About 2 weeks before our wedding, I had a conversation with the Hanwells. We finally talked about the fact that Joseph and I were essentially living together.
I shouldn't have been doing that, but it wasn't until we finally talked about it that I understood with clarity why. It was a hard situation for everyone, and I wished with all that was in me that it was a mistake I hadn't made.
The Hanwells believed me, but there were some who didn't. I still don't know who they were, but there were people who knew me who thought I was having pre-marital sex. And they saw our church as unsafe as a result, because Joseph and I were kind of our tiny church's worship team.
It broke my heart. There was no way I could prove that I was telling the truth.
I looked at Jim and sniffled, "But... but don't they know me?"
Jim looked on me with kindness and said gently, "It doesn't matter if they know you. You know, I was once accused wrongfully of stealing something a long time ago at work. I was in a position to have taken the thing and nobody would ever have known, but I didn't. I said to my friend who thought I had done it, 'I would never do that! Don't you know me?' and my friend said, 'Yes, I do know you', so I asked him why he didn't believe me, and he said, 'Because I would do something like that.' "
He went on to explain that people don't always judge other people by what they know of them. Sometimes they judge other people by what they know of themselves. It isn't fair, but it's what people do.
Through my tears, I told them that I wanted to make it right. I wanted to undo as much damage as I could. I asked if they wouldn't mind if I started staying there at night again.
The bunk over Kentucky's bed had been taken down, so Genevieve made a little place for me to sleep on the windowsill in the room I used to sleep in.
I felt like it wasn't enough, because I only had to sleep there for a week until my mom got into town to help me tie up any loose ends still hanging before the wedding, but it was all the penance I had to offer.
Fortunately for me it isn't penance that my church family or my God cared about. It was repentance. And that was exactly what I was doing.