It was her third writer’s meeting and she still felt nervous. Paula had practiced her story in front of the mirror three times before realizing she was late. Grabbing her keys, she raced to the Clemet Library and claimed the chair she had occupied the week before. She knew her first chapter was good – she only wished the faces before her agreed.
Each of the other ten writers stacked around the conference table took their turns with aplomb. “Paula, would you like to read something you wrote this week?” Bob, the facilitator, smiled like a new father from his position at the other end of the table. Nine heads turned as one. She never had been any good at public speaking. Usually, her words jumbled over each other as she fought to keep her place on blurred lines. She wanted today to be different.
Taking a deep breath, Paula lifted her shoulders along with her voice. Twice before, she had read ‘safe’ articles – stories written for anyone. Today she planned to read her first Christian piece – a chapter from a book she was writing with the purpose of leading someone to the Lord. Paula didn’t know her fellow writers in the group well and suddenly felt fear pressing down upon her like a Florida summer.
Why didn’t I bring something else?
Another deep breath. She opened her mouth and read like an auctioneer with a packed house. When her last word echoed off the bookcases in the room, she waited. The ensuing silence devoured her remaining confidence.
“Comments?” Her face flamed -- not from the antiquated air conditioner -- but from the knowledge she would now have to do what she dreaded most.
“So who is your character’s best friend in this story – her husband, right?” The woman blocking her left elbow posed the question. Paula watched her scribble notes in red pen on the copy she had passed around.
“No… well… yes and no. In the beginning, her husband is her best friend but then she finds out she has a better friend …” The outline of a panic attack formed in her thoughts. If she fainted, would they drape her across the plastic mats in the children’s section?
“So who is her friend if not her husband?” the blonde poet persisted. Paula twisted in her seat so her back faced away. She feared she might cry if she didn’t stop this woman’s questions. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a room full of stares searching everything in the room but her face. Seeing no way out, she pressed forward.
“Jesus Christ. Jesus is her best friend and protector. I wrote this story to send to a Christian publication.” Strangled. That’s how she defended her Savior – in a strangled voice. Not firm and loud and strong like Paul in the Bible but in a voice only a notch above a whisper…like she was embarrassed or something. The thought pulled her up short. She studied the faces again before her and found no lions. They didn’t carry bags of stones over their shoulders ready to throw at her. Nor was this group plotting to haul her onto a cross where she would be humiliated, tortured and killed.
Paula’s vision cleared.
With another glance around the table, she managed to catch one poor soul before he could turn away. But it was enough. She folded her hands in front of her.
“My story is about a woman who discovers her need for more than her family can offer. She learns she needs God in her life and the only way that can happen is for her to trust Him to save her.”
Like You did for me, Lord.
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