Monthly Archives: May 2010

How I got there

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I was 13/14 when we made our way back to WOL. What got us back there so soon was the fact that even though mom got the church she wanted (something more urban, more cosmopolitan), she had to deal with the adults at the church treating her with respect only at the beginning, only to spread rumors about her and try to start arguments with her just because she kept to herself. She knew the only reason why they wanted to be friends with her was because she was a doctor. So she just kept to herself. Me? I got bullied there because she was a doctor and because I was so “different”. I was accused of acting white so many times it wasn’t funny. The friends I thought I had, we had nothing in common, so they would be all about me for about a week. Only to be bored by me a little bit later. So finally, after I told mom I had enough, we left.

And did it feel great! I felt like I was back in my element so to speak, and started to put roots down. The first person I met was a girl named J. She saw me acting all quiet and was determined to be my friend. Well,it worked out for the most part: we talked to each other, and she would come and spend the night a lot. The only downside is, I felt like I was the butt end of a lot of jokes whenever she was around. I was just that dense. But back to the youth church. It was pretty good at the beginning, except that I hardly knew anyone. I liken it to being a fish alone in its fish bowl, only to be placed into an aquarium. It was beautiful yet terrifying. The adults were really kind to me, and I ended up developing my first crush on a minister: my youth pastor Brother Rob. When I think about it now, I kinda chuckle…but at the time it was a little consuming for the first few months. I guess what I am saying is that if WOL was an object, it was a fly light that shocks the crap out of you, but you keep going back because it is what you think you want.

My freshman year at PHS went without much a hitch. I still loved Jesus and wanted to make him famous, but I wanted to have fun. Whatever fun meant at the time. For me, it was a book, goofing off online(aka talking in christian chats), and listening to my CCM. I did go out, but I still tried to be a witness always. I didn’t pass out any bible tracts, but I tried to live a Christian life. Which to me seemed kinda simple: I couldn’t swear, couldn’t listen to secular music(much), and try to be a good daughter. But we know, what seems simple is what usually will end up killing us in the end. Apparently I had an affinity for swearing, which I asked God to help me with. The secular music thing wasn’t hard because I listened to classical  or jazz when there wasn’t any uplifting country on. But the being a good daughter? Well, first I had a problem with obeying my mother. I mean, I would do what she’d say…but after possibly maybe after a few hours of goading. But that came from the fact that I actually hated my mother. She was beautiful,had a great job, and people liked her instantly. Me? I was short, fat, jobless, and just looked malformed in the face(aka butt ugly). I thought of killing her at one time, because she was such an utter bitch to me. Well, as you can tell, I didn’t do it. I think it is because of the fact that I got an addiction when I started at WOL: the addiction to being slain in the spirit. For those who want to know what that is…being slain in the spirit is basically this: falling down and having an alternate conciousness. You laugh, cry, bark, or just bounce up and down a lot. It basically is God sanctioned psychosis. I loved it. I was away from my life, and really just enjoying the buzz.

In between my freshman and sophomore year, I ended up going on a missionary trip. It set me on fire emotionally, spiritually, and crystalized the idea in me that everyone needed Jesus. I stopped chasing after guys,not even wanting the hint of sexual impropriety on me. I knew what I wanted to do in my life: be an urban missionary and do minister work as a doctor. I jumped into doing more things at the church, just to get myself out there as a woman who could be trusted. But the adults at the church already had their favorites. And I was by far not one of them. I was an outsider, and let’s be honest…not the stereotypical black teen. I might have caused their heads to cave in a bit on that one. Anyway, I ended up being friends with Raul, J’s ex. If I could ever undo something in my teen years, I think that would have been in it. He was a good guy, never touched me, kissed me, or asked for money. In fact, he was too good to be true. And I was right. He left too many things out that if I used my brain, I would have just moved on. Also during this time, I learn about the term “prophesy”. I really think I was the guinea pig for my friends in college and career. They aways had a prophesy for me. Same thing for when I was youth church. When I first got to WOL it was about how much God loved me and how he was there for me. By my sophomore year, it was how God has a plan for my life and I just needed to work with him. Heck, even one of the youth leaders got into it and told me that God did love me, but I needed to grow up. That one pissed me off.

During my sophomore year,the struggle begins. I would put on one face at the church and another at home. I was always depressed. I wrote really dark poetry to cope. But they would only turn out to be suicide letters. I would pray for God to kill me. A few friends caught up on that, and true to their nature, tried to help. But I was honestly beyond help at that time. I was a hypocrite. I was a saint. I didn’t know what the hell I was. I would act out by hitting people and just being really cruel.

This goes on to my Junior year. My rep at the church among the adults is I’m a good kid, just a bit hyper. Among the teens it was one of three things: saint who just was too much of a goody-goody, a girl who had a long way to go, or a freaking nutjob who is going to kill us all. And to be honest, I probably deserved each one of those descriptions. There were some girls at the church I made no bones to my clo
ser friends at WOL that I disliked. The reasons were simple: they were touted as sluts among the guys and some of the girls. And they were really pretty(gasp). It never occurred to me that the people who called these girls sluts probably did things with them. I naturally assumed that my friends at the time were all virgins like me. In my junior year, I am convinced that I have found my soul mate.

Senior year, I’m starting to get tired of the histrionics. The having hands laid on me to fall down and go back to a life that just was super ordinary, was getting at me. I wanted to be a normal teen for once. I had two years left being a teen, and I haven’t even gone on a date with a boyfriend. Nevermind the fact that I made out with a guy two or so years ago at a school function or that I was friends with a guy who was more manipulative than any woman I’ve ever known. I still am holding on to my book “I kissed dating Goodbye” and was in some weird quasi-courting phase of my life. But it was DOA when you think about it. I was getting ready to go to college, and after that med school. He didn’t want me doing either one of those. I guess for all intents and purposes, it was the beginning of the end.

Looking Back, Pt 3

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By the time I hit 12, I was utterly convinced of two things:

1) That Bossier City was the most boring town in the state of Louisiana.

2) I was unlovable, and that any possibility to make friends will be hard.

I came to Bossier City because of the Air Force base there. My mom(who just got back from Korea) wanted to take a hand at raising me.  I spent 12 years with my grandmother(well, 12.5 years) and I wanted to live with my mom for a chance. When I was growing up, she was very serious and studious, but fun. The woman infront of me who I saw only on holidays looked tired. Our first day alone didn’t go so well. Mom, used to quick obedience(did I mention that she also did drill sarg stuff while in the military?) would bark an order and walk off. I, being coddled and soft(I guess one would say) would do it either half hearted or not do it at all. This would cause disagreements and her showing me how to do it her way.

Ah, what fun. But that basically set the tone for how things would be from them on. I would have to do it to her satisfaction, or do it again.

But I digress.

One Saturday, me and mom poured over the Bossier City phone book, trying to figure out where we should go to church for our first Sunday. I saw an advertisement for Word of Life, a little nondenominational church in Shreveport. She saw Greenwoodacres Full Gospel Baptist Church. My argument for going to WOL was pretty simple: the middle-aged white couple looked really happy, and the church looked small. Mom agreed to this, and so we went.

The greeters were nice, or so I thought. Mom kept herself quiet as we went inside to the sanctuary. The building wasn’t very opulent, but the exhuberant joy did more than made up for it. There were folks dancing in the aisles, singing loudly, and waving their hands in the air. Any other setting, and one would think that they had dropped into an after-party at woodstock. I remember the sermon that day. It was on how Jesus fixes what we deem not fixable. He even backed it up with a scripture about a how a bruised reed he will not break(He being God). The partial verse came from Isiah 42:3 but it was also seen in Matthew 12 I believe.

That sermon could had very well been God talking to me personally. I was that bruised reed(more like broken but work with me here) and I felt as if I had gone through so much. Too much for a girl my age. I felt guilty, dirty, and as if my innocence was ripped from me.

But the moment after, I felt as if I had a possible way out, that did not require me to die. I began to weep. Mom noticed and placed an arm around me. The pastor called for an altar call, something I have only heard of in white churches on tv. As if I were possessed by something other than myself, I stood up and walked to the altar. There, I began to cry even harder, feeling as if the worries, pain, anger, etc just was being washed away in God’s love. A woman who didn’t know me from Adam (she was an altar attendant) gave me a napkin and held me. I didn’t remember much, but I did hear how ever and over how God loved me. After I was herded(sorry with the cow joke), I was sat down and just talked to someone who I thought would be my new best friend. She reminded me again how much God loved me.

He loves me. Imperfect, overweight, deeply ugly me.  But also how much I needed a church home. I made a promise to myself, as I walked out of the room, that I would come back.

Little did I know, mother was not having that much of a great time. She thought the church was too small. The people too country(read: possibly racist?). She wanted to try Greenwoodacres. So we tried it the next Sunday. And there we stayed for a little over a year.

The pastor at Greenwoodacres did not seem very kind, or even happy. The first sermon I heard there wasn’t that soul stirring, but I kept attending. A few weeks in, and I went up to recieve the baptism of the Holy Spirit. For those who do not know what that is, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is when a believer who does not speak in tongues, goes in the back of a church or in the narthex and is prayed over. During this time, the believer is to recieve his or her prayer language. For me, I was so nervous. What if I didn’t recieve the gift? But I did, after about 10-15 minutes. I was in the narthex, with various spirit-filled believers praying over me. Some prayed in English while others prayed in their prayer language(aka tongues). I don’t know if it was the Holy Spirit, or if it was me in an altered state. all I know, is that had the gift. Mom beamed at me with pride, telling me that she was twice my age when she had recieved the gift. I started reading more Christian books after this happened. I wanted to be the best Christian I could be, whatever that meant.

I wanted to make Jesus proud. With my life, words, and deeds.

I just didn’t know how to do that quite yet.

Looking Back pt 2

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One thing I wish that my fellow church members would have told me when I was young: that despite your best intention, shit  happens. It happens so quietly,so soundlessly..that even if you were to stuff your head with all the knowledge of the bible and the theologies thereof, it would find you and hunt you down. Another thing I wish they would have told me: that people prey on young children.

My problem was depression. At ten years old, I thought there was something honestly wrong with me.  I’ve been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused numerous times. I was convinced that neither one of my parents loved me and that my grandmother took care of me because she was the only person who saw at least some of my worth. Grandmother’s love did not stop the whispers in my mind, nor did it convince me that life was worth living.

One night, as I was in the kitchen thinking of what to eat, I saw it on the counter. It was the knife block my grandmother bought a few months ago.

“Take the chef’s knife”, the voice said.

So I took it. And at that moment, all the pain and misery I was feeling just bubbled up and I felt the desire, no urge to stab myself with chef’s knife I found. And I would have too, if grandmother hadn’t walked in.  Apparently she wanted a glass of water and at that time, she wanted to know what I was doing up so late. I couldn’t give an answer.

Fast Forward a few months, and I began school at St. Francis Cabrini. For the most part, I loved it there. The religion lessons I learned each day seemed more alive to me than the stuffy old teachings at First New Light. I know it’s odd, but at the school I went to, we were taught that God loved everyone and that (gasp) all religions were valid. I don’t know if that was what the pope was going for at that time, but my teacher in my 6th grade class most assuredly spun it that way. Outside of going to a school full of apostates(Yes, even missionary baptists dislike catholics) I still was involved at F.N.L.M.B.C. I was an Ambassador, Girl Scout, and a choir member. But I started questioning things. Like, why are there only black folks at my church? Or, why is it such a big deal that two girls that I knew through family were catholics and may or may not be able to recieve the Lord’s supper? Why is there a hell?

These questions came to me more and more as I entered my 7th grade year. I noticed differences in the faith of the Catholic Church and the Baptist Church. Both loved Jesus, but one service was a lot more fun to sit through(Catholics). Maybe it was because I thought I was  accepted there, totally accepted for who I was instead of at the Baptist Church. Or maybe it was the fact that the Catholic Church was more hands on in a weekly sense for me(I was a lector for two years straight. I loved it!).

Or maybe I just thought if I was Catholic I could just be normal.

Before this time, I was a faithful member of the church, but after all of the questions and issues,I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore. When my grandmother would go to church, I’d come up with various intestinal problems which would keep me from attending.  I still said I was Christian, but just didn’t want to deal with the drama.

A few months later, I stopped reading my bible, praying, and just even dealing with God/Jesus. I partially blame it on going through puberty. I was too busy trying to figure out why all of a sudden I had a chest when a few months ago I was flat as a board.

The other part I blame utterly on myself. I had too many questions, and hardly any answers. I would go months without praying or reading my bible, until something would jolt me to awareness. That something was sleep paralysis. But at the age I was, I didn’t know what it was. I went to a family friend and they told me with full authority that I was either being ridden by the devil or a witch is trying to attack me.

Since I knew a little bit of the devil, I went with that. I was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was having not so divine visitations. And that scared the crap out of me. That coupled with a more fervent faith, I tried to put myself on the straight and narrow. By age thirteen I gave up. I was a lost cause: I was too dirty and impure for Jesus to ever redeem me. And no one proved to me otherwise.

By this time, I was so wrapped up in how horrible I was, I didn’t see the possibility that I could be just wrong.