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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Soul (07/13/06)

TITLE: Please Don't Preach
By Venice Kichura


“Mother?” My 22-year-old daughter asks, “May I come home for three months? I’ve applied to a top-notch firm in Richmond to do my internship for grad school and they’ve accepted me!”

Inside I’m turning cartwheels, singing, ---“Hallelujah, Praise God!”---but restrain myself, knowing how Emily always snorts, “Please, Mother, don’t preach.” We enjoy a special bond in just about everything. Everything…..that is……except matters of the soul.

“Why of course, honey!” I assure her, catching my breath. “It’s been almost five long years since we’ve all lived together under one roof. We’ll be a family, again!”

Hanging up the phone, I hum praise songs as I clear out my sewing room, converting it into Emily’s new room. Carefully hanging her college diploma, I beam.
She’s such a bright young woman….Just needs to get her soul right with God.”

Since my husband’s job had transferred us east almost five years ago, I’d felt anxious about leaving our 18-year-old daughter behind in Arizona. But she’d always been responsible and had convinced us she’d be fine back home in the southwest, attending college.

Emily arrives. At first it’s a joy to have her home. She even joins our church, but often sneaks out the back door (sometimes before the sermon ends), never mingling with the other young people.

Then, as the days grow into weeks, and weeks into months, we see how our daughter has changed since she’s lived away from us. She starts hanging out at nightclubs and staying out all night with her new boyfriend. I soon stop saving her a seat at church as she transfers her new church membership from St. Matthew’s to “St. Mattress”.

While she’s gone, I cry as I repeatedly find empty wine bottles, birth control pills, and unpaid traffic tickets crammed underneath her unmade bed. When I empty her trash can, I usually find other junk that brings tears.

What’s happened to our high school valedictorian? She really needs Jesus, I sigh. But whenever I hint about her soul, she snaps, “Mother, please don’t preach.”

As her 23rd birthday nears, I can’t bypass the occasion to give her what she needs most. Wrapping a woman’s devotional bible, I pen a mother-to-daughter letter which I prayerfully fold inside her birthday card. Using the “sandwich” approach, I first praise her for her academic achievements. Then layer on the “meat”, highlighting the scripture,” What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”* I close with another “slice of bread”, affirming, “I love you.”

At her birthday dinner she politely thanks us for her gifts. Then she rolls her chocolate brown eyes at the new bible. Probably suspecting a sermon inside her card, she mumbles, “Thanks, I’ll read it later.”

Weeks pass, but she never mentions the letter. I continue to pray for my prodigal daughter; but don’t preach. The situation grows worse as I catch her in continuous lies. I almost faint when I see her newly-pierced tongue. The cellophane wrapper covering her bible remains unbroken.

God needs my help…… Emily needs a good sermon right now….. She’s in more trouble than we know.

I’m ready to blast her….

Sobbing, I throw up my hands, screaming, “I give up!”


I hear that still small voice inside of me.

Been waiting for that. Now go into her room and anoint it with oil as you pray the 91st Psalm over her, trusting Me to work in her life. I care about her soul even more than you do.

I continue doing this daily. Then one day, just when I’m tempted to stop, convinced, Nothing’s happening, I spot trash on her dresser.

“Slob!” I fume, wondering, Now what’s this? Probably more bad news….

Trembling, I ask myself, “Do I really wanna know?”

Someone’s handed her a salvation track? And she took it?

I do a hallelujah jig as my eyes well up with joyful tears. The tract reads, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”*

A prayer for salvation follows.

Right there….lying wide open on her dresser and not in her trash can….as if….as if…. she’d been pondering over it….?

Just maybe…..Just maybe? A seed’s been planted, or maybe watered?.
I dare to hope, again…..

Handing over my “Junior God” badge, I dig out a spot on her carpet and kneel.

Thank you, Father…Seems You’re working after all…..

And without my preaching.

*Matthew 16:26 (NIV)

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This article has been read 1275 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Chrissi Dunn07/20/06
This is an excellent description of the feelings many people face over their unsaved relatives. It's true that it's tempting to preach, relying on our efforts, but we must remember that it is all in God's hands. I really enjoyed this piece, as it is so real.
Larry Elliott07/20/06
I cannot seem to stop the warm flow of tears as I am reminded of the same situation with my son who will be 29 in a few weeks. I must keep my faith strong and continue to lean on the promises of my creator, and his creator. I, too, restrain with much effort from preaching, merely loving and re-assuring my son that he will always be my son and I will always be here for him, as will his heavenly father. Thanks for the encouragement and my prayers will be for you both.
Stephen Paynter07/20/06
I really hope this one does well ... and not only because it deserves too! Its message is one we all need to learn.

If I was being critical (which I suppose is allowed in Masters!) I would argue against having divine interventions that come neatly after a change of heart of some kind -- although I know from experience they happen like that in real life, it just makes me uneasy when they happen in fiction.

You suceeded in sensitively addressing a very real human (Christian) emotion - one that is raw for some people - it makes this piece IMPORTANT. Difficult to give higher praise to any piece of fiction!

Jen Davis07/20/06
You caught my attention from the start. I had to laugh at your desire to sing and then again at your composed response. Very cute. You shared a serious struggle that many can relate to and offered a positive message. Well done.
Suzanne R07/22/06
Your title is catching and the story is not disappointing. It is touching and reads like somebody's true experience. Well done.
william price07/22/06
A beautiful DEEP slice of life. An incredible easy and enjoyable read. Great work. God Bless!
Lisa Vest07/24/06
This is not only an entertaining read, but also a piece that ministers. I loved the line about "turned over my Junior God badge"...this says a mouthful! Let go and Let God! Thanks for sharing this!
Brenda Craig07/24/06
I like Christine have a 29 year old daughter I am praying for. I also have heard those special still voices to my heart. Thank you for reminding me with this really well written story, depicting our struggle so well. loved it
Jan Ackerson 07/24/06
Yup, very very good. Two minor things--salvaton "tract" not track, and--this is purely personal preference--I wonder about using the present tense in a piece that covers several time periods. But I loved the situation and its resolution, and your characters were beautifully painted.
Linda Watson Owen07/25/06
I, too, know a family with a daughter just like this one who, by the way, is an Emily also. So many heart breaking moments, but as you've presented, a God who loves each Emily more than we ever could! Wonderful job at aiming straight for real life, and hitting the mark!
Dr. Sharon Schuetz07/25/06
So many of us, as parents, can relate to this. You covered this subject very well. This is not only well written, but is an great encouragment for all of us.
Lynda Lee Schab 07/25/06
With a 750 word limit, you packed a lot into this piece. The thing I liked most about it was the ending - it wasn't wrapped up neatly but left an impression of hope, leaving the reader to wonder some more about the daughter and whether or not she actually made the decision for Christ.
Great job.
Trina Courtenay07/25/06
I sure can realte to this story. From both sides.......which is probably not a good thing then again it just may help. Thanks for sharing this.
L.M. Lee07/25/06
love the "Junior God badge" cute!
Kimberly Mitchell07/26/06
It's an emotional story that leaves tears after reading. Thank You.
janet rubin07/26/06
It is so tempting to "help" God, especially when our loved ones are at stake. Nicely done.
Shari Armstrong 07/26/06
Very very well done, very relateable (even though mine aren't that age yet). I could see it all unfolding.
Tracey Jackson07/27/06
Very poignant. A great reminder to "Let go..and let God..."