This story is both devastating and hopeful. Any one of us could be in this mess. Perhaps some of you have.
A girl came to me for counseling. About 17, she looked like she had been through a train wreck. She could barely talk through her sobs. Her life, to her, was over. She sat down and said, “This is the end of the world. I have no reason to go on.”
I said, “You know, I don’t know what has happened. This may be bad, but this is not the end of the world. The world is still standing. That must mean that you have a problem to work on, but it is not the end of the world! Remember that. All things are workable.”
So she told me her story. She was a leader in her school and church. She had an outstanding reputation and was known as a leader. Her family was very active in church. She had many friends, but one girlfriend in particular had been her best friend through all of their growing up years. She knew the girl wasn’t involved in church and didn’t really follow the rules. But she felt they had been friends for too long to step back from her, even though her friend was increasingly involved in things that this young woman knew weren’t right.
Through this girlfriend, she met a guy while they were shopping in Las Vegas. The girl already knew the guy’s friend, so there were now four of them visiting while shopping. The guy was a member of the Church, but was not active and not interested. He was known to be immoral and a drinker, but he was very, very, very cute.
Friends that aren’t always real friends
Could she have made a difference in this boy’s life? Possibly, she could have, but only if she herself could hold the line. Could she have made a difference in her girlfriend’s life? Possibly, but only if she herself could hold the line. Holding the line means being immovable in your ability to keep the rules or the commandments.
The young woman knew that this cute guy was not particularly good for her. He had a reputation of going through girlfriends and often was known to boast on how many girls he had had slept with. But he was very, very cute, and he was oh so charming.
Up to this point, she seemed to be fine. She hadn’t done anything out of bounds, and she was just taking it all in. She was just looking at him and listening to him. What counts at this point is what she does with the situation. She knew he wasn’t a great guy to date. She knew he wasn’t the kind she would bring home to Momma.
She started doing some risky thinking. He asked if she and her friend would come down again and meet them in the city and go to the movies and hang out. She knew that if she was going to do this, she would have to be dishonest with her mom.
She made the decision to meet him, firmly moving her into the “At Risk #1” position – she was going to withhold information from her mother, and she knew why. Her parents wouldn’t have let her go. She wanted to go. There are reasons we lie to our parents. We don’t want to be stopped. We want to do what we want to do.
The next time they met in the city, he was even more charming. So charming! He was almost as handsome as a movie star! She knew she could handle him. He could see that she was a good person and would treat her as such, she thought.
Her girlfriend said, “Hey, you didn’t tell your parents, did you? They are just too strict! These guys like girls who are more responsible for their own lives. They don’t want to be around girls who have to answer to their parents for everything. We aren’t babies!”
They went home, and again the friend said, “Don’t tell your mom!” She consented, moving her into the “At Risk #2” position – hiding truth as well as not telling the truth. She also wasn’t being truthful with herself. She really wanted to bend the rules, just a little.
Two weekends later, there was a phone call. It was from him! He and his friend had come to town and they wanted to meet the girls! How exciting! They had come all the way from the city to her small town, just to be with them!
“We’re going to have a picnic in the park, so come and hang out with us,” her cute guy said to her. Her better sense said no. The park was known for being a party spot. So she told him no. Good thinking, girl! She took a step back away from the risky cliff.
Then her girlfriend called. “Look, you’re messing this up. I want to go, and I can’t go if you don’t go. Just tell your mom you’re coming to my house.”
Would she make the stand to her friend and say, “No, I don’t think so. I don’t have a good feeling about this. I don’t like the area we are going to. Why don’t you bring them to my house?” But, she didn’t. She couldn’t stand up to her friend, and she didn’t want her mother to know she had already met this guy twice. And back to the edge she tiptoed.
If only she hadn’t lied to begin with. She could still make this OK. She could call the girlfriend back and say no. She could then tell her mother that she had just learned some things and thank her by saying, “Thanks for being my mom!”
Tuning out the Spirit
Her girlfriend picked her up and took her to the park. She is alone with her girlfriend, who is no great friend, and two guys that she knows really aren’t that nice.
She could have backed out again. She could have said, “Well, we are here, but I am only staying a few minutes,” but she did not. After all, this guy was darling. She was like a moth to the flame. She had never felt this way about a guy ever. And so she moved herself to the “At Risk #3” position – in a secluded area with people who had no interest in her and her life; her goals and her dreams.
Still, she was a good girl. She knew she was, and she was sure they would remember that. She could handle the situation. She could keep things under control. The problem was, now the Spirit was screaming at her, “Get out! Leave! This is not good.” But she ignored it, having become accustomed to tuning the Spirit out since the first time she lied to her parents.
As they started a fire in the camping section, her girlfriend snuggled up to her boyfriend, and the guy with our good girl started the same with her.Then beer came out, and the three started to drink. She didn’t.
The guy said, “Haven’t you ever tasted it? How stupid. You’re almost 18. You should at least try it.” She did and then took the bottle from him to let him know that she was independent and could do what she wanted to do.
She had moved to “At Risk # 4“. She had never had a drink. Her body didn’t handle the alcohol, and it hit her pretty fast. Her girlfriend decided to take a blanket, and she and her boyfriend walked down one of the side areas of the park, away from everyone. All of the sudden, our girl was alone with her guy. She is in high-risk territory, and she put herself right in the middle of it. She is in a secluded and empty park. She has been drinking and she is with a predator. She thinks this guy will watch out for her. He will take care of her!
The word predator comes from the animal kingdom. Predators choose their victims. They then stalk them, and pounce on them. They only think of their pleasure or their need. It is all about them and what they want. Both animals and humans can behave like predators. This young man had always stalked his victims by being charming and handsome. He would invite girls into a situation where they were not protected by any one and then pounce.
(By the way, she had a crummy friend – leaving her knowing she was not in a good situation. Good friends don’t behave that way. Was she really a friend? I don’t think so.)
The young woman had lost control over the situation. She didn’t feel very well, she couldn’t think clearly, and her risk had now gone beyond high. She was in serious trouble.
She had been brought up to be polite, caring and always felt that people would care back. She had few assertive skills. She told him in a polite, soft voice, “I really need to go home. I shouldn’t be doing this.” In her mind, she thought he would care enough to pay attention to what she was saying. He did not.
He kept laughing and joking, smiling, saying nice things about her hair, her looks, but she was getting very nervous. She got sicker and dizzier, and he suggested that she lay down in the back of his camper truck.
Camper truck? Why hadn’t that leaped out at her when she first got there? Why a camper truck? Why not a car? There had been so many warning bells, and so much ignoring of them. Here again, the predator was stalking. He even brought his own bed with him!
He helped her in, and one thing led to another. She protested, but not very hard. “I don’t really want to do this. I really need to go home.” Again, she thought he cared. But she never said, “Stop! Let me out!
She still could have made the situation better, by being very strong, standing up and saying, “I’m getting out! When we get out, you had better sit on that rock over there, 500 feet away from me. Don’t touch me, don’t talk to me, don’t come near me because you are acting like a jerk! ” She could have tried to get in her girlfriend’s car and honk the horn so that she would come back, and then she could tell her, “I’m done. I’m going home. This guy is a jerk. You can come back if that is what you want, but take me home, now!”
She still had the power to stop it. She did not. She didn’t want to look like an idiot, and she didn’t want to make him mad. When it was all said and done, she had lost her virtue. She was devastated and laid there crying. He asked her, “What’s the big deal? It was going to happen some time anyway. Then he said the final crushing sentence. “I guess you’re not such a good LDS girl after all. Most aren’t.” He shrugged, and got out of the camper truck.
Her girlfriend finally came back. “Take me home,” the young woman said, sick at heart. She now realized this guy didn’t care. He had never cared, and she had let herself down, her family down, her religion down, and she certainly hadn’t shown him the right way. She just went on down the road with him, because he was so cute.
They arrived at her home. The girlfriend, of course, didn’t go in the house with her. The whole family was waiting. Her mom and dad, her brothers and sisters, and even some of the older brothers had been called over, and they were worried sick. It was way too late, and she wasn’t at her friend’s house. Something awful must have happened to her. They were just ready to call the police.
One look at her, and everyone knew. Something awful had happened. Finally, she was honest about it all. She cried; they cried, and then they called the police. Surely this was date rape, wasn’t it? They all wanted to blame someone, anyone but the daughter. A woman police officer who was trained in this sort of situation came over and interviewed her. She concluded, “No, it wasn’t date rape.” The girl had never said, “Stop! Don’t do this! Let me out!”
“Well, then what was it?” said the father. “A case of very poor judgment,” said the policewoman. “She has just done a young and dumb thing. She hasn’t been the first, and she won’t be the last.”
Now, what to do?
There she sat, with me, in a counseling session, an emotional wreck, feeling destroyed, guilty, and as though there was no future. There was a future though. A great future! But it would have to be worked for, and the journey ahead of her would now be different.
With the boyfriend, she was alone. She had shut out the power of the warning Spirit by ignoring the rule of honesty, then the rule of integrity, then the rule of the Word of Wisdom, and finally the rule of chastity. But not so very far away was her Savior, the Christ. He was there! He was waiting to go on this new journey with her. His arms were around her, and His heart was full of love for her. This would be an OK journey!
I asked her if she was ready to go to work on this problem. She said, “Yes.”
Now is the time to take responsibility!
I said, “The first thing is for you take responsibility for the things you know you could have chosen differently. Take responsibility for lying. Take responsibility for drinking. Take responsibility for being at the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong things. When you take responsibility for that, take them to the Lord, and learn from them. Change these parts of your character. Thank Heavenly Father and our Christ for giving us ways to get out of such messes, and be grateful that in all of our weaknesses we can still learn and grow and have a good life and return to our eternal home.”
“Now, are you responsible for him being a jerk? No. Are you responsible for a crummy friend? No.
Did you put yourself in a high-risk position? Yes. Learn from this. You were young, and you were dumb. We’ve all been there in some way or another.”
Take it to the Lord: Learn, Change and Be Grateful
With that, we went to work. We had about six visits, and she started the repentance process. She started to get her confidence back. She had to put up with a lot of talk, because her crummy girlfriend told people. She eventually got back on her feet, and today, she is fine. With the help of the Lord and the power of repentance (remember it makes you clean again), she is now ready to not only help herself, but help others. She is part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ here on this earth.
I wonder when she becomes a mom and says to her teenage daughter, “Don’t go some place without telling me where you are going.” Will she have a daughter that says, “Oh, for Pete’s sake, why do you always think something bad is going to happen?”