Angela stormed into the house, slamming her books onto the kitchen table. Her younger brother Caleb watched in shocked silence.
“I’m never going to school again!” Angela yelled. Her anger turned to tears as she dropped into a chair. Between sobs, she wailed, “Sheela Kelly is making my life miserable. I tried to be nice to her when she called me names. I ignored her when she teased me about my clothes. Then today she told everyone that I told her secrets about Ammon Young. Now Ammon’s afraid to talk to me.”
Mom put her arms around Angela. Angela raised her tearstained face. “Mom, Ammon’s the only other Church member in my grade. We always help each other choose the right.” She laid her head against Mom’s shoulder and cried.
Caleb, trying to help, said, “Jesus said to pray for our enemies. Maybe you should pray that Sheela gets really sick and misses lots of school.”
“I don’t think that is what Jesus meant,” Mom gently corrected.
“Maybe you could pray that Sheela moves to another country,” Caleb suggested.
Mom shook her head. “No, Caleb—but you’re right that we should pray for our enemies. In fact, this Sunday is fast Sunday. Let’s use this opportunity to fast for Sheela. When we combine faith, prayers, and fasting, miracles can happen.”
Angela, who had calmed down a bit, sniffled and added, “Like the time we all fasted and prayed for Sister Smith’s baby when he was born two months too soon?”
“That’s right, Angela,” Mom said. “Heavenly Father blessed us for our faith. He always does.”
Angela prayed many times throughout the weekend that Sheela would stop being mean. As she fasted, she hardly noticed when her stomach growled.
Before leaving for school on Monday, Angela knelt once again. “Heavenly Father, please help Sheela to stop being mean. I’ve fasted and prayed. I have faith that Thou canst change her. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
Angela bounced happily down the stairs.
“Have a great day,” Mom said.
“Oh, I will—I just know it!” Angela replied.
She was sure she would when she arrived at school and found her teacher had rearranged the desks. Angela was no longer sitting next to Sheela. Angela silently offered a prayer of thanks. Ammon even smiled at her as he walked past her desk. This really is going to be a great day! she thought.
After lunch, she stopped by the rest room to make sure no food was stuck in her braces. Her heart raced when she noticed Sheela. Summoning her courage, Angela smiled and said, “Hi, Sheela—did you have a fun weekend?”
Sheela just smiled—not exactly a friendly smile but a smile. The two girls left the rest room at the same time.
“Hello, Sheela. Hello, Angela,” Mrs. Keiter, the music teacher, said as she passed by.
“Hello,” the girls answered. Angela was glad Sheela had not said or done anything mean. She was happy, too, when Sheela went to the office instead of out to the playground. Again, Angela offered a quiet prayer of gratitude.
A few minutes before school was over for the day, Angela was called to the principal’s office.
As she walked past Sheela’s desk on her way to the office, Sheela smirked, “Good luck.” It made Angela feel cold all over.
Mr. Cooper was waiting for Angela when she arrived. “Angela, I’ve received a report that you scratched ‘Angela loves Ammon’ on one of the walls in the rest room. The student who reported this said Mrs. Keiter saw you leaving there during lunch. Mrs. Keiter confirmed you were there at that time.”
Angela was stunned. How could this be? Hadn’t she fasted and prayed and used all her faith for Heavenly Father to make Sheela be nice? Sheela had been in the rest room at the same time. She must have scratched the wall.
“Mr. Cooper,” Angela said softly, “I did go into the rest room after lunch, but I didn’t scratch anything on the wall.”
“I’m sorry, Angela, but I have your word against another student’s and a teacher’s. You will help the janitor, Mr. Hamblin, during recess for a week. Maybe that will help you respect school property more.”
Caleb knew by the look on Angela’s face that things had not gone well. He walked silently beside her on the way home from the bus stop. Entering the kitchen first, he blurted out, “Angela’s faith didn’t work.”
“Caleb! That’s not nice,” Mom scolded.
“No, Mom, Caleb’s right,” Angela sighed. “I must not have enough faith for Heavenly Father to make Sheela be nice.” She told Mom about her day.
“Angela, we can’t pray away another person’s agency, no matter how much faith we have,” Mom explained. “When we pray for our enemies, it changes how we feel about them and brings us peace. We change for the better, and sometimes our goodness helps our enemies to change. Sadly, some never change. But we should never let our enemies choose how we will act.”
“So what does Angela do about Sheela?” Caleb interrupted. “How does all this help her if Sheela is still mean?”
Angela nodded. “I thought faith could produce miracles.”
“It does. I promise you it does,” Mom assured her. “Do you remember the story of Alma and his people in the land of Helam?” Mom reached for her scriptures.
“A little,” Angela said. “Alma’s people were righteous, but they still were captured by the Lamanites. Things got even worse when the Lamanites put Amulon, one of the wicked priests of King Noah, in charge of Alma’s people.”
“And Amulon was Alma’s enemy,” Caleb added. “He knew Alma had believed the prophet Abinadi and had tried to save him from being burned.”
“That’s right,” Mom said. “Amulon made slaves of Alma and his people. He even put guards over them to kill anyone caught praying.”
“But they still prayed in their hearts,” Caleb added.
“And the Lord answered their prayers,” Mom continued. “He didn’t help them escape right away, but He helped them with their trials. Let’s read what happened in Mosiah 24:15: ‘And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.’
“So, what do you think you should pray for now?” Mom asked gently.
Angela sat quietly, then answered, “To endure my trials cheerfully.”
The next day, after sanding and painting over the writing in the rest room, Angela was emptying trash cans when Sheela walked by. Loudly she said to the girls with her, “It looks like we have a new janitor at our school.” The group left, giggling.
“Please help me to be cheerful and patient,” Angela prayed in her heart.
Just then Mr. Hamblin walked up. “Angela, you’re a good worker.” Then he smiled a big smile. “You didn’t scratch those words on the wall, did you?”
Angela shook her head.
“That’s what I told Mr. Cooper. And while we were talking, Ammon Young came to report he’d overheard Sheela Kelly bragging about doing it herself and getting you in trouble.” Mr. Hamblin smiled again. “Mr. Cooper wants to see you in his office. He’s a fair man. I think you’ll be happy to talk with him again.”
Patience and cheerfulness, prayers and faith, Angela thought. They really do produce miracles. I don’t think my troubles with Sheela are over, but I’ll keep trying to do what’s right. Maybe I’ll try to talk with her again. And as she hurried toward the principal’s office, she silently prayed, Thank Thee, Heavenly Father, for helping me with my trials.