(Produced ca. 1983, revised 2013 & 2014, all rights reserved)
Even after that, she had continued to see Marvin. Until she practically put her life in his hands and he’d carelessly let her down, she continued to see him. Against the wishes of her late father and her grieving mother, despite the wonder of her friends and the blunt, sensible advice of her grown brothers Larry and Mark, she had gone on catering to and propping up a man who could only drag her down.
“Did I think he was my penance or something? And I’m not even Catholic!”
After their breakup, Sandy did something she ought to have done long before: She started attending a church near the campus. University Presbyterian was a natural choice. The congregation made a deliberate effort to reach out to the students; in fact, they had an associate pastor assigned to minister almost exclusively to the college-aged and young adults. The Rev. Ms. Roberta Watkins was the first female pastor Sandy had come across, and she wasn’t sure how to think about it. But maybe, if she ever decided to tell anyone about what had happened to her two years before . . . maybe a woman minister would be best.
And besides that, the church was very active in causes Sandy had learned to cherish in her Architectural studies. Like energy conservation and recycling. Affordable housing for the poor. Social change through government planning and policy.
“They didn’t say much about what Jesus did at University Pres,” Sandy considered, “just told us we should try to be like Him.”
But this hadn’t bothered her. She had simply assumed they believed all the ordinary Christian teachings about sin and repentance and Christ crucified and risen. It was a Christian church and Presbyterian, after all. Why should they spend time talking about the basics over and over? They were all Christians, weren’t they? They should get on with the business of living like it.
Brotherly love for one’s fellow man– and woman– was what University Presbyterian was all about. She recalled a sermon preached by the senior pastor, Dr.– Dr.– “Dr. Livengood, that was his name. . . . All about how God made all of us in His image, so we should try to see and minister to the Christ in everyone, whether they were Christians or not . . . That Christ was living in everyone and so basically everybody was good . . . and the greatest sin was failing to see that and not loving our neighbor as ourselves . . . ”
Making time to attend church again and sitting regularly under the preaching of Dr. Livengood and Rev. Watkins had made her feel much better about herself. Whenever she could she had participated in the social outreach programs the congregation sponsored. She had even organized a fix-up campaign, rallying her fellow architecture students to do minor repairs on the homes of the poor and elderly there in Mt. Athens.
“Blast me, wasn’t I proud of myself! Jesus couldn’t do without me then!”
Her mother had certainly been glad to learn her daughter was back in the fold. And relieved that Marvin was in the past and after him Sandy hadn’t taken up with someone even worse.
“No, Mom, you didn’t have to worry about that . . . I was through with bums . . . ” On the contrary, when she started dating again Sandy felt she had picked a man her family would be proud to know. Unless they were xenophobic– which they were not– they couldn’t possibly disapprove.