Her daughter, who I'll call Sarah, was a member of a Brownie troop, one comprised of eight second grade girls. With meetings every Wednesday, and frequent weekend excursions, this was a tight-knit group of little ladies.
As a co-leader of the troop, my friend never observed any discord among the girls, no sour apples causing strife. It came as a shock, then, when one of the girls had a birthday party/sleep-over that was limited to the troop-minus one.
She invited everyone-except Sarah.
It's got to be a mistake! Of this, my friend and I were sure. An honest oversight? An invitation lost in the mail?
The answer to both was "no". This was confirmed when the birthday girl marched up to Sarah at school and announced, "I'M having a party-and YOU'RE not invited!"
Okay, all you parents reading this...I can feel your blood pressure rising. You understand my friend's feelings, which shifted between wanting to shoot steam from her ears and dissolve into a puddle of tears.
We know that our children can't score an invite to every bash at Chuck E. Cheese, and that parents usually need to put a cap on the number of party guests. But when you have a specific small group-a team, a troop, whatever-that gets together on a regular basis...
Deliberately excluding ONE?
Seems wrong to me, and my friend and I agreed-the parents who allowed this to happen needed to be horsewhipped.
Since punishment in the town square wasn't an option, my friend wanted to know this: what WAS an option?
"What would you do?" she asked. "Confront the parents or just let it go?"
At first, I didn't know what I would do.
This was definitely a "What-Would-Jesus-Do?-Moment."
Our lives are full of them-cruel slights, rude drivers, cold remarks and a host of other things that leave us stung and tingling, as though slapped across the face and not quite sure how to respond.
And what WOULD Jesus do? Turn the other cheek? That's one of Jesus' most famous teachings, and He meant it-in specific situations. In the case of a little girl's heart being broken? I think Jesus would have spoken up.
In her devotional, First Things First, Christian author Jill Briscoe praises the way Jesus solved problems. "He tackled them head on!" she writes. "He was a master at confronting people in such a way that it did not hinder his relationship with them afterward."
The Bible presents many examples of this-His gentle reminder to a distracted Martha that her priorities were out-of-whack; His appearance to doubting Thomas and inviting this follower to place his hands on His wounds; His disappointed chastisement of the disciples when He caught them sleeping-for the third time-just before His arrest.
When people's actions didn't make sense, Jesus requested an explanation. Consider the woman at Bethany, who was harshly rebuked for anointing Jesus with an expensive perfume. "Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me." (Mark 14: 6, NIV)
Jesus, in Jerusalem during the Feast of Dedication, was surrounded by Jews who tried to stone Him- more than once. "Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?" (John 10: 31-32, NIV)
When questioned about His disciples and teachings by a high priest, Jesus was struck in the face by an official. "If I said something wrong," Jesus replied, "testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?" (John 18: 23, NIV)
And how about this one: "but Jesus asked him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" (Luke 22: 48, NIV)
Often, as Christians, we swallow hurt, avoid awkward subjects and skirt confrontation as though it carried cooties. We fear starting trouble, making things worse and appearing "unchristian"; yet Jesus tells us to be reconciled with one another, to settle matters quickly. (Matthew 5: 24-25)
Good advice, because what happens when we don't clear the air? We choke-our hurt, anger and resentment wadded into a hairball that would earn a high five from the most arrogant of cats. Because we lack understanding, our thoughts run wild and consume us. Racking our brain for reasons, and analyzing every possibility, we start talking to ourselves in the grocery store.
The Bible shows us that it's wise to seek remedy to situations that ail us. The key to it is approach. You've heard the old saying-it's not what you say, it's how you say it. That being true, it's beneficial to spend time in Proverbs, where there's plenty of advice on handling the most destructive part of our being-our tongues!
We learn, though, that when a problem is approached with a wise and gentle spirit-one that seeks understanding and reconciliation-much can be accomplished. When you get to the bottom of things, the only place to go is up...if it's handled correctly on the way down.
In the case of Sarah, it never was determined why she got shoved into the cold. The party went on without her, and weeks later, the other girl's family moved out-of-state. It's ancient history now...
But slighted moments are far from being history. They arise all the time. Often, the best response is no response...other times, appropriate, Biblically based action is called for.
Thankfully, we don't have to just wonder, "What would Jesus do?" We can follow His example, as told in the New Testament. We have an entire Bible bursting with instruction for dealing with the difficulties that face us.
And that sure beats walking around with a hairball.