Good morning, Mini-Women. This morning I'm appreciating how much you're growing. You may not think you are. You might feel like you still have a "bad attitude", and are afraid to open up to your friends. But -- and this is important -- you're admitting that and you're talking about it. You WANT to change. And that's how I know this journey is working. So let's keep going.
We're still at the table in the cafe, and Jesus brings us our hot chocolates and Lemon Whatever-Thingies and chai teas and Mountain Dews. We're pretty quiet as he sits down among us and takes a sip of his second cup of coffee.
"Talk to me, Mini-Women," he says.
And so we do.
ANNA: It's hard to be nice to people who aren't nice to me.
ALYSSA: I try to get my friends out of a dumb situation but it doesn't work out.
LIANNA: It's very hard for me to make friends in the first place.
HOLLY: I don't think my friends would listen.
SIERRA: I would feel like they're ganging up on me even if they're being nice.
RACHEL: I just have a serious attitude problem.
REBEKAH: Oh my gosh, me too!
Jesus listens, really listens, and he doesn't tell any of us we're lame or ridiculous or silly. He just sips and nods and makes us all feel like we're important to him, and that what we're saying is too. We feel like Maeryn in Miss Nancy's arms; we know we're loved.
That, however, doesn't make all our problems with other people go away, and Jesus knows that. He leans in, and so do we.
"Take this most seriously," he says, "because I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action."
Somebody goes, "My friends will think I'm a goody-goody if I say, 'let's pray about this!'"
"Whose opinion is more important?" Jesus says kindly. "Theirs? Or mine?"
Somebody else says, "How do you 'make a prayer of it'? I dont' get that."
"Excellent question," Jesus says. "Let's say Rebekah and Rachel need to go to Rylie and talk about something she's done that upsets them."
The Three R's all look at each other and feel immediately funky.
"Right," Jesus says, as if he knows exactly what they're feeling because, uh, he does. "But what if Rachel and Rebekah say to each other, 'Let's talk to Jesus about this first. Just ask for his help and see what happens.' Is one of you going to say, 'Nah, Jesus doesn't care about this. We can do this on our own because we know more than he does.' Would naybody say that?"
There is a chorus of, "Hello, no!" "Are you serious?" "Yikes -- unh-uh!"
Jesus just looks at us. We get it. Still somebody raises her hand and says, "But what about Rylie? What if they go to her and she laughs at them or doesn't listen?"
"Are Rachel and Rebekah any worse off than they were before?" Jesus says. "And Rylie has now heard kind, good words. They're in her head now. No one but the Father and I really know how that will shape her in the days to come. I never said you're going to get results --" he snaps his fingers -- "just like that. Do the right thing and leave the rest to me."
Nobody says it, but some of us are still thinking, "This sounds too hard."
When are we going to get that we can't hide anything from this man Jesus? He looks at all of us with his understanding eyes and he says, "When two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I'll be there. You might not hear me. You won't see me. But you can know. And good will come of the kind, gracious, loving way you treat each other -- eventually. Have faith." He smiles. "Do I dare say, be patient?"
Some of us, who aren't exactly the most patient of people, laugh, and Jesus laughs with us. He knows how hard it is. He also knows we can't do any of this without him.
One more day in Galilee, he tells us. So we take our teas and hot chocolates and sodas and we find places in the cafe and write in our Talking To God journals and somebody explains what they are to LIANNA. Then we comment, about what it would be like to pray with our friends before we start a tough conversation or how having Jesus there would help when we talk to our moms about the things they won't let us do. Together we imagine what would be different if we were aware that Jesus IS there when we're dealing with people who aren't nice to us.
And we grow some more.