Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Bittersweet Interruptions - Ch. 3

Nyla spent the night before the date in her hotel room pampering herself. She wanted to look extraordinary for the big day tomorrow. After eating a light dinner of grilled chicken salad and apple juice, she retired early. Yet for some reason she couldn’t go to sleep. Maybe it was nerves. Or maybe it was the interesting television program that was on at 4am. Either way, Nyla was up, wide awake.

The television program now playing was one of those religious shows that came on late at night to lead people to Christ and to help television viewers cleanse their hearts and minds from the grime of life. At initial viewing, Nyla didn’t know why this television show appealed to her so much, or what kept her tuned in to this channel when there were so many others to choose from. She wasn’t in need of salvation, was she?

Nyla and her sister had both been reared in loving, two-parent homes. Growing up, they had lacked very few things in life. But here tonight (or rather this morning), while watching this riveting television show, Nyla saw that she did lack something – a personal relationship with God. Yes, she’d gone to church all her life and acted the part while she was there. But that had only to please her parents. Yes, she’d even been prayed for and prayed with. Yet Nyla had never wholeheartedly turned her life over to God.

Nyla never felt she had to turn her life over to God, especially since both of her parents were God-fearing believers. As a matter of fact, she and Onesha always felt that their parents’ spirituality would somehow get them into heaven, too, like a grandfather clause that made exceptions for descendents. But now this husband and wife TV ministry team was saying otherwise. And Nyla was listening. Hard.

“John 3:16 let’s us know that whosoever believes in Christ should not perish, but have everlasting life. That passage is talking about having a personal belief,” the fair-skinned female minister said, briefly expounding upon the scripture.

“Yes, and 1 John 5:1 supports that,” the cinnamon-skinned male minister added, holding up a black Bible. “It says, ‘Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loves him that begat loves him also that is begotten of him.’” The tall man was careful to put additional emphasis on the words ‘whosoever’ and ‘one’, indicating that they was referring to an individual person.

Like the perfect helpmate that she was, the female minister took her husband’s words and ran with them. “We all know what the word ‘one’ means. But let’s talk about the word whosoever.” She pulled out a sheet of yellow legal paper where she’d written the definition. “Whosoever means whoever or whatever person. In short, one person, an individual,” the female minister read. Then she turned to her husband for him to continue.

Not missing a beat, the man picked up where his wife left off. “From that definition it’s abundantly clear that you must come to a place of personal belief, just like everybody else.” The cameras zoomed into the minister’s face as he became even more serious. “Listen preacher’s kids and kids of strong believers, this means you, too. You can’t ride your parents’ shirttails to heaven. You have to turn your own life over to Christ. You must be born again.”

Nyla instantly sat upright in bed. They’re talking about me, she mused, now realizing without a shadow of a doubt that her parents’ spirituality really didn’t extend to her.

Suddenly a familiar chorus began to play. The man’s voice softened. “Won’t you get saved today? Do it today. Don’t wait. This is your time. Your chance to get it right. Your chance to get your own name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

Nyla practically leaped out of bed and onto the floor, caring very little about ruining the knees of her very expensive pink satin pajamas. There was no way she was going to pass up this opportunity. This was her time and she’d definitely make the most of it. Then as Nyla repeated the prayer of salvation after the male minister, she felt her heart open to receive God’s unbridled love to overflowing.

As if compelled by an invisible force, the female minister suddenly added these words at the end of the program. “Before we say goodnight, I sense that there’s a young lady out there right now who is suffering heartache from a broken relationship. You thought that relationship would last, but it didn’t. In fact, you worshipped that relationship and the man in it, instead of worshipping the Most High God. I’ve been there. A lot of us have been there. But know this, beautiful one; you need God more than you need another man right now. And also know that God can love you better than any man ever could.”

The woman spoke with such sincerity, such conviction. No wonder her words were so effective.

Then the female minister paused and smiled over at her husband before continuing. “God has blessed me with a wonderful man. My husband knows how much I love him, as I do him. Marshall also knows that divine love transcends any human love we could ever feel for each other, at any time. Now listen closely, young lady, and let me tell you how I got to this point. You see, after the bad breakup I had long ago, I started over by allowing God’s love to dwell in my life first. Then when it was time, God opened my heart to receive a man’s love again. That’s when Marshall came along.”

The woman paused again and smiled tenderly into the camera. “My husband was definitely worth the wait. So for that young lady and other young ladies like her, I say wait. Wait on the Lord. Wait on God to show you who the right man is for you. I guarantee you won’t regret it.”

With tears rolling down her face, Nyla nodded, receiving every wise word the woman had spoken. Then getting up from her knees, she hastily found a pencil and paper in order to write down the names of the husband and wife ministry team. She wanted to write to them and tell them how much they’d blessed her life and also send them a love offering to help keep their program on the air. A life changing program like this needed to stay on the air, so that it could bless even more lives.

As she returned to the full-sized wooden sleigh bed moments later, Nyla knew that she would never be the same again. And the contented smile on her drowsy face revealed that she was all right with that.

****

The next morning, Nyla awakened with a start to the sound of a ringing phone. It was the hotel’s front desk, giving her the 8am wakeup call that she’d requested the night before. After thanking the desk clerk, her mind became riddled with second thoughts.

Now that I’m saved, should I even keep this date? Nyla mused, sitting upright in the bed.

Suddenly she thought of the contract she’d signed, the plane ticket and the hotel room she’d already accepted. Although Nyla could most definitely reimburse the game show for her expenses, she really didn’t want to incur possible legal action against herself for reneging on a written agreement. Especially at the last minute. Being the best friend of a lawyer all these years had afforded her a wealth of legal wisdom and without even calling Asia, she knew that her best possible recourse was to just go through with the date as planned.

Now that it looked like she was still going on this date, Nyla needed to know what to do if they went to a club tonight. Especially since so many of these kinds of dates went to such places. Furthermore, how would God feel about her being in a place like that? And what about the sexy clothes Nyla had brought with her?

Oh, what to do. What to do, she mused, unsure how to handle these issues since she was so new at this salvation thing. Now Nyla wished she’d paid more attention in Bible study class. Wait, I bet Mama would know what to do, she mused, reaching for the gray phone again.

Yet no sooner had she picked up the phone, Nyla remembered that her parents were out of town at a business exposition. It was that time of the year again, time for the Duncans to search for new books by rising authors to put in the family’s bookstore.

Nyla hung up the phone and punched her pillow in frustration. Suddenly, last night became a bittersweet interruption in her life. On one hand, it had been the best thing that could have ever happened to her. On the other hand, it was the worst. Or rather the timing couldn’t have been worse.

These issues wouldn’t have come up yesterday. Yesterday, there would’ve been no dilemma about where to go, what to wear. Now everything was different.

Realizing that she couldn’t sit there debating all day, Nyla leaped up from the bed and rushed to get dressed. She needed to at least try to find some new clothes before their 10am meeting with the Three-To-One crew.

****

At 9:30am, Nyla came back to her suite with sagging shoulders and a disappointed frown. Unfortunately, she hadn’t been successful in her mission to acquire new clothes for the date. This was a new city and Nyla hadn’t known her way around. Neither did she have enough time to find her way around, either. On top of that, the gift shop hadn’t opened at 8am as she expected. And when it did, the apparel selection had been very limited. Thus, Nyla was stuck with wearing the clothes she originally came with and now she only had thirty minutes to get ready.

Rushing through her shower, Nyla thanked God for Asia and Onesha who insisted that she get her long locks cut for health purposes and twisted for convenience earlier that month. Otherwise she would have needed another ten minutes to tend to her hair.

After putting on the formfitting, strapless nutmeg-colored pantset, Nyla slipped her pedicured feet into a pair of gorgeous Aztec beaded shoes with suede insoles. Her height instantly shot up to 5’9, two and a half inches taller than she usually was. Then, because of her smooth caramel complexion, she only needed to apply the basics of makeup and she was done.

Fearing that she was late, Nyla prayed all the way down on the elevator. Fortunately, the other two ladies were just coming in, too, so she knew that her prayer had been answered. Thank You, Jesus, she mused, quickly finding a seat in the elegant conference room.

Soon Nyla was introduced to the camera crew, then to each of the other contestants. At first meeting, Alandria and Talethia seemed to be decent ladies. But then again, the man of the hour hadn’t presented himself yet.

Nyla knew from firsthand experience how quickly women changed when there was a man involved. In fact, she’d witnessed female rivalry at its worst during her college years when the campus ratio was seven women to one man. That was when she really focused on sharpening her communication skills. And although Nyla was not above engaging in a good catfight when necessary, she’d learned that she had to do considerably less physical combat when her verbal skills were at their best.

Interrupting Nyla’s thoughts, one of the cameramen asked each woman to stand in front of the camera for a full-length still shot before being ushered to another smaller room to wait for their date. Things were now about to get very interesting. Very interesting indeed.

© 2006 Suprina Frazier

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