It was over. With a deep breath, Sam leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. No, she decided. She couldn’t accept that; she had worked too hard. According to the spreadsheet, there was no money left and her business was bankrupt. She had always managed to come up with a solution. There must be an error. Sam fought the panic, pushed the delete button and began inserting the values again. One by one, she filled each column, meticulously cross-checking them with her list of business income and expenditures. She took a deep breath and her life felt suspended between hope and reality. The weight of the moment hung over her. Please God, let it be different. She pushed the enter button. The number was the same. She had used every last dime to save this business and she had put her family in financial jeopardy in the process.
The wave of nausea came so fast that it was impossible to prepare for it. Sam instinctively curled into the fetal position with her legs drawn up and her forehead touching her knees. She battled the dizziness and waited for it to pass before lifting her head. She tried to focus on the room. This was her sanctuary, her safe place. Desperate, her eyes darted around the bedroom in hopes that she would find an answer. She saw the pictures of her and Paul. Their friends called them the twins because they shared auburn color hair and turquoise eyes. The photos captured all of the victories in their life: their marriage, travel destinations and the celebration that first night in business. They didn’t capture the defeats, the disappointments, the scheming and the lying. On the adjacent wall was the plaque Paul had given her the day she quit her job. All things are possible if you believe. She had repeated that daily in hopes of making it come true. That had been a waste of time.
Sam had spent the past year struggling to get her business off the ground. She adopted the theory that hard work paid off. Success was a natural by-product of the long hours and her creative marketing ideas. She had never failed in her life, not even a spelling test. She was driven to win. There was no such thing as friendly competition. She would do anything for the sense of accomplishment she felt being number one. When one marketing plan failed, she would spend the night scheming instead of sleeping. She would not rest until a viable option became apparent. Failure was not an option on any level.
Each defeat fueled her to do more. She felt as if she was on a treadmill, going faster and faster but getting no where. The pressure to get a sale was all-consuming. As time went on and Sam supplemented her business with their personal savings, it became unbearable. Failures piled up and Sam’s confidence took a nose dive. It was then that she turned back to God in prayer. When she had done all she could and had nothing left to lose, she begged God to help her. It had been a long time since she had prayed.
She had spent her adulthood certain that God did not exist. She realized at a young age that she was on her own. She never trusted or relied on anyone. She worked hard and kept her distance. She would never be vulnerable again to the pain of abandonment. The threat to her family’s finances and personal humiliation eroded her self-confidence and she lived in fear of losing it all. Eventually, she risked vulnerability for the chance of a miracle for that was the only savior left for her. She let her guard down, asked for help and was let down again.
The shock of her situation began to wear off and anger set in. Its intensity surprised her. She realized that she not only failed, she had failed in spite of turning to God. Stupid, stupid, stupid her mind repeated. She had put her trust in Him again and history was repeating itself. She was left alone, prayers unanswered and felt the unbearable pain of loss. Her head nodded side to side in a defiant no and her breathing bordered on hyperventilating. Sam banged the desk to the refrain of what am I going to do separated by choruses of this was wrong, it isn’t fair and this couldn’t be it. She felt like she was going to explode.
The pounding knocked over the troll on her desk that a childhood friend had given her. Normally, it gave her comfort. Today, the sign it held saying Jesus Loves You hurt more than the disappointment of her failure. Tears began to fall as she realized she no longer had faith in that. It was childish to ever believe that Jesus loved her. There was no one here for her. She was alone. She picked it up and looked right into the troll’s eyes and said, “You are lying”. She repeated it again raising her voice. Something inside of her snapped and the intensity of emotion took over. She threw the troll as hard and as far as she could and watched as it shattered into pieces against the wall. She threw the chair back and began pacing madly around the room.
“Why, God? Why did you do this to me? I did everything I could. I prayed and asked for your help and you were no where to be found. Now I am in this mess all by myself. Jesus loves me? I don’t think so. I was a fool to ever believe that, right God?” She screamed up at the ceiling with both hands in the air, willing God to answer. “You really got me good. I believed in you even after I swore as a child I never would again. I opened my heart to you.” She started to cry. “I am such a good person and I tried so hard. You could have helped me but you didn’t. What kind of God are you?”
As she ranted she tossed everything aside in her path. She picked up the stack of papers on the desk and hurled them across the room. In one swipe she knocked everything that was left on her desk to the ground. She grabbed each pillow and threw it as hard as she could. She watched horrified as her favorite photo of her and Paul was knocked off the side table. She reached down and gently pulled the picture out from under the shards of glass and broken frame. Despair overwhelmed her and she collapsed to the floor. Everything was ruined and she felt as if she too had shattered. She had been at this place before a long time ago.
Sam recalled the horrible night when she was eleven. She had spent a night alone waiting for God. She had prayed for Him to come to her and expected Him to show up. Through that night, she gripped the shreds of faith she had left in hopes of God answering her prayer. She finally fell into a sleep of bitterness and disappointment. She awoke thinking God did not exist for her and she vowed she would never rely on Him again. That morning, Sam buried her faith away in a trunk with the rest of her childhood dreams.
The weight of that moment combined with today was crushing. Sam cried for the loss of her childhood and the failures of her adulthood. For hours her body convulsed with sobs until numbness relieved the pain. There was nothing left to cry for. In the quiet that followed she whispered, “Where are you God?”
The silence was broken by the beep of her computer. She was not interested in having a conversation with anybody. Exhaustion pinned her to the ground. Even from this position, she could see the damage she had done to the room and she closed her eyes to block out the sight. She loved this room. They had decided to renovate an old farmhouse as their first project together. With most turn of the century homes, the bedrooms were small. They decided to use the formal parlor as the master. Her favorite part was the stain glass surrounding the windows that painted rainbows on the wall. Everything in this room was decorated with love. How could she have ever jeopardized it?
The second beep fueled Sam with enough frustration to get up to turn the computer off. Whoever it was would have to wait until morning. “Why would anyone keep up a conversation when it is obvious I am not there?” she muttered as she headed for the desk. As she went to log off, she saw the dialogue box. There on the screen was the message, I am here.