Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Sunday School (10/25/07)
By Kristen Hester
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“Mrs. Lester?” She didn’t recognize that the words were addressed to her until they were repeated. “Mrs. Lester, is that you?” She hadn’t noticed the person in front of her because he was a delivery boy. All her attention was directed toward eligible business men.
Her eyes rested on the stranger who was calling her by a name she hadn’t used since her divorce 10 years ago. He was dressed in brown and had a dolly full of boxes. She couldn’t place him, but the name tag on his UPS shirt identified him as “Mike.”
“Hi, ‘Mike’, is it?” She didn’t waste any time pretending to know who he was.
“Don’t you remember me? You and Mr. Lester were my Sunday School teachers in 5th grade?”
Slowly, memories of another life and another time began to register. “Mike Douger?”
“That’s me. This is the weirdest thing, running into you like this.”
“Yea, it’s been a while.” He had been a very troubled young boy when she and her x-husband taught his Sunday School class at First Baptist Church 15 years ago.
“No, I mean it’s weird because I was just discussing you with my fiancee. I’m engaged.” He interrupted himself long enough to dig a picture of a pretty, young blonde out his wallet. He held it up for her to see. She nodded briefly. Mike took a moment to admire it before returning it to his wallet.
“Anyway, I was just telling my fiancee that 5th grade was a pivotal year for me. Your Sunday School class changed my life.”
“Really?” Now she was curious. That period of her life seemed like a forgotten fairy tale.
“I was going through a rough time when I was in your class.” She remembered. When she knew him, his parents were going through a bitter divorce and he was the forgotten casualty. “You told me, ‘God looks at your character, not your circumstances.’ I’ve always remembered that.” Mike swallowed. He looked down and shuffled his feet then bashfully looked up at her. “During a time when I felt no one wanted me, our Sunday School class was my safe haven. I felt like I belonged when I was there. Most importantly, you introduced me to Jesus. Thanks for making a difference in my life.”
Now it was her turn to feel uncomfortable. She didn’t know what to say.
“That’s why my fiancee and I teach Sunday School at our church,” he concluded.
“I’m glad things worked out for you, Mike.” She gave him a awkward pat on the back.
“I’ve got to get going, but it was good to see you.” She watched as he wheeled his dolly toward the back of the bar.
It had been a long time since she thought about “those days” of her life. She’d been a naive newly-wed when they taught that class of 5th graders. She smiled as she remembered the fun they had and how much she loved those kids, but her smile quickly faded. Her picture-perfect marriage had ended a few years later when her husband had an affair. Now at 47 she was divorced with a son in rehab and a daughter who hardly spoke to her. Suddenly the bar and her tight clothes were suffocating. She needed fresh air. She ground out her cigarette and headed toward the door.
She sat quietly in her car and thought. <I>God looks at your character, not your circumstances.</I> Had she really said that? Her circumstances were lousy, but her character was worse. She saw Mike leave the bar pushing his empty dolly. She looked back toward the bar, then to Mike. He seemed so content and happy. Maybe she had everything all wrong. Mike claimed what he learned in a children’s Sunday School class had made the difference in his life. If only it were that simple, she thought to herself. If only...
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