Sunny and peaceful is an understatement to what the day has been like. There is not a breeze and the sun is set at exactly the correct temperature. The trees surrounding the house are filled with chirping birds discussing the events of the week.
“Oh my gosh Charmaine! I don’t believe it. Neil is at the gate,” I hear Marlene call from the kitchen.
‘You are kidding me right? Where are the boys, are they still playing outside?’ I ask Marlene with the rising anxiety audible in my voice while running towards the door.
I rush outside to find out what Neil is doing here. I have not heard from him in several weeks and now he shows up unannounced. What does he want? He can’t come and visit the children now. Who does he think he is? Does he think he can show up and disappear as he pleases? Questions rush through my mind as I hastily make my way to the gate careful not to trip and fall over the toys.
The cheerful chirping seems to have stopped. There’s an eerie feeling hanging in the air.
Since my last encounter with Neil, almost six weeks ago I have been lead to the Lord. How will this now pan out? ‘Lord help me please. I don’t need this confrontation.’
As I reach the gate Neil opens the door of his car and gets out. To my dismay I see that his two children from a previous marriage are with him. Be nice now Charmaine, don’t say anything to upset his children, you can do this you have God by your side. My attempt to calm down is to no avail. I can feel the heat rising in my face and I am shaking violently on the inside. Even though it is a beautiful sunny day I feel a cold shiver running down my back.
My life with Neil is playing like a movie in my head. Scenes come flashing back of a swollen eye, cracked cheekbones and unbearable headaches because of what he has done to me.
With sweating hands I open the gate, force a smile on my face and warmly greet his children. My two boys are running through the garden screeching and playing as if no visitors have arrived at the gate. In passing they shout, ‘Hello Dad’, and continue playing cowboys and crooks.
‘What have you done to the boys? They don’t even come to greet me’, is the indignant response from Neil. In the past my automatic response would have been one filled with apologies for the behaviour of the boys. Not today, no longer. The scared timid person has left and will no longer tolerate any abuse whether physical or verbal.
I feel my back straighten and a serene calmness fills my inner person. The scripture ‘He who is in me is stronger than he who is in the world’ darts through my mind. I take a few steps forward and look straight into the eyes of my abuser. ‘You are welcome to leave. You think you can breeze in here as and when it pleases you and everyone should be waiting on you. I don’t think so. Do us all a favour; get in your car and leave!’
Utter shock is plastered across Neil’s face. Never before did I have the courage to stand up to him like this. In a feeble attempt to save face, he steps forwards to hug me saying ‘Come now, hug me and let us go inside for a cup of coffee.’
‘No Neil, I don’t think you understand. You are no longer welcome here. I suggest you leave and don’t ever come back. You have caused enough pain and suffering in my life.’
At this Neil realises that something has changed. In the past he would step forward in a threatening manner and I would immediately back down. Here I am today looking him square in the eye and I am not backing down. In utter disbelieve he turns, gets back into his car and leaves.
With extra bounce in my step I walk towards the house. The sun is shining even brighter than before. The birds have continued their chirpy chatter and the boys are still shooting holes in the vigilantes. ‘Thank you Jesus, I love you.’
And with the biggest smile ever I hug Marlene and like teenagers we giggle and run inside for yet another cup of coffee.
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