Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Friend (11/02/17)
TITLE: Fake It Till You Make It
By Tracy Nunes
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“FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT!” The name of a very popular motivational speaker followed in cursive black.
I’d bellied up to that bar to buy slick adages and mottos designed for those addicted to the quest for success. I’d bellied up and gotten very drunk off easy steps and sure-fire methods to make life everything I dreamed of.
Now, a simple hot dog was my only goal and my cardboard sign my only means of achieving it. Hard rock hunger somehow made the pressure sores on my bottom places seem friendlier in comparison. But that banner stirred up broken memories of the long road to this sidewalk.
How did I get here?
I asked myself this while staring at that banner streaming across the sky. I’d traded a feast to sit here yearning for mysterious meat byproducts and food preservatives that sounded like pesticides.
That day comes clearly to mind like it was yesterday. A book - it’s cover artistically rendered, showing a smiling man surrounded by good things. Nice things. Our Bible study leader, Steven, my best friend since grade school, explained as he passed it out that we were going to take a sabbatical from the radical words of Scripture. Weren’t we all tired of the deep-dive anyway? His words echoed back to me now.
Yes, I was. I was tired. We’d sacrificed time and money, Kelly and me. We’d served. We’d prayed. I was tired of hearing that my dreams wouldn’t all come true until heaven. Delayed satisfaction was no satisfaction at all. Sometimes, I wondered about His promises. Sometimes, they really didn’t seem all that true.
What could it hurt to do a little seeking for heaven in the here and now? I accepted the book handed to me that day with an excitement I hadn’t felt for a long while. We dove into it – well, those of us who stayed. Some in the group argued with Steven. Others just quietly left.
But I worked it. And it worked! Seven Strategies to Heaven Now boosted my productivity at work so much that I got a promotion with a big fat raise. We moved from our old neighborhood and the simple living that characterized our early days of marriage and family. We’d made it. I felt energized and finally jazzed for the future. Those were good times.
But we traded struggling together for striving at arm’s length. We got busy. We got distracted. The deep-dive no longer interested me. It wasn’t just a temporary break. I was eternally saved, right? What was the point in trying to figure it all out down here if He was going to make it all true-blue-clear there?
Well, you already know where I’ve ended up: alone, scattered, or as they say, “disenfranchised.” No heaven on earth, certainly. Hell is more like it.
While I considered that banner and drooled for a hot dog, I felt a hand on my shoulder. Turning away from the sky, I looked up into a clean shaven but weary vision. A familiar face but the years had morphed the lines into deep crags and valleys. Steven.
In his left hand was a hot dog and in his right, something I’d not seen in a very long time - seemed like an eternity - a Bible. Scripture. The Word.
Tears in his eyes, he sat down next to me holding out the hot dog and the book. I took the hot dog and stuffed it in my face while I cautiously eyed the book.
“I betrayed you, Kevin.”
I looked him in the eyes searching for sarcasm or mockery. It wasn’t there. His blue eyes shown clear and true with compassion and regret. Deep regret.
One gift from a friend derailed my life. Another brought it back.
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