He gave everything he had to his church and his duties, and that didn't leave anything for his family. He was so blinded by ambition that he couldn't see how his behavior was impacting the very people who helped him shine behind the pulpit. Life in the Garrett home was far from blessed, and he just refused to admit his part in his family's often violent life. But despite it all, his family members found the strength to help each other, even if they couldn't help the man himself battle his own demons.
His wife and children were forced to dig deep within themselves, within their own faith, to find the courage and strength to go on. They did their best to live by Christian ideals, but his abuse made that a challenge. They struggled to create a sense of love and harmony in their home, but most of all, it was forgiveness that they prayed for. Forgiveness for the actions of the man who was the head of both their church and their family proved harder than they might have imagined, but they did not give up.
It would take understanding and most of all forgiveness to restore their fellowship. But they first had to be willing to forgive.
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Read an Excerpt
Under the Magnifying Glass
By Laroya D. Griffin
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Laroya D. Griffin
All right reserved.
Derrick Anthony Garrett was pastor of one of the largest churches in the city of Atlanta, Truth Tabernacle. He was over six feet tall with short curly hair, precisely groomed facial hair, caramel skin, and pearly white teeth with a dynamic smile to match. He was able to dress in the finest attire and provide that luxury for his family as well. He was married to a woman named Theresa and they had two children, Damon and Deanna. They were known wherever they went. Theresa was the first lady of Truth Tabernacle and owned her own beauty salon. Damon was a senior in high school and Deanna was a junior in high school. They both kept their grades up. Damon was on the varsity football team at school, the head musician at Truth Tabernacle and held a part-time job at Footlocker. Deanna was one of the captains of the spiritual dance team at church, sang in the choir, worked part-time at a book store and did hair as well.
Life was not easy for the Garrett family. People watched and studied their lives as if a pay check came from it at the end of every week. They were criticized for every move they made whether good or bad. They not only experienced stress outside of the home but at home as well. The family often argued because Pastor Garrett never had time for them. He was always too busy doing church business but expected all of their support. Pastor Garrett had to learn some hard lessons if he wanted to keep his family together as well as Truth Tabernacle.
Pastor Garrett had no siblings and grew up in poverty. His father was killed in the streets when he was only six years old. His mother was a single parent and had to work two or three jobs that didn't pay much to make ends meet. Due to depression, she began doing drugs. At the young age of ten, he found his mother dead from overdose. His grandmother raised him. Pastor Garrett never understood the concept of a family. All he understood was that he wanted a better life than his parents. He finished high school and went to the army for ten years. In the meantime, he kept a factory job to further support his family and studied God's Word. Pastor Garrett never had many friends but learned how to be self sufficient. He had been let down so often that he didn't want to give someone opportunity to hurt him. He only trusted one guy and that was Author Myers. He grew up with him, they were in the army together and Author became a pastor as well. Author was like a brother to him. He also trusted one special lady and that was his wife Theresa. They met at Truth Tabernacle. Theresa's father was the first pastor and founder. He turned the church over to Pastor Garrett once he'd gotten sick. One evening Pastor Garrett's church home at the time was invited to worship with Truth Tabernacle and he fell in love with Theresa right away. He was now the pastor of Truth Tabernacle and had to learn how to balance his ministry as well as his family. If he didn't, he would lose one or the other, possibly both.
Chapter TwoChurch Time
"Praise the Lord everybody!" Damon shouted from the organ.
Praise filled the atmosphere! Truth Tabernacle liked that toe tapping, hands clapping type of service. A dance of praise could break out at any given moment. Associate ministers in clergy attire and mothers in all white filled the front of the church along with praise dancers with colorful flags. The one hundred and fifty member young adult choir sang in uniformed khaki and white with perfect choreography. Tambourines chimed, hands clapped and waved throughout the one thousand member congregation. Then there was Pastor Garrett alone in that huge pulpit. You would think he'd invite his wife at least off to the side along with the guest bishops. Theresa sat close to the front of the congregation but Pastor Garrett wouldn't acknowledge her even if she sat right beside him.
Damon was very attractive. He dressed well and kept his appearance flawless. He stood over six feet tall and kept his hair short and curly. Damon had a best friend named Rick since childhood. They went to school together, played football but best of all, played at church together. Rick played the drums. They always had a special connection when they played together. They could look at each other a certain way and know what each other was about to do.
Pastor Garrett was on his feet clapping, dancing and wiping tears from his eyes. He had a very special place in his heart for the young adults and youth as a whole. As the service went on, Damon began to day dream as Pastor Garrett preached. He was preaching about the Christian family and everyone's proper role in it in order to be on one accord with God's will. Damon began to think about how hypocritical he was sounding. He was amazed at how he could play this role so well. He never practiced what he preached. He got sick to his stomach. He couldn't remember the last time he spent quality time with him. Damon was the man of the house because his dad was never there. His excuse was that he was taking care of God's business. Damon almost believed that maybe he was cheating on his mom, or worse than that, has another family somewhere. He only ate with them on Sundays and rushed out the door right after. They only talked about the church when he did talk with them. He didn't comment on their dedication and hard work but always said that they were not as focused as they could be on God. Speaking of not being focused, He just caught his dad looking at him. He must of missed his signal to play behind him. He would never hear the end of this!
Theresa had a blank look on her face. Damon and Deanna could only imagine what she was thinking. I cannot believe that this man is speaking about the Christian family and I haven't spent more than two hours with him in the last two weeks unless you consider the hours when we are sleep. I thought he was about to talk about the church at large as a family but this man must be talking about his imaginary family. He just told the church to look at his family as an example. Does he do this on purpose to make us laugh? Is my husband psycho? He says we have to love each other, spend time with each other and live for God at home; do right during the week so that once we get to service, it will be more powerful. He says it starts at home. He would of been better off preaching about love like he always does when he don't know what else to preach about. I never see this guy and this is what he decides to preach about ... wow. I can't help to wonder if he is cheating but he comes home at night faithfully, he calls me at least three times a day when he is not home. I know about all of the money that comes in and out of our home. We still make love at least three times a week. I don't have any quality time but maybe he's not cheating. I'm either very naive or he is really good at what he does if he is indeed cheating. He just doesn't know how to balance the church and the family. He is a great man to be honest. We have great communication but only when we are speaking about the church. If I was to tell him that we needed more time with him, he would say that the Lord and His work comes first and basically we have to deal with it. But we are gonna have to talk tonight. I'm looking at my children's faces and as a mother, this hurts really bad. They are trying very hard to keep from laughing or walking out of here.
Deanna's face was blank as well. Daddy please sit down! If I was the type of daughter that told all of our business, this guy would be kicked out of here for being a hypocrite. I'm gonna go to the bathroom and fix my face. Well, maybe I'll wait because as soon as we get home he'll be trippin about me leaving the choir stand during his message. I am so tired of living like this.
Darlene was Theresa's best friend since childhood. She was a member of the church. She usually sat in the middle of the congregation with her husband Devin. She was fighting the urge to tell him to shut up as well. She played with her newborn baby to keep from looking crazy. This guy is a mess! He is really cracking me up right now. She looked at her husband and smiled. She was glad that she hadn't shared any negative information with him about Pastor Garrett because he really respected him. They had been married for only three years. They met when he started coming to the church five years ago. Darlene had been a member for 15 years. I'm gonna keep my mouth closed. I know I will hear Reese fuss all day about this one.
Whatever. They all seemed to think the same thing once he finally sat down.
Truth Tabernacle were clapping and standing on their feet. They felt blessed to have such a great pastor. Yet, the Garrett family rode home in silence. It was a rule of Pastor Garrett that the whole family rode to the church and left the church together with him because it looked nice but everyone other than him was tired of just looking nice.
* * *
"So what the hell was wrong with yall tonight?!" Pastor Garrett said loudly as they walked into the house together.
They came home to a beautiful 3500 square foot house in a suburb near Atlanta. There was beautiful landscaping full of stunning dark green grass, bricks, flowers, and plants to complement the very attractive tan colored brick house.
"What are you talking about Derrick?" Theresa was beyond irritated as she replied taking her shoes and earrings off in the kitchen.
"Boy what was your problem?" Pastor Garrett yelled at Damon as he grabbed a bottled water out of the fridge.
"What did I do?"
"You were suppose to be leading the choir and the musicians yet you were sitting there daydreaming. Get your mind right while you are in church boy. Think about Alicia when you are at school or at your stupid football practice but not on God's time. Do you understand?"
"I double dare you to talk back to me again! You aint never too grown or too tall for me to knock you out. Get focused I said. Do you understand?" Pastor Garrett said with his finger in his face. Under the Magnifying Glass
"Yes sir." Damon said as humbly as he could to avoid a fight.
"And you Deanna, what the hell were you doing sitting next to Keith in the choir stand tonight? You are an alto and he is a tenor. You were somewhere else in church tonight too. From now on, if I see you sitting next to Keith in church whether it's in the choir stand or not, I'm calling you out in front of the whole church. When you step in the doors of the church it is all about God, not your damn boyfriend. Do you hear me Deanna?"
"Dad there wasn't any room in the tenor section so he came and sat next to me." Deanna tried to explain.
He grabbed Deanna by the collar. "The proper response is yes sir little girl."
"Derrick!" Theresa yelled.
"You don't have to grab her like that man!" Damon said pushing him off of her.
"Boy, I'll grab you!" He said with his hands around his throat.
"Let him go! What is wrong with you?!" Theresa yelled pulling him away from Damon. "Just go upstairs!"
"Fine but yall kids better understand that I am the boss around here. This is my house. If you don't like how I am running things around here then get the hell out. It is as simple as that. Now fix your faces and go to bed, you all look pathetic." He proclaimed as he went upstairs fixing his Armani suit with his brief case in his hand.
"Are you ok?" Theresa asked kneeling down to the floor where her children were. "Come here." She said trying to console them. "You know how your dad is."
"Don't defend that maniac ma. Since he became pastor three years ago he has gotten worse and worse. He seems to forget that he's not in the military any more. He has gotten a hold to a little money and power and don't know what to do with it. Next, he will be beating on you and guess what Ma, I won't be here to save you so I advise you to do something about that nut." Damon whispered as loud as he could.
Theresa smacked him.
"I know you are upset but you will not talk to me like I'm one of your little friends."
"I'm sorry." Damon said holding his cheek.
He could deal with his dad being mean but not his mom. He was somewhat of a mama's boy and that hurt his feelings.
"Ma!" Deanna cried in frustration. "I'm going to bed. This is too much for one day. Come on Damon. Are you ok?" She asked helping Damon up so they could go upstairs.
"Wait you guys. I'm just...." Theresa followed after them but stopped at a stair and cried.
* * *
"Your majesty, Pastor Garrett, are you crazy?! Theresa yelled sarcastically as she walked in the bedroom.
"Don't start with me, those are my kids. Now get your tittie out of their mouths and let them grow up."
"You better watch it brotha. First of all I have had it up to here with the these are my kids line. I'm their mother and I will have a say so about what goes on with them and to them. You did not have to grab Deanna like that. Would it be ok if another man grabbed her like that? And damn, Damon didn't deserve that. Somebody need to choke your crazy ass." Theresa was furious.
"Theresa get to bed."
"Excuse me! Am I one of your children now? I don't know who you have been hanging with or talking to but if you still want sex, dinner and clean draws, you better come back to reality."
Derrick closed his bible and sat up in bed.
Look! You might as well save your attitude for someone who cares. I do what I please to my children, yes, my children. You are only around to help, so chill out and know your place woman. You must of been daydreaming during the message too woman. You want to raise a smart ass and a hoar but my kids aren't turning out like that. So Theresa, I'm not asking you again ... come to bed."
"You bastard! All of your time is spent with the youth at church. You are never here! How dare you talk about your kids that way and talk as if I am a bad mother. They resent you."
He got out of bed and walked over to her with his hand stretched lightly over her neck.
"You listen to me and listen to me good. They will get over it and so will you but I will not get over you talking to me like I am a child. Do you know who I am? Get in the bed, for the last time, before I do something I might regret." He spoke softly in her ear.
Theresa had never been afraid of her husband. Before he became pastor, they had somewhat of a beautiful relationship. They never had the best communication but she knew that he loved her and would never lay a hand on her. He changed, or is the real him finally showing up? Theresa always had her own business and her own money. Derrick always kept a job, even while he was in the military but he always wanted more money and more power. He obsessed about it. Before he became pastor, Theresa could pay all of the bills herself if she had to but she never threw that in his face. She always made him feel empowered and gave him respect because she loved him. She even made sure that her dad left him the church. She was special to her dad and it hurt more than words could express when he passed away. Yet, she spoke up for Derrick. He was an awesome minister and she made sure her dad saw what she saw in him. She fought for him. That night was the first night that she regretted it all. Maybe Damon was right.
Theresa named her salon TheresaG Cosmetology. Theresa was a beautiful woman in her early forties. She had long hair, youthful brown skin, white straight teeth, was slim and average height. She genuinely enjoyed her career as a salon owner and stylist. She had been in the business for over twenty years and owned her own salon for ten years. Many individuals in the field highly respected and appreciated her expertise. Her salon employed over ten stylists, two barbers, two massage therapists, three nail technicians and many of those individuals offered esthetician services. The salon was creatively designed by Theresa with warm colors and displays of jewelry and hair care products for sale. It was a place a comfort. There was much room for everyone to work comfortably and the clients were always eager to come back.
"Hey Resse!" Darlene said as she entered the salon, hugged Theresa and walked over to see the new jewelry display.
"Hey best friend. Girl, I am so happy to see you this morning. Excuse me while I walk Sis. Melton out to her car." Theresa said picking up Sis. Melton's purse and glasses. "Are you ready Sis. Melton? I'm going to walk you to your car?"
Sis. Melton was an old hell raiser.
"O thank you baby, you are such a sweet first lady. I always liked you better than that lady your father married. She wasn't quite right for him. I'm glad she moved far away after he passed child. I bet you didn't really care for her either huh with her not being your mother?"
"You can tell me the truth. We all need someone to talk to. Anyway, your father was a good man and he deserved the best. How is your mother doing baby?"
Excerpted from Under the Magnifying Glass by Laroya D. Griffin Copyright © 2011 by Laroya D. Griffin. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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