Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Help (02/20/06)
TITLE: All I Wanted Was a Little
By Brandi Roberts
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I stepped down from the podium and allowed myself to walk, open, among them. Some turned their faces from me, as though looking at me was a mortal sin. Others, who had freely held my hand before, recoiled when I reached out only to touch their shoulder. Had I become a spiritual leper among my own people? Surely, even a leper would have been more kindly received.
I continued my walk through the chairs, desperate to find someone who would still accept me, despite what I’d just shared. Each row I passed made me feel increasingly deserted. I could see and feel their accusations against me. My feet picked up their pace. None of them spoke a word, as though creating the sounds would imply some sort of sympathy for me.
I stopped at a row of empty chairs and looked into the eyes of those beyond. Tears greeted me, and the pain that was ripping through my heart subsided. There were people who still cared! I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks, to the rims of my eyes.
I gazed, again, past the row of empty chairs that divided the devoted from the disgusted. I wondered if they had ever felt like I did; if they’d ever accepted the fact that pride, or even gluttony, were no smaller sins than my own. I had been honest and forthright, and they dodged me in an effort to cover their own shame, their own fears. To them, my past had become a disease, something they didn’t want to catch.
Only a handful of people sat in the last row of chairs, but the warmth that penetrated my skin and my heart as I walked down that short row was more than I had grasped in all the rows before. These were people who knew the pain of being whom they were. These were people who felt the shame of a soiled past. These were the people who weren’t afraid of the darkened closets, of an honest past.
I motioned for these people in the final row to stand. They responded quickly. Others wanted to stand too, but when they felt the ice seeping into their skin from the glares of those around them, they quickly returned to their seats. I recalled what Jesus had told us regarding those who wouldn’t accept us, and as my small group of companions walked towards the exit, I bent down and wiped the dirt off my feet. Then, I turned the door handle and walked out.
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