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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)

TITLE: Where Did I Go Wrong?
By Peter Stone


“Nancy! Please, don’t go! Not like this!” I finally managed to say. My heart was racing like a runaway horse and my thoughts were stuck in miry clay.

Refusing to acknowledge my existence, my daughter hauled her bulging suitcase towards the front door.

“You know, mum, you were right. This is a great church – the people are so friendly. And I just so relate to Elder John Michaels and his wife Grace,” said my daughter Nancy while hugging me affectionately.

I hugged her back. “I’m just glad you came, darling. Adjusting to life in a new city is hard, I know, but I really felt that you would enjoy this church. A friend recommended it, and after just two visits I knew I wanted to join.”

“You always seem to know exactly what I need, mum. That’s one reason I feel so close to you,” Nancy added.

“You’re not my daughter, you’re my twin!” I said, and not for the first time.

“Nancy, you mean the world to me, you know that, don’t you?” I pressed, but to no avail. She reached the door and flung it open. My heart was shattered, but what could I do?

“Hey mum, I’ve got the best news!” said Nancy after a Saturday morning prayer meeting.

“That’s great, honey, what is it?”

“John Michaels just invited me to join a special church group he holds weekly at his home,” she beamed.

“Special church group?” I asked, feeling uneasy.

“Yeah, John Michaels and some of the other elders are members of the Holiness Seekers group. They hold these meetings at their homes,” she replied.

“Can I come too?” I queried.

Nancy touched my arm lightly, “Sorry, mum, it’s by invitation only – for church members who are serious about seeing God’s holiness manifested in their lives. And they noticed
me – what a compliment!”

I felt uncomfortable (and insulted – was I not serious about God too?), but did not voice my concerns as I was late for a work function. And with John Michaels being a church elder, this must be above board.

Nancy lugged her suitcase down the front steps. How had things come to this? What happened to the excellent rapport I shared with her? Many had commented in the past that we were more like close sisters than mother and daughter.

“Nancy, I’ve just heard that you’ve quit Bible College. Why didn’t you talk to me about this?”

“There was no need, mum. The Spirit showed John Michaels that I since I entered the course without consulting him or the other Holiness Seekers, I should not be there,” she snapped. In the last few months, Nancy had become uncommunicative and distant. I had not broached the subject with her yet due to my belief that this was just a phase she was going through. Perhaps I should say something now?

“But, being a missionary was your life long dream,” I pointed out.

“John Michaels said that the Spirit is all I need to grow and walk in the light. Theological training is a dead end,” she explained.

I opened and closed my mouth like a fish out of water. Something was seriously wrong here, but perhaps tomorrow would be a better time to discuss this.

I watched as Nancy dragged her suitcase to the car waiting for her in the driveway. I was not surprised to see that John Michaels was the driver.

“Where have you been all weekend, Nancy? Even your mobile was switched off,” I said cautiously when she arrived home late one Sunday evening.

“The Holiness Seekers had a revival camp this weekend,” she said curtly.

“But why didn’t you tell me? I’ve been worried sick.”

“Mum, just drop it. I don’t have to explain my actions to you, OK?” she shot back.

A thousand answers popped into my mind, but I so abhorred confrontation. Perhaps in a few days I would work out a way to explain my concerns regarding these Holiness Seekers.

As the car drove away, I wondered if I would ever see her again.

Three weeks ago, a year after she had joined that group, I had organised an ‘intervention’ for her. This included myself, my ex-husband (her father), and her grand parents. For three hours we had pleaded with her and explained our concerns regarding the hold the Holiness Seekers had over her life. We went to great lengths to tell her how much we loved her, but her response had been to totally cut us off.

Where did I go wrong?

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This article has been read 983 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Wilber01/10/08
Chilling. There is such a ring of truth in here regarding how cults get ahold of members. Nice work portraying the agonizing drama here.
Temple Miller01/10/08
Very nice job mixing the past with the present. I'd like to think this situation couldn't happen, but it's scary that the scenario is still true to life.
Joanne Sher 01/11/08
Much truth here. The weaving of the two stories together is very effective - you truly showed the huge change that had taken place very effectively and starkly.
Sheri Gordon01/11/08
Oh wow. This is very scary. I think too many of us fall into this trap of not talking to our kids because we don't want the confrontation -- we'll just wait for the problem to go away.

Great job with the topic.
LaNaye Perkins01/11/08
I love the way you wrote this and your message was quite chilling and really good. Well done!
Kristen Hester01/12/08
Very nicely done. Showing th past and present together was very effective and illustrated how the mother/daughter relationship got to where it was. This a message to all the parents...address your concerns right away. Good job.
Catrina Bradley 01/12/08
Scary! I like the formatting of past/present. Great lesson, and wonderful illustration of the topic.
Betty Castleberry01/14/08
Oh...frightening. This is well-written and conveys your point well. I would like to know how it turned out. Did the intervention work? This begs for expansion.
Catherine Pollock01/14/08
Chilling, but an incredible illustration of the topic. I can't even begin to imagine how any family would begin to deal with a situation like this.
Jan Ackerson 01/14/08
Chilling, and very well-written.

I understand where you were going with this and the topic, but a stronger connection to the "stitch in time" aspect might be needed here.

You did a superb job with the flashbacks--seamless and compelling.
Janice Cartwright01/14/08
What a battle parents fight -we try to shield our teens from their own roller-coaster emotions - and the world with all its myriad dangers... then satan comes in the back door in the form of cults.

Excellent presentation of a mom's frustration - and I could see the topic in the flip side. Was there a stitch she could have taken to avert the problem before it was full-blown.
Holly Westefeld01/14/08
Thank you for reminding me to have the courage to speak to family about being lost, both in false religion, and the lies of secularism.
Debbie Wistrom01/14/08
Thanks for the hint, I am touched by the loss, especially the loss of control a parent has over a child these days. Heart wrenching tale.
Dee Yoder 01/14/08
Parents often trust "church" activities without checking out the leadership or the messages being presented. We need to know that not all leaders have the best interest of the teens in mind. This is a scary example of what can happen when we back away from our parental role.
Tim Pickl01/16/08
Wow! The H.S. group may as well be a criminal-minded street gang. Oh, the heart-breaking things we go through as parents!
Sara Harricharan 01/16/08
WOW. This is so powerful...and SO sad! I could feel for the mother as she watched her daughter slip away, bit by bit into a ghost of who she used to be. The title is the haunting question at the end. Great job. ^_^
Sharlyn Guthrie01/16/08
a frightening situation, for sure. You're right. Earlier intervention could have made all the difference.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/16/08
I was saddened by the remnder you expressed so clearly of the way the devil tries to break up families. Very strong writing.
Loren T. Lowery01/16/08
Great story and it brings to mind another old adage, "he who hesitates is lost". I think this piece is very contemporary as our lives today seem to be so wrought with deceptive, intriguing influences. Great writing.
Joy Faire Stewart01/16/08
The descriptions are so vivid, I was moved to tears.
James Dixon01/16/08
This is a important message. I was impressed by the way you suggested that the danger could be within 'Christian' circles. I hope this is fiction.
Beth LaBuff 01/17/08
Wow! This is incredibly sad and scary. My heart breaks over those blinded by "cults". (And so many of those blinded try to "witness" to us.) I get a bit angry when I think about the "leaders" that draw others into these "groups". Great writing! I would call this a "must-read" for parents with teenagers.