Chapter 7 – The best-friend
Chapter 6 Recap – The confrontation: Jess and Ruth
As she hurried into Cafe, she immediately noticed J sitting at their preferred table and she was glad he had been able to secure it for them today. It was their favorite spot at Cafe Nush so being able to sit there was always something they both yearned for.
They had not done something like this in a while and she both excited for it and dreading it. Having J as a best friend was both a good thing and a bad thing, you knew he would always be there, but that meant he also didn’t let her get away with things very often. She was surprised he hadn’t questioned her all these years about her children and how they happened. Maybe it had to do with the fact that he also knows how to read her enough to know when not to push. That would also mean right now he was going to see through her and notice that something had changed since their outing the previous day.
That was okay though because she needed someone to talk to, and J was someone she could talk to. Maybe just not in the Cafe with everyone around. She wondered how much she could tell him, was she ready to tell him everything? Or worse, was she ready for his advise? She was sure she wasn’t going to like what he would advise her, but he was still the one person she knew she could talk to. Ruth would not be able to handle anymore at this point and Jess just wanted to give her a break from having to deal with her drama.
Deciding to just wing it, she dropped her bag on the table to receive his greeting hug but she held on for a few more moments just taking comfort in being with him. He always made her feel safe and she really needed the extra encouragement after the morning she had had. Well, and the week she was about to have because she wasn’t sure how things were going to go when she got home. Dave was going to have some questions, and even if he didn’t ask them she was going to have to find a way to reassure him that she was okay.
And then there was the church and her parents who she had run from. It was not the end with them either and she wondered if they would come after her today or later in the week. She honestly did not want to deal with any of them but she knew that things were about to change in her life. Her future was looking pretty scary from where she was standing and she needed to prepare for battle with people who she knew were not very tolerant. She had lied to them and they were not going to let her off easy now, especially knowing she was choosing to keep even more things from them.
Of course, J being J, held on to her tightly in return offering the comfort she was seeking. It was only when they had taken their seats that she noticed the look on his face and guess that someone must have filled him in on what happened in the morning. Maybe Dave? That just seemed like something he would do to offer more security and comfort to Jess after the morning she had just had.
“Hi friend,” she smiled at him.
“Princess,” he responded smiling back at her.
She stuck her tongue out at him and reached out to grab a chicken wing from the plate of chicken wings he was eating.
“Where is my food?” she asked leaning back in her chair.
“Just ordered it, leave my wings alone,” he replied pulling the plate towards him.
“Only you would have wings as a starter,” she responded laughing at him.
“Oh, so you don’t want them?”
She laughed and quickly finished the one she was holding before holding her hand out for another one.
“Thought so,” he replied, pushing the plate towards her.
It was a weird tradition they had started a few years where every meal had to start with some wings. They talked about random stuff, laughing together and Jess found all the stress of the morning falling off of her as she laughed with her J. He was the one who could always make her relax and enjoy herself no matter what they were doing.
When her burger and fries showed up, she did not hesitate to dig in, grateful that he had ordered for her. She had been too nervous to eat in the morning before church and after had just been a whole other issue. Her lemonade, which was usually her preferred choice of drink, next to the milkshake and the hot chocolate, was really good as usual.
Jess was really glad that Jonathan had provided for her a chance to relax, she had been too tense and she had needed to laugh a little. She watched him as he spoke, laughing with her and showing her all the videos and funny images he had discovered online. He shared with her the stories he had read, and the stories and book he was writing. Like her late sister, J was a writer and loved books both fiction and non-fiction. When her sister had been alive, they had often abandoned her with Dave while they went on to do their own thing, talking about books and what they like or didn’t like.
Because she hated reading, she didn’t have much to contribute there but she didn’t mind listening to him talk and she had over time discovered how to ask the right questions. She liked listening to him talk and whenever she asked the right questions she could get him to keep talking and she always learned something new about him in each conversation. Though she had known him for most of her life, she wasn’t sure that she would ever get to the place she truly knew everything about him, he was just that deep.
“Let’s go watch a movie,” he said suddenly.
“Yeah, let’s go. We last went to the movies for Aquaman, well right now there are three movies showing that we can watch, Madea, Captain Marvel, and What Men Want.”
“Jess, say yes, you even get to choose,” he promised.
“Yes, those are the three choices, only from those three choices. You get to pick what we watch today and we can watch the others later,” he added.
“Alita the Battle Angel.”
“That is not one for the choice, princess.”
“Alita the Battle Angel. We can watch Medea first, then Captain Marvel, and end with Alita.”
“Oh it’s a movie marathon now is it? But Alita isn’t one of…”
“Alita will be our last movie for the day, save the best for the last.”
“How do you even know it’s the best, you haven’t watched it before,” he argued.
“You chose the other two, I get to choose one. If you want we can even switch up the order of your two movies, but we are watching Alita last,” Jess insisted smiling at him as they made their way towards his car.
The argument did not end there and it lasted until the moment they entered the Prestige to watch Medea. She had argued that watching a movie for $33 when they could have watched it for much cheaper in town was a waste of money but he had insisted on going to Sam Levy. Nevertheless, she had enjoyed herself in a way she hadn’t done in a long time and she had him to thank for that. For a little bit of time, she had been able to forget all the things that had been plaguing her mind, and she felt lighter than when she had arrived.
It was later at night, just after 11 pm, while they were seated on his sofa, that he asked if she was okay. She was quiet for a moment, evaluating herself to see where she was.
“I am good now, way better than in the morning, but I am trying not to think about tomorrow. I feel like before things are going to get better, they are going to get worse.”
“Talk to me,” he said, “I think it’s time.”
Nodding, Jess grabbed took a bite from the cake they had ordered and took a sip of her hot chocolate before she started.
She told J everything, every single thing that had happened. They had a rule between them, you didn’t say anything until you were ready or you had to and there was no longer any other choice, but when you did tell your story, you told all of it, no stone left unturned.
She had never told the whole story before, she had never shared her emotions about any of it with anyone. Joseph knew more than most because he was there, he was a part of it, he was involved. But even he didn’t know what it had felt like for her, the totality of what she had to deal with emotionally. Or even the finer details of what happened because he hadn’t been in the room.
Joseph didn’t know how powerless she had been to even lift her hands. How words had failed to come out of her mouth and all she could do was moan in distress. Moans that probably had been mistaken for moans of pleasure. He didn’t know how she felt, how violated she felt by the soft touch she had received, the loving caress that did not belong to her, and should not have been bestowed on her.
And that’s how it had been, it hadn’t been a crazed attack, from her attacker’s end it had been an act of love, and he had treated it as such. For her, all it had been was a violation of… of personal space, of her body, of all her first kiss, the first touch, her virginity…but most of all of her mind.
And there was the pain she felt now whenever most men touched her. Her own fiance could not touch her, let alone kiss her. Every time he did something intimate, she felt like vomiting or running away screaming, but worse, she froze in fear and dread, like she was back there again. Like she was being violated again.
The confusion, the betrayal, the loss…she felt like she had lost everything in that moment. Her innocence, her joy, her happiness, her faith…her trust in God. How could he let such a thing happen to her? Was she so bad as a person that he wouldn’t protect her when she needed it? Didn’t He love her? Wasn’t He supposed to be her very present help in time of need, her shelter, and her refuge?
Why wasn’t He there for her? Why didn’t He care for her? And if He didn’t care then, when she had been somewhat of a good girl, why would He protect her now? If He did not love her then, how could He love her now?
Evidently, He still didn’t because everything was coming back to haunt her. Why couldn’t He just have protected her from going through all of this? He must not really like her, she had decided. For whatever reason, she was a disappointment to Him. She was a disappointment to everyone, including her children. And if no one could love her then, how could they love her now?
Now she was just damaged goods.
She didn’t realize she had fallen asleep until she woke up to the sound of J moving around in the kitchen. Checking the time she realized that it was morning already, and she got up to go take a shower before she had to deal with anything else. She had carried a change of clothes so she could properly freshen up.
When she got back into the kitchen, J had a cup of tea ready for her and breakfast was ready. She noticed his bible and devotional books on the coffee table in the sitting room and realized that he must have gotten his morning Bible study in. She felt bad for the relief she felt at knowing that he hadn’t tried to include her in it, she wasn’t ready for that.
Like the day before, he talked to her about random stuff as they had breakfast. It was nice of him once again because it allowed her to gather her thoughts and be able to respond to him from a calm place instead of being over emotional.
“How you feeling?” he asked as they finished up cleaning the kitchen after breakfast.
She thought about it for a moment and realized she was actually feeling well rested. While she knew she had a ways to go, she wasn’t feeling too bad anymore.
“Well rested, thank you, I haven’t felt like this in a while,” she responded as she made her way to the sofa.
“I am glad, you looked drained yesterday but today you look way better. So am really the only one who knows the whole story?” he asked, settling down beside her.
“Umm, yep…well maybe except Joseph, but Ruth doesn’t know who the father is. I mean, I think she may suspect but it’s not confirmed. She never asked and I never offered up the information,” I added.
“You know she doesn’t like him right?”
“I noticed a little bit of an attitude, but I don’t think she will ever actually say anything to him you know…I mean, to be fair, sometimes she acts like she doesn’t like you either,” Jess shrugged. “I think she just doesn’t know what to make of my friendship, both with you and with the other guys.”
“She likes Simon,” he responded smiling at her.
“Of course she does, only you, Joseph and Dave don’t like him, not that you have said anything but I can tell,” she answered and looked straight at him, daring him to deny.
“Hey, it’s not that I don’t like him,” he laughed, “I just don’t like him for you.”
Jess rolled her eyes but didn’t question him further. She did not want to know what he didn’t like, she had enough fears about losing Simon already and she did not want to add another dimension to the situation.
“Can I ask you something?” he asked.
“Sure,” she responded turning back to him.
He took her hand into his and held it.
“You are okay with me touching you, you are okay with Dave touching you, and Joseph a little bit, but you avoid your dad, & almost every other guy like a plague, why are you okay with me touching you?”
“Because I trust you,” she answered without even missing a beat. “You are safe,” smiling at him and leaning on his shoulders.
When he didn’t respond, she thought of what she just said and she could feel her heart rate increase. She felt comfortable with J, and so he could touch her, what did that mean about how she felt around Simon. Did she not trust him? Why wasn’t he safe? Would he ever be?
Jess buried her face into J’ s shoulder in frustration. This was actually why she hadn’t wanted to question him further, she should have known better than to accept his question.
“Hey Jess, how about a change of topic, that book I gave you, did you read even a word?”
She groaned even more and sighed before looking at him. While she liked that the topic had changed, the chosen topic wasn’t any better. Knowing she hadn’t read much, J laughed & tickled her a little until she was laughing with him.
“Stoppp!!! I read something, I promise, at least a page or two.”
Still laughing at her, he grabbed her phone and handed it to her after opening something.
“I just put the Joseph Prince app on your phone, you can listen to some sermons on there that I got for you. Heard what you said last night and I am not sure there is anything I can say to make you understand what I want you to know. So I am going to let these messages do that for me. Can you give it a chance? I know you hate reading, I actually bought you some audiobooks to listen to, but I couldn’t find an audio version for that book I gave you.”
“I know Jess, I know. And I understand, I have had some of those feelings before too. Maybe my situation wasn’t as bad as your situation but I lost faith too, I doubted too, and this is how I got help.
“Can you give me the next three months? Listen to something every day, read a devotional or two daily, even just for a few minutes? You can come here and I can read to you as you draw or paint, or I can come to yours and do the same? If it doesn’t help you even a little after the three months, I will keep quiet I won’t bother you again.”
“And if it helps?”
“Then you won’t really need me anymore would you?”
“I always need you,” she responded.
“And you will always have me, just like God will always love you.”
Jess rolled her eyes and leaned back into the sofa, she should have known he would say something like that. It was kind of stupid for her to have said what she said to him about God, but she had felt she had too, that’s how they did things.
“Roll your eyes all you want, but I have two questions for you, you have to answer them, no choice this time,” he said laughing when he saw her start shaking her head.
Grumbling, she rolled her eyes again and waited for his questions.
“You know how God promised to never send rain to destroy the earth again? Do you know another similar promise like that He made?”
Jess thought about it but shook her head, she didn’t know.
“Isaiah 54 verse 9 to 10, here, let me open it for you. God promised that just like the days of Noah where He promised it would never flood like that again, He also promised to never be angry with us again and that His unfailing love will never be removed from us. Now I can see the doubt still on your face even as you read it, but I want you to keep that verse in mind, one day it will make sense. Read it every day, letter it in various ways and post it all over your house where you will see it, can you do that?”
Jess shrugged but nodded, she would do it because he asked, but she didn’t see how that would change her life.
“Final question, what does God see when He looks at you? What does the Father see when He looks at you?”
Jess raised her eyebrows thinking of all the lies and all the sins she had knowingly committed.
“Jesus,” he said.
“When he looks at you, he sees Jesus.”
“What are you talking about?” she asked.
“Well, I totally stole that from a testimony I heard once heard, but it was a testimony that changed my life. When God looks at us, as long as we have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, whenever God looks at us, He sees His Son. We are accepted in the Beloved, not because of what we do or don’t do.”
Jess froze for a moment as she remembered that she had heard her sister say that to her once. She had never understood what it meant but she thought about it now and she remembered the verses J was referring to. But what did that mean for her?
“Righteousness is a gift Jess, we reign in life not through our own works but through Christ. Think about it for the next few days, here, see this sermon, I want you to listen to it between now and Friday. Friday night I will come over for a bit and we can talk. That work with you?”
Jess nodded, and took note of the title, she would listen and figure out what he was talking about.
“And as for the situation at hand, you know my advice would be to talk to him, he needs to know the children are his. You don’t necessarily need to tell the church or your parents if you don’t want, but if you tell him maybe he can help you deal with Amari. However, I know what you said about not wanting to hurt him, I don’t see any other way out of this but I will be with you however things go. You need anything, I will be there for you, I’ve got you, always.”
Jess nodded and smiled at her friend. She knew she was going to need him, even if it was just for emotional support.
“No worries, come, let’s get you home. I want to see your finished sketchbook, we can hang out until the kids come back home and I can spend time with them and have a little chat, maybe I could get Amari to back off a little bit, I am her favorite uncle after all,” he said grinning at her.
Jess laughed and shook her head, he was their favorite uncle, Amari would do anything for him. Hopefully, he could get her to back off. She did not have enough energy for dealing with her along with everyone else.