The hospital had been Karen's captor for a week.
She endured a bevy of painful prodding tests as the doctors looked for the source of the involuntary facial movements she had been experiencing for months.
That afternoon, Karen had received the diagnosis, hemi-facial spasm. It was a rare condition but could be corrected with surgery, which was scheduled for the following morning.
Wendy sashayed into room #2077 bearing gifts.
"Karen, your Sunday School class made these cards for you. The body lotion is from me. I know your favorite is Chanel N°5," Wendy cooed as she handed the gifts to Karen.
"Thank you," Karen said as she gently caressed the array of cards the children had made.
Karen would have known which child crafted each card without looking at the names. With Jason's love of animals, he had drawn dogs and cats on the cover of his card. Abby's family has horses on their ranch and she had drawn several horses with Jesus on the back of one...or maybe they were donkeys. Shelly, the girlie girl, had used every color in the Crayola box on her masterpiece. Parker the serious one, had drawn three crosses.
Each card was as unique as the child, but all had the same message, "I Love You."
When Mrs. Cole, the teacher of the Primary class moved, Karen volunteered to teach. Being a new member of the congregation, Karen was excited to be serving God. She diligently studied and prepared lessons. She scoured bookstores, garage sales, and secondhand stores looking for materials to bring the Bible stories to life for her students. It was truly one of the joys of Karen's life.
"Karen, last night in the monthly church business meeting the teachers were elected to serve for the upcoming year." Wendy announced settling into the beige plastic chair beside Karen's bed. "Oh, and Rhonda Phillips was elected to teach the Primary class. Isn't that the class you teach?"
The cards Karen were holding, dropped to her lap. She thought she wasn't going to catch the next breath. She knew she must not cry, no, not now. Hot tears were threatening to spill into rivers of despair. The heart wrenching hurt soon turned to a sickening anger. The muscles in her face tightened as her anger grew, and she feared the spasms would begin again.
Wendy continued to chatter about something. She could have been speaking French or Portuguese, or whatever...Karen couldn't bring her brain back to comprehend.
Mercifully, the intercom interrupted Wendy's spiel. "Visiting hours has ended."
Giving Karen a hug, Wendy promised she would be back to see her after surgery.
Karen didn't know how she had mustered the strength to contain the boiling pot of anger that threatened to overflow in front of Wendy. How dare they? Had her dedication meant nothing? So many members sit on their self-righteous backsides every Sunday contributing zilch!
The flood gates gave-way. Karen sobbed from deep within her soul.
Allowing the night nurse to assume she was distressed over the impending surgery, Karen gratefully accepted the sedative that was offered. As she slipped into the peaceful suspension of consciousness, the anger began to lose its grip.
The next morning as she emerged from a soft fog of dreamless sleep, Karen recalled scripture she had recently read. "The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression."
As the words sank into her soul, Karen began to cry, but this time the tears were tears of forgiveness, repentance, thankfulness, and, yes, joy. God gave her a bonus, peace. The looming surgery this morning no longer seemed so daunting.
Taking the Chanel lotion from the night-stand, she dabbed a spot above her heart.
Scripture: Proverbs 19:11 (KJV)
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