“It’s so interesting that the people with the loosest morals in high school, college, and the mid-twenties always have the best bible verses on Facebook.” My friend Alan, who is the king of Facebook, posted this statement on his wall about 6 minutes ago. In that time, he has already received 107 likes and 20 plus comments. And counting. He is a person who has a knack for striking the right chord, and I must say, his observation is, per usual, on point.
I have thought something along the same lines myself. I could write about assholes in high school who now post “I support Duck Dynasty” pictures to their Facebook wall, which is a little interesting, but not surprising. Instead, I would like to write about the first person who came to mind when I saw Alan’s post. And let me just say, it wasn’t in a bad way, either.
I grew up in a small town in Kansas. There were less than 800 people in my high school. If you didn’t know every person, you knew of every person. There was a girl I’ll call Pepper that I grew up with, but had very little contact with. I think we might have been on the same bowling league when we were in grade school. Pepper was one or two years younger than me and from as early as grade school, she had a reputation. I cringe when I think of the labels that were placed on Pepper while we were growing up. Wild, Slut, Whore, Stoner, Easy, Loose, Bitch, Drunk. I have no idea if any of it was true, I had no first hand knowledge. I do remember she was one of the youngest girls to get blonde highlights and she did have a propensity to wear dangling feather earrings that looked like roach clips, but hey, what do I know?
I have not been in the same room with Pepper once in the 28 years since I graduated high school, but she did send me a Facebook friend request several years ago, which I accepted. Like me, Pepper spends a lot of time on Facebook. And in the years between high school and now, she has become a deeply religious person. Nearly every post is something about her faith, her walk with God. If it isn’t about God, it’s about her family, which she is always quick to say is a gift from God. If it isn’t about her family, it’s about the good friends that she is grateful for, more gifts from God.
One of the goals of religion, all religions, is to make the follower a better person, more loving, more compassionate, wiser, at peace. And I read Pepper’s posts and I always think of Bible verses like 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” She does not seem to be the girl I knew growing up, not that I really knew her growing up anyway. Looking back, it does seem that she was a young person in pain, looking to find her way, something most of us can relate to.
Granted, I don’t really know her now, I can only understand her by what she posts and her message, quite literally, moves me to tears. If she has posted anything anti-gay, I’ve yet to see it. I think we all kind of have a Facebook persona. My friend Alan, for instance, is an acerbic mother hen, as if Bea Arthur had 2,574 children and her only contact with them was via Facebook. My persona is, I don’t know, you could answer that better than me. And Pepper’s persona is a woman who understands God’s grace. I don’t know that that thirteen year old girl with frosted hair and feather earrings had any idea that her life would be filled with such riches.
The world is full of Peppers. Believe me, most of my best friends are Peppers. I’m a Pepper. And for the most part, we’re all just the adult versions of our thirteen year old selves, just trying to find our way. Grace.