Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Bloom( 11/22/12)
By Arlene Showalter
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“Yes, you can.”
“No.” I pulled the covers over my head and drew my knees to my chin. “I want to die.”
“Not happening,” God replied. “Get up.”
“Why?” I whined. “He doesn’t love me. He left me. I don’t know who I am anymore.”
“You’re my daughter.”
“I know that.” Impatience crept into my voice. “But what will others think?”
“Does it matter?” God persisted.
“Well … yes,” I replied, stumbling into the bathroom.
“I teach Sunday School,” I answered, avoiding the mirror, “and play on the worship team.”
“And your point is?” God asked.
“My point is people look up to me. They’ll be talking or ….”
“Judging,” I whimpered. “Dissecting my life to figure out how I failed.”
“Does it matter what the gossips say?” God asked.
“It shouldn’t,” I paused, “but it does. I hate to be misjudged.”
“You care about the opinion of others?”
I shrank against the wall.
“Are you trying to make yourself so small I can’t see you?” A hint of laughter tinged God’s words.
Anger rose up, but I slapped it back.
“I can handle anger, daughter.”
Shame burned my cheeks. I retreated to my room and pulled on my oldest, most comfy sweats.
“I know all about you, daughter. I formed you. I lived your life before you took your first breath.” God paused. “Did you really think this took me by surprise?”
“Then how could you allow it?” I dared ask, “and so soon after our son defied your ways and hooked up with his army buddy.” Anger rose again, higher. “The church tore us to shreds.”
“Ah, yes,” God sighed. “My people can be quite intolerant of the sins they themselves do not struggle against.”
“I can’t take any more judgmental looks,” I wailed, creeping into the kitchen. I punched the button for coffee. “I can’t face them, I just can’t.”
“Not even with me by your side?” God prodded. “My son was constantly misjudged by others.”
“But he was God,” I complained. “He had more strength and wisdom.”
“He was also man,” God corrected. “He had to depend on me every bit as much as you should.”
“You think it didn’t hurt Jesus when people called him a bastard, insinuating his mother was an adulteress?”
“You think it was easy for him to turn down satan’s proposition to wow the people with magic.”
“What do you mean?”
“To take the easy way out and show off his miraculous power. But Jesus only healed whom I directed him to and he only multiplied food at my direction,” God explained. “He had the power to solve every problem presented to him and every illness in the world.”
I bit my bottom lip, thinking.
“Jesus chose to obey me explicitly,” God continued, “even when he didn’t understand my will.”
“Like when he waited until Lazarus had been dead a full four days?” I asked.
“Precisely, and so much more,” God answered. “He did exactly what I told him to do. No more and no less.”
I wandered out to my patio, clutching the cooling mug.
“But others have displayed the same unquestioning obedience,” God continued. “Joshua fought how I instructed him to, marching around Jericho for a whole week. And Gideon culled his army to 300 on my orders. And,” his tone lightened, “Jehoshaphat sent his choir ahead of the army.”
“I remember that,” I said. “I don’t know if I’d have had courage to obey that one!”
Did I hear God chuckle?
“Do you know why they all won their battles?” God asked.
“They trusted you.”
“Even when it made no sense.”
Restlessness drove me to the yard where trees had thrown off last year’s leaves. I shuffled through their graveyard. Tears wet my chilled cheeks.
“The leaves are just like my heart,” I cried out. “So brown and ugly and lifeless.”
At that very moment, I spotted a tiny bit of pink and bent down to investigate. A single crocus had pushed through the dank carpet and stretched its thin green leaves, like raised hands, toward heaven.
“That is how I see you,” whispered God. “My exquisite beauty in the midst of a temporary desolation.”
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