Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"Break Her Trust" Part Three

The last piece!!!! It turned out really short.... Hope you like it!

You can find Part One here and Part Two here.

The next morning, Megan left for school after ensuring that Justin looked presentable. She did. Once Megan was gone, Justin changed back into jeans with holes and a dark sweatshirt. She threw the nice clothes into her backpack to change into before coming home. She couldn’t let Megan see her without them. She even remembered to grab a brush on her way out the door.
    Justin shared a bus stop with Charlotte and she couldn’t start the day with teasing and questions. Instead, they talked about whatever came to their minds, including how poorly school was going. “I can’t get any of it!” Charlotte began. “It just won’t stick. I don’t know why they even try!”
    “Yeah. I just don’t get it. Especially math. What a pain!”
    “I know, right?” Just then, the bus pulled up and they climbed on, unhappy with the day planned out for them.

    Justin did not live up to the deal. She was late, she was dirty, and she still hung out with Marty’s group. But never in front of Megan. Things were going great until the next Wednesday when Justin’s mom got a phone call. From the school.

    Justin slouched in the cold plastic chair. She wasn’t so upset by the fact that she had been caught. That had happened plenty. It was the fact that the rest of Marty’s gang had split at the first sign of trouble. They had always got in trouble together if they did something together. If one of the group did something by themselves, it was on them. They weren’t getting bailed out by their friends. But they had never just left one person to suffer - it was usually at least two.
Justin hadn’t even noticed they had left. She was too busy reaching her thin arm up the vending machine and grabbing a soda to think of much else. That’s where Mrs. Newman had caught her. With her arm up the vending machine. It had been a short walk to the principal’s office, followed by a long lecture with a lot of “You’re better than this!” strung through it. The whole scene had been topped off by a phone call to her mother.
It wasn’t worth explaining things to her or the principal. They wouldn’t understand that it had been Marty’s idea, that the rest of the group had split as soon as Mrs. Newman had shown up. So she just sat and listened. She nodded and looked guilty when she needed to, but she didn’t think any of the adults were fooled. She was sitting there half listening when something caught her ear. “Since this is a third offense,” Principal Bright was saying. “I’m afraid it means a two day suspension this time.” That caught Justin by surprise. It had never been more than a week or so of detention before now. What would her dad say? Worse, what would Megan say?
    That’s what she was thinking about on the way home: what to say to Megan. Dad was like any other adult. Nod and look appropriately guilty. But Megan. She was not an adult. She really believed that Justin had been keeping up her end of the deal. She would be so disappointed. And Justin didn’t want to disappoint her. She didn’t want to break her trust.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Worth It

In a lot of movies, TV shows, and books, the main character at one point or another starts whispering to themselves, "I'm not good enough. I'll never measure up to what I should be. I can't do anything right." These thoughts creep their way into plots over and over again and with good reason. People think those things about themselves in real life too.

Often when the character begins thinking this way, you start to watch their actions and think, "If that's not good enough then I don't know what is," because they look awfully perfect from your perspective. The character will continue to think this way for a while before either encountering a situation that convinces them otherwise or a person that gives them a really great pep talk that makes them feel like a million bucks again.

You come away from the story either super encouraged or really depressed. The reason for that is because that's not how it always works in real life. You don't start thinking about how you can't do anything and a few scenes later save the world and think you can do everything. It just doesn't happen that way.

You're not going to feel amazing at the end of every story in your life. Because it's life, not a story. Sure, you are living out your own story. I don't mean to say that you're not. What I'm trying to say is that the stories we live in aren't always perfect at the end, like those of a book character. We won't always end up feeling great about ourselves and having the praise and adulation of those around us. We're going to get hurt and it's going to hurt for real. It's not always going to leave in a day or two. Life is not always pretty.

So far this sounds like a pretty downer post, but that's not what it's meant to be. Because, while it sure feels like the characters we read about lead ideal lives, we really have better opportunities than they. We have better reason to stop thinking, "I'm not good enough." Because guess what?

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 

Matthew 6:30 says it pretty well. If God cares so much for the flowers and grass in the field, how much more must He care about us? We were made in the image of God. Doesn't that make you feel more special already? But that's not the only reason for us to stop putting ourselves down.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins

1 John 4:10 shows us that we are worth so much to God that He sent His own Son to die for us so that we could spend all of eternity with Him. How cool is that? I mean, how many people do you know that would send their only family member to die the most humiliating death possible just so that they could spend an eternity with someone that had wronged them again and again?

We are worth something. I mean, if even after all that we've done wrong over and over again, God still wants us to be with Him forever, we must be worth something to Him. Which is honestly about as good as it can get.


Friday, February 6, 2015

"Break Her Trust" Part Two

Here's the unedited and unabridged part two of "Break Her Trust." You can find part one by clicking on the words "Break Her Trust" Part One. Enjoy!

The right time did not present itself that afternoon, though.
As soon as their little brother, Ben, got home, Justin withdrew from the world. This happened whenever she was around  Ben and their parents. She just felt so inferior to them. Her brother was a goody two-shoes, her mother a successful real estate agent, and her father an accomplished lawyer. Megan outshone her too, but she also had a way of making her feel a bit better about herself.
About an hour later, Justin’s parents got home within a few minutes of each other. Soon, they were all sitting down to dinner. All except Justin.
“Justin!” her dad called. “Dinner!”
“I’ll get her,” offered Megan.
She came back a minute later with Justin in tow. They sat down.
“Let’s say grace,” her dad began. “Father, we thank You for this food. Please bless it to the nourishment of our bodies. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Justin sort of listened as she went through the motions of dinner. Get the food. Eat the food. Don’t listen to the conversation. But then something unexpected happened. “What have you been learning in Sunday School lately, Justin?” This was from her dad.
“I don’t know. Stuff,” she mumbled, without looking up from behind her hair. She knew what was coming and she didn’t like it. Sometimes she could come up with a satisfactory answer quickly enough to quiet his questioning, but tonight would not be one of those lucky nights.
“Why don’t you know?”
“Just ‘cause.”
“Do you mean because you haven’t been paying attention? At all?”
“I guess.”
"Why Justin? I thought we had talked about this before. You promised to pay more attention. You promised.”
Justin was silent.
“What else can we do to get you to pay good attention?”
She shrugged. Now for the promise.
“I want you to promise me you’ll start paying better attention and be respectful to the teacher.”
“I promise.” They both knew that the promise would not be acted upon. She was the only one of her friends that had to go to church. So she made up for it by texting Charlotte all through Sunday School, but there was nothing she could do during service under her dad’s watchful eye.
She tried to be even more invisible through the rest of dinner and excused herself as soon as she was done eating. She went straight to her room and lay down on her bed and stared at the ceiling.
That’s where Megan found her 20 minutes later.
“Want to start back in with English?”
“Sure. I guess. But it’s hopeless. I’ll never understand it like you or even Ben. Why should I try?”
“Because you can. I know you have it in you. Just give it a shot. For me?”
“I said sure. May as well get good grades so Dad can’t get at me for that too.”
“Okay. Let’s get started.” It was a beginning at least. Maybe Megan could talk about Justin’s “friends” later.

After about an hour of English, Megan decided it was time. “Hey, let’s take a break. You’ve been working hard.”
“Okay. And do what?”
“Well, there’s something that I’d like to talk about.”
“Alright.” Megan looked determined. It must be something important.
“Your friends. Who do you hang out with?”
“Marty and the gang. Why?”
“Well, I think you should probably stop hanging around with them. They’re not a good influence.”
“I know that. But they’re the only friends I’ve got. I can’t stop hanging out with them! Anyway, Marty would kill me on the spot if I told him that. And he would have three helpers.”
“You don’t have to tell him. Just find some new friends.”
“It’s not that easy, Megan. You don’t just walk up to some kid and say, ‘Hey, I’m sorry I laughed all those times Marty shoved you down since sixth grade. Can we be friends now?’ ”
“Look, I know that. But I have an idea. Dress neater. Pay attention in class. Work hard. And don’t hang out with Marty!
“And how am I supposed to do that?”
“Wear jeans without holes in the knees for starters. And brush out your hair - like this.” Megan grabbed a brush and started pulling at Justin’s tangled mass of hair. Soon enough she had it smooth and shining. She parted it on the right. Megan sat back proudly. Justin looked like a new girl already. “Try being on time for class too.”
“Why should I do all this?”
“I honestly think things will turn out better for you if you just give it a shot. Please?”
“Just a trial run?”
“Just a trial run. Deal?”
“Great. Let’s find you a nice, neat outfit to wear to school tomorrow.” They proceeded to do so. Soon the whole day was planned out nice and neat, just like her clothes.