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Christian Coming of Age

I’m Alex (short for Alexis) Roberts, my younger (and very annoying) sister is Geneva (Neva for short) and we live with our mum. We’re also God Botherers or Christians, Mum converted after her and dad split up. As a newly minted solo mother she needed someone in her corner. With a handful like Neva I guess she figured only God was up for the job. Honestly my sister would try the entire heavenly host’s patience. Dad’s a cop and he preferred crowd control duty to managing her in full flight, Actually he met mum crowd controlling but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

This is about run in with the Tawhais. They’re a big family who live in one of three state houses in our street, They’re also what the media refers to as disadvantaged, meaning the adults are on benefits and our church gives them food parcels. Sunday just gone we’d started out for Church, Some of the younger Tawhai kids were playing on the road. A car just missed the smallest of them, a little girl riding a three wheeler.

“Crikey”, shrieked mum rushing into the road,

Another one missed her as she held up one hand, at the same time steering the child out of harm’s way.

“Mum”: exclaimed Neva “you’re embarrassing us,”

Above the din of an irate motorist’s horn she replied.

“I’m carrying out a humanitarian mission.”

A chorus of giggles ensued. By now the older Tawhai kids’d come outside for a jack.

“It’s the God Botherers”, one of them sneered.

“Your mum’s mad.”

“Yeah cracked. Like all God Botherers.”

Neva who isn’t known for tact retorted.

”So, yours is a no hoper,”

She had a point. After all no one had been watching that little girl in her three wheeler.q

Mum flashed a horrified expression

”Geneva-Leigh shame on you. That’s a terrible thing to say.”

Neva stood her ground.

”So is calling you names.”

”You know we’re to turn the other cheek.”

”Humph”, Neva grumbled. “So much for sticking up for you.”

The Tawhais meanwhile were getting a kick out of this. Before continuing on our way mum said, “You should come with us one Sunday. Kids Church is so fun.”

Neva and I both did eye rolls. That lot were bad enough at school. We didn’t fancy putting up with them on Sundays as well, Catching our expressions mum hastened us on our way, Out of earshot she remarked “Charming attitudes coming from two girls on their way to church, We’re supposed to welcome people, not push them away.”

Neva scowled

”Doubt it,”

“You saved their little sister”, I added “but not one of them said thank you. If you weren’t there she might’ve been killed, but they’re still calling us names.”

At our backs echoed the a familiar taunt…..God Botherers.

Along with a few colourful opinions with regards to the prospect of church attendance, In short hell would have to freeze over.

At least we were off that particular hook.

As to the name calling the Tawhai teenagers had come up with it first. Until now when not even the adults joined in when it suited. Like when mum dropped the food parcels in. Dad who’d been to their house on police call outs said she was nuts. He reckoned they got plenty on the benefit but wasted it on booze and drugs. Mum told even if that was true the church wouldn’t see those children go hungry,

”Church’d be horrible if they came.”, Neva explained to which mum replied. “There were probably some who thought the same when we joined. Besides God loves the Tawhaia as they are, and you can’t blame children when their parents set a bad example.”

”Even when they call us names?” I asked,

She nodded, adding with a smile. “Which means we’re in good company. A fair few people rubbished Jesus. They still do and He died for them. What we need to do is pray for the Tawhais.”

it’s hard trying to live up to someone like that. Cos even though Jesus had to die horribly He was perfect. For the rest of us just trying to be good is a struggle. It’s all Adam and Eve’s fault. How could they have created so many hassles over a stupid apple? I hope it was sour and gave them the meanest stomach aches ever, It’s because of them we get called God Botherers. Except I don’t get the impression He’s all that bothered. As for the Tawhais so far they didn’t sound too interested in taking up mum’s invitation.

Thanks to them we arrived late. As we found our seats people smiled and whispered greetings. They probably thought we’d slept in, whereas I felt proud of our mum. Instead of hurrying past she’d carried out a rescue mission. Stepping in to make sure a little kid was safe because it’s useless family couldn’t be bothered. Like when the Good Samaritan helped an injured man. The Bible doesn’t say if his family were useless or not. It’s possible considering that he was travelling alone in an area where getting attacked was likely. I imagined he had sons who were just too lazy to accompany him.

As for bothering God I reckon Neva came close when the singing started. Jumping up onto the pew she fair belted out the chorus of Jesus We Enthrone Thee. Besides loud and pancake flat her version differs from the norm. “Jesus we throw thee”, as rendered by a screech owl. Ignoring mum’s quieting efforts my sister bellowed forth her praises as if our household’s salvation depended upon it.

”It’s enthrone thee.”, I hissed determined to protect my own ears by making her stop…..as if. Eyes shut tight, arms upraised Neva maintained her dutiful worshipper pose. Screech owl tones, wrong words and embarrassment were our crosses to bear. She was not to be deterred by rebellion in the ranks. It was worship time, her version would continue uninterrupted and our feelings aside I knew a God who could love the Tawhais wasn’t bothered in the slightest. That was our cross to bear.

February 09, 2022 10:34

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1 comment

Betsy Lynch
13:53 Feb 14, 2022

I especially enjoyed your voice in this piece, and the lessons of tolerance (we're all a bit grudging on this score), and acceptance of Neva and the others. Great voice!!


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