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Voting Has Closed

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The pounding intensified as angry words penetrated the front door. Intended for a bedroom, it was finished with cheap veneer and boasted a widening space beneath. She kept a dishtowel there to resist the determined autumn draft. How strange to find her attention caught on the entryway in this moment.
Slurred came the speech of the second man. “We know yer home! Open up or we knock the door down!” The thin, single door already splintering at the base. The door not intended for exposure to the elements. Or designed to withstand incensed strangers in the middle of the night.
She quivered, a familiar clutch of fear embracing her throat. She was no stranger to fear. The unwelcome monster overcame her muscles, causing her appendages to rebel against her command to retreat.
The north wall reverberated with the next blows. “C’mon, Adah, you’re embarrassing me! Open the door NOW!” the first man swore vehemently. The man who called himself her husband.
She tasted blood and felt her bottom lip clenched between her teeth. “Lord, help me,” she cried silently to the God she had only recently come to know. “Fill this place with your presence so strong that no anger, no scorching words can harm me. Please-”
The door burst open then, the husband having recovered his forgotten key. Glaring at her, they soddenly sprawled their unkempt bodies across Adah’s spotless furniture. His words spewed at her, slicing her very soul.
The shaking overtook her, climbing from her knees to her teeth. Her legs weakly carried her to the bedroom. Five minutes passed; ten. She knew because her heart thumped the offbeat of the clock. A drunken snore reached her attuned ears.
A steamy milky way swirled in her mug and her fingers tapped a rhythm against its handle as she processed her companion’s words.
“There is no shame in sharing our struggles. In fact, Jesus teaches us to bear one another’s burdens as we cast our cares upon Him.” Dandy added another cookie to her plate and flicked the powder from her fingers.
“Do you remember when you first studied God’s Word with me? You had this lingering cloud about you that kept let you from experiencing true joy until you owned the reality of your home situation.”
Adah cupped her chin in her palm. Her friend continued,
“Honey, that afternoon shines in my memory like noon sun on snow.”
Adah’s smile crept toward her eyes.
“That was a beautiful day,” she agreed. “I cannot begin to tell you how much shame I felt. Shame for my shortcomings as a wife and Christian. Embarrassment for my husband’s choices. Shame in exposing my fears and heartache.”
Dandy patted her hand on her way to the cookie platter. Adah sighed softly.
“It is amazing what God can do in moments that I could not do in a lifetime of striving. That shame is not mine. Not his mistakes or mine define me.”
Adah’s radiant smile brought joy to both of their hearts. Dandy nodded in agreement.
“Now that’s how you looked that day months ago when you gave up all your fear and shame to God. He has given you everything you need, Adah, and He will provide for you in this, too. Keep looking to Him. He’s got this.”

Twelve minutes and finished latte later, Adah found herself facing her own rickety door. Her tulips bobbed their fair heads in greeting. It had been days since she had been home to water them.
He was engrossed in a baseball game, his hair askew and an empty bag of chips at his elbow. At her approach, he turned and regarded her wordlessly. Casting her purse onto the nearest chair, Adah tentatively sat on the arm and smiled ruefully.
She had missed this boyish husband. This husband so human, so sinful, so broken and hurting. He had allowed his anger to overtake him. He was responsible for a great many poor choices. But she was responsible for hers.
“I used to be so afraid,” she admitted aloud. “Afraid of what I might do or say to upset you. Afraid of your rage. Afraid of what I might be capable of in response.” She wondered that he did not lash out now.
“Words are so … mighty. They have the power to tear apart relationships, conquer differences, sever or heal.” She could feel the Holy Spirit bolstering her resolve.
“I have words to speak over you.” Months of anguish and seeking the Lord came to a sweet finale. “I am no longer afraid of your anger. I love you, and I forgive you.” She took a lengthy breath, peace flooding her soul. “My husband, will you forgive me?”
In all her imaginations of this meeting, she had not expected this. Had he stormed at her, crazed with the thought that he needed forgiveness from her, maddened that she claimed superiority to fear, she would have found normalcy. But her big husband was trembling. Feeling compelled, she sat at his knees.
“Why?” He cleared his throat around a suspicious blockage of emotion.
Adah peered up at him, blinking back tears. “I have hurt you, too. I have been very angry, in my heart. I have thought awful things against you. I avoided caring for you because I was angry and afraid. I did not want to forgive you. But God showed me that I have much to be forgiven for. He redeemed me and took away my shame. Nothing else matters. You can have that, too.”
He was not ready, she could sense it. But the hope that filled her was not grounded in her desire for him to change or even to know Jesus. Her hope was in the Lord of Lords, the Redeemer, the Shame Taker and Life Giver. Once for all she was delivered and made new.

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