All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
In the Bible, Jesus says countless times He’s always with us and never leaves. Again and again he says it. Drilling it into our heads until it’s always what we think when something bad happens. ‘It’s fine, God’s with me’. It’s what I thought until he started showing up. When he showed up, there was no feeling of God being with me. None. I felt alone. All alone except for him.
“Go away,” I mutter.
I’m walking down a street. It’s cold and dark. My hands are shoved in my pockets and the wool of my coat scratches my skin. I feel sick to my stomach. He’s with me again. Following me, breathing down my neck, not letting me be. When I’d been baptized, Pastor Steves said I was automatically making myself a target for Satan. I hadn’t realized what he meant until later, when he started appearing. Dark, crude and obscured, I could only see him out of the corner of my eye. I shudder and try to pull my coat closer. It’s already tighter then a straitjacket. The numbness and cold he brings is already seeping into my bones.
“Leave me alone.”
Amber stops me going to P.E, which is not a good sign. We don’t hang out anymore since I’ve gotten my act together.
“Heard about your test score—whoa--48%!” I try to push past, the pressure in my head’s building. I could really use--“Wait.” Her arm has thin cuts as she shoves something at me. “For old times’ sake.” She says.
My heart stops when I see what she’s offering me. How’d she know that’s what I want right now? I just broke the addiction a couple months ago but times like this, when it’s all spinning out of control, I badly want it. I can’t start again…
Cold blows in my ear.
‘Take it, you need it this once.’ He’s talking. To me. ‘Just this once.’
No. I-I can’t. I just quit… I stare at Amber’s hand. Just looking at it makes me ache with yearning. I can’t…no.
But I’m reaching. My hand’s closing around it. No…stop. I’m slipping it into my backpack. No…My hand burns as I zip it shut.
Next to me, he smiles smugly. ‘What did I tell you?’
Even though the pressure’s gone in my head, I try not to listen.
What am I doing here? Tonight I feel out of place at youth group. I use to love it in the church basement. It was my sanctuary. But now it’s different.
Hmm, gee, any ideas why, Kristen? I think as I catch sight of him behind me. I shudder. Why did I take Amber’s offering? I’d given it up months ago.
The hour and a half of youth group passes slowly. When I stand with everyone else to leave, Pastor Steves stops me. He’s young and wearing a t-shirt that reads: ‘My Savior Is Tougher Than Nails.’
“Are you ok, Kristen?” He asks. “You seem off.”
He doesn’t believe me. “I’m here if you wannna talk.” He offers.
I nod but leave quickly. He’d think I was crazy if I told him the truth.
I take Tylenol to sleep at night but still dream of him and my sin. I wake coated in sweat, my sheets twisted around me. Next to me He smiles.
‘All you have to do is say yes. You want to, don’t you? Do it then. Just this once.’
I want to. So badly it aches. It’s a need for what I once relied heavily on. In the dark, I can feel it, still in my backpack. Waiting for me…I roll over and try to remember what Pastor Steves said about temptation. The words escape me and I can’t go back to sleep. He lays a cold hand on my back.
“Kristen, this is Pastor Steves, I need help at the church and I was wondering if you could give me a hand? Thanks!” Beep.
I really don’t know what I’m doing here. I’m not stupid. I know Pastor Steves called to talk to me. I know that. So why am I here?
“Thank you so much!” He beams as I appear in his office. “You have no idea how much I need your help.”
I bite my tongue. “Yeah.”
He’s dressed in jeans and an oversized shirt that reads: ‘My Lifeguard Walks On Water’. I follow him to the sanctuary, a large room with a large cross and large pews. The sight of the cross does not help my current condition.
“We need to polish the pews,” Pastor Steves says, holding up a bottle of polish and rags.
Don’t they have someone paid to do this? I start polishing though. I have no idea why. In front of me Pastor Steves starts on the next pew.
“Kristen, I’m sure you know why I called you. Do you wanna talk?”
Eyes downcast, I shrug.
“What if I told you about this guy who had good grades, lots of friends, a happy life. But one night he went to a party and had a beer. He liked the way it made him feel, the buzz. He was soon drinking heavily, abusing it really, even though he knew it was wrong. He was addicted-he couldn’t stop himself. His grades fell, his happy life disappeared. One night, after a party he almost died from alcohol poisoning.” Silence. “That was me.”
I look over at his bent over form. “What?”
Pastor Steves smiles sadly. “Hard to believe, isn’t it? There’s only one reason I’m here.” He looks pointedly at the cross.
“How did you-”
“Stay sober? It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Wherever I went, there’d be Satan, taunting me, while it seemed God was nowhere. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and talked to my pastor. He told me that even though it didn’t feel like it, God was still there with me. I was just focusing on Satan so much I was missing Him.”
“Kristen, God paid a high price for you-his Only Son-He isn’t going to forget you the second you screw up. He’ll never give you up-never. He’ll always be there. God’s relentless in His love for you.”
Water drips onto the pew, am I crying?
“W-what do I do?”
“It’s simple. You choose who you will follow. Satan will always tempt you, but you have the power to decide if you’ll listen.”
“But what if I fail?”
“Kristen, I don’t see how you could.”
Fresh air brushes my face as I walk across the parking lot and stop. Slowly, I turn to look. He’s gone. Just like that. I walk further then look back. Still no sign of him. Maybe Pastor Steves was right. I can choose, the One who is relentless in His love for me. I smile with hope because there’s no maybe. Just certainty. Overhead, sunlight breaks through the clouds, enfolding me in warmth and chasing away the numbness from him. I smile and whisper. “Thank you.”