Goodbye, Derika York: Emily's Side

© 1999

       I wrote a poem called ďGoodbye, Derika YorkĒ to help me say goodbye to my friend Derika. We were pretty close all through elementary school and junior high. I remember when we used to play at her house and tease her sisterís cat. I remember when we wanted some money to go to the movies so we tried to sell a bunch of my momís stuff. We had such a long history together. Iím really going to miss her. To help me deal with losing her, I wrote the poem, and I showed it to one of my friends at church. She didnít know Derika and she asked me if she was moving away or something. I said no. Then she asked me hesitantly if she had died. I said it was worse than that. Derika isnít Christian.

       I donít understand what went wrong. We both went to the same religious elementary school and we always sat together in church the whole time we were growing up. Her parents are avid Bible readers, just like mine are. She knows that Christ is the Saviour of all people just like I do. How can she reject something like that? She must know sheís going to Hell. I donít think she cares. Sheís so weak. She thinks she can do things just because they feel good, even though the Bible says theyíre forbidden. And she must know sheíll only have those pleasures while sheís on Earth. Does she think she can still have her lover when sheís in Hell with Satan breathing down her neck?

       Maybe Tai is controlled by the Devil. Tai is Derikaís girlfriend. Her GIRLFRIEND. Sheís gay! When did that happen? When I first heard about Tai I thought it was TY, like, the boyís name. That would have been fine. But then I found out Tai was a GIRL. And they do perverted things together, like Sodom and Gomorrah all over again. This whole thing with Tai is what started us fighting. She says that she can love whoever she wants, and that if I think Godís got something against love thereís something wrong with my religion. I canít believe she said that to me. The Bible SAYS that homosexuality is wrong, how can she be missing that? She says she doesnít have faith in the Bible anymore. Thatís where I first started to know she was lost. I asked her how she could go against Godís Word, and she says she canít believe the Bible is the Word of God if itís so full of hate in so many places. She says all kinds of horrible things are accepted in the Bible, and she canít accept a version of Godís Word that doesnít allow something as beautiful as love. I said love is wonderful but what she has is lust, for a GIRL on top of all that! She says I have no right to tell her that she doesnít know what love is, and that any book that outlaws true love isnít to be trusted. I keep trying to tell her that God loves us more than anything and that the Bible is all about love, and that is why she shouldnít go against what He asks. He wants us to live with Him in Heaven forever. She says that if God wants us to live with Him in Heaven, no one can stop Him. Itís His choice, she says, but I know it is our choice; we have to accept the true Lord or we already belong to the Devil. She says if Godís all-powerful, He can make us choose correctly. I said we do have free will, and she says that if God is our Father, it would be pretty mean of Him to just stand back and let us choose wrongly. Like a parent letting a child run into the street where heíll get hurt because itís his choice, she says. She thinks if Hell is really there and weíre definitely going if we donít accept God, then God is very cruel to not give us some kind of clue. And if Heís cruel, she doesnít want to live with Him anyway. I tried to tell her that God DID give us plenty of clues, and that the Bible and her FRIENDS are clues, but she wonít listen. She just jumps right back into Taiís bed and does who knows what with her.

       Derika thinks thereís something wrong with the way the whole Christian religion is set up. She says that a lot of it was invented to control people, and she says that we use fear to keep people in the religion. Well, of course itís scary to think youíre going to Hell! I asked her how she could possibly not be scared of Hell and being away from God forever. She says itís hard to be scared of a place that doesnít exist. She thinks Heaven doesnít exist either. I asked her what she thinks happens after we die. She says she doesnít really know but is okay with admitting that she doesnít know. She says that we Christians say we ďknowĒ when weíre just putting blind faith in the Bible. Of course thatís what weíre doing; it says right in the Bible that we should put our faith in it, and thatís plenty for me. I donít see anything wrong with it at all; Iím following Godís Word. But when I tell her that, she just shakes her head and smiles, and calls me a sheep. At least Iím in Godís flock!

       I tried to help Derika. I even cried, saying I didnít want her to burn in Hell, but she got mad at me. I was only trying to help save her soul! Now I feel like her blood is on my hands, because I couldnít save her. Maybe now I will go to Hell too. No, that canít be right; I put my faith in Jesus and I know He is the key to Heaven. But still, I donít want to leave Derika. She says I donít have to leave her, that we can still be friends, that we can just accept that we wonít agree on religion and still have fun with what we do have in common. But if she is no longer my sister in the Lord, we donít HAVE anything in common. I am one thing and she is another; I am going to Heaven and she is doomed. She says she doesnít feel ďdoomed,Ē that she doesnít believe that the Bible is the final word so it doesnít work to judge her by it and say sheís wrong. I asked her if she thought I was wrong, and she said not really. She says that she believes everyone is free to seek their own spiritual path, and that whatís right for me might not be right for her but both ways are just as right. As long as we donít harm anyone, she says, any path is right, as long as it brings us joy and peace. How can turning away from God be peace? She says she isnít turning away from God; that God is inside her all the time. That canít be right, she doesnít accept Christ anymore so she isnít on Godís side any longer. I wonder what made her reject the Truth.

       Derika tells me that she thinks I just havenít seen enough of life yet. I donít know why she thinks I havenít seen what sheís seen. Weíre the same age and we grew up in the same town, and any time one of us went somewhere the other didnít, we told each other all about it. She says itís all in what you make of it. It makes me so mad. She thinks she knows everything, when I know more than she does because I believe Godís Word and Godís the only one who knows everything. She says she thinks thereís more than one book of Godís Word, and more than one way to read every one of those books. I havenít read any other religious books; why should I? If I have extra time to bother reading other religionsí books, I could be using it to study my Bible and getting to know God better. Derika wants to know how I expect to get any perspective with that outlook. I donít know what in the world she means. There can only be one right way, and it says right in the Bible what that right way is: through Christ. She says other books say other ways. I donít want to waste my time reading ungodly things designed to take me from the one true way. Of course they sound good to her; Satanís a lot smarter than most humans are and if he has to write a fake religious book to get us away from God, he will. Derika says if Iím so sure Satanís writing the other books, and heís such a good prankster, then how can I be sure Iíve got the right one? I just know, thatís all. I feel it in my heart. She says she feels in her heart that Iím wrong. She says she feels in her heart love and acceptance of people regardless of religion. She says she feels love in her heart for her girlfriend, and for her own interpretation of God, and for all the people she thinks are probably wrong. For a non-Christian, she sure is loving. She doesnít like that comparison. She thinks Christianity isnít about love anymore.

       I hope that one day Derika comes back to God. I will pray for her every night, asking that God come back into her life and that Jesus return to His place in her heart. But I canít do any more than that. Talking to her only makes her mad, since getting her back to God is all I care about. Last time we spoke I cried, telling her I only wanted to help her, that she shouldnít be mad at me for trying to save her from the worst possible fate. But she says itís not fair for me to insist that she accept my ways when sheís not sure Iím right. Of course Iím right, and I told her that, I even offered to get the Bible and show her where it says Iím right, but she flew into a rage and told me to leave her alone. She says that no matter how much I say Iím sure about my beliefs, I have nothing to back me up but faith. Faith is enough for me, the Bible even talks about it. I have faith that God can save us from Hell. How can she not have faith in the Lord of the Universe? But she says faith isnít enough. She says a good REASON for the faith is necessary, and she says I donít have a good reason besides the fact that Mom and Dad always told me it was right. I donít need a reason besides the Bible, I told her, but she never listens. So, since weíre going to be parted forever, me in Heaven and Derika in Hell, we might as well get used to life without each other. Unless God wins her back, and then . . . Iíll see her again. But if not, she deserves what she gets for rejecting the Lord. When she gets to Hell, sheíll be thinking, ďWhy didnít I listen?Ē Goodbye, Derika York. Iíll always miss you.