The Forgiven

June 2016
February Fortescue (Slytherin)

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7, New American Standard Bible

“Sit up straight, Marla! Don't be such a slouch. Why do you always make me repeat myself? And for Pete's sake, stop eating so much! You're becoming quite the porker. Why, when I was your age...”

Marla was glad when supper was over and she could pick up the phone to talk to her best friend, Sandy.

“My mother can be so cruel, Sandy!” she cried. "All she ever does is criticize me. She never gives me a break. She never offers me a kind word. Never supports me.”

“Seriously? I think you're exaggerating just a bit, Marla,” Sandy replied. “I know your mom can be a bit demanding, but it's not like she beats you or anything. You have a nice home, your own room, and an iPhone. I wish I had those things! My mom says our lives are going to start getting really stressful next year when we turn thirteen. She says this is our last easy year!”

"You just don't understand, Sandy. I guess no one does.” Marla sighed and hung up on her friend.

Feeling really sad, Marla stumbled into the kitchen and on a whim decided to see what was in the refrigerator. A brownie!

“We never have sweets. I wonder where this lovely morsel came from?” she wondered. She sat down at the table, unwrapped it, and bit into it, savoring its flavor. Unexpectedly, she heard her mother clear her throat. Marla looked up to see her mother glaring at her.

“That was MY brownie. I was going to pack it for my lunch tonight. Now I suppose I'll have nothing to eat.”

Marla began crying and handed her mother the half-eaten brownie.

“Oh, no you don't!” exclaimed her mom. “You are going to sit right there and finish my lunch. Eat every bite!” And so she did. Even though she knew she loved her mother, from the depths of her pain, Marla wished her mother were no longer alive. She wished she had no mother at all. She could take care of herself.

Less than thirty days later, Marla's mother died of a stoke.

Twelve-year-old Marla had wanted her mother gone, and it had worked. And Marla was thrilled. For two minutes. Then she cried. And cried. And felt tremendous fear and overwhelming guilt.

“I've killed my mom!”

Several months later, she slipped away from her guardian and took a walk in the snow. She found herself at a lovely church and went inside. Its smell and its warmth soothed her. She hid in the back and began to pray. She begged that the murder she committed be forgiven and that her soul be washed as white as the new snow that was falling outside.

The pastor of the church noticed Marla's sobbing and offered to pray with her. She broke down and told him what she had done. The pastor put his arm around her shoulders to comfort her.

“Marla,” said the pastor, “let me ask you one simple question. Do you get everything you ask for?”

“No, of course not,” she replied.

“Exactly," replied the pastor. “Not only are you not God and do not have God's power, but God is not a magical genie who exists only to do your bidding. Pray about your feelings towards your mother, but don't take on powers you don't have.”

Marla never forgot the kindness of the pastor that day. Her hurt wasn't healed instantly, but she did move forward.