(To read the first part of this story, click here.)
I'd heard the Lord tell me to back off, and I did, but I remained uneasy; for all I knew, He was allowing my mom to learn a hard lesson. I continued to pray. Interestingly, the one friend in whom I chose to really confide shared something I hadn't known to that point; her mom--after becoming friends with some women who could speak in tongues--had prayed for and received that particular gift. My mom's stuff seemed mild, in comparison. I know it wasn't a coincidence: God provided me with the perfect friend to relate, comfort, pray.
I met one of my mom's new friends a little over two years ago; she and my mom had traveled to Maryland to visit my grandma. Uncle Ronnie and Aunt Carolyn welcomed all of us into their house.
My mom's friend behaved lovingly toward me from the start, but she made me squirm a little, none-the-less. She sat across the table from me and sort of leaned in, looking me in the eye and speaking so directly that I wondered if she could see into me, or through me. She's not a loud person by any means, but she's candid about her faith in a way I'm not. I felt intimidated. I hate to feel intimidated and rarely do.
I'll say, too: I can usually decide how I feel about someone within minutes, but I went to bed conflicted about my mom's friend and--no thanks to Baby Charleigh--didn't sleep well. Next morning, my legs hurt coming down the stairs, and I complained without thinking.
"Well, let's just pray about that," my mom's friend said.
Crap, I thought. I didn't want to be the center of attention in that way. I didn't want to pray about my legs. I didn't want my mom's friend to lay hands on me. I didn't want any of it, and maybe I would've refused, but I knew instinctively: this person wasn't going to let me off the hook easily. I was tired. I didn't feel like explaining (or trying to explain) my feelings, and I didn't want to look like a bad Christian: what kind of Christian turns down prayer?
I sank down beside my mom's friend on the couch. My mom flanked me on the other side. Her friend put her hands on my knees and started to pray. And you may well think I'm a crazy nutbar (I probably wouldn't believe me if I weren't me!), but my knees--and I was wearing blue jeans--got hot under this woman's hands. I assure you, it was more than a matter of body heat or sweaty palms (or knees). I'd never experienced anything like it. Baffled and annoyed to be baffled, I said as much after the prayer.
My mom laughed with delight. My legs haven't hurt, since.
I'm trying to think how I want to wrap up this story. I don't worry about my mom's friendships, anymore. I feel completely at ease around the second friend, but I continue to feel uncomfortable around the one about whom I've written, here. Meanwhile, she's helped to lead one of my relatives to the Lord. I respect her. I'm thankful for her.
Given my belief that this woman is a sister in Christ, what does my discomfort mean? I'm not sure. I've thought about it a lot and wonder if it's an indication of my spiritual immaturity or just a disconnect in terms of spiritual style. I quit a small group, once, because one of its members was apt to declare spontaneously that everyone in the room should put her face to the ground and pray. I've always given street preachers a wide berth, and--unless the Lord changes my heart--I'll neither sit under "hellfire and brimstone" preaching, again, nor subject my children to it.
But I won't say there isn't a place, time, and audience for all of the above. Lord, lead and kindly grow this stubborn, shell-shocked girl.