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By Vanessa Davis Griggs
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2011 Vanessa Davis Griggs
All rights reserved.
The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man.
— Job 14:19
Brianna Bathsheba Wright Waters looked out of the window of their three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bathroom house at the rain. A "starter home" is what her twenty-three-year-old (three years her senior) husband of eight months, Unzell Michael Waters, told her over two months ago when they bought it.
"Baby, I promise you, things are going to get better for us down the road," Unzell had said after they officially moved in. "I know this is not what either of us envisioned we'd be doing right about now. But I promise you, I'm going to get us into that mansion we talked about. I am."
She'd married Unzell at age nineteen, a year and a half after her high school graduation, as Unzell was finishing his final year at the University of Michigan. Unlike most women she knew, Brianna wanted to marry in December. The wintertime was her favorite time of the year. She loved everything about winter. It wasn't a dead period as far as she was concerned. To her, that was the time of rest, renewal, anticipation, and miracles taking place that the eyes weren't always privy to. Winter was the time when flower bulbs, trees, and other plants could establish themselves underground, developing better and stronger roots. Winter was the time when various pests and bugs were killed off; otherwise the world would be overrun with them. Brianna loved the rich colors she would be able to use in a winter wedding: deep reds and dark greens.
But she equally loved summertime. Summer was a reminder of life bursting forth in its fullness and full potential after all seemed dead not so long ago. Summer now reminded her of her days of playing carefree outside, truly without a care in the world.
So she and Unzell married the Saturday before Christmas. It was a beautiful ceremony; her parents had spared no expense. After all, this would be the only time they would be the parents of the bride. Her older brother, Mack, might settle down someday. But even if he did, they would merely be the parents of the groom, which was a totally different expense, experience, and responsibility.
Unzell Waters was already pretty famous, so everybody and his brother wanted to be invited to the wedding ceremony. Unzell was the star football player at the University of Michigan and a shoo-in for the NFL. As a running back, he'd broken all kinds of records, and the only question most had was whether he would be the number-one or number-two pick in the first round of the NFL draft the last Saturday in April. Unzell was on track to make millions — more millions than either he or Brianna could fathom ever being able to spend in several lifetimes.
Still Brianna's best friend, Alana Norwood had been her maid of honor. Alana had grown wilder than Brianna, but Brianna understood Alana ... and Alana understood her.
"Girlfriend, I'm glad you're settling down so early, if that's what you want," Alana had said when Brianna first told her she and Unzell were getting married in a year. "But I plan on seeing all that the world has to offer me before my life becomes dedicated to any one person like that."
Of course, when Alana learned just how famous Unzell was even before he was to go pro, then heard about the millions of dollars sports commentators were predicting he'd likely get when he signed — no matter which team he signed with — she said to Brianna, "God really does look after you! Of course, He's always looked after you. People on TV are talking eighty-six million dollars, over five years, just for one man to play ... one man, to play. And you're going to be his wife? I know you used to say all the time that you were God's favorite. Well, I'm starting to believe maybe you really are."
"Alana, now you know I used to just say things like that. I don't really believe God has favorites," Brianna said. "The Bible tells us that God is no respecter of persons. We're all equal in His sight."
"Well, we may have the opportunity to be equal, but it's obvious that not all of us are walking in our opportunities. Not the way you do, anyway. So you're definitely ahead of a lot of us, not equal by any means. All I know is that you spoke that Word of Favor with a capital F over your life, and look what's happening with you so far."
The wedding was absolutely beautiful, every single detail and moment of it. But with the championship game being played the first week in January, Brianna and Unzell were only able to spend one day of a honeymoon before Unzell was off again to practice.
Michigan's team was the team to beat with number twenty-two, Unzell Waters, being one of the main obstacles standing against the other team having even a semblance of a chance. Brianna was at the game in Miami watching it along with her family. With two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Michigan was already a comfortable three touchdowns ahead. In Brianna's opinion, there really was no reason for Unzell to even be on the field. She, her grandfather Pearson Wright, and father Amos Wright were saying as much when that play happened — the play that would alter Unzell's career and life.
One of the other team's players grabbed Unzell by the leg as he ran full speed and yanked him down, pulling his leg totally out of joint. With him being down, everybody on the other team piled on him. Unzell was badly hurt. Instantly, his prospective stock for the NFL plummeted. Then came the doctor's prognosis. Even with the two necessary surgeries, Unzell would never be able to play football at that level again.
Brianna assured him things would be all right. "God still has you, Unzell."
"Yeah, but if God had me in the first place, then why would He allow something like this to happen to me ... happen to us?" Unzell said as he lay in that hospital bed. "God knows both of us. He knows us, Brianna. He knows our hearts. God knows we would have done right when it came to me being in the NFL. So why? Why did this happen? And if God is a healer, then why can't He heal my leg completely? Why can't He make me whole again?"
"I believe that God can heal your leg, Unzell," Brianna said. "But right now we have to deal with reality. And from all that the doctors are saying, football is out for you, at least for now. So you and I need a new direction, that's all. We're going to be all right though." She lovingly took hold of his hand, then squeezed it. "We are." She smiled.
"So, you're not going to leave me?"
Brianna frowned as she first jerked her head back, then primped her lips before forcing a smile. "Leave you? Where did that come from?"
"Face it; I'm not going to be making millions now. In fact, I'll be doing well just to find a job, any job at all, in this economy."
"First of all, Mister Waters, I did not marry you for your money or your potential money. I've known you since we were in high school. You were in the twelfth grade; I was in the ninth. You didn't have any money then and I fell in love with you. So if you think I married you for your money, then maybe I should leave you." Brianna put her hand on her hip.
"I know, Bree-Bath-she," he said, calling her by the pet name he sometimes called her. "But do you know how many women wanted me because they saw dollar signs?"
"Yeah, I know. I'm not stupid. I even think you thought about getting with a few of them. In fact, who knows, maybe you did. But still, I married you for you. And I married you for better or worse; for richer or poorer."
"Come on, Brianna. Nobody really means that part when they say it. Who truly wants to be with someone poor? Sure, we may feel that's where we are at the time, but all of us believe our lives are going to get to the better and the richer at some point — sooner rather than later — not worse or poorer."
"Well, if me staying with you now after you've lost millions of dollars — that if I'm not mistaken, you never really had anyway — means I meant what I was vowing when I said those words, then please know: I meant them when I said them. Okay, so those in the know were saying you'd likely get a contract worth eighty-six million dollars over five years with a guaranteed fifty million and now it looks like you won't. So be it. I'm just glad you're okay. You could have been paralyzed on that play. You and I will do what we need, to be all right. Besides, you're graduating in May. You'll get your Electrical Computer Engineering degree. Do like most folks and either get a job or start your own business. Regardless, Unzell, I'm here to stay. So deal with it." Brianna flicked her hand.
Unzell smiled, then looked down at his hand. "God has certainly blessed me richly." He looked up. "God gave me you."
"Oh," Brianna said, all mushy as she kissed him. "That was so sweet."
Brianna couldn't help but think about how far she and Unzell had come since that fateful day. Following Unzell's two surgeries and the rehabilitation period, she'd suspended attending college and gotten a job as a secretary, living with her parents while he finished his final months of college in Ann Arbor. After Unzell graduated, he moved back to Montgomery, Alabama. He was relentless about getting a job, even when it felt like no one was hiring. He was diligent, beating the pavement and searching the Internet. In four weeks, he landed a job as an assistant stage manager setting up stages for music concerts, but was told if he wanted to excel in this business, he needed to be in Atlanta.
So that's what he and Brianna did: moved to Georgia.
It didn't hurt when Alana told Brianna that she was also moving to Atlanta to pursue her dream of becoming a video girl. At least now, Brianna and Alana would each have a friend in their new city. Brianna especially needed someone after quickly learning that in his position, Unzell could be gone for weeks, sometimes even months at a time.
Brianna continued to stare out of the window. She suddenly began to smile.
"And what are you smiling about?" Unzell said, jarring her back to the present.
Spinning around, she kissed him when he came near. "I didn't hear you come in."
He embraced her. "You were gazing out of the window. It looked like you were in deep thought; I didn't want to disturb you. Then you broke into that incredibly enchanting smile of yours, and I couldn't hold myself back any longer. Did you just think of a joke or something that made you happy?"
"Look," she said, pointing outside.
He looked out of the window and shrugged. "And what exactly am I looking for? All I see is rain, the sun shining, and trees and other things getting drenched."
"Don't you know what that's supposed to mean? Rain while the sun is shining."
He laughed. "Here we go again. Another something you learned when you were growing up? Like not stepping on a crack so you won't break your mother's back. Not walking under a ladder or splitting a pole because it will bring bad luck. Not sweeping someone's feet or you'll sweep them or someone else out of your life."
"No. Not exactly like those things, which are merely superstitions. This is different. I'm not saying that I believe it, but they say that when it's raining and the sun is shining, the devil is beating his wife."
"Yeah, right." Unzell smirked. "Actually, the scientific term for it is 'sunshower.'"
"Scientific term, huh? Well, people also say that if you stick a pin in the ground and listen, you can hear her screams."
"Oh. So do you want to go outside and do that so we can put that old wives' tale to the test?" Unzell's eyes danced as he spoke. "I'm game to play in the rain if you are."
"Nope. Alana and I tested it out when we were younger."
He laughed. "And the verdict was?"
"I didn't hear a thing. Of course, Alana claimed that she did. She said the scream was faint. But honestly? I think she heard something because she wanted to believe it was true. Then she said we'd used the wrong kind of pin and that's why it didn't work right."
"Alana is something else, that's for sure. So how is she these days?"
"Still trying to get a contract as a video girl or video whatever they're called."
"I wouldn't ever count Alana out. Before you know it, she'll be over here forcing us to watch her DVD, showing how she was 'doing her thing.'" He made a quick pumping dance move followed by the long-outdated Cabbage Patch.
Unzell wrapped his arms around Brianna. She fully submitted, lying back into him, then rubbing one of his hard, muscular arms that gently engulfed her.
"The devil beating his wife," he said with a sinister giggle as they both looked out of the window. "Well, now, I think I've heard just about everything."
Brianna broke away from his embrace and turned to face him, playfully hitting his arm. "Just don't you ever try that devil move on me."
He grabbed her and lovingly locked her again into his arms, gazing deeply into her brown eyes as they faced each other. "Never. I promise you I will leave before I ever raise a hand to you." He hugged her. "I would never abuse a blessing of God; I'm too afraid of what God would do to me if I did." He gently pushed her slightly away from him to look into her eyes again. "Besides, I love you too much. We're one body now. So whatever I do to you, I'll be doing to myself. And I would never lay a negative hand or word, for that matter, on myself. Therefore, I won't ever do anything like that to you."
"See, that's why I love you so much." She cocked her head to one side. "You really get this whole concept of loving your wife the way Christ loves the church."
"I wouldn't want our life together to be any other way. Not any other way." He pulled her to him and squeezed her as he locked her in his arms, causing her to giggle out loud. He stopped, cupped her face, and kissed her with an overflow of passion.CHAPTER 2
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
— Psalm 1:1
Alana stomped into Brianna's house as soon as the door opened. "Man, it's a jungle out there!" Alana said as she went straight to the den, then flopped down on Brianna's floral couch.
Brianna came and sat down beside her, shaking her head. "Well, a good day to you, too."
"I'm sorry," Alana said, leaning over and giving Brianna a quick hug. "Hi. How are you? What's going on with you?"
"Well, I'm —"
"I am so sick of getting nothing but runarounds," Alana said without allowing Brianna to finish. "Why can't people just say what they mean and mean what they say?" Alana placed her feet up on the coffee table.
Brianna's eyes immediately zeroed in on Alana's red stiletto shoes on the table.
Alana followed where Brianna's eyes rested and quickly removed her feet from the table. "Sorry. I always forget."
"Nice shoes though," Brianna said.
"You want to try them on and see how they look on you? You and I still wear the same size." Alana reached down and began to unfasten one of them.
"Oh, no," Brianna said. "Those are a bit too high for me."
"You know, Bathsheba," Alana said, calling Brianna by her barely known middle name. Bathsheba was the name Alana called Brianna whenever she wanted to pick on her or point out that Brianna was either acting uppity or a little too queenly for her taste. "Since you married Unzell, you've become a real fuddy-duddy."
"I have not. I've always been a fuddy-duddy." Brianna laughed. "So" — she turned squarely to her friend — "do you want to talk about what's wrong with you or not?"
"You mean what's wrong now or merely life in general?"
"Now will do."
"It's the same ole, same ole. Here it is October, and I've been in Atlanta for what? Three months now? And so far I've only gotten a few auditions and asked to be in only one video. And it was a little, minute part with somebody nobody has ever heard of. I'm not even sure they were a legitimate group. I think they might have been just tricking us into doing stuff so they could film us and sell the tape for something entirely different than a music video. That's what I'm beginning to believe."
Excerpted from Redeeming Waters by Vanessa Davis Griggs. Copyright © 2011 Vanessa Davis Griggs. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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