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.
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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!.