The Amandas

My last three years of college, I was the student manager of a little cubby-hole in the lobby of Weaver Residence Hall that was known as the Community Resource Desk or CRD. I and my dozen student workers rented movies and video games and sold snacks and drinks from about 6 pm until 1 am each night. In return for managing the CRD, I got a free room in the hall and $100 each month.

Being CRD Manager was an educational experience for me. Because I was several years older than the student workers, most of them treated me like an older sister. Many nights I sat with them and dried their tears, calmed their hurt feelings, and shared my advice with them. And in the process, I saw through their eyes a side of college life that I didn’t personally live through—wild parties, promiscuous relationships, tattoos, piercings, and sadly, at least two abortions. 

During my senior year, I had several workers that were cheerleaders. Just like in high school, the cheerleaders were the most beautiful and most popular girls on campus. And for the most part, they knew that they were the most beautiful and most popular girls on campus. 

All semester, I worked with them and watched the other girls in the residence hall as they hated my young cheerleaders. As the cheerleaders pranced out the door each night with their legion of drooling admirers, I could see the pajama-and-fuzzy-slippered “normal” girls sitting in front of the TV, watching Friends and only stopping to stare.  You could almost see their thoughts: how did these girls get everything when I have to settle for nothing?

On one hand, I could understand the frustration of the “normal” girls. I’ve always been one of the pajama-and-fuzzy-slippers crew. But I also saw underneath the giggles and makeup and hairspray of the cheerleaders to know that their real lives weren’t as pretty as they made them out to be. They were all living double lives.

One of my cheerleaders was a Freshman that I’ll call Amanda. I watched her live the double life for an entire semester. She was the prettiest and the most popular of them all. But she was also struggling with an eating disorder and late in the semester had to have a secret abortion. At the end of the semester, she was working with me one night and she admitted to me what was going on in her life. After that one fleeting moment of raw agony, she put her mask back on and never again opened up to me—or anyone else. 

I’ve always wondered what happened to Amanda. I’m reminded of her occasionally as I’m working with some of the young girls that I work with in ministry. I see Amanda in many of them—wearing carefully crafted personas to hide more emotional and spiritual scars than anyone should ever have to carry.  Some of the Amandas I meet have come to Christ and are in the process of “deconstructing” their masks and walls. But some of them are still fighting to hold on to their masks and walls.  They kick and spit at anyone who wants to help them heal, while simultaneously trying to choke out of the world all of the things they believe the world owes them—love or money or beauty or fame. But mostly love. 

Not surprisingly, that spring I wrote a poem about the Amandas. It’s a bit dark, but I think the darkness makes an impression. And maybe making an impression will help us all to remember that the very people that appear the most perfect are often the ones that are the most desolate.


She walks into the classroom

all legs and breasts and butt,

her skin, tanned and smooth,

with a rosy-hued tattoo in the middle

of her back, a silver ring in her flat belly.


Glowering misfits burn holes into her

from behind their glasses and books,

wish simultaneously that they could know

her, be her, kill her or have a life as golden and

easy as hers must be.


They believe she’s a goddess in a glittering

world… while her boyfriend slams his fist

into her face and her daddy swims

in a vodka pool and her mother vomits

into the white porcelain commode of the doll house

where she grew up all alone.

How many Amandas do you know? How many people walk by you each day, who are smiling on the outside while wanting to walk out in front of a bus? Even in church, we see these people. Jesus called them “white-washed tombs.” And I’ll admit that I’ve been one. But if Jesus can break through my walls to reach me and Jesus can break through your walls to get you, who might He want to use us to get through to?

I pray that God will show me the Amandas in my life. And that I’ll be willing to be used to reach them when I can. And that they’ll be receptive to His healing when He offers.

About Sarah Salter


  1. thanks for posting a commentSarah. You nailed the problem I have when I write. Sometimes y editor makes me cut out something very human that my heroine might think or do because its not christianly and she worries about the readers not liking her because of it. Its a struggle I have because its important for the reader to love my heroine and to connect with her but I want her to be real. Thus the problem.

  2. I think there’s a little Amanda in all of us. Not necessarily from an outward beauty perspective, but certainly in terms of wearing a mask. It’s taken most of my adult like and a lot of time spent with Jesus for me to relax in myself and not worry about the mask. I was a cheerleader in college, but I never was one of the prissy little perfect girls. I was–and still am–the jokster who enjoys making people smile.

    I wish I could reach out to all of the Amanda’s to let them know how totally freeing it is to toss the mask and walk in the light as God intended for us to be. Sometimes it ain’t easy, but at least it’s real and Jesus can work with that.

  3. Sarah Salter says:

    Sharon, I totally agree– we all have a little Amanda in us. I was a cheerleader in junior high and WANTED to be one of the prissy little perfect girls, but I couldn’t attain to it. But I had a series of masks and I hid behind them often. One of the things that helped me to start putting away my masks was something that my former pastor said: “God can’t work with a lie. He works with the Truth.” So now, I make it my mission to seek out and walk in the Truth. It hurts sometimes. But it’s totally worth it!

  4. Christopher says:

    Amandas….. wow, I’ve known more of them than I could begin to ever count. People that wear masks of security and confidence, yet in their eyes, if you looked close you could see that they are hiding so much more deep down than they would EVER admit to. Sadly, our society propels the myth that they are living the “Dream” and that they have nothing to fear, be ashamed of, or even regret. So much more could be said here…. but I will simply say… “Poor Amanda”

  5. I truly understand what you said you were thinking when you wrote this.. I wonder all the time now, where will it end, and what are left of lives after that.. We will just keep praying and believing for the best..The enemy throws so much at us.. Its unreal… but greater is He that is in us!!!

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