Sue sent a silent plea out over the sturdy wooden tea tray, right past the colorful centerpiece. “I need to share something I thought I’d never tell anyone.” Her guest rested her wet teabag on the edge of the delicate plate and reached out with a gentle touch. Sue’s hands withdrew and settled themselves in her lap. Her nose caught a whiff of pumpkin from her mug that proclaimed Be still and know.
“I’m not the person you think I am,” she blurted. The eyebrows she studied popped upward. Did they mark interest or concern? She forced out the next set of rehearsed words. “I spent years abusing alcohol.”
A set of clouds from the forecasted storm darkened the room. Jane teased, “Really?”
“Yes. Really.” Sue tightened her sweater around her middle and retied the belt. “But the picture wasn’t as simple as that sterile phrase.” She reached out and caressed her mug, rolling it between her hands as she willed her heart to follow the directions it held. “It started when the kids were small. My drive from work became my personal pity party. I bought a six pack of beer and finished it by the end of my hour-long commute.”
Thunder rolled with Jane’s scowl. “Oh no!”
It was too late to stop. “Yes.” A sip of tea. How odd that it tasted okay without sugar. “And after a while I started buying two six packs so I could drink one on the ride out of the city and the other on the ride back in the morning.”
Jane pulled her shoulders toward the back of her chair. “I can’t believe it.” Then she sat straight up and leaned in as if hoping a joke-announcing smile would appear. None did.
Rain cascaded against the bay window. “It’s true. And it went on for years that way with all the other horrible details you can probably imagine … for myself and my poor children.” Sue’s head dropped under the compounding of her secret sin.
Jane shook her head. “I can’t believe it. Not you.” She paused and quieted. “It isn’t possible.” Her eyes became slits. “Truly?”
Sue went mute. Was I wrong? Did I just destroy a friendship?
She gulped. “I’m not proud of it. It’s a dark part of my life.” Her fingers toyed with the edge of the yellow tablecloth. “Shortly after I lost my job God intervened. He made it clear that it was either the alcohol or Him. I went around the house and emptied every bottle down that very kitchen sink.” Her chin stabbed at the air. “Including some cooking sherry and cough medicine.” A massive effort kept her lips from trembling.
“I had no idea. How could I? How could anyone?” Her confidante stood, bumping the table hard enough to slosh milk out of the tiny white pitcher. “Sorry.”
But instead of heading for the door, Jane bent down and clamped a bear hug on the seated penitent. A bold whisper carried her message. “I would never have guessed such a thing. The glory of the Lord shines throughout your life with power. His redemption is so complete, there’s not a hint of such disgrace.”
By unspoken agreement four hands and two hearts joined together in prayerful praise and thanksgiving to the One who releases the captive and reclaims His own.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV1984
How do you handle burdens that might be unacceptable to those around you?
Do you carry them in silence? If so, why? If not, what happens when you open up?
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May God bless you with courage,