Cynthia was unusually quiet as she and Millie walked home from school. They weren't neighbors, Millie live a couple streets over, but Millie always walked Cynthia home to make sure she got there safe.
A while back Millie had asked why Cynthia walked home from school alone instead of taking the bus. Cynthia wouldn't say. Millie only wanted the best for her, and liked her company, so she offered to walk with her from then on.
"Did your chemistry exam go ok, Cynth?" Millie asked as she kicked at some loose asphalt on the road.
"Eh, it went alright." Cynthia replied solemnly, her backpack weighing down on her slouched shoulders.
Millie brushed her chocolate brown bangs out of her eyes as the breeze tugged at them.
She knew something was tugging at Cynthia's heart. She just didn't know what.
"Did you get to talk to Tasha today about the history project?" Millie asked, trying to hear a glint of positivity in her friend's voice.
"Mil, I'm sorry I didn't get to talk to her, I was studying in the music room." Cynthia replied a little forcefully, Her blue hair falling out of it's messy bun.
Millie could tell that Cynthia was getting a little defensive. Millie remained quiet for a while as they got closer to Cynthia's house.
As they walked up her porch steps, Millie stopped her friend.
"Cynth, I'm really sorry if it felt like I was being controlling back there. I just want to make sure you're ok. Are you?" Millie looked at her friend with sympathy in her eyes.
"No." Cynthia replied and dropped her backpack. Millie watched as she walked slowly to her porch swing and sat down.
Millie followed. "Do you want to talk?"
As she sat down on the swing, she noticed that the frown that played on Cynthia's face was becoming more common these days.
"My life doesn't have meaning, Millie. I'm useless." Cynthia groaned.
"Oh, Cynth, don't say that!" Millie gasped and grabbed Cynthia's hand.
"I mean, no one cares about me. No one talks to me. I'm depressed." Cynthia muttered. She laid back on the porch swing made of cherry tree wood.
"I care about you!" Millie exclaimed. Cynthia's blue hair fell into her eyes. Millie brushed it away.
Cynthia crossed her arms. "You're not enough!" She whimpered.
Millie wanted to take it personally, but she knew Cynthia's heart.
"I'm not the only one who cares about you though." Millie sat back onto the swing.
"My parents left me with my grandma who is too busy to care, no one but you talks to me, I can't do anything right, and no one cares if I stay or depart this planet! Who would care about someone like that?" Cynthia screeched.
Millie was used to Cynthia's outbursts. It was hard to remain friends with someone so negative, but she remained. She knew she was a sweet girl inside.
"Your Father cares." Millie replied as she pushed off of the concrete porch to make the swing go higher.
"My father left me! He doesn't care whether I'm alive or not." Cynthia shouted.
Millie shook her head. "Not that Father."
"Oh, is this another one of your 'Jesus talks'?" Cynthia's tone made Millie wince.
"Cynthia, just listen. Your Heavenly Father created you and knew you before you were even born. He sculpted every detail- every part of you. He put you on this planet for a reason and He has a plan for you. He loves you. You are His child." Millie laid her hand on Cynthia's. Cynthia jerked her hand out from under Millie's.
"Why would he do that? There is no plan. The plan is for me to live a painful life and die in vain. There is no God who loves me like you say." Cynthia huffed and turned away from Millie.
"He-" Millie started. "He what?" Cynthia interrupted. "He doesn't care about how I live or what I do! I don't even believe there is a 'He' at all! If He loves me as much as you say, and He's in control of the whole world, why doesn't he give me some relief?"
Tears started to slip down Cynthia's flushed cheeks. Millie knew her pain. She sympathized with her, and only wanted to help her. Only God could help her though.
"I think you could relate to Jesus, Cynth. When God sent His Son to earth to be crucified for all of our sins, Jesus prayed and asked his Father to let the cup pass from Him. In other words if it was not necessary for Him to face this trial could God please save Him from it? But He also added at the end of His prayer, 'Not my will be done, but yours.' Because God did not let the cup pass, and Jesus was crucified and endured all that pain, the sins of the world are forgiven. And if you believe in your heart that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, and repent from your sins, you can go to heaven with Him when you die." Millie took a breath.
Cynthia was silent. Millie knew she was listening.
"God is using the pain you are going through to refine you, not reject you. Even if you were the only person on earth, God would have still sent His Son to die for you, and He still would have died on that cross." Millie squeezed Cynthia's arm lovingly.
"You are forgiven, not forgotten. You are loved, not left behind. You are wanted, not wandering. You are chosen not forsaken. You don't know your worth, my friend. You are loved so much that God's Son died for you and me! Can you believe that?" Millie shook Cynthia's arm. "Can you believe that?"
Cynthia looked up, tears dripping from her chin.
"Really? He did that for me?" She asked shakily.
"Yes, Cynthia, He did!" Millie smiled and wiped the tears from her dear friends face.
"I believe." Cynthia whispered.
Millie pulled her into a tight hug. Millie let her go and stood up.
"Oh! You like reading right?" Millie asked.
Cynthia nodded, confused.
"Then you'll love The Book I'm about to show you."