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Love Said Not So The Last Shall Be First Norlita Brown


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She fell to her knees, tears streaming rapidly down her face. She closed her face in her hands as her sobs made oceans in her palms. She realized she had tried everything to no avail; yet in her trying, she failed to try the one thing she should have tried first. She had failed to pray. As much as she was to blame for this huge slight to God, so was every person who instilled the doubt that she wanted to rip from her thoughts. The world was on a fast track to hell, and the daily news became a daily confirmation. In this week’s news, a pastor was convicted of molesting three small children; in last week’s, a pastor announced to his wife and the world that he was gay and had been committing adultery, hiding the evidence of his true love. Her own pastor was shot last month as one of the women he was having an affair with came to the revelation that she was not the only one. The Christians who once mocked the Catholic faith and its leaders now held their heads in shame. Excuses were flying everywhere, finger pointing, backstabbing. Faith against faith, now we all fall down. The devil may have been smiling while God may have been crying, and all she wanted to know was, “What on earth is going on?” Her question was not directed at the world; not in that sense. It was personal; close and dearer to her heart. Yet her question made her feel like she had the weight of the world on her shoulders, and every day, that weight became harder to bear. She knew the Word, she remembered the words of 1 Corinthians 10:13: “…but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able…” or as Kirk Franklin so eloquently interpreted it, “He will never put more on me than I can bear.” Somehow this verse, these words, seemed to haunt her very being right now as she heaved and cried. She felt it was more than she could bear, and yet she had to be strong for her children, if not for herself. Jessica Harding was the single mother of three beautiful girls. Her oldest daughter, Ashleigh, twenty, and twin daughters, Cassie and


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Cameron, seventeen, brought so much joy and peace to her life. They also brought plenty of turmoil. Ashleigh was the current source of her pain. When Jessica saw her beautiful daughter lying fragile in a hospital bed, fighting for a life that Jessica helped to birth, it took so much out of her. Her world seemed to be spinning, and Jessica could do nothing to stop it. Jessica had given Ashleigh the world at her fingertips, everything that she could ever want or need, but none of it was enough. As Ashleigh had so very clearly stated to her numerous times, because in all that she had given her, she had given her one thing she never wanted or needed. The abuse of a man who had stolen her childhood, her innocence, her very reason for wanting to live, and no matter what Jessica did, she would never be able to return to her daughter all that she had lost. Ashleigh was seven when the abuse first began. It was emotional that escalated to physical. He said he was trying to discipline her, but Ashleigh never knew discipline that could make her feel like her world was coming apart at the seams. It was an abuse that would continue for three years before her mother would finally kick him out of the house. What angered Ashleigh more was that her mother never came to her defense, never protected her, and for that, Ashleigh would not only make her pay, but she would never forgive her. Jessica got up from the floor and headed to the bathroom to clean her face. She didn’t want Ashleigh to see her fallen spirit, if she opened her eyes. She had been unconscious for almost twenty-four hours after overdosing on sleeping pills. Ashleigh had worried Jessica for months, and for this, Jessica had begun walking on egg shells whenever Ashleigh was around. She also tried to put her life in order, praying that once everything Ashleigh thought was wrong with her life had been made right, that Ashleigh would have a renewed look on life. “Why does this keep happening to me?” Ashleigh cried. Jessica crossed her arms over her chest and looked at Ashleigh in disgust as she cried for the tenth time that day over a boy that Jessica


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despised. Ashleigh was beautiful, and it wasn’t because she was Jessica’s daughter that she felt this way. This was a comment that was granted to Ashleigh daily by friends and strangers alike. As Ashleigh was growing up, the compliment always came in the form of a criticism toward Jessica. People would say, “She is so beautiful, she must look just like her father.” Jessica learned, in time, to ignore the insult, because she began to realize that it didn’t matter who her daughter looked like; she was beautiful, and she came through Jessica’s womb. Ashleigh’s eyes were big and bright, tilting upward slightly at the corners, giving an Asian accent to her soft brown eyes. Her pouty lips were so full they looked French, her complexion was smooth and resembled warm caramel with a red hue that often made people question her heritage, and her soft hair was layered into a bob. Ashleigh was only five feet tall and weighed 105 pounds, but her little frame had a figure that was the envy of many women and the desire of more men. “It keeps happening because it’s what you allow.” Jessica replied to Ashleigh’s question with no emotion. Jessica considered herself to be a strong woman and she wanted each of her girls to be just as strong. Crying over a man was not something she wanted them to make a habit of. Ashleigh ignored her mother’s response and continued to cry. Cameron walked into the room and immediately went over to Ashleigh and held her. “What’s wrong, big sis?” she said as she hugged her tightly. “You’re too young to understand,” Ashleigh said as her tears soaked Cameron’s shirt and the snot running from her nose did the same. Jessica was disgusted. She walked into the guest bathroom and grabbed a few Kleenex before heading back into the living room and thrusting them toward Ashleigh. “Wipe your face,” she said as she dangled the tissues at her firstborn. Ashleigh took them and stared at Jessica with an evil eye. Jessica was taken aback, wondering what would cause her daughter to feel hatred for her. She was oblivious to the cold nature that she had been giving Ashleigh. In her eyes, she was offering strength at an obviously weak


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point in her daughter’s life. Somehow she didn’t think Ashleigh felt that way at all. “Mom,” Cameron said in a pleading tone. “What?” Jessica said as she shrugged her shoulders. “Not right now. It’s clear to everyone but you that she’s hurting,” Cameron answered. “What’s clear is that she keeps letting that good for nothing bum bring her down. Every time she gets her life on track, here he comes running to see what he can get out of it, and your sister’s so dumb, she keeps letting him.” “Mom,” Cameron shouted. “Don’t ‘Mom’ me. Instead of trying to chastise me, you need to stop babying her. She’s twenty years old and over here crying like somebody died over a man that has no love for her. If he did, he wouldn’t keep cheating on her, lying to her, and God knows what else.” Cameron pulled Ashleigh into her arms as if she could shield her from the hateful words that their mother was spewing at her. Ashleigh hugged her sister back, but then quickly let go of the embrace and stormed out of the room. “Don’t run from me, run from him and every other man out there like him. You deserve better, Ashleigh,” Jessica yelled. Cameron stood and shook her head. “I don’t think you’ll ever understand, will you?” “Understand what?” “Your words are not what she needs to hear right now; your love is. When are you going to let down this tough exterior and just open your heart to us?” “Don’t give me that, Cameron. I show you guys every day that I love you.”


Love Said Not So: The Last Shall Be First