The Devil, Jesus and Me

Well, it is the first day of fall and I love it! I enjoy the autumn and spring seasons the most, and I like summer, too. Outdoor activities are my life. Winter can kiss my ass, but only because Alabama winters are just sludge and gray and bleak and depressing. Not into it. But today was beautiful and the temperature was perfect and the breeze was calming and the air was crisp. And I am thankful.

It’s interesting that I’ve written more lately and even more interesting that I am writing about something so simple as the season changing, or the weather. I’m writing the way I used to, before I started becoming gravely concerned about everything and everyone around me. Now, I feel like in taking a step back, away from anything related to social media (besides WordPress) and current events, I have transitioned back to my happier, more carefree self. I’m smiling and laughing more, just the way I used to. I’m feeling stronger, healthier. These are good things, I think.

I feel like I can finally say with confidence that I have reconnected to myself, and this is something I have been actively working on for a number of years. I even wrote about this (trying to reconnect to myself) years ago here in this blog, so it is pretty cool to have this ability to physically see my progress through my writing. Writing is something like an anchor for me. Bob Ross had his paint, I have my keys.

Besides writing, my faith is something that keeps my mind and heart feeling happy. I’ve touched on this subject before, but I’d like to dig into this subject this evening because after some events played out today, I felt like I was naturally heading in this direction anyway but was shoved into it by unseen forces.

If you have traveled along the main vein, Interstate-65, through the state of Alabama, there is a chance you have seen a large, wooden sign just north of Prattville that looks like this:

This Scythe, Your Ass

I went to The Hanging Lady- a horror/oddities shop in Hanceville- recently and bought a bumper sticker replica of the sign above, so now anyone behind me who feels the need to ride my ass has the pleasure of being reminded or enlightened that they’re actually unworthy regardless. SO get off my ass, or feel my wrath.

This obnoxious but kinda funny sign has been a permanent fixture along the busiest travel route in Alabama for decades. Another more recently erected fixture is Gardendale First Baptist Church’s enormous, 125-foot cross that is illuminated at night, visible for miles. CLEARLY seen here:

A Huge, Expensive Cross

These gentle, subtle reminders that a literal heaven and hell (which have been determined to be actual places) do in fact exist are unabashedly settled at every corner, every nook and cranny, on the inside and outside within my home state. It is super hard to feel like the power of Christ isn’t compelling you in some way, shape or form (kinda like… in the form of, say, a crucifix).

I work at a Psychiatrist office and there are Bibles, crosses, butterflies, and so forth along the halls, in the lobby, and in providers’ offices. I am constantly reminded that the good Lord is present in every single place I go, whether I like it or not.

Heaven help me.

I have mentioned being raised in a Church of Christ and my running away screaming as a teenager, and then some other things happened in my mid-twenties, and now I am a whole hearted believer in my mid-thirties, full of love and gratitude for both my Creator and all of Creation. With this in mind, now this: I ventured back to my home church and got to work. I was volunteering, teaching Sunday school lessons to orphaned young mothers. I was participating in art classes. I was volunteering my time, equipment, and talent in graphic design. I was involved in the mission again. I felt like I was doing something important, for others, which I feel is what church is all about. Or at least, what it is supposed to be about.

I was actually really enjoying reconnecting to people who had strongly impacted my life, when a new member decided God was telling him that I would be his companion. This was a guy who had found Jesus in jail, and had struggled with substance abuse and relationship issues. Because I was so friendly and down to earth, he mistook my friendliness as an open invitation to ask me out. I declined, and afterwards, learned that he was still struggling with drugs, and his associates who also attended church, were in the same boat. Actually, they all lived in one great big house. And this house was a house I would never feel comfortable sipping a cup of coffee in, and it made my church house feel no different when they were present. One man had even had a relationship with my sister years prior, and was physical with her and her dog. There were a few more incidents that occurred, and things said to and around me that made me uncomfortable, and so, once again, I left the church. I even sent an official letter to express my regret to resign, especially since my great-grandmother was one of the founding members. It was sad. I still get sad about it sometimes. I even hear from old members who still remain hopeful that one day I will return.

But I’m never going back.

Two men, who are very different, interacted with me today. And I wanted to share these stories because one is very much the reason I left the church, and the other is very much the reason why I miss my church.

A man, probably in his late twenties, came into my workplace today. As he did this, he ignored a couple of very obvious signs. One was a sign that said “Mask required”, and the other was a sign that said “No soliciting”. This unmasked man had a stack of painted, decorative wooden crosses, and a small flyer.

Hey I’m with so-&-so and I just came by today to spread the good news and offer some of these crosses for sale.
-Nice crosses! Unfortunately, you walked into a Psychiatrist’s office, which is a medical facility, without your mask and we don’t accept solicitors. We take patient privacy and safety very seriously here. I’m sorry, but you need to please leave.
Well someone who works here said it was okay. (He hands me his small flyer through the tiny mouth hole.)
-Oh, I see. Still, that really doesn’t matter, and nobody alerted me that anyone would be visiting to sell crosses. Again, I’m sorry, but you need to please leave now. Thanks anyway, though.
Do you believe in Jesus?
-Um, yes sir? But my personal faith has nothing to do with what I’m saying to you. (He interrupts me.)
Well, our Lord and Savior is good, isn’t he? (He’s getting agitated at this point.)
-Okay, look. (More sternly, but still patient and professional:) You’re putting me in an awkward position. I have to turn patients away to go retrieve their masks from their car when they walk in here without one. And those are people with appointments, who pay to be here. We have people who come here that are on oxygen or have other major health issues. You are not a patient, this is not a walk in clinic, this is a medical facility, and you come inside the building without a mask to sell something, which is 100% not allowed. I’ve asked you nicely to leave and then you ask me about my faith. None of that is truly your business, but being that I am faithful in love and kindness, I’ve been patient. Please don’t make me get my manager. Thanks for checking, but next time, please pay attention to the signs that signify whether or not this kind of thing is allowed. Most businesses reject solicitors.
He grumbles and says something, impatiently and trailing off, gathering his crosses and making his way to the exit. I found out five minutes later that he had approached one of my co-workers while she was smoking inside of her vehicle on break. She told him to get lost, and not so politely.

Now, why the fuck did I have to go to this extreme so someone would simply listen to reason?

BECAUSE SOME OF THESE ASSHOLES ARE UNREASONABLE AND EXACTLY THE REASON I NO LONGER WORSHIP GOD BESIDE THEM AND UNDER ONE ROOF.

Done and done. *clapping the dust from my hands*

HOWEVER, there are some diamonds in the rough around here. This next fella is one of those shiny diamonds of a human. My dentist. I saw my dentist today for a cleaning and his family is very dear to me. When I was an angry, confused, resentful teenager in mourning, his mother took me in like a lost little lamb. We shared many precious moments together. She took my sister and I to the zoo, and we would watch movies in their home theater, and go paddling on the lake, etc. She was one of my heroes. I wrote her a poem about storms and how scary life can seem sometimes, but eventually, there will always come a ray of hope that guides us home. Years later, she told me she kept that in her little locker, and it helped her get through many tough times. Years later still, I returned to church, and it wasn’t long after that her husband, Doc, had suddenly suffered a cardiac arrest and dropped dead during a family get together. She was at church the next Sunday anyway. She is a pillar of spiritual strength, no doubt.

So Little Doc saw me today, and I had my cleaning (I can still say I’ve never had a cavity!) and we were able to do a quick 5 minute catch up with one another. Swapping the “how is your such and such and how is so-&-so”, etc. He then said, “Mom’s in Texas right now but she’ll be back in a month. You should call her.” Our brief exchange of words and smiles was enough to remind me of the goodness that can come from communion, and how sometimes, I do long for a reunion.

Shitty people can ruin good things for people. Don’t let them. And this is the next thing I’ll be actively working on. Hopefully, this process won’t take four years.