Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Write something AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL (10/02/14)
- TITLE: The Backward Mirror
By Phyllis Stokes
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All things considered, you look okay. Besides… most of your friends would have a full head of gray hair if they didn’t color.
Suddenly, I looked down at the wand in my hand as if it had somehow violated my will. A tinge disappointed at my vanity, I leaned forward and gazed deeper into the mirror. Of all the things I could have been focusing on, why in the world was I focusing on the color of my hair?
Can’t I consider my own life without making comparisons?
True. Most of my friends had college degrees, successful careers, children with successful careers, and by their own admission, the cutest grandchildren ever. Each scenario seemed to have eluded me.
I don't want my life shallowly measured, but what do I have to show for all these years? Have I accomplished anything significant?
I inhaled a breath of courage and gave myself permission to do something I rarely allowed. Squaring my shoulders, I was ready to bear the pain that looking back would surely bring. How else could I know what—if anything—had really mattered?
My mind wandered back to the day I woke up too young to remember my age or anything except that Big Daddy—momma's father—had picked me up to carry me in from the rain. While in his arms, his hand engaged in places where no grandfather’s hand belongs.
Then, to the day I woke up six years old with an overwhelming sense of shame and feeling like the poster child for ugly. It didn’t help that the kids in my first-grade class made fun of everything from my thick lips to my nappy hair. To make it worse, I had gotten the mange from a stray dog that hung around our yard. I put on the home-made hat my Aunt Viola had sewn to cover the bald spots. Unsure which was worse, I choked back tears as I headed to school.
And the day I woke up nine years old to the first brand new dress I ever owned laid on the bed that I shared with my two brothers. Momma usually bought our clothes at the D.A.V. where she worked as a used-clothing sorter. I stared at it for a moment before slowly sliding the powder blue dress with a big satin bow over my head, careful not to wrinkle the shimmery fabric.
Soon we were off to Big Papa’s—my father’s father—funeral. I was happy about the dress and sad about the funeral. I kept wondering why we got so dressed up for somebody whom nobody seemed to like. In fact, I had once heard momma say she hated him.
I woke up at seventeen married, out of desperation, to a man with his own set of issues. He cheated, hit me and introduced me to marijuana. Years later, I would wake up to sharp slaps on my face from a co-druggie who thought that was the best way to revive me from a cocaine overdose.
At the depleted age of twenty-eight, I woke up and realized I needed a savior. Sitting on an empty row of a country church, I accepted Christ in my heart. I began a quest to know as much as I could about the One Who reached out for me just as I was.
The day finally came when I woke up to find that pain, shame, rejection and addiction were no longer my constant companions. Jesus, Who loved me completely and unconditionally, caused me to see that I was created for purpose. He flooded my heart with light and sent me to be that light for others who sit in darkness. Amazing.
Thinking back to me had been hard, but thinking back to Him had softened the blow. I remembered that even on my lowest day, when my emotions don’t feel it, and my circumstances seem contrary, my life matters because He counted me worthy. He include me in His plans.
I took another look into the mirror. This time, I saw His eyes looking back at me.
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