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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Season(s) of a year or life (01/13/11)

TITLE: Forgiven
By Connie Dixon


Harold Forbes’ secret was slowly destroying a man who genuinely made the world a better place.

Harold, better known to his friends and parishioners as Pastor Hank, was thankful for the celebration taking place to honor his twenty-five years of ministry at Mountain Bible Church. Early retirement hadn’t been in his plan, but the toll of taking care of his beloved Louise - plus leading his growing ministry was becoming too much for him. Caretaking also hadn’t been in his plan, but God – Hank’s lone advisor – reminded him of his promise: Till death do you part. He knew that he was entering a new season of life. And death. He didn’t need any persuasion to love his wife to the end.

As the pastor of a church, Hank couldn’t confide in any of his friends - most were members of his congregation. What would those friends think of a man who adamantly preached against the sin of sexual immorality and yet committed his own private offense in the underground recess of his heart?

He had known he was gay since his college days… and suspected it long before. At school he fell in love – with another man, someone he had met in a drama class. The two kept their feelings for each other quiet, as quiet as living in a dorm would allow, but their relationship developed quickly and unexpectedly. Neither would have ever forecasted their future this way, but something just clicked between them.

Both Hank and Brian knew that their actions were wrong according to everything they had read in their Bibles and everything they had learned as children in Sunday school. Yet their attraction to each other was stronger than any force either had ever experienced. They were in love and they gradually became lovers. To this day, emotions re-surface when Hank recalls the moment he found out that Brian had been killed in a car wreck while returning home from a Christmas vacation with his family. Bearing a grief he could not share, he continued to carry the weight of the secret.

After the accident, Hank transferred to a Christian college, got his degree in Religious Studies and became a pastor. He and Louise met during his senior year, got married two years later, had three kids and lived happily ever after…except for the skeleton in the closet.

No matter how hard he tried, no matter how much he focused on his ministry, his marriage and his family…he never forgot Brian. He always wondered what his life would be like if Brian had not died, and he felt guilty for even thinking about it. He was a liar, a deceiver; disloyal to Louise, to his kids and to his church. Yet his feelings for Brian never diminished and he wondered how he could be so committed to a relationship that seemed so wrong, yet felt so right. His conscience was getting the best of him and he had nowhere to turn.

Giving his wife as much privacy and dignity as she needed during her last weeks, Hank had recently moved to the guest room. As he made his way down the hall to the guest bath, he was drawn to the light glowing underneath Louise’s door. Gently pushing the door open, he witnessed a very cute angel, propped up, reading glasses down on her nose, studying her tattered Bible.

“Hi Hon, c’mon in.”

Sliding into the chair placed by her bed for special guests, Hank took her hand and spoke tenderly, “Hi my sweet thing, can I get you something?”

“Just you, Baby. Stay with me a while, will you?”

Hank’s soft gaze fell on his beloved; his best friend, his soul mate, his greatest admirer. He broke the silence. “Louise, I need to tell you something.” There was a slight pause. “I’ve wanted to tell you this for so long but I just didn’t know…”

Raising a hand to prevent her superhero from revealing an unwanted confession she answered, “Shhhh, Babe, I know...I know all about him. Just let it go.”

A tear rolled off of Hank’s cheek splashing onto her pale hand. Mesmerized by her saintly expression, he asked, “How did you…?

“Let it go, Sweetheart. It doesn’t matter. I love you. Just let it go.”

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This article has been read 734 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Rachel Phelps01/21/11
This is an intense topic and you handled it well. The ending felt a bit abrupt, and I would love to see this expanded. Definitely a subject that needs to be dealt with.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/21/11
tis was written very well. I thought at the end that he obviously had been forgiven by the Lord, and it's too bad he waited so many years to seek forgiveness from his wife--when she had already given it.
Beth LaBuff 01/21/11
You've tackled such a controversial subject. Your writing breathes emotion… with heartbreak and forgiveness. I love Louise's response and how she demonstrates 1 Cor 13.
Henry Clemmons01/22/11
Brave writing and well told story of God's forgiveness. I thought an actual angel was there, and maybe it was an angel and she had already passed, or maybe it was his wife; still she delievered an excellent message. It was nice to find out his true feelings for her. I enjoyed your story.
Laury Hubrich 01/22/11
So brave to deal with such a hot topic. You did a good job. It sounds like the wife was immersed in the Word most of her life and was able to forgive like she could. What a lesson of forgiveness!
Allison Egley 01/22/11
Awww. This is really sweet. Kudos to you for tackling such a big issue in such a refreshing and nonthreatening way! I like this.
Colin Swann01/23/11
Isn't the Lord wonderful the way he forgives and gives people second chances. Praise his wonderful name!
Your article inspired me to say the above.
Carol Slider 01/23/11
A difficult subject, handled with sensitivity and heartfelt emotion. Well done.
Marita Thelander 01/23/11
My heart ached as I discovered the tormented secret.

I too was thrown off when you mentioned the cute angel. the description "cute" didn't fit the tone of the rest of the story.

I hope (hoped) your MC would find peaceful forgiveness.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/24/11
I'm sure you will receive mixed reviews on this last I for one thoroughly enjoyed. The characters were so real. This is a hard topic to tackle I'm glad Jesus gave us the courage to write it.
Donna Powers 01/26/11
This was lovely and well written. Thank you for writing it.
Joy Bach 01/27/11
Oh brave one. Good to see your writings. Difficult topic. Drew me right in. I have to admit the word "cute" threw me. Very good job.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/28/11
Congratulations for placing in the top 30 overall!