“Hi, girls! How did the tryouts go?”
“Mom, you won’t believe it! Jody and I made cheerleader!” Laurie, Jody and I got into their mom’s car.
“Wonderful! And you, Lucy?”
“I didn’t make it.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” My pathetic life had sunk to a new low. I forced myself to stare out the window, trying to feel nothing.
“Mom, we have to buy special shoes. They’re SO expensive,” Jody said. I wanted to be in her shoes, no matter how much they cost.
“Lucy, make sure you take a shower. You always smell like smoke,” Laurie said. As I slammed the car door, I heard Aunt Anne trying to shush her.
I fumbled for my key, then walked inside. I cried for all the things I wasn’t. Pretty, coordinated, popular. “You made a big fool out of yourself today, jumping and yelling like some idiot. You’re too fat to be a cheerleader. What made you think you could ever be anything? You’re a loser and now everyone knows it.” Both my cousins were now on the squad. Thanks, God. I needed that.
The smell of smoke and alcohol assaulted my nostrils.
“Lucy, is that you?”
She walked, somewhat sideways, into the room. “Couldja walk to da store and get me somemore cigarettes?” she slurred.
“Mom, you know I’m not old enough to…” She slapped me into next Tuesday.
Four long, miserable years after that dark junior high day, I ran away. Mom was too drunk to even notice. I’d seen her look harder for her lighter than she ever looked for me. It held value. I did not.
The church two blocks away came to my rescue. I stayed in four different homes on a two month rotation. I took a job waitressing nights at the local Denny’s while finishing my senior year. I was a plant that had dried up for want of watering. My ears strained, awaiting any tiny approaching rain shower of confirmation.
I began to attend church regularly. I absorbed books about who I am in Christ. Every night I said to the mirror, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am loved and cherished. My Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills. I am dearly loved, blessed and highly favored, for I AM A CHILD OF GOD!”
Confidence can come in many forms. Sometimes it can arise from a simple, unassuming compliment. Sometimes it comes after experiencing success in anything, no matter how small. Mine came as a side with Moon over My Hammy.
“Hey, wench! See to it that you get me some ‘Moon over my Mammy!’” a handsome male college student yelled at me.
“This isn’t Medieval Times and I ain’t your mammy!” I snapped at him and his cohorts.
“Oh, but the fair damsel has shot me clear through the heart!” he said, falling over in the booth.
Rob continued to drop in for coffee after play rehearsals. God had assured me that I had value. Now He was showing me, through Rob.
“Lucy, I’ve wanted to try out for summer theatre at the Shakespeare Festival. Care to join me?”
“Art thou crazy?” I replied. We both got acting jobs that summer…and the next, as well.
Now, two years later, a newly graduated Rob has been looking for an acting job in New York or California. I feel lonely, left out and scared. Old insecurities threaten to invade.
“Lucy, I need to talk to you tonight. Can you meet me at Denny’s?” He sounds serious and uneasy.
I walk, knees shaking, into the restaurant. “If this is the end of the line for us, God’s given me two years of joy that I’d never have had,” I tell myself. Rob’s seated in the corner booth, just as he was the first night we met. The beginning and the end seem to come, full circle.
“Moon over My Hammy?” I say, my voice trembling.
“No, this time I’m going for the Grand Slam. Lucy, today I got a job at the White Plains, New York, Shakespeare Theatre…but I won’t go without you.” He slides out of the booth and onto one knee. “Lucy, will you marry me?”
I am crying, right here in Denny’s….for the little girl who never made the squad…..for the mom who can’t share this moment…for the man who won’t go without me….and for my God who gave me the confidence to believe I deserve this gift He has given me.
….and I say…….
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