Nice Dress

Something weird happened in church today. 

When I got to church, the usher lead me to sit beside this really handsome young man. I sat. My pastor had just climbed to the pulpit and the pre-word worship was just ending. He looked into the crowd and smiled. It was queer because most people still wore solemn expressions on their faces, but he said, ‘Good morning beautiful people. Please look to your neighbor and tell them something nice’ 

The handsome man beside me looked at me and said, ‘Hi Goodmorning. You’re beautiful’ He did not say it in a predatory or perverty kind of way, so I smiled and said, ‘Thank you. Nice shirt’ He laughed and nodded. I laughed and nodded. We looked forward to the altar. 

In the middle of the sermon, my pastor said, ‘Turn to your neighbor and say: You are blessed and highly favored of God’. My neighbour and I told each other, but he had modified his: ‘You’re incredibly blessed and obviously favored of God’  Then he winked. 

As I was thinking of possible interpretations to his wink, a young lady was directed to sit beside him at the other end. About  5 minutes later, my pastor said, ‘Turn to this your neighbour and tell them something nice about themselves’ I realized that I hadn’t been listening to the message and so I didn’t even know how that linked. As I turned to my neighbor, I saw that he was talking to the new girl beside him. I felt like he had stabbed me in the back for some reason but I quickly turned to the girl at my right hand who was looking ahead and told her, ‘Nice dress’ 

As I looked ahead to the altar, I caught a glimpse of  her hand shaking. They were shaking and then she began sniffing. I turned to find her crying. I turned back and faced the altar. Her sniffing was getting louder. I wondered what was wrong with her. She had not cried until I paid attention to her. I wondered whether I had said something different from ‘Nice dress’. Maybe I gave her the insult I intended for my flirting cheating ex-neighbor 

I asked her, ‘Are you okay?’ as I unrolled some tissue from my bag. She nodded and said, ‘Yes yes. Precisely. It’s just that I just decided to close down my fashion design business yesterday because my sister who taught me to sew is in her most critical stage of breast cancer and I need to make out more time for her so I can take care of her. She made this dress and everything is just overwhelming for me right now because I feel like I’m responsible for her life but I don’t feel like I have the best experience or money to help her. I just feel so helpless. I feel like I’m losing it… Sorry’ she started sobbing louder but quickly carried her bag and ran out of the church. 

I sat there in my seat thinking about life, about people’s burdens and struggles, about cancer, about tears and about the fact that I really did not like the dress… 

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