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Stepping Out

The banner hung from wall to wall as she walked in. CONGRATULATIONS! Was it true? Had she won her most coveted desire? As long as she could remember a trip to the Holy Land was a dream so far removed from her reach, she hardly dared to want it. But to be able to walk the streets of Jerusalem where Jesus walked, see the sun rise on the Sea of Galilee, and swim in the Dead Sea would be the most amazing dream come true in her 17 years.

Beth’s family was beaming with excitement as they announced the news – SHE HAD WON! After months of research and study, Beth had written an award-winning essay for a Christian publication that landed her a free trip to the Holy Land! She had begun a writing journey that would carry her through her entire life! More than that, however, Beth was able to dare to dream as a way of life. She learned to expect the impossible and reach for the stars in all of her endeavors. No was not a word in her vocabulary!

Beth spent ten days living with missionaries in the regions from the cities of Dan to Beersheba. The sights and sounds of each adventure were all consuming. She saw the beautiful Golan Heights as waterfalls tumbled into the Jordan River. For the first time in her life, she was challenged to eat a complete fish on the sea of Galilee – head and all! Beth discovered a new palette as she savored the kosher diet of Jerusalem. She saw the burden of the Jewish people at the wailing wall as they prayed for their country.

Traveling to Lebanon was scary as Beth saw guns appearing over the walls while they drove by. Within weeks, the Yon Kemper War would erupt. She had no idea there was such volatility in the midst of such beauty.

Beth swam in the Dead Sea and visited the Qumran caves where original transcripts of the Word of God were found. As she walked where Jesus walked and visited the tombs of the Biblical patriarchs, Beth was consumed with gratitude for all that had gone before.


It was a chance of a lifetime and Beth had no idea how to establish herself in a male-dominated industry. Her experience and expertise did not align with the job description; but she wanted it desperately. She immediately recognized that the environment and corporate culture was exactly where she needed to be to flourish. Beth was a quick-study and knew whatever she was lacking in experience, she would make up for in perseverance and tenacity.

As she walked into the Executive Vice President’s office that morning, everything seemed to go wrong. Her contact began giving her trouble and her eyes started watering. She couldn’t see the application and started rummaging through her purse to find her glasses. Of course, she had left them at the house never dreaming she would need them. As she made her excuses, she rushed to the restroom to wash her contact and regroup.

When she returned, the General Counsel met her in the lobby and escorted her to his office. Uh-oh! This was not a good sign. What happened to the Executive Vice President? His conversation was replete with legalese she didn’t understand; and Beth fumbled all over her words in an attempt to rise to the occasion. The interview was short and it was obvious that she had not made a good impression. Her final dialogue was with the HR Director who was full of questions and was surprised at Beth’s transparency.

After three weeks, Beth had accepted the fact that securing that job was probably not in the cards. It was difficult for her to come to terms with how badly she did. It was the only chance she would have to impress them with what she could bring to the table. Beth was very aware that no one can make another first impression.

As a last resort, she accepted another job not quite to her liking. She had promised herself she would never settle; but as a single parent, she had no choice. For an entire month, Beth worked in the mundane – unchallenged and never truly tapping into her skillset.

Amazingly, two months after her botched interview, Beth received a call from the HR Director of her first interview offering her the dream job. “I know this is unusual, but would you consider coming to work for us?”

Beth was amazed! As difficult as it was, she had learned that one of the most important aspects of interviewing is being yourself. Transparency is always best and never disappoints whether accepted or rejected.

Yes, she took the position and worked for over 28 years at the same company. She learned every aspect of the industry and worked closely with executive management during her tenure there.

Best of all, she increased her skillset to include corporate correspondence, editing, and creative writing!

Fear of the Unknown

29 hours! That’s how long it would take to get to Jakarta, Indonesia from Dallas/Ft. Worth. She thought the trip to the Holy Land was long; but this would top any trip she had ever taken. Beth struggled with whether she could manage such a trip all by herself; but the privilege of being a keynote speaker to over 200 Indonesian ladies was just too appealing.

Beth was meticulous with her time, her diet, her preparations. She made sure she would have enough time to maneuver her plane changes. Customs was new to Beth as she saw her things strewn all over the table with calloused ease. Language became a barrier in Hong Kong and Jakarta even though Beth was able to manage the broken English. She finally arrived in Jakarta with no one to greet her! What should she do?

She worked her way through the Visa line and secured all of her documentation. As she traversed the long hallway exiting the airport, she saw a throng of people pushing against a gate that had been positioned for non-travelers. To her relief, Beth saw the sweet face of the missionary she was supposed to meet.

It was ten full days of discovery as Beth experienced a completely new culture. Jakarta was like no city she had ever seen. Everything there was BIG! The city was full of large statues welcoming tourists. The buildings were extraordinarily immense and the shopping malls could make up a city by themselves.

Along the coastal beach areas, though, Beth would see poverty beyond belief. Cardboard shacks rested against the seawall as children played around the cooking fire in front of their domain.

Being left-handed, Beth learned that the left hand is the dirtiest part of the body to Indonesians. It is with the left hand that the most gruesome chores are done. It was a great insult for a person to reach out and accept anything
with the left hand. Using the left hand to dispense food or money was offensive. To shake hands with the left hand was the greatest affront. Beth spent her entire stay holding her left hand behind her back to keep from offending. She awkwardly managed with her right hand and did what she could.

Fortunately, speaking did not require hands! The group of women welcomed Beth with open arms and served as outstanding hostesses. It was a time Beth would never forget; and an experience she could never have known if she had allowed her fears to keep her from it. Beth learned to work through the fear of the unknown and brave the path ahead.

Contact Beth Withers Banning

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