"There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb."
It came as regular as sunshine, the last ten minutes of church every Sunday usually about 11:50. The preacher would stop preaching, the congregation would get out the song books, the pianist (usually my mom, who taught herself how to play for the role) would put her hands on the keys, and away we would go.
I hated it because by the time that I had gotten through most of high school, I was the last fugitive left. The entire congregation was dead set on skinning away my sinful epidermis and posting it as a trophy on the altar to use as a warning to other sinners that the Dairy Avenue Free Will Baptist Church was not messing around.
I have written a lot recently about my struggles with understanding religion and its often confusing ways. I've always felt something of distance between me and God and a little bit of a disappointment because of it. I mean I have known of a lot of people who got it, or went around professing that they got it, and their lives and their words and their actions did not seem any better than mine.
I mean they didn't curse as much as I did, or do stupid stuff because of alcohol like me, but other than that, we should have been shoulder to shoulder on the straight and narrow, especially if you considered the hubris they derived by being a part of the chosen few.
It was only yesterday afternoon that I remembered one small detail about the situation, something that spoke in my favor but which I had somehow forgotten and before I just started going along with the idea that I was just a natural born heathen, raised from the womb to be recalcitrant, curious, and sarcastic.
What I remembered was the fact that when this situation first started, I was just being honest. I believed that to respond to the altar call it would mean that Jesus had personally spoken to you. It would have been real easy for me to fake it. I mean it was plain to see that many others were, but I can distinctly remember the thought crossing my mind, and I decided that I couldn't do it because it was wrong.
That's pretty important distinction for a young person to make. You can lie about some stuff, but if you lie about the fact that Jesus had personally spoke to you, and he didn't; that's a pretty serious lie. And I always felt that there would have to be some pretty serious consequences for telling such a lie.
I ain't trying to say I was a saint. Most of the time, growing up I could lie as easy as drawing breath, and I stole a few things, coveted, lusted, the whole shebang. It was like I thought the 10 Commandments were a bucket list and I needed to check everything off before I turned 30.
Yet, I can honestly say that I've always felt remorse when I did wrong, especially if someone got hurt in the process. I still remorse for a lot of my youthful behavior. Once I got old enough to know better, I've tried a hell of a lot harder to not do bad things.
I have cost myself a small fortune to avoid even the appearance of stealing, and try as much as humanly possible not to lie and not to hurt people's feelings. I still catch my self judging people a lot, and wish that I wouldn't.
I've finally forgiven Jesus for not talking to me, and God for not touching my heart on those occasions, and we seem to get along a lot better now. I still don't lie about such things, but I know there's a lot more going on inside of me than meets the eye, I believe that dealing with that truth is far more important than temporarily looking good on the outside.
People will look at the sentence above and say, "What a ridiculous notion, forgiving God and Jesus. What a nut job." In a perfect world, they would be right too, but we all know this world we inhabit is far from perfect. People do get angry that God is not providing all the answers in an easy to understand format. It is a notion that lies at the root of all of our divisions, and is why we can't cooperate better than we do. This is what existentialists are all about and atheists too.
It's one thing to pretend they don't believe that there is some purpose, however strange that purpose might be, it is quite another to go about telling others in an effort to get them to go along with this idea. All of their writings and all of their speeches are essentially angry missives composed to an absent father, a father who has left them at the mercy of their bipolar mother who has filled their heads with lies about why the father is not at home.
When people like that study history, all they see is the blood and the gore, and the outright evil of humanity. They prefer to pretend they don't notice the almighty efforts of many to prevent the savagery, the efforts of those battlefield angels who relentlessly toiled to mitigate the suffering, or the strange rose bushes and fruit trees that emerge later, sometimes after centuries, from the blood soaked marshy soil of the battlefields.
People who bow before the shrine of Mars and pay no heed to mankind's innate yet seemingly impossible efforts to restore the Garden to its pristine state, are not people that I could ever admire or go to for advice. I can only trust people who have thinning grey hair, wrinkled brows, visible scars, and holes in the palms of their hands.
I also believe that one day, I'll finally purge myself of all this inner turmoil and this lack of self-worth that has pretty much defined my being. I'll put my Yin on one side of the circle and my Yang on the other and convince them both as to the beauty of the waltz as opposed to say, twerking. Then maybe I'll start looking better on the outside too.