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In honor of Pastor Appreciation month, Armchair Wit posts in October will feature character sketches of various souls from my husband's years as "the man behind the pulpit." We hope you find interesting both the glad and the sad stories of those whom God placed in our ministry.

An elderly woman in a drab, brown jumper plodded down the church aisle. Frowning at those she passed, she reached her seat, sighed heavily and sat with a whump!

Sophie was a picture of dejection. If a person didn’t know she was dead serious about being dead serious, he would think she was putting on a melodramatic act.

Sophie (not her real name) had suffered hard things in life, much of it at the hands of her cruel father. Unlike those who chose to forgive, Sophie’s mission in life was to spend the rest of her days making herself and everyone else miserable.

Nearly every Sunday, this disgruntled woman arrived at church and seemed to enjoy garnering attention. With sour expression, she glared at those who dared to speak to her. I once tried to shake hands with Sophie. She raised her cane as if to strike me. The woman rejected most overtures of friendliness.

The real test came when Sophie thought of a new way to gain attention. She brought her portable keyboard, sat on the front row and played loudly to “help” the piano and organ.

The problem was, Sophie was the only one who enjoyed her playing. Not to be outdone by larger instruments, she brought a speaker and hooked it up so she could play louder than the others.

The pastor was away on vacation when this incident occurred, and the guest speaker knew better than to tangle with this thorny problem. And so, the congregation gritted their collective teeth and endured until the young minister returned.

We tried many ways to help this dear soul. One church she had attended, wrote her a letter and asked her not to come back. She seemed bewildered.

Unable to accept love and help, sophie groveled for so long that no one could penetrate the cocoon of gloom she wove around herself.

A counselor gave a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. When we moved to another pastorate, we left this forlorn soul in the hands of the new minister, hoping for better results. Years later, we heard that Sophie had given her heart to the Lord and indeed made spiritual progress before she died.

A seasoned Christian reminded us, "Even Jesus didn't win them all." That is true, of course, but the faithful pastor always hopes for the best.

How would you have approached this unlovable person, who desperately needed to be loved but rejected all overtures? Feel free to comment below.

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