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A Moment With a Monster Part 1

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. Romans 8:28.

When the Lord impressed on my heart to talk about this moment, I was oddly excited and a bit surprised at my willingness to jump right into obedience by sharing. This was a moment in my history that I had never revealed to my own mother or my best friend; yet, here I was unreluctantly willing to share it with the world. However, it was during this moment of self-discovery that I realized it wasn’t embarrassment which had kept me quiet for so many years. Instead, it was a part of me that didn’t want to be the victim or be defined by that moment…not by others…not by myself. I believed, and I reckon I still do believe, that when things are spoken aloud, truth becomes a clearer more undeniable form of reality. That reality was fine from a distance but speaking the words brought it far too close: and close meant dealing with whatever it was I was ignoring.

The Word of God teaches us that all things work together for the good of them that love God.

It took me a few times of pausing to bask in the light at the end of the tunnel to understand the aftermath of good gained from being in the tunnel. Within those moments of pause, I began to truly appreciate and understand that within the barriers of “all things” are what we define as good, bad and the many things that fall in between.

We don’t have a choice as to what “all things” will entail. However, one must trust that whatever presents itself as a “bad thing” today, must somehow or someway prove itself to be a “good “thing tomorrow. My acceptance of this truth has allowed me to redirect how I respond to tribulation. Now, I am able to walk into each trial expecting good things even if good is in the form of growth. This is my account of such a moment. Yet, it took decades to comprehend the impact this moment would have on how I live and maneuver through life…and to determine how such a moment ultimately worked for my good.

When I first communicated my account of events via my blog, many of my family and friends were getting insight into my experience for the very first time. It was slightly nerving, but I realized there was healing in the releasing of the words. Those words, that described my truth, I had a right to communicate honestly in the tone and temperament in which I saw fit. So, the regurgitation of experience poured out in vivid detail. In doing so, I learned how important it is not to dismiss a harboring thought that reminds me of bad feelings associated with a bad moment: but, to acknowledge the thought and remind myself that I am already healed from those wounds. As well, I remind myself that old moments don’t deserve the right to create new scars alongside of healed ones. I own my healing by acknowledging my truth and deciding my truth does not have to hurt to be acknowledged.

I now walk in my healing but first I had to identify what it was within myself that needed healing. Once I was able to identify "it" I understood the Satan’s tactic clearer. Satan tried to convince me that old wounds still have to hurt, but he is a liar. I Am Healed and I don't give the enemy access to infect wounds that God has healed.

Before I dive into the details of my experience, I would like to take a moment and acknowledge those of you who have experienced moments of tribulation and are still struggling to cope and deal with bad things that have transpired in your life. I purposely spoke of my healing before explaining the what, the who and the why healing was needed in the first place. That was so healing in not lost in the words of hurt. It was so you could would go into this journey knowing that whatever “it” is healing is alive, consistent and available.

Therefore, I pray my testimony clears a path in your heart to forgiveness. The memory of a bad moment is often heavy on the heart, but the lack of forgiveness is even heavier on the soul. I found forgiveness by finding my lesson. I took time and examined what that moment meant and what it taught me. You see, wrapped in every storm is a lesson that often takes many tears to learn. However, when you set your heart on learning the lesson you will be amazed at what God will reveal to you. You are more than a conquer through Christ Jesus who strengthens you. Just know that He doesn’t always strengthen us via good but often it’s by the lessons taught in the storm that allows us to better define how “ALL things work for our good”. SO, TRUST THAT YOUR MOMENT WITH YOUR MONSTER WILL BE AVENGED IN A MOMENT BY OUR MAKER.

So here it is, My Moment with a Monster

The thought of a child trying to comprehend assault. It’s like the moment itself becomes less relevant than the thoughts that follows. Yet, that thought can often feel so surreal the memory almost seems fraudulent. What is a child to do with unfamiliar feelings that are constantly violating his peace? How does a child keep from running away from a single moment every single moment for the rest of his life?

To call me a rambunctious child would be a gross understatement. I had my share of fights, suspensions and trouble. Maybe it was a side effect of my environment, but I wasn’t scared of much as a kid. Remembering when I was about 8 years old, my mother was working late, and I was home with my two older brothers and got a craving for chips and canned soda. Being that I had no money, I thought to walk a few blocks to the supermarket and steal. Having never stolen a single thing before, I assumed it would be like the movies, you walk in inconspicuously and walk out with the goods. Oddly, it was that easy at first. I made it about half a block from the grocery store’s parking lot when I heard a man yell out “Aye, you got a receipt for that?” My response was a quick, “yes!” as I stopped and turned around. We stared each other down for what seemed like seconds before we both took off running; me away from him and he after me.

The stranger caught up with me and grabbed me from behind. He proceeded to throw me into nearby bushes with his body positioned over mine. As we laid on the ground, he took a knife and held it firmly against my throat. The memory is so vivid even after 3 decades. I distinctly remember not being afraid…. well, maybe afraid but not scared. He laid atop of me silently panting until the voices of a crowd of passersby drew close. He leaned and whispered, “Say anything I will slit your throat!” After the crowd passed, I simply asked if I could go home and he calmly obliged. While most kids would have taken this opportunity to get home as quickly as possible, I decided my efforts would be in vain if I went home empty handed. So, I stopped, turned back around and asked this guy who was still kneeling in the bushes, “Can I have my chips and drink back?” Surprisingly, he threw me the chips and soda and I proceeded home.

Fast forward a few years, my mom moved our family from East Saint Louis, IL to Saint Louis, MO and established us in a neighborhood that I had grown to love at the time. It was a rough neighborhood full of gang violence and drugs; however, it was a normal that I accepted and made the best of. It is refreshing to reminisce about how my group of friends, and I would walk for hours on train tracks on lazy Sunday mornings with no destination in mind, or how I somehow convinced my best friend Bobby to break into the St. Louis Zoo. Bobby and I climbed the wall with hopes of stealing hot dogs that we stupidly presumed would be leftover on vacant food carts. Nope, we weren't smart, just a little hungry. Those types of memories always make me smile, sometimes even laugh; however, when I use to sort through my past, he was always present, looming in wait of acknowledgement. He is Mr. Bean.

Mr. Bean owned or perhaps rented the corner store that was a couple of blocks away from my home. He was average height I guess, dark-skinned, burly and well-groomed for the most part. He spoke well and never seemed inappropriate in any way. I visited his store often, likely daily. Whether it was the first candy stop before catching the bus to school in the mornings, or a quick stop on the way home or an errand run for my mother, it all supported a development of a friendship of sorts between he and I. It was because we saw each other so regularly, he knew I was trouble. As I mentioned earlier, I was rather rambunctious as child. When I showed up at Mr. Bean’s store in the middle of the day, he knew it was because I was suspended yet again. Oddly, he never offered that elderly advice that one would expect. He’d just ask and shake his head as a sign of disapproval after I explained to him my side of the story.

My mother would testify to the fact that my mouth kept me in a lot of trouble, and it was also true with Mr. Bean. He would say things and my rebuttal to those things use to get me temporarily banned from his store. So commonly, that it lent itself as a contributing factor of how we built a bond. Strangely enough, access back in meant I had to apologize and acknowledge my fault. He would stand on the opposite side of the gate pompously soaking in my spoken regret. Yet, beyond that, on those suspension days, I would visit the store and we would just chat about nothing. I trusted him.

You see, I was always drawn to older people. As a child in East St. Louis, one of my closest relationships was with my elderly neighbor, Ms. Jackson. She had to be at least 60 plus years my senior, yet, I looked forward to visiting her on her walkway as she’d always have an extra chair waiting for me. What we had in common was time and our willingness to share it. Like onto Mr. Bean, there was an unspoken appreciation one toward another. I had never been beyond Ms. Jackson’s front porch but sitting there in conversation was enough. In a way, Mr. Bean took the place of Ms. Jackson after our move.

Overtime, I began assisting Mr. Bean at his store. Every now and then, he would pay me a few bucks to clean or sweep up after closing. Therefore, I didn’t find it strange when he asked if I would visit his store, at another location, to assist him with moving product after permanently closing that location. He’d never given me reason to say no, so I was looking forward to assisting him and hoped he’d be generous with the candy I was helping box up.

When we entered the store, the lights were mostly out except for a light coming from a back room. We mostly worked by light coming through the main front window and I never thought it worth asking why. When I think of it, we had no usually banter between us two, just unawkward silence. I guess I thought it was more important to concentrate on the task at hand than to converse. As we neared the time of completion, I remember walking toward the door to load the box I was carrying, when suddenly he grabbed me by the arm which forced me to drop the box. Simultaneous with his grab, his hand rubbed against my posterior. Stunned, I stared into his eyes trying to maturely digest this moment being force fed to me.

The words he uttered afterwards ended any confusion that I had as they revealed his truth and did not allow me to escape into the comfort of "maybe this was something else". He was molesting me and his touch along with his words, which where descriptive of how my body felt, epitomized his intentions. Mr. Bean commanded me to go to the back room…the back room with the only light in the entire place that caught my attention the moment I entered his store. His voice was never raised, he even smiled with each word he uttered: but, the monster, that was his reality, was in his eyes. A stern seriousness piercing back at me. Still confused, I smiled and again in his eyes stood firmly that seriousness as to not betray his true intent. I knew I was treading in unfamiliar territory and I was clueless on what the proper response should be. Frozen I stood, aware though of what this moment was and strangely conscious of the fact that this moment was planned by Mr. Bean. His quietness throughout the day was maybe a confidence builder. Building up the courage, moment by moment, to act out a plan he likely played over and over in his mind. This was the moment he chose, and I was the boy he chose to share it with.

No, I didn’t scream. Somehow the fighter that I had always been I did not know how to be in this moment. I felt abandoned by my own self. Even though, I stood numb, I knew that going to that back room was not optional. As he began to tug my arm, as to lead me to the back room, I swiftly grabbed tightly the doorknob of the closest door. His smile melted away revealing a sternness that I visited previously while looking into his eyes. Still, I thought maybe this was a joke. Maybe this was all a joke. Me, in my youthfulness, smiled at him once again, void of “stop”, void of “let me go”, completely void of word. He just looked, balled his hand into a fist and pounded my hand so that I might lose my grip.

I held on to that doorknob, praying my fingers didn’t slip. Somehow, I knew there was a different kind of monster waiting in that back room. So, I held on as he tugged and tugged, pulling me in the direction of his desire. I like to think God’s hand was the doorknob and regardless of how hard the devil pulled, God’s grip was firm and unable to be moved. Just as I began to wonder what his next move would be, like the stranger in the bushes, Mr. Bean suddenly let me go. The plans each of those men had will thankfully not be my story to tell, however, the impartations those men left have taught me some valuable lessons. Like unto the stranger with the knife, Mr. Bean had given me reason to rush out screaming but, just like before, I didn't. 

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