Jake Martin's gaze wandered to his sleeping wife. She had just returned from a seminar excited about being God's daughter, His "princess." I'm glad she finds the title inspiring, he thought.
"Thirty-five. I'm thirty-five." Jake had to remind himself of his age-birthdays had less meaning every year. He was happily married, had a beautiful baby girl, a nice house and a good job. So ungrateful! You have everything... It was true, but there was a yearning to do more, to be more, that he couldn't deny.
He laughed at himself, thinking of Maria's seminar. C'mon man, what's wrong with you? You're a prince, he reflected as he looked around his home. Prince of the Suburbs. Chuckling sarcastically, Jake headed for the shower.
A warm, comforting presence enveloped him as he gave his frustration to God in prayer. He left Maria a love note with her coffee, and lingered for a moment at the baby's doorway before he hit the road.
Navigating rush hour on New Orleans' substandard roadways was an exercise in frustration. Jake sipped his coffee and listened to a Christian CD, while striving to honor God by obeying the law and keeping his peace.
He arrived at work 20 minutes early, as usual. He settled himself, reviewed his plans for the day and silently asked God for strength to do his job well.
The rest of the sales staff straggled in. Irene Nichols disrupted the meeting, making excuses and blushing prettily, as she arrived her customary ten minutes late. The sales manager scowled.
Irene caught Jake's arm on the way out of the meeting. "How much did I miss?" she asked.
"Not much, but Dave won't put up with your bad habits for long," he replied.
Irene followed him to his desk. Tossing her long, blond hair, she bent to whisper teasingly in his ear, "I can handle Dave." Her gaze became a leer. "Mike, Jenny and I are having drinks after work. We'd love for you to join us." She looked away, her cheeks flushing slightly--her plunging neckline at eye-level.
Jake coughed and looked away. His face burned. "I'm sorry, Irene. I'm going home to my wife. I wouldn't go out without her."
Irene straightened abruptly, her mouth set in a tight line. "Fine. See you later." She hurried away.
Jake sighed and left for his first appointment.
His life was nothing like the glamorous dreams of his youth. How had he become a radio advertising salesperson? Jake had been ambitious. He wanted to make the world better.
Later, he met a coworker for lunch. "Hey man," Mike said, "you set Irene off this morning."
"Really?" Jake wasn't surprised, but he didn't want to add to office gossip fodder.
"Yeah" he shuddered. "She slammed things around and fussed about self-righteous, married pigs after you left. Watch your back--she has a wicked temper. Why wouldn't you come anyway? Jenny and I would protect you." Mike snickered as Jake reddened.
"How do you think Maria would feel if I left her home with our colicky baby to go out drinking with my coworkers? Especially when one of them is young, beautiful and hitting on me?"
"Er...yeah. But she wouldn't have to know."
"I would know," Jake replied. "Mike, I believe in God. There is a right and a wrong way to live. I do my best to live right."
"Uh, sure...sowhat do you think of Dave's new remote package?" Mike was never keen to discuss God.
Jake worked his plan for the rest of the day: securing contracts, pitching proposals and filing paperwork. He called Maria that afternoon.
"Hey baby, how are you?"
She burst into tears. "Jake, I'm so tired. Grace barely slept, she won't stop screaming...I haven't had a moment to shower, cook or clean"
"I'm sorry, sweetheart." He hated it when she cried. "Don't worry about dinner, I'll pick something up. After we eat, I'll take the baby so you can have a bath--a long one."
"Oh Jake, I love you."
He could hear her smiling.
Over dinner, Jake told Maria about his day, including Irene's invitation. Then, as promised, he took care of Grace while Maria soaked in the tub. Jake's heart throbbed when she emerged dressed in her best negligee.
She smiled at his expression and wrapped her arms around him. "You are my hero."
"Your hero?" Jake laughed and tickled her.
"Stop that!" she shrieked. "Yes, you're my hero. You work hard, you do what's right and you're here for me. You make my world better."
Jake sank into her arms. He was living a vital, exciting life. He reflected on the challenges he'd faced that day. It matters, he realized. It matters to Maria, to Grace, to my coworkers, to God... I am Jake Martin, a man on a mission...Prince of the Suburbs.
Debbie O'Connor lives just north of New Orleans with her husband, Jim, and their two children. Jesus has been her savior for 18 years. Contact Debbie at email@example.com.