How Not to Fit In

Every woman has a story.  Do you know hers?  Is it happy or sad?  glorious or painful?  How does her vulnerability show up today?  How do you respond to her vulnerability?

She was 14 and alone.
The kitchen sink was full of sewage.
No one knew, but her … and the Lord.

Junior high had been a struggle for her, as it is for many a lonely teenager.  But her experience in 9th grade had rocked everything in her world.  The pain of her shame was so sharp she couldn’t sleep.  Night after night, she’d stay up ’til the wee hours, crying – sobbing – because she didn’t fit in.

And she never would.

She’d wanted so badly to fit in.  But she was poor.  Very poor.  Living in a middle-class neighborhood.  Pretending she was middle-class.  But she wasn’t.  How many of her friends knew that?  Only the one friend she’d dared allow into her house.

From the outside, the family home seemed quaint – some might even say it was charming.  Yellow unpainted stucco that, seen up close, looked like thick cornbread batter, dolloped and swirled in a more-or-less uniform pattern.  Perhaps the oldest structure on the block, its uniqueness stood out among the rows of neatly painted white houses that lined both sides of the street in a very quiet neighborhood.  French doors led from the small veranda into the living room on one side and into the dining room on the adjacent side, adding to its enchanting ambience.

If you looked closely at sunny reflections in its huge picture window, you’d see wavy places, revealing the fact that it had been installed a long time before its present tenant had been born.

The grass was green enough, except for the scattering of bright dandelions, which always seemed to pop up in defiance within just a few hours of being mowed down.  A closer look revealed that the lawn’s rich color was the result of a thick combination of clover, broad leaf, and volunteer grasses that had drifted onto the lot from other, more intentional plantings over the years.

The inside, however, told a different story.  The whole place reeked of wet wallpaper.  Layers and layers of ancient wallpaper that someone had tried unsuccessfully to strip away.  Here and there the bare plaster revealed an old and now-ugly past … stained with yellowed paste, chipped in places, and sometimes revealing the rough surface of the lathe underneath.

No central air.  No central heat.  Only a old gas stove that stood on the weathered wooden floor in the dining room.  The kitchen cabinets, painted with thick ivory enamel, were no longer squarely connected with their doors.  Behind the kitchen stove and the hot water heater that stood next to it, someone had attempted to pretty it all by tacking up a large piece of bright yellow linoleum trimmed with broad black stripes that made its crookedness all the more apparent.  Nothing matched.

The dark hardwood floors of the living room and bedrooms no longer shined.  Their varnish had worn away decades before.  The stairs creaked.  The lighting was dim.  Dark and lonely.  Hot in the summer and cold in the winter.  No wonder she escaped so often … sometimes to neighbors’.  Sometimes to her only friend’s house.  Mostly to her church.

She felt safe at church.
She knew it’s where she belonged.

To be continued …


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