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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: Change Me, Change My Heart
By Loren T. Lowery
01/08/08


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Sitting in the living room, Matt could hear the water running in the tub for his wife’s bath. The radio in the bedroom played softly in the background.

The water in the bathroom stopped and he could hear his wife stepping in, swirling the warm water to sooth and embrace her body that carried their unborn child.

Just moments before she had told him of the news of the baby and he had tried to match her joy. But he had failed, the look on his face revealing a secret he thought forever buried.

She had remained silent, searching his eyes with her own. Then turned and walked away.

“Jenn, it’s not what you think,” he stammered as she made her way to the bathroom, closing the door.

The living room of their apartment closed in on him and he stepped out onto the patio that overlooked a small park. It was late; the streets quiet.

Sitting on a metal chair, he looked out over the park. His heart raced and he bent his head into his hands. He had never told Jenn of his childhood. It was a closed chapter -not thought of, not real.

He could here Randy Travis singing Three Wooden Crosses through the opened slider, the single verse “…it’s what you leave behind when you go.” burned and looped in his mind.

He squeezed his eyes, fighting tears. “I’m not ready for this,” he breathed. Visions of his childhood flickered madly through his mind. Reflexively, he dodged his head as the image of his father’s hand slammed towards his face.

He could hear his mother crying in the background, but knew that she, like himself, was a prisoner of this rage. And as much as his youth was helpless against his father’s temper so too was her courage too fragile to fight against it. Innocence and fear, different ends to the same rope, bound them captive.

His father’s fury had been as a blade, slicing any hope of ever knowing family love out of his life. Before he turned twelve, his mother died, pulling with her to the grave any light to vanquish the despair in their home.

And now, he too was to become a father. A horn honked below and he opened his eyes. A cold fear swept over him and he trembled. “Am I to be like him?” he asked the darkness. “Am I my father’s son?”

Something stirred inside him, he swallowed hard, and he looked over the park.

He was crying and the lamplights glistened through his tears. “God, I don’t want to be like my father. Change me, change my heart. I don’t want to share my father’s legacy.” He gasped for air. “I can’t share it. I won’t share it. Help me.”

The same frail courage that had enslaved his mother to his father’s wrath now seemed to rise like bile and choke him with its gall. He clinched his fists, overwhelmed with a nameless ache to commune with God. “Don’t let me hurt my family, he pled. “Change me.”

He closed his eyes, creating an intimate darkness within his mind that seeped to his core and bled into his heart. He drew a breath that flamed a truth hidden within his heart long before his birth.

Anguish rose from his soul like dark phantoms and his tongue seemed unable to utter his pain. He fought against the despair as a warrior fights because he knew what losing would mean. Such wars took no prisoners.

And, in that solitary moment of valor, God responded by quickening his spirit with a single word: forgive.

His father had passed two years ago and even at his deathbed, forgiveness was something Matt had found impossible to do. But at this moment, it took on a new meaning. It alone could change and heal his heart and give hope to his future.

Yet, even as his heart palpated with doubt and disbelief, a certain peace embraced him. And, again, his spirit was quickened with the single word: trust.

He felt a hand on his shoulder. “Matt, are you all right?”

“Jenn…I thought you were in the bath.”

Dressed in a white, terry robe, she moved to sit beside him. “I’ve been praying.” She took his hand. Her eyes were red from tears. “Are we going to be okay?”

“More than okay,” He leaned and kissed her on the cheek. “Forgive me. I’ve been praying, too and there’s something I need to tell you.”

____________________________

Three Wooden Crosses Words and music by Randy Travis, 2002


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This article has been read 765 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Wilber 01/10/08
Oh, wow. This is powerful and beautiful and you really made me care about the characters. Fantastic description of the emotions your characters felt - that had to be hard to do in the word limit - there's so much there. I've seen God change lives like this. They're going to be OK.
Tim George 01/10/08
You really caught the spirit of the topic for this week. I could feel the husband's heart as he pondered his own secret fears and regrets. Good job.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/10/08
This is an awesome story of the need for forgiveness.
Temple Miller01/10/08
Beautiful story written with tenderness and power. I really enjoyed your expressions like, "in that solitary moment of valor."
Lynda Schultz 01/10/08
Great emotional appeal—your descriptions were very intense.
Joanne Sher 01/11/08
The descriptive language is just breathtaking and the emotions and struggles so real. I was absolutely swept away by this piece. Excellent - masterful.
Betty Castleberry01/11/08
This is powerful and bold. Good illustration of the topic. Well done.
Rita Garcia01/11/08
I love the powerful message this story delivers! On topic and really well written.
LaNaye Perkins01/12/08
This was written with such power that I felt like I was right there. You had my eyes filled with tears by the time I finished reading. Wonderful work!
Sharlyn Guthrie01/12/08
You connect well with your reader with phrases usch as, "Innocence and fear, different ends to the same rope, bound them captive."
Your story is compelling. I stumbled over a few word choices, but your message is strong and right on target.
Catrina Bradley 01/13/08
Powerful writing. I'm all choked up.
Jan Ackerson 01/15/08
Just beautiful, Loren.
Yvonne Blake 01/15/08
Very stirring!Wonderful thought pattern.Good job
Dee Yoder 01/15/08
Your story aptly illustrates the kind of continuing pain violence in childhood brings to a family-even years later. You've given words to the fear a new dad would have of repeating a father's legacy like the one in your story. Beautiful images created of this important moment in a couple's life.
Beckie Stewart01/15/08
Very powerful story. I really could feel the heart of this man's pain and struggle. Did catch some grammatical errors..."here Randy Travis" should be "hear" and "towards" is to be "toward", but otherwise masterfully written. I have seen the power of forgiveness in my life as well as others and so I understand the power of the Lord to change hearts in the one that submits to His power!!