ONE Friday, July 13 (I’m back…)
Is it just me or is this world going totally nuts?
Okay, before I get carried away, let me first say how good it feels to pick up a pen and write in my diary again. I thought I wanted to take a little break from writing in my diary during the summer—you know how it gets with work and sunshine and fun stuff to do. Anyway, I somehow imagined I was too busy to keep writing about my life. Big mistake, Caitlin! The thing is, I need to write about my life. Like, it sort of clears out my head or something—makes things more understandable. Almost like praying, but not quite the same.
Anyway, back to the world going totally nuts. Or is it me? You see, I’ve been working at my dad’s advertising firm (actually I’m just a part-time receptionist, and not doing such a bad job if I do say so myself). But lately it seems like all these older guys have been hitting on me. Okay, now I know that sounds all narcissistic (a word I just read in a magazine, which means you think the whole world revolves around you, which I don’t really think, by the way). But I don’t think I’m imagining it either.
I mean, Todd Alberts (who’s probably at least twenty-five) even asked me if I wanted to go get coffee with him today. Now, it’s not that I’m not flattered (because, believe me, I am!). But sheesh, I’m only sixteen (well, almost seventeen) for Pete’s sake! But in Todd’s defense, I doubt that he even knows my age, and he’s probably just being friendly. And I’m sure if he knew I was still in high school he’d run the other way—and fast. But here’s the honest truth—it feels pretty good to be noticed like that. And yet at the same time, it bugs me that it feels good. You know, like I should be above those sorts of feelings. Especially after making my vow to God about sex and dating. It’s like I just wish those feelings (you know, feeling interested in a cute guy) would all just go away, once and for all. But they don’t. So why is that?
Well, to make a long story short, I nicely told Todd thanks but no thanks (not in those exact words!). And now I feel kind of bad because he actually looked sort of hurt and disappointed. But maybe someone in the corporation will set him straight about me and how old guys like him shouldn’t go around hitting on high school girls. Big laugh!
But now that I’ve vented over something pretty unimportant, let me get to what’s really bugging me. It’s Beanie Jacobs, my supposedly best friend. I say supposedly because lately she’s been treating me like I’ve got smallpox or something. I mean, every single time I call her to invite her to go do something, she makes some totally lame excuse not to come. Okay, I know she’s pregnant and not feeling too cool lately, but it’s not like it’s my fault, and all I’m trying to do is to be the good friend that I’ve promised her I would be.
Like tonight, for instance, I just wanted someone to hang with. You know, go to the mall or something simple like that, and she says, “Sorry, I can’t.” Just like that. Not even an explanation, apology—nada, nothing. Well, instead of me grilling her like I usually do, I just said, “Well, fine!” and hung up—bam! Which, to tell the truth, left me feeling
pretty rotten inside. Because I know she doesn’t need that from me or anyone else right now.
But, I ask you, how far backwards is a person supposed to bend for her these days? I mean, it’s not like she’s a whole lot of fun to be with right now. And now she’s all worried about putting on weight and getting fat, which, if you ask me, she should’ve considered before she got all hot and heavy with Zach last spring! Okay, there I go
getting all preachy and judgmental again. And Beanie accuses me of doing that a lot lately. In fact, she even sarcastically calls me “Sister Caitlin” sometimes, which totally fries me!
So anyway, I called up Andrea LeMarsh, after being turned down by Beanie, and we went to the mall and hung out and had a really fun time (at least when I wasn’t feeling guilty about Beanie). Andrea and I both got these totally cool Hawaiian print bikinis—and we imagined ourselves wearing them on some sandy beach in Mexico next month when the youth group goes on their missions trip. (Okay, I know we’re primarily going there to help poor people and stuff, but we plan to have some fun along the way too!) But the whole time we’re shopping and joking around and having a great time, I’m thinking how fun it would be if Andrea were my best friend instead of Beanie. And just thinking those kind of thoughts makes me feel really, really low. Because I do know that despite Beanie’s prickly disposition of late, she really does love me, deep down, and she needs me too.
So, here’s my struggle: Just because my best friend has totally messed up her life by getting pregnant, does this mean I must also sacrifice my summer, my fun, my life just to hang with her while she’s being all depressed and glum and tired? I mean, I do believe in loyalty and I’d never stop loving Beanie or caring for her. But what I want to know is: Is it really my responsibility to see her through this whole pregnancy thing? Good grief, it lasts nine months (practically a lifetime in teen years!). And quite frankly, the idea of hanging with a girlfriend who’s obviously starting to look pretty pregnant (not to mention how she never seems to care about her appearance anymore!) is starting to wear on me.
Well, now it’s plain to see what a rotten, selfish, lowdown (and yes, I’m sure, narcissistic) person I truly am. But isn’t this my life too? Don’t I have the right to do what I want? To hang with whomever I please? I mean, it’s my life!!!
And yet, I know (deep down inside of me, someplace where I want to just plug my ears and cover my eyes sometimes) that this is definitely NOT what Jesus would do. I know, good and well, He would NOT treat His friends like that. Sheesh, He wouldn’t even treat His enemies like that. And I can just imagine what Clay would say to me right now. In fact, I still vividly remember that time (just a couple weeks before he was shot and killed) when he told our youth group about how he wanted us to love one another like Jesus did, by putting each other above ourselves. And sure, it might sound nice and easy, but let me tell you, it’s really not.
Oh, crud, I still have soooo much to learn about being a Christian.
DEAR GOD, IT SEEMS I’LL NEVER GET THIS RIGHT. ONE MINUTE I THINK I’M DOING PRETTY WELL, AND THE NEXT THING I KNOW I’M HAVING TOTALLY SELFISH AND SHALLOW THOUGHTS. HOW LONG WILL IT
TAKE FOR ME TO REALLY CHANGE? Saturday, July 14 (oh, brother!)
We had another car wash today (to earn more money for our Mexico trip). And naturally I didn’t even bother to invite Beanie since she’s made it perfectly clear that “no way, no how” is she going with us down to Mexico in August. Not that I blame her. I doubt I’d want to go either if I were in her shoes. So anyway, not wanting to bother Beanie, I called Andrea and then drove over and picked her up in my freshly washed car (no need to
waste the youth group’s time on it!), and we headed over to the minimall where we’d prearranged to hold the wash.
Well, last night Andrea and I both decided we’d try out our new bikinis today. (I mean, why shouldn’t we enjoy them while it’s hot and sunny and we’re getting all wet anyway?) And to our pleasant surprise, they didn’t hurt business at all. Man, you should have seen how many cars pulled over being driven by guys who obviously wanted to
flirt. (We were halfway tempted to hose a couple of ’em down, but then we might’ve missed out on some tips.) So as you can imagine, it was a pretty successful fund-raiser. In fact, the best car wash event we’ve had so far this year.
But here’s the clincher. After it’s all said and done, Josh Miller (the guy who broke my heart last spring before I gave up dating completely) has recently joined our youth group and is now planning to go to Mexico with us. So anyway, he pulls Andrea and me aside like he’s got something really important to tell us. So I’m thinking he’s probably going to say something nice about how hard we worked and all, which makes sense due to the fact he’s in charge of the car wash today (because Greg Thiessen, our regular youth group leader, had to be the best man at his brother’s wedding). So anyway, we cheerfully come over to listen, and then he says, “You girls think it’s wise to be showing so much skin around here?” I mean, he just says this totally weird thing without even batting an eyelash. Of course, I get all indignant and say, “Just what do you mean by that?”
Then he sort of shrugs and says, “Well, it just seems a little un-Christian to go around half naked like that.” Now that really makes me mad and I snap at him, “Sheesh, Josh, we’ve been working real hard here today, and we’re just trying to be cool and comfortable, and all you can do is snipe at us!”
“Yeah, I know, Caitlin.” He suddenly looks slightly uneasy, like maybe he wishes he’d never brought this ridiculous subject up. And for some reason his discomfort pleases me a little. (Okay, you already know I’m human!) Then he says, “But you should really think about us guys. You know, we’re supposed to be your brothers.” Then he sort of laughs but not quite. “Maybe you sisters should have a little mercy on us.”
“So, are you suggesting our appearance creates some kind of a temptation for you?” asks Andrea in what seems a fairly flirtatious way (although she’s just like that sometimes, and I don’t think she even totally realizes how she comes across).
“Maybe,” says Josh, then he reaches over to me and flips the string tie that’s keeping my bikini top on. “You know, I’d think you’d be especially uncomfortable with something like this, Catie. I mean, what with your commitment to sexual purity and all that stuff.”
Well, I’m sure my eyes must’ve flashed some sort of very un-Christianlike message right then, but somehow I managed to answer in a rather quiet, albeit hostile, tone. “Since when does what I wear in any way reflect my personal beliefs or convictions?”
He shrugs again. “I don’t know, Catie. It just seems to me you’re sending out some pretty weird mixed messages.” Then he walks away and starts coiling up the hoses.
Well, Andrea and I just stood there and laughed at him; then we took down the car wash signs, got into my car, and I drove off—fast. Because I was still irked. And all I could think was: The nerve of that guy! After all our hard work, all he could comment on was our unacceptable attire. Who does he think he is anyway, God’s fashion police? I mean, grow up, Josh Miller! All of which I expressed to Andrea, but she just threw back her head and laughed. She hadn’t taken one single word seriously. She just thought the whole thing was a joke.
But I really don’t think Josh was joking. And to be completely honest, I must confess that he has actually got me to thinking about what he said. And I’m wondering if he might not be partially right about me sending those “mixed messages.” (Although I refuse to admit as much to him just yet.) And at the same time I still wonder, what right does he have to judge me in the first place?
I mean, is he trying to imply that just because I made a promise to God to remain sexually pure, that I should go around dressed like a nun or something? How fair is that? Why shouldn’t I dress however I want? Last time I checked it was still my life. And if he’s got a problem with my appearance, he can just look the other way!
Can’t he? Or maybe not. I’m not entirely sure anymore. But I guess I will consider what he said, and I’ll try not to be too mad at him for saying it. I suppose he was just trying to be honest, even if he was pretty irritating and judgmental about it. And maybe I’ll even ask Greg about all this tomorrow in youth group. Or maybe not.
Well, I do know this, I will ask God about it. Because, it’s like Clay used to say—convictions are a personal thing—they need to come straight from God and directly to you—no middleman needed.
DEAR GOD, SHOW ME WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO ABOUT THINGS LIKE STRING BIKINIS AND THE LIKE. AND SHOW ME HOW YOU WANT ME TO LIVE. AND THEN HELP ME TO BE WILLING TO OBEY. AMEN.
Excerpted from It's My Life by Melody Carlson. Copyright © 2002 by Melody Carlson. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.