Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Elephant in the Room (12/05/13)
TITLE: Grace Perfected
By Deborah Perkins
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The room went quiet as she entered. It wasn’t her appearance that silenced people, although she had always been beautiful and fashionably dressed. Any man would be lucky to have her by his side, and her husband, a successful businessman, knew her worth. In the past, her arrival would have solicited quick but intentional glances from some, jealous whispers from others. Always near her husband, she was clearly loved and in love. And theirs had been a happy marriage, one full of the joys of children and friendships, work and laughter. She was the epitome of grace in an era when social graces were on the decline. True, she was soft-spoken and introverted at times, but those who knew her well received the gift of her trust and the accompanying joy of her effervescent outlook on life. She was a believer, one who had made peace with God and her past mistakes, and her quiet words of wisdom had bolstered many in difficult times. In fact, those who had been through the worst knew her best, since the wounded often intuitively recognize those who are healed. And those who did not seek her directly might find, by an act of Providence, that she had already been made aware of their plight and had come softly, unnoticed, to their side. Rarely was she turned away; she knew too well how to avoid the embarrassments caused by those less skillful in the issues of the heart. And so occasionally, those within her sphere of influence would confide in her, grateful for the depth of trust and understanding that others could not provide. She had no license to counsel; her certification was provided by experience alone. But she was one of the few who had struggled intensely and yet survived. There were men standing in that room now who had not the same courage as she, as many of the guests knew. Tonight was to be a celebration, but it suddenly seemed as if the air itself exited even as she entered. Every eye was upon her.
She stepped in confidently at first, made bold by her decision to put others before self. Her eyes, still beautiful despite the sadness, searched for the ones she could connect with tonight. She was not given to self-pity and knew that her ability to weather this current storm was directly related to her ability to define the moment before others did. She had only to reach those with whom she knew she could easily converse, who would ultimately be more interested in sharing their stories than in hearing hers. The sudden hush assaulted her, and she was unprepared for this. She had not realized her arrival would be so noticed. It confused her at first, for in her naivete she did not know the impact she had made on so many people. Individual conversations did not intimidate her in the least, but she had always relied on her husband to handle the more formal situations, the corporate gatherings, the times when she felt so horribly out of her element and could not think of the right things to say. No, she was not ready for this. Few could see beyond her elegant façade to the weakness that only her husband and several others understood. It would require more strength than she currently possessed to remove this elephant from the room. More frantically now, she scanned the room, looking for someone, anyone, who would take the initiative when she couldn’t, to be strong when she was weak. No one moved. The pressure built silently, an emotional bomb threatening to explode and destroy not only her, but the entire evening also. She fought to keep her tears from spilling, wondering why there was no air to breathe and no words to speak. Her heart was in agony: what should she do?
And then, miraculously, a lady she had known long before stepped softly to her side. Embracing her, the friend greeted the bereaved with the grace she had long ago received and now could give. For their husbands lived no more.
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