Saturday night came too fast for Jess after a fun-filled day. She had enjoyed herself so much during the day, even after the tense morning with Amari, and she had Dave to thank for that. Getting to spend time with both Ruth and Jonathan had been fun too because she hadn’t had both her best friends in the same place for a long time. And knowing that Dave was keeping the children entertained allowed her to really relax and enjoy herself.
Spending time with Joseph while everyone was around was a little bit weird though because the two of them had made a decision to never be found in the same place with either J or Dave watching them. Knowing that they were keeping a secret and lying to everybody always made them want to avoid being together with those two around because they knew J and Dave could probably end up seeing more than they should. Ruth could read them a little less so she was always safer but there was usually no hiding when either Dave of J decided there was something that required investigation.
For years they had been meeting alone whenever one of them or both of them needed to talk because they only had each other and sometimes they just needed to talk about things. While Ruth knew a little bit, she did not know everything and so Jess could not talk to her about it when she really needed a listening ear. Though it had been hard at first, they had gotten used to leaning on each other and when they were alone they were always comfortable with each other. They always just made sure to avoid being at the same place with J or Dave, or at least avoided being the same room with them.
She had missed spending time with J though, just being with him and laughing with him and that had ended up making easier for her to deal with the situation. Of course, being J, he had noticed something was amiss and had suggested they get together the next after church to have a real conversation and she wasn’t looking forward to it. She found it really hard to lie to J’s face when he asked her a direct question. And considering how things were going, she was pretty sure he would have some tough questions to ask her.
What she was dreading more though was the conversation they were going to have about Jesus and the love of God. They always had conversations about that and these conversations were always awkward for her. She knew if she told him the truth about what was happening in her life he would want her to tell the truth and free herself from the burden she was carrying but that was not an option. J, like Simon, was one of those Christians you looked at from afar in constant awe knowing you could never be like them. Unlike Simon though, J had a difficult past so there were a lot of things he would understand about her that Simon wouldn’t. That was usually a good thing but not when she was in the mood she was in, J could read her like no other person could, including Dave.
She had noticed him glancing at her inquiring when they were out together but she was thankful that he didn’t question her in front of the others…well, not much anyway. She knew that tomorrow he was not going to hold back though, she felt it coming for months now and so had done her best to avoid him. Knowing J he probably knew she had been avoiding him and he knew she had a lot of reasons to do so. He asked her if she had started reading a book he had given her months back called Destined to Reign. She had it for two months now but to be honest she had not read it. Jess wasn’t much of a reader, she loved picture books more, but the real reason she hadn’t read it though was J’s excitement about the book.
You would think that since he loved the book and said good things about she would want to read it but no. She had read the back of the book and decided it was not for her. She was a Christian yes, but she wasn’t really at the level of J, Simon or even Dave. She definitely was not destined to reign or whatever, how could she when daily she was going against what the word said. And reading a book that a Christian like J loved would just be setting herself up for more guilt in the end when she failed to do what the book revealed the word said she should do.
So she had decided she would put it off as long as she could only read it when he was pressing her, and seemed that the time had come. She would have to browse through it before she met him tomorrow, so she could at least say she had opened it and read a bit without lying to his face. The truth was, she got enough guilt from attending church services anyway so why compound that by reading a book in her spare time? Tonight though, she really did not have a choice. So this weekend was going to have double the amount of guilt heaped on her head. The first round self-inflicted because she did not want to disappoint J, and the second tomorrow morning when she will be at church.
Actually, it was not going to be double, it was going to be triple because she had choir practice after church before her meeting with J. But then again if she was meeting with J, who was sure to question her, shouldn’t she count it like four times? In any case, the weekend was probably going to be the worst weekend she had experienced in a long time. There was going to be a lot of pain to go through and she was not looking forward to it.
She was happy for the fun she had enjoyed during the day though and she would just have to hold onto the memory of that. She had enjoyed herself so much that she had forgotten a little bit that she would be going to church the next day. Her relationship with Simon had just become an extra reason to want to avoid church and that caused her even more guilt on top of what she already felt. Things were definitely not going well between the two of them and she wasn’t sure she was ready to face him and see that disappointment in his eyes again. Sure he had bought that cereal for Amari but that was because he genuinely did like her children and not to impress her.
Due to her outing with the family, she had not attended Cross Culture so there had been no opportunity to see him and he hadn’t called her. She was pretty sure that he wasn’t going to call her tonight, just like he hadn’t really been calling her the whole week but she was okay with that. She did not blame him for keeping his distance for a bit and guarding his heart more than usual. He had been open with her the whole of their relationship and it honestly hadn’t gotten him anywhere. He deserved better than he was getting from her and she knew she had to pull her act together.
Shaking her head to shake off those thoughts she decided that would be a battle for another day. Right now her most immediate battle would be with the book she had gotten. Having decided she needed a cup of tea for extra comfort, she walked into the kitchen and made her self a cup. She halfway through the cup of brimming hot tea before she worked up the courage to just sit down at the table to read a little, standing by the counter and staring at the book on the table would not really get her anywhere.
She had sitten down at the little breakfast-nook to read before so she tried convincing herself that it would be like other time. It was, in fact, the only place she could ever get herself to read anything that was not a magazine or a picture book. Children’s books were easier because of all the pictures in them but a book with thousands of words and no pictures was not her cup of tea. Opening the book, she forced herself to read the first page of the book and rolled her eyes when she saw it talking about grace, she didn’t even really digest what it said but she decided she had just been proven right, she knew all about the preaching against people who took advantage of grace, she was one of them.
Sure that wasn’t what the book said but like every other book, it was sure to get there at some point. She was little confused about the statement that talked about preachers attempting to balance law and grace but then shrugged off the thought, she was not going to get sucked into believing that this book would have a different message than all the others. She had heard it all before and this book was probably just like the others…even if J did like it.
And if it was different it could probably confuse her more because what the could the author have meant by writing that we could not mix law and grace. Weren’t they saved by grace but they had to live their lives by keeping the law which was there to stop people like her from doing what they wanted…not that it was working but that was her own personal battle. There was a statement too that said you cannot put new wine into old wineskins and it reminded her about a sermon that taught her that she needed to let all her old habits behind that were not of Christ for the word to make an impact in her life.
Rolling her eyes at the reminder of things she could not do and how unperfect she was and how she destined for disaster, she skipped the pages to the first chapter. Again she read the first page and decided that this was not going anyway. She was not destined to reign anywhere. First of all, it might not be God’s desire that she live in defeat and failure but she was making sure that it would happen by her own actions. She had been given a choice and she had chosen the path she was on and she had no real wish to change it, not without hurting the people she loved, so no.
And second of all, her children hated her, she was a bad mother and a bad homemaker or whatever. Her Art, though it was giving her a bit of money, would not be enough to sustain anyone so now she needed to look for a job. The only job she could see herself doing would be some kind of marketing job but she didn’t have the experience required for such a thing. A teaching job would have worked but she wasn’t getting any breaks in that area. People were right, she the idiot who chose a degree that would not take her anywhere.
She had convinced herself that she would work with someone to illustrate some book covers or children’s books but that wasn’t going the way she wanted. She and her sister had hatched up a plan where her sister would write some books and she would illustrate them and they would go into business together. When she lost her sister, she should have realized that her career choice would be unrealistic and would be impossible to break into on her own. She should not have held on to some dream of becoming good enough so she could illustrate the stories her sister wrote and left behind.
And she definitely was not reigning over sin, the mere idea of such a thing was laughable. She was literally bathing in sin every day of her life with all her lies. And the bible said if you break one you break them all so what hope did she have? And was it not a sin to make a conscious decision to go against what the bible said or what her pastors were saying? Yep, she was not destined for any reigning and reading this book would be a waste of her time. Pushing the book away from her she leaned over and rested her head on her arms wishing the chair had a headrest so she could lean back.
“Giving up already?”
Startled by the voice, Jess looked quickly up to see Dave and Joseph looking at her standing by the door.
“Did we scare you, sorry for that,” Dave said pushing his brother who had almost given her a heart attack with his words.
Laughing, Joseph walked towards the table and took a seat before grabbing the book to look at it. When he saw the title, he frowned and put the book back down.
“Okay, I don’t blame you.”
Jess raised her eyebrow at him but then shook her head knowing that he understood what she was feeling, he felt the same.
“Oh, is that Destined to Reign,” Dave asked picking up the book. “ I started reading this a few days ago, didn’t know you were reading it as well,” he added putting the book back down.
“Trying would be more appropriate,” Joseph said with a grin.
Rolling her eyes at him, she finished the rest of her tea and got up to put her cup in the sink.
“So Jess, Joe has been kicked out of his apartment and I am trying to convince him he can move in here with us while he figures things out but he is being stubborn, could you try convincing him.”
Jess froze for a second at the sink before she continued rinsing her cup. Live with Joe? In the same house? Around other people? Around Dave? Knowing she couldn’t take too long to answer she turned around and looked at Joseph avoiding looking at Dave,
“You are getting kicked out?”
“Umm…yes,” Joe responded but Jess could tell he was uncomfortable. He gave a slight shake of his head as if to say no, tell him, no but before she could speak, Dave spoke again.
“Not getting kicked out, he was kicked out a few days ago and has been staying at some motel in town and living out of a suitcase. His furniture was moved into the storage room in the building he was living and he has to pay storage fees for that.”
“Wait, what?” Jess was shocked by the news. Sure, she and Joe hadn’t really talked over the past two weeks but he had been by to pick up the kids to take them to Greenwood park but he had never mentioned anything.
“Jess, don’t worry about me, I have a lead on another flat…” Joe started.
“He is my brother Jess, and I don’t know what is going on between the two of you that you try to avoid being around each other when I there but I really can’t leave him out there,” Dave cut in
Both Jess and Joseph froze this time and they both looked at each other before looking to the floor. They had been caught, they had known it would only be a matter of time but they had hoped it would be years before they were confronted about it.
“Now I am not going to ask what is going on, though I suspect I know what it is, but could the two of you co-exist together until things get a little better?”
Not knowing what to do, the looked at each other again and both nodded. They knew though that this was bad, it would only be a matter of time before Dave asked some question they did not want to answer and his next statement proved just that.
“Now I am not going to ask today but I would hope the two of you would come to me on you own and tell what’s going to go own before I decide its time to ask for some answers,” and with that he walked out, going outside, probably to get Joe’s stuff from the car.
Neither she or Joe spoke for a few minutes, but they looked at each other, their eyes speaking louder than any word would have. They both only moved when Dave called from outside, with Jess rushing to get the keys to the guest room which had an extra external entrance and Joe moving to help Dave with the bags. They both knew though that this was a bad idea and there were bad things coming in their future. The weekend was going from bad to worse by the second.
It was later in her room when Jess noticed she had 3 missed calls from Simon. Following the missed calls, there was a text the left her confused.
“I love you, Jess, no matter what, I will always have your back. I will be there for you tomorrow, don’t think you are alone in this. Goodnite.”
Frowning, Jess put away her phone and she struggled to fall asleep as she wondered what disaster awaited her at church the next day. Things were promising to be even worse than she had originally anticipated.