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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Don't Cut off Your Nose to Spite Your Face" (without using the actual phrase or litera (02/14/08)

TITLE: Not Anymore
By Alan Zimmerman


She can remember the exact day it happened. It was an early spring Saturday afternoon with a warm sun beaming down, a light breeze whispering through new leaves, and the sound of adults talking and children playing was like a calming hum if you didn’t listen too closely. It was the annual congregational picnic and many people felt that the Holy Spirit was there to share in the event. She also felt that there was something special about this day.

The pastor clanged a lemonade pitcher with a spoon a few times to get people’s attention and when the murmuring died down he said, “I’m so happy we can all be together here today to celebrate what God has done with this church, and how you – His soldiers – have reached out and changed so many lives. God has poured out His blessings on this community of faith. We had so many wonderful outreach programs but I want to point out two big ones. First, let’s give a round of applause to Betty and Roberta who headed up the winter homeless shelter.”

While the audience was clapping, she sat there stunned. “I can’t believe it’s happening again,” she thought. “I did most of the work on the homeless shelter. I found the building, I got most of the supplies, I worked almost every weekend. And not a word of thanks. The same people get all the credit – over and over again.”

The pastor continued, “Another great accomplishment was ‘Halloween for the Hungry’ where our youngsters traded their Halloween candy for food and donated it to the Rescue Mission. Let’s give a big hand to Bob and Donna Wilson for spearheading that.”

She was shocked. “The Wilson’s had technically given the food to the Mission, but it was my idea and I had convinced 51 parents to convince their combined 73 children to give up their holiday candy! But the pastor is all buddy-buddy with Bob and Donna so he gives them a pat on the back whenever he can.” That was what was going through her mind.

Everyone had always told her she had an unusual love for people – that one of her spiritual gifts was helping others. She could serve somebody without making them feel embarrassed. She could get a group of people together for a community project and somehow everyone was glad they were helping. She knew she was good at this and the best part was that she really liked doing it. It felt great when an event came together, but what she really loved was seeing a sad person smile, or holding hands and praying with someone who was hurting. “Well, not anymore!” she said to herself. “I’ve done too much for this church to be taken advantage of. All work and no recognition. Not even a simple ‘thank you.’ Not anymore. They will have to do it without me.”

And they did. The church’s outreach continued but she gradually played a smaller and smaller role. She noticed when things didn’t go well – it was better when she was involved – but over time new people came and things got done and people were helped. They missed her, but the work of the church went on.

Now, a year later, she was sitting in the last row of the sanctuary, aware of the pastor’s sermon, but not really listening to it. She was thinking about how much fun the church used to be. She loved the people, she loved the music, she loved the message, and she loved feeling close to God. But the love she once felt had been replaced by bitterness and resentment – directed both to the people in the church and even to God. She felt sad and as she bowed her head, a tear struggled down her cheek. “I wish it was like it was before. I just don’t feel the same way. Not anymore.”

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This article has been read 357 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 02/22/08
Good job of putting us in your main character's head.

I wish you had given her a name...using the pronoun "she" throughout was a little bit disorienting.

Sad ending, but I'm glad you didn't tie it all up in a pretty bow...this was more poignant and to the point.
Holly Westefeld02/22/08
A very good description at the beginning; I was about to reach for that lemonade. I also liked how you both began her withdrawl, and her recognition of that withdrawl, with the title.

I hadn't really noticed the lack of a name until Jan pointed it out, but for me, it just gave it a very universal sense, of being able to happen to anyone, in any church.
Marilyn Schnepp 02/23/08
Right on target! "Well done, my good and faithful servant!" This entry reminds me of that statement Jesus made...and it is very well written. I enjoyed the read immensely, and learned from it. Nicely done.
Joanne Sher 02/23/08
Much to ponder here - your MC's character was very, very complex. I appreciated that especially. (I also wish she'd had a name - to each his own, huh?)

Nicely done.
Tim Pickl02/26/08
It's sooo easy to do what we do for God and want some praise--or at least some thanks-- this story is warning to someone out there who is fed up. We need to keep our eye on the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ!
Joshua Janoski02/28/08
Congratulations on getting "Highly Commended" this week.

I like the point you made that serving God shouldn't be about the recognition, but rather the joy it brings to other people and to the Lord.

Keep up the great writing!