Again, let me preface this by saying that this is MY opinion - this is what I remember from
'back in the day', and that others who were there may have a different 'take' on shared
events.  I have written about these things to help myself understand a little better what was
going on, why the COBU was both so appealing and repellent to me, and am sharing in the
hope that others may find relate and find some of this helpful/healing/enlightening.
 
Bevís Testimony - Part 5

My last week at Sansom Street arrived (August Ď78), and I felt guilty for how much I was
looking forward to getting out of there.  The bickering spirit among the sisters was driving me
crazy.  To be fair, I probably gave as good as I got, but I hated it, and the brothersí helplessness
to gain control of the situation.  I actually had my suitcase packed a few days early and was
contemplating sneaking out, earlier than the day I was originally supposed to go.  Ironic, when
on all my other visits to Philly both with and without Tina I practically had to be dragged out the
door at the last minute.  I prayed and prayed and ground my teeth together and somehow stuck it
out.

There was much talk among the sisters about finding too much gratification in food (this where
our sister Maria was deliberately starving herself to death!  Maria, I meant to say before and I
want to say now, I am so sorry for being oblivious to your pain and what was going on with you.
 I was 17 and like most teenagers, entirely too self-focused.)  Now, looking back, I think perhaps
it was natural for sisters (and brothers too, for that matter) to look forward to eating - I canít
recall anywhere in the fellowship where we had a regular, plentiful supply of good food.  But in
addition, the sisters had Gayle Traill held up to us as the ideal figure of Christian womanhood,
which we should all strive to achieve, regardless of the body type we had been born with.  Gayle,
who must have weighed about 55 pounds dripping wet.  Yeah, thatís do-able.  So I decided, as a
way of mortifying the flesh and denying the whole food thing, to fast for the last three days of
my time in Philadelphia.  For me, this was not with the idea of losing weight, but I hoped this
would help me clarify and focus more on Jesus and be better prepared to go back to the world.
To my senior year of high school where I would be totally alone, unless I managed to lead
someone to Jesus.  Even the mini-fellowships were gone; I was the last one still in school from
our original Center area.  To say I was scared and nervous was an understatement.  I needed all
the help I could get!

Several hours before I was to leave, two of  the sisters came back from a shopping trip with a
cake.  They had been passing by the bakery, and spotted this cake in the window, which featured
the profile of a girl with long blonde hair (like mine at the time.)  They decided to buy the cake
and do a little going-away party thing for me.  So this was a nice surprise.  I thought, wow,
maybe itís just taking a little time, but I am finally making a connection with these sisters and
they really do care about me.  All the brothers and sisters prayed for and with me, then we cut the
cake and everyone had a piece - except me, I was still sticking to my fast.  I asked the sister who
had bought the cake if she would wrap a piece for me in Saran Wrap, which she did.

Then as I was sitting in the office, waiting for the brother to drive me to the bus station, I told her
again how touched and pleased I was that she had done that for me, that I was really looking
forward to enjoying the piece I had saved once I left Philly.  WRONG choice of words - another
sister immediately pounced on me with how sick that was to be looking forward to something
like that and how did I expect to maintain a relationship with Jesus when the most important
thing to me was food, blah blah, woof woof.

Well, despite what I had said, at this point I had been fasting so long I really wasnít hungry.
What I had been TRYING to do was, as my mother had taught me long ago, when somebody
does something nice for you, donít just briefly say Thank You, say something else that shows
how much you appreciate the thoughtfulness, even if you have to stretch the truth a little bit.  I
tried to express that idea, that in fact I WASNíT totally focused on food.  THEN I was wrong for
being insincere in what I had said.  The sisters debated among themselves as to whether or not it
was sinful for me to eat the piece of cake, till I was disgusted, finally said, ĎItís not that important
to me,í tossed it in the trash, and went downstairs with my suitcase to wait for my ride.  That was
the last time I was ever inside one of the fellowships.

After I returned to York, still very upset and angry, I spent a very quiet next couple of weeks -
praying, reading the Bible, but not witnessing in school the way I had for the past three years.  I
didnít call Philly to talk to the sisters twice a week; I decided that if they really cared about me,
they would notice I hadnít called and call me.  They never did - and that, combined with
everything else, the non-support in Ohio, at the Big Meeting, the whole given-in-marriage thing,
helped me see that I did not belong in the COBU, although the way I saw it at the time, was that
Jesus had rejected me.  So I rejected Him back.

After all, we had drummed into us that we belonged to the only true church, we were the only
ones who really followed the Bible, that everyone else who called themselves Christians were
copping out in one way or another.  Therefore, if you rejected the COBU, you had rejected Jesus,
end of argument.

I spent the next couple of years Ďbeing wickedí, though looking back at it now, it really wasnít
very extreme.  I did some partying, cut some school (though I still graduated), took a few lovers.
In February Ď79 I moved to California where I helped my sister with her day care business for
several weeks (sheíd broken her collarbone falling off a horse).  I then got a job while I tried to
figure out what to do with the rest of my life.  I knew I should go to college, but by not
continuing to college directly from high school, my dad wasnít willing to support me.  Besides, I
didnít know what I wanted to DO.

I worked in a hardware store for a while, had more boyfriends, did more partying, and got my
own apartment.  When I was not yet nineteen, I met a really nice guy, who glommed on me like a
leech, moving into my place, the whole nine yards.  Nice, but boring, and not particularly bright,
so I was trying to ease him out of my life, while making the mistake of still continuing to see
him, when I found myself pregnant.  I decided to try, one more time, to try to make things work
with him, though I refused to marry him while I was pregnant or otherwise Ďunder the influenceí
of hormones.  My son was born in May Ď82.

I love being a mother, and Iím a very, very good one.  My sonís father and I stayed together less
than two years after his birth - I tried, really hard, but I could not MAKE myself love him, and I
wouldnít marry someone I didnít love.  Weíre now on speaking, if not on great terms.  Heís
married now with four more kids, but moved to Oregon a couple of years ago.  This is a big bone
of contention between us, since my son misses his father and brothers very much.

I did family day care in my home for the first six years of my sonís life, and I loved it, I would
love to have or adopt a whole house full of kids, but right now, it doesnít look like thatís going to
happen.  I then went into accounting, taking some college courses at night for a few years,
though I donít have a degree, and am now working as bookkeeper/controller at a private club.  I
also do the books for my brother-in-lawís business and for another friendís business on the side,
and have a notary public license, AND I am currently seeking an agent for my novel.  And in my
spare time (ha ha), Iím involved with the booster clubs at the high school for both baseball and
basketball, go to a lot of games, etc.

When it comes to men and marriage, Iíd rather lease than own (if any of you are indignantly
bristling at that, itís a joke, lighten up!)  Seriously, I look around at all the couples I see
(Christian or not) and the way their marriages work (at least on the outside), and very few of
those relationships look appealing.  I find some of my attitudes from the fellowship linger; I
believe in marrying once, for life; and Iíd rather be single all my life than be trapped in a loveless
marriage.  I have higher criteria for a potential mate than male, has a good job, and walks upright
most of the time.  So, okay, Iím choosy, but luckily, I enjoy shopping!

If you are interested in my spiritual journeyings and current beliefs (which are non-Christian),
please look for Part 6.  Otherwise - my story is over (for now!)  Thank you for being a part of my
healing.