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.