It certainly turned out to be ‘An Evening to Remember.’ Representing all the shades of the rainbow, the other girls wore strapless, floor-length, satin gowns. Dyed-to-match pumps, corsages, upswept hairdos and magically sparkling jewels completed perfect ensembles; each of my peers lightly rested her elegantly gloved arm in the right elbow of an appropriately tuxedo-attired boy. Everyone looked lovely. Everyone smelled lovely. Everyone acted lovely.
I was the new girl. Making my unescorted entrance, I watched twenty pairs of thickly made-up eyes look up and widen in unison, as if on cue. I paused at the entrance of the decorated hall, wearing a cheaply made, embroidered, gauze shift; my unpainted toes wrapped in rough, rope sandals and an oversized brass cross hanging from my stiffly held neck. Silently making its own statement, my hair hung wild, loose and long across my shoulders.
I was the only hippie at my senior prom.
Actually, I was the only hippie, anywhere. Does anyone know where all the hippies went after 1969? In the whole state of Texas, I could not find any hippies, whatsoever. It was lonely to be the only hippie in a small, rural high school. No one understood.
Not meeting the prom dress code did not bother me as much as the fear that someone might smell marijuana smoke on my incongruous clothing. I need not have worried; the heady fragrance of orchids and perfume covered my indiscreet puffing. No one noticed. I had no date, so instead of dancing, I sang with the band that night. The only song I can remember singing was ‘Heart of Gold.’ The song might as well have been ‘Heart of Stone.’ I acted completely unconcerned.
Despite my brave exterior and devil-may-care attitude, I cared very much that I was not like the other girls. Even though I made fun of them in my poems and songs, would mimic their voices and mannerisms and often gave them dirty looks, I cared. Acting distant and unfeeling was a front; the truth was I would have given anything to be like them. I did not know how. I was different.
I wish I had known Jesus the night of the prom.
If I had known Jesus, I would have known I was loved and accepted by the creator of the universe. If I had known Jesus when I took the stage that night, I would have testified to His incredible grace and the power of His forgiveness. If I had known Jesus, I would have had something to share besides my bad attitude. But I did not know Jesus the night of the prom.
After that night, I wasted ten years trying to figure out how to best portray the independent, intellectual feminist I decided I was. After running from the beautifully powerful prayers of my grandmother, my broken marriage finally brought me to my knees – and to the risen Savior I so desperately needed. My heart, my songs and my life became His, at last.
When Jesus received me as His child, I no longer felt driven to express myself through a rebellious lifestyle. For the first time, I learned to be at peace with myself as well as others. I realized it was okay to be different. God made me that way! He had a purpose for me that I am still discovering and His mercies are remarkably new every morning.
That prom was thirty years ago and seems like another lifetime, now. Actually, it was another life – I have become a new creature. Nothing of my old life remains; all things have become new in Christ. Incredibly, Jesus paid for my sins on the cross and I am forever sin-debt free. I am unashamedly thankful.
God loves me without condition and without restriction. He requires nothing from me but that I love Him in return. I have remained weak and helpless, but He has seen fit to declare me His child for eternity. My simple acts of service are the overflow of a changed and grateful heart. I will never have to prove myself to gain His love, yet He continually proves His love for me. I like being His child. I like being forgiven. Sometimes, I even like being different.
And by the way, I think Jesus liked my prom dress.