Molly slammed the front door and stomped into the kitchen. She grabbed a cookie and a glass of milk as she charged down the hall to her bedroom, shoving the door closed behind her. Mrs. Burgess looked up from the checks she was writing and listened: something was wrong. She tiptoed down the hall and stood outside the door. "Molly? You didn't say hello. May I come in?"
"Sure, Mom." Mrs. Burgess entered to find her daughter slumped across the bed, eating her cookie.
"What's wrong, Molly? Did you have a bad day at school?"
"Just the usual. It's Mrs. Nichols -- she picks on me. I thought sixth grade was going to be fun. Instead it's 'Molly do this, and Molly do that. Molly won't mind -- why don't you see if Molly will help?' I'm sick of it, Mom! Why doesn't she treat me like she treats the other kids?"
Mrs. Burgess sat down beside her daughter. "Oh, Molly. Mrs. Nichols has no idea you feel that way. I ran into her at the grocery store last week, and you know what she said?"
"I can't imagine," Molly snarled.
"She said you are one of her all-time favorite students!"
"You've got to be kidding!" Molly gasped.
"No, I'm serious! But just because someone thinks well of you doesn't mean you'll get special favors. In fact, many times you get just the opposite."
"That doesn't make sense," Molly complained. "You mean people pick on you because they like you?"
"Let me give you an example. . . How about Mary, the mother of Jesus, and how God treated her? Mary was a typical teenage girl just a few years older than you, living a normal life. But apparently Mary wasn't as typical as she seemed. How do you think she felt when an angel came to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you' (Luke 1:28 NIV)."
"She probably thought it was awesome!" Molly said.
"Maybe. But the Bible says the words greatly troubled her. Even though she was young, maybe she understood God better than most. Most people would think being favored meant a ticket to 'Easy Street', making them healthy, wealthy, and wise all their lives."
"Right, Mom: all gain and no pain!"
"Well, that's not what happened. The angel told Mary even though she was a virgin engaged to marry Joseph, she would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit and give birth to the Son of God -- before their marriage. Do you know what that meant in Jewish society? Jewish law said Mary should be stoned to death for that!"
"Wow, Mom. I never thought of that!"
"How could she ever explain? What would her friends think? What would her parents think? What would Joseph think?"
"She was in big trouble! That's what I think!" said Molly.
"You bet she was, but Mary responded to God in faith. She trusted Him to take care of her, acknowledging His right to control her life and use her however He pleased. She was willing to obey God, no matter what the cost. And to do that, she set aside all her secret dreams and desires. God had another plan, and His took priority. Can you imagine what it felt like to be in her position?"
"Now that you put it that way, no," Molly said.
"Being in God's favor is no place for sissies! It brings greater responsibility, not worldly riches. It changed Mary's whole life, but it never gave her a 'bed of roses'.
"I guess it makes my grumbling about Mrs. Nichols look stupid, huh?"
"Well. . . I don't know if I would have used those words, but it does -- just a little," Mrs. Burgess said. "Learn to be more patient. And if it's still really upsetting you, tell Mrs. Nichols how you feel. Maybe she can find another favorite to share the load. After all, you're just sharpening pencils -- not having God's baby."
"Oh, Mom!" Molly groaned. She squeezed her mother's hand and sat up. "Do you mind if I get some more cookies?"
"I guess it's okay," Mrs. Burgess said. "Just don't spoil your dinner. And while you're at it -- would you mind sharpening these pencils for me, and emptying the kitchen trash?"
"Mom!" Molly yelped.
"Just kidding, just kidding. Only I didn't want you to feel neglected!" Mrs. Burgess laughed as she raced Molly to the kitchen.
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