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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers) (11/08/07)

TITLE: The Courage Of A Friend
By RuthAnn Cornelson
11/12/07


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Karen jumped when the phone rang, smearing mascara down her cheek. “Oh darn!” she complained. Dropping the mascara she ran to get the phone before the answering machine kicked in.

“Maybe it’s Jeff,” her heart thudded at the thought. Grabbing the phone on the third ring, she glanced at the display. “Beth,” she sighed, disappointed. For a split second she was tempted not to answer. Beth was so perceptive. She’d have to be careful what she said, but she should talk to her. Can’t go on avoiding it forever.

“Hi Beth,” Karen forced the cheerful greeting. “How are ya?”

“Doing well. How about you? Haven’t talked to you for ages. You OK?” Beth’s concern telegraphed across the wires.

Karen swallowed, there’s that sixth sense thing she does. “Yeah sure, I’m good.” It sounded perfect to her; sincere but not overdone.

“Hey, I’m coming over. I want to see you. Been missing you at church and small group. I’ll be there in a few minutes, K?” It wasn’t really a question. Karen knew there was no way to protest. She barely got out, “OK” before the click and Beth was on her way.

‘Stay calm,’ Karen told herself. Beth only lived a couple miles down the road, so she’d literally be there in a few minutes. Karen turned on the burner under the tea kettle automatically. No! Not tea! There’s nothing like a cup of tea to invite girl talk and honesty, exactly what she’s trying to avoid.

Soda and music and maybe chips, that’s perfect for chatter and gossip. Grabbing glasses, and a bottle of pop, she rustled around for that bag of chips. The doorbell rang just as she found it.

“Come in,” she yelled. ‘I know, I know, I’m supposed to lock the door,’ she chastised herself.

Beth poked her head around the corner, “You really should lock your door, Karen.” How does she do that?

“Hi to you too,” Karen smiled at her friend, suddenly realizing that she’d missed Beth. It was good to hear her bubbling laugh and her hug felt good. This sneaking around, deceptive stuff was hard and she’d had to isolate herself as much as possible to keep it up. She knows what Beth’s going to say if she finds out about Jeff, but Karen is determined. She’s not giving him up. He isn’t happy married to Stephanie. They couldn’t help what had developed between them. He needed someone who supported him and loved him. She was that someone and she wasn’t talking, or listening to Beth about it.

Sitting down at the kitchen table with their soda and chips, Beth started, “Karen, talk to me. What’s going on? I know something’s wrong. C’mon, you’ve been there for me tons of times. It’s my turn.”

It only took a minute for Karen to give up and let it all out. Jeff was pressing for more and she was just barely hanging on to what she knew was right, to who she was, to everything she believed.

The pop and chips did nothing to stop the depth of the conversation Karen and Beth shared. Beth spared no words, speaking in her straightforward, but somehow still loving way.

“Listen, Karen, I don’t have to tell you what’s right and wrong; you already know that. I’ll tell you straight out that what I’m going to do is encourage you to do what’s right. Sometimes we encourage each other by understanding and sympathizing, but that’s not what I’m going to do. I’m not going to sympathize and stand by and watch you make a terrible mistake that you’re going to regret. I love you too much for that. What I am going to do is stand beside you, pray with you and help you have the courage to do what’s right. I’m going to help you, OK?”

Karen nodded, tears spilling over. This was what she needed, someone strong to tell her what to do, even though she already knew. For the first time in ages Karen felt like she was going to be able to make it through this and maintain her commitment to the Lord.

Karen smiled through her tears, “Oh Beth, thanks so much. You’re an amazing friend. I needed this talk. Thanks for having the courage to come over here and make me face this.”

________________
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”
________________
2 Timothy 4:2 NIV


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Member Comments
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Karen Wilber 11/16/07
Good story about how Christian encouragement is sometimes a kick in the pants. Blessed are they who have friends who will do that.
Joanne Sher 11/17/07
Definitely an approach I haven't seen yet - and I've read quite a few entries. Very vivid and clear and no-nonsense. A great read.
Laury Hubrich 11/22/07
Very good story. I've been known to avoid some friends when I've been down because of their ability to pull me up when I'm not ready:) Your MC was real. I was ready to read more!
Laury