Skip to main content

Joy Unspeakable, Part 6: Jesus Freak in Neverland

By undercover agnostic ~

My added zeal for the Lord, prompted by rapture-mania, manifested itself in peculiar ways, especially at the High School, a.k.a. my “harvest field” where I was commanded to fulfill the great commission. So, what do you call a kid who wears “Jesus” paraphernalia to school, attends a weekly Bible study during lunch, stuffs gospel tracts in lockers and coat pockets, owns no secular albums, and has a Gideon New Testament peeking out of her backpack? Take your pick: weirdo, nerd, fruitcake, Jesus Freak-- that was me. I was the clumsy misfit whom the jocks and cheerleaders mocked and patronized. Even Mr. Osmond, my Social Studies teacher, would roll his eyes in mild disgust when reading aloud, my fake Coca cola button, “JESUS CHRIST He’s the real thing,” or the sticker on my binder that said, “My God is not dead. Sorry about yours.” I took to heart the message I had heard repeatedly at church, “If you’re ashamed of God, He will be ashamed of you.” Lord knows I didn’t want the king of the universe claiming not to know me on judgment day, yet I couldn’t help feeling my face get hot while performing my duty as a Christian mascot. I wanted to follow Christ AND fit in, but I couldn’t have both. When I considered what Jesus endured on the cross, it seemed the least I could do was suffer the momentary pain of isolation and social suicide at my tiny rural High School. Just like the day I refused to dance my way into the lunch line in 6th grade, I believed God was most pleased with me when I felt ostracized and persecuted. As a result, for my entire four years of High School, I lived in Never, Never Land. I never went on a date, never kissed a boy (or a girl), never went to a party, never took a sip of alcohol, and never attended a rock concert or school dance. I didn’t even go out for track, despite my P.E. Teacher’s encouragement, because there were occasional meets on Sunday, and Mama was convinced that running the 100 yard dash would most certainly render the Sabbath unholy-a clear violation of the fourth commandment.

Jesus Freak-- that was me. I was the clumsy misfit whom the jocks and cheerleaders mocked and patronized. All of these moments describing a typical American teen’s rite of passage were off limits to me and I lived in a parallel universe. I clung tightly to the one club that would fully embrace me: The church. In my sanctuary, I felt safe, cared for and understood. Within the sacred walls, the God I loved and worshipped was revered instead of ridiculed and the people on the outside, who didn’t believe were the foolish ones-- not me. Inside the holy place, Jill and I were the poster kids every godly parent wished their teen would emulate. We were squeaky clean from head to toe, with excellent manners and servant’s hearts, willing to help anywhere we were needed. The only trouble we ever got into, during our entire teen age years, was driving to Pocatello, without permission, to go roller skating with the youth group, while our parents were touring the Holy Land. Yes, you heard me right. Roller. Skating. I knew my brother wouldn’t let us go, due to the blizzard, so I lied and said I had a piano lesson, which was true until my teacher called and cancelled, but Ray didn’t need to know that. This was our ticket to rendezvous with our Jesus homies and get a small taste of the wild side. By “wild” I mean, going out on a school night. But, as “luck” or, as my parents suggested, “the Holy Spirit” would have it, I backed into another car, in the parking lot, denting my dad’s pick up truck. The other car was not damaged as it was one of those old Cadillacs with the sharp pointy tail fins, that jabbed my dad’s tailgate like a wieldy sword, while leaving no trace of its devastation on its own beastly frame. We were grounded for the entire month of December and my dad decided not to fix the old GMC, so that every time we saw the crumpled artifact of our imprudence, we would remember what we had done- the gift of condemnation that just kept on giving! As Mama always warned, “Be sure your sins will find you out.” And they did.

Besides this one unfortunate indiscretion we really were good girls. I even showed up early at the local nursing home, to play the piano for the old folks, before our main service on Sunday mornings and we helped with children’s church, doing puppets and skits. Jill and I also sang duets during the offertory and I played piano solos on occasion. These things were not motivated by obligation or fear, but out of pure love for Jesus. All I can say is, I was the real deal. I wanted nothing more, than to live my life completely and wholeheartedly consecrated to Christ, and serving Him with my time and talents.