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Topic: hope (03/29/04)
TITLE: HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL
By Phyllis Inniss
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When I ran into Sybil a couple of years ago in Grenada, she was really happy to see me. ”Haven’t seen you in ages,” she gushed. “What are you doing here?” I wanted to know. “I’ll tell you all about it when I come back.” She ran down the hill to meet a group of friends who were waiting for her. They were all staying at the same hotel where I had brought my granddaughter for a holiday.
Next morning Sybil was waiting for me by the pool. I took Kadesh there each morning and afternoon for her to swim. I usually sat and watched or read or did a crossword puzzle while she was in the pool. Sybil told me that she was with a church group. They were involved in outreach programmes for youths, especially those who seemed to have lost all hope. She said she felt committed to bring the Word of God to these youths in a meaningful way, “for all things are possible with God”.
Sybil had her own story to tell. “It’s a good thing I always kept my faith in God, otherwise I too might have lost all hope and trust in people. You remember Fred?”, she asked. “ Of course, I remember Fred. How is he?” “All right, I suppose. When I met Fred, I was so happy. A widow, then 56, I felt he was bringing something I was missing into my life. He was already in his mid-sixties, so I thought everything would be peaceful and fine. Things were great at first. Gradually, however, he would start comparing me to his deceased wife. She had died after a long illness. I would get little hints that all was not so well between them, but then he would change his tune to make her sound nearly perfect. It didn’t really bother me because she was dead, but I began seeing him in a new light”.
“He was full of show. He spent money in a big way and there were expensive presents. We were out somewhere every weekend: to restaurants, to parties, to the beach, drives into the country. All this was fine and fun. But during conversations, just ordinary chitchat, he would take an opposing view and raise his voice over the silliest thing. I would begin to wonder what had triggered off such a response. Then he would start blaming me for something that he had said or done and I would have to ask if he was serious.”
“He would say things like, ‘ I used to drink and smoke a lot but I’ve stopped all that.’ Well, girl, I couldn’t believer my eyes when I saw him pouring not only one but two drinks for himself, at a fete. He accused me of not telling him that we could have brought drinks, so I told him it wasn’t necessary since he didn’t drink. He said it didn’t matter. I realized that he was feeling put out because he hadn’t brought any and seemed to be sponging off other people’s drinks. I pretended I didn’t see what he had done.” “ It wasn’t because he was drinking, Sybil said, but because this action was beginning to fit into a pattern I was observing with him. He would say one thing and do another. Hope in this relationship was beginning to fade fast.”
Sybil continued to say that there were times when she had felt so close to Fred, when he had occupied her every thought. There was the hope that now that her daughter Pauline had got a scholarship to study in the U.K. and her son Paul was working in nearby Venezuela, she and Fred would have become even closer in their relationship. “Like a second spring, you know” she said laughing. However, as her knowledge of him increased her admiration for him decreased. There would be little insults put jokingly, but meant to hurt nevertheless. She said that she got the feeling that he was searching for her vulnerable points.
Sybil said whenever he got into one of his nasty moods she would quote some piece of scripture. He was a regular churchgoer and found it a little discomfiting to make an apt reply that could upset her. She remembered saying to him when he was grumpy “Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Ps.34v.19. On another occasion when he was saying something spiteful, she told him “No human being can tame the tongue – a restless evil , full of deadly poison.” James 3v6.
I got the impression from some of the things that Sybil related that Fred might have been a little uncomfortable at her confidence in herself and tried to bring her down a bit. He talked often about the way his deceased wife used to dress – so well and how educated she was and the society she came from. His job as an engineer earned him a lot of money, but he still felt he didn’t measure up to Sybil.
Sybil continued to tell me that she had lost all hope in the relationship, but it drew her closer to God. She felt she should do something worthwhile with her life, and hence she was on this trip taking part in a workshop to help troubled youths She enjoyed her work at home where she trains Sunday School teachers in leadership roles. “How long did the relationship last?”, I asked. “Almost two years” – two years in which she learned more about herself and how she could show God’s love by showing her love to others. “ And Fred?” “Oh, he blames me for being always too busy and not having any time for him, so he too has got involved in some sort of activity in his church. Ain’t life funny?”, she chuckled. With that she was off, full of hope for the future.