The Other Side of Me

FourthFridayFiction

One of my favorite Bible studies that I have ever done is by Liz Curtis Higgs called Bad Girls of the Bible.  She is the bomb and I love the way she sets up the study, including a modern fiction piece to explain a Bible story.  I have said that if I ever wrote a Bible study I would format it like that.  That may not happen soon, but what it has spurn me to do is create Fourth Friday Fiction.  One the fourth Friday of the Month, I will post a short story.  I hope these stories inspire you, I hope that sometimes, they make you laugh, and today you will see that your design is not in error.  God writes the perfect story.

A couple of semesters ago, I took a Creative Writing course.  One of the prompts we had was to write a story about the two sides of our personalities; this is mine.

The Other Side of Me

“Let’s everyone give a big ‘thank you’ to Anne and Kelly for all their hard work on this year’s banquet,” the announcer said as he stretched his hand toward the table that we were sitting at, then began to clap. I wanted to crawl under the table and wait out the clapping and cheering, then go back to eating the chocolate soufflé that Kelly had chosen.

While I was sitting there, trying to fade into the taffeta covered chair, Kelly had risen to her feet and begun to wave at everyone. I stifled a giggle, picturing her on top of a float, crown a bit crocked, waving to the crowd in between pushing her sash on her shoulder and blowing kisses.

I turned my attention back to my soufflé as Kelly sat back down.  She laid her arm next to mine and hooked our pinky fingers together, a gesture she had been doing our whole lives. I turned to peer into the gray-blue eyes that looked exactly like the ones I saw in the mirror each morning. The only difference was, when I looked into her eyes, I saw a light, a fire, and a love for life.  When I looked into the mirror, I just saw me.

“We did a great job,” she said as she squeezed my finger before releasing it.  She picked up her fork and started poking at the top of her own soufflé.

“You did most of the work.”

“Annie, that isn’t true and you know it.”

“Sure it is, you booked the venue, hired the caterer,”

We hired the caterer,” she interjected.

I smiled, she was right, we did that together, but it was her confidence that got the company to come down so much on their price.

“You give me too much credit,” I said.

“You don’t give yourself enough.  You need to believe in yourself, take credit for what you do.  You are an awesome planner.”

I wish I had recorded the number of times we’ve had this conversation.  I looked at our hands, again side by side.  Kelly’s nails were painted a bright, glitter pink; they matched her dress. She had a flower ring that resembled something a little girl would wear, but on her it just worked.  My hands were, clean, simple, understated, just like my dress, and just the way I like it.

flower-arrangement-647006

Kelly wrapped her flower-adorned hand around the water glass and took a drink. She looked over my shoulder, then back at me, sat her glass back on the table, and dabbed her mouth with her napkin. She turned in her seat, taking both my hands in hers, causing me to turn as well.

“There is a gentleman heading this way that wants to talk to us about planning a banquet for his company.  He has 400 in-house employees that he wants to honor.  His name is Davis Reed.”

“Okay,” I said, “Handling the clients is your job.”

She smiled then stood, pulling me up with her.  She let go of my hands before pulling me into a hug.  As she held me, I relished in the love of my sister. I watched a balloon come loose from the center piece at the table adjacent to ours, it didn’t bother me that it happened like it usually would have, not now, not here, not with Kelly.

She pulled back, keeping hold of my shoulders.

“Annie, you are a great planner.”

“Whatever,” I said as I rolled my eyes.

She smiled then kissed my cheek. “I quit,” she whispered into my ear then walked away.

I stood there, with my mouth open, watching her dance her way to different people. As I watched her laugh and flirt and love life, I couldn’t help but smile.  I turned, pulled a red rose from the centerpiece and placed it in my hair, just as someone step into my line of sight and extend his hand.

“Miss Wells, I’m Davis Reed.”

Wow, leave me a comment and let me know what you think.  I look forward to your feedback.

Who Is This Mara Person?

I just finished a bible study, “Five Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit.” Since it was the wrap up day, I thought I would read back through the book of Ruth, where the study came from.  I was struck by a couple of things that had very little to do with Ruth and everything to do with her mother-in-law, Naomi.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this precious story, because it isn’t just a love story between a man and a women, but it is also a story of the love and devotion Ruth had for her mother-in-law.  But, it’s Naomi’s story that could have been written today.

Naomi’s Story

So, a little background on our girl, Naomi.  She marries this guy, and they have two sons.  They move to a foreign land because there is a feminine in their country and after they got there, he dies.  She is a single mom in a foreign land, raising two teenage boys.  This boys grow and take wives of there own and after Naomi’s little family has been in Moab for ten years, her sons die also.  It’s been a tough time and in a nutshell, Girlfriend is hurting.
Naomi gets word that God has been doing some really great things back in her hometown of Bethlehem, so she decides that if she is going to have to be miserable, she might as well do it where her family is, because God isn’t really doing anything for her in Moab.  So, Naomi packs up her house, corrals the daughter-in-laws and they start their journey to Bethlehem.
Now the travel part is the part everyone knows, the “your people will be my people and your God will be my God,” speech, but so much more was going on here.  Naomi was broken and in her brokenness, she wanted to be alone to wallow in it.  I’m getting this image of pigs rolling around in the mud; the purpose is to be covered in it.  This was true for Naomi, she was covered in her grief and brokenness.  I would assume that Orpah going back to Moab probably just added to it.  I could just hear her internal rant, “see, even the daughters that God gave me are running away.  God doesn’t want me to be happy, if he did, I wouldn’t be in this mess, and I wouldn’t have lost her too.”  Naomi did not realize that in her grief, she was pushing those around her away.  Luckily, Ruth is tenacious, not letting Naomi walk this road alone.
Now, here is where this story takes a bend.  It’s been roughly two weeks that Naomi and Ruth have been traveling.  Naomi has had plenty of time to think about how bad her life is, so much so, that when she reached the gates of Bethlehem and her family sees her, she fusses at them and tells them she is no longer Naomi, which means pleasantness, that now, she’s Mara, meaning bitter.  Oh boy was she bitter and she blamed God for it.

Ruth 1:20 – 21 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”

Remember I said this was a modern day tell?  That right there was it, how often do we look at all that is going on around us, the set backs or miss steps and grow bitter?  How often do we sit in that bitterness and blame God for it?  All the stinking time.  We are just like those pigs, and just like Naomi, wallowing in self-pity and frustration, calling everyone we know, telling them how much life sucks and blaming God; we are changing our name to Mara.
Yet, as time progressed, Naomi saw something that we often miss: she saw God’s hand moving.  She saw how God opened a door of provision for her and Ruth, she saw God allowing a connection between Ruth and Boaz, and she saw God making a way where there seemed to be no way. When Naomi stopped focusing all of her attention on herself and actually took a step back, she was able to see with a new set of eyes.  Kind of like when you get glasses for the first time, and everything just seems to come into focus.
Naomi didn’t understand why things were happening the way they did, she just saw that everything she held dear had been taken from her.  But God was doing something bigger, God had a plan, He just needed Naomi to trust Him.  In the midst of Naomi’s biggest heartbreak how would she have know that she would be in the lineage of the Savior of the World.

Proverbs 3:5 – 6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

So how often do you look at a situation and say, “it is how it is, it’s never going to get better” or “God doesn’t care about me,” or “God must be punishing me for something.”  Sister, let me tell you, God is not punishing you, He is preparing you, and He is still writing your story. You may not see it now, you may never see it, but your reaction to your situation will determine your destination. When we hold onto bitterness instead of trusting that God is at work, that is all we are, bitter.  But when we just stop, that is when God can do his thing.  We may not understand why God allowed certain things to happen, but we can rest in the knowledge that His is working it for our good, that’s what it’s like to be brave; so don’t be Mara, just be you.
Hurray for Naomi and hurray for YOU.
Father, we know there are times when it feels like the whole world is weighing us down and we don’t understand what you are doing.  I thank you Lord, for telling us in your word, that someday we will.  Let us find peace when we put our trust in you, let us not grow bitter when we can’t see your plan or we think when we feel like it’s all falling apart.  Help us to see clearly and to be able to keep our eyes on you.  In the name of your most precious Son, Jesus.  Amen.
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