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My Outlook on Life Made an About Face
By Catherine C. Brooks

If only I could share with you
The joy Jesus brings to me,
For He has bound His heart to mine
To beat in harmony.

     In June 1939 when I was almost 13, Daddy got the first car he'd had since he married. Either we traveled with my Grandpa and Granny Callis, or Daddy walked a mile to borrow their car and another mile after he returned it. I wasn't a bit excited because this meant they would be attending another church. They insisted I go with them. My friends were in the church I'd attended since a baby and had joined the year before. I'd just been promoted to the Intermediate Class with Miss Clara as my teacher. I wasn't going to leave. They could drop me off at Salem and go on to Peniel Friends. I'd get a way home or I'd walk, and that was that.

     After arguing did no good, I agreed to try it one Sunday morning. How out of place I felt. Two other girls my age had on Bobbie sox with saddle shoes and had flat chests. I had to sit on a narrow space on the edge of the pulpit floor with silk hose and 11/2-inch heels, wearing a C cup bra. Little children sat Indian style in the middle of the same class. The teacher explained that until they could build Sunday School rooms, there was nowhere else for "you children." That was it for me!
     Church service was okay with lots of singing that I enjoyed, but my friends were at the other church. Once in the car, I began telling my family that I'd never go back on that Sunday School Class again. Mother and Daddy saw my side for once. They made no promises, but said they'd think about it. It was Wednesday night after prayer meeting when I sat in the back of church, working on some homework, that Cousin Lizzie (my Daddy's first cousin) asked me to come on her Sunday School class on the next Sunday morning. Now, I agreed to that because I already knew girls on that class, and they dressed like I did. In fact, I'd sat with one of them on Sunday for church service.

     All soon eased for me, and I began enjoying Sundays, especially going to my parents' friends and Daddy's cousins for Sunday dinner. Then girls on the class asked me to spend the day at their homes. None of their mothers cooked better than mine, but I got to see parts of Mathews new to me and enjoyed time with friends. Going to Cottage Prayer meeting on Monday nights took us to other neighborhoods, but they were long services. They weren't a part of the church, but lots of church people went. In fact, Cousin Lizzie was one of the three founders.

     As time went on, younger people made up a part of those Monday night meetings. I tried to take part in the singing without a piano. But as all knew, I couldn't carry a tune so I sang low. Faces of the younger folks glowed as they sang. Then one after another, they'd tell how Jesus had helped them the past week or even that day. One of Mother's friend's clothesline had broken, and she had to wash the clothes twice with a crying lad dragging behind her. The second time, she dried them inside on racks and porch railing. She did have a wringer washer instead of a board in a tub with a second tub for rinsing like everyone had a few years before. She thanked the Lord for the extra grace He'd given to get through the day. That was all new to me, but so sincere that it made me think.

     Then our pastor, Mr. Wilbur began a series of sermons on the "Rapture." That was something I'd never heard to my knowledge, but he gave scripture for each statement. I didn't want to be left behind when Jesus came to take the blood-washed Church up to Heaven. I'd lay awake at night, thinking about the joy of those young men and women, who knew Jesus as their Savior, on Monday nights, I didn't have it. Then I'd look out of the East window, realizing any minute Jesus could come. "For no one knows the day or hour except God the Father." I spent nights asking for forgiveness and wanting to believe that I had the same. But when I went to face my parents or more especially my peers, I couldn't acknowledge I was a new Christian.

     Finally, soon after I completed my freshman year in high school, I struggled with myself one last time. On a Sunday night, I arose after going to bed, went in my parents' room and whispered to Mother so as not to awaken Daddy, who was snoring. I asked her to come pray with me to accept Jesus as my Savior. I went to bed minutes afterwards with a new song in my heart. "Angels were rejoicing in Heaven because a soul had come home," according to the hymn we had sung at church. I learned later that it was taken from scripture. The Holy Spirit allowed me to rejoice for days, but I had to remember rain comes as well as sunshine in the natural world and also in the spiritual.

     I've had mountain top experiences, but valleys follow. The path hasn't always been easy, but I've had a Heavenly companion to walk by my side and even to carry me when the road became too rugged. I gave up nothing, but my pride and selfishness, but received joy, grace and a peace that passes understanding. In those Monday night services, Edna Ward led us in a spiritual, which said, "Ill never turn back, I'll never turn backů" I sang that with vigor, and 67 years later it's my determination. I'm one of the few left, who attended those cottage prayer meetings, but I look forward to rejoicing with the others that I met with in eternity.

© 2006 Catherine C. Brooks All Rights reserved
 


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