Apparently Mr. Jesus H. Christ has been a rather busy guy in the last week. He has been invoked in practically every conversation that I have had. Did someone throw up a new Billboard Advertising his greatness on the West Side Highway? Did the Almighty’s invitation get lost in the mail to the grand opening of We-Save-Souls-A-Lot, because it sure has been one heck of a Christian enthused week? And for some reason everyone that I have spoken to decided that I was their target audience. Do I look like I need to find organized religion?
The last time someone preached this much religion to me was when my friend Mary Beth tried to save my soul in college. Not that my soul couldn’t have used a few extra pep talks at that time in my life (shots anyone?), but Mary Beth came from the Appalachian Mountains. A really teeny, tiny town in the Appalachian Mountains. A town where Jesus is the Mayor AND the President of the American Legion Post and HE SEES ALL.
My first mistake was attending a college in the South. For a girl from a freaked out weird family from New York, this is never a good idea. Secondly, this girl has a tendency to be a weensy bit open minded and is willing to have a conversation with anyone on just about any topic. Really, nothing is sacred. This often offends people. As in: “I don’t see what could possibly be wrong with X, it’s only someone else’s idea”. And the X usually represents what that person is vehemently opposed to with a passion. Not that I dig at these things on purpose, I have just always found it interesting to understand another view. As my friend Robyn likes to point out, I belong with them there liberal set.
On a particular evening at Undisclosed Southern University, Mary Beth and I and a few other friends got plowed in one of the College Bars and Mary Beth made the BIG mistake of asking me about my religion. To which my answer probably started off with “I was raised confused”. This always get’s people. If you are from a predominantly something family and that something has been believed in and taught from gospel your whole damn life and was passed down the ages from your great-great-whatever’s, than my family is NOTHING like yours. We are the non-religious folks. Oh we go to church for a wedding and cover the house in greenstuffs on holidays, but that's about it. I was baptized once, that may count for something down the road.
Mary Beth pushed on with the conversation and low an behold found out that ‘GASP’ I not only grew up in a town where Whites, Blacks, Asians and Indians intermingled and went to the same school, but OH NO my boyfriend at the time was a JEW who didn’t believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah! The conversation didn’t end well and Mary Beth stormed off and snot over her shoulder that I was going to “burn in hell!”. Of course this set off a glee of outbursts from the much less Southern and much more sinful friends. And I was left with the sinking feeling that Mary Beth may never speak to me again; because of religion. Which made me sad and pissed me off at the same time.
After about a week of being completely ignored, there was a light rap on my dorm room door. Mary Beth had tears in her eyes. She apologized whole heartedly for being so rude at the bar. And as her face brightened, she and I both smiled and we relaxed because we both knew that we would be friends again. And then Mary Beth was HIT with a mission. To help me FIND JESUS!
Oh and a mission it was. It involved prayer meetings and bibles and people that Mary Beth had recruited stopping me in the middle of a conversation to ask me if I had spoken with the Lord today. I have to say that I was proud of myself that I kept my sense of humor through the whole rest of that year. I never once lost my temper with these people and let Mary Beth and her friends pray over me as much as they wanted to.
The next year came and Mary Beth had transferred schools. I never saw or heard from her again and all that next year I really missed her. I missed her Southern drawl and the way she relentlessly lobbied the Lord for my soul.
This week, with all this loving Jesus going around, I was reminded of Mary Beth. I think if organized religion taught the true power of friendship, Mary Beth’s unselfish kind of friendship, then I would hop on board tomorrow. If organized religion could find a way to bottle and give this to the world then I would be the biggest believer you’ all ever met.