“Mom, it’s time.” John placed his hand on his mother’s shoulder. “We’re ready for you.”
“Okay,” Dorothy whispered. Clearing her throat, she said, a little more audibly, “Just give me a moment.”
“Sure, mom,” John smiled. “I’ll tell them you’re coming.”
Dorothy straightened her pressed linen suit jacket as she assessed her reflection in the mirror. The lines etched deep around her eyes and mouth had been chiseled by a lifetime of struggling and pain.
The mirrored image blurred as she contemplated all that had brought her to this moment. After a childhood spent hiding in closets from her abusive father, Dorothy had been convinced she was unlovable. She’d been convinced God couldn’t possibly exist. Her heart was empty.
She’d spent the rest of her life searching for answers. The more she looked, the more desperate she felt. The void grew. It consumed her.
Dorothy had tried it all. Sex, drugs, bad relationships. If there was something to be addicted to, Dorothy was. A string of failed marriages had led to the birth of her two children.
John had been an easy, mild-mannered child. Nothing seemed to faze him. Despite their marital problems, John’s father was a good man. He’d gotten custody of John when they divorced, and he had raised him well.
Janelle hadn’t been so lucky. She’d stayed with Dorothy, and had followed in her mom’s footsteps. Tears spilled from Dorothy’s eyes as she thought of how she had failed her only daughter. Shortly after giving birth to her own daughter, Shelly, at the tender age of seventeen, Janelle’s drug problem devoured her. Burying her daughter had killed all remaining hope in Dorothy’s life. She had wanted to die.
But thank God for Shelly. Her angel. Shelly had kept her going. Dorothy had spent hours hugging Shelly as a baby, breathing in that sweet baby smell. Dorothy had promised her that she would do better, that this time she wouldn’t fail.
Shelly’s precociousness as a toddler had turned into an incessant curiosity as a child. She was always asking questions. She was always asking why. Her search for answers took its own path. Despite her youth, she knew her mother and grandmother had been wrong. She knew their choices had destroyed them, and she was determined to find a better life.
When Shelly was only twelve, a friend invited her to church. Dorothy had laughed, telling her that those holy rollers would do nothing but judge her. Shelly had just smiled. “It’s okay, Grandma,” she’d said. “I don’t need anyone else to tell me I’m okay.”
That night, Shelly had accepted Christ. She’d come home filled with a glow, with a peace and happiness Dorothy had never seen before. “Oh, Grandma,” she’d gushed. “This is it. This is the answer. There’s no need to look anymore.” Her earnestness and passion had kept Dorothy from voicing her doubts. When Shelly had asked her to pray with her, Dorothy felt like running away. She was afraid. But Shelly had taken her hand anyway. As they started to pray, Dorothy felt the glow she’d seen in Shelly spread over her too. One taste of the peace that surpasses all understanding was all she’d needed. Her heart had been filled with God’s love. Her yearnings ceased, her searching at last fulfilled.
Dorothy smiled as she dabbed at her eyes. In the years that followed, Dorothy replaced her addictions with God’s work, following Him in every direction He’d asked. She was thrilled to see Shelly finally living the life she’d always dreamed of. Shelly had grown up confident and strong, her faith unwavering.
Dorothy checked her reflection and smoothed her skirt. Pressing a few stray strands of hair back into place, she walked to the end of the corridor and turned the corner.
“Grandma, hurry, it’s time for you to go in.” Dorothy’s breath caught in her throat at the vision of Shelly before her. Her white gown sparkled, her lace-trimmed veil cascading down her back. Dorothy blinked back tears of happiness as she kissed Shelly’s cheek.
“My darling,” she breathed. “I love you. I thank God for giving me such a precious gift.”
“I love you too, Grams.” Shelly’s smile lit her face, radiating her joy.
Dorothy proceeded into the church, overflowing with emotions. Hope, grace and love now filled her being, leaving no room for the pain of her past. Her heart was full.
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