WARNING: THIS CONTENT MAY TRIGGER SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND/OR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. READER DISCRETION ADVISED.
DISCLAIMER: THE THEOLOGY PORTRAYED IN THIS STORY IS NOT NECESSARILY IN ALIGNMENT WITH THE AUTHOR’S JUDEAO-CHRISTIAN BELIEFS. IT’S MERELY A REFLECTION ON MODERN WESTERN WORLD CHRISTIANITY.
2 Timothy 1:7
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.”
Makayla Nicole Isley, 20 (CONTINUED)
Abrupt, loud, fast tapping on my window makes me jump and causes my heart to race. Wondering who has the nerve to bother me this late at night, I go to my window, which faces the backyard, pull the red sheet back that hangs by thumbtacks in the wall and I’m no longer surprised Daniel is here.
It’s odd he knows that I’m at my grandma’s and not my mother’s. I really need to save up money and get my own place. Right. Shawna stopped by this afternoon to catch up. She probably told him I’m here.
I open the window and without hesitation, he kisses me full-fledged. Not really caring if this is wrong or right, I take him by the shirt and tug, signaling him to join me in the room. He climbs in and then folds me into his embrace. A gentle breeze flows into the room, making the sheet flap a little.
We break apart to catch our breath. Loving that his hair is already a couple of inches thick, I stuff all my fingers in his hair and massage his head. Suddenly, he picks me up by wrapping his arms around my back. I yelp, giggling because he caused my stomach to flop from the motion. Without warning, he drops me, and a rush of panic kickstarts excitement in me. I safely fall back on my bed. He takes his cell out of his pocket, hooks it up to my wireless speaker and blasts the black metal on maximum volume. If I wanted to stop us before, there is no stopping now. He has one thought in his brain, and he has tuned the world out until he gets it.
He hovers over me, looking deeply into my eyes, and mouths or says something. I can’t tell because the music is so loud. I go to kiss him, but he puts his hand on my face, and then yells in my ear, “Do you have a condom?”
Dang it! We used my last one the other night. Last night he brought his own.
“You don’t have one?” I know he doesn’t, but I just have to be sure.
Frustrated, he curses and stands back up. He runs his hands through his hair and I could tell something is wrong. We could just mess around… That’s probably safer anyhow. Less risk of getting pregnant. He shuts the music off from his phone.
I get up and take his hands. Playfully, I wave his arms around. “We can still have a good time.”
“Who said you had to do anything?”
He raises a brow. contemplating the offer. He shakes his head, “No… For some reason, it bothers me doing this. Like, you’re sort of different now and I think it’s good for you…”
Wait, what is going on here? One minute he wants to do a bunch of dirty things to me and now he is repulsed by my goodness?
He faces the window, “Like, you told Shawna to pray that Dom wouldn’t mess with her anymore. And she hasn’t even told him, you know, that she’s a church girl now, and like, he stays away from her. When we were chillin’ at his house lately, everyone asked, ‘Where’s Shawna? Bring her out.’ He just ignored them. But today, he told me that he had a dream. About the Christian God and Jesus told him to leave Shawna alone and Jesus said He loved Dom, and would forgive him if he asked Jesus to.
“Then, Jesus showed Dom an hourglass. Then sand from the top nearly ran out, but when the sand fell into the bottom it was consumed by fire. Jesus explained time was running out. He said he’ll be returning soon. He straight up asked Dom, ‘Do you believe I love you?’ Then he wakes up.”
Wow, I’ve been praying Dom would stop touching Shawna… God actually answered my prayer – our prayer and in such a miraculous way. And here I am, being a little whore reverting back to my old ways… Oh, God… what’s wrong with me?
Daniel takes me under his arm in a side hug. “Don’t cry… alright… I’ll just stop coming over. We’ll just stop. If Jesus can forgive a drug-dealing, murderous, incestuous, child-molester then He can forgive you…”
We sit down together on my bed. Forgive me God, I’m so sorry… I don’t want to be who I was anymore… Please, God… forgive me…
He rubs my back and surprisingly, it soothes my aching heart, which breaks for so many reasons tonight… After a while, in the silence, the atmosphere changes… I sense the presence I feel during worship when Pastor Paul says, “I feel God in this place.” The Holy Spirit has manifested His tangible presence… why?
“So… like… how do you really get saved? It’s not like when you are a Catholic and you get baptized as a baby, right? Like you have to do something?”
An urgency to carry this conversation stirs in my gut. Slowly, I sit upright and wipe my eyes. I pull my leg in between us up, and bend it down on the bed to face him better. He looks at me and I can tell he’s serious.
“Um… well, you just acknowledge that you’re a sinner… A sinner is someone who lives for themselves and a life apart from God. You then believe that Jesus, fully man and fully divine, came from heaven to earth and showed us how to become righteous—righteous meaning we’re restored to God and have a relationship with Him. That when Jesus died on the cross for us, the blood he spilled paid for all of our sin, and that when He rose from the grave, He gave us the gift of eternal life. So when we confess before everyone that we believe we cannot be righteous on our own, that we need what Christ did on the cross to make us new, and we call upon His name searching for God, then the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside of us and we are forever sealed as a child of God. Now, this doesn’t mean we’ll be perfect… clearly… and we can’t get away with living however we want… but we begin to live how we were meant to, in relationship with God.”
“Do I make the confession at church, like you and Shawna did?”
Oh my God, is he about to accept Jesus? Stay calm, Makayla… relax…
“No, you can do it right here… I… can… let’s pray… repeat after me…”
Nervously, I take his hand, and he clings to my fingers tightly. He bows his head and closes his eyes. I can’t take my eyes off him. I’m so afraid this is a prank or I’m gonna have him pray the wrong thing or somehow I’m just dreaming. But I’ve never led anyone in the sinner’s prayer. I don’t even know how it goes. I just remember Pastor Paul saying last week that we are all called to spread the good news and anyone can lead someone to Christ. Bringing people to church to get saved is great, but the church is meant to disciple believers and build them up. Pastor Paul charged us all, if the opportunity presented itself, to share the gospel, lead someone to Christ, and then bring them to church. He believes if everyone does this, by Easter, the church will be doubled.
What to pray comes to my mind faster than I can hardly speak it. I say it first and then Daniel repeats.
Me: Dear Heavenly Father…
Daniel: Dear Heavenly Father…
Me: I believe that You sent Your son, Jesus Christ, to redeem me…
Daniel: I believe… that You… sent Your son, Jesus Christ, to redeem me…
Me: I believe Jesus lived for me, died for me on the cross, atoned for my sins by His blood, and rose from the grave defeating eternal death for me.
Daniel: I believe Jesus lived for me, died for me on the cross, atoned for my sins by His blood, and rose from the grave defeating eternal death for me.
Me: Forgive me, Father for all my sins and I ask that I may not sin against You again, by Your Spirit to lead and guide me.
Daniel: Forgive me, Father for all my sins… and I ask that I may… not sin against… You again, by Your Spirit to lead and guide me.
Me: Thank You, Lord Jesus for saving me, in Your Name, Amen.
Daniel: Thank You, Lord Jesus… for saving me, in Your Name, Jesus… Amen.
Well done, daughter. I hear a peaceful, unintimidating voice from my heart say.
Too frickin’ excited, I hugged Daniel, “Welcome to the family!”
Immediately, he stands up, “I can’t be here. It’s not right. I have to go.”
“Well, yeah. We probably shouldn’t be alone together anymore. But will you come to church with me on Easter? It would be the best birthday gift ever.”
Rubbing his forehead, he sighs, “I’m sorry I forgot about your birthday. But maybe… We always go to Dom’s church…” Smacking his hands together, “I got to go. There’s something I gotta do.”
A bad feeling punches me in the gut about “something-he’s-gotta-do”.
“Don’t Danny, it can wait maybe.”
He shakes his head, “No, I got to. Once I do this… I won’t have to answer to Dom again. No one will have to answer to Dom again. He’s done.”
“Ah… killing breaks one of the ten commandments…”
“Nah, it’s not like that.” He crouches at my foot, and holds the sole of my dirty foot in the palm of his hand. “This is by the book.” Releasing my foot, he begins to pick his nails, avoiding eye contact with me. “A few months ago, I got picked up by the FBI doing some business for Dom in Albuquerque. There’s a lot I can’t tell you. Just know, when this is done, I’m out. For good. And I’m thinking… since I don’t think I can do the no sex thing for a long time… we can get married. And the FBI is gonna pay me pretty good, so we can get a house, you can go to school, I’ll get a GED or something. We don’t even have to stay here.”
Tears flood from my eyes, and I can’t tell if I’m happy or scared. “Does it have to be tonight? Maybe another night…”
“No, the sooner I get this over with, the better. So huh… I don’t have a ring, but… will you marry me?”
He stands up and cups my head in his hands. He kisses me on the head, “On second thought, hold on to your answer, I need something to keep me focused.” He goes to walk away and I grab his wrist and get up.
“Yeah… Like yeah… I wanna marry you.”
Way-too-happy I said yes, he picks me up and twirls me around the room laughing. He sets me down and states, “I’m gonna get you a ring. With a credit card, with my name on it…”
I slap him on the shoulder. He’s being so silly. We both know he hijacks credit cards all the time. He doesn’t make outlandish purchases. He’ll use them for gas, snack runs, and movie tickets. It takes people forever to notice their card is gone that way.
Ask him not to go. Ask him to call in and say tonight won’t work out.
“Don’t go please. Call it in and say tonight won’t work, please…” I beg, tugging him by the hem of his t-shirt.
Pulling his shirt out of my grasp, he explains, “Another chance like this may not come up again. I have to…. I love you.” He grabs my hand and kisses the back of it. Then he leaves, totally disregarding my plea, and the worst feeling hits my soul. I feel like I’ll never hear his voice again.
I get down on my knees and I beg for God to protect him and to keep him safe. I cry out for God to let my worry be just that. Worry and nothing more.
The birds chirping wake me up. I look at my digital alarm, “8-a-m… Awesome…” I fell asleep on the ground praying. I wipe dried saliva off my face and I prop onto my swore, achy knees.
My cell phone rings from the edge of my bed. Sluggishly, I get it. I see the number and debate whether or not to answer. It’s my dad calling from rehab. If Daniel can suddenly have a change of heart, maybe my dad can too…
“Hey, dad…” I answer his call.
“Hi, Makayla. I wanted to wait until you came to visit, but I understand if you don’t come down. I just wanted to tell you that I’m sorry…” He sniffles and huffs. I can tell he’s truly repentant. “You were such a sweet little girl… I’m sorry… okay… for all of it.”
I don’t know what to say. All I can do is join him in subtle tears. This is the man I once adored as a child, no matter how drunk he got, what awful things he said to me, or how neglectful he was. And when he started abusing me sexually, in some twisted way I coped with it because it was the only attention he would give me as a teenager… But I grew to hate him. I still hate him. I wished he died when he overdosed last January.
Yet, if God hadn’t forgiven me for all my wrongs and shameful sin, I don’t think I would have been able to change. Forgiveness isn’t just powerful for the one who gives it, but for the person who needs to receive it. And well, the bible does say forgive those who have sinned against you or else God won’t forgive us, which if forgiveness is so important to God, forgiveness must be essential… right?
Like, God forgave the whole world and all of mankind from turning their back on Him and living life apart from Him. So if we can’t forgive as He forgave us, then we don’t even know His heart and are nothing like the Father. If we can’t forgive anyone no matter what, do we truly love others unconditionally? If we place conditions on what is forgivable and what isn’t, are we not making a statement that love has a limit and people can only be loved if they meet a criteria?
I don’t know why my dad treated me perversely. The real reason may break my heart. As Glenn Junior says, “Hurt people hurt people.” I can’t allow my pain to hurt my dad any longer. I don’t want to forgive him because it doesn’t feel fair. How I lack justice in this situation, because he’ll never go to prison for it. I really don’t want him to go to jail again. He gets worse every time he gets out, not better.
Taking big breaths to prevent hyperventilating, I say softly, “I forgive you daddy…”
I shudder, realizing I just did something I never thought I could do. I feel a thousand times lighter.
“I understand if you don’t really mean that…”
“No… I do… I forgive you.”
His sobs grow louder. I don’t say anything more. I listen to him weep until he is ready to hang up the phone.
My eyes are nearly swollen shut from all the crying in the last 12 hours. I flush my eyes out with water in the bathroom sink. Brushing my teeth, I wonder what my new job will be like. It’s my first day as a hostess at Applebee’s. Mel’s new boyfriend, Grant Wallace, got me the job since he just became the manager.
We’re all surprised Mel is dating him. He’s agnostic. He has a 3-year-old daughter named Blanca. And he’s not leaving this deadbeat town anytime soon either.
As to her ex, JP just left for California to take summer classes at seminary school in order to finally follow in Pastor Paul’s footsteps. He got an apartment and he’s working construction until classes start. Pastor Paul pridefully brings it up every service during announcements. Good thing we didn’t bet on the first person to leave town after the Donahue-Russell breakup, no one would have won. We all thought Mel would be a missionary in Haiti or Abaco by now.
*EDITED BY ALY FRY & BRIANNA-MONIQUE WILLIAMS (Aly had some great advice to make this segment more readable, and though I took some of it into account, I did not take all of it.)