Amber and her family have moved to Evergreen Lane in Tampa, Florida. Geographically, they love it but emotionally their hearts are deeply attached to the east coast where extended family remains.
Job duties called Trent, Amber’s father, to Tampa; responsibly, he answered the workplace need.
In the laundry room, pony-tailed Monica, clothed in a red and white polka dot sundress, hums along with the low playing classical music on the radio. She taps her flip flop clad narrow foot to the tune of the soothing music. Smiling as she folds Trent’s assorted basketball uniform shorts, Monica thinks of his passion for the game. “That husband of mine loves his basketball nights.”
Dressed snappily in her blue denim capris and tie-died tee shirt, lithe Amber enters the laundry room. “What’d you say, Mom?” She rests her three-fingered hand on the warm dryer. How’d that hand matter come to be? Amber was born minus her pinky and index fingers.
Monica cheerfully answers, “Oh, I was absorbed about your dad and his basketball nights. He sure gets a kick out of the weekly games with his co-workers.”
“Okay,” mutters Amber. She’s depressed and today it’s on high levels.
Wrinkles appear on Monica’s broad forehead. She wraps her tanned arm around her daughter’s waist. “What’s wrong, honey?”
Amber’s tear filled hazel eyes lock with her mother’s.
Monica’s heart aches as she watches the teardrops trail down the freckled face of her daughter.
“Three girls in the neighborhood, Carol, Becky and Serena, are bullying me about my missing fingers. I dread when summer ends and I have to attend high school with them.”
Monica brushes hair away from the face of Amber then reaches out to cradle her troubled child.
Heart-wrenching sobs pour from the depth of Amber’s wounded heart. Heaving, she shares, “It started weeks ago, Mom. I didn’t want to tell you but it has become more painful; I had to come to you about it.”
Monica steps back; piercingly, she looks into Amber’s eyes. “You’re beautiful no matter what those girls say. Bullies aren’t happy people, Amber, and often they bully from places of pain that’s within them. They don’t know how to channel their inner hurts so, typically, they lash out at others. The Lord desires that we love and pray for them, sweetie. I’ll speak to your father and I’m sure he’ll agree that we need to meet with the parents of those girls.”
Monica’s words have the desired calming effect on Amber; her depression lessens. Sniffling, she answers, “I know; thanks, Mom. It’s hard to deal with how they make fun of me.”
Monica tightly embraces her daughter. “Yes, precious, it’s hard. I’m confident, though, that with the Lord’s help, you can cope with hard things.”
Amber sighs heavily; she grabs another towel to fold. “Yeah, okay, Mom.”
“Get closer to God, baby, and He’ll lift you and heal your wounded spirit.”
Amber’s heart quickens at hearing those encouraging words. “You’re right, Mom. I’ll do that.”
Smiling broadly, Monica answers, “Good for you, Amber. Good for you.” She cups her daughter’s chin in her hand. “We’re in this together, Amber, and the Lord Jesus is on our side. You’re not alone, honey. It’ll get better. That’s for sure.”
Amber wipes away tears. “I hope so, Mom.”
Tenderly, Monica kisses her daughter on her damp cheek. Assuredly, she points upward. “Trust God, it will.”
Amber nods, smiles weakly then exits the room.
Days later, Monica and Trent do meet with and speak to the parents of the bully girls.
The parents counsel and discipline their daughters but, of course, They can’t watch the conduct 24/7.
For weeks the bullying continues.
Great news is that Amber is becoming transformed because of her choice to get closer to the Lord. She regularly prays for bullies; Amber has come to sincerely love them.
One early afternoon, Carol, the muscular ring leader of the bully girls looks out the living room bay window of the house that she shares with her parents. She spots Amber going to get her family’s mail from their curbside mailbox.
There’s a double rainbow arc vividly spread across the sky. Amber pauses to appreciate its stunning beauty.
Hurriedly, Carol opens the front door and quickly strides down the walkway. The bright sun highlights her flaming red hair. She moves her entirely black dressed, robust frame over to pester Amber.
Initially, Amber is seized with apprehension but she recovers quickly and inwardly escapes into the Lord. She whispers, “Father, please help me.”
“It can’t be easy handling that mail with three fingers on your hand. Why don’t you switch it to your five-fingered hand, Amber? Frozen smile set in place, Carol continues, “Want me to help you? I’ve got ten fingers, you know.”
Warmly, Amber responds, “No, thank you, Carol. It’s not a problem.”
Carol is visibly disappointed that Amber is no longer operating in victim mode.
The more Amber chooses to love and to forgive, the more peace accompanies her. That doesn’t go unnoticed by Carol, Becky and Serena. Still Amber is excluded from their circle and social connections.
Contentedly, Amber occupies herself with family activities and the few true friends that she’s made in the short time that she’s lived on Evergreen.
Days later, Carol, Becky and Serena hop on a chartered bus to enjoy their yearly summer visit to Camp Harmony in Colorado.
Early on the third morning, they join with the other group members to go on a hiking adventure. They walk for miles.
Suddenly, a large boulder speeds down the mountain toward the hiking girls. They scramble away from the impending danger.
The boulder snares Carol; it lands and pins her left leg. She wails in agony.
The leader phones 911.
The group unites to push the boulder off Carol’s leg. They succeed — to discover that Carol’s leg is severely crushed.
A helicopter arrives and airlifts her to the hospital.
Carol’s leg cannot be saved; she’s devastated. She spends more than a week in the hospital.
Neither Becky nor Serena contacts her nor do they come to visit.
Depression overtakes Carol. No one, family or otherwise, can convince her to rise above it.
One cloudy morning Carol is again in tears.
Someone stands in the doorway of her hospital room.
Carol stares. Though she’s looking right at her, Carol shakes her head, and in stunned but pleasant surprise, she utters, “No, it can’t be.”
Who is that someone? Amber. She stands there in jubilant love glow formation filled with the Spirit of the living God. She comes bearing gifts — a bouquet of lilies, a box of chocolate candy, and a white, red bow-tied teddy bear.
Carol weeps with gratitude and joy.
Amber hugs her and they prolong the tender embrace.
“Thank you so much for coming and for caring about me, Amber. I’m sincerely sorry for how we treated you. Please believe that I regret being a bully. My co-bullies, Becky and Serena, haven’t even called or come to visit me. But here you are, Amber!”
Amber grins. “Of course, I forgive you, Carol. We all live, learn and change. The only way that I was able to cope and to endure with peace as my companion is because of the help of the Lord. He’s love, peace, joy and strength indeed.”
The appearance of Amber, her genuine care and the gifts she brought succeed in lifting Carol’s depression.
For more than an hour, the girls get acquainted.
Aftermath: Carol is drawn by God and becomes a born-again Christian. After months of noting the changed conduct of Carol and her friendship with Amber, so does Serena. Carol, Amber and Serena become solid buddies. Becky, though, isn’t the least bit interested in Christian living. Of course, that could change.
God knows . . .
Matthew 6:44 – KJV
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;