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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)

TITLE: The Fearless Proposal
By Kristen Hester


“Will you marry me?” I whispered in Paula’s ear.

My long-time girlfriend’s jaw dropped at my question. She stayed frozen like that for what felt like hours. Finally, I raised my eyebrows and silently mouthed, “Well?”

“We’ll talk later,” she responded through pursed lips.

Perhaps my father’s funeral service wasn’t the best place to finally pop the question, but I had made some discoveries in recent days that had me reevaluating my life. Moments before as I thought of all my father had missed due to fear, a stubborn tear escaped and made its way down my face. When Paula noticed my tear, she squeezed my hand and offered a sympathetic smile. That shared moment, along with the fact that she looked stunning in her black dress, caused me to spontaneously skip my plan to propose the next night at a more romantic location.

My proposal was partially motivated by what I had recently learned about my father. While cleaning out his apartment after his death, I had discovered his journals. In the thirty plus years they covered, hardly a week went by without at least one entry. I was shocked that a low-achieving, unambitious man like my father would be so disciplined. I was also surprised that my not-so-elegant father was an eloquent writer.

I never knew my father even kept a journal, but as I read I finally began to understand his sad life. My parents never married. Growing up I received little more from him than the obligatory birthday visits, occasional phone calls, and child support. His first journal entry was dated 7 months before my birth.

Martha announced she was pregnant today... Her beauty and kindness stir my soul and dreams. Her very presence makes me want to try hard, achieve more. But I know I would be a disappointment. I could never be the father, husband, and provider that she or her child deserve.

As a young boy, I wondered why he didn’t want to spend time with me. I didn’t feel affection for him, but I craved his approval. Before his visits I would rehearse telling him of my accomplishments in front of a mirror. As a young man, I didn’t want his approval as much as I wanted to rub my successes in his face. He worked at a dead end job that he hated all his life. This was only one of the reasons I never respected him.

Today I found a book on the best seller list written by a high school friend. This caused me anguish because in high school I would edit his papers and tutor him in English. And now he is living my dream. Why wasn’t it me? But I am thirty and too old to be chasing fantasies. My job pays the bills and child support but offers me nothing more than money. Never-the-less, I will stay in my safe, life-sucking job. I couldn’t stand letting my son see me fail.

When I became a Christian at the age of twenty-eight, I passionately told my father of my new faith. He listened politely, but did not want a relationship with Jesus.

My son came for a visit today. He rarely visits, so I was surprised. I was even more surprised when he told me he found Jesus. Honestly, I could see a change. He wasn’t the same arrogant man who bragged continually about his every accomplishment.

He wanted me to accept his Jesus, but I couldn’t... What would Jesus ask of me? Most likely more than I have to offer.

After my salvation, I called and visited more regularly, but I never saw fruit from my visits. His last journal entry, dated the day before his death, caused me to shout for joy and cry buckets of manly, crocodile tears.

For several weeks I have been reading the Bible my son gave me. At first I read because I was afraid of death and Hell, but something has changed in me. I’m so ashamed that I wasn’t open to Jesus years ago. Oh, what I have missed... I’m thankful I finally found my Savior. I wish I had the courage to tell my son.

My father missed much because of fear, but I wasn’t going to let it prevent me from marrying the woman I loved. As I waited for the funeral to end, I was fearful of only one thing. Would Paula say “yes?”

8/30/2007 - My first journal entry
She said YES!

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This article has been read 967 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 08/31/07
Sherry Wendling08/31/07
Through the discovery of dusty journal entries, the mystery of the father's wasted life unfolds into the mystery of redemption...His cautious son pulls down the generational strongholds of fear by proposing to his love on the spot at Dad's funeral--GREAT STUFF! Wonderful, skillfully crafted, loved it--lesson learned, lady won. Bravo!
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/31/07
Through the pages of a dusty journal, you created a marvelous story. Great job. I'm glad she said "yes."
Loren T. Lowery08/31/07
Intriguing. It is curious that some we hold at a cold distance, we at last draw close to see if we can find the answer to why. The discovery makes us aware of how in common we are and how Christ can make such a difference.
Lynda Lee Schab 09/01/07
I love how you started in one place and brought it full circle. Too much back-story sometimes takes away from the piece, but yours only added to it. This was propelling and well-written... with two great endings too! Bravo!
valerie chambers09/01/07
APPLAUSE---well done
Joanne Sher 09/01/07
Enjoyed this very much - love the ending. A charming, heartwarming piece.
Sharlyn Guthrie09/01/07
I was afraid you were going to leave us hanging! I'm glad you added that first journal entry. You crafted this story well.
Rhonda Clark09/02/07
This is great. I had to laugh at the proposal at the funeral. How odd, but I've seen odder.

Good job on the feelings and intergrating the journal into the memories.

Dee Yoder 09/02/07
I love the journal format in your story. It fills in the gaps without telling the reader everything at once. I like discovering bits and pieces of the MC's story, and his father's relationship to him, through the entries.
Jan Ackerson 09/03/07
Love it--at first I was appalled at the idea of a proposal at a funeral, but after reading the journal entries--it was just right! Really strong entry.
Allison Egley 09/03/07
This was wonderful. The journal entries "made up" for the awkward proposal at the beginning. And his 1st journal entry was great. :) I'm so glad he found the journal and knew of his father's future.
Sherrie Jackson09/03/07
This piece shines a light on your storytelling ability, as well as your massive creativity. I love the structure of it, and the very last line made my heart leap. Absolutely awesome job. Good luck!!
Julie Ruspoli09/03/07
Perfect male POV. Clever story and well written.
Sheri Gordon09/04/07
Your first line hooked me -- and then your powerful message kept me reading. Too often I let fear keep me from living life. Your story is a great example of that lesson. Good job with the topic.
Jacquelyn Horne09/04/07
This was a great story. A different take on fearful. Nice writing.
Patty Wysong09/05/07
This is wonderful! You tied everything together, moved the story along without bogging it down and made us cheer. Great job! Oh! and I loved it!! :-) Hugs!
Pam Carlson-Hetland09/05/07
Loved the unique style of using the journal. Very creative. Great writing and a good lesson all in one.
Marilee Alvey09/05/07
This was a very creative idea: to tell a story within a story. We got two stories at once here! I find it fascinating that you often can't judge a book by its cover. Often we think we know our parents, then we find some letter they wrote and realize that they, too, were multi-dimensional. You've got a lot of talent. Keep it up!
LaNaye Perkins09/05/07
This was wonderful! I loved it!
Myrna Noyes09/05/07
Wonderful plot and resolution here! I really enjoyed your story! It makes me wish I could find a journal belonging to some of my relatives! Your MC learned so much from his father's writings, and it reminds me not to be hasty in judging others. GREAT job! :)
Betty Castleberry09/05/07
Umm...hmmm... I don't quite know what to say. Every word I think of of doesn't quite fit this well done piece. This is very, very good.