Growing Up Buford: A change of habit

Cindy Wiggins Tapia

The minute I arrived back in Buford, I stepped into the crosshairs of everybody who knew me.

Once a runaway, always a runaway after all.

Jerry Anglin brought my mugshot into the diner and said, “They won’t be needing this again—will they?”

Uncle Larry Elinburg came in with a few choice words that flew into the Delete files of my brain.

My homeroom teacher forgot to mark me present one day, and the principal’s office called Mama, and the search was on. Mrs. Grizzle found me in her home economics class.

One afternoon, I was waiting on two itinerant construction workers, when Uncle Harold Morris walked in and sat down at a nearby table. One of the construction workers wanted to know where he could find a carwash.

“There’s one on Moreno Street,” I said and gave him the directions.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. I live across the street from it.”

“Now we know where you live,” he kidded.

Uncle Harold got up and marched out, shaking his head.

That evening, I was in front of the stereo, go-go dancing to Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog when Daddy thundered in and chewed me out about my two new boyfriends. I started bawling, and he ran out of the house before Mama could whack him upside the head with her cast-iron skillet.

Uncle Harold had gone from Teen’s Diner to Daddy’s part-time gas station job and told him I was flirting with two grown men. Ew. To me, anybody in their mid-twenties was old enough to have spied Moses in the bulrushes.

Mama called the cook, JR Carr, who assured her that I had not been batting my eyelashes at those two builders.

She called Danny’s wife, Brenda who said, “Christine, I trust her with my own husband!”

Danny felt so bad about what happened, he gave me a whopping twenty-five cent per hour raise and promoted me to assistant cook.

And so, it went.

The last time I saw Susan Robinson was the afternoon she came in with her best friend. Two years later, she was found murdered. But for the grace of God that fate could have been mine.

And then I got arm-twisted into going to Gwinnett Hall Baptist Church— “Just one Sunday morning,” Mama promised. So, I went. And I got saved three Sundays later.

Talking about a change of habit I was in church every time the doors were open. When my working hours threatened my catching the Wednesday night bus, I reached out to God for a solution and He showed up and showed out. When I asked Danny if I could get off fifteen minutes early on prayer meeting night, he allowed as how he would start closing earlier every night.

That arrangement played out just fine until my youth pastor, Pete Wallis, asked us teenagers to go soul-winning at 2 p.m. on Saturdays. But I worked. What to do? I quit Teen’s Diner. What was money compared to service to Christ?

What a great God we serve! He sent His only begotten Son to die and take up His life again for a delinquent like me—and for you. No matter who you are or what you’ve done, His grace is sufficient.

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