Two best friends experience different lives.
Okay, so I've thought about all that I have done this past year and I am at a loss for meaning, reason, and purpose. Am I focusing on things properly?
I've turned blind eyes to my own life, but not in a failing sort of way. I mean, honestly, I have achieved enough but not a lot. Do I need to be an over achiever?
I have always loathed them, the hard workers, the braggers, the ones that seem to have it all together, that have their lives planned out in minute detail. Tragedies seem to strengthen them, not dismantle their well-planned lives.
Well, today I received a message from Jasmine. Some sort of apology, something saying she had gotten my message and knew, without a doubt, that I was struggling and she was fully willing to assist me through my hard times. Or something like that. Goody-goody, as always.
Thankfully, I have the power to delete her messages without a feeling of guilt. Of course, there is guilt but I can easily argue it off. She had the audacity to judge me, after all.
Sighing, I lean back and moan softly, feigning sickness though none are around to hear. Jasmine used to tell me how many friends I had and how I was never available. Today, well actually over the last month, I've come to see that I have no friends whatsoever.
No big deal.
"Jesus, Jesus, You're the holy and anointed One, Jesus. Your name is like honey on my lips, Your spirit like water to my soul, Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, Jesus I love You, I love You."
As the choir sings, I sit and think about tomorrow. I can't seem to focus on anything around me. Tomorrow, I go to my parents, humble and contrite, and bow to their will for my life. Can I afford to be humble, Lord? Can I afford to be contrite?
All my young life, I was a spoiled girl, getting all I wanted whenever I mentioned or even hinted at a desire, no matter how unneeded the desire was. The day that I was asked to work for my father I threw a tantrum though I was over twenty. How could I go back to them and expect love?
I couldn't. That's all there was to it. I didn't even call them to tell them I was coming so it's not like they would even know that I chickened out.
I wince at the word. Coward! I can't be afraid of humility anymore.
Beth sings beside me, her eyes closed, her hands raised. What I wouldn't give to be able to praise Him today with wild abandon. What I wouldn't give to let go of all the cares and strains that hold me today and give in to His loving caress and presence.
Then do it.
How can I, Lord? What will happen tomorrow? What good can possibly come from what is pending in my future?
I am the Lord thy God and nothing is impossible with Me. Trust, Daughter, and I will hold thee.
I close my eyes and sing, letting the cares that weighed me down fly out the doors open to the spring breezes. Yes, Lord, yes. I am Yours.
My mother and father sitting together in a public place, both glaring at me in silence and coldness. Why? Because I refuse to order, refuse to partake in the farce of happy family gatherings when I know that this could be my undoing.
"Well," my mother says, her lovely, botox-injected, face showing no emotion. "Your father has obviously not overstated your childishness."
"What we need to do now," he continues, like they are delivering a speech they rehearsed, which I have no doubt to be true. "Is decide how to deal with this."
"Look," I say, trying very hard not to roll my eyes. "I'm sorry about last month...okay? I mean, my best friend and I weren't talking-"
"And now you are?" he asks, lifting one of his dark brows.
"Well, no, but-"
"You are out of control, Rebecca," he says, leaning back in his chair and steepling his fingers as I had seen him do a great many times in meetings. "There can be only one solution."
"Don't cut me off!" I plea and feel disgust at my own pathetic cry.
"Is that all that concerns you, Rebecca Morria?" my mother queries, using my middle name to show her disapproval.
"Come on! I mean, really. What did you expect? How did you raise me?" I look away, clenching my jaw and attempting to get control of my raging emotions. Finally, I face their calm faces once more. "Oh, that's right. You didn't!"
"Young lady," my father admonishes and I roll my eyes at last, unable to contain the action.
"Fine! Cut me off! I don't care anymore! My life is in an upheaval. I am trying to find my place in the universe and my parents come together to lecture me. Hell has surely frozen over!"
There is a dark silence and my father reaches for his checkbook. I fight back the urge to smile. They would never leave their only child high and dry in the big city. No matter how many tantrums I throw, no matter how cold and unfeeling I am, I shall always come out on top.
It is much harder for me to veil my reaction when my father places the checkbook into his jacket pocket. So they are cutting me off. Fine!
"Your mother and I discussed your options last night," he says as I reach for the water before me to attempt to put moisture back into my desert dry mouth. "If you had shown even the slightest bit of repentance and remorse today, we would have allowed things to continue as they were.
"Thankfully, you reacted as I expected you to and so we are now able to deal with the issue before us." he pauses and I feel as though I am one of his lowly employees that is about to be fired for mislabeling a file. "You have two options, Rebecca, and I think you should consider them carefully before replying. Your choice is your final choice. No changing your mind.
"Option one, you get a job and support yourself. When you have shown that you are mature, you can come back to the original arrangement, with a major cut in allowance. Option two, you work for me. Your allowance will stay the same unless you miss work or show any signs of laziness while under my employ.
"Either way, the once a month dinners still continue and I expect conversation and maturity from you."
I stare at him. He can't be serious! I've never worked a day in my life. Okay, well there was that week at Borders but that was to get the cute guy at the help desk to go out with me. Mission accomplished but how could my father, my own flesh and blood, send me to work? It was inhumane.
"Which is it?" he asks. He's not even giving me time to think about it. I mean, really, of course I'm going to work for him. If only to keep my five thousand-dollar check since even I am aware that I could never come close to that if I didn't work for him.
But to be under his constant scrutiny. And, to have him lower my 'wage' just because I miss a day or two. And how often does he want me to work anyway? One day? A week? Heaven forbid. And how many hours? I have a life. Surely, not full-time. He wouldn't do that to me...would he?
"We need to discuss this more," I say, shakily. "I mean, I need details...I need to know when, and where, and how much...details!"
"Details?" my father has officially turned into my enemy. I can tell by the expression on his face. He looks as someone, me, has just asked him to strip off his clothes, dance on the table and proclaim himself ruler of the chickens. I have officially lost my daughter status. "What details? Choose, now."
"But you told me to think about it! You told me not to rush my decision, to think it through and make my choice carefully. Surely, you can't expect-"
"Fine, fine! You, okay. I'll work for you and your slave driving, demanding company. But I won't like it!" I stand to my feet and glare at them both. My mother has decided to sample the salad, like nothing is happening. I feel as if I'm in a low-budget horror flick where no one actually dies but they all wish they could.
"Be there tomorrow," he says as he sips his wine.
"Saturday?" I ask. Oh no, this is going too far.
"You have no skills. I need to train you," he says as he waves the waiter over. "If you fail to comply, you'll work in the copy room."
I take a deep breath and feel the world crumble. I don't respond as I turn on my heel and head for the door.
"Seven a.m." my father's voice reaches me and I feel a rage building and I wish, more than anything in the world, that I had never asked Jasmine what was missing from our lives.
Beth and I sit in the taxi and I wonder if I should have attempted this alone first. Failing by yourself prepares you for when you bring an ally to the front and you can fend off the second failing with ease. Beth doesn't rush me. She sits and admires the greenery around my parents fifteen bedroom house.
I have always been slightly ashamed of the wealth of my parents. They didn't help charities or even fake compassion for the less fortunate. In fact, when I was younger, I was forbidden to spend time with friends beneath my class.
Okay, so I wasn't forbidden but it was definitely frowned upon. I swallow. Can I do this?
As always, He comforts and strengthens me. What surprises me is how God can say so much in so little. I smile at Beth and open the cap door.
"How much?" I ask the cab driver.
"Seventeen fifty," he says and I hand him a twenty. "Do you want me to wait?" he asks.
"No, thanks," I tell him as Beth comes around to my side of the car. "Keep the change."
"Thank you, miss." he says and waits patiently as I exit his car. As the yellow cab drives away, I look at Beth in silent thought.
"Well?" she asks. "Are you ready?"
"As ready as I'll ever be," I say and I turn to climb the stairs. My heart stops and starts again as I see my mom standing in the large double doorway. She's holding a small collection of papers and her hair is tied up in the familiar knot that she prefers. She is wearing a flattering business suit in dark blue, her feet wrapped in stylish low heel shoes. But the fact that she is standing in the doorway isn't what brings my heart to such a painful leap. She's crying!
"Dad, I want you to understand what brought this change of heart about," I say. Beth sits off to the side of me, remaining silent and unobtrusive, as I talk to my parents.
My mom had actually run down the stairs and hugged me close to her, her familiar perfume filling my senses as she welcomed me home with a great abandon. My dad managed to remain dry-eyed but he was too choked up with emotion to say anything. I hugged him and felt as though I was four again.
After all the tears and hugs, I introduced Beth and we all had tea, which was when I tactfully brought up the decision I had made. I asked if they would accept me into their business, in whatever aspect they desired. They were positively glowing with happiness.
Now, sitting in the library, I prepare to tell them all about God and His wondrous plan for my life.
"Go ahead, dear," my mom says as she takes hold of my dad's hand, a loving gesture that I have always noticed and admired. It brought back so many memories.
"Well, a short time ago, I was asked by Rebecca what was missing from our lives. We then began a journey of discovery, for lack of a better expression, which was greatly disappointing. Then, we went to the Potter's House Christian Center and sat through an evening service.
"It felt strange, at first, as if I should leave but then, out of the blue, I felt calm and welcome. I felt loved. I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart and I haven't been the same since.
"He is the reason I am here today. He is the one who gave me the strength to admit my faults and failings, my mistakes and bad decision, and He brought me to your door once more, repentant and willing to accept your judgement.
"Your welcome of me was exactly what I needed and I thank you, Mom, Dad, for loving me." I say, concluding my speech at last. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Beth smile and nod encouragingly.
My parents look at each other a moment before looking at me again. "That's fine, dear," my mom says at last. "Whatever brought you back to us is fine. We won't try to dissuade you from attending your little church and we are looking forward to meeting more of your friends."
"Speaking of friends," my dad says and I know what is coming. "How is Rebecca?"
"I'm not sure. She won't speak with me. I've called her and left her messages but she refuses to return my calls. I don't know what to do."
"Just give her time," my mom says but her and Dad share a knowing look and I wonder what they knew that they're not telling me and why.
"Where are you? You know what, scratch that because I don't care! I just called to thank you for ruining my life. It's all your fault, you realize? You and your Jesus fetish and that dumb cult you've joined. Lose my number, Jasmine, because I'm definitely losing yours!"
I slam the phone down and look out the broad picture window of my father's office. I've been here since seven and I have no desire to remain any longer. Of course, it's already three in the afternoon and I have 'learned' so many things that my brain is threatening to explode. And now, finally, Father lets us take a break for lunch.
But do we go to a restaurant? Oh no! I have to order in and wait for it to show up.
It's been a half hour and it's still not here. My lunch is almost over, according to 'the boss', and I have yet to eat.
I want to scream and so I have, at the one who truly deserves it. Jasmine, the bane of my existence, the cause of my grief...I hate her.