Moments when Dave actually received a chance to have some one-on-one face time with his step son, had become few and far in between. As Zay grew older, he distanced himself from the family, more and more. Usually, he’d shirk off family outings, opting to “do his own thing”. For the most part, Dave let the kid have his own way, but every night, Zay was prayed for. Dave remembered 18; remembered his own experiences with a step father. He had vowed long ago to never raise any of his children the way he’d been raised by his own stepfather.
Zay sat at the kitchen table, staring out the window assumedly lost in deep contemplation. Dave knew that look, all too well. There was a chick involved. This would have to be handled delicately, because Zay always fell hard, for the ladies. As Dave slid into the chair on the other side of the cozy round wooden table, a steaming coffee mug smoking before him, Zay never bat an eyelash. This was pretty serious.
“You know son,” Dave started, “my downfall was always the butter-pecan skin tone; hazel eyes; brown hair, short or long didn’t matter; and a slim waistline. If she had those attributes, I was guaranteed to fall.”
Zay cracked a smile, and lowered his eyes to the table.
“What makes you think I’ve got girl problems, pop?” Zay asked grinning.
“I know my son. I’ve raised you for 15 years, kid, and I know when a girl’s got you all twisted up.”
Zay offered no objections. His eyes found the window again. Dave took this as the signal to proceed, cautiously.
“Around 15 years old, I fell for Celine. She was a feisty little firecracker, with freckles across her face and smarter than any chick or dude I’d ever know up to that age. Boy, did I like her. When she would smile, I swear her glow would brighten my day. Unfortunately, I had unwittingly fallen into the dreaded ‘friend zone’ with Celine.”
Zay chuckled, nodding his head in understanding.
“Yeah man, you know what I’m saying. Once you’re in that friend zone, forget about it.”
“Yup,” Zay ad-libbed.
“As fine as I thought Celine was, her eyes were brown. She wasn’t the perfect threat. But we remained friends for a long time, and eventually, I got over her. It actually worked out for me, because she was sweet on trouble.”
“They always wanna be friends, if you’re not a bad boy, huh?” Zay asked.
“Yeah, well, some women just want a little excitement is all. Celine did have a taste for bad boys, and by the time I went away to college, I made it my business to become the bad boy type. You see son, my deep desires were dictating who I thought I wanted to be, to get what I thought I wanted.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Zay said. “Sometimes though, it’s hard trying…”
“Trying to be something you’re not. I know son. It’s like a full time job, isn’t it?”
Dave saw the exhaustion and disappointment on his son’s face, as Zay lowered his head again. It was too early to get to the point, so Dave dug deep for another short story. He was close to getting his son to open up, but he might need a little more persuasion.
“So, around 21, I’m neck deep into my routine, and Satan knows exactly what I’m looking for. By this time, I’ve broken hearts, stepped on feelings, and basically mistreated and lied to just about every woman I came into contact with. Always the same type of girl, but always missing one of the physical qualities I craved. Each one had to go.”
Zay perked up, and stared at Dave sideways.
“You dumped girls if they didn’t have pretty eyes or brown hair?”
“I sure did. I was pretty shallow, you see.”
“Wow! That’s scandalous, pop. You were pimpin’ the ladies!”
“No. I wasn’t, son. I was behaving disrespectfully and foolishly; not to mention selfishly.”
Zay seemed to consider this for a moment. He grabbed Dave’s smoking coffee mug and sipped carefully.
“So, what happened that…you know…made you…I guess…change?”
“Teresa Lambert, happened. She was the one, kid. She got to me.”
Dave got up and walked over to the counter, to pour a himself a new cup of coffee.
“What was so special about her?”
“She was the perfect threat. Her skin was like the color of butter toffee; she had long brown silky hair; eyes the color of caramel; and a wickedly devilish grin. On top of all that, she was a gymnast, with a toned figure.”
“Yep, she was the devil personified, and she nearly destroyed me. I fell in love with her, and became her slave. I couldn’t see past her façade, because I was too engrossed in fulfilling all the lustful desires of my heart, at any cost.”
As Dave sat down at the table, Zay shifted uncomfortably in his own seat.
“The thing about God is, if you ask for something long enough, chances are, he’ll give you exactly what you ask for, whether it’s good or bad for you, son. God will never ask you to do anything wicked, but he may allow calamity in your life to teach you a lesson.”
Zay cracked. His face contorted into a grimace. Dave’s heart went out to his son, as he watched Zay wipe at teary eyes.
“Son…believe me, I know it hurts. But maybe this isn’t what God wants for you. Whoever she is, maybe she crossed your path to bring about change.”
Zay, turned away to hide from Dave.
“You don’t have to be embarrassed, kid. I‘ve cried plenty over the ladies. I didn’t realize I had been searching for something they couldn’t give me. I was searching for acceptance and genuine love.”
“I’m just tired, pop. I ‘m tired of putting up with her fake personality, and lying ways. I mean, I’m no angel either, but she’s just not who I thought she was.”
“I know. I know what you mean. I’ll bet reading the Bible every night isn’t helping ease your pain either, is it?”
Zay stared at Dave.
“No! It’s like the more I read, the more I’m seeing her for who she really is; the more I’m seeing myself for who I am, too. I tried getting her to come to church, but she’s always got some excuse for why she can’t come. I guess I’m just tired.”
“You’re being convicted, son. God’s opening your eyes to what’s really going on. You’re in conflict with yourself, because you’re being worked on spiritually. The deep desires you once clung to are separating. It’s God’s work in your life, son.”
Zay nodded his head, trying to wrap his mind around the concept.
“I guess that makes sense.”
“No it doesn’t,” Dave said. “It makes no sense to you yet, because you can’t comprehend it. Just know that what’s going on is God’s work. He will not allow you, one of his children, to be unequally yoked to someone sent by Satan.”
“What happened to you, pop? How did you escape the perfect threat trap?”
“God sent me your Mom. And it was strange, because she didn’t have any of the physical characteristics I wanted in a woman. White skin; green eyes; average waistline; I wasn’t looking for any of that! But she spoke to my heart in a way that the others hadn’t. And it wasn’t just her personality, it was God’s presence in her. Did you know she introduced me to the Bible?”
“She did? I didn’t know that. I thought you guys just started reading the Bible and going to church a few years ago.”
“No. She found me, when I was low. But unfortunately, my evil ways caused her to fall for a time. But through the grace of God, he welcomed us back into his arms.”
“You think God can forgive my bad deeds, pop? You think he’ll forgive me for all the dirt I’ve done to these girls; all the bad stuff I’ve done?”
“I sure do, kid. The thing is, you have to make the choice to follow him first, and forgo your deep desires. Matthew 6:33 says, ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’. God knows your wants; he knows your needs. You seek him first, ignoring the enticing trappings of the devil, and God will take care of you.”
“You make it sound so easy, pop; like it’s simple to do, or something.”
“No, don’t let me give you that impression, son. It’s not an easy task to follow the Lord all the time. But in doing so, you find a peace that is unmatched by anything the world has to offer. The decision has to be yours, to make.”
Dave finished off his mug of coffee, before standing from the table.
“Remember, son, the devil wants you to focus on your desires for the purpose of holding you captive. But God wants you to follow himself, for your salvation.”
As Dave walked toward the kitchen sink, Zay’s cell phone buzzed on the kitchen table and rang out an old R&B ringtone: Secret Lovers.
“Thanks for the talk, Dad.” Zay said, as he answered the phone.
“Hey, I was just thinking about you. We need to have a talk.”