In her late 20′s, Mindy pretty face is accented by her vibrant, chatty personality. She lives alone in her own apartment. Mindy is a new member of our Special Gathering. We are a Christian program within the intellectually disabled community. Our mission is evangelizing and discipling the men and women who are developmentally disabled in our towns.
I’ve known Mindy over the years because she lived in a neighboring city; and she is an active part of the mentally challenged community. Her past boyfriend is also a good friend of mine. Each Sunday when she comes to our program, she has yet another story to tell about her family.
In Mindy’s tales of woe, she was the hero; and Mama or Grandmother, the villains. Because I provide her ride to our Sunday program, five of us arrive two hours early. And she helps us with our set up. This means that for weeks, we heard about 2 hours of her tattling. Her gossip set a negative tone for our meetings. In the aftermath, it was hard to shake the atmosphere this fault-finding tone set, making worship difficult to enjoy.
One Sunday morning, before I picked her up, I prayed about the situation. The Lord reminded me of how I would handle a similar activity had this happened when my children were younger. I would wrap him or her in my arms and pray. On the first indication of her gossiping tirade, I said, “Mindy, every time you talk about your mom or grandmother or anyone else, I’m going to pray that you will stop talking bad about other people.”
For about five or six weeks, she and I spent more time praying than doing anything else. I would smile at her, open my arms and say, “Come here, girl. We need to pray about that.” She never resisted my embrace or prayer. Slowly, her stories became fewer and fewer.
Even more, the atmosphere of our program returned to joyful expectation, rather than discouragement and fault finding.
Last week, she said to me, “I’m so proud of my mom. She is going to start helping my grandma.” She proceeded with every detail but the story was positive and uplifting. I was proud of Mindy. She has started to learn.
As we sat drinking coffee after the building was set up and I listened for the 15th time to how Mother was going to help Grandma, I was grateful for the power of prayer. Also, I was reminded of the power of our words. Mindy’s chatter was helping to set a positive expectancy for Special Gathering, rather than a pall of negative thoughts.
Now all I need to figure out is how do I keep her from repeating her stories 57 times.