A fire breathing dragon lived in the dungeon with breath fouled by alcohol. His name was Frank, and we fed him biscuits. The aroma of the flaky delicacies baking in the oven calmed the demons within him.
The places my sisters and I have gone searching for our brother during the dungeon years are unspeakable. In the journey we built self–protective walls that became a dungeon in the dark. It was a breeding ground for fear. There is a paradox to self–preservation. The skills mirror discernment, wisdom and truth. They trick you into thinking they’re your lifeline, while they slowly squeeze the life out of you, like a boa constricting its prey. The scars they leave are as deep as those left by the original perpetrator. When we let you get close enough to look deep in our hearts you see the bone–deep scars. As you find the root, you begin to see a pattern like intricately woven lace. Our beauty was birthed by the scars. This unique blend of scarring sets us apart as Barefoot Cinderellas. Look within, do you have them too?
Abigail is a woman in the Bible who bears the same rich and deep scarring of a Barefoot Cinderella. Her husband, Nabal, was a wealthy man from Maon who owned property near the village of Carmel. He owned three thousand sheep and one thousand goats. Fueled by alcohol, he was mean and dishonest in his dealings.
When David moved his troops to the wilderness of Maon, he requested food for his troops from Nabal’s household. Cultural hospitality demanded travelers be fed. David was not asking for a handout. His men served as a wall of protection day and night for Nabal’s land and sheep. They hadn’t harmed his workers in any way. They helped them prosper. He was rich, able to afford David’s request, but he refused. Alcohol created a man, so rude and ill–tempered that rational conversation was impossible. David was furious when his men relayed the details of Nabal’s ill-mannered refusal. He ordered them to ready their swords for battle.
Meanwhile, one of the servants went to Abigail, who was more sensible and suited to manage Nabal’s wealth. She quickly gathered two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, a bushel of roasted grain, one hundred raisin cakes, and two hundred fig cakes for David and his men. Despite his shortcomings, Abigail tried to keep Nabal out of trouble. She had an ability to see the big picture and think quick on her feet. Her self–preservation skills kicked in, and she bolted into action to save her household.
She did what people who enable alcoholics do—she took the blame. By her swift actions and skillful negotiation, she kept David from taking vengeance upon Nabal. David accepted her gifts and told her to go home in peace.
Peace. There is no peace in the home of an alcoholic. She had gone to “the bottom” to rescue her husband once again and had come out unscathed. At least, on the outside. Her emotions ran high as she scurried to solve the problem. To protect her household for an ill–tempered alcoholic husband. In his drunken state, Abigail anticipated Nabal may react foolishly, so she waited until morning to tell him what she had done. Distraught by his actions, he had a stroke and became paralyzed. He died ten days later. I imagine Abigail was relieved her nightmare was over, but guilty for feeling relief.
She was beautiful and sensible. David was impressed with her abilities. When Nabal died, David wasted no time in asking her to become his wife. She took along five of her servant girls as attendants, mounted her donkey, and went with David’s messengers. I’d like to think she left and never looked back. Experience has taught me she glanced over her shoulder for a season to make sure the nightmare was indeed over. It’s just one of those things you do as a Barefoot Cinderella.
As my sisters and I selected tombstones for our parents’ graves, we bought one for Frank’s grave too. How do you eulogize a person who lived such a unique life on the space of a tombstone? His eulogy needed question marks and explanation points. We laid a tombstone of remembrance at the head of his grave. Our Ebenezer, a stone to remind us that God was faithful during our years in the dungeon with a fire breathing dragon. He will be faithful in your dungeon years too.
Scripture teaches us to push the pause button on life, remember the past and celebrate God’s goodness. God instructed the Israelites to remember the struggles they had been through and tell those stories of God’s faithfulness to the next generations.
While we now each have families of our own, there is no bond stronger than the bond of sisters. We survived childhood together in the home of a widow by leaning on each other and our faith in God. We gather as much as life allows and we eat biscuits. With each bite, we tell stories. Stories we have told a thousand times still make us laugh until we cry. After we have gone through the funny stories, we tell the ones leaving the deepest ridges. As laughter fades to silence, a holy hush falls over the dinner table. We remember the years God walked with us through the valley of the shadow of death named childhood.
As we scraped the bottom of the valley, we learned all things are possible with God. On the journey out, we learned God works all things for good. This foundation of faith has taught us to wink at the trials of life. It’s the secret code of Barefoot Cinderellas. We know if we survived childhood, we can absolutely survive anything.
The first biscuit takes us back to the time and place when we became Barefoot Cinderellas. By the last bite, we remember nothing but wholesome goodness and God’s faithfulness.
Buy Major Susie Erickson’s book Barefoot Cinderellas