BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!
My cell phone buzzed as it lay on the dresser, which was positioned next to my bed. Often I used my dresser as an end table, a place to hold my phone and other objects as I sleep. Simply by hearing the tone of my phone, I realized that I just received a text message. Curiosity driven I lifted my phone from its position on the dresser and looked at the illuminated screen.
“Hmm,” I moaned, not recognizing the number that was displayed on the phone’s screen. I opened the text message. It read: I hope this isn’t too forward of me, just thought I’d contact you. “What?” I asked myself in confusion, my fiancée sitting next to me.
“What’s that?” She asked, lifting her eyes from the book that she was reading silently to herself. With a single look at her facial expression, I can see she was only slightly interested in the message that I received.
“I got some random text message, look.” I responded. With my phone in hand, I reached out to her, giving her access to the phone. Her facial expression changed to pure confusion with a mix of curiosity.
“You don’t know the number?” She asked me, looking into my eyes.
“No, not that I know of,” I answered, my face twisted with inquisitiveness.
After returning back to the pages of her book, my fiancée retorted, “Just delete it, it’s probably a wrong number. Silence fell between us as I stared at the number once more. Do I not know this number? I wanted to ensure that the number was indeed foreign to me. I wonder whose it is. Could be a family member whose phone number has changed? Or is it her? My Ex had contacted me before. Now, I wonder if she had contacted me from a new number so that I couldn’t recognize her.
I opened the message once more and re-read the message. I typed a simple, often over-used message: Who’s this?
New message: My name is Jen, I’m in town visiting my sister and I’m bored. I’m looking to have a good time with a fun loving guy. What’s your name? How would you like to meet up?
Before I finished reading the newly received text, I was presented with series sexually explicit photos of a young girl in her early-to-mid-twenties. I couldn’t help but see the photos. Yet, I found myself leering at the photos.
I sent a message: My name is Samuel, thank you for the photos. I really appreciate it. How can I help you?
I looked over at my fiancée. Her face was buried in a book; her face was always buried in a book. As I sent the text, I felt a knot in my gut. My adrenalin was running through my veins. With every moment that passed I felt my excitement increase.
New Message: I’m just looking for a good time. I was talking to one guy online; I guess he gave me the wrong number. What a loser. Wait, do you have a girlfriend?
I looked over at my fiancée as I read the message. She had no clue that I was even there, much less talking to this girl. I looked down at the message in my phone. I scrolled up slightly, looking at the beautiful pictures that were sent to me.
I sent another message: Actually, I have a fiancée. What are you looking to do? I don’t think I’m the guy you’re looking for, but thank you for the pictures. I appreciate it.
I set the phone down on the couch, right at my side. I shifted my eyes around the room as my mind roamed through a series of thoughts: what are you doing? Your fiancée is sitting right over there. Are you really considering this? Well…we’re just talking. There’s nothing wrong with talking. And you did tell her you have a fiancée. You’re just letting her down nicely.
New message: Yes, I’m looking for some fun while I’m in town. My sister works a lot and I’m bored. My sister’s place is always available. Let me know when you’d like to meet up.
Are you kidding? She’s still willing to meet up? After I told her that I was engaged to be married? That’s unbelievable……..that’s interesting…….
I didn’t reply. I couldn’t. I tucked my phone under my thigh, hoping to ignore the photos that rested in my text messages. I knew I needed to delete them, but I didn’t. I couldn’t tell you why, I just didn’t.
I lifted myself off of the couch and headed to my bedroom. I can’t respond back to her, I need to get ready for work. I lied to myself as I distracted myself by rummaging through my closet for a new set of clothes to wear. I tried to sort my thoughts. I tried to keep my mind on the task that’s in front of me, but my thoughts were scattered.
“Honey, are you getting ready for work?” I heard a delightful voice ask from the living room. In my mind I could see my dark haired beauty lifting her gaze from the pages of her book to look to the shut bedroom door.
I stood in the bathroom, which was attached to the bedroom. I looked into the eyes of the man in the mirror. I didn’t recognize him. My hands were rested on the outer rim of the sing. In one hand I gripped my toothbrush; in the other hand I held a tube of toothpaste.
“Yes,” I bellowed from the bathroom, my mouth filled with a mixture of toothpaste and water. I shoved the toothbrush into my mouth and continued to brush. I finished in the bathroom and threw on my clothes. While collecting my keys, wallet and my wrist watch, I shoved my phone into my pocket.
“Hey, babe, how’s your book?” I asked, emerging out of the bedroom, prepared for my day at work. I leaned in for a kiss. I received one from my love. “I love you,” I whispered into her ear, leaning over her lovingly.
“I love you, too.” She responded, looking up at me with a smile.
“I better head out. I’ll see you when I get back.” I shifted my keys in my hand as I headed toward the door. As I entered into my car, retrieved my phone from my pocket and placed it in the cup holder beside me. With the engine running I looked down at the phone.
The photos are still there. Go ahead and take a look. It’s okay.
I reached out toward the phone, just stopping short of grabbing it and pulling it out of the cup holder. I could imagine the photos; I didn’t need to open the messages of my phone.
It’s okay to text her; no harm will come from it. You’re just having a conversation; you’re not cheating or anything. You’re just being cordial.
I hesitated once more.
No, I can’t. I thought to myself with my hand inches away from my phone and a mental file of inappropriate photos stored in my memory. I retrieved my hand from its current position and tightly gripped the steering wheel. I drove away, my eyes on the road, yet my attention on the contents of my cell.
BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!
New message: Hey, you didn’t answer. Where’d you go?
Once stopped at a red light I was able to read my newest text message. I truly hoped that my beautiful fiancée was messaging me to wish that I’d have a great day I work. She often did that. Yet, upon looking at the message from the unknown women of “adventure” I thought to myself. What should I say? What should I do? Do you think she’s serious?
I text back: I’m here.
I couldn’t set my phone down. I impatiently awaited her response. I sat in the parking lot outside. I thumbed through our messages; uncertainty filled my chest, quickly followed by the excitement of the playful messages.
New message: When are you free?
My heart began to pound heavily in my chest as I looked at the phone, thinking through my response.
I messaged: When are you free? When would you like to get together?
This will never happen. We’re just friendly flirting. I know that nothing with come from this. I wonder how far she’s willing to take this. Oh, my goodness, this is actually really fun.
I worked through my day, my mind filled with the playful game. Every so often I would check my phone, hopping to hear from my anonymous playmate. My nerves were on edge. My excitement was turned up and my curiosity was peaked by the simple idea of the game.
New message: Babe, I’m free anytime. I’m staying with my sister and she is always busy, it leaves me really lonely.
As I opened by the message, I felt my phone vibrate in my palm, indicating that I received another message. According to the pop-up text on my screen, I noticed that my fiancée sent me message, but it automatically closed before I could read it all.
New message: Hey honey, I forgot to remind you that tonight I’m having dinner with my cousin. I’ll be home late. I’ll text you if I need anything. Have a great night. I love you.
She often has dinner with her cousin. They meet together usually once a month and they usually are out pretty late. Thankfully she reminded me, I usually forget.
New message: Are you free tonight? My sister will be gone all night.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t believe the coincidence. But I would never do it. It was just a fun game to get my juices flowing. I’m just entertaining myself. I pocketed my phone and returned the last bit of work that I have. I need to get this girl off my mind.
New message: my sister’s address is 6606 South Mockingbird Lane. You can come by anytime. It’ll just be between you and me. I’ll see you tonight.
Oh, she’s crafty. She’s definitely a tease.
Looking over the address, I was suddenly uneasy about the situation that I found myself in. At the same time I was interested in the possibly. I could never go over there. It wouldn’t be right. But what would happen if I did?
The question rolled in my mind the rest of the day. I could hardly focus. My work became mundane. Each task was more tedious than the last. I just wanted to finish my shift and leave. I soon found myself sitting in my car at the end of my work day, the engine idling as I looked at the address once again.
I thumbed the screen of my phone, opening up the maps application, where I mapped out the route from my work to the mysterious girl’s house. It’s not too far away. Apparently it’s a real place. Maybe I’ll go. Just to check it out. I’m not going in.
I followed the route; it was only a few minutes from my work. Within a few minutes I was pulling up to the house. It was real. I looked it like a pleasant little house, very welcoming. I looked out of the driver-side window to the house.
I hesitated to turn off the car, yet I found myself turning off the ignition and sitting in the parked car. I turned my head back at the house then I looked in my rear-view mirror at me. I shifted my eyesight back to the house, wondering what I was going to do.
Do I stay in the car or head toward the house? Should I just go home and wait for Carol? I definitely need to go home………..
The front door to the house opened. I saw her gently walking down the walkway toward the car. I instantly recognized her from her pictures. At the very sight of her I felt my heartbeat increase in my chest. I knew that I dug a hole too deep to get out.
“Hey babe, I’m so glad to see you.” She greeted me from the outside of the car. Her smile was perfect and I could smell her elegant perfume even from a distance. “Are you going to come in?” she gently stroked a finger over my hand, sending a shockwave through my body.
I exited the car and follow the mysterious girl into the house. She led me into the house with a smile and a gentle touch.
A miracle baby; I have heard that witnessing a baby being born is truly a miracle. To see the beginning of a life at the earliest stage of its development can often open ones eyes to the beauty of life, the beauty of God’s creation.
For many others, holding their new born baby in their tired arms is the seed of love that is planted in their hearts; set to root over time as the child grows and develops. For me, holding my new born child would ease my heart, knowing that my son would be alright. But for now my prayers are my only hope to find comfort in.
You see, I didn’t get to hold my new born son after his birth. I laid in the hospital bed, my hair and skin damp with drying sweat, as I watched my baby being carried away.
“Wait, what-?” I began to cry out. One of the nurses lifted a hand toward me, indicating that I should not move but that I stay in the sweat covered sheets of the bed.
“Ma’am,” the nurse began with a smile. “We told you that this would happen.” She kept her hand outstretched toward me, keeping me from moving or overreacting. As I looked deeper into the pools of the green sea of her eyes, I could see a trust worthy person, a person who cares for her patients. She would ensure the safety of him, my baby boy.
“Ma’am, as we have told you previously, your child has a blood clot in his brain. The right side, you see. The blood clot is really hurting the brain capacity of the child. If the clot is not removed as soon as possible, there is a good chance the child will die.” The nurse explained.
The child would die!
Against my better judgment, I allowed the nurses to take my baby. I watched the young women clean up and bundle the new born in a soft, warm blue blanket. Turning toward the door, the blanket bundled baby in hand, I watched the nurse leave me alone in the room. As the nurse turned to maneuver down the hallway, I saw a pair beautiful brown eyes. The child’s eyes peered into mine; they glistened with wonder and innocence. It was then that I fell in love with him.
“Ma’am, here is what we are going to do,” the doctor began. I looked around, realizing that the nurses have rolled me into different room than the one I had delivered in a few moments ago. “We have discovered that your child does not have platelets in his blood stream, which means that if the child begins to bleed at all the wound will not clot and he will bleed to death.” I looked at the facial expressions of the doctor, who had a thick white beard covering his face. Analyzing his mannerisms, I felt a thick layer of sorrow coated over his white medical jacket.
“What we are going to do, Ma’am, is get some blood from you. We will then extract the platelets that we need and inject them into your son.” As the doctor spoke I could see the green eyed nurse rummaging through a series of medical supplies that would be necessary for the procedure.
I felt a small pinch as the nurse precisely pressed the needle into my arm, right at the inside of the elbow. Instantly I felt the blood being pumped from my body. I watched the red liquid ride through the tube like a rollercoaster into a small empty pouch. As the pouch filled with my blood I thought of how this baby was dependent on me and my blood. I would give up all the platelets in my blood to see my baby survive. Just looking at the pouch, I pictured my newborn completely helpless and in need. A tear came to my eye.
“Nurse,” the doctor said, pulling my attention back toward the two people in the room with me. “When you get the amount that we need, rush it to the labs so that we can get the platelets that for the child.”
“Yes, sir,” the nurse said smiling down at me, as if to say, don’t worry your child will be just fine.
“God….” My voice quivered to myself. I sat in the hospital bed, my hands folded on my lap, my head bowed. “I know I haven’t been a perfect person…..but…,”I thought of those beautiful brown eyes as I formed my thoughts into sentences. “… I ask you to protect my child. I realize that our lives are in your hands…,”I felt a tear stream down my colorless cheeks. “….So, I pray that you take care of my child. God, I believe that you have a plan for this child,” I paused. “So, I place his life into your hands; do with it what you will…..If it is your will for this child to live, he will live. If not, then he will die.”
I didn’t want to say the final word to that sentence, believing that saying that word would curse the child. So I pushed the word out. As I spoke that final word I felt a shiver run up my spine, reaching throughout my body to the tips of my toes and the tips of my fingers.
“Father, please help this child. Be with him, Jesus. I give his life to you, knowing that your will be done; knowing that you will do great things for and through this child.” As I spoke my voice became steadier as if I were more confident of my son’s fate. As I spoke to my God, a rush of comfort ran over my body cleansing me of fears and worries. I knew everything would be fine.
“Your son is responding well to the operation. He is resting safely now.” I heard the doctor’s voice, trying to dig deeper into what they were saying, trying to understand what they meant. “The only problem is that he has lost a lot of weight.” The words hit me, feeling as if the doctor had just stabbed me in the heart with a needle. Lost a lot of weight, he only weighed 5 Lbs at birth.
“We are going to need to keep him here and feed him until he is at a healthy weight.”
The doctor looked into my tired eyes. I am sure he could tell I hadn’t slept a wink since the birth of my son. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t sleep until my boy was in my arms, safely at home.
“I feel as if I should tell you, while your son’s operation went smoothly, there is a great chance that your son will be a vegetable.”
“What?” I asked curiosity painted over my face.
“My apologies, all I meant was that there is a good chance that your son will never walk.” He looked into my eyes; I saw the sincerity in his gaze. “We also found that the operation will greatly affect his motor skills, especially on his left side.”
“Wait, why his left side? I thought the operation was on the right side of the brain.” My words seemed to slur together with tiredness.
“It was, but the way the brain works is that the right side controls the left side of the body, and the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body.” The doctor tried to explain, but I was too exhausted to really comprehend his words.
“When will he be able to leave?” I asked trying to hold back my tears. I awaited an answer. It seemed as if I were standing in front of the doctor for several minutes before he answered.
“We aren’t sure yet. We want to make sure that he is healthy enough before we send him with you.” The doctor ensured.
So, I waited. I continued to pray for my child daily, waiting for the day when I could hold him safely in my arms at home.
My nights grew long. I couldn’t sleep. I just lay in my bed, dreamed of those beautiful brown eyes, falling more in love with them every time I imagined them in my mind’s eye.
I thought about him everyday for the next two weeks. Every waking moment of my life was spent at the hospital. Many times I was sitting with the child, breast feeding him, trying to get him to gain as much weight as possible so that I could take him home. And other times the nurses would feed the child with milk that I had pumped earlier.
On October 30th I got the good news: I would be able to take my son home. The doctors had felt that he was at an appropriate weight, a weight that would ensure that he was healthy and that he not longer needed their attention.
There was no conversation with any doctors, not that I remember. I just remember when the nurse carried my bundled baby boy toward me, placing him in my arms.
“You two are free to go home,” the nurse said to me with a smile. I looked down at the child, his brown eyes looking back into mine. The infant smiled up at me as if he knew who I was. His smile brought a tear to my eye.
“Come on, Tony, Let’s go home.” I said to the child, holding him tightly in my arms.
The wind lightly caressed my face. The smell of fish filled the air around me. My hands wrapped around the railing as I leaned into the salty sea air. The pier was empty. Usually about this time the pier would be filled with fishermen and their children. Their fishing rods would be leaning against the railing; a line would be leading into the ocean, bobbing in the waves. But, tonight the pier was silent. The restaurant that was residing on the pier was dark, silent.
The sky was dark, cloudy. The moon was large, but hidden by the dark clouds. The stars were not shinning, they remained bleak, buried beneath the gloomy, unwelcoming clouds.
I looked out into the ocean. The waves broke gently against the legs of the pier, filling the air with a light rumble.
I’ve got to do it. I thought to myself.
The sea was calm, except for the light crashing below.
My mind filled with thoughts; thoughts of the darkness in my heart, thoughts of the future, which I would no longer be part of.
I’ve got to do it. I told myself.
Looking into the dark, free flowing ocean, I organized my final thoughts.
I’m going to do this.
My hands grew tight on the railing. My feet stepped up on the bar, right below the top railing.
Loosening my grip, I stood up straight. I felt freedom. All of the trouble of the last few days were lifted off of my chest, being caught by the light breeze and lifted away into the night sky.
I looked down at the sea below. It seemed so peaceful, tranquil, and relaxing. I was ready. As I looked into the peacefulness of the waves, I thought of my family; which would never be whole again. Earlier this week we had experienced a loss: my father, the man who taught me all I knew. The man who risked his life for me and raised me the best he could. Now that he was gone, I was gone. I would never be the same again.
I couldn’t live without him.
I then thought of my friends, the people who allowed me to grow and learn through their guidance and advice. The people who ensured me that all would be al right, but I know better; things will only get worse. Throughout the next few days I had been pulled apart by these two powers, unsure where I would end up. Now I was here.
I’ve got to do this.
The wind blew lightly against my skin. I closed my eyes, causing a tear to streak down my cheek. I stretched my arms out from my sides, feeling the breeze brush through my fingers.
I am ready.
With a final thought of those I loved, I prepared myself and jumped into the silent night.
The wind lightly caressed my face. The smell of fish brought me back into reality. I opened my soggy, puffy eyes to see that I was leaning against the top rail, my feet firmly planted on the pavement. The waves below broke calmly against the pillars of the pier, playing like relaxing music in my head.
The pier was filled with eager fishermen and their children. Their fishing line’s draped into the waves of the ocean. I heard the ruckus from the busy restaurant behind me.
I took another look into the night sky through my blurry eyes. “Dad,” I whispered. “I love you and I’m sorry.” I stepped up to the middle rail, straightening my back out.
My eyes filled with tears, my heart filled with pain. The pain ran through my veins, numbing my body and all my limbs. The breezy air brushed against my body, freeing my mind. “We will soon be reunited. I will be freed.”
I began to feel small. My mind was filled with thoughts, thoughts of the darkness in my heart; thoughts of the future, the future that I would no longer be part of. In the sky I saw the twinkling of a single star above. I was alone. All the sound around me disappeared, leaving me alone on the pier.
Preparing myself for the jump I thought about the freedom I would soon feel being once again reunited with my father. I looked down into the dark ocean. It was completely peaceful.
“I will soon be at peace.” I closed my eyes. “I love you, Dad.” I thought aloud leaning forward, preparing to leap.
With a swift motion, the palm of a rough hand landed on my right shoulder distracting me. I didn’t open my eyes for fear that I would start to cry again.
“They need you.” A husky male voice said from behind. “You are the man now.”
I opened my eyes, but did not turn toward the voice.
In a whisper the voice said, “Take care of them. I love you, Dean.”
Dean? That’s my middle name: Christopher Dean Walton. Most people called me Chris, but my father called me Dean. He always told me that Dean was his Father’s name. As a child he never really knew who his father was because his parents split right after his birth. But when he finally did meet his father at the age of twenty-one, they became the best of friends, starting a wonderful relationship. It was then that he realized the importance of family. And it was then that he vowed that he would never neglect his family.
“Dad,” I said, turning toward the voice. No one was there. Only the fishermen and their children, who had not even realized I was there.
They need you. Those words stuck in my head. My family: my brother, my sister, and my mother. How could I let them down? Is this how I honor my father, by neglecting the only family I have?
I stepped down from the railing, wiping the remaining tears from my eyes and glanced at the sky. Among the horizon, small beams of light began to shine through the dark atmosphere, lighting up the sky for another day.
With another look into the ever changing sky I said, “I love you, Dad.”
The hallway was narrow and aligned with small mailboxes along the walls. Each mailbox was fixed with a locking mechanism that locked and prevented access to the mail within. I neared the end of the hallway, in search of my mailbox. When I located the proper compartment, I peered into the tiny Plexiglas window at the face of the mailbox.
“Hmm, I’ve got a letter.” I said to myself under my breath. Kneeling before my mailbox, I turned the dial, entering the proper combination to unlock the mailbox. With the rectangular envelope within my hand, I read the return address on the left top corner of the envelope. “It’s from my sister. I’ve been waiting for this letter.”
I pocketed the letter and headed out of the campus post office, which was nestled beneath the campus bookstore. The weather was cool and breezy. The leaves were changing to reds, oranges, and yellows, creating a blanket of color across the courtyard.
I instantly headed to my dorm room across campus. I found my way up to my room. A small living area filled with two desks, a couch, and a TV that stood on a top of a dresser. Entering the front door of the dorm room, I sat at my desk and peeled the envelope from my pocket. The envelope was decorated with a pencil stencil of a creative cross spread across the front. In the center of the hand-drawn cross was a small heart. As my eye analyzed the off-centered cross, I noticed the letter “I” above the small heart and the letter “U” underneath the heart, spelling the phrase, “I love you.”
I shredded the envelope open, pulling the letter from the disregarded pieces. I unfolded the pages, and I began skimming through the contents of the letter. My sister and I have been sending letters back and forth ever since she was incarcerated. I couldn’t wait to read the contents of this letter.
I could never understand what she was going through, yet, I felt I could offer her some light in these dark times.
So, I began to write her every two to three months, sharing the Gospel and the hope that lies within it and in return she would send me a letter expressing gratitude for my kind words and sharing life with me. With every letter that I sent her I spoke about life and life in Christ. I shared scripture that would offer her hope. I just wanted to see my sister understand the hope that I have learned to love over the years.
“First I’d like to tell you that your letter brought me so much joy. I hadn’t gotten mail in about 2 and half weeks and to get a letter from you made me feel so loved. Your letter brought tears to my lovely blue eyes that had been gray for days. When I’m down my eyes turn gray and since I got your letters the girls say my eyes are so bright.”
I read my sister’s words in my head, yet I mouthed the words quietly. I couldn’t believe how much joy I received from this letter. I am very thankful that I was able to share these words with her.
“Tony, this jail time has opened my eyes and my heart to a new way of life and I am looking forward to it. Tony, I carry your letter with my Bible and I have read it at least a dozen times since I got it yesterday.”
At the bottom of the second page, I noticed a scripture hand-printed:
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.”
I read and reread the letter until a sense of peace was nestled within my heart. I lay down the letter upon my desk, and leaned back in my chair, thinking. Within minutes, my mind was roaming with new thoughts to share. I quickly grabbed my Bible and a new sheet of paper and prepared to write.
As I wrote every letter, I thought of her sitting in a lonely cell, gripping the letter that I sent to her. I imagined that every word that she read filled her with a reminder of love and grace, giving her something to look forward to.
As I crafted my newest letter, I continued to refer to the letter that I had just received. I read it and reread it, ensuring my understanding of what she was saying and the meaning behind it. I always looked at the verses that she sent me, knowing that she was finding light in them.
“My purpose behind sending you the verses, was basically because I want you to see I’m not just saying that I’m reading God’s word but that I really am!” my sister wrote in her next letter to me , which arrived a few weeks later.
Her letter consisted of two other verses; Philippians 4:6-7 and Colossians 1:9
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
“So, we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
My sister’s second letter was much shorter than the first, yet it was still touching. My sister’s words were heartfelt and personal. I knew that she was still in the darkness, yet I believe she is finding peace in those times.
After reading her letter, I pulled out a pile of paper and a pen. I began writing. The words poured from my mind and formed sentences that lifted up hope in Christ. The words were filled with life, looking to give hope to a person who was downtrodden and broken hearted. Yet, I soon realized that my sister was not the only one who would grow from this experience. I would…….
“God, thank you for this opportunity to speak hope to my sister; I pray that You would be with her during this difficult time. I ask that you strengthen her daily, giving her the strength she needs to face this time. I pray that the words that You give me would encourage her and bring her closer to you. I pray all of this in Your name, Amen.” I spoke aloud, leaning forward in my desk chair with my hands folded together.
I finished the letter with a kind word of love and plopped the pen atop of the desk. I folded the pages of the letter into a tri-fold and prepped it for the mail. I pocketed the newly written letter and headed back down to the campus post office.
I can’t believe I get the opportunity to share the gospel with my sister. I can’t believe I get the opportunity to share the gospel with anybody. This feels really good and I know that I am making a difference. I thought to myself as I walked through the campus pathways towards the campus post office. I fought through the muffled existence of self-doubt. In times like these, I am often plagued with a variety of questions: Am I sure I should be so upfront about my faith? Is my sister appreciative or grateful for my message of hope? Do I truly believe in everything that I am telling her? How does sharing the Gospel truly change her life?
With the letter stuffed into my pants pocket, I thought through the series of questions. The truth was: I don’t know all of the answers. All I knew was that God has changed me; God has seen the brokenness that harasses my family, yet He has made me whole. God knows my heart, yet He loves me relentlessly, allowing me to love myself. God has taken a child who was bit with silence, and yet God has given him the privilege to speak.
I decided one thing: If my sister does not accept Christ before she is released, I can at least hold my head high knowing that I fought through my self-doubt and followed God’s will. I also decided that I would not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ in my life. I will continue to share the gospel in any way that I can, regardless of who appreciates it or understands my reasoning.
I released the envelope from my pocket and looked down at it. My heart thumped in my chest, my nerves spiked. I wasn’t being fueled with fear or anxiety; I was collecting my valor and decided to walk a path of strength and courage.
I handed my envelope to the post office employee as he ensured that the envelope was stamped with the correct information and pointed to the mail slot that it would be dispensed into. I slid the envelope into the mail slot, never to be seen again.
My job was finished, the rest relied on God.
The Bible says that iron sharpens iron. I guess I never truly understood what that meant. To be honest, I’ve been a Christian for many years, I’ve attended church weekly; I even attend a Tuesday morning men’s Bible study. In these groups we discuss specific scriptures and discuss the various aspects of being a biblical man. I guess I never realized how much these men would have my back when I needed them.
The well distinguished male of the age of fifty-two typed into his desktop computer. His focus held intently on the Illuminated screen. He wore a well fitted pale blue T-shirt atop a pair of khaki pants. From his parched lips rested a pipe, in which he puffed on in between the words typed. The storyteller was in his home office, which was nice and tranquil, perfect for concentration. The room consisted of wooden furniture and a series of bookshelves filled with a variety of books.
I guess I always assumed that life was a lonesome road, where you fend for yourself and you only depend on a few: your wife and a few good friends. I took the words of my Tuesday Bible study companions with a grain of salt, taking what was easy and convenient and leaving the rest on the cutting room floor.
I never thought I would need the advice of these gentlemen; much less seek the advice of these men that I met with every Tuesday morning. Yet, I got to the point where I had no other choice…..
One year earlier:
The well distinguished man sat at a large oak table in the dining room. The glasses that normally rested on the bridge of his nose were buried within a closed fist. Before him lay a large stack of papers: divorce papers. His wife, Elise, has been gone on and off for the last six months. Truthfully, he never even knew that she was unhappy, without warning she was packed up and gone, only to return until next major fight and then she’d be gone again, without warning.
The couple married in their early twenties. They married in a time where love conquered all and the future was bright and inviting as a warm as a summer’s day. Michael found himself thriving in a career as a reporter. Elise worked for a small publishing company as an editor. Literature brought the couple together and literature helped keep the couple strong. The years went by and the relationship strengthened, the two became inseparable.
Now, Michael Paddock sat in the family home hoping to understand his wife’s motives while at the same time decipher the jargon printed on the legal documents. The room that was once the source of much love, laughter and good times was now dark, ominous and unfamiliar.
“I can’t….I can’t do this.” Michael said to himself. He continued to thumb through the pages of the large manuscript. Laying two flat palms on the surface of the table, Michael lifted himself from the seat, roaming around the dining room. “I can’t comprehend any of this. I’m really not sure what’s going on.” He told himself, stressfully combing his fingers though his grayish blonde hair.
The divorce papers were left on the dining room table. Michael made his way through the darkened hallways. He worked his way into his bedroom, a room he hasn’t been able to truly rest in since the day that Elise left. Sleep has abandoned him while fear allured him.
“Michael, how are you doing?” It was a Tuesday morning; Michael sat amongst his fellow Bible study members discussing the week’s scripture. Everything inside of told him to flee from the situation, to run from the question, but he remained. He knew that he needed to be there.
Michael remained silent.
The conversation continued. The group read through the scripture, taking notes on the verses, and discussing the application to the men’s everyday lives. Throughout the conversation Michael remained silent.
The remaining gentlemen spoke about their lives; their relationships with their wives, the struggles of their jobs and the difficulties of raising children in such a technology centered culture. Michael knew that many of the men were speaking strictly on a surface level, only opening up enough to fool the others in the group. Knowing the hypocrisy of the men, Michael refused to speak of his broken heart and upcoming divorce. Yet, something told him that they already knew.
The meeting ended and Michael quickly drove to work. Later that evening, Michael remained quiet as he drove back to his home, his thoughts filled with all of the things that he should have said….all of the things that he wished he’d said.
“God, how could this happen? When did things get so messed up?” Michael’s hands gripped on the steering wheel as he drove. “Why did she leave? What caused her to lose hope? Was it you that she loses hope in, God? Or was it me? You know, I had the opportunity tonight to finally saying everything that I needed to say; I had the opportunity to get their help, yet here I am, alone and talking to you.”
Michael didn’t know who he was talking to; maybe it was God, the almighty creator or just himself, hoping that something he told himself would take root in his mind and grow into change in action.
“I know that I’m going to need support during this time, but I also know that I would never ask for it; I’m too proud. I can’t be seen as weak. I need help. So, here’s the question: How do I create a support system when I am too weak to admit I’m weak? How do I receive help when I refuse to ask for help?”
Michael paused, pondering further questions.
The car pulled into the driveway and maneuvered into the opening garage at the end of a long work day. Michael exited the car, heading toward the door that granted access to the rest of the home. Michael found himself in his bedroom, kneeling at the edge of the bed, whispering a prayer to God. He was unsure whether God heard his prayers; this was just a habit he’d developed with his wife. He’d figured it keep it up, in case of her return.
This is impossible. Michael thought to himself as he lay in bed, the covers pulled up to his collar. His eyes roamed the darkness of the bedroom; the very room that they shared together, the room that he now cradled closer to his loneliness. I can’t handle this. This house to too big, too quiet, to…..ever since she left, I just haven’t been the same. Every day I am forced to wake up without her, go to work, than come home to an empty house. I’m still waiting for her to return……I’m beginning to think that she was serious when she left.
Every night Michael lies in bed, thinking of her. Her gentle features emblazoned in his memory. Over the last few months Michael attempted to contact his wife, Elise, but to no avail. It seems she ignored his efforts.
“So, Michael, how are you?” Franklin Copper, the director of the Tuesday morning Bible study asked Michael as he took his seat. Michael shrugged with a standard, non-informative answer.
Every Tuesday Michael would find his way to the morning Bible study and every morning Franklin would ask Michael how he was doing, more than likely looking for an honest, sincere answer. Michael chooses never to expand on his very ordinary, “I’m okay,”
At the end of the Bible study, Michael would shake the hands of the other men in attendance, and prepare for his car ride to work, where he turned his brain on to “zombie mode.”
“Hey Michael,” Franklin called out, heading from his seat, directly over to Michael. “Hey, I know that you may not want to talk about what’s going on with Elise, just know that I’m here to listen if you need to.” Franklin spoke briefly, understanding that Michael didn’t want to talk though his pain.
“Uh, thanks, Frank.” Michael responded sheepishly, hoping for his usual quick exit from the parking lot of the coffee shop that they met at. Franklin was also a divorcee. He and his wife divorced nearly six years ago when their only child drowned in the neighborhood pool.
Ever since then Michael and Elise’s separation a year prior to the divorce papers being delivered to Michael, Franklin has been aiming a lot of his attention on Michael, offering pieces of advice and help whenever Michael needed it.
Michael never took Franklin up on the offer.
Michael would sit through the Bible studies and the church services without saying much of a word to anyone. Throughout the week he would drift through his duties, unaware of what he was truly doing, than he would head home, hoping to hear from his wife, only to be mentally bombarded with thoughts of her as he tried to sleep.
He awaited her return. She remained missing.
Nightly, Michael would read over the divorce papers in disbelief. He would scratch his head, questioning whether he should sign the documents or continue to put in off in hopes to gain to trust again.
“If I sign, than she’ll be free. She can finally be happy. She couldn’t find happiness with me; at least I can give her the opportunity to be happy with someone else.” Michael thought to himself, directing his attention to the packet of divorce papers.
“I’m here to listen if you need….” Michael thought of Franklin’s words as he pondered over the legal documents. I need to talk to someone. He‘s the only one that I know will listen without judgment. He definitely seems like he would understand.
“Well, I guess here goes nothing.” Michael said to himself, picking up the phone and holding it in front of his face. A few years ago, when Michael began going to the Tuesday morning Bible study, Franklin offered him his phone number, now Michael searched for it fervently.
“Hello?” Michael heard Franklin greeting the caller on the other end. His voice was gentle and inviting. With a deep breath, Michael responded:
“Hey, Franklin it’s me; Michael.” Michael’s voice revealed himself as nervous and timid. Michael awaited Franklin’s response, while he thought through what he would say next.
“Hey Michael, how are you?” Franklin’s voice was filled with excitement. “This is a pleasant surprise. To what do I own this pleasure?” Franklin was very pleased at the surprise of Michael’s phone call.
“I….uh…..you said if I ever needed to talk, I could call you.” Michael’s trepidation echoed through the phone, still unsure whether he should have made this call or ignored this urge.
“Of Course,” Franklin exclaimed from the other end with a smile. Michael could envision Franklin’s infectious smile on the other end. “How can I help you?”
“I guess I’m calling because I need your advice.” Michael said, admitting his weakness. “Elise wants a divorce.” He admitted.
The two men spoke about the news of the divorce and for once, Michael was speaking from an honest heart. Michael finally thought through the steps that led to the separation. The couple spoke on the hurt that comes from this difficult season; Franklin was able to share his divorce story with Michael, informing him that there is hope after the divorce.
Through the kind words of Franklin, Michael realized one thing that he’d been missing: Friendship. Over t he years, Michael kept to himself, where he constantly tried on take on his problems and struggles on his own; he never even spoke to his wife over many of these issues.
“So, let’s do this: let’s met up and work through this together.” Franklin offered. They agreed to get together on Saturdays, a day they were both free. These meetings would be a time to discuss Michael’s issues, the divorce papers and even Michael’s faith. When Michael agreed to met he knew that he was moving toward healing and moving forward with his life.
When the conversation was over, Michael hung up the phone and set the device on the tabletop. His heart was racing with nerves. While he looked down at the phone, which lay on the table, Michael breathed a sigh of relief.
It’s been over a year since I made that call; since Franklin and I began meeting. Our chosen day of meeting has changed a few times but we’ve never miss a week. We now meet Tuesday evenings after we both get off of work.
At first I just wanted to meet with Franklin until the divorce proceedings were over and finalized, yet we are still meeting weekly. By the way, the divorce never happened; I was able to reconcile with Elise. With the guidance and the advice of Franklin, I was able to realize the cracks in our marriage and I was determined to do my part to fix the marriage. Luckily, Elise also made the choice to work on our marriage as well.
I owe so much to Franklin. I am thankful that God has placed him in my life. I am thankful for the fact that Franklin was willing to be the piece of iron that would sharpen me, making me more confident in my marriage and more cognizant of God’s hand on my life.
The truth was: I needed Franklin in my life at that time in my life. I needed his guidance and his source of hope. I was hopeless and Franklin helped build me up. Also, my interactions with the other members of our Tuesday morning Bible study changed over the year; I spoke more honestly amongst the group, and I finally began to build realistic and authentic relationships with the members.
The healing has begun.
DISCLAIMER: The story you are about to read contains graphic violence and sexual situations. I pray that the reader would be able to look at the deeper meaning of the piece as it relates to Beautiful Feet Entertainment. Reader discretion is advised.
The room was dark. The room was very simply decorated; nothing more than a medical bed, a dresser and a wooden rocking chair, sitting next to the bed. Sitting atop of the dresser was an assortment of family pictures of members that are hardly seen in person.
In the medical bed lay an elderly man. His hair is peppered grey and black and curled in an organized tousled look. Framing the elderly man’s face was a peppered beard, which lay on his natural wrinkles, giving the impression of a man who has seen a lot in his long life.
The elderly man ached from internal pain in the gut as he dealt with a terminal cancer as it slowly eats through his system; this disease will surely be his demise.
The bedroom door opened slowly as the face of a familiar face poked through the crack in the doorway. The man in the doorway was a clean shaven man of thirty-five. He wore a freshly-pressed button up shirt, which was a light purple, draping over a clean pair of jeans. The gentleman held a thickly bound Bible in his hand as he approached the bed.
“Hello, Mr. Ray,” The young man said with a smile. “How are you feeling?” He slowly sat in the wooden rocking chair beside the bed. He politely laid the Bible upon his lap although he refused to open it.
“Hello, Pastor Williamson,” The elderly Charley Ray forced out with a hoarse voice. He attempted to lift his head from his pillow and veer his attention toward Pastor Scott Williamson. He smiled at the sight of the friendly thirty-five year old beside him. “It’s good to see you.” He said with a cough.
“It’s good to be here.” Pastor Scott smiled. “How are you feeling, Charley?” He asked, reaching a hand out and gently laying his hand upon the elderly man’s hand. The elderly man lay back in his bed, attempting to relax.
“So, you wanted to me to come by? Your caretaker called me and said you had something to tell me.” The pastor said with genuine smile.
Charley nodded his head in agreement.
“I did it.” The old man spoke weakly.
The pastor’s face twisted with confusion. He looked deep into the elderly man’s eyes, hoping to sense the truth.
“I did it.” The man repeated.
“What are you talking about?” Pastor Williamson asked. Uncertainty distorted his face as the elderly man attempted to explain through bursts of coughing and shortness of breath.
“I did it. I killed them.” Charley coughed.
Pastor Williamson’s expression quickly changed, realizing that his patient may be telling the truth. “What do you mean, ‘you killed them’?” Scott kept his handhold with Charley for reassurance.
“It was….a long time…..ago.” Charley spoke, trying to steady his breathing. “……..never caught, never…..arrested.”
“Are you sure?” The pastor’s face was distorted with confusion as he looked on at his elderly friend of three years.
“I……had to…….confess.” He coughed. “I did it to them all.”
The look of his guest transformed into hysterics at the validity of the news. His mind began to race through a series of thoughts that spanned from fear for his own life to how and when he should call the police. Through process of elimination, Pastor Williamson realized that his life was in no potential danger; therefore he stayed in the room, furthering the conversation.
The conversation continued as Scott remained friendly and polite. He listened to the story of Charley’s past; his wrecked childhood, his broken relationships with his wives and kids and the events that led to his killing spread over twenty years ago. Charley shared the details of the victims; how he found them, how he executed the killings and how he haunted the families of the victims for years after that.
Throughout the confession of the victims Charley’s peppered face became wet with tears and regret. As he recalled the pain that he caused to those families tore his heart and tortured his spirit; he had to talk.
Charley Ray confessed to raping and killing five women within the span of a year. He was never caught; he was never even a suspect in the murders. Often his targets would be young women in between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-two. The victims were usually young wives and mothers, leaving behind their loving husbands and children.
According to reports Charley would often stalk his victims for some time before he would attack them. The incidents before the attacks were usually a series of phone calls to the target’s home where heavy breathing would often be on the other end. On other occasions, Charley would enter the home while it was left vacant, where small objects in the home would either be moved or taken. Charley would often leave behind a mask and rope hidden within or around the home for his inevitable return.
On the night of his return, Charley would sneak into the house in the dead of the night, where he would secure the victim to the bed with the rope. To the surprise of the young woman, a masked Charley would be found leering over the victim. With a calm voice and slowly methodical movements, he would tease his prey. When the tensions were at their highest, Charley would finally attack. First, he would disrobe the victim and proceed to sexually assault the victim, holding a hand over the women’s mouth to keep the silence. Then, as the victim’s movements become more frantic and worried, he would wrap his hands around the victim’s neck, holding tightly, progressing in to a tighter squeeze. As a result of his excitement and the victim’s fear intensifying, Charley’s grip around the sufferer’s mouth and throat would tighten, resulting in the death of the young woman.
At the sight of the young woman’s body lying lifeless on the bed, Charley loosened his grip and returned to standing position beside the bed, leering down at his work. Charley carefully untied the victim, leaving rope burns around the wrists from the victim’s struggle. With the seen cleaned up and evidence collected, Charley vanished into the night, leaving the body of the victim to be discovered.
“A statement from Charley Ray:” A man in a well tailored suit began, holding a printed document in his hand. Standing before the courtroom, the attorney read the document aloud. “My name is Charley Ray. I am fifty-three years old. I am dying from cancer. Before I die, there is something that I need to address. Twenty years ago I began breaking and entering into homes, where I would sexually assault and kill the female owner of the house. In the timeframe of a year, I killed five women.
“At the time of the murders I never thought about the families that I destroyed. I never considered the young children that I left motherless. I never thought of the husbands that I left wifeless. Not once did concern the mothers and father who are now without their daughters.
I am so sorry for what I’ve done. I don’t expect you to forgive me; I don’t expect you to show me any kind of sympathy. I only needed you to know what happened. I’m so sorry for what I’ve done; how I left your lives, the things that I put you through; I wish I could take it all back.
While the defendant read through the elderly man’s confession, tears began forming behind Charley’s eyes, leaving him to wipe the tears from his eyes. Charley remembered every woman that he killed. He remembered every detail of those nights; to the stalking, to the set up, to the actual night of the attack.
Continuing to read the confession, the defendant said:
“I completely expect to die in prison. I do not expect to be spared from the death penalty. I am prepared for face any sentence that I receive. Yet, before I face my fate, I wanted to look the victim’s families in the eye and let them know my regret for my wicked past. I pray that as I face my fate that you all find peace and that you can move on. Once again, I’m sorry; signed, Charley Ray. ”
At the testimony of Pastor Scott Williamson and the confession from Charley Ray, himself, Charley was found guilty of the five murders. Due to his ailments, Charley would rest in his medical wheelchair for the sentencing.
At the news of the capture of their mother’s killer, three of the victim’s adult children came to the hearing. The family member’s were seated at the front of the courtroom and looked into the eyes of the man who took their mother away from them.
They were able to analyze his fragile frame, questioning how such a sickly-faced, frail man could commit such brutalities. Their minds were able to roam though the many nights of their childhood, trying to imagine the monster that killed mommy. They were now looking into the eyes of the man that haunted their nightmares for years.
“Now, before we go into sentencing I have agreed to give the floor to the families of the victims, allowing them to share their thoughts with Mr. Charley Ray.” Judge Marshall Stephens spoke from his benched podium at the front of the courtroom. His round glasses rested on the bridge of his nose as he looked down at the three attendants before him, awaiting their response.
“Uh, yeah,” A young man said to himself, gently raising his hand in the air. The young man’s shabby hair draped low above his eyes. His was dressed in the Sunday’s finest, which consisted of an old black suit and tie. The clothes hung loosely off of his body, indicating that he had lost weight since it was originally purchased. “I’d like to say something.” He directed to the judge, who nodded in agreement.
The shabby haired kid with the bags under his eyes stood before the courtroom. He surveyed the courtroom, which look eerily similar to the courtrooms that any viewer would see on any crime drama TV show. The attorneys and the spectators waited with curiosity aimed at him.
“Uh, yeah, my name is Eric, my mother was Erin Montgomery; do you remember her?” Eric asked, now aiming his dialog at Charley, who looked in from his wheelchair with a look of remembrance. “You killed her the night before my birthday. You left her breathless on the bed, where I found her the next morning. Do you remember that, you sick schmuck? I’m glad that you are confined to that chair. Whatever is eating away at your insides is a godsend! You deserve so much more torture for what you have to done to all of us!” at this point Eric’s tone was irate and angry.
Eric’s eyes were filling with tears of anger. His face was red as he spoke with a heavy intensity. As he spoke, he pointed an index finger toward the wheelchair bound killer. It took everything within him to not physically attack the man that he despised.
“Mr. Montgomery we are going to ask you to try to remain calm while you are in my courtroom.” Judge Stephens ordered with a calm yet firm voice.
Unable to contain himself, Eric balled up a fist and pounded it on the tabletop in front of him. “I can’t not remain calm I am here to ensure that he gets what he truly deserves!” Eric hollered, pointing an unstable finger to Ray.
With a wave of the hand, Judge Stephens ordered the bailiff to escort Eric Montgomery back to his seat to ensure peace in the courtroom.
“Now, I’m Montgomery I understand that tensions are high and that could elicit radical behavior but if your outburst continues than I will have no choice but to banish you from my courtroom.”
A silence fell among the courtroom. Charley Ray remained in his wheelchair refrain from all emotion. He just sat slouched in the chair, eyes surveying the courtroom. With a moment of silence Judge Stephens awaited the response from another progeny of the victims to stand up and address the courtroom.
The room remained silent.
The two remaining survivors of the victims were both females in their early thirties. They were nicely dressed, although they were not dressing for the approval of those in the courtroom. One of the young women had dark hair that was pulled back into an elegant ponytail, which swayed behind her with every move. Her name: Abigail Davies, her mother was, Maureen Davies, Charley Ray’s fourth victim. As Abigail waited in the nearly awkward silence, she looked down at her hands, which were resting in her lap. Simply from observation, it was evident that she wished to speak to the killer of her mother, yet she was unnerved and unable to summon the courage. Although, from the expression on her face it was easy to see that she held resentment and anger deep in the pit of her stomach for the man who destroyed her family.
Every few moments, the dark haired girl looked over at Charley Ray and glared with eyes of angry frustration over the twenty years it took to catch the killer. Abigail was eleven when her mother became a victim of Mr. Ray. Her father, who often traveled for work, happened to be in an entirely different state when his wife was killed. He blamed himself for the murder, which caused him to develop a heavy drinking habit. Due to the drinking, Abigail often raised herself.
Abigail’s anger toward Charley’s crimes propelled her to work toward becoming a defense attorney. She never wanted anyone else to have to go through what she went through as a child.
The third and final witness looked around the room, often looking over to Charley. Her smooth, blonde hair hung around shoulder length. She could sense the tension between Abigail and Charley thickening. Eric sat next to Abigail, his fists balled up in anger at the sight of Charley sitting in the same room as them. Next to Eric was the bailiff, ensuring that there would be no further outburst from any one. Neither Eric nor Abigail seemed to be moved by Charley’s confession letter and the tears that left his cheeks soaked. All they saw was a killer, nothing more.
“Well, since no one else has anything to say…..” Judge Stephens began to speak as he looked down at the manila file folder that lay in front of him.
“Judge, can I say something?” The shoulder-length blonde said, holding a semi-pointed finger to the sky, just parallel to her head. Her face was white with fear as she made eye contact with Judge Stephens.
“Of course you can,” The judge smiled gently. With an open hand, he welcomed her to stand before the courtroom. With a deep breath, she approached the podium. In her hand was a folded piece of paper; a prepared statement for this kind of occasion.
She unfolded the paper, starred down at it and decisively folded it back up and placed it back in her pocket. She surveyed the room before she made eye contact with Charley, who remained in his wheelchair looking on.
“My name is Danielle Snow. My mother was your first victim. I was ten years old when you commit this serious crime. To be honest, I saw you walking through the hallway, approaching her room. You didn’t realize I was there. At first I thought you were just part of my imagination. I tried to convince myself that you were just a shadow that I saw.
“I am of the same mind as Eric and Abigail. I came here to face my fears, to face the man who stole my childhood. I wanted to ensure that you were given the death penalty. I wanted you to pay. That’s what I came here to say to you. Yet, as I’ve been sitting her hearing everyone’s stories and seeing you here. I must say: I feel sorry for you.”
With those words, Charley Ray lifted his eyes to meet Danielle’s. He previously had his eyes pointed toward the floor in shame and embarrassment. With every furthering moment he wished for his sentencing. Yet, he remained shocked at these words.
“I don’t condone what you’ve done, in fact, I despise it. I wish it never happened, but that is something that I can’t change now. All I can do is use this moment to become better, to be a better person. Truth is; I heard your words. I heard the remorse in them. It seems that you truly are sorry. Seeing you now, I see that you’ve grown and you stopped killing. I can see that the truth of your crime has being eating away at you for the past twenty years; it is literally killing you.”
Danielle searched through her mind to perfectly encapsulate the feelings that were swirling within her heart. Looking over to Charley, Danielle’s feelings became complicated. On one hand, Danielle wishes to ensure her mother’s killer gets exactly what he deserves, and on the other hand, she sees Charley as a human who makes mistakes, who makes the wrong choices, who needs something more powerful than hate.
“Although this is hard for me, I see that this is also hard for you. I want to thank you for finally coming clean with your crime and finally facing responsibility for your actions. Lastly, I want to say: I forgive you. I will no longer hold in the hate that I felt for so long. I will no longer wish upon you and I will no longer see you in my dreams. I forgive you. I hope you find peace with yourself and with God. I forgive you.”
Danielle finished her speech to Charley Ray with tears in her eyes. She looked Charley in the eye, as she wiped her face clean. She felt peace settle in her heart. Without another word she sat back down next to Abigail and Eric, both of which seethed with anger at the words that she just spoke, yet she was not bothered by their evil-eye looks.
Charley remained in his chair, his eyes wet with tears. How could anybody forgive him for what he has done? How could she show him compassion with all that he has done to her? He was overwhelmed at the gesture of forgiveness.
Wiping his eyes, Charley turned to look at Danielle. Making eyes contact with her, he mouthed the words “Thank you.” Charley Ray knew his mistakes. He knew he had destroyed lives. He deserved the punishment that he would be sentenced, yet he was offered forgiveness. In the end, that’s all he wanted.
A word from Jessica:
Hi! Welcome to Beautiful Feet Entertainment. Whether you are a first-time visitor to our site, or you are a regular reader, Anthony and I are glad that you took some time out of your busy day to spend some time with us.
So much has happened around here! I am so excited to be able to share it with you. After almost two years of dating, Anthony and I got engaged this past March! I’m Jessica and you can find more of my contributions by looking under the “He said, She said” Tab.
Beautiful Feet Entertainment is expanding! With the help from our friends at Iuniverse.com, Anthony has self published his first book! “The Sanctuary of my Solitude: The thoughts, feelings and life lessons of an imperfect Christian” is a collection of poetry that truly embodies one of our main philosophies, “Life is a beautiful struggle.” His book is currently available through Iuniverse.com and Amazon.com (Keyword search: Anthony Giesick)
Stay tuned for more exciting updates. Feel Free to browse our archived material, and take a look around by navigating the tool bars at the top of your screen. We will be posting brand new material very soon.
Thank you for spending some time with us. We appreciate you!
A Word from Anthony:
Welcome back to Beautiful Feet Entertanment! It's been way too long since I've Spoken to you guys and given you some quality material. Yet, that doesn't mean that I haven't been work on new material, I have.
I am also very excited to announce that Jessica will also be posting on this site with stories, bible studies and videos for you all to enjoy! We will also be working to material together to share with you all. I believe you will truly enjoy it!
Now, I can't forget that I did get the opportunity to self-publish a book of poetry and yes, you can get it at Iuniverse.com and Amazon.com, just search my name, you'll find it!
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So, here’s a story: Recently my girlfriend, Jessica, just moved into a new apartment with a friend of hers. They gathered together, they found the apartment; they packed their belongings and began to move. Obliviously I helped the ladies move from their previous dwelling into the new apartment. The last day of moving into the new apartment, my girlfriend and I moved her tiny kitten to the new place. We packed all of the cat’s toys and her other belongings and we placed the cat into a carrier and we got into the car.
As we drove from her mom’s place, where the cat had previously been living, to the new apartment, Jessica sat in the passenger seat with the carrier resting on her lap. Just as usual, the cat inside the box was anything but restful while we were traveling from place to place. The cat seemed to be panicking and trying to escape the carrier, unsure what was going around it. As we headed down the road, anyone could see that the cat was scared and unhappy about its current situation.
“It’s ok, Itty Bitty Kitty. Mommy loves you.” Jessica reassured the cat, trying to calm the animal in the carrier. This was to no avail. “Mommy will protect you and take care of you.” She continued to attempt to calm her pet.
While I’m driving and hearing these lovely words from an animal owner to a loved family pet, I began to think of how this was often a perfect metaphor for our walk with Jesus.
Let’s break it down:
In the situation of the car ride with the cat, there are numerous parallels to our spiritual lives as believers. First off, Itty Bitty Kitty as it is often referred to, even though it has another name entirely, was living in a place that had quickly become its home where it was comfortable. In a single moment, Itty Bitty was pulled from that home and placed in a small box for transport. This carrier has never been a comfort place for the feline, not because the cat is too big for the box, but due to the fact that cat did not like the enclosed area.
Secondly, Itty Bitty was put in a car and transferred to a new place. One could imagine that this is very confusing and frightening for the cat because it doesn’t know where it is going or what it is doing within the carrier that it despises so much. Not to mention that anyone could imagine that the cat realizes that it is also moving, yet it does not know where it is or where it is going. If a cat is capable of deep thoughts of introspection, one would that Itty Bitty Kitty’s thought would actually mirror that of a person being blind folded and napped.
This whole time the cat is upset and clawing as the carrier and sticking its paws and claws out of the carrier, hoping for escape, still uncertain of the purpose for this moment. While the cat is clearly not taking this transition well, the owner of the cat, in this case, Jessica, understands the cat’s fear, but also know that the final outcome with be better for the feline in the end. Just because the kitten is put through this difficult situation, that does not mean that the owner does not love and care for the cat. In fact, in many cases the opposite is true.
How does this relate to our spiritual walk?
We are the cat. Too often we are removed from our comfort zone, either by circumstance or by God speaking to our hearts, and we are placed in the epitome of uncomforting thoughts and confusion. Truthfully when we are faced with these challenges, we do not see them as challenges that allow us to grow, but we see them as a cruel game. In those times we struggle to understand what caused this change in our lives. This may mean that we look internally and discover our actions that may have caused this, but more often than not, we blame our circumstances on other people, or this unconceivable notion of “bad luck” or we blame God.
Due to our dislike for these situations that we may find ourselves in, we act out and we often unleash. This reaction is due to the mind trying to understand the circumstance as well as the cause and yet, finding nothing.
While we struggle with our uncomfortable surroundings, God can be found with us saying, “It’s okay. I’m with you. I love you. I will protect you. I will guide you.”
The Bible reminds us that God often encourages His children with words like “Don’t be afraid.” The average reader can also find parables of Jesus informing the disciples that storms will enter into our lives, and in order to navigate through them, we need God to guide us and protect us. Yet, much like Itty Bitty Kitty, we are unable to see passed the circumstance, the carrier, to see the bigger purpose in it.
Just like the cat’s owner, God knows that this difficult situation is only temporary and what is coming in the near future is better for us and it will be better to us, but first, we need to grow through the difficult times.
We need to trust God through the difficult times. We need to begin to see the difficult times as a challenge for God to strengthen us and guide us to better versions of ourselves. God has a great plan for us; a plan that will benefit us and, more importantly, glorify Him. All we have to do is submit to the process that God has perfectly developed to make us stronger and better.
I pray that God will give us the grace to do that.
The Missing Ring
Two years ago
The atmosphere was gentle and laid back, the perfect atmosphere for a good time. The small club was filled with young adults looking for a good time; a time to unwind from the stressful week that is now passed them. The live band set the mood with their music that was easy listening, yet easy to dance to. The middle of the large room was used as a dance floor, where young adults would meet and dance together, hoping to find a connection. Outside of the dance floor was an arrangement of tables and dining booths, were the guests can converse and enjoy each other’s company.
A young man maneuvered through the dance floor, as if he were looking for someone that he recognized. The young man was nicely dressed in a light blue button-up shirt that was draped over a clean pair of blue jeans and pair of black formal dress shoes. While looking around, the young man sipped on the drink that resided in his right hand.
Okay, this is uncomfortable. The young man thought to himself, taking a sip of his drink. I guess I should just sit down. I feel foolish standing in the middle of the dance floor. The young man made his way away from the dance floor and took a seat at a nearby table that just happened to be empty. He took another sip of his drink, hoping to not look too out of place.
I feel so out of place here. I don’t belong here.
The young man scanned the dance floor. He looked over the appearances of the dancers while they moved to the rhythm of the live band. The small club was filled with very attractive people, all of whom were dressed in their nicest clothes. This was the best way to show your best side which increases ones chances of being noticed by a fellow dancer.
While scanning the crowd, the young man analyzed the appearance of every female in his eyesight’s path, trying to gather an idea of their personalities, hoping to find a young lady that he could meet and make a connection with. All of the women in the club wore tight dresses that frame their best bodily assets.
Even if I see someone I want to talk to that doesn’t mean that I’d be able to talk to them. The young man thought to himself as he still scanned the room for the perfect person to talk to. His eyesight left the agenda of scanning the crowd and met with the doorway. Maybe I should leave. I don’t need to be here. I don’t belong here.
Finishing the last of his drink, the young man set the glass down on the table and looked toward the bar, which was across the room, next to the exit. Sitting at the end of the bar was a very attractive woman in a low-cut red dress. As she sipped in her own drink their eyes met. She smiled at the young man. He smiled back at her.
He looked her over and smiled even wider. He was mesmerized by her appearance and her gaze. Her bright red lips parted in a pleasant smile. Without ever speaking a word she seemed to be communicating to the young man who sat at the table across the room.
With a silent tone the woman mouthed the word, “Hi,” to the young man. The young man returned the greetings with his own silent speak. The young man stood to his feet and made his way to the woman in the tight red dress.
“Hello,” She said with a smile.
“Hey,” He returned.
“I’m glad you came over.” She said gliding a single finger around the rim of her glass. She never broke her gaze on the young man.
“Yeah, I was thinking of leaving, but….” He began to explain; he searched to find the right words as he shuffled nervously.
“Then it’s a good thing that I saw you.”
The two began a conversation instantly. Within moments the conversation moved from average small talk to the couple getting to know each other further. With everything the young man shared, the woman was intently engaged. With every opportunity, she would use a variety of body language techniques to further the conversation along.
“Well, I’d better head home.” The beautiful woman said, standing to her feet.
“Well, were do you live?” The young man asked who also stood to his feet.
“Not too far from here,” She said. Her gaze was intense and passionate. She smiled at the young man.
“Can I walk you home?” He asked with a shy smile.
“That would be great.” She responded.
The two of them headed for the exit side-by-side. As they entered the night air, a chill brushed against their skin, adding a layer of goose bumps to the skin. The young man shoved his hands into his pockets to keep them warm. His female companion walked close to him. Their shoulders often rubbed together as they made their way down the street.
The couple found themselves filling the time with more small talk and even deeper conversation as they walked through the dark street under the moon-lit sky. They both enjoyed each other’s company.
The young man felt the smooth touch of the woman’s fingertips gliding against his wrist. He removed his fist from his pocket and the two hands soon found themselves entangled in an intimate handhold.
“Well, here we are.” The woman in the red dress said, pointing to the building to her left. “This is my place.” They stood next to a tall building of apartments.
“Well, I’m glad I met you. It was a pleasure.” The young man said smiling shyly. He had lost his grip on her hand and shoved his hand back into his front pocket.
“Thank you for walking me home.” She said with a seductive smile.
“You’re welcome,” Before he could finish his thought the woman in the red dress leaned in and kissed the young man. He embraced the kiss as the kiss grew more passionate between them.
The couple parted lips, leaving a few inches between them. She smiled at him. He returned with a smile of his own.
“Would you like to come up to my place?” She asked, her gaze penetrating his own.
“Y-Yes,” He said in a light tone.
Her smile grew seductive at she looked deeper into his eyes.
Six months ago
“Son, let me tell you something.” A peppered haired male spoke to the young adult sitting across the table from him. The two of them sat in a darkened room. The dim light from the TV illuminated the room in a light glow. The room was filled with other occupants that were enjoying the company of friends and family over drinks and meals.
The young man looked up to his father as if he were thinking, “I already know what you’re going to say.” The young man realized that his father had invited him out in order to have a serious discussion with his son.
“Yeah,” The young man said to his father, looking him in the eyes. The father took a final drink of his beer before he began.
“I know what you’re doing. I know what you’re going through.” The father tried to start, unsure what to say. “I mean, I see what’s going on. You’re exploring. You’re trying to learn who you are and you’re trying to learn what you want.”
“What do you mean? I don’t understand.” The young man asked his father. The young man’s demeanor transformed from resentment for his father’s words to curiosity about his father’s words.
“I’ve been where you are in life. I used to do this too.” The father continued as he took another sip of his drink.
“Okay, I’m lost.” The young man said, confused.
“The women, son,” The father added firmly. “I see how you have been treating them. Every time I see you, you have another woman with you.”
“I don’t see why that matters to you.” The son shot back to his father. “I’m nothing doing anything wrong. I just enjoy their company.”
“Oh, I know. I’ve used to enjoy their company too. Yet, I had to learn. I learned that it never made me happy. I only hurt myself and I hurt the ladies as well.” The father tried to explain, realizing that his son’s eyes had glazed over, indicating that he was no longer listening to the words of his father.
“I am happy.” The young man retorted.
“Are you?” The father asked, taking yet another drink. “That’s good. I don’t think it’s going to last though. It never does.”
There was a long silence between the two.
“I just don’t want you to get hurt.” The father reassured his son.
“I won’t. I’m fine.” The young man replied with short statements filled with spite.
“Son,” the mentally exhausted father continued, unwilling to give up on his son. “Your mother and I always taught you that there are predators in this world, both men and women. They both take advance of each other. They both hurt each other. We just don’t want you to become one of them.”
“I’m not.” The son said.
“There are a lot of great women out in this world, but the path that I see you on will lead you to the predator, or the harlot; the type of women who will lure you into her life just to hurt you and take everything that you have to offer. They will do this regardless of how it hurts you.”
“Dad, I’m not doing anything wrong. I’ll be fine.” The young man stood to his feet and walked out of the restaurant, leaving his father sitting in the booth, alone.
The father bowed his head in prayer as he sat at the table alone. His face was distorted with the look of concern for his son.
One year ago
The couple entered into a nicely decorated house that was decorated with nice furniture, which showed that the occupant was well-established and organized. The lights were flicked on, illuminating the apartment in a bright light.
The couple kissed once again.
“Go ahead and make yourself at home on the couch, I’ll be there in a minute.” The woman in the red dress said, leading the young man to the living room.
“Okay,” The young man responded in a quiet whisper.
After a moment, the woman entered the living room with two drinks in her hand. She was dressed in a seductive robe that was tied at the waist only tight enough to cover her body. The young man looked at her with amazement and excitement. With a single glimpse, the young man did not need to imagine what his partner was wearing beneath the robe.
He took the drink that was offered to him and took a sip of the beverage. The drink was something that he had never tasted before, yet he instantly liked it. The robed woman sat next to the young man, leaning into his shoulder.
The couple’s eyes met. She smiled. He smiled.
“We didn’t come up here just to sit on the couch. Don’t you want to see what I’m wearing for you?” She said with a seductive smile as she led her hand down the opening of her robe to the lightly tied knot at her waist. With a gentle hand, she allowed the knot to untie, causing her robe to loosen.
“Hello, beautiful.” The young man said in reaction.
The couple kissed.
Six months ago
The young man angrily entered the house of his parents. With a slam of the door, he entered in his old bedroom and lay on the bed. The words of his father filled his mind, filling him with a swirl of emotion and confusion.
Is everything that my dad said right? Am I mistreating these women? Why am I doing this? Why does it matter? Who is it hurting? I’m not hurting anyone! I’m just living my life! I really like these girls. What does my dad know anyway?
The young man remained on the bed, lying on his back. His head hung over the edge of the bed. The young man’s hands were stretched over his forehead, shoving his hair back off of his forehead.
The young man’s eyes were filling with tears. The young man had a heart of gold, therefore he hating the idea of ever hurting anyone. His father knew this; this was the meaning of the meeting that the young man angrily ran out of.
My father says that I’m lost. My father says that I’ll be mistreated by a woman, a harlot. Is this true? But I haven’t mistreated anybody! Am I truly lost? Was my father right? I’m sorry!
The young man thought of the various women that he has met and dating in his recent years. He began to rethink their encounters and their relationships. He thought through his various sexual encounters, realizing that these encounters are very harmful.
“I’m sorry!” The young man cried aloud. His face was red and wet from tears. With every gasp of breathe between tears, the young man wiped the tears from his cheeks only to be replaced by new puddles of tears.
“It’s okay,” A familiar voice uttered from behind the young man. The young man looked towards the door, where his father stood. “Look son, I didn’t mean to offend you. I just needed you to know what I saw. I needed you to know about my past as well.”
“I need help.” The young man said through his tears. “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.”
“It’s okay, son, I know that you didn’t even know that you were hurting anyone. You were just doing what too many people do at your age. It is a time of our age that we truly need to change.”
“I guess I never really understood the effect of those actions.” The young man suggested. He wiped a final puddle of tears off of his face. “What do I do now?”
The young man awoke, lying in a strange bed, in a room that did not belong to him, in a state of mind that he did not recognize. Sitting up in the bed, the young man wiped the morning crust from his eyes while he looked around the room.
“Hello?” The young man spoke in groggy, early morning voice. His eyes shifted around the room, looking for any resemblance of another person. There was nothing.
The room was brightly lit by the sunshine, which peered in though the window just across the bed. The bedroom was nicely decorated, as was the living room and the rest of the house, yet, the bedroom was decorated with very light colors, giving it a very comforting feeling. Yet, the young man didn’t feel comforted.
The young man’s stomach was tied in a knot as he thought through the actions of the previous night. He thought through each kiss, each embrace, and each unholy act. As the thought journeyed through his mind, his stomach became more and more uneasy.
“Oh God, what did I do?” The young man thought to himself, laying his head back in disbelief. “I guess I better get out of here.” The young man pulled himself from the comforts of the bed and looked at the floor for his scattered clothes. Piece by piece his collected his clothes, ensuring that he had everything that belonged to him. As he collected an article of clothing, he would put it on: first, he reached for his pants, which he pick up off of the floor and shoved his legs into the leg holes, one leg at a time. Next, he grabbed his white T-shirt that he wore underneath his blue button up shirt.
“Well, it looks like all of stuff is…..”The young man’s voice trailed off. With his blue button up shirt hanging from his fist, the young man looked up from the floor with a shocked look on his face. “Wait, where is my…..”
The young man patted his back pocket, where the average man keeps their wallet. There was nothing there. The young man patted his pocket yet again, there was nothing there. He checked his other pockets quickly, yet again, nothing was found.
In a panic the young man pulled the bedroom door open. He was greeted with more bright lights, not only from the natural light of the sun, but from the florescent lights that were left on.
“Well, hello.” A sweet voice said from the brightly illuminated kitchen. The young man, still holding his button up shirt in his fist, turned his attention to the lovely lady in the kitchen. It was the lady in the red dress except without the red dress, but a lightly flowing robe covering her body.
“I was just going to wake you,” she added, looking at the already dressed young man. “Are you leaving?”
“I-I thought you were gone.” He managed to reply, still confused at the situation at hand. “Hey, you would happen to know where my wallet is, would you.” His stomach was filled with butterflies at the sheer utterance of the question. A question he’d hoped he never had to ask.
“Yeah, it’s right here.” She responded, pointing to the leather billfold lying on the counter. “I think you set it there last night.” She added.
“Why would I do that?” He thought to himself. He felt a heavy weight lift off of his shoulders as he grabbed the wallet and shoved it into the back pocket of his pants.
“How about you have a seat, I’ll bring you some coffee.” The lovely lady requested, turning her back to the young man. Soon she returned to the young man, joining him on the couch.
The two made eye contact, but his eyes quickly shifted down, taking another look at her body; the body that had enthralled him from their first encounter. With his eyes still shifting over her body, his stomach turned over, becoming more upset than it was earlier this morning.
She leaned in to greet him with a kiss. He pulled away.
“We need to stop.” He whispered to himself with eyes that were glazed over.
“What?” She asked for clarification, pulling away from him.
“We need to stop. We can’t do this anymore.” He spoke up, finally looking at her through clear vision.
“We’ve got to stop what?” She asked with a stern look on her face.
“This! We have to stop whatever this is!” He proclaimed, pulling himself off of the couch. She quickly jettisoned to her feet to see him face-to-face.
“What are you…?” She began to ask.
“Where is your husband?” He interjected without letting her finish her question. The question caught her off guard. She thought; unsure that she ever remembered mentioning her husband. She looked down at her left hand, focusing on the third finger, the ring finger. It was encircled with a tan line that outlined the placement of a wedding ring, a wedding ring that she had removed more times than she could count.
“Who says I don’t have a husband?” She retorted.
“Look, we have been doing this for over two years. We meet at the same place, at the same time. We have sex and then we don’t speak until the next meeting.” She seemed surprised at his sudden outburst of accusations.
“You can’t tell me you’re not enjoying it.” She responded, keeping the seductive smile on her face. She wrapped her arms right below her bust.
“You’re right, I’ve enjoyed it. To be completely honest with you, I yearn for it, but I’ve realized something; this is not living.”
“This is exactly what living is; no thoughts, nothing tying you down, just raw lust and desire. It’s natural.”
“It’s death.” He spat back. “Neither of us is putting into this relationship, it’s not growing the way relationships are meant to grow…”
“Relationships are too restricting. I’m looking for freedom. ”
“Since you’re looking for freedom, then go back to your husband. You’ll realize you had freedom with him the whole time.”
He pulled himself away from her attempts to embrace him and moved away. She seemed in shock over his boldness.
“Since I met you, since we’ve starting this affair, I haven’t been the same.”
“Yeah, you’ve grown into quite the man” She swiftly looked over his body, allowing her thoughts to roam free.
“I’ve become a coward. I’ve be treating all ladies like….like….well, like the way you treat me; like a toy. I would not take their thoughts, their feeling or their wants into consideration. I would have sex with them and left them with the pain and broken lies. They were just place holders until I got to be with you, the actual person I wanted to be with.”
For the first time her expression went from seductive to a look of realization. She unfolded her arms and tightened the robe around her body. It was as if she heard very shocking and devastating news.
“I guess I never really told you, but our time together was about more than just sex, at least until the sex started. I wanted to know you more than just being the lady in the red dress, but the only thing that you were interested was sex.” He finally flung the button up shirt over his arms and began buttoning it up.
She sat back on the couch, still wearing the shocked look on her face.
“Like I said, go back to your husband, and love him the way that he deserves. We are done. It’s time that we both begin living.”
*Inspired by Proverbs chapter 7
My thoughts of the Fourth of July
While at church this past weekend, the pastor asked a simple question: "When you think of the Fourth of July, what do you think of?" Now, this seems like a straightforward question with a variety of answers, such as, fireworks, freedom, and possibly the fight for our freedom. As I thought through this question, I began to think of the formally oppressed. Those whose ancestors were enslaved and imprisoned unjustly. While for millions of American think of July fourth a national holiday of freedom for our country, not all of our American brothers and sisters will have the same memory and heart-warming thoughts.
In order to fully celebrate this holiday, we must fully understand that while all men are created equal, not all men are treated equally. Therefore, I must ask: to those who were once, or are currently enslaved to this country, what are their initial thoughts of this national holiday?
Throughout the morning I allowed these thoughts to course through my mind, where I found myself reading the manuscript, "What to the slave is the Fourth of July?" By Frederick Douglass. This was a speech that was given by Frederick Douglass in July 1852.
In this speech, Douglass addresses the facts that at the time that the United States was formed it was formed out of a need of correcting a wrong doing. For instance, when the United States forefathers reside in England, they saw the unjust actions of the English government. They persevered through hardships and founded their own country. Now, It is the United States that has a developing list of wrongdoings that need to be addressed and fixed; most notably slavery.
In response to the creation of the country and the inheritance of the forefathers, Douglass wrote; "I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. — The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me."
While we, as Americans, would like to think that all can rejoice in this holiday, celebrating freedom for all, it should come as not surprise that many cannot without deep brokenness in their hearts. Too often one's history provides obstacles and roadblocks on the road to fully celebrating freedom. This is a history that is too often ignored and not approached with an open heart.
Frederick Douglass explains that while the American country was created by brave men trying to do right, the national holiday doesn't belong to everyone who can be called American.
"The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn."
Frederick Douglass continues:
"Fellow-citizens; above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them."
While we rejoice over our freedom, many more mourn the lost of freedom and the welcome the misuse, beatings and destructions of families and cultures. In order to fully understand and celebrate this holiday, we need must also hold to the understanding that these feelings are not gone. I truly believe that many of our brothers and sisters in American carry these feelings of oppression with them everyday. We rejoice over our freedom, our brothers and sisters mourn over their loss of freedom in our current day in culture.
Frederick Douglass gives this answer to the overall question:
"What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim."
A constant victim? That phrase brings sadness to my heart. It brings sorrow to my heart because I know that this is a reality that extends well beyond the writings of Frederick Douglass into our seemingly divided culture of 2017. While our country has made a lot of change over the last 100 plus years, we still have so much to learn as a country.
Since there is so much pain in our country's history that we inevitably brought on to ourselves, it is up to the very oppressors to lead the way to finding a solution; a path that will lead by the true believers of the church. Yet, the church is not innocent in this blood-stained history of ours.
"But the church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors. It has made itself the bulwark of American slavery, and the shield of American slave-hunters."
Frederick Douglass continues:
"At the very moment that they are thanking God for the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, and for the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, they are utterly silent in respect to a law which robs religion of its chief significance, and makes it utterly worthless to a world lying in wickedness."
It seems over the history of the church, as well as our country, we have turned a blind eye to the inflictions of the oppressed, the same ones that we oppressed. We did not speak truth in moments were truth was needed. We turned a blind eye to justice because it was too much of an inconvenience to help those who need help. By not speaking and turning a blind eye, we created the American that we all know today; an America of brutality and oppression.
Frederick Douglass speak as this in regards to the churches function on the oppressed as well as the churches operations amongst themselves:
"The fact that the church of our country, (with fractional exceptions), does not esteem “the Fugitive Slave Law” as a declaration of war against religious liberty, implies that that church regards religion simply as a form of worship, an empty ceremony, and not a vital principle, requiring active benevolence, justice, love and good will towards man. It esteems sacrifice above mercy; psalm-singing above right doing; solemn meetings above practical righteousness. A worship that can be conducted by persons who refuse to give shelter to the houseless, to give bread to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and who enjoin obedience to a law forbidding these acts of mercy, is a curse, not a blessing to mankind."
As a churchgoer and a fellow human being, the question is what do we do next? How can we reconnect with those that feel disconnected to the community that they deserve to belong to. Due to the fact that we are all inherently American, we should be able to treat all peoples that we encounter as equals, regardless of their race, culture or any other object of deviation.
The other really important is: Is that all that it takes? We just live our lives and treat each other with respect and the world will instantly become a better place? No!
As is the case with most issues that surround individuals, there is a much deeper issue at hand; one's views and experiences. It seems that we can't just treat people with respect and suddenly hundreds of years of oppression and slavery just vanishes from the history books.
I believe that one of the most impactful ways to bridge this gap that many may feel during these celebrations of freedom is to acknowledge the differences of experiences that we all face in the history of our country that we call home. In times of division we need to fight to stay unified through communication, even through the tough discussions.
Ask questions, yet do not forget to listen to the experiences and opinions that are shared. Yet, there is more to creating unity in our country than just asking a multitude of questions and listening; we have to learn to take action in steps of reconciliation.
We will be the most effectiveness in reconciling, first, by admitting our fault in the division that we face everyday. For instance, maybe division is cause within our community due to race. That division is man-made. That division is created by ignorance and complacency amongst all involved. Another division that occurs often is the division of sex, whether that be gender or sexual orientation. This too, is man-made. This division is created through steps of misunderstanding and lack of listening.
The truth is we are all different. That is the beautiful truth of the world that we live in. That truth is the beautiful truth that resides in the individuals that call this country home. We are not meant to be all the same, not by the God who created us. We all have different experiences that we can benefit from when we take the time to see all peoples as our family, our brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers. When we see a family where the members have something to teach us we can learn from their differences in views and experiences, then we can see the faults of our community and in return we will see the journey that our country has taken.
We have grown as a country and we have learned a lot, yet we still have a lot to learn. It is best for us to trust God with our whole hearts as we tread through these difficult times. We can not ignore these difficult topics, we need to seek answers for them, and in order to do that we need each other. So, in this time of celebrating America's independence, we must seek healing of past wounds and extend a hand of friendship to all those who feel disconnected from this particular holiday.
Anthony K. Giesick
I grew up loving stories and quickly found myself loving writing poetry, stories, songs! Here is a sample of what Beautiful Feet Writings is all about!.