CONTAINS GRAPHIC SUBJECT MATTER INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO: THE LORD’S NAME IN VAIN, ASSERTIONS REGARDING MARY’S VAGINA, AS WELL AS LOGIC, REASON, AND THE VERY FIRST LIE I EVER TOLD (totally got away with it).
I had just turned five when we moved from California to Washington State. We would go on to move roughly every nine months for the next 11 years. No, not military, Mom just loved that new studio apartment smell.
Within roughly twenty four hours of our arrival, my freshly divorced, weed smoking Hippie discovered the one true love of her life, Jesus Fucking Christ. And like all true love stories, she was never the same.
They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression and for me, the Bible was no exception.
“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”
“But it’s burning my face.”
Again, my mouth. I swear to Christ, I will never fucking learn. I don’t remember what came out of it, but Aunt Pat (think Julia Sweeney circa 1991) thought chemical burns were the solution. As I choked on a mouthful of Gojo, I learned my first scripture.
“The Bible says if you spare the rod, you will spoil the child.”
“What is the Bible and why can’t I be spoiled?”
“You’ll understand when you’re born again.”
The following Sunday, as I daydreamed about my new family, I realized ‘born again’ did not mean what I had originally thought.
“Are you ready?”
“To be born again.”
“Yes! Yes! I’m sorry, but yes!”
“Okay, just go up front like the rest of the sinners.”
Up front? Up front in front of everyone? Why is that man pushing everyone down? Are they dead? No way! I’m not going to die! I guess I’m keeping my first Mom.
“I already did it.”
“Got born again.”
“Last night. In front of my toy box.”
“What did you say?”
“It’s between me and God.”
“Yes. I’m born again. Can we eat now?”
By the time the evening’s worship service rolled around, the rest of the congregation had heard my tale of repentance. For the next few years, she rarely missed an opportunity to tell the story of her ‘prayer warrior’ who accepted Jesus, all by herself, in front of an empty, hand painted box.
She died when I was almost 20 and I never could bring myself to tell her. Not only did the toy box not happen, but I don’t believe. In God. Or Satan. Or the afterlife. Or the supernatural. I don’t believe we were built from dirt and I don’t believe in talking snakes. Or airbnb whales. Or parted seas. Or 9% ABV water. And if Mary were on Maury, God would NOT be the father. Joseph. Joseph is the Dad. He knocked her up using good old fashioned abstinence education and they went on to execute the greatest lie ever told.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to believe. I want to believe that getting on my knees in front of a wooden box and talking to the sky will make me immortal. I want to believe sending money to a mega-douche in Texas will result in a cancer-free diagnosis. I want to believe. I want to have a place for my messy mind to land when I can’t find an immediate solution, but I can’t.
Instead, I believe in truth. I believe I doing the right thing because it’s the right thing. I believe in character. I believe it is okay to not know all the answers as long as you’re open to learning. I believe in empathy. I believe there is beauty in brokenness. I believe in the privilege of a well learned lesson. I believe in love.
I know when it is time to plant me, I will not come back or go anywhere else. I will rot, and that is perfectly fine as long as I do something worthwhile in the meantime.