How ironic, I dare say. My cross necklace, which represented my newly found freedom in Christ, was tangled up in knots. I slammed the heirloom piece down on the bathroom counter and looked up at my blurry face in the mirror. Just like your life, Sandy. It’s your senior year. You’re supposed to be having the time of your life, but instead, your life’s a mess.
That was the day I decided I wouldn’t hide the truth any longer. The difficult part, though, would be convincing my friend Tamara to do the same. We'd both shared the same secret for two years, and that meant we’d shared each other’s pain as well. So it was double the knots. But I’d heard on the Christian radio that morning, “And the Truth shall set you free...” I was desperate to be free.
“No way, Sandy. I won’t tell anyone about it. And if you do, our friendship is done, ya hear?”
After an hour of heartfelt pleading, she refused to budge. I sighed with frustration. “How can you say that? After all we’ve been through? Tamara, I love you. I just can’t live this way anymore.”
Tamara had a comeback for everything. “Well, you think you’re bad-off now, just wait until you tell. You’re going to make everything worse.”
Tamara was right. Just five days later, I wanted to kill myself. I chose to tell the truth, and all that came back at me were accusations. Wishing I were a roly poly so that I could curl up even tighter, I sobbed on my bed. Alone. My foster parents didn’t believe me, and my best friend had abandoned me. Once again, I was an outcast. And the jerk gets off the hook. Of course he does, he coaches the winning volleyball team in the state. "So much for the truth setting me free."
Over the next several months, I survived while Tamara thrived. I quit the volleyball team. Tamara became captain. My grades went down. Hers went up. I was the school freak. She was the Homecoming queen candidate. She had dared to keep the secret, while I'd opted to tell the truth, and it was obvious that her dare had trumped the truth.
It was double the pain.
My loneliness led me back to the one place where, years before, I had felt accepted: my youth group. Completely broken, I felt I had nothing to lose. “I have a prayer request,” I squeaked. There I was, asking for something when I had ignored multiple attempts by different members of the group to befriend me in the past.
They, without hesitation, surrounded me. As warm hands touched my shoulders, my arms and my sides, one of my peers prayed, “Lord, give Sandy your strength. Keep her close to You. And Lord, please untangle the mess of this whole situation.” Near strangers shed tears with me, and none of us could have been more shocked with the moments following.
“Hey everyone. Everyone, could I ask you to listen to Jaimee for a minute? She has something to say,” our youth group leader announced.
Waves of “Sure,” “Absolutely,” “Of course,” rippled through the air before thick silence consumed the room.
Jaimee, who I had always considered a self-assured person, looked horribly unsure of her decision to speak. Several thick swallows later, her words tumbled out clumsily. “I—I—Ohh.…” She looked down at her sneakers, stole a deep breath and said, “I need to tell you all that I was also harassed by Coach Daniels. I just never had the courage to tell anyone. Until now…and I know there have been several others—at least.” A bright blue mascara trail streamed down her cheeks.
I couldn’t breathe. Then the thought occurred to me. That’s why she quit the team last year. It had nothing to do with her grades. Then, several others? Could it be true?
All of us gathered round Jaimee the same way everyone had surrounded me earlier. This time, I prayed. Right in front of her, I grabbed both of her clammy hands and prayed the best I knew how. “Oh God, thank you for Jaimee. Thank you, that even knowing how much it may cost her, she has dared to tell the truth. And Lord, may the truth bring peace—and—freedom. For both of us."
As I opened my eyes after the final Amen, I couldn’t help but notice the cross necklace Jaimee wore. It didn’t have a single knot. I dare say, how ironic.
Reference: John 8:32
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