Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Actions Speak Louder than Words" (without using the actual phrase). (02/21/08)
TITLE: Rattling On
By Lynda Schultz
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This group was new to John. He had met Gladys a couple of times, but really couldn’t say that he knew much about her or her story.
He didn’t think it mattered. After all, he had been invited to lead the group in a series of studies on Paul’s writings. He didn’t need to know the people who would participate in the study.
Tonight was the second in the series. Everyone was on time. The hostess had prepared a light snack for the participants, and everyone was quite chatty and relaxed—except Gladys. She didn’t eat anything and was very quiet. When one of the others asked her if something was wrong, she simply said:
“I have a headache.”
Well, that could happen to anyone, couldn’t it?
John called the group to order. The video projector was warmed up and the presentation on his laptop was ready. He had carefully typed out his notes on the bottom of the PowerPoint slides. He had talked too much last week and was determined to allow for more participation this week.
“First of all, let’s read the passage of Scripture we will be studying tonight.”
John assigned a couple verses to each person and they took turns reading. Gladys was the last one. She could hardly read. The stammer was very pronounced.
Since he had never heard her read before, John thought that perhaps she had difficulty because of her educational background.
<i>Listen, John, listen.</i>
He began to lead the group through the questions that he had prepared. What disturbed him was that he seemed to having difficulty getting the words out, and explaining himself. He had prepared well and knew his material. But somehow, his tongue was getting all tangled up.
<i>Stop talking, John, and think.</i>
It was time to read another group of verses. One again, he assigned everyone a verse to read. And once again, when it came to Gladys’ turn, she stuttered and stammered her way through the verse.
“My eyes,” she said apologetically. “The headache is making it hard to focus.” It was just about the only thing Gladys had contributed to the study to that point.
The lighting in the room was poor anyway, thanks to an energy efficient halogen bulb above their heads, so John kept talking.
<i>John, stop and look at Gladys.</i>
He was conscious that time was flying and they had hardly touched any of the questions that he had planned for. He had to hurry and talk faster, a process made more difficult by his own speech impediment. His frustration with himself was growing along with his anxiety to get through all that he had planned to do during this session.
Suddenly the lights went out. His beautifully prepared PowerPoint presentation faded into the blackness.
<i>Stop now, John.</i>
The hostess rushed to find some candles. One of the ladies got up and went to the window to see how widespread the blackout was. It looked like the entire neighbourhood was in the dark.
“Well, we can just keep going. My laptop runs on a battery. We’ll just do without the pictures.”
He valiantly began again, picking up the threads of the study.
The woman who had gone to the window suddenly got up from her seat.
“I have to go. I’m tired and I don’t feel well.”
She gathered her purse and sweater and, saying goodbye to all the members of the group, she left.
<i>John, now is a good time to quit.</i>
But he couldn’t. He still had a study to finish. He quickly jumped over several questions he had planned he asked. In the back of his mind, it bothered him that the woman had left so abruptly. Had he offended her by something that he had said? He stumbled on.
The lights came back on. Gladys continued to sit quietly, rubbing her temples, and opening and closing her eyes while John hurriedly finished the study and handed out the worksheets for the next lesson.
The hostess hurried over to the distressed woman and asked if she could get her something for her headache. Gladys refused.
“I take some medicine when I get home.”
John was concerned that with all the interruptions, nothing of truth had been communicated.
Later that night, the family took Gladys to the hospital. She had suffered two mild stokes while sitting in the Bible Study.
<i>John, you should have stopped talking and helped Gladys.</i>
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