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.