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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Feel (emotions) (08/26/10)

TITLE: Change of Address
By Joy Bach


Come with me to the dark, wind-swept land of my childhood. In that barren place, it was decreed that all Christians must be devoid of emotions. My church and my widowed mother were in agreement. To have feelings was to sin. My mother never touched me nor told me she loved me.

We lived in two rooms upstairs. From our window, I watched the neighborhood children in the yard below. My distance from them kept me safe from their sin as they laughed and played. Even at a young age, I understood I was to never dance around, yell and roll on the ground.

I moved through my days detached emotionally from life.

One day, as a teen, I came home from school and placed my books on the table with a thud. Instantly, Mother’s strident voice came from the other room. She said, “Lois, shame on you for being so upset. Get your emotions under control. On Sunday you can go to the altar and ask for forgiveness for what you just did.”

I didn’t argue or question. I knew the drill. Even though I hadn’t been upset, on Sunday I would be escorted to the altar at the front of the church, surrounded by other members of the congregation, to pray for my forgiveness.

I remained stoic when Mother told me who I would be marrying and when. I was only 15 when plans were put in motion for my marriage before the completion of my senior year in high school. Just as I had no reaction to being led to the altar to repent of my sins, I registered no feelings as I walked down that same aisle during my wedding ceremony.

Pledging to love, honor and obey the man standing at the end of that aisle was no different than being told to love, honor and obey my mother. In either case, I was to do as I was told.

But deep under the crust of my obedience lurked a feeling … of love. When I held my firstborn, I struggled to put a cap on the emotion that came bubbling up from within me. It was now my job to be a role model for this little one … teaching her to keep all emotions under control, lest she sin.

Trying to teach a child to have no emotion is as effective as trying to nail Jell-o to the wall. With three daughters in five years, it was an impossible task. And I had feelings … conflicted feelings … about stifling their happiness. I reached deep into a reservoir I didn’t know was in me when I allowed my oldest to dance … yes, dance … in our living room, even though her dad was yelling at me to make her stop.

Life went on. Their dad left. I took two years to decide on the kind of mom I desired to be. One change I would make would be the removal of the ban on emotions. I seated my children on the couch and stood facing them. They stared at me wide-eyed as I made my declaration.

I said, “From now on I am going to be different. You will be hugged and kissed by me. Daily, I will tell you I love you. We will laugh and have fun. I will help you become who you were meant to be.”

The transition time was difficult. I worked at erasing old programming while I reached out to hug them. I would place my arms around them and feel their bodies become rigid in response. The act of touching was new to all of us, but they worked at accepting my efforts. Hugs that had been stiff and duty driven became warm and loving. The “I love you’s” sounded regularly as they headed out the door … and again before bedtime.

Feelings were now welcome in our home.

The barren land is a distant memory. My life is sun drenched … with gentle breezes and flowers … as hugs occur spontaneously. As we have gotten older, we don’t kiss as much when we get together. But the love comes through with hugs, smiles and laughter. I love you’s are placed at the end of communications by text, email and phone calls.

There is an added bonus in this beautiful land.

I have a husband who loves me … sits and talks with me … holds my hand as we walk … and hugs me daily.

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This article has been read 628 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dolores Stohler09/02/10
I had an emotional response to this story as I believe we ought to have on the subject of feelings. When my daughter was young, her older brother told her she was not to cry or show her feelings. I found out about this one day when I accidentally found something she wrote and read it. Boy, did I cry. It's a terrible thing to tell someone they're not allowed to express their feelings. This story was so well written. God bless you.
Theresa Santy 09/02/10
LOVED the very first sentence (a masterful beginning, which set the tone for the entire piece). I read this fully engaged with feeling, even crying a little, but it was the feeling of my heart tugging that I felt the most.

My goodness--imagine what an amazing thing for a child to hear, 'today I'm going to be different, from now on you will be hugged, loved, and kissed by me.' I think EVERY child wants to hear this. ugh! makes me want to cry again.

Virgil Youngblood 09/02/10
The journey of your life through troubled waters into a calm sea brought the reader on board with you. Definitely on topic and well written.
Genia Gilbert09/05/10
I liked your title and the message of your story. God made us with these feelings and need for love. Wonderful ending and "change of addrss."
Troy Manning09/05/10
I think it was okay you let your eldest daughter dance, since it wasn't mixed dancing. ;) Nice job!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/05/10
I can't imagine not hugging and saying I love you. My grandmother was brought up that way too. It took a lot of I lobes you but it was worth it the day she said it back to me.
Kaylee Blake 09/08/10
I could feel the progression of emotion. The beginning was straight forward and then I could feel the build-up of the MC's own feelings. Well-written.
Rachel Phelps09/09/10
This is a wonderfully crafted story. Well done! Congratulations on your EC!
Marita Thelander 09/09/10
Your "story" still blows me away. I'm so glad you found freedom in Christ. Congrats on your EC!
Theresa Santy 09/09/10
Congratulations on your win. I'm not surprised--this piece was magnificent!
Beth LaBuff 09/09/10
Joy, what a powerful story. I love your ending. Congratulations on your editor's choice award!
Loren T. Lowery09/09/10
It is easy to see why this placed so highly this week. The sincerity of the work breathed through every word. Congratulations on many levels, not for just placing (which is deserved) but for using your gift for telling stories that otherwise would never have been told.
Gina Fifo09/09/10
Congratulations. What a powerful, emotional story with a wonderful ending!
Connie Dixon09/09/10
Congratulations, Joy! Great job on this piece. So glad you figured it out while your kids were young. You have an amazing testimony.
Daniel Kane09/10/10
I found this piece very good, but also a bit confusing. At first I thought it was set in some Puritan age or something like that, and then the mentions of Jello and text messages really confused me. I would have found it easier if you had put in something to show it is this century right at the start.
Carol Penhorwood 09/15/10
You broke my heart with your upbringing and then filled me with your joy in your new life. Congratulations on this well deserved placement!