A short work of fiction that I had previously submitted as an entry to the FaithWriters weekly challenge.
She laid in bed and stared. Her walls were like crumpled, yellowing pages from a discarded comic book; they were covered floor to ceiling with old posters and photographs of friends. She never got around to taking down the photos, but she needed to because they were outdated and most of the people in them she had not seen in ages. Along the walls were shelves of dusty CD cases, music books, and other neglected clutter.
With much effort, she threw off the covers and lumbered out of bed. She didn’t have to go to work, it was Sunday. Despite having not gone to church in months she continued to naturally wake up at the time she’d be going. She walked across the room and fell into the seat in front of her vanity. She released a rather heavy sigh and stared at the cold surface of the mirror. Whether it was to brush her blonde tresses, pluck stray hairs from her eyebrows, or smear blush across her cheeks, every day she sat in front of the mirror as part of her morning regime. Today she reached for her squat jar of face moisturizer. She unscrewed the lid and swiped some of the cream onto her fingertips. She dabbed it around the corners of her eyes.
She was thankful she didn’t have to go to work today. For one, the job had been comfortable yet it cultivated in her a type of complacency that killed her creativity. Also, the whole staff at her particular office were women. All of them had children, a fiancé or husband, and a nice house. She studied her face and leaned forward. She had always been pretty. She still was, but she started to notice fine lines beginning to appear above her brow. In the scheme of things she was still rather young, but the realization of becoming middle-aged was looming in the not so far future. She smeared the moisturizer across her face with more urgency.
The last couple years she had become very withdrawn. She used to love to go out and about; she would plan picnics on the bluffs, accompany musician friends on her guitar, travel to new cities with companions, eat sushi with the girls, and of course attend church. But times can change a person. Things became stagnant and less exciting. Various failures and disappointments also led to shame. As she aged, she began to imagine judgmental stares from her peers. She grew weary of having to explain why she never ended up using her music degree, why she didn’t yet own her own home, why her latest romance had failed terribly, so on and so forth.
Her patience for other people had worn thin as well. She became jaded by what she perceived to be whimsical ideas of new age religions and also stanch ideals of materialism. These principles seemed to saturate much of the conversations she had with unbelievers in her life. Also to her dismay, she felt selfish and under accomplished among her networks and friends from church. She just didn’t fit. It was a struggle even to go out for groceries anymore. She slumped over and cried. Her fit lasted a rather long time and the tears began to pool on the chipped, painted surface of her vanity.
As her breakdown began to subside and the tears no longer would come, she just sat. Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted. She was startled; there was no one there and she couldn’t explain it but it felt as though she was suddenly embraced. She sensed something like arms wrap around her spirit. She heard God speak into her heart, “I know the plans I have for you.” She looked up at her reflection again. “There are people out there suffering, and I sit here fussing over tiny wrinkles,” she thought. She recognized in that moment that His plans will always be bigger than her broken pride and her conceit. There was too much to do to waste another moment bemoaning in front of her vanity. She stood up, walked to her closet, and picked out a dress for church.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)