Well, Jeanketeers, I really messed up big this time. No, I didn't put dark clothes in with the light ones again. And, no, I didn't accidentally erase hubby Rick's Winston Cup series videotapes, either. I'm having a hard time knowing how to put this, but, well, let's just say I'm sorry about all the born-again Christian stuff I said in my last column. I thought I was born again, but I guess I'm not.
As you may recall, not long ago, I let myself be persuaded by my brother Kevin into going to church. He had traveled hundreds of miles to see me after finding out that I, in a state of depression, had been arrested for shoplifting circus peanuts from the Pamida. Claiming I was in a spiritual fog, he took me to a service at a little church just outside of town.
I was skeptical at first, but the pastor, Reverend Andy, helped me see that my life had been based on falsehood and confusion, and that Jesus would forgive me for my sins if I would accept Him as my personal Savior. With Reverend Andy's preaching, the loud gospel singing of the choir, and the congregation shouting "Amen" and "Praise Jesus," it was like everything had come together for me and God had destined me for that moment. In no time, I was being baptized in the church pool.
I guess I shouldn't have accused hubby Rick of being possessed by Satan when he yelled at me for becoming born again, because once he got over his shock, he went to my mother's house and told her that my brother had made me a Jesus freak. She just about went through the roof! Mom asked Rick to drive her to our apartment, and the second she saw me, she really chewed me out.
"You were raised in the Catholic Church, and that's how it's going to stay!" she shouted. Mom said Kevin's faith taught that the Pope was evil, but according to her, it was his faith that was heretical. Heck, I didn't even really know what faith he was! I think it was Baptist or Pentecostal or some Protestant thing like that. People talked about God there, not about their denomination. And certainly not about the Pope being evil. I was completely taken aback by my mother's reaction. I mean, I thought she'd be proud that her daughter had found God!
Meanwhile, Rick was leaning against the kitchen counter with a smug look on his face. I just know he was loving every minute of it. Never mind that he hasn't been to Mass for years–why wasn't my mother haranguing him for that? (And also never mind that Mom is a divorcee and was also the one who asked my brother to come down and visit me in the first place!)
Anyway, after that happened, I was starting to regret that I'd let Reverend Andy baptize me. Maybe I'd gotten too carried away and should have given it more thought. But then I thought maybe the Devil was instilling doubts in me. I tried to pray for guidance but still felt mixed up. Then, to muddy the waters even more, Reverend Andy started calling me at home, leaving messages on my answering machine asking how I was and saying that he expected to see me bright and early come Sunday.
That's another thing I didn't realize when I became born again: The church wanted me to come back and be part of their congregation! Not only that, I was expected to attend prayer meetings and Bible-study classes and picnics and anything else Reverend Andy could dream up!
I tried to ignore Reverend Andy's subsequent messages as best I could and went about my week as usual. But then Sunday morning rolled around. Shortly after noon, hubby Rick and I were awaken by a loud buzz from our intercom. I was still pretty groggy when I pressed the button and asked who it was, but six pots of coffee couldn't have set me on edge more than the reply I received: "It's Reverend Andy, Jean. You can run from the Lord, but the Lord won't run from you!"
What could I do? I knew he wouldn't take no for an answer, so I had to let him upstairs. What I didn't know, though, was that he was accompanied by two members of his congregation! And if you'd seen what happened next, you'd have thought I was hosting a revival meeting! Reverend Andy said he wasn't surprised that my zeal of the previous week had been replaced by sloth and apathy. He said the Devil battles for the souls of all his churchgoers, but that I was especially vulnerable. He asked me to pray with him and the others. Thinking it might get rid of them, I knelt down and clasped my hands. But instead of praying quietly like we do at Mass, Reverend Andy and the other two grabbed my hands and began beseeching God to forgive me and guide me back into the fold. It was sooo awkward!
They were hollering at the top of their lungs, and the only thing I was praying for was that hubby Rick wouldn't be woken up by the racket! Well, guess what happened next: Sure enough, hubby Rick lumbered in, and I thought all hell would break loose! (No pun intended!) "What are these damn Moonies doing here?" he yelled. "Get them out of here!" I was so confused, I started bawling! Then Reverend Andy tried to give some church literature to Rick. Well, Rick would have none of that, so he threatened to call the police if they didn't leave. As they finally departed, Reverend Andy turned to me and said he would not give up on me and neither would God. It was all so embarrassing!
Like I said, I really put my foot in it. All because I had tried to become a better Christian! Rick told me that I'd better file a restraining order against that cult leader. (How melodramatic can you get? I'm sure Reverend Andy's church wasn't a cult: It had pews and an altar and everything. Sheesh!)
When I was born again, I pledged to keep Christ in my heart always. But then everybody got all mad at me, and I kind of lost my taste for religion. So I guess I wasn't really born again, after all. Because if I were, none of this would bother me. No disrespect toward God (He's still tops in my book!), but I've had so many folks battling for my soul lately that I'm feeling pretty battle-fatigued! I never thought I'd actually regret receiving lots of attention, but this sure as heck isn't the kind I wanted!
Boy, I could use a chocolate bar the size of Delaware right now!