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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Endurance (03/22/04)

TITLE: Prodigal on the Merry-Go-Round
By Martha Currington


“Ruth, you’re soooo skinny! Why, you could stand under a clothes line in pouring down rain and not get wet! I could even put you in an envelope and slide you under the door!” spouted Lenny, laughing.

“That’s it, the last straw! I can’t take it anymore!” thought Ruth. “ How can I concentrate on my bookkeeping with this going on? The clerks and cops are looking, listening, and laughing. My job at city hall isn’t suppose to be like this!.” Lenny had finally riled quiet-spoken Ruth.

“Well, you’re not worth a hoot as chief of police, except during emergencies! ” Ruth blurted back. Lennie only laughed louder as he walked out the door, to respond to a radio call for assistance.

Ruth knew that Lenny probably didn’t meant any harm, yet his remarks cut to the depth of her heart. She couldn’t help being thin, weighing only ninety-five pounds at five feet, six . She felt healthy, she ate well, she just couldn’t gain weight. She was tired too, of being called Twiggy and Olive Oil!. Why couldn’t she just be accepted for who she was? She may be thin, but she had a good mind, and did her job well.

A friend of her husband’s stopped by their house later that night. He asked, “What’s bothering you, Ruth?” She repeated the degrading episode . He said, “Ruth, if you’ll drink two beers before supper every night, it’ll increase your appetite, and too, the extra calories will put weight on you.”

“You know I don’t drink! I go to church, and drinking is just not right.”

“It won’t hurt to drink beer at home just to gain weight. I guarantee you, it’ll put the pounds on.”

Ruth hated the daily comments concerning her physique. The very next afternoon, after work, weighed down with a guilty conscious, she hesitantly, yet steadfastly, drove toward the county line. As she drove, she prayed, “ God, please forgive me.” and hoped that no one would see her. Her heart beat rapidly as she nervously purchased her first six-pack of beer. She placed it in the car trunk, and unknowingly began her ride on the merry-go-round toward destruction.

Once home, she tasted of her first beer. “Hmmm... not bad. Tastes like green apples.” One was all she drank. She felt relaxed, not the least bit nervous. She ate a good supper, and got a good night’s sleep.

As time passed, she continued to “drink” secretly. She began gaining weight. Yet a guilty feeling nagged her. “I will not be a hypocrite. It’s not right to go to church while I’m drinking. I’ll just stay away awhile.”

She added exercise to her weight gaining program. People began to compliment her physical appearance. She bought a few new clothes. “At least, now I look decent.” she thought. The remarks and name calling stopped. She was happier, except for the nagging guilt that wouldn’t go away. She was always praying, asking God to forgive her, if it was wrong.

She wanted to learn how to dance. So while drinking, she practiced in front of a long- length mirror. Soon, she and her husband went dancing, at a bar of course. More nagging guilt. More praying. When she won first place in a dancing contest, she was satisfied. The dancing trips ended.

Having reached her goal of one hundred and twenty eight pounds, she was ready to give up the beer. But her body said “No, I must have it! I can’t live without it!” The merry-go-round was spinning. She couldn’t stop it! She couldn’t get off!.” She kept asking God to help her, told Him how much she loved Him, how she regretted her choice. Yet, she couldn’t endure the cravings, the nervousness, so the merry-go-round kept spinning...gaining speed.

Ruth tried several times to quit, voluntarily attending mental health counseling and group meetings. She gratefully counted the abstinence days behind her, only to relapse each time. Still, she cried out to God, “Oh God, Help me! I can’t stop this madness by myself!.”

She became exhausted, spiritually and mentally drained. She wanted to do good, but somehow refrained. She thought about the past, and how things were. She hated what she had become. She looked at today and wondered, “Where? Where have I been? Where am I now? Where am I going? and How?” She didn’t know! How she wished the journey back home didn’t take so long!

When Ruth’s husband died unexpectedly, from heart failure, she suffered from lingering grief... deep depression. She couldn’t cope... Eventually, the speeding merry-go-round slung Ruth off, when she took an unplanned overdose. She hit bottom with a devastating crash! Deep into the Blackness she whirled, deeper and deeper still!

Twenty-four hours later, in the Intensive Care Unit, she awoke from a coma , Both lungs had collapsed, yet she had survived., living on a respirator. Four days later, respirator removed, she went home.

Ruth realized she had been spared by God’s grace.

She rededicated her life, yielding once more to the One who loved her, just as He had created her. She was able to quit drinking, “ cold turkey”. A miserable feat, but with family support and spiritual love and guidance from God, it happened! For two years she again voluntarily attended weekly mental health meetings.

Ruth now walked in the light, yielding daily to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Ten years later,
God called her “to write” . “We, it has to be.” she heard within her spirit. And “We” it is, for Ruth, one day at a time. She is at peace back at home in fellowship with God, having no desire to ever stray again. No more merry-go round rides! She realized that God ‘s love, and perseverance in seeking His straying, lost people, had resulted in her “being alive”. She was thankful for receiving “her second chance”...

(Endurance: The state or fact of persevering - The American Heritage dictionary)
word count: 992

Member Comments
Member Date
Martha Currington03/29/04
Thank you, Jean, for your nice comment. Yes, it is a true story. I changed the names for privacy. Martha
Donna Anderson03/29/04
All through her ordeal she never stopped praying. It's the Spirit that endures FOR us! Good reading. :)
Bertie Patano03/29/04
Martha, you have a heart-felt way with words. Your expression may begin on a sad note but it always ends on a sunny, warm, inspirational note. You go,girl. Bertie
Dori Knight03/29/04
a very touching story and a great ending. what more could a reader ask for? thank for sharing this!
Linda Germain 03/31/04
No matter how many have gone down the path, there are so many who do not see that first step as the beginning of a long and destructive trip. If we could just learn from those who have gone before. Thank you for the important witness in this story. It keeps the reader's attention and certainly makes a point! Well done.
Anthony David04/01/04
Good story well tol! Praise God!
Lawrence Farlow04/02/04
This was excellent! Well told, engaging and a much needed reminder. The enemy is subtle in his approach, presenting the delicious looking bait that hides the hook. Sadly we often don't see the hook until it has us.
Dave Wagner04/04/04
Strong, engaging writing. I appreciate your efforts. This is well-crafted.

One question:

>> ...when she took an unplanned overdose.<<

An overdose of what, I wondered? As far as I could tell, she only had an alcohol problem...I'm not too familiar with alcoholism...is that what she OD'd on? Does that make your lungs collapse?

I know I could probably research it on the web and eventually find out, I only point it out so perhaps, if for any reason you were to re-write the piece, or try to get it pubbed, then maybe a bit more of an explanation at this point would be helpful, for those like me that are trying to understand, and coming up short...

Thanks again for posting this. It's the best of yours I've read thus far.