Karen came in and laid out her materials. She smiled at the hum of conversation going on around her. Social time was one of the highlights of the women’s Bible study. We stay-at-home moms get so little of it.
As she stacked the handouts for the study, something made her stop. Out of the din, Karen heard her son’s name. She cocked her head and listened. A quick glance told her it was Gina, his Sunday school teacher. Gina leaned into the table like she was trying to hide a secret. But, her voice wafted over like the smell of the fresh baked chocolate chip cookies on the snack table.
“I don’t know what to do with Jacob.” Gina dropped her face into her hands in exasperation. “He disrupts class every week. I can’t even keep him in his chair…he could really use a good spanking.”
Karen was shocked. No one had told her there was a problem with Jacob. She knew he could be a handful, so she was careful to check on his progress in Sunday school. She was always told everything was fine.
As she sat and listened to the conversation about her son, she went through the gamut of emotions. She started off upset with Jacob and embarrassed for his misbehavior. Then, as she processed the information, she started to get more and more angry with Gina. If he was such a problem, why didn’t she bother to talk to her about it? Why was his teacher now discussing this problem with someone else? She saw Jacob’s reputation spiraling downward with each unkind word Gina spoke. It hurt her to think people might not like her son.
Karen’s hurt and anger urged her to say something. The wise part of her knew if she tried she would end up saying something she shouldn’t. So, she let it go and vowed to try to help Jacob do better in class.
The next Sunday she dropped him off in class. She furrowed her eyebrows and drilled Jacob with a look. Remember what we talked about.
Gina welcomed him in and smiled at Karen. Karen bristled.
I’ll give it another try.
She motioned Gina away from the children. “How has Jacob been lately?”
“He’s doing fine. We just love him.”
Karen was stewing inside at the response. She pasted on a cardboard smile and left the room. She didn’t know what to say. She was so upset she wanted to grab her son and run screaming from the building. Instead she went and found her place in the sanctuary.
As the worship team began, Karen found it hard to focus. Her anger stood like a brick wall blocking her from praise. Thoughts of Gina dominated her thinking. Adding strength to the wall before her. I don’t like her.
The pastor interrupted her thoughts as he took his place on the platform. “I want to talk today about fellowship. How does God define fellowship? Is it talking with our Christian friends? Is it coming to a potluck? Studying the Bible together? Those things are nice, but they don’t get to the heart of the word.” He paced the floor thoughtfully, as if looking for just the right word. “Fellowship is a verb. Specifically it’s the act of loving His people. Loving God means loving His children. If we aren’t in fellowship with other believers it’s like telling God we don’t care about His children.”
Those words hit Karen like a rock between the eyes. The room faded away. Only she and God were left. Shame suffocated her like a heavy blanket. I told God I don’t like one of his children.
God, help me love her. Forgive her.
After the service, Karen headed for the stairs to Jacob’s classroom. She didn’t know how this was going to go, but she was confident it was the right choice. She needed to do her part to restore the relationship. Praying for the right words, she made her way slowly up the stairs…
“Gina, can I talk to you for a minute?”
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