“OOOOH!” Beth whispered. She bunched the pillow under her head and rolled over for the hundredth time, trying to get comfortable – to push the troublesome thoughts from her mind. She whose thoughts are stayed upon You, You will keep in perfect peace because she trusts in you! Even trying to wrap her mind around scripture wasn’t working. “GRRRR! That’s it!” Frustrated, she resisted the impulse to heave the covers back. Her husband’s quiet snoring added fuel to her already sour state of mind, but waking him to vent wasn’t the answer either.
Beth stole out of bed, and in the dark felt for her robe. Soon she was comfortably sprawled out on the couch under a light soft polar fleece blanket. Now, she thought, I can think. Perched just above her, the cat shifted positions to mold herself even flatter over the back of the sofa.
.Don’t be unaware of the strategies of the enemy. The Bible text came to mind, unbidden. Beth, well aware of the damage that gossip could do – and had done – she shook her head. “What am I going to do?” she asked out loud.
The raw hurt of Sunday was still fresh.
With head high, eyes averted, short stocky Marie, her former writing buddy, had marched past without even acknowledging her – again. Then, as if in stereo, Diane, copping the same posture, also stalked by. No accident – Beth was sure – holy gossip was at least, in part, the culprit.
But what could she do?
“Whacha doing up?” The disembodied voice in the darkness almost unnerved her.
“Oh Dan..” she groaned. “Why didn’t you warn me you were there?”
Beth drew her legs up to make room at the end of the couch for his comforting presence. She bit her lip, wondering how much to share with him. Guys in general seemed to live on a separate wavelength, oblivious and aloof to the going-on’s of women, but not Dan. He was perceptive.
“What’s up?” he asked. “Why are you laying here in the dark and not in bed with me?”
“It’s Marie,” she stated simply.
“Again? What happened this time?”
“She’s still torqued off.”
“How do you know?” Dan sighed and without seeing him, Beth could feel him roll his eyes. He added, “Was it Sunday?’
“She blames me, still,” Beth responded, even as she flashed upon Marie’s accusing words.
“Somebody encouraged me to write my book, told me to spend lots of money and that I’d get rich if I did!” Marie had had the gall to stand in front of a room full of people, with Beth present, and indirectly accuse her.
Hadn’t she been the first to encourage Marie to read her writing aloud? And when Marie had wanted to publish her book, hadn’t she as leader of the Christian Writers’ Group warned her against going with a subsidy press? But no, Marie was stubborn, determined that she was right. Then, ten thousand dollars poorer, she’d insisted upon publishing a second time with her next book.
How could she say such things, or even infer that Beth was at fault?
“How do you know?”
Dan’s question brought her back to the present.
“She shoots me those dark looks of hers, you know, when I stand in line at the counter, where she works. In fact, her ire was so obvious that one woman cranked her head around to gawk at me, to see who Marie was looking at. Then, on Sunday, she stalked past me, uncaring, coldly, even though I’d been sick for months and it was my first service back. I saw her in town, just before I had surgery. She knew I was going into the hospital. But, she didn’t care.”
“So, why are you letting her attitudes bother you? Why can’t you ignore her? Does it matter that she repeatedly snubs you? I don’t get it, Beth.”
Dan’s impatient tone grated against Beth’s already bruised ego. She tried to explain, “It’s not her. This has been going on so long now, I don’t ever think it will get resolved, though I’ve done everything except stand on my head trying to get things straight between us. It’s more that I wonder how her falsely accusing words will affect the couple we are dicipling. She’s befriended them. What if…?”
“Beth,” Dan interrupted her tirade to interject, “what about the verses, ‘On God our honor and glory rest’? Aren’t you forgetting that protecting our reputations is up to God?”
“Yes, but, doesn’t it say to bring deeds done in darkness to light – and not to be unaware of the strategies of the enemy? Aren’t we supposed to confront things in the Body of Christ that are wrong? What if…”
Dan squeezed her foot, and Beth stopped speaking. “Why don’t we pray for wisdom? Didn’t James write that we can ask God and he’ll give it to us?”
“Alright. Let’s ask him. Then, let’s go to bed, okay?”
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