“Come right in here, please.” He held the door with his left hand and invited her to enter with his right.
“What is this place?” She scanned the room, hesitant to enter.
“It’s safe, I promise.” Tools hung from hooks on the walls above worn work tables.
She hesitantly entered and noticed an old kitchen table and chair to her left. “What now?”
“Over here, Stephanie. I want to show you something.” They moved toward the distant corner of the room where a wooden table sat against the wall.
Dr. Lince moved the tarp on the table and unveiled an old fashioned ball and chain.
Stephanie gasped and moved toward the artifact. “How old is it? Where did you get it?”
“Well,” he said as he caressed the metal, “it’s from the Civil War and it belonged to my Great-Great-Great Grandfather. It passed down through generations until it came to me.”
Turning to look at his face, she trembled as she spoke. “Was this used on slaves?”
“Yes. Now you know our family secret. He owned around 100 slaves. He was wealthy and ruthless. He used these chains to punish slaves who disobeyed him. It was the last step before he killed them.”
Chilled, she pulled her sweater tighter around her shoulders. “What a horrible thing.”
“He would chain them to the wall and starve them.”
“No, Dr. Lince. This is just too much for me. I need to leave.”
“Stephanie, please. Wait. I have a reason for bringing you here. There’s a valuable lesson to be learned. I need you to see it.”
She crossed her arms defiantly. “I can’t imagine…”
“Please, come sit down.”
She relented and moved to the table and chairs.
“Stephanie, I’ve worked with you for several months now. It’s been time-consuming for you and, frankly, very expensive. This is my last hope. I hoped a visual would help.”
“What visual? What does any of this have to do with me?” Her temper was escalating.
He raised his hands to calm her. “Please, let me explain.”
“Slavery was a nightmare and my family is shackled with this awful past. We tried to live it down, contributing a lot of money to help the children of slaves. Any way to make this right. To remove the stain. Yet, we couldn’t erase the past. All we have is today and what we can control. I keep this reminder for a reason. Do you know why?”
Stephanie looked suspicious, waiting a few moments before she answered. “No.”
“It’s a reminder that the past is over. We have today and what we control. We must let the past go. Do you see how that impacts you?”
She began to pace. “I can’t change the abuse I endured as a child. I just have to learn to deal with today. That is what you are telling me.”
Dr. Lince smiled. “Yes, but it’s more than that. By allowing that past to control your present, you are wearing that heavy ball and chain and it is weighing you down. You have to let it go. Let the past rest but learn from it. Gain strength and loosen the chains. Only you have the key.”
For the first time since she began treatment, a hint of a smile moved across Stephanie’s face. “I think you have something there, Dr. Lince.”
“It’s time to be free. Memories can no longer be your prison. You need to start living again.”
Finally, her tears began to fall as the shackles began to fall from her body.
“Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old.” (Isaiah 43:18, NKJV).