She glanced at herself for the last time in front an old wooden-framed full length mirror. It was a beautiful Monday morning, and she was quite convinced that she was all dressed up for the fellowship gathering in the church. Her one piece knee-length purple dress and sueded ballerina shoes always do the trick on her slim physique.
Lilian, a twenty-two year-old lady has always been enthusiastic working with church people in the last four years since she joined them. Next to her parents who have been unconditionally providing love and care, the church is her second family. She always sees herself blessed to find a loving and supportive community that inspire her to live a godly and righteous life. It is grace of God — to have a safe place wherein she can express who she is and the dreams that she has.
On her way to the gathering, she was thanking God for this religious family, where she has been growing and learning a lot in the aspects of spirituality and personality. It was them who helped her believe in her god-given dream to become a better singer and church song leader. When you have friends who treat you more than a family, it is a safe space — and in this vessel, the church, Lilian feels safe, loved and accepted.
Child-like innocent as she is, Lilian was always open, bubbly and loving. All she could see was good and positive views. Albeit smart and wise, she cannot be easily fooled or agree with everything she hears. She has this sense of balance on matters of life, but even so, she always chooses to see the good in everything rather than to focus on the bad. It is her faith in knowing Jesus, to always discern love and empathy for others.
It was half an hour earlier when Lilian arrived at the church ground. Excited that she might be the earliest bird, she went straight to the fellowship hall where servants gatherings usually take place. Upon reaching the entrance door of the hall, she grabbed the knob but even before she could twist it open, her body froze after hearing a sullen voice. She refrained from opening the door and pressed her left ear on the surface.
“We need to take care of her. She is the only good song leader we have in the church. People come to our service because of her powerful worship leading. If we ditch her, we won’t be able to collect enough money to survive church operational costs.” It was their pastor’s voice. Her heart suddenly beats fast. She knew it was her that he was talking about.
“Ditch me? Why would they ditch me?” her body started to tremble.
The pastor continued talking, “I could still remember the first time I hear her sing, I knew right then that we can use her to attract more people to our church. During that time too, our church was not making enough money to sustain the overhead. I have to pay myself for full-time preaching. We have to pay utility bills and rent. I was desperate.”
Then a different but familiar voice rebutted, “But she is accepting invitations from other churches to sing and it was a disgrace to us for not gaining her loyalty in our church.” The worship ministry leader bursted.
The energy of pride was building up inside the room. Layers of masks from the church leaders were peeling one by one, showing what was really in their mind and heart. The pastor who preaches half for his God and half for his living, and the worship ministry leader who wants her to be loyal in his leadership but could not see her loyalty to God.
Lilian could sense the commotion in spite the wall separating her from the people inside. She was now frozen in trepidation but was able to slowly let go of the door knob. She could not believe what she had just heard.
“What am I going to do?” She wanted to ran away but also wanted to open the door and confront the pastor.
She tried to calm herself and think quick. “If I show up and confront them, it will only bring mayhem. And even if I tell how pure my heart in serving God, they will only see their own intentions. It is difficult for old and prideful people to listen to someone young and innocent. It is useless to express my sentiments to them.” She thought.
Still in incredulity, she quietly paved her way out of the fellowship hall. A sharp striking pain sensation in her heart was literally hurting her. A kind of pain someone can only experience from an unthinkable betrayal of somebody who was loved and treasured.
Second home can sometimes be a merrier place to stay in because it was built out of common interests and aspirations among its members. It is like to have a family with the privilege to choose who should be the parents and siblings. (In our home, we cannot choose our biological family.) The church was Lilian’s second home. The pastor, the worship ministry leader, and the rest of the people there were her family in spirit and it has been four blissful years of serving their God, enough to say that they have been good to her, and she was safe in this home.
Her mind could no longer think properly. She continued trotting toward the worship service hall. She was not sure if she really wanted to go there but an inexplicable force was driving her to go inside. The cavernous hall was dark and covered with deafening silence, the exact opposite of bright and lively ambiance every Sunday worship service. The iris of her eyes were adjusting in the gloomy space when she spotted the pulpit — the place where she stands and sings during worship service.
“It is my home,” she inhaled generously hoping that it will ease the pain in her heart.
“No. It was my home.” She realized.
Their pastor would always preach to people that all men are sinners because it is their natural mold from the divine creator. And the reason Jesus was sent to earth is because of sin, and so that people may know the good and the bad. Those who will choose to believe and follow him will be born again, not a second time physical birth but an inside transformation so that men can sort the good and evil. He would even regularly remind in his sermons that followers of Christ should always be conscious to choose what is good and right. But from what she had just heard the pastor revealed at the fellowship hall, it was evidently a hypocrisy.
The pastor knew what he was doing. He intentionally wanted to get her sing and lead the people in praise and worship for an egotistical purpose. A servant of God does evil because of fear that the church will fail to collect enough money to pay him, the bills and its contingencies.
“To believe and follow Jesus is to live in faith and love, not in worry and fear.” She affirmed herself of her faith in Christ.
Then there was the head of the worship ministry agitated in pride because he wants her to be loyal in their team. But in her heart, her only leader is God. Why would she limit herself serving only one church? She does not serve people but God.
Lilian was trying to comprehend all these complications, these evils that shattered her child-like innocence. Betrayal broke her perception of good and trust. She now knows that evil and betrayal also exist.
Much as she desires to forgive them, go back to the gathering that had probably started, and act as if she heard nothing, her gut was telling her that the right thing to do is forgive and leave. She stepped up on the pulpit floor facing the empty chairs where people would sit during Sunday service. At that moment she knew right away that she could no longer sing wholeheartedly inside the hall. She decided to move on while carrying the new perspective of good and evil, trust and betrayal.
Good and evil tandem can kill the innocence of a child. For now, it is hard for her to trust again. But Lilian was sure that the right time will come and she’ll get out of this pain. And she will trust again — with defense on against the impurities of people’s heart.
The sky was still bright outside. “Perhaps, there are more places in the world wherein trust and purity exist. All I have to do is pray to God that I may find it again.” Lilian walked away planting hope in her soul.
Synopsis: A short fiction story about trust and betrayal, good and evil. Even so, love, faith and hope still exist. We just have to choose to believe and see it. And perhaps, to look for them.
ABOUT THE WRITER:
Madylene Tuazon is a writer and the founder of Creative Thoughts. Her mission in life is to co-create valuable works through writing and encourage creative people to embrace their gifts and share it to the world.
She says, “There is a strong urge from the core of my soul that I have to let my thoughts, wisdom and stories out through a platform that is accessible by people all over the world.”
She is from Manila, Philippines.