WILLIE MAE

Come rain or shine; I’m ready to be among fellow parishioners as Pastor Madison delivers as he always does a phenomenal sermon. He speaks from his heart to the souls of those sitting in the pews, and every word spoken resonates with those who are there; it does not matter if they came to seek Christ or hear Pastor Madison speak. The message is always educational and thought-provoking.
Eight years ago, I was new in town and looking for fun when I met Viola at the beauty salon. When asking where I could have a good time and enjoy the nightlife of Waycross, I did not expect to get an invitation to church. Not wanting to be rude, I accepted the invitation and was glad I did. I needed to hear that sermon that night. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a cool Friday night, and the parking lot of Burning Bush Baptist Church was packed. My mind immediately went to “Maybe I should do a U-turn and pull up at the local club I just passed to get here.” There were no parking spaces available, so I parked next door at the convenience store and aimlessly made my entrance into the church. I was late, and the choir was in the middle of singing “Lily in the Valley” as I searched for somewhere to sit. Burning Bush Baptist Church is a small church, and the pews were full. Those arriving late like myself lined up against the back wall taking in the spirit of the room. The ushers busied themselves with handing out fans and programs and doing other tasks. Pastor Madison approached the pulpit with tears in his eyes and asked that we keep his family in prayer. The sermon that evening was about keeping faith when life throws you a curveball. His voice trembled as he said, “Everyone has experienced something disruptive, surprising, and or unexpected in their lives,” Pastor asked that through it all, we stay focused, uplifted, and in prayer because that’s the best response to any curveball.
Amid the gossip after church, I learned that Viola had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, and her family was overwhelmed; that was the Pastors’ curveball. My move to Waycross was all about my curveball. I left Boston, Massachusetts, because my cheating husband fathered twins with another woman, knowing I could not have children of my own. I discovered this on Facebook of all places. There were photos of him, the twins, and their mother all over his Facebook page. The twins’ birth, the twin’s milestones, the twins’ first birthday, and I find out after finally deciding I would reunite with family and friends via Facebook. Devastated, I had my “Waiting to Exhale” moment on Facebook live and tagged my husband with Jazmin Sullivan’s “Bust Your Windows.” My Mama always said, “Two wrongs don’t make it right.” but Aunt Jackie says, “Two wrongs don’t make it right, but it damn sure makes us even.” It did feel good to release the anger, but the damage done to my heart is undoable. I say, “Love doesn’t hurt, but loving the wrong person does.” After the divorce, I decided to start over far away from the drama in my birth-town. My parents left Waycross when I was just three weeks old and never looked back. And I returned at thirty-two years old, leaving Boston with no intentions of ever returning. Love can be just as difficult as life, but life without love seems foreseeable to me.

Published by Belinda Gulley Bates

Hi, my name is Belinda. I am an Introvert/Silent Observer with untold stories waiting for a read. I enjoy people watching, reading, road trips, and writing. I smile, laugh, cry, and can be quite bashful when the opportunity presents itself. My mind runs a marathon that has yet to end, and I write to relax and release.

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