Looking askance at the smug

Amanda stood toward the back of the small room singing while mentally criticizing the woman standing front and center. Amanda noted the outstretched arms, the robust singing—nothing wrong there, but something undefinable about her stance screamed self-satisfaction. Her body posture looked less like worship and more like wonderful am I. Less like adoration and more like aren’t I amazing?

No one had greeted Amanda and Howard when they walked into the business office turned sanctuary. On this their first visit, they hadn’t felt quite invisible because people had looked their way, but no one had bothered to say hello. People in conversations glanced at them and continued talking. People sitting down looked at them and remained on their derrières. After taking some seats near one of the sitters, that person actually said, “Hello.” Nice to know we’re greeted once we get within range of a person, Amanda thought. Lord knows standing up and walking fifteen feet is too much bother.

Finished with the first song, the room of fifty people had taken their seats. The woman in the first row managed to look self-satisfied even then. During the announcements portion of the service, the pastor indicated first-row-woman while speaking about Rebecca’s upcoming wedding. Amanda wondered how many romance books and movies it had taken for Rebecca to develop her I’ve reached nirvana now that I’ve got a man attitude.

Singing recommenced. Rebecca’s arms were again outstretched on either side parallel to the floor, which she could easily do as no one was sitting front and center with her.

What will cause Rebecca to lose the everything is wonderful in my life set to her shoulders, Amanda silently questioned. Would it be when projectile poop from the first baby was dripping down her nightgown and onto her toes at three o’clock in the morning? Would it be when that child angrily screamed, “You’re not my mommy!”? Would it be when Rebecca wanted to do X and hubby wanted to do Y and they had great difficulty reaching grudging consensus? Would it be with the diagnosis of a prolonged illness?

The sermon was about God being the potter and we being the clay. A woman set up at a table with clay demonstrated the pastor’s points. She wetted the clay, pounded the clay, cut the clay with a wire and then pounded it back together again. She picked up and threw the clay onto the table then kneaded with the heels of her hands a number of times. All this was to get the air bubbles out of the clay, to make it one consistency and usable. Clay-woman looked like she was enjoying the process. The clay was getting worked.

The service being over, it was time to collect their toddler from the nursery. Before they made their exit, the pastor purposely came over to greet them warmly. While chatting with this kind, knowledgeable man, Amanda was able to see Rebecca’s face as she talked with others. Even her face has a smirk, Amanda thought sadly. She wondered how much wetting, pounding, cutting and kneading God would purpose into Rebecca’s life while she pondered how much of the same he had purposed into her own.