Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH (08/31/17)
- TITLE: Rough Edges
By Phillip Cimei
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I was weaned on the breast milk of lying and deceit. Swaddled by thieves and liars. Parental absence led me into the dark alleys of sin. “Poor thing,” they would say. I mean, really, was it my fault that a house of ill repute was my nursery.
Life would be wonderful if you could pick your parents. It just didn’t seem fair. Why didn’t someone rescue me instead of just showering me with sympathetic whispers.
“My, my. His mother is a whore and his father…well…you know…one of those visitors.” I didn’t know what that word “Whore” meant, but I soon figured it out—men slithering in at night and leaving money on the table in the morning. My grandmother tried in vain to get my mother to parent me.
“You know what God’s word says,” she said waving her finger futilely at her, “…A child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” Shame to my mother? What about shame to me? What did she think would eventually drive me to the comforting arms of society’s refuse? Oh, my grandmother tried. She would even try to make me think I had a chance in life.
“Honey,” she would say, “you’re just a little rough around the edges, but do right and eventually you will shine like a brilliant diamond. You have a good heart. God can do miraculous things if you let him.” I longed for that miracle, but at that time perfecting survival skills was the order of the day. And I got good at it.
I became as slick as a fox on a moonless night. An open window, in and out without a sound. A turned back, free food from the unsuspecting victims. And my deceitful lying, smooth as silk. I knew how to play the heartstrings of pity.
I would play the starving child—homeless and destitute. Tears would roll down their cheeks as my dirty face, accentuated by droopy eyes, petitioned their generous hearts. And my elaborate, fabricated stories of depravation filled my belly and clothed my body. But the run of good fortune, seemingly justifiable, would soon turn to greed and calculated thievery. Sympathy turned to scorn, and hope of reform faded.
Regret started out as a shadow. I would look back and it was always there. But that shadow of conscience soon disappeared. I started believing my own tales of deceit as the truth. The stealing became morally justifiable because I was the victim. Thievery became part of me. Society abandonment me, so I deserve what others have and I want. But as cruel, and sometimes as unmerciful as society can be, lady justice ultimately has her day in court. My day came, and I am receiving what I deserve. But not everyone can accept punishment.
My cohort in crime couldn’t take it like a man and concede to a just reward. “He could save others, but can’t even save himself,” came his sarcastic words. At that moment, a spark of sympathy for this King of the Jews, as the sign above him declared, hit home.
“We deserve our just punishment, but he doesn’t,” I screamed as memories of Granny’s words came to me, “He works miracles and promises life to the hopeless. Only He can knock those rough edges off. His words,” she said, “bring mercy and hope.”
My heart longed for mercy. Just to catch one break prompted my plea, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” His weary eyes caught mine. His compassionate reply drowned out the announcement from the approaching soldiers that a speedy death from the sledge hammers would soon be carried out, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” A peace overshadowed my anguish and pain. A calm embraced my heart as heaven’s gates opened to melodious angelic greetings.
Granny was right, the rough edges were now gone, and the brilliance of my salvation would shine hope in the hearts of the many eleventh-hour sinners that needed a break.
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