Talk About It Tuesday:
It was in the heat of a Florida summer, and I had just finished out the remainder of the semester at a new school. My mother, step father and myself resided in some not-so-wonderful housing conditions. It was all mother could afford and although I knew she wished for better circumstances, we made it work.
One one particular day, my mother and I were home alone when there was a knock at the front door. Mother answered and I heard her speaking to someone-a lady's voice-and it wasn't long before the woman came and introduced herself to me. She then introduced me to "Jehovah" as she read from a book, speaking to me on her knees so that her eyes were parallel to my own. Each week, she would return and read more and more from the book, until I began to look forward to her visits early on in the week.
Her visits stopped when we moved yet again. From Florida to Texas--where I boarded a church bus every Wednesday and Sunday and rode off to the Baptist Church to sing praise and get baptized. I didn't exactly know what it meant the day my head went under the water, and even when the preacher asked me "Do you know what it means to be saved" I simply nodded my head yes. Mainly because I wanted out of that water and away from the watchful eyes of a church congregation and partly because there were three other girls behind the curtain waiting for their turn. We had planned this moment the Sunday prior, on a dare, and I didn't want to lose that dare. However, it didn't matter anyhow, as it didn't take long before my family was headed another direction...to Iowa, where the mainstay of my mother's roots originated.
There, I accompanied my grandparents to the Catholic church on some Saturdays. My eyes entranced by the enormity of stained glass and the fancy dressed congregation. I said the words "and also with you" as though it was something I had always done, and although I would follow my grandparents through the line to receive Holy Communion, I never tasted their "bread and wine" and instead, kept my hands firmly clamped together and my eyes looking forward. On Sundays, I would go with my friend to the First Baptist. She would recite bible verses while I stared at all the pictures on the wall: Jesus on the cross, Moses, Noah--and while she received reward for knowing John 3:16 by heart, I wondered why God never spoke to me.
There were many occasions I would pick up the Bible and start reading, sometimes with tears trailing down my cheeks as the words resonated to the confusion in my head and sometimes with agitation, as the words seemed so demanding. How was I ever going to be able to follow all the rules that God commanded? I felt a bit overwhelmed and full of question--yet, I had no idea where to go with those questions and my relationship with the Bible slowly dwindled.
I didn't find God again until I was in my late teens, selling Avon door to door (Avon calling). One of my patrons was homebound due to illness and she took every opportunity she could to speak to me about the Lord. I was a natural receiver of information. I listened intuitively and soaked up every word of what she told me. Yet, she did something no one had ever done prior. She told me "don't believe me"...and handed me a Bible. "Read it for yourself and know that it is true". She explained to me how she had been in such turmoil as she was unable to reach out and spread the word of God, but then I knocked on her door and answered her prayer. Instead of her having to get out to spread the word, God had brought someone right to her doorstep. It felt right the day I kneeled in her living room and accepted Jesus into my heart.
I had an awareness like I had never experienced before and I searched for the right church to attend. I visited Baptist, Pentecostal and Church of Christ until eventually, my search seemed fruitless. I had no connection to the words being spoken at the church. It was like I was beginning kindergarten, but every preacher spoke as if I were a graduating senior. I needed direction, from the first "A" to the final "Z" and it felt as if I had only a bit here and there, which left me more confused then when I first started the journey.
I still read my Bible, I still believe in God...and I believe that one day, I'll reach heaven. I just don't know what denomination to call myself once I get there. But perhaps the "label" simply does not matter. All that matters is that I continue to receive God's message in whatever format he decides to deliver it and even though I can still remember the first day I learned of God's plan for me, I figure on taking the rest of my life to allow that plan to unfold!