Sophie was a picture of dejection. If a person didn’t know she was dead serious about being dead serious, he would think she was putting on a melodramatic act.

By way of explanation, Sophie (not her real name) was an elderly woman who attended our church long ago. She suffered some hard things in life, and unlike saints who chose to forgive and radiate joy, Sophie’s mission in life was to spend the rest of her days making herself and everyone else miserable.

When this disgruntled woman shuffled into church it appeared as if she enjoyed making a scene. With dour expression, she plodded along, glaring at anyone who dared speak to her. Shuffling across the carpet with cane in hand, Sophie would plop down heavily in her pew as if to say, “Bless me if you can.”

The pastor’s wife once tried to make Sophie shake her hand, and the elderly woman raised her cane as if to strike. She was serious about being the center of attention, even if it was negative.

The real test came to the saints when Sophie decided she ought to bring her keyboard and “help” the piano and organ play for services. The problem was, Sophie was the only one who enjoyed her playing.

Not to be outdone by larger instruments, she bought a speaker and hooked it up so she could play louder than the piano and organ.

The pastor was away on vacation when this occurred, and the guest speaker knew better than to tangle with this Jezebel on steroids. And so, he left the thorny issue for the young minister to solve when he returned.

The bewildered pastor never did reach a satisfying solution to Sophie’s attitude problems, though he tried different approaches. She performed her mission well and remained a thorn in his side for the eight years he ministered in that church.

And the pastor? I know him well; in fact, I am married to him. He deserves a medal of honor for enduring Sophie.

Roberta Sarver is an author and songwriter who lives in central Missouri. Her humor columns appear in the Versailles Leader-Statesman and her original songs of worship have appeared on radio stations across the nation. She and her husband are the parents of seven children.

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