Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Pastor's Wife

Welcome to Fiction Friday! This week it is my privilege to host it right here. If you are participating with your own story this week, be sure to link up with the new Mclinky at the bottom.

My contribution is a rerun - hope you all aren't worn out by the summer reruns!


Mattie sighed. She brushed some crumbs off the counter, scooping them up with her other hand and tossing them into the sink. Eyeing the phone again, she carried the plates to the kitchen table. “Lunch is on the table,” she called out loud enough for all to hear. They wouldn’t all come right away, they never did. Even as she headed for the boys’ room, the phone rang, and with a resigned determination she turned back to answer it.

“Yes, it was a truly fine sermon, I certainly agree.” Mattie sighed again. If only Clara would leave her comments at that.

“Of course, Pastor Jerry doesn’t exactly know my own situation. You know, things are easy to say until you have to live in reality.”

“Clara, I’m sure Pastor Jerry does understand.”

“Oh, no, there is no way he understands. If he did he wouldn’t tell me to be thankful. He would know how unfair my situation is. God can’t possibly expect me to be thankful in this circumstance.”

Silently Mattie wondered for what must have been the billionth time if the woman really knew the Lord at all. “Clara,” she said patiently, “Life is unfair. It is not as though God has singled you out for trouble and difficulty.” She hoped her words didn’t reveal the strain which had been building over the months of trying to smooth over the Pastor’s sermons for Clara, nearly every Sunday afternoon.

After a few minutes more of trying to help Clara understand the sermon, and of explaining how it might be practically applied to Clara’s unfair situation, Mattie gave up and excused herself. “Clara, dear, I really enjoy our little talks, but the boys and Pastor Jerry are waiting for lunch.”

Gruffly, she marched once again to Tim and Tom’s bedroom. “Lunch is on!” she scolded. Dropping their toys, the boys raced to wash hands and be seated as Mattie poked her head into Jerry’s office. “Lunch is on.”

Moments later, they held hands at the table and prayed. Mattie sighed and added her own silent prayer. “Lord, forgive me once again for feeling so impatient with Clara.” Aloud, she added to Jerry’s meal time prayers, “And Lord, help Clara with her unfair situation.”

“Tom, leave Tim alone. Don’t poke him with your fork,” Jerry patiently instructed his son. “What’s Clara’s unfair situation this time?” he asked between bites.

“Nothing new. Same old, same old. She just doesn’t think your sermon this morning applies to her because, after all, it is all so very unfair.” Mattie sighed again as a wave of bitterness suddenly rose up inside. “I’ll tell you what’s unfair! It’s unfair that she ruins our Sunday afternoons Sunday after Sunday with her whining! That’s what’s unfair!” Even as the words poured out, Mattie regretted them. Tom and Tim had stopped eating and were staring, wide-eyed at her vehemence. She didn’t look at Jerry for a moment.

When she did, she was surprised to see him smiling. “Sorry,” she said quietly before asking suspiciously, “Why are you smiling?”

“You’re right,” he said agreeably. “It’s totally unfair. I guess it’s way too unfair to apply anything I said in the sermon to. We’ll just let this morning’s sermon be for Clara. After all, God wouldn’t expect…” He stopped and laughed as Mattie playfully slapped his shoulder.

A few moments later, Jerry thoughtfully spoke. “Perhaps there is something we can actually do for Clara. I don’t mean to change the situation, I don’t see what can be done there. But just to encourage her. After all, she lives alone, and maybe the real reason she calls to discuss the sermons with you every time is she just wants someone to talk to.”

Mattie nodded. “We don’t really need all those cookies I baked yesterday. Maybe we could stop over with a few. First, though, I need to stop and pray that God would really help me to be thankful in and even for this situation with Clara.” Even as she said it, Mattie felt lighter in heart and realized something life-changing. Clara hadn’t been ruining Mattie’s Sunday afternoons. Mattie was the guilty one herself by not being thankful in all circumstances, and for not seeing in Clara the opportunity God was presenting to live out what she believed. She looked at her husband and smiled. “Thanks for the sermon, dear. I really needed to hear it!”


Joanne Sher said...

What an incredible reminder and yes, I remembered this one, but was blessed once again. Thanks for hosting this week!

Yvonne Blake said...

What a wonderful reminder that we should be find something to be thankful for in every situation.

Hoomi said...

I think every congregation has a Clara.

Say, you don't suppose that "thorn in the flesh" that Paul prayed would be removed - but wasn't - was a Clara, do you?

You captured the atmosphere and feel of the setting very well, and offer an apt application lesson. Nicely done.

Patty Wysong said...

You even named her very well, Sherri! LoL--well done. Loneliness is so hard and colors everything. I think I needed that sermon, too. :-)

Thanks for hosting for us!

Dee Yoder said...

Love this because it shows how easy it is for us judge our sisters and brothers, all the while assuming an air of victory--unlike THEM. LOL.

(I'm sorry I goofed on the #7 spot of Mr. Linky--my brain was disengaged! I thought, for a moment, of just leaving myself as Mystery #7: Friday Fiction, but decided against it and added my name CORRECTLY to # 8.)

BethL said...

I was caught up with your story. It reminds me of trying to remove the speck in your neighbors eye while you have a beam in your own. :) I really enjoyed this story, Sherri!

Karlene Jacobsen said...

Re-run for others maybe. This was my first time reading and thoroughly enjoyed it. I love Pastor Jerry's patience with Matti, his quiet strength and wisdom. My favorite "after all God wouldn't expect..." I'll fill in the blank for me. "What's good for the goose..."

Great story!

Lynda S. said...

Impatience. I have to remind myself more often that God is infinitely patient with me—and that He expects me to follow his example.

S.Harricharan said...

I didn't remember this one, but it was fun to read. I like that it wasn't all a too-perfect to believe story. Good twist with Mattie being the pastor's wife. ^_^