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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Inner Person (09/09/10)

TITLE: Inside the Shell
By Gina Fifo


Cheryl has blue-eyes and blond hair. She’s 5 foot 2 inches tall and weighs . . . way too much. By medical standards, she is morbidly obese. Morbidly obese. These two words say it all. Physicians have an immediate explanation for whatever ails her and clearly place the blame in her own hands. Society reiterates her disgraceful existence with stares and gestures of repulsion.

Cheryl’s inner person isn’t faring much better. Though she has witnessed years of abuse inflicted on her physical shell, she points the finger and berates both of them for its state of fatness. Since they are each part of the other, she too is broken. She’s angry, bitter, resentful, self-loathing and consumed with guilt and shame. Her heart is shattered, her love rejected and her dreams . . . well, she doesn’t dream anymore. Who can dream when they are wearing a morbidly obese shell?

Her inner person hides deep in the folds of her fatty armor. Together they maneuver through life with a brave façade – smiling and laughing on the outside, while crying on the inside. The shell is judged by its appearance and deemed less than desirable. The inner person detests the shell that harbors it.

Eventually, the curtain of pretense and heavy cloak of pain casts Cheryl’s inner person into a black pit of despair. Her external casing has no choice but to follow. It begins to destroy itself even further. Food brings comfort; alcohol a hazy fog of relief.

Deep in the recesses of the inner person, lay embers of a long-lost faith. A faith destroyed by the evil she has encountered. Now, in the dark abyss, she begs God to hear her cries, to save her shell from the self-destruction she is contemplating.
The inner person keeps the shell awake, tossing and turning. Finally in the wee hours of the morning, the shell waddles to the living room and turns on the television to quiet the inner voice.
From the set, a booming voice asks, “Are you in the pit of despair?”

Yep, you got that right. Don’t rub it in . . . She reaches for the remote.

“Friend, Jesus loves you and wants to lift you out of that pit today.”

Cheryl is drawn to listen intently as he continues, “In John 10:10 Jesus says, “I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.” (KJV)

Her inner person is mesmerized by the evangelist’s words as he reiterates God’s great love, mercy and grace are meant for her. Tears trickle down her cheeks as a spark of hope flickers.

The preacher continues, “If you want Jesus to change your life, you need to invite him into your heart. For those of you at home, we have a toll-free number . . .”

Strains of “Just as I am” fill the air. Folks pour toward the stage, seeking the Savior. With trembling fingers and a pounding heart, Cheryl dials the number on the screen so someone on the other end can talk to her, pray with her and lead her to Jesus.


Cheryl beams brightly as she enters the door of Trinity Christian Church, which she’s been attending for the past three months. Several people greet her as she makes her way to the room where the Addiction Survivors group meets, which is right across the hall from her Tuesday night Bible study class.

“Hey Cheryl, over here . . . I saved you a seat!”

Dave Bentley waves her over. He is one of the many friends she’s made over the weeks.

“Wow, you’re looking great!” he says.

Cheryl smiles shyly. “Thanks, Dave.” She’s lost 25 lbs. since the night she began to put down her fork and pick up her Bible.

Dave clears his throat and says awkwardly, "Cheryl, I was wondering, if you . . . uh . . . would like to go with me to the movies on Saturday?”

She recognizes the fear of rejection that furrows between his brows and eases it with a warm smile.

Like her, Dave has an outer shell he’s working to improve. He also has an inner person he’s given over to the Lord. Cheryl sees the beauty of his heart and soul. He’s kind, compassionate and loving . . . just like her.

“I would love to!” she says, as a soft blush covers her cheeks and a grin spreads from ear-to-ear.

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This article has been read 566 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/17/10
This really touched my heart. Before I even finished, I stopped and said a prayer for all of the Cheryls out there. I can relate although my low self- esteem comes from chronic pain which ironically caused me to double my weight inthe last 15 - 20 years. This is well- written and I hope I can be as brave as Cheryl.
Genia Gilbert09/18/10
Great revelation of the MC's inner self, and good, upbeat conclusion.
Sarah Heywood09/18/10
What a sweet, touching story! My own mother was saved after watching a television evangelist - an event that completely changed the course of our entire family.

So often I'm quick to judge others based on their outward "shell" and your story was a good reminder to me of how wrong that is.

And I loved the ending - one with a spark of hope for a better future. Nicely done!
Theresa Santy 09/18/10
What a great portrayal of the inner struggles of someone like Cheryl.

Your writing is a joy to read. There was depth and weight, and little elements like 'the shell waddles into the livingroom' which lightens the heavy mood and helps carry the load.
Charla Diehl 09/20/10
There's a member in my family who is morbidly obese, and this story targets what society needs to understand--it's an addiction, but this one doesn't muddle the mind--instead it hurts the soul. You did a great job with this entry and loved that it ended on a bright note.
Christina Banks 09/21/10
You did a good job on this entry. It has a good message, and you gave us a glimpse into Cheryl's life. I really like the way that you ended this.