Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Facepalm (05/15/14)
TITLE: A Joyful and Happy Heart
By Donna Tijou
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“Lance is going out after work tonight. He usually gets home late.”
“Where does he go?”
“That bar on Ridge Rd. I don’t know what he does when he’s out. I hate it.”
“I’ll bet,” consoled Beth.
That night Darla received the obligatory call at nine, before Lance left work,
“Going with the guys for a drink.”
“What time will you be home?”
“Probably ten....just one drink.”
“That’s what you always say.”
She put the kids to bed and took a long bath, hoping Lance would be home soon. She knew better. This was not the way it was supposed to be. When Darla met Lance she thought their romance was commissioned by God. Their grandparents were piasini from the old country, all coming from the same small town in Sicily. When the two couples found themselves renting halves of the same double house in America, they vowed that their children would marry. Instead, their grandchildren married. Darla and Lance were young, marrying after dating less than a year. Darla thought their marriage was meant to be.
Waiting up until eleven, Darla went to bed knowing it was going to be a long night. She had a sick feeling in her stomach. Around midnight she stirred and reached for Lance. He wasn’t there. She went back to sleep until one, then awoke with a start. Still no Lance. She got up and went to the bathroom, then tired to read. Three o’clock and no sign of him. Where was he? There were no cell phones back then; she couldn't call him. Like a caged tiger, she paced. Peeking in on the boys found them asleep, dreaming dreams of childhood innocence. She tried to keep her panic in check, but bile rose and caught in her throat. Where was he?
He stumbled in at five. She was too relieved, he too drunk, to question. He passed out in bed, snoring loudly. Her anguish filled every pore of her body. She never got used to this. He got up in a few hours, showered, dressed and left for work. Few words passed between them.
He was seldom home. When he was, he ignored them. Darla tried to get him to interact, but mostly, he just glazed over, or found something to busy himself with. Static filled Darla’s head. When she tuned it out, she heard a voice echoing, “a lonely and empty heart.” She was lonely and empty. She thought of ways to end her life, hiding knives in the bathroom to cut her wrists, sheets in the attic rafters to hang herself, and pills in her purse. She even considered buying a gun.
One day, in great turmoil, Darla ventured on a walk. As she walked, she cried to God. Suddenly, she felt an uplifting. What was this? She felt God say,”your future-self is praying for you.” How could that be? God replied that there is no time in Him - today is the same as yesterday and tomorrow. Really? She liked this! She decided to help her “future-self,” and the every time she heard, “a lonely and empty heart,” she would replaced it with, “a joyful and happy heart.”
It wasn’t easy. Darla cried many tears for the loss of love, but knew she had to leave in order to keep from destroying herself. She realized if it weren’t for her union with Lance, she wouldn’t have the children she had. She stopped blaming him, she stopped blaming herself. Years went by and her children grew. So did Darla. God brought Darla a new mate. Carl was a Christian who shared her faith and treated her with love and respect. She got to know him well before tying the knot a second time.
Darla maintained daily walks with God. On one of these walks she felt an irresistible urge to pray for her former self, the sad young woman with the “lonely and empty heart.” As she lifted her “old self” before The Throne, God reminded her of that day when her “future-self” prayed for her. Now here she was! Her future-self was praying for her old self. God had given her “a joyful and happy heart,” and replaced her loneliness with love and laughter. He saved her from self-destruction. She touched her hand to her face. What a facepalm of joy!
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