Jenny Blackstone talked to herself and paced in front of the crossbar in the middle of her multi-paned window. Cold gusts leaked around the frost-stenciled edges, bringing a chill that matched Jenny’s mood. Ever since her husband left her alone on the farm with the two children, she fluctuated between blankness and blasts of anger.
“Why did you do this, God? What did I ever do to You?” She cried. “All I ever wanted was a family but now look what I’ve got. Nothing”
She met her husband at a church singles conference where they competed in a relay race outdoors. He was an athletic man with dark, rugged skin and bone white teeth. Jenny and James bumped into each other and landed together in a heap on the ground. Everyone laughed as he brushed her off, all the while teasing and flirting. The bantering continued as his smile wormed its way into her heart. He always said the right words. So charming!
Everything changed when she became pregnant with his child a few months later. He didn’t want his reputation to be tarnished so they snuck away and eloped before anybody found out. When the baby came, he told her, “ I feel like a giant bale of hay landed on my back. I don’t like it. I want to be free.”
She had persuaded him to stay. The new baby girl needed him. James remained at a distance except when he wanted something. The next year, they had another child together, a boy. She had hoped that this would bring them together but it didn’t.
James resembled a bear, either hibernating or lashing out. He spent his time at the family automobile dealership but never seemed to bring home much money. Instead, he bought hunting supplies, guns and camping gear. Whenever he took a vacation, he didn’t tell Jenny. He just fled, into the Catskills, with no word for days. When he came home, he shadowed her or growled at her at the slightest provocation.
Jenny worried. He paid for the roof over their heads but she had to beg for food for the babies, getting vouchers from a local charity.
Whenever he discovered it, he flew into a rage, “How DARE you go and beg like a welfarite! What are people gonna think of me?” Not that it bothered him that his family was starving!
Jenny could never please him anymore, though she obeyed his every word afraid to feel the brunt of his anger coming down in the back of his hand to her face. Afterwards, he would promise never to do it again, buy her flowers or a card and treat her like a queen. It almost seemed like a dream—for a while.
One day, he found another woman and left her alone, penniless with two toddlers. The loneliness hung on her making her feel unlovable—until the next charmer came along.
For a year, she bounced from lover to lover, trying to find a place to belong. When her children visited their grandparents on the weekends, she stayed out all night with men and came home feeling filthy. Nobody knew. She hid it well. She picked up the children and thanked her parents for a nice weekend. They assumed she had rested and taken care of her own needs. They had no clue.
This was one of those weekends but somehow Jenny longed for everything to be different. She had gone out Friday night. Saturday, a friend invited her to church. What could it hurt?
She didn’t feel worthy so she sat at the back, hoping nobody would see her. The preacher seemed to know she was there; he preached directly at her.
“White as snow,” the preacher had said. “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be like wool.”
From her window, she reminisced and stared into the vast white field. I want that. I want to be made clean. Father, I don’t deserve your forgiveness. I don’t even know how to forgive myself or my husband for what he did. But I know I’m a sinner and I need You to come in and make me white. Save me, in Jesus’ name.
All of a sudden, warmth penetrated the chilly air and enveloped her like a blanket. She stayed there on her knees for a while longer. She told him of her sorrows and desires, finding her burdens lifted, there at the cross in the window.
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