The summer of 1985 changed everything in my world. My best friend in the 9th grade, Rhonda, was invited to spend a few weeks at a camp. Yes, I was going to miss our talk about boys, slumber parties, and movie nights now that we had a VCR, but she would only be gone three weeks. What could happen in 3 weeks? Besides it was a chance for her to meet some new boys. So my best friend left that Friday night. Three weeks later she came home as someone I didn’t even know. Rhonda did meet someone new at camp and His name was Jesus.
Everything Rhonda talked about began with the name “Jesus”, her “new best friend.” She started going to church on Sunday and youth group on Thursday nights. Duran Duran, Prince, and Tears for Fears were replaced by Michael W Smith and Amy Grant. Rhonda said her heart belonged to Jesus and she couldn’t help but sing His praises. Gag me!
After she came home from that crazy camp, she carried that Bible the camp director gave her. Every other word was about Jesus. Jesus is the Way. Jesus took away my sins. Jesus is coming back any minute to take me to Heaven. She was driving me nuts! I’d even started wishing Jesus would come back and take her just so I wouldn’t have to hear about her religion anymore.
High school started and Rhonda and I drifted further apart. No matter how hard she tried to explain, I could’t understand her love affair with Jesus. She’d become a religious freak who left me without a friend in the world. After being expelled at the end of the 9th grade, no one in school wanted anything to do with me. I hated Rhonda for leaving me, but I hated her Jesus even more.
I surfed through two years of high school, barely passing my classes. Weekends were for partying, and my parents didn’t care what I did as long as I didn’t get them in trouble. I moved from boyfriend to boyfriend, getting a reputation as an “easy” girl, and I guess I was. As long as I had a boyfriend to get me whatever I was drinking or smoking, I didn’t care who he was or how old he was.
Barely able to read or write – and not interested in either – I dropped out of school and moved in with the love of my life, an arrangement that lasted only a few weeks before I had to find a new boyfriend and a new place to live. Something had to change, but I didn’t know what or how.
** Part 2 of 4