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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Abundance (06/08/06)

TITLE: Everything but...
By Lori Othouse


She had everything…

It was easy to be jealous of Julia. She was pretty, smart, sweet and, oh yeah, filthy rich. We grew up down the street from each other and, even though we were opposites in almost every way, she seemed to really like me. But then, Julia liked everybody. And everybody liked her.

She went to my church youth group with me, probably just to socialize, but at least she was there. I know she prayed and accepted Christ, but beyond that I wasn’t sure. Did she really want to live for Him? Or was it just because everyone else did it? After she turned sixteen and got her new car, she came less and less. It was her freedom and she took full advantage of it. Being Julia, she always had somewhere to go.

She had everything but…

After graduation, I only saw Julia in the summer. She went to a private university on the east coast. As I struggled to work to pay tuition, I tried not to be envious. Everything was always so easy for her. She returned home with countless stories of her wild sorority adventures and all her experimenting with different lifestyles, trying to “find herself”. I asked her when she lost herself, only half kidding. It seemed strange to me that someone with every opportunity to live a wonderful life would ever question how to live it. I had an ever-growing mental list of the things I would do if I was her. But as I pulled out my devotional Bible every morning, I was reminded that she didn’t have the direction that I did. The “road map”, as they say. Wait a minute…something Julia didn’t have? My opinion of her slowly began to change.

She had everything but the one thing…

Whenever I saw her, I tried to talk to Julia about Jesus. Most of the time it was the same ‘thanks, but no thanks’ response. I shared with her all that God had done in my life and how He helped me through so many tough times. She would just look at me like she had no clue what I was talking about and give me that same condescending smile she reserved for salesmen or people asking for donations.

Suddenly, it hit me. Julia didn’t need Him. She was in need of nothing her whole life. What was there to cry out to God for when she could just flash her perfect smile or write a check? I tried to convince her that it wasn’t just about provision for material things but, sadly, that was all she understood. Ironically, her abundance of, well, everything had caused her greatest lack.

She had everything but the one thing she needed most.

After college, we both moved away and I didn’t see Julia again for almost ten years. I was visiting home and saw her in the grocery store. Actually, she saw me. To be honest, I don’t know if I would have recognized her if she didn’t tell me who she was. This tired, tough-looking woman was not the beautiful, vibrant girl I remembered. The sparkle and gleam that was Julia was gone. She was divorced, twice, and had two kids who spent most of their time with their respective fathers. Apparently money was still not an issue, but even all her gold jewelry and designer clothes couldn’t hide the emptiness I saw in her eyes.

For the first time in my life, I no longer envied her. When I mentioned my church and life as a Christian, she rolled her eyes and started making excuses to leave. I didn’t try to stop her. She already knew everything I was going to say. We hugged goodbye as she forced a smile. I gave her my phone number and she promised, unconvincingly, to call. For just a moment, she looked at me like I used to look at her, wanting something that seemed unattainable. She turned and slowly walked away. It was the last time I ever saw her.

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This article has been read 1271 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Ann Darcy06/16/06
Thanks for the story. I liked the style of writing and the descriptions. The only thing I would change is maybe twist it a little more. Make it a little different from the "rich person who has nothing" idea. However, it was a very clear message and nicely written. Thanks again.
Melanie Kerr 06/17/06
The contrast between your life and Julia's was well laid out. I was sorry that she walked away in the end - I guess not all stories have a happy ending.
Sally Hanan06/17/06
You had a good beginning middle and end. I think if you had added dialogue into this it would have livened it up a bit. You could alter it so that you have snippets of conversation three times - once each decade, and then you have the capability of adding in what you want the reader to 'see' in the moment.
Marilyn Schnepp 06/17/06
I am commenting as a reader only; the writing was excellent, as readers would expect of a Masters author...but it needed something to hold the Reader's interest. Perhaps dialogue? perhaps some wit? I don't know...but it didn't grab hold and intrigue the reader to the point of HAVING TO READ IT ALL, or an exciting "page turner". However, on target when it came to Topic. Good points, well taken.
Rita Garcia06/18/06
You grabbed my interest from the very beginning, I knew "Julia" only her name was "Barbara Ann." Really enjoyed the way you tightly wove the message of true abundance against the backdrop of wordly abundance. I think the narrative format worked with this story, dialogue may have been a little trite for this piece. Fantastic job!
Jen Davis06/19/06
I liked this and especially loved your style. Your story did hold my attention, but I do agree with Ann's comment. Although it is often true as you said: "Ironicaly, her abundance of, well, everything had caused her greatest lack." Another possible suggestion is to end with her turning a walking away. I think that sums it up.
Suzanne R06/21/06
I like the way you built up the sentence ... 'She had everything...', 'She had everything but...' etc.

Your description of her in the last paragraph was good too.