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Hurricane in the Lobby
By Dave Franco

Alanna’s five-year-old son, Adam, had always been the kind of kid who was gregarious, happy, and quick to laugh or make someone laugh. Even when Alanna and her boyfriend and Adam’s dad, Mark, had separated just two weeks earlier, Adam seemed to take it in stride and kept a smile on his face. He even maintained his usual good humor as Alanna and Mark began the process of swapping him back and forth between their homes.

But Alanna knew that a crack in Adam’s sunny demeanor was sure to appear someday and in some way. No boy loves his dad as much as Adam loved his and doesn’t show signs that his heart is taking a hit. What Alanna didn’t expect was that the hurricane was to come this day.

After having Adam for the weekend, Mark took him to Rock Church to drop him off before the 5PM service, just as Alanna had requested. When Mark saw Alanna approaching as she crossed the lobby to take Adam to Rock Kids, Mark bent down to say goodbye. He hugged Adam, who held on tight. Finally, Mark stood, turned, and walked away, telling Adam that he would see him in just five short days. As Alanna, herself emotionally devastated from the break up, took Adam by the hand, it started. He pulled his hand away from hers, and then, without any lead up, began to scream. It soon turned into a howl.

Between Alanna’s three children, she has seen it all—spectacular tantrums to mind-numbing outbursts. But as she looked into Adam’s eyes, she knew she was witnessing something different. Adam wasn’t mad. He wasn’t merely throwing a fit. His heart was being pulled apart. And he could keep the pain inside no longer.

Alanna looked around the lobby for help and noticed Mark walking in the distance. She called out to him and waved her arms. “Can you please come back and help me?” she called out.

“He’s on your time now. You deal with him,” he replied. Ten full minutes of Adam‘s torrent went by and it was only getting worse. Alanna didn’t have a clue on how to navigate it.

As concerned people looked over at Alanna struggling with Adam, she feared that she would look like a stranger harassing a child. To make matters worse, he began to have a look in his eyes that said he didn’t even know who she was.

“Please, Adam! Please calm down,” Alanna begged, feeling the glare of all the people who were concerned for the screaming little boy.

“Please, Adam! Please calm down,” Alanna begged, feeling the glare of all the people who were concerned for the screaming little boy. “Let me take you to your class and when you get done, I’ll show you that it really isn’t that long before you see your daddy again!”

She prayed as he pulled, perspiring from the struggle. Lord, please help me. I don’t know how to deal with this. She was finally able to grab Adam by the hand and feeling helpless and shattered, pulled him to the second floor where she made a B-line to the first Rock Kids volunteer she could find.

“Can you please help me?” she pleaded. “I need someone to pray with me and my son!” She knew Adam was so hurt, only a touch from the divine would help. The volunteer noticed the terror in her face and stopped Stacey from Rock Kids who was passing by. When the volunteer asked Stacey for help, “No problem,” was Stacey’s quick response.

Stacey led Alanna and Adam into a room where she began to pull flannel storyboards and figures from a closet. For the severity of the problem, the flannel storyboards seemed to be an odd tactic to take. With Adam still putting up a fight and looking at Stacey like she was the last person in the world he wanted to listen to, Stacey leaned in and said the words that would transform him. “My mom and dad divorced when I was five, too. And I had to be taken from house to house. It hurts, doesn’t it?”

Suddenly, in Adam’s eyes, Stacey was not a grown up trying to play him. She was a friend who was hugging his heart. Alanna saw Adam look at Stacey like he had never looked at anybody before—like she was his salvation.

Then Alanna noticed something even more amazing than the way Adam looked at Stacy. She saw the way Stacey looked at Adam—as if she loved him, a stranger causing quite a disturbance. She recalled 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 where Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” That verse had always confused her as to how we limited humans could ever offer the love of the Almighty God. And yet, here it was, happening right in front of her.

As Alanna watched Adam begin to settle and listen to Stacey’s story about the Good Samaritan, she felt her heart begin to calm. She was standing in the presence of a woman who was so touched by the love of Christ that it was gushing out onto her son. And it felt so good.

But it wasn’t over.

Stefanie, another Rock Kids staff member, had seen what was going on and went down to D’Lush and bought coffee for Alanna. When she arrived, she came alongside her and sat down, handing her the coffee. “I was divorced two years ago,” Stefanie said, lovingly. “It’s awful, right?”

Suddenly, Alanna was looking into the confident, gracious eyes of someone who had passed through and was now on the other side of all the pain she was feeling at that moment. She felt her courage swell as God was speaking to her, saying, See?

Alanna received the coffee, took a sip, and subtly shook her head as she stared at Stefanie. Lord, you knew exactly what I needed, she silently spoke to Him. Thank you so much for sending me these women. Then Stefanie gave her something else. “Can I pray with you, right now?” she asked?

A few minutes later, Alanna and Adam stepped outside the room, hugged Stacey and Stefanie, and walked hand-in-hand to his classroom where he went and said later that he had a good time.

Alanna went to the service feeling on cloud nine. You are going to be with me through this, she spoke to God in her heart. You just showed me how in control you really are.

Deeply moved by what happened that day, Alanna has become more involved in the church, attends a women’s group, completed The LIFE Classes, and is being mentored by a Rock Care counselor—all in preparation to be able to “comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”