I didn’t kill her, of course. I just moved my car into the spot as if she were invisible, which was hard to do because she was yelling her head off and waving her arms around like my own personal air marshal helping me park my plane. That stick shift came in handy when I revved the engine at her for good measure.
As we strolled into the mall, she stomped behind us for a ways, hurling lawsuit threats about my trying to run down a “pregnant woman.”
In my defense, she wasn’t showing.
That was me. I always took the fight; I usually picked it. And I’m not even Irish.
When I wasn’t being mean to people, I had this insatiable desire for approval, no– for worship. Even my goodnesses were bribes meant to gain or keep the fountain of affirmation flowing. My happiness depended on a constant firehose stream of compliments and awards. I won 1st place in a poetry contest? Cool, now I need The New Yorker to publish me. You say I’m beautiful– that makes me feel pretty as long as you don’t look away. Witty? I’m good as long as you’re still laughing… Such was my existence– endless calculating and striving after approval, adoration, accolades. I couldn’t figure out why I had no peace, which is what led me through a litany of self-help books, including Life 101, The Healing Power of Humor, Dianetics, and The Tao of Poo (a book that pitches Winnie the Pooh as the ultimate Taoist and instructs on a Pooh-like life, full of happiness and honey). I even got so low sometimes I tried the Bible. But that wasn’t helpful because I tried reading from the Old Testament, starting at Genesis. After the first juicy chapters, reading the Jewish laws felt like reading the IRS tax code; I failed to see the connection between this book and help of any kind. Mind you, I was an English major. I had read Paradise Lost with an amount of relish; I even struggled through the literary gauntlet of Leaves of Grass, but the Old Testament?
Growing up, one of my first memories of God was the picture in my grandfather’s spare room. Since we often slept there, I’d wake up to this monstrous piece of art staring down at me, depicting an anemic, effeminate, sorrowful-looking man whose heart was visible and belted in thorns. DIS-turbing. One arm was raised as if He had the answer to a question, and the other rested languidly near that… heart. He did not comfort me, this Christ; He both unnerved and confused me.
Church confused me too. We went a handful of times, and everyone seemed to know the steps but me. Kneel. Stand. Kneel. Stand. Mumble. Kneel. Everybody else leaving their seats, going up to the front wearing serious expressions. I’m sure I asked why we stayed in our seats when everybody else went up, but I don’t remember what my Dad said. He was careful with our feelings. He probably said he preferred to stay seated– which I’m sure was true. The singing and chanting from the front was as boring as it was unintelligible. The echoing dirges from somber, gowned men and the strange, ancient feel of the place gave me the same twisted guts as when I was sent to the principal’s office, a feeling with which I was all too familiar. So no, I didn’t care much for the God of church.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:10