Verses of Your Adolescence
by Margaret Wynn
Runestone, volume 10
Verses of Your Adolescence
by Margaret Wynn
Runestone, volume 9
Matthew 25:36 – “I was sick and you took care of me.”
You were thirteen the first time God made you sick. Nausea took hold of your body as you sat on the wine-colored pew, knees pressed together, sweat dripping down your neck. Without asking, you ran to the bathroom, the one with the bridal room, and put your head over the toilet. Nothing came out. You untucked your green polo shirt and loosened your belt. Thursday chapel—you were breaking the dress code. God would be disappointed.
Proverbs 18:32 – “God—he clothes me with strength and makes my way perfect.”
The brisk late-November wind whipped through your hair as you went to school in a new pair of khaki pants. You walked down the boardwalk steps, sat under the pavilion, and put on your monogrammed jacket. Those pants are too skinny—you’ll be distracting, the blonde woman told you. Later that night, you tucked those pants into the back of your closet and took out your old pair. When you tried them on and looked in the mirror, you felt ugly. You wore shorts for the rest of winter.
Romans 2:11 – “For there is no favoritism with God.”
On a Tuesday afternoon, you cut your knee on the corner of a metal table in technology class. With blood dripping down your leg, you asked the teacher for a Band-Aid. He didn’t have any. You asked to go to the front office. That’s a disruption; I’ll have to take participation points off your grade, he said. You went anyways. You wondered why this never happened to the boys.
Psalms 100:2 – “Serve the Lord with gladness, come before him with joyful songs.”
Thursday chapel. It is Well, Amazing Grace, Oceans. You should be used to it by now—it’s the same three songs every week.
Psalms 147:3 – “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”
Once a year, they put trash bags over the windows, turned off the lights, and locked you in the chapel overnight. It was exciting—you jumped over and under the old wooden pews trying not to get caught by the flashlight. Remember how you knocked your head on the corner of one? Blood gushed out of your face as you held your hand over the wound. It wasn’t deep enough for stitches.
1 Corinthians 13:4 – “Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant.”
Your music teacher taught you about unconditional love. Nobody liked her. She kept you all in those stiff wooden chairs, singing the same words over and over again until your voices felt hoarse. You shifted in your seat and spun your mechanical pencil between your fingers. You wondered what she knew about unconditional love—the woman who sang over the angels. The following week she locked you and your classmates out of the sanctuary.
1 John 4:18 – “So the one who fears is not complete in love.”
They told you that you’re lucky to learn in a place like this. In other schools, students aren’t allowed to talk about God. They don’t even pray in the morning. You’ll walk in constant temptation. You’ll miss it here.
Song of Songs 1:15 – “How beautiful you are, my darling.”
The dress you wore on the last day was perfect. Pink petals and floral lace wrapped around your body—you’re so naturally beautiful, someone said. When you walked outside, the blonde woman told you to cover your shoulders. Too beautiful, you thought to yourself. The white shawl you wore that day still hangs in your closet.
Colossians 3:2 – “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.”
The lighting in the bridal room made her lipstick look even redder. You wondered where she got it from, but decided not to ask.
Proverbs 8:27 – “I was there when he established the heavens, when he laid out the horizon on the surface of the ocean.”
Science class taught you how the world is too complex to be a mistake. Somehow this was the easiest thing to believe. One weekend, your class took a field trip to an island full of starfish, horseshoe crabs, and sand dollars. You climbed to the top of the salt-preserved driftwood and looked over the ocean. The water was almost still, slowly persuaded into movement by a storm growing in the distance.
1 Corinthians 13:10 – “But when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end.”
Sometimes you still visit that room ridden with its wine-colored pews and cracked hymnbooks. It’s a different man on the stage—the one from your green polo days is long gone. You stand up as his pious blessings fill the floor beneath you, his words endowed with some prophetic fallacy. You slowly flip through the hymnal, your hands in an avoidant search for a song you used to know by heart. The piano marches toward the ceiling. The voices of the choir claw at your ears. You clutch your stomach, bile rising up. God still makes you sick.
University of Central Florida
MARGARET WYNN is a senior at the University of Central Florida pursuing a major in creative writing and a minor in art history. Much of her work grapples with her spiritual upbringing and its impact on her childhood. When she is not writing, you can find her searching the beach for shells and shark teeth.