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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Every Dark Cloud has a Silver Lining" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (02/28/08)

TITLE: Sorrow-Tinged Triumph
By Seema Bagai


What just happened? I feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach, shoved aside, then knocked to the ground, without any regard for my feelings. Couldn’t this have waited until after rehearsal?

As the band began playing, I donned my “things are fine” mask and sang with the rest of the chorus. My sweaty hand gripped the microphone, while the lyrics on the music stand floated through the tears threatening to tumble down my flushed face. Thankfully, I stumbled through the rehearsal without an emotional outburst.

Driving home, as anguish surged from within, I replayed the meeting I’d had with the worship leaders.

“Clarissa, we aren’t sure you should be a soloist anymore. We like your singing, but your voice hasn’t improved over this past year. You didn’t go to all the voice lessons we had scheduled for you. You need to decide if this is what you really want to do. We’ll be waiting for your decision.”

What I want to do? One of the soloists had invited me to try out for the chorus. I hesitated, but she convinced me I’d be great. Sure, I enjoy singing and have a decent voice. I was flattered and amazed when the worship team enjoyed my audition and asked me to join them. Lord, I thought this was Your will. Now what?

Despite the late hour, I called Allie. “You won’t believe what happened before rehearsal today. They said I wasn’t meeting their expectations. They want me to decide if I want to stay or quit. I can’t believe it. Joining wasn’t my idea in the first place, remember? I feel like I’ve been slapped in the face.”

“Wow. I’m so sorry you had to hear that. What a tough decision. I know you’re hurt, but you’ll figure this out.”

After the conversation I couldn’t sleep, so I slipped into the den where I store my art tools. Since childhood, drawing and painting have been my passion. I’ve entered some contests and received several honorable mentions. The deadline for the next contest loomed and my painting remained incomplete.

I prayed for wisdom and inspiration as I squeezed paint tubes and blended colors on the palette. Seizing a brush, I poured out my heart. My every brush stroke imbued the picture with hurt and rejection. Shades of sorrow saturated the canvas and the painting dripped with my diverse emotions.

The next evening, I apprehensively delivered the completed canvas to the art gallery. As each day elapsed, I struggled to make a decision about the worship team. Sunday morning arrived abruptly and I drove to church, the overcast day mirroring my feelings.

While I’ve enjoyed singing, standing on stage every week with those burning, blazing lights and piercing instruments has sometimes been awkward. On the other hand, whenever I face my easel, I feel as though there is no other place on Earth I’d rather be. I’m still not confident this is God’s will, but I’m going to leave the worship team.

I approached the worship leaders and informed them of my decision. The mental load lessened somewhat, but uncertainty lingered. That evening, I rode with Allie to the art gallery show.

I rambled, “I’m still not sure I made the right decision. What if I should have decided to keep singing? Should I have said I would work harder to improve? What if God doesn’t want me to keep painting?”

“Clarissa, just relax and try to have a good time. You did the best you could. What’s the worst that could happen?”

Inside the art gallery, I searched for my painting. As my eyes scanned the walls, I saw many gorgeous works displayed; some of them created by well-known local artists. What made me think I could compete with them?

“Which painting is yours?” Allie inquired.

“I don’t see it anywhere. Maybe it was so terrible they decided not to display it.” As my heart drummed, my eyes widened. “Wait. Maybe… No way. It can’t be. Can it?”

“What?” Allie called out as I dashed across the gallery to the winners’ display, hope surging from within.

My trembling hand covered my gaping mouth. On the wall beside the canvas, I spotted the blue ribbon with the words “grand prize” emblazoned in gold lettering. Joyful tears dripped onto the floor as I realized God had just shown me exactly what He wanted me to do. Distress and uncertainty dissipated as I received affirmation of my decision via this wonderful victory.

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This article has been read 849 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 03/06/08
Love this title! You told a great story -- full of emotion. Good job!
Shirley McClay 03/07/08
Wow... as far as I am concerned your story is a masterpiece :-) I love this line.."I donned my “things are fine” mask".. I do this all the time too.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/08/08
Your title is just right for your "silver lining" story. You creatively showed how God leads in our lives in choosing the best over the better.
LauraLee Shaw03/11/08
I cannot tell you how much I LOVED this piece. It is filled with the perfect amount of testimony and dialogue.
One small note: In the paragraph after the MCs phone conversation with her friend, there were a few verb tense changes, but it was only mildly distracting. Your message and the "realness" of the way one goes through a tough decision is incredible, and your descriptions are masterful.
Kristen Hester03/11/08
This is wonderful. It flows so smoothly and is written like a master. Great job. Bravo!
Debbie Wistrom03/11/08
Tough choice, solitary creativity is harder to get good feedback on, while a group getting applause all the time is a great high. You made the choice I would have. Thanks for sharing!
Jan Ackerson 03/11/08
Thanks for the note of explanation on your brick--this is very good, and I loved reading it with the background knowledge.
Betty Castleberry03/11/08
This is *good*! I like your MC's heart. Well done.
Henry Clemmons03/11/08
Enjoyed your story and its message. Being more of a poet I thought I could have been shown a few more things than told, but I was blessed and that is always good.
Patty Wysong03/11/08
I love this! (LoL Especially knowing what it's based on!) The last two lines were fabulous, and ones that I've experienced, too. You certainly captured the emotion of it!! Great job!
Joshua Janoski03/11/08
"My every brush stroke imbued the picture with hurt and rejection. Shades of sorrow saturated the canvas and the painting dripped with my diverse emotions."

I love your word choices and descriptions like in the lines above. This was a wonderfully written piece. I loved the message too. Sometimes we have to just follow our hearts as God steers us in the direction that he wants us to go.
Chely Roach03/12/08
Wonderful story...loved it.
Lyn Churchyard03/12/08
Excellent! Your MC found her "sweet spot" where she is doing what God intended her to do. Well done!
Joanne Sher 03/12/08
I especially loved knowing the "backstory" - this is absolutely wonderfully done. I was right there with her/you. God is amazing, and so is your writing, my friend.
Mandy White03/12/08
I can so relate to this. I could feel the dark cloud of uncertainty hanging over the MC's head. Glad she allowed God to lead her. Great job!
Marita Vandertogt03/12/08
Conflict and resolution -nicely done. I appreciated reading the struggle the MC went through. Very relatable. Good job!
Sara Harricharan 03/12/08
Ooooh, I like this! Your title is really good and I was so glad that the painting received grand prize. Based on a true story, huh? You did really well here! I loved the line with squirting the paint onto the canvas and pouring her heart out. ^_^
Sherry Castelluccio 03/12/08
This was awesome! I loved the descriptive words you used. You had me totally believing these were actual things that you've gone through. Well done! Fantastic ending!
Celeste Ammirata03/12/08
Very well written story. I love that she trusted God with her decision. Things usually work out much better when we do.
Pamela Kliewer03/12/08
This is wonderful! I love your descriptive phrases.
Shayne Catoe03/12/08
The title intrigued me. After reading the story it was evident that the title fit perfectly. Nice job. I really enjoyed it.