There were tons of conversations like that in the following months, but Abby continued to argue that there was no way she could ever trust a God who could let our dad be himself and take our only friend away. She ignored the way we had plenty of friends from youth group, including our college-aged youth leader, Sean. There were sometimes I felt like joining her, you know? It felt like I’d been betrayed by the one person, besides Nathan, of course, that I really trusted.
The past months had been rather long, actually. We’d managed to come through our first year at this school; well, barely survived is probably a more accurate description. It was July, and we were on our way to a church camp with our youth group. Abby had agreed to come after Tiffany showed her a picture of the guy she’d met there last year. I think Abby took more make-up than I took clothes, but that’s totally beside the point. The point is that we were stuffed into the back of a bus full of fifty excited kids talking about what God did in their lives last year.
That really bugged Abby, apparently. I mean, it makes sense to some degree. I mean, from her perspective, what did God in her life last year? Sent her mom to jail, sent her to my house, sent our dad to jail, gave her a totally cute friend, and then jerked him away. Oh, and turned me into an annoying Jesus freak. So I get it, but she signed up for church camp. What did she really expect?
“Jess, are they ever going to stop?” she asked under her breath when we were almost to the camp.
I grinned at her, remembering what Tiffany had told me. “Not a chance. Just wait until they’re on the way back!”
She half growled under her breath. “What am I doing here? Why did I let her talk me into this?”
I just sat there waiting for her to finish her rant, but at the end, she tossed in a new question.
“Why am I going to a camp with you guys for a belief I don’t share with you guys?”
“Because I think you really want to share our belief,” I offered promptly.
“What makes you think that?” she demanded. Great, now she was getting all defensive.
“Because you’ve said something like that in the past, I guess,” I admitted, going with the plain, hard truth. Sure enough, she bristled up immediately.
“Why would I say that? You know how I feel!”
“Actually,” I answered cautiously, knowing it was going to cost me, “I don’t know how you feel for real. I only know what you’ve told me. So, let’s clear this up once and for all. How do you feel about God?”
She glared at me for a long moment, then cleared her face. “Okay, so I tell you what. We’ll have this conversation now, and then you won’t initiate any more conversations of the kind. Deal?”
“Sure,” I shrugged. I mean, if she was ready to talk, she would be the one initiating the conversation anyway. “Are you planning on answering my question now?” I asked after she didn’t keep talking.
“Whatever. I mean, I’m pretty sure you’ve already heard the whole thing, but whatever. I don’t trust God, I can’t believe that he loves me, and pretty much the only thing I do believe from your religion is that he is like a father. You know what that means. Besides, he took Chad away, and he was the only friend I ever really had.”
“Why are you so unable to have this conversation without mentioning Chad?” I asked.
“Because they’re connected in my mind, I guess.” I hadn’t been expecting an honest answer, but I realized that she was just going to answer anything so that this would be the last time we talked like this.
I took a deep breath. “I think I finally get it, Abby. I figured out why we took Chad’s leaving so differently.”
“Why?” she asked, finally interested.
“Because you chose to never trust God since he was responsible for taking Chad away, but I realized that I had to trust him since he was the only one who could bring Chad back,” I summarized my thoughts into the single sentence while we turned into the camp parking lot.
Abby sighed and looked past me out the window. I sighed too and was thinking about how I could have said anything better when she sat straight up and stared at something out the window.
I rolled my eyes and was thinking that she’d just found her camp boyfriend when she broke into my thoughts with the startling comment, “Based on your last remark, Jess, the bus driver for that church over there is God!”
*NOTE: All characters and events portrayed in this story are purely fictitious. Any resemblance to actual people or events is entirely coincidental.*
Next part next Thursday! Suggestions, names for various characters, or other questions, comments, or concerns can be left below, or you can e-mail me at the address on my contact page.
If you really love my work, vote for one of my poems on TeenInk! Every little bit helps!