New in school, Janet is an obnoxious, outspoken bully. When Sister Card asks her Merrie Miss class to help fellowship Janet, they’re surprised to learn that she is a member of the Church but reluctantly agree to help. They decide to secretly leave surprises for Janet on her front porch for a week. On Saturday, the class personally delivers a beautifully wrapped gold heart necklace to her. Questioning their motives, she accuses them of trying to bribe her, thanks them for the unopened gift, then shuts the door in their faces.
I felt like someone had just slapped me across the face. “Boy,” I said. “She’s a real creep. We were only trying to do something nice.”
“She didn’t even open our present,” Amy said.
“I knew this wasn’t going to work,” Jill said.
“Now, just a minute,” said Sister Card, as we all got into her van. “Maybe Janet was right. Maybe we were just trying to bribe her.”
We were quiet for a minute. Then Mandi said, “How can we like someone who acts like that?”
“I’m not sure I want her to come if she’s going to treat us that way,” Christina said.
“Girls, I can see that this isn’t going to be as easy as we thought,” Sister Card said. “Perhaps we need to ask ourselves what the Savior would do if Janet were in His Primary class.”
Well, she had us stumped. None of us could think of something that Jesus Christ might do in a situation like this one. We looked at Sister Card expectantly, waiting to hear the answer. Instead, she smiled at us and said, “I challenge each of you to find out, then do it.”
The next day at lunch recess, I saw Janet across the playground. She saw me and yelled, “Hey, there’s Redhead-Wet-the-Bed!”
All the kids around me laughed, and I could feel my cheeks burn with embarrassment. Why does she have to say things like that? I wondered, walking away to find Jill. How can anyone be nice to a girl who acts that way?
I was still thinking about Janet when I found Jill. “I don’t know what Sister Card expects us to do about Janet. She hates me. I don’t like her very much, either,” I said.
“I know what you mean,” Jill answered. “Can you imagine what our Primary class would be like if she did come?”
I hadn’t thought about that, and the visions that ran through my mind as I thought about it were not pleasant. “She’d ruin everything!”
Later that evening, I was still thinking about Janet. I couldn’t get her off my mind. “Mom,” I said, “Sister Card wants us to come up with an idea to get Janet Willard to come to Primary. You know we already tried being pixies to her for a week, and I told you how that didn’t work. She’s so mean to everybody that I’m not sure I really want her to come.”
Mom thought for a few minutes, then said, “Maybe the first thing you should do is pray for the ability to like Janet.”
I was mystified. “But how will that help Janet want to come to Primary?”
“Well, it’s pretty hard to help someone you don’t like. Your efforts won’t be very enthusiastic, and she’ll know that you aren’t sincere. You need to pray for Heavenly Father’s help, then try being nice to Janet even if she isn’t nice to you.”
“That’s going to be hard,” I said.
“I know,” said Mom. “That’s why it’s so important to ask for Heavenly Father’s help.”
On Sunday when Sister Card asked us if we had decided what Jesus would do about Janet, I told everyone what Mom had said to me. Sister Card smiled and said, “You have a very wise mother, Esther. If you’ll all open the New Testament to Matthew 5:44, you’ll see that the Savior said the same thing: ‘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.’”
We were all very quiet as we thought about what this really meant in our relationship with Janet.
“This isn’t going to be easy,” Christina said, breaking the silence.
“You’re right. It isn’t going to be easy,” Sister Card said. “But then not many things that are really worthwhile are.”
We decided we were going to be so nice to Janet that she wouldn’t know what to think. Sister Card cautioned that we should be very patient and not get discouraged if she didn’t respond positively right away. “Janet has had ten years to learn and practice the behavior she has now, so don’t expect her to change overnight.”
The next day when I went into our classroom, I heard Janet’s familiar greeting before I even saw her. “Hey, there’s Redhead-Wet-the-Bed!”
Instead of ignoring her and walking away, I went over to her and said, “Hi, Janet. Do you want to play kickball with us at lunchtime?”
She was so surprised that she didn’t answer at first. Then she said, “Not me! That’s a sissy game,” and walked off.
(To be concluded)