We did not use this term in our congregation but a woman who was a long time member was close to being just that.
For years her bad temper and harsh attitude had brought strife into our midst and even sent some people away.
This was her last hope. If she did not improve in four weeks, she was going to be fired and asked to leave.
The Pastor told me he wanted me to work with her, and before I could protest, he said “Bye!” and was gone.
I was hopeful and prayerful.
I moved into the office on a Monday morning. When I said a cheerful ‘Good morning!” she gave me an under eyed look and kept reading her newspaper.
The stress was tremendous. There seem to be no relief from her negativity.
Everything little thing was a struggle, a challenge with her. Even the most minor of things was blown up into a mountain.
I became guarded and mute not expressing any opinion because I knew it would lead to an augument.
By midmorning, I was so full of anger and frustration that I could hardly speak. I forgot all about the many scriptures I had been quoting all morning.
“She is wicked, wicked,” I began to say to myself.
I moved out of the office and started doing my paperwork in the Lounge, in the hallway, in the ladies room, on pews, anywhere except near this woman.
The first week I was so angry that my children retired to their bedrooms early each night and my husband discovered a new hobby in his garage.
Nobody wanted to be around me! All I talked about was my troubles at work.
One evening at home I was walking and fussing. I said, “She’s wicked, wicked!”
The Holy Spirit inside of me whispered, “She’s bruised, bruised…”
I ignored that.
I continued “She’s wicked, wicked!”
The Holy Spirit whispered gently again, “She’s bruised, bruised…”
I was bold. I said once more,”No! She is wicked, wicked!”
Then all of a sudden I got a sudden fear. Something was surely about to happen .
I ran outside in the sunshine. If the Angel was going to slap me down for disrespect, I wanted to be outdoors for some reason.
My husband looked at me. “Still arguing with God, are you?”
I repented and decided I would not call the woman wicked anymore.
The next morning the Pastor stepped over me as I sat on the floor of the hallway doing paperwork.
“How’s it going?”, he asked cheerfully.
The words just popped out! “She’s a wicked, wicked woman!”
He smiled, “Praise the Lord!I know you can handle it. Have a nice day!”
And was gone!
One morning the woman called and told me her car wouldn’t start. She TOLD me to pick her up. Before I could answer, she hung up the phone in my face.
She rode with me several weeks never offering to help on gas, when I had to go out of my way to pick her up.
One day I asked for a small donation for my gas tank.
Slowly she pulled out a five dollar bill.
She looked at it like it was an old friend, rubbing it on her knee for a minute. Then she slowly handed it to me.
I felt awful for some reason, but I needed it.
Many times during those four weeks I asked God how long did I have to be longsuffering with her.
I whined that I had been longsuffering two weeks already! How long does longsuffering have to be!!!
One morning we got to work early.
I went to make myself a cup of coffee.
I heard beautiful music coming from the Chapel. Investigating, I saw the woman on her knees hands outstretched at the altar.
She was singing the most beautiful melodies to God. She was singing in the spirit-in other languages, and it sounded like an an Angel's voice.
I sat in the back with my coffee, transfixed by this.
Then she began to weep. Deep painful sobs wracked her body as she called on Jesus to help her and restore her joy.
Afterwards she talked to the Lord as if he was sitting in the chair in front of her! Over and over and over which much emotion she expressed her deep love for Him.
She quoted scripture after scripture of her love and devotion for God.
She weeped, “Oh Father I love you so…”
so many times I lost count.
She was an abused wife and had been an abused child, too.
God was her only friend.
Now I understood how the Lord was working so diligently to restore her so that she would not be fired and sent away.
I tried to be a little more patient and understanding.
Did this woman suddenly become gentle, sweet and loving?
No. She was her old self for a long time.
These things take time.
I started telling her riddles and funny jokes every morning. I sang silly songs. I used theatrics to amuse and comfort her. After a while she looked forward to this zanyness and had to laugh in spite of herself.
Her attitude improved.
And one day she just moved on...she was gone.
The church is not a social club as much as we enjoy our friends and aquaintances. It is a hospital where hurting and confused people come to be healed.
The next time I saw her, a few years later, she was a different person.
Free, joyful, and kind, with the Love of God all over her!
I believe that if she had been sent away in her depressed state, things would have been very different.
I am glad the Pastor decided to be patient with her. I am glad this poor woman was not EXCOMMUNICATED!
I Corinthians 13
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.