By Shazzar Kallie
Joseph Wayans entered into my world illuminating the horizon like a lighthouse showing me the way. He reminded me of my father whose love warmed the cold waters of the sea of uncertainty. Joseph wasn't like my ex-husband who left me with an empty treasure chest filled with unfulfilled dreams. His presence serendipitously laid a foundation that supported me. I learned that perseverance and strength could be attained with the healing of one's broken heart.
"Our Father was the example of a good black man," I said to my sister as she sat upon my bed. "He is in Heaven now, but I wish he was still here with us."
"Daddy's will provided for Mama, you and I," Nia responded. "He didn't leave us without some form of hope to attain our purpose in life. Before he passed away he made sure we had a future."
Nia was my younger sister by five years. She was a junior at a HBCU who benefited from my strengths as I helped mentor her, but also was bound to fall prey to my weaknesses, because she saw the mistakes I made in my own life. I promised my father I would take care of her before he died, but it seemed at times I couldn't take care of myself. When Daddy died I lost focus, but to be honest I lost faith. I stopped going to church, because I couldn't come to grasp with why my Father in heaven would take my father here on earth when I needed him the most. I couldn't even provide a fatherly figure for my own child Ashanti; who was the only gold my husband left me with besides the ring of remorse I no longer wore on my finger.
I knew I could always turn to Mama in time of need. She introduced me to a young minister at her church. He was a tall, handsome man with a bronze face that showed more virtue and definition than any sculpture. He lived in Long Beach, California but attended my mother's church, the place I grew up, located in Los Angeles where we lived. Mama convinced me to attend church with her so in her words, I could by chance meet someone new, and finally get over the old.
"Hallowed be your name, Imani, " Joseph said as his smile touched a place in my heart that lay untouched since my father's death. "You have a beautiful name. Faith is the essence of my life!"
We stood there in the church vestibule after service as I held Ashanti's hand. Mama had the eyes of Cupid as Nia shyly smiled her approval. I hadn't been to church in two years. The last time I exited those doors I was in tears and bitter grief as my family headed to the cemetery to lay my father into his eternal rest. Minister Wayans joined the church sometime after I left. Mama gave me a little information on him before we met. I guess he was her incentive to bring me back to church. I was cautious when meeting a man, because I knew all that glittered was not gold. What made me want to meet him was the fact my mother told me he reminded her of my father at his age. I didn't know if I was looking for a true soul mate, or a father figure to fill the vacancy of the one whom I felt I still needed. Joseph was a technical writer for a large company, had never been married, and from what my mother told me had always lived by his Christian morals with chastity before marriage. I had to meet this young brother to believe he was true. I was so use to kissing frogs in order to get a prince; I never thought I would find one that didn't need a magical overhaul. He seemed to possess the essence of the perfect mate, my prince.
"Mother Williams, you told me you had two beautiful daughters, but I must say your words didn't do them justice! I know Nia goes to school out of state, but what about you, Imani? Why haven't I seen you here before?"
"I use to go here," I said as I tried not to look like a sinner in his eyes. He sensed my emotions and simply smiled. "Your sermon about God's kingdom on earth was pretty enlightening. I'm glad I had a chance to come today to hear it."
"It blesses me to know you received something meaningful from it. I don't always get a chance to preach at Sunday morning service with me only being a minister. The pastor said it was time so who am I to complain?"
"I guess I chose the right time to bring you to church, Imani," Mama said as she tried to act as if her matchmaking was a simple act of coincidence. "I've been trying to get her back into church Minister Wayans. See, Imani, God will bless you when you honor Him. Look at all of God's beauty He has here in this church that your father helped build. You need to come back home to your spiritual roots where you belong."
"Let your will be done, Mama," I said humbly as I looked upon the stained glass windows, the comfortable, crimson pews, and lastly into Joseph's beauty brown eyes which were like a calm, warm sea of love in which I wanted to immerse myself into.
"Here on earth I know we are not suppose to have anything as good as it is in Heaven, but I feel you're like an angel in my eyesight, Imani Williams. I'm glad that God did give us this day where our paths met." He reached for and held my hand with an endearing embrace that left me grounded. "Have you thought about coming to one of our daily prayer meetings? Because you cannot live by bread alone, you need the word of God to fill your soul."
I knew Joseph was different than any man I had ever met. He would have made my father proud. He was a man of God who had purpose and vision. It seemed that he had the answer to the question in my mind I was afraid to ask myself. My mother told me he was always kind to Ashanti when she previously brought him to church in my absence. The following day I went to my job at the middle school where I worked. Teaching was my heart because I was taught to train up a child in the way he should go, and he would not depart from it. It doesn't always work out that way, because I myself strayed off the straight and narrow path into an abyss. I knew God would give me a chance to pull myself out and find my way back.
My father loved my mother with a passion I could only dream about growing up. It was better than the romances I had seen in movies and read in books. I was too eager to fall for the mellifluous man who professed his belief in chivalry and love, but didn't know the meaning of neither. My father and mother wanted me to be happy so they didn't try too hard to dissuade me from the marriage, because they respected my husband's will to do the right thing. Deep down I knew I didn't have my father's blessings, because unlike my mother, he never called my husband son. I remember when I told him I had gotten pregnant before marriage. I was only 18 years old at the time.
"Daddy, I know you taught me better and I'm sorry," I said with eyes filled with tears of sorrow and shame. "Forgive us, I promise you we will do the right thing." He forgave me, and showed me even more love. I was still his little angel in his eyesight. We then got married, but the relationship always seemed futile. I learned the hard way that a baby cannot make a marriage that didn't have true love as its foundation to begin with. We lived above our means, he wasn't faithful to our union, and I knew that I deserved better.
"Our debts are going to force us into bankruptcy," I pleaded with him. I didn't want to believe that he only wanted me because of my body and my father's money.
"Why don't you go back to school," he responded as he sat in a lounge chair watching cable television. "We need two incomes. Your mother can take care of the kid. I was too young to get married anyway."
I sat in the living room of our apartment holding my infant son in my arms. Where was the man who made me melt with just the simple sound of his voice? The one who promised me the world, but now only wanted to venture out into it on his own.
"As God forgives us," I said holding back tears as I held my son closer to my heart. "We forgive you for what you said, and for what you feel in your heart towards us. Our lifestyle has made us debtors, but has also shown me what my husband feels for his wife and his child." He stood up and stared silently with eyes that were without emotion. He left the room, and I knew that at the same time he had left our lives for good in his mind, heart and soul. I used the incident as inspiration to go back to school, earn a degree and to become a teacher. I became both a father and a mother to my son.
We stayed together a few years because of Ashanti, but parted ways before my father's passing. My inheritance helped me get out of the debt my husband left me, and I was able to make sure my son would have a college education. After my father's death my sister went away to school in the South. I moved back home with my mother along with my son, because I didn't want to leave her alone. My mother and I grew very close during this period. She helped mold me into a strong woman and mother myself. We laughed about life and joked about Joseph.
"And do not lead us into temptation, Lord," I said teasing my mother. "I have not yet made Joseph lose his morals, Mama. I've been very good!"
"If that fine man wasn't young enough to be my son I would take him for myself," Mama responded. "I'll give you a chance, Imani, because I've already had a good man in my life which no other can replace. I know it's a man's duty to find a good woman, but Imani, you better make sure you make yourself findable!"
"But how do I do that, Mama? Lord, please deliver us from our silliness". We laughed. "And from evil which is any man that is anything like my ex-husband."
"Imani, that man wasn't evil, but some of his ways were though. Just remember nobody is perfect, and there is a lesson to be learned from every trial that comes into our lives. Where there is a will, there is a way. Only when you realize your true desires in life you will know the direction your heart should follow. You are a child of faith, and you are capable of achieving anything you want to if you believe and work for it. God will do the rest."
I started attending church regularly and began to realize all I had been missing. God didn't allow me to burden anything I couldn't bear. The loss of my father only made me stronger. I use to run to him whenever I was afraid, but I realized with faith I would have no fears. Daddy taught me the importance of prayer, and through that prayer I gained power. The Lord's Prayer remained in my soul as a gift from Daddy, and through it I would remember him while understanding the guidelines for living life.
Joseph treated Ashanti like he was his own son. It brought joy to my heart to see the love showered upon him which he never received from his father who remained absent in his life. Our friendship grew into a romantic relationship. He was a man who was sensitive yet strong, caring yet firm, and the man I knew I deserved. He proposed to me six months into our courtship. We spent an evening at the pier as we became enveloped in the fresh, salty breeze.
"For thine hand in marriage," Joseph said as he held my hand as we sat upon the cool, sandy beach, which was illuminated by the moonlight. "Is more valuable than anything to me. I want you to be the queen in the kingdom of my heart. I will give my fortune, fame, and all the power I possess to have your love. For my eyes have seen the glory in you. We are halves of each other's soul, and together we become whole. Will you marry me?" I sat gazing into his eyes as I realized in the form of an epiphany, the beauty of the union between my father and mother. With my belief in destiny I knew this moment was our fate of faith.
"Yes, forever," I replied as tears of joy made the moonlight sparkle upon my cheeks. We prayed together, and I thanked God with a simple, "Amen!" We were married soon afterwards, and we along with my son became a whole family. Through my trials I persevered, and despite tribulation I finally realized the joy of triumph.
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