Chapter 8 – Facing the truth
Chapter 7 Recap – The best-friend: She goes to her longtime best friend, Jonathan and shares the whole truth with him
Dave sat in the kitchen staring down in the cup of coffee that Joseph had handed him. He hadn’t been able to process anything the whole day yesterday and today he was just feeling drained. He avoided speaking to anyone, and he was super grateful he had moved Joseph in because at least there was someone there for the children.
He did not know what to do with the information he had received. Neither did he know how to deal with the fact that he had suspected all this to be the case, but had chosen to ignore it all. He had known something had happened but had chosen to stay in denial. How could he have done that? Why did he let her deal with everything on her own?
Was she even alone? He still felt that Joseph was still somehow involved but now he didn’t know how now…and he was afraid to ask. He just couldn’t help like feeling as if someone had punched a hole through his body. When he had said he was going to get more involved and help fix things, he hadn’t imagined that this was what he had to deal with.
How was he going to get them out of this one?
He looked up at Joseph and stared at him for a moment. Should he ask? Should enquire from Joseph what he knew and how involved he was in all this?
“I called the office for you and let them know you wouldn’t be going in today,” Joseph said turning away from him and began to move around the kitchen.
Dave recognized the action for what it was, avoidance. So that definitely meant that he knew something and he avoiding being asked, and yet he was still here. Did Dave just avoid confrontation, or should he ask the dreaded question?
He was just having a hard time wrapping his mind around everything and he had this feeling that the truth she was keeping from him was going to be equally devastating.
“Joe,” he said before he could stop himself.
Joseph froze a little bit before he turned around and looked at him.
Dave was quiet for a moment and just stared down into his cup, now that he had his attention, he was too scared to ask. He had to though, even if he didn’t get an answer he liked, he had to ask. Not asking is what had gotten here, to begin with. He couldn’t let fear keep ruling his life.
“Can you tell what’s going on? What do you know? I feel like you know something,” he spoke.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Don’t lie to me please, you and her have been acting weird for years now. I thought initially it was just that she was grieving after losing Tate, but then she revealed she was pregnant and you guys got worse and haven’t been the same since then. What happened Joseph? What are you keeping from me?”
Joseph sighed and closed up the things he was using to make breakfast and came to sit down at the table.
“It’s not really my story to tell, and to be honest I would have rather you never find out, but that’s not my choice either. You will probably find out soon enough, but I suggest you drop it for now.”
“But,” Dave tried to argue.
“The storm is coming, there will be no stopping it now. Against all our best efforts, we couldn’t stop it from coming… and I can tell you right now is to enjoy this calm while it lasts. Be there for Jess now, while you still can, and stop questioning things, cause I honestly don’t know how she is going to respond to the pressure that’s going to be coming from her family and Simon. she still thinks Simon is her only salvation and that might lead her to make dumb decisions. She needs you by her side right now, more than she needs you playing investigator.”
“But how do I…”
“You know she is still under the illusion she can still cover up the rest of the truth right? She is still trying to hold on to a little bit of the information. Rest assured she will tell you what you need to know. Once they come down hard on her, she will come to for protection as always and tell you what you need to know if you stick by her before the time comes. Just don’t be like them and try to rush her. You know she can sense your feelings right? She can read you like no other.”
“Is the truth that bad?” he asked.
With a deep sigh, Joseph responded,
“You might never want to speak to me again.”
Dave got up from the chair and nodded,
“I always did think they looked just like you. I just don’t understand why things are the way they are,” he responded walking out of the room.
** ** **
It was later in the afternoon when he came back to the house after a long session at the gym that he realized how right Joseph was. He found Jess, J and the children in the living room, sitting on the floor playing together.
Jess looked so relaxed he wondered if he was looking at the same person he had been living with. She had been so wound up and he hadn’t noticed just how much. He watched her and the children for a moment and his heart broke as he thought about what he had failed to do. He had failed to keep his family happy. But somehow, J had come in and saved the day, and it didn’t even look like Jess and Amari had been fighting before.
Shaking his head in disappointment at himself, he left the room before anyone noticed him and went to sit outside to sit on the picnic table. He sat for a few minutes wondering how he was going to navigate this situation when he felt a hand on his should. He looked to see J, who slipped in beside him, turned to side sideways so he was looking at him.
“I didn’t think anyone saw me,” he said with only a nod as a form of greeting.
“I don’t know, I am probably the only one who did otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting in peace right now.”
Dave smiles a little and nodded, that was probably true.
“How are you feeling?”
“Like I am drowning.” He responded without missing a beat.
J nodded for a moment, acknowledging the response silently.
“How could I have failed so badly at protecting my family? I couldn’t even get Amari to behave…thank you for that…whatever you did,” Dave added.
“Why do you think it’s your fault?” J asked.
“Because I didn’t know, I should have known,” he responded even as he realized what J was implying.
He thought about it & realized even his own response didn’t make sense. But he also felt like as long as he didn’t know the full truth, there was a chance he was to blame for what happened to Jess. What if he could have stopped it? or what if he caused it?
“Can you let the guilt go?”
“Let it go?” he asked confused.
“Guilt cripples you, stops you from being effective. Self-condemnation is never a good thing and you are swimming in it. You and Jess are so alike like that. It makes me wonder how you two ever get things done in this house. You both either live in the past or in the future. But you need to let it go, your family needs you right and you can’t be there for them if you feel this way.”
Dave did not respond for a minute as he tried to process that.
“You are not going to try to convince me it’s not my fault?” he asked
“Would it help? Would you listen if I did?” J asked already knowing the answer to the question.
Dave nodded, realizing J was right, he wouldn’t have listened. He had a skill for carrying around guilt and self-condemnation, and nothing J said would have convinced him it wasn’t his fault.
“You need to come to that conclusion on your own, there is nothing I can do for you there. And if it’s a conclusion you can’t come to, you need to realize that you are not perfect, you are not made to be perfect. You need to forgive yourself and give yourself a break.”
How do I even do that?
“Give it all to God man, that is all you can do. Thinking you can handle all of this on your own isn’t going to get you anywhere. Thinking that you should handle it all on your is just plain stupid,” J said.
“Really man, I don’t need you…”
“God knows you are not perfect, he knows you have made mistakes and will keep making mistakes. He didn’t give you your family for you take care of it on your own, He is there to help you and guide you, they aren’t really yours, they are His, always and will be. Stop making this about you.”
Stop making this about you…stop making this about you…stop making this about you…
They are not yours…they are not yours…they are not yours…
“You can hate me all you want for saying this but you need to hear this right now, things are about to get bumpy, if you think things are bad then you have another thing coming. And if you don’t get out of your head now, you will not survive what is about to come your way. You are just a man D, and we weren’t meant to survive on their own. You need to go to Jesus man, that’s why He came.”
Dave sighed and looked why from J, for a moment there, he felt like punching the younger man, in fact, he still wanted to do it. Why did he have to be wise at such a young age? Why did he have to keep making Dave aware of all he was doing wrong?
“You are doing it again, look, I am not trying to make you feel bad, that’s not what I want. But this guilt thing man, it will kill you before your time and your children need you. Not just your oldest, but Amari and the boys too. Amari acting up? That’s because you have been falling back as a dad trying to create space for Simon where she doesn’t want him. She is not asking for her real dad, she is asking for you. You’re the only father she has ever known, she needs to know that even if her mom marries someone else…well Simon, she not going to lose you in the process.
“And please, don’t start feeling guilty about that too cause we both know the reason you even pulling back was that you felt guilty for not wanting Simon near them, and not wanting him to marry Jess. But you have to give up the guilt man, its a never ending cycle that will keep swallowing you up if you keep giving it space to do so. Stop letting it win man,” J pleaded.
Stop letting it win…stop letting it win…
Condemnation kills… he remembers hearing that preached and he realized it was so true for him. He had been dying slowly inside for so long.
“Help me,” he said, turning back to J, swallowing the shame he felt at even having to ask that.
He was tired of dying inside, tired of the pain and the confusion. He needed to get his life back on track, he needed out of the maze of guilt and pain. J was right, all his guilt ever led him to do was open doors to more guilt and he needed to stop it in its tracks before it took more from him than it already had. It had already taken way more than he had been willing to give up, to begin with.
“What do I do?” he asked.
“I don’t man, but I all I can say is you need to involve God more. Go him, talk to Him, stop trying to be perfect and let Him do His job. Pastor Prince always says that when you let go, God goes to work, but when you work, He rests and lets you do what you want. He isn’t going to force Himself onto you, you have to give the reigns to Him,” J suggested.
“Talk to Him D, just talk to Him and He will show you how. Bring every thought into captivity to His finished work, His obedience. That includes the guilt, the fear, and the self-condemnation. When it comes, just speak to Him and give it all to Him. In Christ there is therefore now no condemnation, you need to remember that. Right thinking leads to right living right? You remember that teaching?” J asked.
“Yeah, I do. I have been thinking of myself as such a failure my whole life it’s hard not to,” D responded.
The bible did say that as a man thinketh in his heart didn’t it? And out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. What other bad things have I been thinking and speaking?
“So instead of always thinking about what a failure you are, think instead about how He is your success, how He will bring you through this. Think about His love for you, His love for your family and all you hold dear. You don’t have to control everything, in fact, realize that you are not in control of anything. You need to expect Him to take care of everything that needs to be taken off. Expect Him to show up and be there for you…well not even to show up because He is already here, you just need to be aware of that and remember it, LIVE IT.”
Dave sighed and looked up to the sky as he contemplated all that J had said to him. He understood everything that he was saying. J had given him a copy of Destined to Reign a few weeks back and he had been reading it consistently and it had opened his eyes to a lot of things he needed to change in his life. He remembered the chapter on the gift of no condemnation where Pastor Prince wrote about how the weapon the devil uses against Christians was the weapon of judgment, bringing about guilt and condemnation.
But then Pastor when on to talk about how God already promised that no weapon formed against me shall prosper and every tongue that rises up against me in judgment I shall condemn for my righteousness is from Him.
“I am my own worst enemy right now aren’t I?”
“Yeah, but you don’t have to be man, and anyway, even you can’t truly defeat yourself if you remember in Whose hands you are. You just gotta remember Whose you are D, and remember that He is the Author and not you. You need to stop punishing yourself for both the things you didn’t do that you think are your fault, and things that you did do that are your fault. Jesus has paid the price for it all already. That’s a belief you need to get through your thick skull.”
D nodded and sat there quietly thinking about what they had just talked about. He was angry at first when J started but all the anger was gone now.
“I don’t think I need smash therapy anymore,” he joked.
“Well thank God cause I don’t think we have that here,” J laughed, knowing exactly why he would have needed it. “Am I forgiven?”
“There is nothing to forgive, you were just pointing out the harsh truth I needed. I have been making this about me for so long I forgot what it was actually about. You are so right about them not being mine to protect like that, they will always be the Lord’s and the battle is His. I can do the best I can from this end but what I really need to do is to give them to Him for Him to cover cause my covering isn’t doing them any justice.”
“Good, at least we are headed in the right direction now. Can we not do that again, it’s exhausting wondering if you are about to punch me in the face. How would we have hidden that from Jess?” J joked and he got up from the bench and stretched.
“A storm is coming huh?” D asked, realizing that Jess probably told him everything.
“Oh, yeah, and I am here for you man, when it finally hits, just know I will be right here if you need to talk…I won’t be offering my face for you to punch it, but we can hit the gym together and punch some bags together. Lord knows I need it right now, so I am heading there now. I need to let some steam out, so I am going to leave as soon as I get permission from the girls.”
“That bad?” D just couldn’t resist.
“Don’t worry, we will live, we will all survive this. And if Jess needs to a place crash again tonight just send her over. She has the key, my flat is always open to her.”
“Why would…oh, if her family comes around…sure. If it becomes too much, I’ll have Joseph drive her over.”
“Cool, tell him me and him have to have a little chat…today, tell him to call me,” J added.
Dave nodded to that, acknowledging that he had been right, Joseph was involved in this. But if J knew and he wasn’t going on attack mode, then Dave realized he could calm down a little and just be there for Jess. He could wait for this storm he kept hearing was coming, and he would stop making this all about him and concentrate on Jess and what she needed right now.
It wasn’t going to be busy but he had to do it anyway. He needed to start somewhere.
The battle is the Lord…Lord, your battle, you take over, I cannot, only you can