My best friend Kayla and I sat in a borrowed living room with six sets of teenage eyes staring at us.
The girls bent over their notebooks, recording the purposes of our gathering: to learn to love the Bible, to learn to love prayer, to learn to love each other without rivalry.
The eight of us had braved the winter weather to come. We packed into Kayla’s homeschool van—balancing the dessert, sleeping bags, boom box, and Bibles—bound for a farmhouse belonging to a Christian couple who offered to host our Bible study’s inaugural slumber party.
The girls were attentive, serious, sweet. Kayla and I began by telling stories from our lives in which we had been poisoned by our own envy and anger. We had sibling stories, friend stories, boy stories.
I wished, as we talked, that I had grown out of envy and anger. I wished I had learned the lesson and closed the book. My mind recognizes envy and sinful anger as destroyers of life, and it knows they ought to be avoided. But somehow I still take them into my bloodstream and watch them poison my heart.
We pursued the theme of unity. We read large chunks of Scripture together, with these words passing our lips: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another.”
“But don’t you like to be angry?” I asked. The girls blinked back at me.
I do. I like to slam doors, nurse grudges, and make cutting speeches. I like to be angry and envious because those sins trade my own vulnerable pain for a sense of power—even if only for a moment.
That night we feasted on the potato soup I had made, coveting it to the last ladleful. We went upstairs and prayed together for a full 80 minutes. The girls uttered beautiful prayers: “Make us amazing wives,” and, “Lord, please save people at my kitchen table.” They prayed for unsaved friends at school, for their parents, for my writing, that God would make Kayla and me respectful wives. Then we bedded down for a night of slumber.
About 4:30 in the morning, everyone was awake again with food poisoning. Girl by girl, we crept down the stairs, knocked on the bathroom doors, stretched out on the floor. Eight girls. Two bathrooms.
We still don’t know the source of the poison, but we strongly suspect my potato soup, as I had put it on the wrong crockpot setting all day. I lay there in a wash of agony from the poison, and guilt for poisoning everyone in my charge. How could something so delicious make you so sick?
It seemed God had appointed an object lesson for me. One pot of soup hid bacteria that poisoned all of us. I have seen anger and envy do the same thing a hundred times. When will I remember?