(These are excerpts from the journal of Anne B., a former member of Triton UBF. See also http://exubf.blogspot.com/2007/05/jim-savage-father.html.)
Note to the reader: The abbreviations - Shs. Stands for Shepherdess, Sh. For Shepherd and Msn. For Missionary. Also, the Maribel referred to in the 1994 entry is the same person as Maria in the 1996 entries. (She changed her name in early 1995)
October 7, 1994
My story of today begins at 5:00 when Shs. Mary picked Maribel and I up at her house. (Maribel’s, that is.) Before that it was a very boring day. Anyhow, so we went to Main Center, which is UBF Headquarters and a nice converted old church. It’s on the North Side of Chicago – way up there. We (Maribel, Shs. Mary, Grace, Carmen and I) were early, so we found a seat in the middle of the church and I got cricks in my neck from looking over my shoulder for Shs. Jennifer, to see if she was there too.
There were three weddings in one night – Timothy Ralston and Elizabeth Cho, Jamie Young and Amy Orlando, and Richard (something) and Becky (something), in that order. Missionary Dr. Samuel Lee – an old, short, balding Korean man – was leading. He has an awful accent and I could barely understand him.
The Young wedding, the second one – Amy Orlando was the girl on the news report, and her father even gave her away! She was radiantly beautiful because of that, and she even kissed her husband, something that I don’t think usually happens at UBF weddings.
They took longer than I expected – we had to race out as soon as they were over so I could call my mother before she called out the National Guard on me.
(I could just see it – National Guardsmen in their fatigues and rifles raiding the Bible House!)
The weddings were beautiful, though, and everyone enjoyed it despite the fact that it lasted forever.
February 6, 1996 – June 18, 1996
February 10, 1996
At our women’s Friday meeting Shs. Liz talked about loving one another. Okay, that’s handleable. But then I found out that Maria has been chosen to be the teacher for the babies – BBF, for Daniel and Rebekah, sort of a pre-school Bible Study.
Hold up. Maria? You know, journal, that I love kids. I do. And my career ambitions in life are to be a preschool or elementary teacher. But lately?
Well, if you cross-reference back (11-17-1995) you’ll find out that I was fired – canned – from helping out with CBF. I was so excited about it, I really loved doing it, but what happened? I got canned in favor of Heather! Heather! Who quite loudly reminds me of that fact at lunchtimes, and I’m sensitive, so it hurts. I suppose I’m being too self-centered in that. It’s just that I liked doing it so much that it feels patently unfair. And how Maria gets to teach the littlest kids – I don’t even baby-sit much nowadays. I’m not jealous of Maria. I can’t be. I just get scared. Maybe I’m not such a good teacher. Maybe my dreams of being one will never come true. Maybe… I could maybe myself to death right here, my journal, and of course I’ve heard all the reasons. But still – I have this nagging little twinge inside me that says “It’s your fault, you’re just not good enough, and all your dreams are just that – dreams.”
February 29, 1996
Young leaders has become a group of testimony sharers on Wednesday nights. We get to be trained – rather severely – by Sh. Teddy. I won’t lie to you, my journal, I breathed such a huge sigh of relief when Sh. Teddy didn’t single me out for a training command after testimony. He singled out Joseph, and Pat, and Vicky and Esther, but not me. I was waiting – oh, I was! But I am so thankful that my turn will come later rather than sooner. *Whew!* I know I’ll get trained somehow – that’s a given right there – but I don’t think I’ll like it. Spiritual training never comes easy. I know it’s important and very necessary – and that’s so easy to say because my sensible and logical head is very certain of the benefits of spiritual training. But my overly emotional and sinful heart says “Agggh, you’re gonna hate it.”
Also, new fellowships. That was the reason behind the Y.L. switch, so we can go to our fellowship Group Bible Study. My fellowship is called Faithful Fellowship and consists of Sh. Gideon, Shs. Ruth, Sh. Kevin, Shs. Julie, Msn. Joseph, Msn. Esther, Lt. Esther, Alexandra and I.
Tonight we had our first fellowship prayer meeting. Everyone except me shared 1:1’s because I didn’t have any. (It’s been a really slow week) But Sh. Gideon asked me if I wanted to share something, so I seized an opportunity.
I’ve been dying to read this poem I wrote out loud to the general world, and as it was a poem with a spiritual motif, I decided to read it. And I did. (Trembling, but that’s normal.)
Shs. Julie asked if I wrote it, and I said yes, and I felt good to have contributed at least something, even if it was just a poem.
March 26, 1996
It’s nearing Easter time once again, my journal, and that means the big E.C. – Easter Conference.
I want to tell the truth, and only you and God will know, but I have to admit I’m not altogether looking forward to Easter Conference. If I had my way I’d retreat to someplace far away alone and just dream of that magical day when Jesus rose from the dead and changed history forever, and bask in the sunlight of His love for days, just me and God. That’s the way I’d do it. But I’m swept up in the rising enthusiasm everybody has for it, so it’s easy to hide my personal misgivings.
Why do I have them? Well, Journal, you know this. My last two conferences, Easter and Summer ’95, were under the iron fist of Shs. Jennifer, who turned both into 3-4 day rebuke festivals. I’m not saying I didn’t need each and every one she gave me – not at all. I just wish they’d come with more space and less dramatic fervor and less out-of-the-blue attitude, if you know what I mean. I got so preoccupied with being good so she’d let me be than the actual Word of God and all that came with it. I’ll tell you the truth, journal – really. I hated last year’s Easter Conference – hated it. Passionately. I think this is the first time I’ve ever admitted it to anyone – even myself. No joy came with it, just a lot of self-centered recriminations. I’d really love to blame somebody else for it, but the truth is, I can’t. I just can’t really forget last year and how it meant nothing. Nothing at all. (Spiritually, that is) and that’s not cool, because I know it’s not supposed to be that way.
Well, this year it will be different. It better be, otherwise I’m boycotting conferences for good! This year there will be no Michelle – her brief comeback last year was just that – very brief. It ended by the fall, although she was at Summer Conference. I suppose I wish her all the best, and I do hope she comes to the Kingdom of God somehow, but I think God is wise to keep us apart. Still, it makes me sad, and a little afraid, to be reminded of that debacle.
No matter what I do in life, will I have to answer for her soul on the Judgment Day? I’ve repented, and I do believe that for the most part God has forgiven me my ignorance and selfishness in that matter, but I’m still a little afraid that on the last day when I get called before God, he’s gonna call me on that.
I have been informed by Maria that I’m in the drama – the Easter play. Last year I was in HBF’s version, and at Christmas I was in Platoon Fellowship’s play as well. I played a High School Shepherdess in last years HBF drama (The high point of E.C.) and the angel in the Christmas play – unfortunately, neither was typecasting. Plays are fun, though, despite the fact that they are work, and I’m happy to be in it. Now – I wonder who I am.
March 27, 1996
Prayer meeting tonight. I’m in the play, yes I am. I play Salome, one of the women at Jesus’ tomb, and everybody – about 12 people – called me “Salami.” Guess who’s directing? Yep, you guessed it, Triton’s own dramatic specialist, Shs. Jennifer. I had trouble with that, you know. I don’t know why, I mean – it isn’t such a big deal, is it?
I’m getting more caught up in Easter Conference magic now – more enthusiasm. But I’m still a little nervous. I hope upon hope that this conference will be better than the other two and that I can bring somebody – anybody – so I’ll have someone to think about besides myself. Being too self-centered is bad, bad, bad!
March 28, 1996
I was right last night. I am in hell. Oh, it’s not so bad, really, but honestly!
I spoke barely five words – okay, that’s definite exaggeration, but I honestly didn’t talk much to Shs. Jennifer and I still managed to get a cold rebuke out of her. Especially when she didn’t understand what I meant in the first place, it was a very pointed remark of a rebuke. Oh, but I’ll try to swallow my ugly pride and get over it. But it’s annoying to have this situation.
And I called both Meg and Yvonne to invite them to E.C. Without a sheep to bring, my outlook is very bad. I got a very negative maybe from Yvonne (only God in all his power could make her say yes) and a definite no from Meg. Oh, well. I did try, but I am not doing it for the right reason. Yes, I want them to hear the gospel, of course I do! But I also want someone to come because I want to avoid a repeat of last year – with someone to concentrate on, no one will have to concentrate on me, and we won’t have any Easter and Summer repeats.
Repeats of such uncomfortable moments and Shs. Jennifer telling me my old imaginary friend was from the devil. I believe God gave me the gift of my imagination to keep me alive – God used it, I know he did.
These are uncomfortable things to remember – so uncomfortable I don’t think I really recorded them at the time. Now you get to hear all my “conference confessions,” and I guess I’m being neurotic. I’ll find someone to bring. I know God will make this conference better than the last – in at least some way. I don’t think it could be worse.
March 29, 1996
I am madly in love and therefore I am not happy with myself. It’s cursed sinful desires and I don’t like them – but they’re back and I’m in danger of being swallowed up by the longest crush I’ve ever had. Two years, almost – talk about faithful. But you know – I don’t act upon it. I sit here and I try to suppress it and forget about it and pray that God will control it, that I will be able to continue exercising self-control in regard to it. But secretly, I pray that it’s God’s will for me to be his co-worker – to share with him in God’s work – to support and care and love – to do all the things a co-worker should do. I want it, so badly. But if it’s not God’s will, then it’s not God’s will, and I have to accept it, but at the moment I don’t know, really. It’s five or six years away – a long enough time for me to change my whole attitude. But I am in love with my mystery man.
I devoted a few moments of thought tonight to what his ideal woman must be. Prayerful. Servant-like. Loving. Gentle. Wise. Godly. Faithful. Actually, that sums up God’s ideal woman as well, so trying to be that way would be good. But it’s the opposite of what I am. His ideal woman would marry by faith, not because she’s been madly in-crush with him since she was sixteen. Marriages based on that stuff don’t work out anyway.
Oh, I guess I should just pray and get over it. I’m too young to worry about it. Besides, I don’t have to. God has my Mr. Right all picked out and when the time is right I’ll march down the aisle with him.
I just have horrifying dreams that I’m in my wedding dress walking down the aisle and I have no idea who is at the other end. By that night I’ll be Mrs. Somebody but in my dreams I don’t get to know who he is until I get to him and I’m about to say “I do.” In my last dream to this effect, however, I was just pleasantly curious and hoping it would be Mystery Man at the other end. I woke up, though, before I actually made it down there. I never did find out.
Men are on my mind tonight – not men in the sense listed above, but men in general, as a species and all. There is a saying that every woman has two men who affect her – her husband and her father. Well, Christian women have three, that third being Jesus, of course. I’ve been told that Jesus is my true husband – and I do believe it, because he loves me very much – with fervent devotion and everything you’d want out of a good man.
But I’m still probably going to get married to a human husband one day. That’s a little confusing, honestly. I mean, if Jesus is my true husband – i.e. my one true love – then why bother getting married at all? Why not be a nun? Is procreation that important? There are six billion people on this earth already.
And sex, too – where does it fit into all of this? I am a virgin, and I’m actually glad I am – it makes life a lot less worrisome, and besides, it’s a sin to have sex before marriage. I don’t want to even think about it. I honestly can’t imagine anyone I know now doing it at all. You know, it is possible to have children without sex these days. It’s called artificial insemination. Now that’s a thought.
But I quote from Msn. Sarah Barry’s daily bread here – “God created sex. It is his good gift to make a man and woman one flesh within the bounds of marriage, and thus create a family.” (2-16-96)
Is that all sex is for? It just creates another person? No love, just biological impulse? Is it simply mechanics? Is it honestly not that big a deal?
The bible in some places seems to treat marriage and sex as if they are off limits completely, even though in other places it glorifies them both – this is not a contradiction, it’s simply speaking to different situations, I guess. Still, I am very curious. I would like to have some idea of what I’m getting into when I get into this whole womanhood thing. If I could do it my way I’d be seventeen forever and not have to think about any of this. Either that or shave my head and join the Franciscan nuns. (Actually, I don’t think they make you shave your head anymore)
God has plans, and I have to accept whatever they are. I am going to stop worrying as of right now.
April 10, 1996
I suppose I’m taking a terrible risk, but I brought you to school today. (I’m in sociology as we speak) It’s not a thing I do all that often. But I did want to tell you about Easter Conference and try to pull out a one word by letting my brain roam free to ponder the resurrection.
I told you I wanted Easter Conference to be different and it was. It was also very passive and oh… I don’t know. But Praise God, because it wasn’t like last year.
I’ll describe the three days of E.C. as best I can, running the risk of repeating what I wrote last time, when I was in a room with four other people who got in the way, so I wasn’t able to say much.
Okay, so Msn. Rene picked Mom and Dad and I up at our house at about 10:00 am, Friday Morning, April 5, 1996, (More detail than you needed, hmm?) and we went to the Bible House. There it was the same chaotic scene as last year, only less organized. I caught sight of my car arrangement and my room arrangement. Last year Michelle was the one who told me that I was with her, Shs. Jennifer and Shs. Liz. This year my car was Shs. Jennifer, Shs. Ruth and Shs. Ruth’s sheep, Marina. Marina is a Russian girl who Shs. Ruth always has trouble getting in touch with. From overhearing a late night conversation, I gathered that she has a boyfriend who treats her badly. She came, though, and for that I’m glad.
But I cringed at that car assignment. You know that Shs. Jennifer is not exactly the A-1 person on my list lately. I did not want to be cramped in that uncomfortable little blue Toyota with two best friends (Shs. Ruth and Shs. Jennifer, twin Shepherdesses) and a Russian sheep, without any of my young leader pals.
I also caught sight of my room assignment, which was another exercise in cringing. I was with Shs. Ruth, Marina, Shs. Miriam and Susie, who I didn’t know. Shs. Miriam told me she was an albino girl who was vision impaired (not totally blind) and had a seeing eye dog, a white lab named Tiki. She goes to COD and had been fished just a few days before by Shs. Miriam and Sh. Angelo at COD.
One thing that strikes me is Shs. Miriam’s genuine interest in people. She really is always genuinely interested in every single sheep who walks through the doors of the Triton Bible House.
Shs. Jennifer and Shs. Ruth and Marina were the last people there, practically, and I was sure I’d be left behind. Finally we got started. Shs. Ruth brought a magnetic chess game and tried to teach me strategy, but she beat me every time – if you will remember, I lost every match when I was on the 4th grade chess team.
We switched drivers about halfway through Indiana (a truly boring state, you know) and I ended up next to Shs. Jennifer in the back seat with a bank of pillows in between us. Although I had dreaded this possibility, it worked out very well. We bonded again, for the first time in months and months. And I sat there with the warm sun on my cheek and felt that all was well with the world. That’s a rare thing, you know.
After we got to Lawton, Michigan and Miracle Camp, we got all of our stuff unpacked and then trekked off to dinner, followed by our first message and our orientation. After the message came our drama.
We’d practiced it when we first arrived with our scripts in hand – and oh, when Shs. Jennifer announced that we were going to do the play with scripts, none of us liked it. Maria said we had to accept God’s servant’s direction, and I said I would do it if I had to, but I would not be happy about it. I’d worked hard to memorize my lines and just because some people hadn’t (namely Sh. Abraham) I didn’t think we should all suffer. It didn’t seem fair.
But we didn’t have to use them when it came down to play time, and everyone did just fine, even Sh. Abraham. We all did well. We got to bow and everything. And I got to wear a babushka – blue, of course.
Saturday Morning – Shs. Miriam snored so loud that when I finally did get to sleep, I slept right through Daily Bread and had a hard time staying awake during our Group Bible Study. Not that it was boring, but because I got so little sleep that I couldn’t stay awake! And I also had no caffeine since I don’t like coffee and there was no pop. They served very healthy, plain food, with kool-aid and juice, but no pop, which I need to stay awake every morning. (I’m a regular diet coke fiend).
We had Bible Study 1 with our group (Sh. Joseph, Sh. Paul, Pat, Shs. Ruth, Msn. Esther, Marina, me, Arland and even Maria’s father, for a while)
And you know, the strangest thing happened during that GBS.
The lady who runs Miracle Camp (a very nice lady) asked us during breakfast not to bring drinks into the chapel. Our GBS was in the chapel, and Marina and Shs. Ruth brought coffee. Msn. Esther commented that we weren’t supposed to, and Shs. Ruth said the point “was just to be very careful.”
Msn. Esther replied, “Yes, but we have to follow their law,” or something to that extent. Shs. Ruth said “Yes, but we shouldn’t be legalistic about it, either.”
Hold it right there! That’s what hit me. Her tone was definitely a rebuking tone. Now Shs. Ruth is a simply magnificent shepherdess and all, but to rebuke a missionary! For goodness sake, Msn. Esther was already in missionary training when Shs. Ruth was born! Shs. Ruth can rightfully rebuke me and a lot of people above me in the spiritual order, but a missionary?
I stopped myself by reminding myself that they are both spiritually older and they can do whatever they have to, and Msn. Esther didn’t seem too perturbed. She’s humble.
Afterwards, Shs. Ruth and Msn. Esther lingered, so I guess they got things all straightened out. Still, it was so bizarre for a few seconds, I was taken aback.
After lunch we had till 3:00 free for recreation time. I went with Mom and Dad and the Msns. Alonzo into the town – not much of a town, really – you blink and you miss it completely.
Another GBS and then it was time for Life Testimonies of Biblical People. The best was Shs. Dawn giving the L.T. of Mary Magdalene. The monodramas – narrated dramas without lines, just actions – followed. In one, Maria was Mary Magdalene, tormented by seven demons who were driven out by Jesus. At this point the seven people portraying the demons ran out at the audience, and since I was in the front row, they ran right at me! I jumped about seventeen feet off my chair. They were even encored, so I had to go through that twice.
Another night of Shs. Miriam snoring. Another GBS – 3 in all – and on Saturday we wrote two testimonies as well. Then Sunday Service, with message by Sh. Teddy.
Now herein lies the problem. I listened to every word he said but I can’t remember anything now, just three days later! For this coming Friday, we have to write our one word from E.C. testimonies and I have no idea what to write. I could take something from bible studies and fabricate a moving and beautiful testimony with as much meaning as a blank sheet of paper. It’s the curse of being a decent writer. I can put the words together just fine, whether I truly mean them or not. And I could fool the whole Bible House, but I can never fool God. That’s the point.
So what did I learn? What did I realize from all the things I heard at Easter Conference? I listened, but truly nothing moved my heart like it did the others. During the section of the drama where they crucified Jesus Iris and Carol and Charisma were crying. During the L.T. of Mary Magdalene everyone cried. Did I cry once? No. I didn’t. I felt dead, and that’s not the way I wanted to feel. I wanted spiritual renewal, but I guess I just didn’t try hard enough to find it.
So now what? What do I write about when I write my testimony? I don’t know, not yet. But I’ll look over my notes and find something to be moved about. But it’s hard. Hard to be moved this time. I don’t know why. I mean – I should be deeply moved – Jesus rose from the dead! He died to save a miserable sinner like me. He suffered when he hadn’t done anything wrong, for the wrongs I have done. It doesn’t sound right that He should do it, but he did, because he loves us – He loves me! It is very beautiful, and you know I believe it. But –
“You broke the bonds and loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame, of my shame
You know I believe it
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
Suddenly I understand the motivation behind that song. What am I looking for? I’m looking to be moved. Everyone always tells me Jesus is all I need, all I should want – oh, but if it were all that easy. It should be easy, but it’s not. The gospel is beautiful, simple and logical and yet it’s so hard to truly understand – not with my head, but with my heart. I know what I’m looking for. I’m looking for my heart. And I still haven’t found it. My heart has been replaced by my head and my pure motivation has disappeared.
A major sign of my current situation, and one I’m thinking of because it just ended, is lunch. You see, it’s a complicated problem. It started several weeks ago when somebody started throwing stuff at our table. At one point I threw something back, and the guy sitting there got unjustly angry, so I decided from then on to switch cafeterias.
Shannon, a friend of mine, offered to let me sit with her and her friends – Christina, Donna, Pedro and another guy. Their conversations are completely perverted – every single comment can be twisted around to have something to do with sex, so you have to be very careful. It’s crazy, loud and obnoxious and I certainly don’t fit in with it.
But today – well, it’s just that the other guy – who’s name I don’t quite have – oh, boy is he cute. I mean – cute and friendly. And I’m very attracted to him. But I think he has a girlfriend and besides – it’s cursed desires, and they haunt me. Oh, Eve, why did you have to eat that stupid fruit? It’s horrible. I’ll just pray – it’s all I can do. Still, he’s so cute.
Now I just have to stop being attracted to this guy. Easier said than done. Please, God, help me!
The worst part of this lunch debacle involves Heather. I literally ditched her to go and have my own thing. Yesterday she came and sat with us for five seconds, and I led her out to avoid Shannon making fun of her.
But when I was talking to Maria she pointed out something.
“But Anne, Heather loves you. You’re like her older sister.”
I once loved someone like she was my older sister and she did to me exactly what I’m doing to Heather. How could I forget so easily? It’s very bad, so I guess I’ll try to take more time for Heather.
April 30, 1996
Another problem I marked in your last entry (Yep, it’s lasted that long) is still Heather. Good old Heather, who wants to sit with me at lunch. Today I pushed her away trying my best to give her a hint – no! At this moment I’ve given up caring if I’m turning into the girl who pushed me away. As I remember it, she had a life, more than I did, and now I do, so I’ve gained new understanding for her, you know? I tried to be as nice as possible to Heather, which is more than Bonnie did for me. I’m not trying to give myself additional credit, though. I know I’m wrong. But I don’t want to end up losing my temper and bellowing at Heather mindlessly, and I’ll do it, too. I have a horrible temper, it just doesn’t get unleashed that often, by God’s grace. Besides. Heather’s happy. She can sit with all the retards and I can say hello. But I won’t if she keeps figuring my friendliness at lunch means I want her to sit with me. Look at me, I’m turning cold. But there’s a reason. I’ll get to that.
On Sunday I realized something. Shs. Jennifer and Heather are close now – of course because Heather hops into CBF and says she’s the assistant – my old job. The minute Heather gloated about that to me (well, to be honest, she probably thought she was just informing me, but I was angry and felt like she was gloating) I started to shut myself off from her. I loved teaching so much and to have it taken away in her favor has been part of God’s sovereignty I’ve had trouble with since November. Anyhow, when Shs. Jennifer and I stopped studying together, our relationship completely deteriorated, and now it barely exists, despite that small redux over Easter.
It’s actually a painful thing. I desperately wanted a sister and I had one – for just a few months, a year, if that, and it was wonderful. But I don’t know if it still exists. It hurts – a little. Not as much as I would have thought. I have overriding concerns.
But I am not Heather’s biggest fan. I don’t know if I can be. I’m too weak to really love her.
And at the moment I have a horrible reason not to want her there at lunch.
Well, I’m very deeply in crush. I want to say love, but I don’t know what that is – real love probably isn’t this. “Like” is too weak and being in “crush” sounds too junior high. How about I’m deeply engulfed in sinful desire? That about fits, doesn’t it?
His name is Sean. And I just made him real. With the other mystery man, I don’t mention his name. Then he’s not real. But I just made Sean very real, didn’t I? I’ll make my description even more real – he’s got a girlfriend. A sophomore! He could do better. Her name is April. I hate April. I love April. Hell, I don’t even know April!
But I hate her and love her for the same reasons. She keeps me at bay. She is unwittingly God’s servant, keeping me away from him and throwing a continual bucket of cold water on my rampaging hormones.
But oh, the cold chill I get when I see them walking together after 7th period every day. That hurts.
And it is so stupid. You know, it isn’t worth it. It’s sin. I should stop. Now. But I can’t. And the horrible, awful truth is, I don’t want to. (Lightning, strike. Right now.) I don’t want to. I want to want to, (okay, that’s a convoluted sentence) but I don’t. I pray I can be able to repent, because I haven’t been able to do so. I enjoy his attention, but all the mooning around and deep depression that goes with the fact that he’s got April isn’t honestly worth is, even for those brown eyes that smile or that body of his, or his laugh, or his strong arms… STOP!
I stood not two inches from him today, I touched his hands, I… I wish I could stop the way my heart goes thump, thump, thump whenever he’s around.
I spent all lunch today talking with him – that’s why I didn’t want Heather there – oh, this sin is piling up!
And you know, it’s odd, but this morning I think I saw him watching me. I can’t be certain, though.
If he were to discern and return my affection – oh, what a disaster that would be! Pray God doesn’t let it happen. He won’t. I promised God and I have to stick to it. I know this is my weakness.
May 1, 1996
I told Maria about my struggle. But I feel that it’s getting easier because I’m going the wrong way. Satan found my deepest, darkest weakness and thrust his pointy little claw hold right in. But God put a block in his path and her name is April. God has me and he’s going to keep me, I promised my life and he’s going to get it from me. This is just a stumbling block on that path. I do know where my real priorities are and I’m not about to sacrifice my life for some guy. This is what my head tells me and I believe it. But my sinful heart is leading the other way.
Oh, Lord, help me to repent…
And whatever you do or don’t do, God, please don’t let him like me back. I am not strong enough to handle that.
May 14, 1996
When it comes down to it, my decision will always be in God’s favor – it has to be, otherwise I’ll go to hell and as nice as Sean is, he isn’t worth eternal torment and abandoning God for fleeting human love.
This crap is truly a lot of heartburn. It’s not worth all of the trial that goes with it. But I try to look at the good side – it will pass, and in three weeks he’ll be gone forever, and life will go on – I’ll get a job and go to COD and all the other stuff that goes with high school graduation. And then, someday when a sheep comes along who has boy problems, I’ll really understand. I’m being trained. There’s a purpose in all this mindlessness, isn’t there?
May 18, 1996
Tonight I went to see Dr. Luis Palau, an evangelist who’s come to Chicago to preach. And the trials I’ve gone through just to get there seemed to make it all worth it, in an odd way.
Sean is still plaguing my thoughts and making my life complicated. As Wednesday and Thursday and Friday passed, April tossed me triumphant smiles, Sean gave me too much eye contact – it’s all a little much for me.
He makes my life too hard and complicated when it shouldn’t be. It’s silly, you know that?
At 4:00 PM this afternoon I was supposed to be at Shs. Ruth’s house to go to Luis Palau. At 3:57, I was there. Guess who wasn’t? She left a note on the window for me saying she had to leave early. I ran back out, but Mom was already gone. I saw her as she turned the corner.
Now today was 90 degrees and humid. I was left standing there with no transportation, no money, nothing but my bible – and I felt very… abandoned. So I did the only thing I could do. I started walking.
For twenty minutes I trudged through the heat in my high heels, walking alone through Melrose Park’s industrial section, certain that the next car to pass would be full of kidnappers.
Finally I arrived at the Bible House, but the back door was locked, so I went to the front and knocked. No answer. I sat down on the front step and came too close to despair, not knowing what to do.
But then Sh. Gideon opened the door – thank God he was there!
He found me a ride – with Sh. Micheal – so I got to go to Luis Palau.
Three bands played first – a Christian rap group of children, a choir gospel group, and PFR, an alternative style rock group. I loved PFR. They looked like a Christian Nirvana. (Now imagine if Kurt Cobain was evangelized?) A little more clean-cut, more pop music, but so good – that’s my style of music and I loved that you could get that sound to glorify Jesus.
I’m probably the only Bible House person who liked PFR best, but I did. So what if it was loud, raucous rock and roll? I loved it.
But they weren’t better than Dr. Luis Palau, who spoke to the crowd of teenagers who filled UIC pavilion as if he knew us. He really spoke straight to us and he spoke the truth. I want to say I made a decision to give up Sean, but I didn’t. But I did decide to read Bible and pray and welcome Jesus into a life that has forgotten him lately. I want him and the life he gives far more than I want Sean, who can only screw things up. I won’t let him. I want Jesus more – I just can’t really seem to stop. On Monday I’ll chronicle his every glance at me and try to read too much into his eyes. I’ll tell how April stabs my heart.
I have to admit, I haven’t felt very loved at the Bible House lately – with the exception of Maria. I lost Shs. Jennifer almost completely – she didn’t say a word to me tonight. Maybe she still thinks I’m mad at her. I’m not, but who likes being ignored?
The “abandonment” today didn’t help my opinion of Shs. Ruth any, although I suppose it wasn’t her fault entirely. I still called her on it (as subtly as I could) tonight. In a way, she treats me as a sheep – I suppose I am, but still… I want to be thought of as more of a “leader” but truthfully, I don’t act like one, and so therefore you can’t get treated as someone you don’t act like.
I just feel out of place and a little lonely and to counter that I turn to my school friends, and the cycle just feeds on itself.
I am not going to screw up my whole life for anyone, do you hear that? I have a plan, priorities and I don’t want Sean messing them up.
But who am I kidding? They’re already messy. I just pray it doesn’t go any further.
Only two weeks left, that’s all. That’s all I have to survive. At the moment that’s all I want God to do for me – let me get through them without messing things up irretrievably.
That’s all I ask.
June 5, 1996
Today I got the shock of my life. And it has brought a seething, secret discontent to the forefront of my heart and mind.
Luis Palau, on May 18th, I thought he was wonderful, and I told you so.
But then Maria and Esther had their say. Esther said it misled young sheep to have rock bands playing. Maria said it was compromise, which I angrily contradicted. If she thinks PFR are compromising, then what about her beloved Christian singers, who played the pop music from their day?
Maria and I came close to an argument about this, which was my first feeling that something here is amiss.
I told Shs. Ruth about it, however, and she said Dr. Palau wouldn’t have invited them if they weren’t good, and not to worry. That helped a lot.
And I still like Sean, incidentally, but I don’t want to go into it here, with more pressing needs on my mind.
The next clue was on Monday. I had Daily Bread with Anjali and we started talking. Anjali said that Maria had talked about “churches that have parties.”
“Isn’t that compromise?” She said, “Maria said that it is.”
I said something about not judging others.
Then Msn. Rene told Mom last Wednesday that he wasn’t happy with something a sister of Dr. Palau’s had said. (Something about trying to gain salvation through works)
UBF has never come right out and said “Other churches are so bad,” No, they say that salvation can be found anywhere if you have the bible. But then, after paying lip service to that fact, out comes five million criticisms of every other church on the planet. Sh. Kevin prayed for his sheep not to be swayed by the counsel of a Catholic priest. What would be wrong with his counsel? For goodness sake, that’s dumb. They don’t say every other church is wrong. They just imply it. Yet a fault in UBF is never admitted and the orders of Pastors, Shepherds and such are followed as if they come directly from God himself. If Msn. Samuel Lee tells you to move to Bangladesh and get eaten by a Bengali tiger, well, then, get your passport and get ready to go. You have no choice. If you don’t go, you are labeled a “sinner,” because you don’t trust enough. They can’t force you into anything. But they can guilt trip you Biblically till you give in. It’s the same with almost anything. Everything Sh. Teddy says is treated as a direct order – once he joked about saying “God Bless You” when someone sneezed and half the Young Leaders wouldn’t say “God Bless You” after that for a while. (He really meant not to interrupt a meeting or a message with a “God Bless You” across the room so the speaker has to stop. That was the point. But these guys wouldn’t say it at all.)
The shock of my life was this: Charisma and Sh. Joseph are going to be married. Now Charisma is the dictionary definition of maturity (if you looked it up, you would see her picture) but she is only eighteen years old. 18! She was born in December of 1977.
How much choice did Charisma have? Did they just say “Do you want to marry Sh. Joseph?” Joseph had a choice, I’m certain of that. But did Charisma? They didn’t go out, this all happened so fast… She’s eighteen years old!
I am appalled at this and I seem to be the only person who is. Could I be next? No. I’m not mature enough. But the day will come, and they’ll tell me who to marry and I won’t have a choice. Just like I don’t have a choice in anything. I’m a marionette, just pull my string, watch me dance.
I still am and always will be a Christian – Jesus has given me far too much for me not to be. But I can’t tell if he wants me to stay where I am and be pulled around like a puppet for the rest of my life, marry who they tell me to, go to school where they want me to, think what they tell me to – or not think at all, have no feelings, no dreams, no life outside of church. It just doesn’t fit. Or does God want me to go and give up all my friends and know what they will say and know that I broke many hearts.
Gee, what a decision to have to make.
Of course, my best friend (that’s Maria) ignores me and leaves me all alone, my second shepherdess has abandoned me and they give all the good stuff to other people.
But every one of my friends? I don’t want to lose that. In favor of who, Shannon and Sean? Yeah, good choice.
I told Mom and Dad how I feel but I haven’t made my decision yet. I don’t want to, really. Being in limbo isn’t as hard as it looks.
I just don’t know if I want this for the rest of my life.
June 6, 1996
After we got our diplomas, we took the envelopes they came in and tore them to shreds. Then, at the end of the last name, we tossed them in the air. Confetti! We girls waved our bouquets in the air like torches and everybody screamed and yelled! Oh, it was glorious. We should graduate every day.
And at the end of that, I went straight to Sean, who saw me, came over and hugged me. I bypassed Iris, Vicky, Heather, Amber and Maria to do it, too. And I stayed with Sean and Shannon for a while. It was a good ten minutes of chaotic attention.
But I think, subconsciously, in running to Sean and Shannon I made my choice. I didn’t want anything to do with any one of the Bible House people there, although I did get the hugs and pictures and a kiss from Maria. I did go to them, but at first I didn’t want to. I only wanted Sean.
But about the decision we discussed yesterday – give me more time. Right now I’m so tired.
June 9, 1996
It’s Sunday today and for three days the whole world has been busy congratulating me – I’m a High School Graduate.
Now to get on with the more serious business of life. Mom and Dad say I shouldn’t go straight to college, although they’ll encourage me if I want to go. I just can’t believe that there’s no rule that says I have to go back to school in the fall. I don’t – not ever again – if I don’t want to. I will, of course, that’s the only way to get a decent job in this world but I don’t have to this fall if I don’t want to, and that’s strange.
I still feel like this is an extended weekend. I feel like I’ll wake up and go back to school – it hasn’t really registered yet that I am supposed to be this big grown up. I have joined the ranks of adulthood – almost.
And you know what? I’m not ready to be a grown-up yet. I still feel like a little girl, even though I can drive a car and get a job.
Iris mentioned to me how her sister, the ultra-mature example of womanhood, Charisma (yes, the one who’s getting married) gave all of her first paycheck, “first fruits” to God when she got a job. Which means I’ll have to do it too, and that means that I’ll have to work two weeks for money I won’t get to do anything with.
And as to Charisma and Sh. Joseph – the wedding is the 29th. From what Dad heard, this has been going on for six months – Sh. Joseph wanting Charisma – but there has never been any semblance of a relationship. They barely even speak to each other. She’s too young.
Actually, and I’ll be completely honest here, I’m a bit jealous of Charisma, especially with this whole Sean thing. I don’t want to marry Sean – he’s not a Christian, and no matter what I must marry a Christian man. I just want to enjoy Sean for a while, have a relationship. We’re only kids – it wouldn’t last too long. Another round (actually, a 1st round) for experience, and then on to bigger and better things.
But I’d love to get married – at least right now – or at least engaged somehow – even though I know I’m far from ready. I’m jealous because my rampaging desires are saying “Me too!”
But it seems that in UBF marriage is determined by spiritual maturity level – or the level of blind obedience that will defer completely to a husband – and obviously Charisma has both qualities in spades. I don’t, and I probably won’t until I’m about forty years old.
Charisma is mature, I’ll grant you that. She’s also only eighteen years old and I just don’t understand how it will work out. I just don’t get it.
Another thing I don’t get – Sh. Kevin pointed out a picture of Julie, who is about six months pregnant, taken when she was barefoot.
“Look,” he said, “Julie is barefoot and pregnant. What a beautiful example of womanhood.”
Excuse me? Not on your life, buddy. If my husband expects me to stay barefoot and pregnant, he’s got a really rude surprise coming.
I found Sh. Kevin’s remark really offensive. I didn’t like that attitude.
Mom’s been a little unhappy with Shs. Ruth lately – of course, so have I, but my unhappy feeling is not just with her but the whole ministry.
I chose to be part of this ministry when I was fifteen years old – how in hell did I know what I wanted? And I’ve always been taught to think independently, which is not something UBF cherishes.
And I feel trapped. I don’t really know if I want to go to COD in the fall. But I know if I choose not to, I’ll get guilt-tripped because “Well, how can you fish students when you’re not on campus?”
Well, I don’t want to fish anyone. I don’t want to be a bible teacher for several reasons. For one, I’m just not spiritually ready for that. I have too many doubts of my own to spread them around. Two, I seem to be considered a “bad influence” because of my love of rock music and the fact that I talk a lot. Three, all the times I’ve tried before, I’ve failed. That miserable failure when I tried to help Michelle – I don’t seem to really be able to help anybody and I don’t want to be responsible when they trip and fall away – remember that verse about causing anyone to stumble? Well, I made Michelle take a header off a cliff, and I don’t want to go through that again. And four, I’m terrified that I’ll get a sheep and I’ll love said sheep and then some higher up will decide I’m no longer mature enough to handle said sheep and they will give said sheep to a shepherdess who can really help them, but I’ll feel as if my baby is being torn from my arms.
I want to obey God’s command and take care of his sheep – like my key verse says – but as a personal shepherdess I’m a flop. Maybe God wants me to help people in a different way? Maybe I should pray about this.
Mom’s not happy because I feel trapped – trapped into going to school when it just isn’t easy for me – trapped into a role I can’t play – trapped into a church that demands all my free time and all of that might hinder my ability to get a job – trapped completely into a future marriage to a man I might not truly love. I feel like I’m in a cage.
Mom talked to Shs. Ruth today after service about not pressuring me but I don’t know if it had any effect. Mom says she thinks it did, but she doesn’t know things like I do.
UBF says obedience to parents is important, but all the Young Leaders are flagrantly disobedient and are barely are ever at home – like Maria. Joseph and Esther even get “persecuted” by their parents, in Maria’s words – “persecuted” by parents who were in God’s history before any of us were born? I don’t like to see that. I feel so odd because my parents and I have a good relationship.
A lot of things just don’t fit – my puzzle has a lot of missing, disjointed pieces, and I can’t decide what to do. I won’t, for now – limbo is much more comfortable.
June 16, 1996
The wedding of Charisma and Sh. Joseph, or as we will call it, the “insane affair” is not very far away now – the Saturday after next. As for all weddings, preparations are underway but you know who won’t be participating? Me. Partly because I don’t agree with this whole thing and partly because no one’s asked me. I don’t say anything, though… my mouth is shut. If Charisma wants to go ahead and get married at eighteen, that’s completely up to… someone else. Who’s fooling who, here? How much choice did she have? I’m dying to ask her, but I told you – I’m going to keep my big mouth shut and try to look happy for her. It won’t be easy to do that.
And of course my whole opposition isn’t all concern for the course of Charisma’s arranged marriage and her tender years. It’s also jealousy – how come she’s ready and I’m not – and self-concern – what if I’m next? What if they want to pick my husband for me? That’s the scary part. Pretty soon we’ll all be like the Moonies and Msn. Samuel Lee will have mass weddings – more than the normal October 3 or 4 in a row, like 200 people at once – and to get people engaged he’ll just point and say “you and you.” Or better yet, we can have raffles. Matching numbers.
It’s not that I want to get married tomorrow. I just want to have a relationship with a male that involves closeness, conversation, going out and maybe some kissing and hugging and holding hands. Yet the only way to get that in this ministry is marriage, and with marriage comes sex and responsibility and babies. Of course, maybe they use nuptial sheets for sex – as described in Like Water for Chocolate, a sheet that covers the whole body except for a hole to make the marriage act possible. So you don’t really see anything.
Gee – how medieval. I’m speculating, of course, but I do occasionally feel that I am living in the middle ages. No boys, no skirts above the knee – or even at the knee – no makeup, no music, no anything. For cripes sake, we couldn’t even wear leotards for our dance at Christmas because they are too tight and “make men struggle.” I don’t know of a single male who stares at dancers in leotards during a ballet in any sexual way. I felt totally wicked when I put on some lip gloss and wore a skirt slightly above the knee to go job hunting. Nobody from the Bible House saw me, but I still felt conscience-stricken.
Last Wednesday we had a meeting that seemed directed at me – although that’s silly. It couldn’t have been. And today I am being told that we are going to go on a thousand and one COD fishing trips, because (of course) I’m going there next year.
I haven’t had the courage to tell anybody at the Bible House that I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go to college right now. Of course, who cares what I want – that’s immaterial. I told Mom how I felt, and she was happy I’d made a decision. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I still have to go to COD – whether I want to or not. If I stay with the ministry, I have to go to COD in the fall – or face virtual pariahship for daring not to be on campus to do God’s Work.
But can’t I do God’s work without asking complete strangers to let me take absolute responsibility for their lives?
I just don’t get it, I really don’t. Other people have told me I can, but my church says you can’t. Mom and Dad say wanting – or even having – a casual, non-sexual boyfriend is not sinning. The Bible House says it is. So frankly I just don’t know who to believe.
I do know that sometimes I feel like a rat in a cage and I can’t get out.
The temptation to take my graduation money and my parent’s old car and just drive away is strong. I want to run away. Not from Mom and Dad, but from everything else. It seems like the only way out.
But that’s silly. I couldn’t do it, because of Mom and Dad and the rest of my family. Just wanting to get out of here is scary enough. A literal runaway.
I’m just being silly again. I won’t do it. I can’t. I love the people I’d have to sacrifice my relationships with to really get out of this cage. So I am trapped – and beginning to feel very claustrophobic.
June 17, 1996
Young Leaders Bible Reading was tonight – another meeting that seemed directed at me. Of course, maybe that’s just me. Mom is already out to find new churches.
If I do get the job I interviewed for today, the lady said I’d have to work Sundays every once in a while. But if I turn down the job, Mom and Dad will really be angry – besides, I really want it. If I get it, that means I don’t have to handle food. But if I take it, Shs. Ruth will rebuke me.
I can’t think of a single place that will hire a seventeen year old that doesn’t require some evenings and weekends. If I balk, they could just hire someone else.
Life is definitely a problem. This doesn’t look like it will be a very good summer, does it?