Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write something AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL (10/02/14)
- TITLE: Pedestal
By Gary Ritter
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Gary furrowed his brow in puzzlement. “What do you mean by that?”
“I need to be more important to you than anything else.”
His fingers inevitably twitched when being asked something uncomfortable or that he didn’t understand. They drummed on the arm of the chair almost uncontrollably.
“I don’t know how to do that.”
That was the beginning; it was also the beginning of the end.
They worked together, traveled together, loved together, but Gary didn’t know how to love, at least the way Lynn demanded. No matter how many times she told him what she needed, he didn’t get it. He lacked the ability to empathize, to see things from her perspective. He couldn’t picture this pedestal thing – it was a foreign concept his brain simply couldn’t comprehend. Neither Gary nor Lynn knew the Lord; perhaps it was his God-given conscience that prevented him from the idolatry required by his wife.
This matter may have been the key underlying issue that caused the fracture in their relationship. It created tensions and inevitably, distance. They went their own way, making various decisions with little concern for their impact on the marriage. Anger kindled in the heart of each and became a slow burn that affected most of their interactions. Then the embers erupted and became a wildfire out of control.
Gary’s office was on the second floor of their house at the top of the stairs. Lynn came up and said something that resulted in Gary’s angry response. They argued, Gary still seated in his chair. The quarrel escalated. Gary sprang up and approached Lynn who stood in the doorway. Now face-to-face with Lynn, Gary’s temper sprang up. White-hot rage flashed through him and he lost control. He shoved Lynn to move past her, to get away from the center of the conflict, but he miscalculated.
She tripped and fell backward. It was only by God’s grace that she caught the railing and didn’t tumble down the stairs. But the damage was done.
Lynn believed with all her heart that Gary meant to hurt her. What had been passive indifference became active, hostile antagonism on her part. The marriage quickly disintegrated into divorce proceedings.
Because Lynn’s world revolved around the comfort of “things” in her life, she determined to make Gary pay for his transgression. There was no reconciliation, no forgiveness, only retaliation. Gary didn’t know how to fight a battle like this. The result was what one might expect when one of the opponents is outmatched.
They had no communication over the years after the divorce, other than each making alternate year payments of a timeshare which they’d agreed to keep. When the timeshare property fell into disrepair Gary realized they had to get out of it. There are companies that owners pay to take a timeshare off their hands. After conducting due diligence, Gary attempted to contact Lynn to facilitate both of them paying to get out of a bad financial situation.
Lynn would only communicate with Gary through a third party, which made the transaction difficult to consummate, but Gary persisted. He had also come to know the Lord in the intervening years, had prayed for Lynn and, with great difficulty, forgave her (and himself).
An opportunity finally arose for Gary to speak on the phone directly with Lynn to convince her to move forward with the sale. She had continued to hold her anger against Gary; it had turned to extreme bitterness. Revenge for her meant punishing them both if need be.
Gary spoke of the financial necessity of ridding themselves of the timeshare, then said, “I’ve changed. I’ve accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I know you don’t trust me, but I ask your forgiveness. I hurt you, and I’m sorry for that.” They spoke several more minutes and Gary still didn’t know what Lynn would do.
Lynn eventually signed the papers and paid her portion of the fee, freeing them both from the timeshare entanglement.
A couple years later Gary received a phone call from an old friend of Lynn’s. Carl said, “I don’t know if you heard or not, but Lynn died last week.”
Gary had further communication with Lynn’s cousin. Cindy told him that Lynn had been quite sick, and near the end spoke with a Lutheran pastor. Cindy said it brought Lynn comfort. Gary doesn’t know if this led to her salvation. He prays that it did.
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