Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Charade (08/14/08)
TITLE: The True and False Test
By Linda Germain
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“You go to church and all that?”
I plaster on my most genuine smile.
“Yes, I do. Do you?”
He exhales as if in disgust and says, “No, not anymore. I just got tired being around people who play church and play like they care and then turn out to be as bad as any atheist.”
“You sound bitter. Something must have happened. Would you like to talk about it?”
He has no idea I am a counselor and very adept at helping folks with their problems.
“There’s not much to tell. My supposed loving family broke up. Mom went one way and Dad the other. They betrayed each other and me.”
“Son, have you read God’s Word?”
I hope I don’t sound too pious. The icy look he gives me could freeze over the bad place.
“Read it? I cut my teeth on it. From the nursery, church was my second home. I was in a Christian school and memorized scripture every single week for 12 years. There were more Bibles in my house than in a seminary.”
His voice breaks and he turns away, so I stay quiet. Sure enough, he has more to say.
“Why do people claim they are Christians but live like the unsaved? I thought we were supposed to be peculiar and stand apart. I thought we could walk through the world but not embrace its evil ways.”
I have no answer. It doesn’t make sense to me either. With a listening ear beside him, he continues to release the bitterness.
“I had a good family. When I was little I knew my parents loved me, and I thought they loved each other. I sat between them in church. Dad went to conferences. Mom went to Bible studies. They sang in the choir. WHAT HAPPENED?”
He does not try to hide the tears flowing down his twenty-something cheeks. I notice what a handsome young man he is and my heart aches for him. Still, I have no comfort to offer.
While I am lost in thought, staring at the last remnant of daylight out the tiny window, he falls asleep. I open my briefcase and remove the smoldering letter that burns a hole in my carefully preserved facade. I know it by heart.
…please let me know as soon as you have told her. Things cannot go on the way they are. You and I deserve a life together.
I have exciting new plans of my own and will only be stopping by my house to pack more things and head out again to the apartment I leased last week. I know the bride of my youth will be devastated, but life is too short to be so miserable. She does not understand me. I am simply married to the wrong person. The kids are grown now and have lives of their own. They will understand. I won’t mention my friend, Tiffani, or that she thinks I am her dream come true. A man has a right to feel like…well, like a man.
On the ride to our finally-paid-off-home in our picket-fenced neighborhood, I think about the young fellow on the plane and how I gave him one of my books on surviving a broken home. There was no need for him to know how miserable I am in real life.
I try not to think of the sobbing that will happen when my wife hears my intentions to set her free. Sneaking up on her blind side is a little cowardly, but I just can’t help myself. I’m not getting any younger. She’ll get over it. Besides, Tiffani really loves me.
When I pull into the driveway, the house seems too dark. Usually, there is at least a light on in the kitchen. I put my key in the lock and push open the door. Propped against the little lamp on the hall table is an envelope with my name on it. I don’t have to read it. I know what it says.
I sit on the beautiful staircase and weep. Like an injured wild animal, a roar explodes out of a gut-level primitive place. My enraged cries echo throughout the empty house. How could she? That’s all I want to know. How could she leave me?
I thought she was a Christian.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 (NLT)
These people are false prophets. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.
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