While I Was Sleeping

Mississippi State Line 7-26-13On Friday, I got back on the road to Corinth… seriously! To Corinth, MS. 

Huntsville, Alabama is a very congested place and not particularly bike friendly. My friend and fellow writer, Suzy Parish, insisted on driving me out of town so I could get out of the serious traffic. I agreed.

I loaded up my bike with my gear, hugged her goodbye and set out on the next leg of my journey. I notice immediately that Dakota felt different. I ran through the gears and they were dialed in perfectly. The brake cables were perfect. The tires were perfect. Everything was… well, perfect!

I finally pulled over to the side of the road to contact Suzy. I just knew her husband had either adjusted things on my bike or he had somehow snuck my bike out to a shop while I wasn’t looking. I left her a voicemail asking if he’d surprised me in that way. An hour  later I received a text message assuring me her husband would NEVER touch Dakota without my permission.

By that time I’d ridden another fifteen miles and there was no doubt my bike had received a tune up. Everything about it ran

Hatchee River, TN, At Davis Bridge Civil War Battle

Hatchee River, TN, At Davis Bridge Civil War Battle

smooth as silk. While I was sleeping, God performed the best tune up Dakota has ever had. 

I rode gleefully for several more miles before pulling over at a country store. I struck up a conversation with the owner. He and I were the only ones in the place. He’d only bought the store three weeks before and was trying to make a go of the place.

He and his family had migrated to America from Yemen when he was a boy. His eyes sparkled when he told how he felt when he saw the Statue of Liberty. 

He was so curious about why I would be riding my bike across country alone. As I told him the mission of my Road to Freedom Tour, his eyes began to tear. Soon, he was crying hysterically. I waited, knowing he would eventually tell me the reason for the emotion.

For these things there is no language but a cry.

When he finally collected himself, he told me that when he first got married, he was violent toward his hot blooded Italian wife. When they argued, he hit her. It was the only way he knew. It was the culture he came out of. 

Civil War Graves in Mississippi and Tennessee

Civil War Graves in Mississippi and Tennessee

Today, they have a wonderful marriage, beautiful children and she has long since forgiven him for the way he abused her. It is obvious he adores her and his children. Yet, he looks at what he did decades ago and cannot forgive himself. 

Right there in the middle of the country store, I was able to minister to a man who had once been the perpetrator of violence against his beloved. In my wildest dreams would I ever have imagined doing that on the Road to Freedom Tour. But, I realized he, too, was a victim. A victim of his culture. A victim of a world where women are not respected. 

As soon as he realized his behavior was wrong, he changed it. His wife forgave him but he was weighted down by the guilt of his actions. I helped him move toward forgiving himself. I believe he will.

As I rode off into the west, I prayed for this man. He’s a good man who started out his marriage behaving the way that had been modeled to him. I admire him. It took so much courage for him to talk about what he’d done. He takes full responsibility for his actions and has sentenced himself to a life of agony.

Perhaps he will find the courage to forgive himself somewhere along the Road to Freedom. 

 

6 comments
AK Daniel
AK Daniel

Wow. So touching. Love how God is working through you.

Today's gem sentence: "For these things there is no language but a cry." Well said and so true.

ptbradley1945
ptbradley1945

The man's story brings tears to my eyes. The burden he carries because he doesn't receive the forgiveness available. 

dtopliff
dtopliff

Total awesomeness. I know you can't ride as far as Minneapolis and need to head west, but you're riding into all of our hearts and we're all w/ you.

terrijwebster
terrijwebster

What an awesome, wonderful picture of survival! Can't wait to see what God has in store next.

suzyparish
suzyparish

God's creativity never ceases to amaze me. First, He tunes up your bicycle, then leads you to this solitary man. How beautiful that God not only cares about the healing of women with PTSD but He also cares about healing the perpetrators. That is the God I know and love. Thank you as always Reba J. Hoffman for sharing your stories with us. You touched many lives here in Huntsville and I am grateful you made this one of your stops! Godspeed!