Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)
- TITLE: Between Two Worlds
By Pam Vashaw
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I started to pace the room, but it was so hot and muggy I had to sit. The sparsely furnished room held little of interest to me—except the book. I turned my eyes to the sandy floor and wondered how I would manage living here for two long months. How had Jill convinced me to spend my summer in this wretched place helping her with some hare-brained charity project? I scarcely believed Jill had been here for—how long?—two years with no end in sight! How could she stand it?
A fly buzzed past and I grabbed at something to swat him. I missed, but found myself holding the photo album, even though it wasn’t the closest item. I gave in to temptation and opened the album, letting the cool wind of the past blow over me.
Smiling up at me were photos of the time before “Jill’s Big Change.” Before Jill had gone away to college, become a Christian, and suddenly had this crazy desire to be a Bible translator. I paged through candid shots of the two of us together. We used to be so close. Next were photos of Jill’s volleyball team; the day they won the tournament; Honor Society programs; senior prom. Jill was homecoming queen and she smiled with exuberance as she waved to the crowd during the homecoming parade.
The creak of a door surprised me and I slammed the album shut with a twinge of guilt. Jill’s eyes lit up as she saw me, and she hurried over to hug me and ask about my trip. Catching sight of the album she smiled. “I keep that around to remind me what things were like before. I don’t want to forget.”
“But doesn’t it make you feel sad?” I blurted out. “Don’t you miss all the fun times? Do you think God really likes you better when you live a miserable existence in a place like this?”
Jill looked surprised for a moment. “Don’t get me wrong,” she said slowly. “I miss you and the family very much. But I don’t miss that life. This album actually reminds me of how bad my life was before, and how blessed I am now!”
I must have looked shocked because Jill almost laughed. She controlled herself and hastened to explain, “In spite of the good times, I was never at peace, and I never felt good enough. I tried hard to please other people and please God, but when I look at these photos, I see a girl shadowed by guilt and emptiness. The difference in my life after I understood the gospel is so huge that I want to tell everybody, and I always want to remember how much Christ changed me.”
“That is such a cliché,” I said, sprawling back in my chair and fanning myself. Suddenly I felt very tired. The effect of the trip was catching up with me. I had the uncomfortable sensation that I really did know what she was talking about. It never occurred to me that someone as successful as my big sister had ever felt lost and empty, though God knows she tried to tell me before. Aloud I said the opposite, “You know, Jill, just forget the sermon. I’m as likely to understand what you’re talking about as I am to get used to this life without air conditioning.“
Jill smiled. “You’ll have all summer to get used to it, but now let’s get you settled in.”
Later, as I lay down for a long overdue nap, I wondered if the next few weeks would help me understand Jill, or if I would run screaming back to civilization. As I drifted into sleep, I decided I would reserve judgment until after…
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