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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Peace (03/15/04)

TITLE: Churchladies
By Lynne Cox


Marissa had always been jealous of “churchladies”, with their white Bibles and purses and gingham belted dresses and round rouged cheeks. She wanted to be one. She wanted the serenity they had.

But the truth was, she looked silly in gingham belted dresses. She was too thin, plus they added 30 years to her age. Her Bible was a dog-eared black one that her parents had given her for high school graduation. She didn’t own a white purse. Rouge did not become her. She was in no way a churchlady, no matter how hard she tried. She wondered if it was the gift of peace from the Lord that kept churchladies’ faces so smooth and serene. Or was it just the luck of the draw that they seemed to have nothing to worry about?

Marissa herself was a roiling and boiling cauldron of worries and anxieties. She had just come through a divorce (horror of horrors), she had a little girl, her finances were in a pitiful state, and her job made her nervous. It took too much out of her. She got home at night and was barely able to feed and bathe little Bailey, never mind giving her “quality” time. She would say a hurried prayer and tumble into bed herself, only to get up the next day and go through it all again.

One day in church she happened to sit behind a family where the husband had his arm wrapped lovingly around his wife’s shoulders. The thin elastic band that was holding her together snapped, and she started to cry out loud during the sermon. She was mortified and stood up to run away when she found herself surrounded by the churchladies. Plump hands helped her to sit back down, soft arms wrapped her in their embrace, and Bibles and purses were set aside as the ladies prayed. The pastor came and joined them, and Marissa was sorry she had lost control and interrupted the sermon, but also soothed as she was embraced and her hands were held and someone wiped her forehead with a Wet-Dry. She was embarrassed to be so needy.

After church, the ladies shepherded Marissa down the wooden stairs and into the Bible Study room, and helped her sit. A lady in a pink and white checked dress sat across from her and said,

“You young woman today have such hard lives. My heart goes out to you.”

Which made Marissa start to cry again.

Another lady said,

“Back in our day our husbands rarely left us. We didn’t move away from home so our Moms were around to help us with the little ones. Plus we didn’t work full-time.”

Marissa dug around in her purse for a clean tissue to wipe her nose.

An old old lady wearing a black hat with a red flower and smelling of mothballs said,

“The times that you live in are much harder than the times that we lived in.”

Marissa held her breath to try and stop the crying.

A younger churchlady leaned over and took her hand.

“I’m sure you’re doing the best you can under some pretty scary circumstances,” she said, and Marissa would have reached out and hugged her if she hadn’t still been a little bit embarrassed.

They all knelt on the cold linoleum floor and held hands and asked that the Lord walk with and talk with and care for Marissa all the days of her life.

And the gift of peace settled upon her.

Member Comments
Member Date
Corinne Smelker 03/22/04
I was a single parent for 4 years, working, going to school and trying to make ends meet. I could see your "churchladies" because I was surrounded by some like that, differently dressed, but with the same heart.
Melanie Kerr 03/22/04
I can think of times when the "thin elastic band" of my life has snapped. I swapped it for something more reliable - Jesus! It is nice to be reminded that we have each other for support and encouragement.
Dori Knight03/22/04
i love this story! you brought the church ladies to life with your detailed descriptions.

this one goes on my top five for the week!
Geraldine Solon03/22/04
i was touched by your testimony and perfectly understand your situation being a single mom for 5 years, it was very difficult to bear and to provide but God eventually blessed me with a wonderful husband who adores my son as his own. God answered my prayer and gave me the peace I needed. He sees our troubles and worries and will always provide. I am voting for you!
Lawrence Farlow03/23/04
This is excellent! The writing is well done, the story well told and the message powerful. This is an excellent example of how we are to 'be Christ' to those among our number who are hurting. God bless you!
Leticia Caroccio03/23/04
Your article touched a sensitive chord in my heart. Although I am happily married, my husband is not a Christian. So I go to church alone. I find myself battling feelings of longing and sometimes even feelings of jealousy when I see other married couples sitting together in their pews. When special prayers are made for married couples I wish I could be a part of them. But my faith is being strengthened everyday in Him. One day my husband will come and give his heart to the Lord. Then we will be able to worship together as one in the Lord. I pray that you will receive all the desires of your heart. Thank you for your article.
Helen Wiebe03/24/04
You moved me to tears. Not an easy feat.
Christine Rhee03/25/04
What a blessed story, Lynne!! And how thankful we all are for those mentoring mothers, huh! This was very well and vividly written.
Donna Haug03/27/04
Lynne, This was great. when I read it the first time, I thought it was the rubber band of the lady ahead of her that had broken and I couldn't figure it out!! When I re-read it it all made sense. Of course! I felt for her and was glad that the 'church ladies' weren't just pious pew fillers. Good work!
Donna Anderson03/28/04
:) I could see them, smell them, hear them and feel their soft arms around me! Delightful.
Jenny Smith03/28/04
I echo what everyone else has said! I go to a church were we have some 'churchladies' just like you describe! They are very sweet and kind, I pray I'm that way too!