Today I had an eye opener, epiphany, revelation, whatever you want to call it.
It all started out when I heard a loud KA-BOOM! I thought, sounds like a transformer. I could not see that the lights were out at first. Until I went to the garage to let the dog in from the back yard and noticed the light in the garage was out. Then noticed the electric clocks on the stove and microwave were out too. Oh, goody. So I texted the electric company to report and to make sure I did that right I called them. Two hours was the estimated time of repair – what they always said. I could not do much inside so decided to go to the grocery for a couple of things and then go run another errand. As I checked out and was leaving I noticed a man looking at me. I stared a moment and then realized it was someone I knew and he smiled, so did I and then a younger man who was a worker there noticed me and said “Are you (my name)?” I said “Yes. Are you ‘Little Tommy?” (name changed for his privacy.) (He is not little now, probably close to 6 feet tall – his dad was known as Big Tommy and was very tall) .
He said let me walk you to your car and I will also take your bag (small bag of groceries – 4 items lightweight). I said well, thanks, I am parked over there. So we got to may car and began to talk. He asked if I was in any other church. No I am not at the moment. Well he had gone back to my former church – his dad and step mom had gone there at one time. So we talked a bit.
Of course he invited me back and I declined politely. He was always such a nice kid and was one of two boys (10-12 years old) who would wash my car. He ran the litany of who was still there, all my former friends (one he mentioned, I thought ‘not her’ but did not say anything). Some people who left the state seem to be moving back too. (How nice, my private thought, a bit sarcastically to myself). I told him just because I left I had not left God. He jumped on that and agreed, he had not left God either when he was out. He also wondered why I left and I told him personal reasons (I was not going to get into exactly why – that the pastor’s wife and the pastor had done pretty much irreparable damage to my family. And that the last two years I sat on the pew I kept asking myself “where did they put Jesus?” and they preach “Christianity without the cross”). We talked a little more and I had to get on, to do my other errand and get back home.
When I got home my lights were back on. I was sitting here knitting on a toddler sized afghan to give my hands something to do while I watched a show on Netflix and began to think about my conversation with Little Tommy. I began to have the conversation all over again but inserting some things I did not say: I did not leave God when I left the church 4 years ago. Jesus has always been my savior even before I ever heard of the church I spent 18 years in. They had stopped or maybe they never did preach Jesus. They preached a lot about how to dress, wear hair (cut vs. not cutting it). You must speak in tongues every day to be sure you still had the Holy Ghost (in other words, to be sure you are still saved). You must pray every day over at the church even if it means getting up after only 4 hours of sleep because church lasted until 11 pm the night before and it was midnight or after when you finally got to bed. All these things and more to make sure you keep your salvation! Rules, rules, rules.
I suddenly realized I was saved BEFORE that church ever became part of my life. I was saved when I did not speak in tongues. I don’t do formalized prayer (think prayer chart to give X minutes to each part of your prayer), I just talk to God like I did before I ever went to this church. No I don’t go to church every week and have not been for nearly a year to any church.
It is hard to put down here exactly what I was feeling but I had to stop everything I was doing and come here to put this down. I knew all these things before and after I spent 18 years “in”. But being out 4 years has been helpful so that I can look back and see more clearly that by joining that church I was missing out on more of God than learning about him. Too bad I did not leave much sooner than I did. Lessons learned. The hard way.
It just seemed to come together tonight and was triggered by my meeting with Little Tommy.
One thing Little Tommy mentioned was that the pastor is not the same person as when he left years ago – the Pastor is the same man, but has changed. Little Tommy said he thought God was working on him. I don’t know how exactly but I thought that was probably good. But I still don’t believe I want to visit – everyone would want to drag me down to the altar and pray for me and I would not want that. They just don’t understand.