Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Space (01/23/06)
TITLE: The Umbrella
By Cheryl Harrison
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Hot tears of frustration stung my eyes, and with each hateful word, broken pieces of my heart seemed to catch in my throat. Amidst the chaos, I suddenly realized our toddler was clinging to my leg. I scooped her into my arms and held her close. Tearfully, she whispered, “Mommy, can I go to sleep now, ‘cuz when I wake up it will be over.”
In his anger, my husband spun around, stomped outside, slamming the back door in unison with the slamming of my daughter’s bedroom door. I shook my head in disbelief and carried my youngest child to her bedroom. After gently tucking her in for the night, I escaped to my room and cried out to God.
“Lord, please help me."
Sitting on the edge of my bed I desperately tried to pull myself together. After a few minutes, I went to her room and quietly knocked on the door.
“Go away!” she muttered. “I don’t want to talk to anyone.”
I opened the door and said, “Please listen, just a few minutes, then I will leave you alone.”
She glared at me as I walked over to her desk. After grabbing a pencil and notebook I sat on the edge of her bed and began drawing a picture.
“Honey”, I said. “I understand how much it hurts to see your daddy drink.”
“Why don’t you make him leave?” she whimpered.
“Because God won’t let me…” my voice trailed off and I silently prayed for wisdom.
“Sit up”, I said, “I have a picture I want you to see.
Swinging her legs over the side of the bed she sat near me.
As she watched, I carefully drew a picture depicting several people standing under an open umbrella. Then I drew another picture that showed the same people trapped inside a closed umbrella.
“Which picture do you think best represents our family?” I asked.
“The one with the closed umbrella.” She responded.
“You are right,” I said, and then continued, “You see, the umbrella in both pictures represents the father’s ability to provide a safe space for his family to grow. When the father is healthy, he has no problem keeping the umbrella open. His family flourishes within the space provided. Sadly, when the father is unhealthy, like yours, he struggles with keeping the umbrella open. Soon, it closes around his family and there is not enough space to move around. His family begins to suffocate and they become unhealthy in many ways…physical, emotional and spiritual.”
I looked into her eyes and asked, “Do you understand what I am trying to show you?”
She slowly nodded her head and asked, “Will he ever be able to keep the umbrella open?”
Tears filled my eyes, “I hope so honey.”
“How can we help him?” she asked.
I tenderly ran my fingers through her hair, and then said, “Pray for him, pray everyday that he will be able to keep his umbrella open.”
She smiled. “I can do that! I promise to pray for him everyday.”
I returned her smile, “You do that honey and God will answer your prayers.”
Many years later, my husband held a gift in his hand, given to him by our oldest daughter. He unwrapped it and found a beautiful new Bible. Running his fingers over the soft leather he flipped it open to examine its pages. Inscribed on the first page, our daughter had written, “I love you Daddy! I am so proud of you!”
Once again, my eyes filled with tears, but this time they were tears of joy. The power of God is evident, especially when hateful words of the past can be replaced by loving words of healing.
Note from the author – This true story represents God’s ability to heal my broken family. My husband’s addictions did not include physical abuse; however, if you are involved in a situation where addictions are combined with physical abuse, please seek help. Please do not let the abuse continue.
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