Today’s excerpt is from high school, not the happiest of times for me, as you’ll see. I welcome your feedback and appreciate your support! Thank you for hanging with me as I tell my story—sad, ugly and trying as it was at times.
There were those in high school who wore clean clothes and started a bible study group together. They stood smooth and uptight. They wrote one another notes with bible verses and words of encouragement. They went on mission trips that seemed like glorified vacations where they could bulk up their do-gooder resumes.
I was not part of this group.
Their problems seemed trivial to me, something to confess to one another as weakness but nothing too gritty or scary. This one had argued with her sister. Another envied her friend’s car.
“We’re all sinners,” they said but in the way that left no doubt that some–like me–had more sinnerness than others.
Their saccharin attitudes alarmed me.
Christians, I decided, were fake, sugary mouth-talkers. They acted earnest but were meaner and more judgmental than anyone. They made it clear that they knew who was saved and who was going to hell. By an amazing coincidence or convenience, they were the ones who were saved. Their teaching about loving your neighbor seemed conditional. Love your neighbor unless she is too weird, slutty or badly dressed to be loved. In that case, talk about her.
They smiled as they took out their words to cut people down to size. They looked down on me, living in sin with a boy, and gossiped about our relationship.
“They’re fornicators,” one said in a whisper to the other when my boyfriend and I walked by hand-in-hand. Then she looked up and caught my eye. “Hi!” she said with a bright smile and embarrassed look.
Go fornicate yourself, I thought.
I felt outside of them.
I would never be so clean. I would never fawn over my daddy and want to be like my mom. I wouldn’t know when was the right time to wear white shoes.
I would never belong. I would never feel so sure of my place as God’s favorite, so secure in my supremacy.
They seemed to own God, part of a group who lived in an illusion, the Youthful Christian Club where I wasn’t welcome. They shook their head when they looked at me.
I answered their disapproval with tighter clothes and deepened my kisses with my boyfriend in the hallway. I pressed my tall litheness on his long muscular form against the lockers. I kissed him hard to dismay the Christians and their prissy sensibilities.
Even with my eyes closed, I could hear them tutting as they walked by.
Pleasure, distraction and obsession became my religion. My only focus was my boyfriend and how I could keep him. I was possessive, jealous and crazy. Trying to tame the violence and lust of a strong eighteen-year-old boy was a full-time occupation. I was crushed when he flirted with other girls and furious when he passed out in the afternoon from too much mid-day partying.
His temper made holes in the walls where he punched next to my face. Flecks of drywall scattered through my permed blond hair. I swore I would end it the next time he punched me or kicked me. Yet each time it happened, I felt I deserved it.
How could I live without him? I didn’t want to live alone. I couldn’t live alone. I could barely live.
It was hard to breathe.
Every day was chaos.
In the swirl of drugs, liquor and an abusive relationship, I continued to live on my own, go to high school and work at my job. I consider this fact proof of God’s grace in my life despite my lack of membership to any visible group of Christians.
I didn’t die. No matter how bruised, bloated and bewildered I was, by God’s grace I kept going.