Bella woke up the next morning with one thought on her mind. She WAS going to get some answers. She didn’t know how. And she didn’t know when. But she would get them.
All through work that day, thoughts of Pastor Toby danced through her mind. Who exactly was he? And why did he love her even though he didn’t know her? Or did he? Maybe he did know her from somewhere. If so, she couldn’t figure out where.
After work, knowing it was too late in the day to visit the church, she got back online to do more research.
“Who is Pastor Toby?” she typed. She knew from the earlier research she had done that there would be many opinions, so she was prepared with a notebook and pen to take notes. Maybe she would see a pattern or theme that would give her a better picture of who he was.
As she scrolled through the search results, clicking on one site after another, she made a list.
An hour later, she stopped to stretch. Looking at her list, she shook her head. This is crazy, she thought. There’s no rhyme or reason for what people think about him. She decided to take a break and headed to the kitchen to make dinner.
When she had finished eating, she found herself wishing she had some of Pastor Toby’s peach cobbler for desert. She wondered if he would consider selling her one if she asked the next time she went over there. One of many questions I’ll ask, she thought, as she headed back to her computer.
She decided she was too tired to keep searching. Besides, it really wasn’t helping much. Instead, she picked up her notebook and pen and went into her bedroom. She put on her PJ’s, brushed her teeth, and climbed into bed. Leaning back against the headboard, she studied the list she had made. There had to be some way to make sense of it.
As she read through the list, she noticed that some of the items contradicted what she already knew about him, while others matched her own observations. She decided to group them into three groups.
True: teaches about God, church leader, mysterious, loves everyone (at least she knew he loved her), kind, brings life to things around him (like his backyard), unique, lived at the church forever (that’s what Jude had said), likes to feed the hungry (fed her that amazing peach cobbler), likes to talk
Not True: stays to himself, won’t let others near him, only interested in his son (he sure was interested in her)
Unknown: can make people see what’s not there, commands strict obedience, out of touch with life around him, sacrifices to help others, selfish, hoards the money given to the church, secretive, built the church and yard with his own hands, supernatural, can do things no one else can do, nice on the outside but dangerous on the inside, reclusive, gets involved in everything whether it’s his business or not
She put her pen and notebook on the side table. That’s enough for now, she thought sleepily. I’ll look at it again tomorrow.
The next day, she couldn’t wait to get home after work. She stopped only long enough to pick up some fast food. All throughout that day, a thought had slowly formed in her mind that she wanted to check out, and she didn’t want anything to get in the way.
She dropped her keys and purse on the entrance table, set the fast food on the kitchen table, then went to get her notebook and some highlighters from her bedroom. Settling down at the table, she chewed on her burger as she read through her lists and highlighted everything positive with her yellow highlighter. Then she highlighted all the negative things with her blue highlighter.
She had been right! Everything she knew about Pastor Toby was yellow. While everything she knew was not true about him was blue. The ‘Unknown’ list was a mixture of blue and yellow.
OK, she thought. If everything I’ve seen and heard and experienced with him is positive, then maybe all the positive ‘Unknowns’ are also true. And if all the ‘Not True’s about him were negative, then maybe the negative ‘Unknowns’ are lies too. Maybe they were written by people who didn’t really know him.
With this realization came mixed emotions. On one hand she was excited and eager to spend more time with him, to get to know him better. Some of those positive unknowns were pretty amazing. But on the other hand, she was afraid to test out her theory. What if she was wrong? What if he was only showing her the positive until he won her over, then she’d find out how dangerous he was when she could no longer get away.
The rest of the week dragged by slowly as she struggled with those two opposing thoughts, each clamoring for her attention and juggling to gain top billing. Finally Friday night arrived. As she got ready for bed, she thought, “Tomorrow is the day. For good or for bad, I’m going back. This time, not only will I get some answers, but I’m going to look specifically for anything negative. If I find it, I’ll know that some of those other negative ‘Unknowns’ are probably true. Then I’ll know I can’t trust him and I’ll leave. No matter how good that peach cobbler is.”
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