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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: In and Out (04/30/09)

TITLE: Just A Part of the Crowd
By Leah Nichols
05/05/09


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"Oh, shoot - " Amy tucked her head down among her friends, hoping Jill had not seen her face.

"Amy?" Jill's voice called from across the cafeteria, and Amy's friends looked up from their conversations.

"You know that girl, Amy?" asked Jenny. Her face reflected a slight disgust.

Amy laughed flippantly, willing her face to appear casual. "Oh, yeah. Um, we just go to the same church. We're not friends or anything." She raised her eyes up to Jill's as the other girl approached the table. "Oh, hey Jill. How's it going?"

Jill's face broke into a broad smile. "Hi, Amy! You know, I was just praying this morning about that thing we talked about last night at small group, and I totally feel peace now about pursuing that opportunity. Thanks so much for your wisdom and insight about it."

"Sure, yeah. No problem. Glad that I can be an encouragement for you." Amy paused. "So, I'll see you at church on Sunday?"

Jill opened her mouth, then hesitated as she saw the eyes of the entire group on her. "Right. Sunday. Okay. Well, have a good weekend, Amy."

"Thanks, Jill - you too." Amy smiled dismissively, and watched the girl retreat to the corner of the cafeteria. Turning back to her friends, she rolled her eyes dramatically at their snickering. "Whatever, guys. It's not like I don't know anyone else outside of our group."

David poked at her from the left. "Yeah, but as far 'in' and 'out' goes in this crowd, she is definitely 'out'."

"For reals, Amy," Jenny added. "I know you go to church on Sundays with your folks, but I hope you aren't as weird there as she is weird here."

"Well, you know my parents make me go," Amy explained with a quiet laugh. "Like I said, I'm not friends with Jill or anything. I just have to be nice to her so I have someone to talk to at church."

One of the other girls suddenly brought up another topic of conversation, and Amy breathed a sigh of relief as the attention shifted from her. It had taken years for her to break into this crowd, and for a moment she had feared the loss of her status. Though her friends had no interest in God, they provided companionship during the long days at school. All of them were basically good kids, and keeping in with her friends had never put her in danger of trouble with her parents.

Her eyes wandered toward the corner of the cafeteria, where Jill sat, alone. The girl had only recently entered high school after years of homeschooling. Her Bible lay on the table in front of her, and she read silently, seemingly oblivious to the noise around her. Doesn't she realize how out of place she looks? Amy wondered. She could be such a cool girl if she would just ditch the 'righteous' attitude.

The conversation among her friends drew her attention, and she quickly forgot about her interaction with Jill. The moment faded into just another awkward episode of the social do's and don'ts of the normal teenage life.

* * * * *

Amy squinted in the bright sunlight as she stepped from her parents' minivan on Sunday morning. As her eyes adjusted, she noticed Jill, Bible in hand, about to enter the main doors of the church. "Jill! Hey - wait up!"

Jill looked up. "Oh. Hi, Amy."

As Amy reached her, she exclaimed breathlessly, "I'm so sorry about those people I was sitting with the other day. They were kind of laughing at you, and I was a little bit embarrassed, so I was afraid to say much at the time."

"Oh." Jill eyed her with a slightly suspicious look. "I figured they were your friends."

"Kind of. I am trying to witness to them. You know, be a light and all that." Amy smiled. "They think they're fine without God, but I'm hoping that they'll see Jesus in me."

"Wow, I didn't realize that you were so into evangelism! Maybe I could start hanging out with you and them too, so I can help you bring them to Christ," Jill expressed excitedly.

"Um, sure....yeah." Amy grabbed her by the arm as they began walking into church. "Well, for starters...."

A dark figure gazed down from the rafters at the pair of girls. Oh, yes, Amy. Let's clarify how to be 'in' rather than 'out'. Of course, it's already clear where you stand....


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This article has been read 533 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/07/09
Your title says it all. It's, indeed, difficult for teens, and even adults, not to want to be considered part of the "in crowd." You demonstrated that clearly with your story. May our desire always be to be clear witnesses for Christ.
Sara Harricharan 05/07/09
Ouch. This expertly captures the double life we lead. One person at church, another at school or work. Excellent job. The ending is scary, to see how hard Amy is trying to preserve two images to make one person she cannot be. I was hoping that Jill would help her change her mind...
Lollie Hofer 05/12/09
Ouch! Been there, done that. Straddling the fence is certainly a dangerous place to be, someone could get hurt. Thanks for sharing this thought-provoking story.
Patricia Herchenroether05/12/09
Great story and so real it took me back to my teens about a hundred years ago. I really loved the last line. So right-on about hypocrisy and fence-sitting.
Janice Fitzpatrick05/13/09
I really liked this. Hits too close to home as often we try to appear differently to people. Unfortunately the enemy tries to get us in his grasp and use us instead of us being used by the Lord, unashamed of our faith. Good job!
Rachel Rudd05/13/09
I like the way you portrayed your characters. You showed the typical teens of these types so well!
Bryan Ridenour05/13/09
Excellent, I've seen this kind of thing in the youth ministry on several occasions. Well written. Nicely done.
Joshua Janoski05/14/09
This piece accurately reflects the sad truth of what is affecting many people today (teenage and otherwise). The desire to fit in with the cool crowd while also being a Christian misfit can definitely tug a person back and forth. Your ending drove home the point that we are either following Christ or we aren't. We are either in or out. There is no in between life that we can live.
Dee Yoder 05/14/09
Oh man, you hit the problem right on the head with this one! This brought back so many high school memories of trying to fit in, trying to be a Christian, and not knowing how to stand strong in every situation. Come to think of it, I still have this problem once in a while. Funny thing is, it's mostly a church thing now. Owie. Great story with a powerful punch.