A righteous and devoutly religious woman enjoyed the ocean very much and every year made a long anticipated trip to see the ocean at one place or another. She had a secret dream to retire and live near the waves.
No one knew of this dream, she was quite private about needs and wants and preferred to turn conversations away from her interests where possible. Most people quickly forgot any questions they asked her when given the opportunity to talk of something that interested them greatly.
One day a friend spoke of dreams for when she retired. She was anticipating time with her spouse to do more recreation and the things they loved to do together. The devout woman was kind and supportive, but as usual made no mention of her own deeply held desire that paralleled much of the same aspirations. In a conversation shortly after the woman heard of a need that her friend could meet if she was retired.
It involved sacrifice, but sounded like an opportunity her friend would excel at. A few words of encouragement were all that was needed to set things in motion that eventually led to her friend’s acceptance of the new responsibilities; rather than the freedom she had dreamed of. The woman made no mention of her part in the matter. Internally she congratulated herself on preventing a worthy friend from wasting resources on selfish ambitions, until her friend’s spouse died suddenly.
A few years later the devout woman obtained a tiny beach house on her favorite beach and took steps to relocate without anyone’s knowledge on where she was moving. She successfully orchestrated a rumor that she had a sick family member that needed her to live with them in a remote city that was inland from her dream location. She was careful to have her actual forwarding address kept private, and used a post office box in the remote city for friends and family to correspond with. She was very intent on keeping her actual whereabouts a secret and reasoned that she wouldn’t have room for visitors and everyone would soon forget her once she was gone.
The woman found a nice church near her new home to continue her religious activities, but with much less involvement. She agreed to an occasional commitment and prepared meals when asked, but nothing close to the active role she had once held. She settled into a comfortable existence and was quite grateful for her situation, for she reasoned that her religion was the reason for the satisfaction and peace she now enjoyed.
One day the woman was sitting in her normal seat waiting for the church service to begin when she noticed her old friend enter the church and sit down next to her. The friend was preoccupied and did not immediately recognize her. The woman almost successfully left without being noticed but was disappointed to hear her name. As the two spoke they were joined by a regular church attender who was arranging meals for a sick neighbor. Confronted with her guilt for the hypocritical meddling in her friend’s life behind the scenes, the woman found she had no way to explain her circumstances away.
—————Thoughts that motivated this story—————
This story came from reflection on plans intended to hide something can often go awry.
In this story I explored a problem that many face, what is devotion and what is surface devotion? The best actions can have a sinister side in the right circumstances, and as sinful people we want to hide that away. It also touches on something I struggle with, retirement and my unjust assumption that it should be spent in God’s service; but in reality how would I know that?
To admit I am broken, I am wrong, I am insincere, I am thoughtless, I am indecent, I am bitter…feels wrong. God calls us to a better way that is lived openly. I am a sinner and I admit it, even though I hate it! Lord help me to be transparent.