A flood of unwanted emotions swept over Cindy as she stepped down from the Sunday school bus. She was home again. It should be a good feeling but, instead, it evoked a despair so deep she wanted to turn around and get back on the bus. Let the bus take her anywhere . . . anywhere but home. Sunday school was the only place during the week where she felt safe from the realities of her life. Pictures of her less-than-perfect home life flashed mercilessly through her thoughts in the few seconds it took her to take those last steps from the bus.
She could hear the arguing that was an almost constant sound in her house. What was so sad was that Mom wouldn’t even try to be Cindy’s defender from whoever her latest boyfriend happened to be. The current one, she thought his name was Bub . . . or maybe it was Bob. It didn’t matter. He wouldn’t be there long enough to care. Mom was like that. She just didn’t care about her own life, or anyone else’s, anymore.
Another picture edged the Boyfriend Blunder image away. Cindy could smell the vile odor of beer. Cans would be all over the house from the party the previous night. Most would be empty but some would be half full, left by someone so drunk, or drugged, that it wasn’t even remembered they already had a beer before going to get another one. As soon as she stepped into the house, Cindy knew she would be expected to start cleaning the mess from that weekly horrible event. That was alright, though, because she hated that smell.
What wasn’t alright was if Bub/Bob was still there. She knew she would have to endure the vulgar way he would look at her as she walked through the door. His roving eyes sent a disgusting wave of regret through her. She regretted being a young teen-ager; too young to fully understand why men looked at her that way but just old enough to realize that they did. As a child she had looked forward to being a teen but she had, back then, been less aware of what horrible things a girl’s maturing young body could so innocently entice men to think, or (a shudder could not be resisted) even try to do.
She hated the thought of leaving the Sunday school bus. She hated it.
Oh, but the thoughts of her precious Sunday mornings were like a salve to her wounded spirit. At church she felt genuine love. It wasn’t like what she had been told was love from her Mom. This love was different; it was a caring kind of love. Even Pastor Kindle’s simple greeting left her feeling like there was hope, even in her world.
“Hi, Cindy.” He had said. “How are you doing today?”
There was nothing special in his greeting. It was the way he said it . . . he cared.
“I’ll be fine.” She whispered.
“Well, I’m doing SOOOOO GOOD, it’s contagious!” He replied as he reached out to shake her hand. “And you are standing SOOOOO close, you just caught it. Have a wonderful day with Jesus, Cindy.”
She had heard him say that silly line for the entire three months she had been riding the church bus. She thought at first it was just a stupid reply meant to make him look holy in some way but she learned last month that it was real. Pastor Kindle’s son had been in a car wreck and was in the hospital recovering. Even with that pressure, he still exuded that same contagious love. What he had was real.
That was the biggest reason that, three weeks ago, she had decided to accept Jesus as her Savior. She didn’t understand everything about this new life but she knew it was worth living. She thanked God for this wonderful old church bus. Without it she would have never known another world, another life, could exist for her. She took the final step from the church bus, turned and waved goodbye to the driver and the others on the bus and then turned back to face her house. This time, though, it was without trepidation. The genuine love of Jesus, shown through a group of church workers, had changed her life forever. They really were congtagious. Maybe she could be, too.
Cindy walked through the front door of her home with a new hope for change.
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