Sunday, October 20, 2013

Once You Go Pentecostal, You Never Go Back.

I have dealt with depression since I was a teenager. From the days of “but momma, I luuuuuuuuv him” to postpartum depression to life’s little dips and slumps, depression is as ever present as Cheerios in my kitchen sink. Some days are fine. Some days, I want to cuddle up with a cup of hot chocolate, my Mandy doll, and a unicorn pillow pet. But on the bad days, it’s all I can do to not go for a walk in the parking lot of the Oriental grocery store.

For a long time, I struggled with my relationship with God in regards to my sickness. And it truly is a sickness. I can’t recall how many preachers and teachers I’ve heard say or imply that if you was living right, you wouldn’t have depression. Oh really? Would you tell Oatmeal Brimley that if he hadn’t been a glutton on Halloween, he wouldn’t be afflicted with the diabeetus? That he should pray his ailin' sugar away? No, you certainly would not.

The Bible isn’t clear on a lot of things, and the more advanced our civilization becomes, the more gray areas we find ourselves facing. I know it certainly doesn’t address prescription drugs, or there’d be a lot more lawyers in church waiting to pounce. Can you imagine if the good book addressed these things? “Thou shalt not partake of thy anti-depressants or thou shall be cursed with abdominal abundance, fatigue and constipation all the days of your life.”

But like the issue of depression, there are a lot of things that aren’t talked about from the pulpit. And that’s okay! When you were a kid, would you have done a lick of homework if your teacher stood up front and gave you all the answers? Not unless you were a lot more ambitious than me. Church is kind of like that. The answers are there, but God ain’t gonna beat ‘em into you.

When I was little, I learned how to take amazing naps under the church pews. I think it’s genetic. When my brother was the ring-bearer in my aunt’s wedding, he commando crawled a country mile under the church pews before she sealed the deal. It’s really not a bad place. Personally, I think that’s why most churches use chairs instead of pews now: to limit the napping accommodations.

Not long after my husband and I were married, we visited the church he grew up in. I’d never gone Pentecostal before, so I didn’t know what to expect. This Baptist girl was shaking in her boots. The music was great, and I really enjoyed it. Lively, free of clapping on one and three, and sang by talented ladies and gentlemen, it made me feel right at home. But then it started to pick up the pace, and I started shifting in my seat. In the middle of this beautiful day, a tornado siren started going off. I was confused! Sunshine poured in through the windows, not a cloud was in the sky, but this loud, wailing noise climbed in pitch and intensity by the moment.

Well, evidently it was the doorbell of the Holy Spirit. Things started to get a little wild at this point. I heard a loud noise, and I would’ve sworn on all that is holy that the Second Coming was upon us. All I could think was “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I know I ain’t Catholic, but I’m really drawing a blank here. Hold on, Granny, I’ll be there soon!” What puzzled me was my husband’s behavior.  How in the world could he be sitting there calmly smiling when Jesus Christ was 10 feet away in the vestibule?!

So he’s laughing; I’m starting to jitter like a sprayed roach; and I’m awaiting the grand finale of my Lord and Savior.  My husband is about to bite a hole through his lip when he does this backwards nodding gesture with his head. Positive that we are living on borrowed time, I quickly glance behind him to see where this pounding is coming from. The noise was coming from under my husband’s chair! ‘Honey, whatever you do, do…not….move!’ Sweet Jesus, the hounds of hell are bustin’ up in Ocilla, and he’s sat us right smack on top of the doggy door. Mother Mary, Sister Bertha Gertrude, Uncle George and anybody else that’s listening, I’ll be there soon!’

The siren is wailing like Larry Munson after a loss when she flips into overdrive, and her feet apparently catch on fire. I’ve seen line dancing, I’ve seen ballet. I’ve seen the do-si-do, I’ve seen the tango, but I ain’t ever seen moves like Jolene did that Sunday morning. That woman should be on Dancing With the Stars. Like one of those river dancers, she’s not moving from the waist up, but she is sure enough cutting a jig in her fiery flats. But a woman can only take so much before her “core”, for you yoga lovers, wears out, the Spirit takes her over clean up to her eyeballs, and she becomes the host of the spirit of Liberace. Waving her hands back and forth like testing the heat of the grease for fried chicken, she easily had a wingspan of 12-and-a-half feet. It was a God’s miracle that she didn’t take flight. I think I must have blacked out because I don’t have the foggiest idea what happened after that.

Well, it turns out it the noise was just the wooden leg of the old man sitting behind us pounding against the floor. I guess Jesus don’t care if you have a foot on the end or not. But I learned a few things that day. I realized that just like the Bible says, He will return in the blink of an eye, and we’d better be ready. I realized that people worship in all different ways, and they are all wonderful. And I learned that I can’t ever be Catholic  ‘cause I sin too much, and I can’t afford to keep a priest on retainer. God blesses those with a cheerful spirit, and you ain’t got no right to let anything stop you from worshiping.  Bless their hearts.

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