“By the power of peppermint mocha, I am Persephone Faith.” With a shaking hand, I raise my white porcelain travel mug in a salute to the heavens and take a sip of the ambrosia that fuels my bravado. As the minty caffeine-infused liquid warms my throat, I feel its power flow through my veins to still my quivering nerves.
Opening my eyes, I take a deep breath and tug open the door labeled “GLOW Youth Ministry.” A cacaphony of voices spills out into the hallway, echoing in my ears and seemingly pressing against me, forbidding me to enter the room. Will this be like the last time? I ask myself. Will they judge me and cast me out when they find out who I really am?
Give them a chance, Percy Faith. Granny-Belle’s voice comes to mind, momentarily soothing my disquieted soul. Let them get to know you before you make rash judgments.
But Granny-Belle, it’s never a question of me giving them a chance. The question is, will they give me a chance?
I take another sip from my mug and steel myself to enter the room, whispering, “I am Persephone Faith. I am fearless. I am faithful. I am feisty.”
Holding my head high, I step inside the room. My gaze sweeps across the room, scanning the faces of the teenagers scattered about on cast-off sofas, sitting on bar stools at a counter, or engaged in assorted games. I am looking for someone, anyone who looks amiable enough to approach.
Finally, someone looks my way. My lips start to curl up in a smile, ready to introduce myself, but her expression suddenly shifts from open friendliness to disdain, and she exclaims, “Oh my God. What are you supposed to be?”
My resolve crumbles. I can’t do this. I’m not fearless, I’m not feisty, and my faith is gone. I am a coward. I turn to run from the room and run headlong into someone.
Before I can apologize, the person I ran into throws an arm around my shoulder and addresses the girl who just spoke. “Watch your language, Talia. We’re in church, you know.” I raise my gaze to meet that of my savior, a tall boy with dirty blond hair that falls over his eyes. He smiles down at me. “We’re glad you could join us. My name is Ethan; what’s yours?”
My resolve suddenly returns, and I think that Ethan might be as powerful an elixir as my peppermint mocha. I give him the smile that Granny-Belle says could charm the skin off a snake and reply. “Hello. My name is Persephone Faith Blackwell.”