September 6, 1996 – Friday – 8:25 a.m.

The conflict between the class I have on Wednesday night and church cannot work out.  I need the class to graduate, so I can’t go to church and teach the kid’s class.  I told the kids Wednesday and they were sad.

Yesterday afternoon I went running on the Parkway with Dan, Vince, and Laura.  It was really beautiful out there.

Then that evening, something happened.  I began to think of Tenielle, so I gave her a call.  She was surprised to hear from me.  Then she said that she wishes she could be the girl she used to be; the girl she used to be when she hung around me all the time.

I asked her what was wrong, and she said she’d gotten into trouble.  She picked up smoking.  She’s been smoking since January, but she tried to hide it from me.  She’s also been drinking.  Her friends want her to smoke weed, but she says she is not going that far.

My heart was hurting, but then I asked her a question and her answer hurt even more.

“Tenielle, who do you do this with?  Who do you drink with?”

“I don’t want you to know.  I can’t tell you.”

“Tenielle, you need to tell me.”

“Well, the first time I got drunk, I was with Scott.”

The world has stopped.  I am alone.  Betrayed.  My closest friends from the past, my faithful friends are falling away.  Why God?  Why Tenielle?  Why Scott?  Why are you getting a 15-year-old girl drunk?  Don’t leave me alone.  I want to serve the Lord with you. Don’t live in sin.  Please, I love you.  I’m sorry I’m not there.  Is this my fault?

“Listen to me Tenielle.  Now, I love you.  Even now.  And I will always love you.  No matter what you do, but please don’t leave me alone.  My whole life it seems my brothers and sisters in the Lord fall away.  Don’t be one of those friends.  Stay here with me and live for Jesus.  Stay away from Scott.  Anytime you feel pressured, I want you to call me.  Call me collect.  I’m here for you.”

We said our goodbyes.

I hung up the phone.

And then I cried.

The flowers are fading in time’s bitter garden.



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