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Three
April 20th, 2007

You’re OK Damn It!

I often wish my vocation wasn’t related to religion. When someone finds out that I’m a theology professor, the conversation often gets awkward. Even my brother had a hard time dealing with the fact that I decided to go to seminary several years back. All of a sudden, he felt the need to try to steer our conversations toward the religious. It’s like when I decided to go to seminary I totally lost interest in sports, politics, fishing, and even the weather. He’s over that now thank God. (Ooops!) 

Sometimes my vocation is actually useful though. I was sitting at the bar watching My Name Is Earl when a young lady sat down next to me. The bartender introduced us. She was a friend of his who managed a local restaurant and I was a Katrina evacuee working at Vanderbilt to support my family in New Orleans. 

She asked what kind of research I was doing. When I explained that I was a theology professor, her eyes lit up. “Wow, can I ask you some questions?” 

“Oh crap” I thought. I took a big swig of beer and said “Sure.” 

“You’re going to hate me for saying this. I’ve had a real hard time with the church. Every time I go there I leave feeling guilty or strange so I just stopped going. Even at Easter.” 

We had a long conversation about our bad experiences with churches and Christians. It was very cathartic. For once, she had met someone who could share her struggles yet held to the faith. She seemed to be comforted, even excited that someone understood her frustration. 

My reaction, masked well, was just the opposite. I began to mourn this abandoned soul. She had no community of faith to share her struggles, her joys, and her fears. Her religious experience was solitary. Even though her story of faith is similar to many who have been hurt by God’s chosen one, she had no one with whom to share this lonely journey. My sadness quietly began to turn to anger. Having experienced my family being “kicked out” of a Baptist church in the 60’s, (a story for another day) I was becoming more irritated as we talked about our hurts. 

Then, the young lady said something that caused my anger to explode. For about the tenth and final time, she began a sentence with, “You’re going to hate me for saying this.” 

“Damn it, Amy. Stop it. Don’t say that again!” She was taken aback. “You don’t understand. As a Christian, I can’t hate you! I’m not allowed. I HAVE to love you. I have to treat you just like God does.”

 “Damn. Are you serious?” 

“Yep. Sometimes I don’t do a very good job. Sometimes it really sucks. But the way I understand the call of Jesus is that I must love as he loved. So you’re OK. You’re not going to say something that makes me not OK with you. I’m not going to hate you.” 

“So is God OK with me too?”

“Definitely.”

“You sure?”

“Dead sure.”

“I wish I could be so sure.”

“Damn it Amy!” I slammed my hand on the bar. I was too frustrated to be worried about what others were thinking about me. “As an ordained minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ I declare you OK! Just as you are. Get over it! You’re not going to be OK when you do this or if you do that. You are OK now. Move on!” 

Tears came to her eyes. “Thanks.”

“No problem. Barkeep, I’ll have another bud.”

 

 

 

 

Read the Comments

[ # 36367 ] Pingback from Howie Luvzus » The Blasphemy Challenge [April 21, 2007, 2:01 pm]

[…] Three […]

[ # 37458 ] Comment from Mike L. [May 7, 2008, 1:24 am]

Great story!

[ # 63467 ] Comment from Randy [February 18, 2009, 10:32 pm]

I enjoyed your “dirty stories”.

[ # 139592 ] Comment from Sayera [August 9, 2015, 1:04 pm]

salam fahimvaghean chera hame chi talhke hawij talhke , khargoosh talhke, zeraat va keshawarzi talhke, ab dadan be baghche talhke. va az hame badtaaar shirin tarin khateraat talhke , chera be naslemoon sha ..?chera?,??? ??????? ???? ?? ????? ?????:)

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