A teenager’s life could entail much of the well known; that same life could also entail some of the lesser known.
At age 13,
Myra was called by her older brother into his bedroom. “He told me to close the door. He then made me swear to secrecy. Without my answering, he opened his clenched fist to reveal three tiny pills, all pink and white. Looking at him, he seemed to stare into my skull. What are those? I asked him, getting more and more anxious. He smiled and said to try one. I hesitated. He said everyone who is anyone takes them. I knew I really wanted to be a someone.”
At age 14,
Darlene bent over the bathroom toilet. “Panic gripped my mind, but I forced two of my fingers into my mouth and down my throat, just past the gag reflex. With convulsions rippling along my neck, I kept my fingers there, until something like some slimy, slippery thing purged up and I spit it out. Salty tears burned my eyes and I was exhausted from the effort, but I felt an empowering freedom. I had found a way to triumph over the fattening calories of the chocolate-filled cookie that I had consumed just minutes prior.”
At age 15,
Khlasandra, after regaining consciousness, crawled to her dead mother. “I remember my head beating, beating, beating with unrelenting painful throbs. I was bleeding and it was everywhere, the blood, everywhere, and my mother, there, so unnatural, empty, lying there, dead, there. Oh, how I ached, such a painful ache, all over. Local Haitti tribesmen had entered our hut, raped my mother, and me, too. I remember straining, so hard, to look up, at some voices, talking or yelling, only to realize those men, those same men, were still there.”
At age 16,
Ted, sitting beside his girlfriend, leaned over to fetch a bottle of Budweiser. “With my girlfriend by my side, all was well with the world. Never mind that my eyeballs were marinating in testosterone and my brain in beer. Never mind that I could barely contain my jet engine passions. I started to want to get a little more involved. She said something about stopping. I think that’s when I hauled off and slapped her.”
At age 17,
Laura sat on the edge of her bed, the test showing that she was pregnant. “I sat there in total disbelief. How could this be? Why me? I’m way too young for this. What was I going to do? What is everybody going to say . . . my friends . . . my mom . . . my dad. It was a living nightmare. I just wanted to escape. Go away somewhere, anywhere. My future was over before it began. I was always a bit of a cry baby, but there I just balled my eyes out. I cried and cried and cried my heart out.”
At age 18,
Seeniyor, standing outside the family igloo, called for his father to come outside. “It is against our custom to ask an elder a second time, even one’s parents, so I just waited. Finally, my father emerged. I pointed to the sleigh. He went over and started counting my fish and seal catch, for the day. When he finished, he looked at me, hard in the face. My count, for the first time ever, had exceeded the day’s count, of his catch. My father, holding my spirit in his keep, smiled with blessed acceptance. The warm pride glowing within me was soon cooled, however, with the sudden realization of now being the acknowledged lead family provider.”
At age 19,
Belinda stared with ineffable joy at her Letter of Acceptance. “My mind was reeling. The acceptance letter said that I was being awarded a full four-year scholarship to Princeton University, starting that September. All my studying, those sleep-deprived late hours, all that work had paid off. And to think that just two years earlier, I was so depressed that I had attempted suicide.”
The personal testimonies of these five individuals . . . were recited ten years later . . . when each met the other, in their open declaration for Jesus . . . at the 2007 WorldWide Youth Action Conference for Christ, held in Leeds, England.
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