I don’t know how to tell this, or even where to start really. I guess I should start with Tessa, seeing as how it this is mostly her fault.
She’s so much different. Most girls my age are all about their make up and their hair and dressing like a hottie, but Tessa – she is what she is and she’s happy with that. She’s the only girl I know who is happy looking like herself, that being the girl next door. And I mean girl. She could probly pass for 10 even though she’ll be 14 on her birthday come December. Besides her cute little nose that turns up at the end, she’s got gorgeous eyes – big and brown and shiny. Hair just as brown and shiny all the way down her back.
Anyway, back to the story. I wasn’t real happy about the plan but I didn’t want to be a wimp. It’s a guy thing, ya know? See, I never was one to back down from a dare, so I went along with it, and Tessa, she followed me like always. She must watch outta her window for me to walk past cuz she came out her front door right when I crossed her driveway.
She looked up at me all expectant like and asked me, “Where ya going? What’s going on tonight?”
I had tear myself away from those eyes of hers, and I told her, “Nothing you need know about. Whyn’t you stay home tonight?” I stuck my hands in the pockets of my jeans and shuffled around a bit.
Just like her, she said, “Pah. I’m going.”
I rolled my eyes, shrugged, and started walking again. Tessa was glued to my side like my shadow. One thing about Tessa, she don’t babble on like most girls. She’s all right to talk to if she’s all I got. Mostly she likes to talk about Jesus and Bible stuff. I don’t mind – Jesus was a pretty cool dude and she knows a lot about him. I wasn’t sure I bought it all, but her eyes get even shinier when she’s talking bout him so I’d been wondering lately if it might all be true. She didn’t even pester me bout where we were headin that night, just told me how Jesus dying made her feel.
When we crossed Main and hung a left on Turner, and we saw Charlie and Rick hanging out in front of First Pres, she asked me, “We going to church?”
Her eyes lit up the night, and that’s when I had my first second thought about this plan and specially bout letting her tag along. I told her, “Sorta, but not really. Just come on if you’re coming.”
“They know you been going here?” She sounded shocked, and I reckon she had reason. That’s when I had my second second thought.
“Nah, I haven’t told no one. An you don’t need to neither,” I said.
Charlie held out his fist as we came up and I gave it a bump. He flicked his eyes at Tessa and asked me, “What’s SHE doin here?”
“Chill, Dude. She’s cool.” I told him, and asked, ‘You check it out?”
He grinned at Rick then at me. “Yah, Dude. Wide open.”
“Then let’s doooo it.” Rick started baying like a banshee and we had to hush him up and hustle around back before anyone saw us.
Sure nuff, the back door to the kitchen was unlocked and we all snuck in. Tessa I had to grab by the hand and tug on, but she came too. We started with the big blackboard in the fellowship hall, erasing the announcements. Charlie grabbed a piece of chalk and wrote in big letters, “Jesus…” He only got the first two letters of the next word down when Tessa grabbed my hand and drug me away.
“Come on, I want to do something.”
Well that got Charlie snickering and Rick hootin and a hollerin. “Go on you two – and have fuu-uun.” I turned my head to give them a look, and seeing those words so big…well I gotta say I wanted to throw up. My third second thought. I was happy to go on with Tessa.
She didn’t let go of my hand, or say a word, just drug me all the way to the sanctuary, then right up to the altar and dropped to her knees. She looked up at me with those big shiny eyes, cept now they were shiny with tears. “Pray with me?”
I figured, what the hay, I wasn’t too much into the dare anymore anyway. She still had hold of my hand, and I got on my knees beside her. I wasn’t sure what to do next so I just bowed my head and thought I’d wait till she was done, then we could go. I didn’t know she was planning on praying out loud.
I don’t remember much of what she said, but it was how she said it. I’ll tell ya, I never heard no one pray like that before. It was like she was really talking to someone. She said “Father” like God was really her daddy. She’d even stop ever once in a while like she was waiting for Him to answer. I started getting more comfortable, and that was weird to me.
Then she told Him she wanted to pray for Charlie and Rick and me, and I remember this part. She asked Him to open our hearts to His truth. And it hit me like a hammer. All those things we talked about, bout Jesus, and Him dying and why, and how He was really alive and He was really God. I felt like my heart was ripped open and real tears ran down my face. Before I knew it, I was praying. Me! And it wasn’t weird at all; matter of fact if felt real right.
That’s when the cops busted in and hauled us off. I’m thankful to the preacher for getting out of bed to come get us. My folks wouldn’t have believed my story, but he did. Course, Tessa was there to back me up. Us two tried to get Charlie and Rick to see the truth while we waited at the station for the preacher, but they just laughed. And for once I didn’t care, neither.
So, anyway, I guess that’s my testimony. That’s why I’m standing here in front of ya’ll in this big bathtub in a white nightgown today. Jesus is my Lord now.
Besides, Tessa dared me.
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"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)