, I learned to keep things hidden.” Sarah remarked.

“You know what the worst part is?” Sarah asked.

“What is Sarah?” Rachel responded. Her voice was down to a whisper.

“I begged God to help me, and he didn’t. He didn’t stop the man. He didn’t even stop the pain. He let me feel everything alone! He let this man bruise not only my body but my mind too. What kind of God would do that Rachel?” Sarah asked angrily.

Rachel didn’t answer. She couldn’t, not in the presence of so much pain. Instead, she asked, “How did you carry this for so long?”

Sarah responded with a painful chuckle, “You learn. You can put pain in a coffin and bury it so far down that you forget it. You can numb yourself so greatly that you feel disconnected from it. At church, sometimes I am genuine, and other times, I just go with the flow. After a while, you learn the typical behaviors.”

“Why do you cut yourself?” Rachel inquired.

“I don’t know when it started, but I just find myself doing it. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to love most of the time anymore. Or because instead of feeling the pain inside, I now feel it outside. Other times, when I have been numb too long, the slices help me to feel. It helps me recognize my humanity. That night you caught me, was the anniversary of the rape. The emotions came in like tsunami waves, and I couldn’t handle them.”

“Why happened between you and Mark?” Rachel finally asked. She noticed her friend never brought him up once.

Sarah straightened her back, “After it happened, they started noticing changes in me for months. They asked, and I would brush it off. It was after we came to the university that they approached me seriously. I made up a lie to get them off my trail. I couldn’t face them. I couldn’t face Mark. If he found out, the feelings he tried to hide would be thrown out.”

Rachel realized, Sarah was fear-ridden in every area of her life. She was not prepared for all of this. For crying out loud, she just came to get her degree! Rachel knew she couldn’t abandon her now, not after tonight. She had to help her friend, especially since she helped her so much. But how to, that answer evaded her.

Rachel said, with every confidence she could muster, “Sarah, we will get through this. God didn’t give up on me, He won’t give up on you.”

Rachel left that night devastated. She had so many questions for God. She even got angry too. How could an uncle do that?! What wicked creature would be able to live through that moment? When she reached her dorm room, she curled up in her white fluffy blanket and bawled her eyes out. She needed also to prepare for meeting her father. She almost canceled it but realized it was because she was using Sarah’s situation to avoid the confrontation.
She had a brief conversation on the day of the meeting with her mother, and they prayed before ending the call.

She didn’t know what to wear! She was going to meet her father for the first time, and her biggest problem was clothes.
“I want to look mature, independent, and happy. It seems nothing in my closet match the description,” she said frustrated. She dug and dug until she settled on a white and black chiffon blouse with a black jeans skirt. “This will have to do,” she thought.
They were meeting up at a small restaurant near her. Rachel went early to plan with Mark and Adrian. The boys were to sit three tables away to be close enough to hear but not close enough to be seen.


When Devon Dixon walked in, Rachel didn’t have to think twice if it was him. He had the same slender frame, and a short bridged, rounded tip nose as her. He had a faded hairstyle that highlighted his thick, curly hair. Devon Dixon was tall though. She figured she got her height from her mother.
He seemed to have recognized her too. Rachel shuffled to stand. She nervously gave her hand and said hello. He took it and shook it gently. He said, “Hi Rachel, it’s wonderful to finally meet you.”

Raped

If you are reading this and you have experienced rape, my entire being goes out to you. I want you to know, you are loved, you are seen. Precious, you are not alone. I will leave the advice for future posts but for now, I want you to know, I see your pain. I feel those warm tears. I understand your confusion. It’s okay to be here. It’s okay to feel everything deeply. It’s okay not to be so strong. It’s okay to experience the roller coaster emotions. Yes, it did happen. I hope you don’t ignore just because it is ‘too much’. You are different but you are you. You have life and there is hope. And, yes, you can be healed.

Shame

It is a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety (Merriam Webster Dictionary). When you experience shame, the first discovery is nakedness (Gen. 2:25). There is a divine consciousness that abides in us. When we do things or experience things contrary to that nature, it send off a signal in us. Our initial response is to hide (Gen. 3:7). The exposure of something you want to remain hidden is never a comfortable experience. That’s why we run from intimacy with God and vulnerability with others. We are afraid that the picture perfect life that we have portrayed is nothing but a mask we wear everyday. To be fully known and fully loved is the most liberating thing. It is the kind of love God is. I won’t say too much on this yet. I want us to take baby steps. We can start by answering these questions;

1. What am I ashamed of? Why am I ashamed of it?

2. Who is responsible?

3. Have we confessed it?

4. Have we invited God in the shame room?

5. Have you given Him the authority to do something about it?

What’s Next?

Rachel has met her father. Now what? Is there any hope for a healthy relationship with him? Will she be able to open her heart to him? Will she be able to truly forgive? We get to meet a very interesting character too, Adrian. Let’s see if we can uncover his story. Missed the last one?! Click here.

Engraved:Wounds

Rachel immediately sat up, “W… Who?”

“Your father,” Devon repeated.

“Before she could say another word, he said hesitantly, “I am coming to Jamaica this week. I would like you to consider meeting up with me.”

Rachel’s mind was spinning. She thought maybe she was in another dream. She was then startled by a questioning hello, she quickly responded, “Yes, I heard you.”

Before she could say another word, he added, “I know this is a shock to you. I have so many things to share with you, and over the phone won’t be ideal. You can take some time to consider and get back to me. This is my number.” With that, she said okay and the line went dead.

The temperature rose in the room, and she started to have trouble breathing. She stepped into her slippers and went out to the balcony.

She welcomed the crisp air that surrounded her.

She placed her fingers on her right temple, that has been throbbing from the sound of his name. She struggled to wrap her mind around what just took place. “Was Sarah raped? How did Devon Dixon even get my number?” she questioned.

She didn’t have an answer to any of them, so she did what any young adult do when they are confused. She called her mother.

“Mom?” she couldn’t wait for her to say hello first.

“Yes, Rachel? What’s wrong?” her mother sensed the struggle in her voice.

“Devon Dixon called.” Rachel said flatly.

There was a deafening silence on the line.

“Mom?” Rachel said.

“Yes, I am here,” she responded softly.

“What did he say?” She continued working hard not to sound unnerved.

“He said he is coming to Jamaica this week, and he wants to meet up with me,” Rachel replied.

“Oh. Do you want to?” Her mother asked.

“I don’t know,” Rachel confessed.

Her mother then asked, “What exactly don’t you know?”

Rachel thought for a moment and then answered, “I don’t know if I want to meet him. I don’t even know if I want a relationship with him. I don’t know if I am strong enough to look at his face. I don’t know if I will believe what he says even if I meet up with him. I don’t know how I will respond if worse, he pretends as if it is all good between us like he hasn’t left me before I was even born.”

Her mother listened carefully and said, “Sounds to me you haven’t let go of the hurt.”

Rachel shot back quickly, “I have, it’s just that I don’t want to allow him to walk away from me again. I don’t know if I can handle that.”

Her mother said, “I understand. I have been praying for us that we may experience healing. I have been praying for Devon too, your father. My heart desires to see us put our differences aside and have a healthy relationship.

Rachel was in disbelief; this certainly could not have been her bitter, and torn mother speaking like this. Rachel knew she must have been with Jesus.

“Where have I been.” she thought. “I prayed sincerely too.”

She said out loud, “So, am I supposed to just drop my guard and forget about everything? Mom, this man broke my heart. He took away my right to grow up with an appreciation for authority and security. Now that God has restored me, I don’t need him.” she said as-a-matter-of-factly.

Her mom said, “If you were truly restored, you would have spoken from a place of grace and not judgment.”

Rachel didn’t have a comeback but promised herself she would. She told her mom that they would talk soon and ended the call.

Sleep never came to her mind as she stepped back into her room. She needed an answer and she needed it now.

“I should have the right to involve who I want in my life. Anything that affects my peace should be cut off or in this case, they should remain disconnected.”

She knew that only God’s word would suffice her, so she opted to research it. She sat in her chair and opened the nude sprayed Lenovo laptop. She went straight to google. She typed in scriptures for forgiveness and then clicked the search icon. Little did she know that her research would take up hours of her time. It was 1:00 am and still nothing. She then met up on the Parable of the Prodigal Son. She decided to read each verse carefully. When she started verse 20, a ton of brink sank in her belly.

The Father had compassion for the son. This was something she has never felt for her father. She thought, “The father didn’t even wait on an apology either.”

“This can’t be right,” she said out loud. “This is not fair at all.” she continued.

She shut the laptop angrily got up from the desk and decided to take what hours of rest she had left before sunrise. The sun was peering through the window above her head and unto her white furry blanket. It was the brightness of the light that woke up Rachel. The time of day felt rather strange as early mornings were cooler and darker. She reached over to check her phone. When she saw the time, she screeched and tore off the sheets. It was 10:30 am and she had a class at 11:00 am. She frantically started to look for her bathroom essentials and headed to the shower. It was the fastest one she has ever taken. She got dressed quickly after returning, stopping briefly at the door to pull up the back of her ballet flats. She breezed to class and out of breath she sat down to take out her, Introduction to Biology notebook.

The topic for today was ‘The Cellular Biology of Wound Healing’. It was 11:15 am and the lecturer had finished the introduction. She then started discussing the first phase, which was the Inflammatory stage. At this stage, sensors around the wound notify the rest of the body that there is a breach. The part that stood out to Sarah was the fact that the body’s first response was to unite the wound’s edges. To close the breach, to reconcile. When she realized what was happening, she said, “Really Jesus?” The rest of the class was a real struggle for her mentally and physically. Her stomach started to make loud noises. “It’s better to be late and not starving.” She thought. She was never happier to see 1:00 pm. She rushed out of class. Still shuffling to put her things into her bag, she bumped into someone. “I am so sorry,” she said. The person had already started helping her when they recognized the voice. Rachel froze when they made eye contact. Sarah said, “Hi Rachel.”

“Hi, Sarah.” She pushed back sights of her crying and wrestling with that man in the dream.

Sarah saw that she was in distress, “Are you okay?” she asked.

“No.” Rachel said.

“What’s wro…?” Sarah started.

Rachel cut her off, “No Sarah, you don’t get to hear all of my struggles and you don’t tell me about yours. I thought we were friends. I thought you trusted me.”

Sarah knew Rachel was telling the truth, but Sarah couldn’t tell her. There was too much at stake. Tears welled up in her eyes, “I am sorry, Rachel.”

Rachel knew that the apology was genuine. “What if she was raped? That would be quite difficult to say.” Rachel thought. Since she didn’t know for sure, she pushed it to the back of her mind. Sarah walked off and Rachel went back to her to the dorm to cook something.

For the next few days, prayer felt like a battle. She knew what she needed to do but she didn’t desire or believe it. For the first time in months, this was the most she had struggled spiritually and emotionally. She went to a bible study that week. The church was kind in sending a bus to the campus every time services were held. The church was on the series of the Tabernacle. That day, the focus was on the Mercy Seat. It was only at the end of the study when the Pastor asked everyone to pray that Rachel made the connection. There was a question on her conscience, “Where is your mercy Rachel?” She has never experienced anything more piercing and gut-wrenching.

She couldn’t fight anymore, and, at that moment, she lifted her hands, with tears sliding down her cheeks, she said, “Jesus, I am letting this go.” She let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding. She experienced a feeling still that something was still not surrendered. She then asked God to show her and He responded, “Sarah.” At the sound of her name, all the hurt and pain she felt the other day came back. She heard God say, “Yes, you need to let go of that too.” She didn’t say anything this time, but she knew her heart shifted.

On her way home on the bus, she called the number for Devon Dixon and made plans to meet up on Saturday. She texted Mark too, brought him up to speed and asked if he and one of his friends could accompany her. Mark accepted speedily and he reached out to Adrian. After their conversation, she rested her head on the glass and said, “What am I going to do about Sarah?” She didn’t get an answer but decided just stopping by would suffice. When she arrived on campus, she headed straight for her dorm. The lounge was unusually quiet and only the sound of pieces of litter being moved by the breeze could be heard.

Walking up the staircase, she pushed away every desire to turn back. Here she was again at the door of room 203. The place where she saw parts of Sarah, she never knew existed. She said a little prayer for her nerves and then knocked.

Sarah opened the door; Rachel could see she was surprised but not excited to see her. She let her in any way. She used a baby pink Aeropostale sweater to cover her white nightgown. She started, “Is there something I can help you with? I was just going to bed.” Rachel replied timidly, “I was just stopping by to check on you.”

“Oh.” that was all Sarah could say, she wasn’t expecting that. She quickly regained her composure and said, “Thank you, I am okay.”

Rachel’s eyes wandered to the sleeve that she knew was covering the wounds. Sarah began to move the arm nervously.

Rachel remarked, “Good to know,” and started for the door. Whilst reaching out for the bronze handle, she felt a nudge from God to share the dream with Sarah.

She turned slowly and looked at Sarah square in the eyes.

“I had a dream,” she said.

Sarah reluctantly said, “Go on,” and sat on the chair.

Rachel described the setting and Sarah’s chest immediately started rising and falling at a faster pace. Rachel went on to talk about how the man was abusing the girl, the cries and pleadings she made, the pushes she attempted.

Sarah got up and whispered stop, but Rachel didn’t hear.

She went on to say, “The woman I saw was you.”

Sarah held on to the back of the chair nearby for support.

Rachel then asked, “Is this so Sarah?”

Sarah shook her head, not trusting her voice.

Rachel stepped closer, “Are you lying to me?”

She didn’t move.

Rachel called out, “Sarah.” She didn’t answer the first time but responded after the third time.

Sarah turned around, her eyes were poufy, and her nose looked red, not to mention the river of tears dripping from her chin.

Rachel whispered, “It’s okay, I won’t judge you, or tell anybody.”

She said, “Yes Rachel, I was, I was, I…”

Rachel didn’t wait. She flew over to her friend and held her hand. She wasn’t sure she would accept a hug.

“Do you know who did it?” Rachel asked.

“Yes,” Sarah admitted.

Forgiveness

  1. to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong
  2. to stop blaming (someone)
  3. to stop feeling anger about (something)
  4. to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed)

Out of all the definitions Merriam Webster’s dictionary gave, I particularly like number 4. When we forgive, we stop seeking any justice or retribution. Is our God not a God of Justice? Does he not destroy the wicked and save the righteous? Oh yes! He is justice personified.

Psalm 9:7-9

But the Lord reigns forever,

executing judgment from his throne.

He will judge the world with justice

and rule the nations with fairness.

The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed,

a refuge in times of trouble.

Isaiah 5:16

But the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will be exalted by his justice.

The holiness of God will be displayed by his righteousness.

Who has the Right to Cast Judgment?

Judgment here denoting condemnation, punishment, not deciphering right and wrong. A righteous man can do that; 1 Corinthians 2:15: Those who are spiritual can evaluate (judgeth) all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. This evaluation should not come from mere feelings or opinions but the Word of God. Therefore, calling out sin is not judgment, it’s truth.

When people do us wrong, the judgment does not rest in us.

Romans 12:19

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,

“I will take revenge;

I will pay them back,”[a]

says the Lord.

How does God administer Judgement?

I would like to focus on two ways in which he does this. Namely, the cross and hell.

The Cross

All of us have sinned, done evil and deserved judgment. We are liars if we say we have never sinned. What makes a sin against us worst than us sinning against God and hurting others? Nothing but selfishness. God in His foreknowledge, He knew that His wrath must be satisfied but, He needed to express His love. Justice and love met that day on the cross. His wrath was poured out on the One who didn’t deserve it, for people who did. If our offenders surrender to God, their sin would be dealt with at the cross.

Romans 3:25-26

God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,

For he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Hell

Unrepentant people will be punished in hell, that’s the truth. This should never come as a joy to us, if it does, we don’t understand what hell will be like. If you someone has offended you and has not found Christ, I beg that you pray for them earnestly. The present hurt is way lesser in value than an eternity of torment. You can find out more here.

Rev. 21:8

“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Conclusion

Have you forgiven all your offenders? This week, how can you reach out to someone who has hurt you? How can you reconcile with someone who you have hurt? I pray we will take these things seriously because if we don’t forgive, we won’t be forgiven. What a sad thing it would be if we end up in hell with the unrepentant people we have not forgiven.

What’s Next?

Sarah was raped, but by whom?! Of course I want to hear your predictions ! How will the meeting of Rachel and her father unfold? All this and more next Friday at 12 pm. Missed last week’s post? Here it is! Remember you are precious!

Engraved: Scars

The room was dimly lit but bright enough for Rachel to see. Books that were on the floor seem pushed off from Sarah’s bed. Breathless and speechless, Rachel stepped nervously forward. Happy, helpful Sarah was crouched down at the side of her bed with earphones in her ears, tears streaming down her face and a razor slicing her wrist.

Rachel saw the blood slowly dripping from the previous fine slices on her hand. She saw the word, ‘help’ engraved on her skin.

She nervously reached out her hand and tapped her on the shoulder. Sarah jumped from where she was, and the look on her face was so devasting. 

Sarah immediately started to wipe away the tears in her eyes. She soon realized that she was only making it worse as the blood transferred to her face.

Rachel then said, let me help you. With that, she took her hand and motioned for her to sit on the bed. Before Sarah knew it, she went to the bathroom and damped a soft cloth and started cleaning her hands.

Neither of them spoke for a while. This time the silence was awkward.   

“Why?” Rachel asked.

Sarah said softly, “You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me,” Rachel said.

Sarah shook her head. Rachel decided she wouldn’t force her friend to talk tonight. Instead, she hugged her friend and started to pray for her. Rachel started,

“Jesus, I don’t know what it is going with Sarah, I know you know. You are sovereign. Jesus, help Sarah. You rescued me in dark days, you healed my heart and restored me with Your grace. I know you can do it for her. Lord, whatever element that is fighting against her soul’s rest in You, lift a standard. That whisper’s lies in her spirit, I pray You will replace it with Your truth. Remind her of the victories of the cross and how precious she is in your sight. Send help for her ailing heart and set her free from this bondage. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.”

Sarah sobbed throughout the entire time.

Rachel decided to stay until Sarah went to bed. When she was finally asleep, she left and decided to walk back to her dorm. She decided to walk the long route. Puzzled and conflicted, Rachel had a hard time making sense of things.  When she fell in her bed, things even made worse sense. “How could this be?” she thought. Sarah was always known to be happy, caring, and modest. She was an example, especially since she is a minster’s daughter. Rachel had grown to admire the family, particularly the father. He was so caring, compassionate, and sound. “Did he not see that his daughter is struggling? How did I not see?” she thought.

Rachel had such a hard time sleeping last night that when her alarm woke her up Sunday, she jumped and cried, “Sarah!” realizing she was in her room, she settled down and then checked her phone if Sarah messaged. She didn’t see a call or message from her. “She might be still asleep,” she thought.

She had her devotion and then started getting ready for church. When she was through, she called, and Sarah answered with the brightest morning she has ever heard. She asked too how she was, Rachel responded, “Fine, I guess. Are you okay?” Sarah answered, “Yes,” without skipping a beat. Rachel then asked, “Will I see you at church?” Sarah responded, “Certainly, I am already on my way from home.” Sarah lived just an hour from school. She stays on campus because her parents thought she would be safer.

When Rachel arrived at church, she saw Sarah teaching the toddlers in Sunday School. She was so enthused about it and widely smiled when they answered correctly. She opted to observe for the day. Sarah then led prayer service during divine service and even worked at the altar after church. Rachel wondered how many Sundays she did this.

Rachel finally got a hold of Sarah after church and asked how she was. Sarah said, “Wonderful, today was awesome.” Rachel replied, looking at her hands that were covered by the shiny purple jacket she had on, “Even after last night?”

“Yes,” Sarah replied through her teeth.

“Are you sure? Because if you ever want to talk-“

Sarah cut her off, “I am sure.”

Sarah then said she was going home now so she will see her at school. Rachel then turned to walk but saw Mark by the refreshment area. She decided to see what she could find out from Mark.

Mark was wearing a white long sleeve oxford shirt today and navy-blue pants. He never really liked ties and only wore them on special occasions. He was always one of those sober brothers that Rachel felt comfortable with. He already had a slice of cake in his mouth and made a big swallow when Rachel appeared.

“Rachel! It is good to see you, how are you?” he smiled and said.

 Rachel responded, “I am okay, I guess. How are you?”

Mark said, “God has been faithful.” She asked if they could sit on a bench nearby. She said, “I have something to talk to you about.” 

“What is it?” he asked.

Rachel then said, “I…wanted to ask you about Sarah.” Mark took a sip of his grape-flavored cran-water drink. Rachel continued, “I’m concerned about her, have you spoken with her lately?”

Mark gave a loud sigh and said, “Things have been complicated between us. So, I wouldn’t know.” He wished he knew more to share.  Maybe it was the sound of desperation in her voice or the fact that she seemed so uneasy. “Did something happen?” he asked, sounding more concerned than he liked. 

Rachel replied placing her hands in her lap, “That’s what I am trying to find out.”

She then realized she didn’t touch her watch when she was uncertain or nervous anymore. She knew there was a shift in where she drew strength from. She knew it was God. She would celebrate that but first, she needed to hear more. Probably whatever is affecting Sarah is somehow still tied to Mark, just as how her childhood was affecting her present. She then asked, “Why are things complicated?”

Mark let out a sigh, “It’s a long story.” Knowing she didn’t have to go back with the bus that was now headed for campus but could take public transportation, she said, “I have time.”

Depression

The oxford dictionary defines it as, feelings of severe despondency and dejection. It is derived from the root word ‘deprimere‘ which means ‘press down’. It is so common that most people don’t always take it seriously whether in themselves or others. Psychologists renders it a mental illness, I agree to the extent that it means our minds are sick, that they are not operating healthily. The causes tend to vary between persons. It could be an improper diet, lack of exercise, insufficient sunshine, trauma including common unfavorable circumstances, discouragement, inadequate rest, imbalanced hormones, lack of submission to God, demonic harassment, inadequate social interactions, sin, drug abuse among other reasons. I am just making it clear that the cause is not always spiritual. I encourage you to spend some time to introspect, read the Word, talk with a friend and pray to find the root cause.

I have always thought depression was something Christians should never experience. That’s because of the close relationship they should have with God. I thought it was never possible to experience this feeling of being ‘pressed down’ mentally. Let’s just say I found out soon enough. Whilst I agree that this is not God’s will for us, he provides us with an antidote for healing our heavy minds. I chose two persons in the bible to describe the signs and how to overcome depression. The first person is Elijah, I particularly loved the documentation of his dark season as I find it very relatable. Especially considering the number of miracles he did and his closeness to God. I believe the account I am about to share with you is one of the reasons James says he was a man just like us. (James 5:17) We get to see him weak and vulnerable. That’s not very popular today.

Signs of Depression

You can use these to identify it in your own life or that of the people around you. Here are some major signs of depression:

  • Fear (1 Kings 18:3)
  • Unhealthy Desire for Solitude (1 Kings 18:4)
  • Desire to die, Suicidal (1 Kings 18:4)
  • Self-Loathing (1 Kings 18:5)
  • Fatigue (1 King 18:5)
  • Perceived Loneliness (1 Kings 18:10)

How to Combat Depression

Overcoming depression is not a walk in the park, so don’t tell yourself to just get over it. It doesn’t work at least for me it doesn’t. There are times when you feel like a prisoner in your mind even when the door is open it seems you don’t have the strength to walk out. How do you fight when you have to fight your self? What destroys us from within cannot be healed from within. The next hero I would like to shine some light on is David. The truth, up until last night I never truly saw or understood the struggles David went through. It was when I began reading the cries of his heart, I understood that he did have a lot of mental battles that outweighed the physical ones. Let’s look to him to help us navigate these dark moments or extended periods. I would encourage you to read them all, I will share selected verses only.

Psalm 130:1 NLT

I took my troubles to the Lord;
    I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.

Psalm 121 NLT

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

Psalm 120 :1 NLT

I took my troubles to the Lord;
    I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.

Psalm 116:1-4 NLT

I love the Lord because he hears my voice
    and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
    I will pray as long as I have breath!
Death wrapped its ropes around me;
    the terrors of the grave[a] overtook me.
    I saw only trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “Please, Lord, save me!”

Psalm 102:1-7 NLT

Lord, hear my prayer!
    Listen to my plea!
Don’t turn away from me
    in my time of distress.
Bend down to listen,
    and answer me quickly when I call to you.
For my days disappear like smoke,
    and my bones burn like red-hot coals.
My heart is sick, withered like grass,
    and I have lost my appetite.
Because of my groaning,
    I am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like an owl in the desert,
    like a little owl in a far-off wilderness.
I lie awake,
    lonely as a solitary bird on the roof.

Psalm 88:1-10 NLT

O Lord, God of my salvation,
    I cry out to you by day.
    I come to you at night.
Now hear my prayer;
    listen to my cry.
For my life is full of troubles,
    and death[b] draws near.
I am as good as dead,
    like a strong man with no strength left.
They have left me among the dead,
    and I lie like a corpse in a grave.
I am forgotten,
    cut off from your care.
You have thrown me into the lowest pit,
    into the darkest depths.
Your anger weighs me down;
    with wave after wave you have engulfed me. Interlude
You have driven my friends away
    by making me repulsive to them.
I am in a trap with no way of escape.
    My eyes are blinded by my tears.
Each day I beg for your help, O Lord;
    I lift my hands to you for mercy.
10 Are your wonderful deeds of any use to the dead?
    Do the dead rise up and praise you?

Psalm 86:16-17 NLT

Look down and have mercy on me.
    Give your strength to your servant;
    save me, the son of your servant.
17 Send me a sign of your favor.
    Then those who hate me will be put to shame,
    for you, O Lord, help and comfort me.

Psalm 77 :4-12 NLT

You don’t let me sleep.
    I am too distressed even to pray!
I think of the good old days,
    long since ended,
when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
    I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
Has the Lord rejected me forever?
    Will he never again be kind to me?
Is his unfailing love gone forever?
    Have his promises permanently failed?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he slammed the door on his compassion? Interlude
10 And I said, “This is my fate;
    the Most High has turned his hand against me.”
11 But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
    I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
    I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.

Psalm 73:13-19 NLT

Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?
    Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?
14 I get nothing but trouble all day long;
    every morning brings me pain.
15 If I had really spoken this way to others,
    I would have been a traitor to your people.
16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
    But what a difficult task it is!
17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
    and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path
    and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
19 In an instant they are destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors.

Psalm 69:1-3 NLT

Save me, O God,
    for the floodwaters are up to my neck.
Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire;
    I can’t find a foothold.
I am in deep water,
    and the floods overwhelm me.
I am exhausted from crying for help;
    my throat is parched.
My eyes are swollen with weeping,
    waiting for my God to help me.

Psalm 40:1-3 NLT

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
    and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
    out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
    and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
    They will put their trust in the Lord.

Final Words

Depression even though quite tempting should never push you away from God if anything it should pull you closer, if not Him then who? What other hope do we have? Will you trust Him in the valley of shadows? Below are links to useful resources.

Depression / Too Depressed to Believe What We Know / Six Ways Jesus Fought Depression

Thanks for all those who have been reading and sharing what an impact these posts have been making. My heart’s desire is for these posts to point you to Christ. You can reach out to me via email, Instagram or Facebook, the links are on this page. I would love to hear from you. Also, don’t forget to sign up so you don’t miss a post in this eye-opening, edifying, exciting, blood-pumping series, Engraved. Did you read the previous post? Here it is.

What went on between Sarah and Mark? Will Sarah share what’s going on? Did we know Sarah in the first place? You will never guess who we will hear from! All this and more next Friday. You can use your Friday lunch time more productively and spend it reading our next Post! It will be available at 12 pm for #lunchtimemedz! Remember, you are precious.

Engraved: Seen

“Can we go for a walk?” Rachel asked. Their Saturday talks have become regular and they started to become very close but today, she had a hard time staying still.

Sarah agreed and they both strolled off without saying anything at thing at first. They had grown comfortable with each other, so silences weren’t awkward anymore.

They passed a group of boys from their hall. Rachel spoke, pulling her friend to the present, “They always stare at you, you know.”

Rachel said despairingly, “I know.” Her plump figure always gave her more attention from men than she’d like despite her prude-like attire. Rachel noticed she seems to love long sleeve tops.

Switching the subject quickly, she asked how the journey has been going.

Rachel gave a loud sigh, “Honestly? I still don’t have a lot of things clear in my mind, but I have been praying more. At first, my prayers were self-loathing and condemning. They were awkward and sometimes I just sat in tears. Slowly, I felt God healing my heart, I don’t cry as often again. Last weekend though, I went home, and I…I talked to my mom.”

Sarah stopped in her tracks and turn to her, “Like talk, talk?”

Rachel responded softly, “Yes.”

Sarah tugged at her elbow and said, “Tell me everything.”

Rachel swallowed before starting, “I took her out to dinner. We talked about school and work for a bit. I noticed she avoided bringing up grandma. Then I said mom, I have something I want us to discuss tonight. She looked immediately directly at me. I then shared how I have been feeling during previous weeks. I told her about how her emotional unavailability affected me and surprisingly, she listened intently, teary-eyed and almost giving a knowing nod.”

Sarah asked hurriedly, “Did she say anything?”

“When I was through with that and waited for her to say something, she was silent for a while and then she started talking, working hard to keep her voice under control. She apologized profusely and reached for my hands. She told me she was in a dark place before I was born and then she just never knew how to get out. She told me she loved me too, mom doesn’t say those things, ever. I can remember feeling that for the first time in my life I felt like my mother actually saw me. Like, she looked up from her pain and saw my own. She said she does want things to be different between us especially since it is just us, with that, I took the opportunity to ask about my father.”

Sarah was in disbelief, this was not the girl she knew some weeks ago, she thought, look at the confidence one can find in having communion God.

Rachel continued, “She said we should talk about this in the car. So, we left and when we settled in the car, I asked her again. She held on to the steering wheel for what seems like support. Before she could get out anything, she started crying, like ugly crying. I was confused but when I attempted to put my hand on her shoulders, she flinched and said, “Listen before you comfort me.”

She continued, “I was 21 at the time. He was 25, we went to school together. I was pursuing nursing, He was studying to be a pilot. One day, I was in the library one day and came and sat right next to me, but he said nothing just like hello and stuff. He did this for a few weeks, if he wasn’t around the table where I was, he would be nearby. One day, when I started to leave the library, He asked me where I was headed to and I said to my class. He offered to follow me there and we started talking every day before classes. Before I knew it, we were spending so much time together, He seemed so genuinely concerned about me, He even went to church with me and was always there to listen. After a while, we claimed to have fallen in love.” She mocked.

Rachel then said to Sarah, “Mom continued by saying that at the time she wasn’t interested in a relationship, my grandma and grandfather were working really hard at a factory to send her to school, it was best she focused on school, focused on God. She said these words, “I knew that I just … I just don’t know why I did it,” with that she used her hands to cover her face and sobbed even more. Rachel said, “I felt such shame and guilt in her voice. I thought, what could she feel so guilty about? Then it hit me, it was me, Sarah, she was ashamed she had me.”                                                     

Sarah started, “I am so sorry Rachel…”

Rachel stopped her, “Wait until you hear about him.”

Sarah held her breath. Rachel continued, “Mom said that when she told him about me. He was really torn up about it, he fell into depression immediately. He wasn’t ready for a family. He was on a student loan, he had a few years left and wasn’t working, how could he support a child? So, he encouraged her to abort me.”

“Sarah, I almost vomited!” Rachel exclaimed, “How could he even think of that? It wasn’t my fault.”

Those last four words hit Sarah deeper than she anticipated. “It wasn’t my fault.” she thought.   

Rachel saw Sarah had gone into someplace in her mind that left her with a blank expression. Rachel called out to her and she answered after the second time. She asked if she was ok and Sarah convinced her friend to continue.

Rachel said, “Mom said she couldn’t bear that guilt, so she didn’t. With her decision, he stopped talking to her. He left her life without a trace except for a growing baby girl. He left her to face my grandparents alone. What a coward! They were beyond disappointed. They couldn’t look at her for days. In just a few months everyone would know at the church, her family members and school friends. She said she would be lying if she said that she didn’t contemplate suicide but that wouldn’t do any good. At the time it was expected that she leaves her parents’ house. So, she got a job, rented a place and worked for some months before my birth so she could buy what I needed.”

Rachel continued, “She then said, When I had you, I felt so alone, no one except mom helped me. My father tried coming around, but it seems he never got over the shame I caused. All I have ever known from that moment is pain and it consumed me.” I then asked her, “What is his name, where is he now? She said his name is Devon Dixon, but she doesn’t know where he is. The last she heard he finished school and went overseas. I am not sure yet if I want to meet him or even talk to him, I mean what would I even say?”

Sarah then asked, “I understand. How does all of this make you feel?”

Rachel gave a long sigh and said, “Now that I know why I was abandoned by my father and why mother was not emotionally present it doesn’t take away the rejection I feel or the anger. I talked to God about it though and guess what?! He spoke to me, Sarah. He led me to scripture too. 1 Cor. 6:20, the one that says that I should glorify God in my body and spirit because they are God’s. Sarah, He said I belong to Him, not my mother, not my father not even Grandma. I am His. So, when the awful thoughts come back as well as the feelings, but I am no longer powerless to them. I can challenge my own thoughts and decide what I believe. I opted to write ‘I am His’ on my room mirror, so when I walk up it is the first thing I see. It is also strange but finding out that if it was based on my parents, I wouldn’t have been alive, it has given me a new sense of purpose.”

Sarah saw that her friend was telling the truth and not some “overnight deliverance” euphoria. When she passed her between classes, she didn’t have this look of otherness anymore. She didn’t look so tired either. She had been seeking for weeks now, she had truly submitted and finally, God could do what He always wanted to do, heal her heart and bring her closer to Him.

She didn’t say anything and in the middle of the campus near the water cooler, she hugged her friend and cried tears of joy. Rachel started crying too. Once they calmed down, they started laughing at themselves behaving like stereotypical girls. They didn’t care though, it was refreshing to be happy, at peace.

Rachel then spotted Mark and called out to him. He walked over and greeted Rachel blissfully but simply called Sarah’s name. Sarah did the same and then they both looked away from each other. Rachel observed this and decided to ask about it later. Mark then said he was headed to the library and sped off.

Sarah then said, “It’s getting late, I am going to go back to the dorm to finish some reading.” The two hugged and said their goodbyes.

Two weeks after Rachel realized Sarah was more and more unavailable to talk with her. She barely answered messages or answered when she knew Rachel was unavailable. Rachel started thinking at first maybe she is now tired of hearing my sad stories and thinks I am just hosting a pity party. But Rachel pushed back her thoughts, chose to believe that wasn’t true and decided to visit her on dorm one Saturday evening. 

Mid-Semesters were at full speed, she saw students studying in the lounge downstairs with huge mugs of coffee and every university student knew what that meant. Rachel had seen improvement in her grades as well, she wasn’t so hazed and tired all the time, she could focus on her lectures and study successfully. She passed more students on the stairs and proceeded to room 203.

The door was slightly opened so Rachel knocked and pushed it a little, “Sarah?” she called.

What she saw when she entered was unimaginable.

How do you hear the voice of God?  

 The noise from our circumstances sometimes seems to drown out the truth of God. What can we do to ensure we are in a position to hear God’s voice?

  • Read the Word

God has already spoken. Everything you desire to know has been revealed in the Word! We tend to feel like we need something more than just words on pages. This means your view of the scriptures is dangerously flawed. You say you don’t know where to start. I say open the book! There are also hundreds of Bible reading plans available. Look one up!

  • Pray

Prayer is not a talk show for you to only voice your concerns. Communication involves talking and listening. We may believe, “I am in this pit God should be the one who should make the first move.” Precious, He has that’s what the cross represents. If an error is present, it is with us. Swallow your pride.

  • Listen

Many people forget this part in prayer. God has something to say too. A personal revelation may be given if we are humble enough to listen. 

  • Fellowship with other Believers

God uses my friends to speak to me too. This even happened today. Participating in corporate worship too is extremely important to believers. The gifting of the Spirit in the body is for our benefit. Go to church! 

What’s Next? You tell me!

This week’s feature was geared to help you with a framework for your talk with your parents and how to hear the voice of God. You can reach me at shanyesica@gmail.com to discuss it further. What did Rachel see? You can guess in the comments!

Engraved : Uncovered

CELEBRATING INDIVIDUALITY, UNDERSTANDING OUR IDENTITYWHO ARE YOU?

“When did these feelings start?” Sarah asked. She knew emotions are never solitary, they are always attached to a thought that may be triggered by an experience.

Rachel considered this and then said, “When I came back to school last semester.”

“The semester after your grandmother passed away.” Sarah confirmed. Rachel nodded and rubbed the circle of the watch again.

“You never really said much about her death, I assumed you weren’t that close to her.” Sarah remarked.

Rachel laughed painfully, “Far from it, her passing tore me apart, it still does. It was just too painful to talk about it.”

Sarah, after studying her friend’s expression finally she said, “Tell me about her.”

Rachel started, “She gave the best hugs, those ones that swallowed you up and made you feel safe.” Now staring off in the distance at some yellow wild flowers, she continued, “She brought sunshine everywhere she went. Baking, oh yes, she loved it. She’d always bring banana bread for me on Sundays. She’d always check up on me too,” with this, Sarah saw the sadness return to her friend’s tired face. Rachel started stroking the gold watch again.

Sarah said, “She sounds wonderful. What’s the story with that watch?”

Rachel looked down and slightly shook in nervousness while she slid it off, “Grandma gave it to me.”

She pointed to the engravement on the back and Sarah read the words, “I am loved.”

Sarah looked up and into her friend’s eyes, “Do you believe that?”

“Sometimes,” Rachel admitted.

“Why just sometimes? Don’t you think your family loves you?” Sarah asked.

“Sometimes,” was all she managed to say.

Sarah then asked how things were when she was smaller at home.

 Rachel started, “Dad was MIA from the pregnancy, I’ve never met him. My mother started working three months after I was born, taking every overtime she could to provide for Grandma and I. When I got older things remained the same. It almost became a way for her to cope, I guess. She was always so tired, whenever she was home, by the time I started about my day, she fell asleep. Grandma was there but some things I wanted to hear and feel from my mother, you know?

“I understand. Did she ever say anything about your father?” Sarah asked.

“Never, this one time I practically begged, and she said it’s best I not know about him. She said I didn’t need him, and I should just focus on school. Surprisingly, even grandma was silent on the matter. She always has a flash of hurt on her face and then changed the subject,” Rachel responded.

So, when grandma died, with her you lost your sense of belonging and the feeling of being …loved? Sarah asked hesitantly.

Rachel looked down instantly, she thought it was silly of her to feel that way, but she did. Deep down she has been really feeling alone.

“Yes,” she said barely audible.

“How about God?” Sarah asked.

“What about him?” Rachel responded.

“Do you believe He loves you? Sarah answered.

“Sometimes.” Rachel admitted.

Parental Failures

Why would Rachel feel this way about God’s love for her? Could it be that her earthly father abandoned her, so she has a hard time accepting that her heavenly father wants to stay? Children form their worldview by age thirteen. You see, when little Rachel saw that her father was absent and her mother was present but emotionally unavailable, it sent a message to her saying, ‘You are not wanted, you are not important and probably no one thinks you are.’ Subsequently, she believed it but is that the truth?

Psalm 139:13-18 shares how carefully and thoughtfully Jesus formed us from the womb. Would someone take the time to create something so detailed and after his/her birth just abandoned them? I think not. We might look like our parents, but we are made in HIS image (Gen. 1:26). Do you know what that means? We are identified with Him, He becomes the source of our identity. Ultimately, what He says and thinks about us has the precedence and He says, “You are loved.”

Healing from Parental Hurt

Rejection, hurt and shame are feelings that we all deal with it. It damages us even more when we experience it from the persons who are supposed to love us the most, especially so early. Healing from this is not a walk in the park, the consolation is however, Jesus heals! Here are six (6) tips on pursuing wholeness:

Acknowledge that You are Hurt

Before you can heal you must acknowledge the wounds. Acknowledge how deeply it hurt, don’t shy away from how overwhelming the pain is. Don’t rush this part either, ask God to uncover them too. It is okay to feel pain, we are emotional creatures and we are made that way for a reason. Your emotions are not your enemy. They are indicators that there is something beneath the surface that needs a little attention whether in the mind or heart.

Be Vulnerable with God

Prayer is much more than making requests or a religious duty. God calls us to relationship. His desire more than anything else is to have communion with you. He wants you to involve him in every area of your life, past, present and future. Tell Him how you have hurt, share your frustration, anger and evil desires if any. My personal testimony is the moments that I have received real deliverance, clarity and comfort has always been in prayer. Be real with Him. Ask him to help you to forgive them. This article from Desiring God may assist you in the process too. Ask Him for help. I can assure you He will. ‘Did er’ a saint find this friend forsake him? Or sinner find that He would not take them? No, not one!

Find out what the Word says

Faith and hope come by hearing the word of God. What does the bible say about parental hurt? How does God declare himself to be our father? I have linked a few scriptures here. You can share others with me too! Repeat them, remind yourself with flashcards, wallpapers, written text on bathroom mirrors and set email reminders! This principle can be seen in scripture where God told them to put commandments on doorposts and foreheads (Deut. 6:8-9). It might seem silly at first but reminding yourself of the Word fights the lies of the enemy. Strongholds are only torn down intentionally and with much consistent force.

Tell a Friend

Sometimes things get to heavy for us to carry alone and we need help. This person might be your pastor, another leader, youth president or another brother or sister, just ensure these people are sober and not immature. We should share our burdens with each other (Galatians 6:2) that is why we have a community of believers, a family. There is so much power that lies in our tongue. Confession brings healing (James 5:16). I shared a post last year that addressed this in more detail click here to read. They can help you pray, keep you accountable and support you. We need each other.

Confront the Parent/ Parents

Confront doesn’t mean disrespect. The purpose is to bring about restoration of the relationship not just a venting opportunity. Be warned that they might not be repentant and acknowledging this fact is important as a negative response may trigger the emotions you were healing from. Nevertheless, this may lead to closure. I suggest you consider this prayerfully. If you do decide to confront them, find a relaxing environment, bring food, yes! Nothing makes a person feels more at ease than a full stomach. If you are not able to meet with them as highly recommended, give them a call when they are most available. Ease into the topic, don’t avoid it either but state your claims assertively and timely. State that your desire would be to have a better relationship and you would like to discuss how you both can work on improving the relationship. You can look at this too from Desiring God on the matter. This might be insufficient depending on your situation, please reach out to me if you need any further advice. I am here for you.

Fix Your Focus

Always focusing on pain never leads to healing. We are encouraged to deal with them healthily and then let them go. Paul encourages us to forget those things that are behind and reach forth for your new life in Christ. Set your affections on things above i.e. Set your affections on Him. This life is temporary. He is eternal. Will you continue to give them control over your desires, thoughts and actions? Don’t view life through tear stained eyes instead with eyes of hope and love. We can also rest in knowing that we have been adopted in a new family. Pray for a mother/father figure. Paul was Timothy’s father in the gospel.

What’s Next?

Your situation may not be as drastic as Rachel, maybe they were just not there for you to talk deeply with, maybe they laughed at a physical or emotional attribute. It is ok if it hurts you. You have a right to your feelings. Do not ignore your emotions rather deal with them as they come. This leads us to our next focus, does traumatic experiences affect how we view ourselves? Will Rachel find out the truth about her father and confront her mother, will she experience healing? We will find out over the next set of posts in this series called Engraved! Below is a sermon from Ravi Zacharias on us bearing the Image of God also the depth and importance of our individuality. Until, next time, remember you are precious.  

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