Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Sunday Services in Crazy Town
Armed with Map Quest directions, I was able to find the First Baptist Church without making a single wrong turn. Instead of pulling directly into the parking lot that was across the street from the side of the church, I parked on the street where I was afforded a clear view of the main entrance. The trip had taken less time than I anticipated so I was one of very few cars nearby.
I turned off the car, rolled down my window and sat quietly, watching each car arrive. Every new arrival made my stomach clench, my heart skip a beat. Is that Daddy James?? Will Jaymie come to try and prevent me from creating even more trouble for her family? It was quite warm in the car, but that isn't why I was having difficulty breathing.
I ached! It felt as though an evil elephant had planted his humongous ass on my chest! My insides churned. My brain and my gut were spinning. I worried that I might hurl during the Pastor's sermon. I had a brief humorous thought about the urgent need for barf bags to be placed on the back of each pew just like the airlines do.
It's really no wonder I was so sick to my stomach. You would be too if you had reached the epicenter of Crazy Town. It's a brutal vortex. Low oxygen and extreme gravitational pull...straight down into hell.
After watching the gathering of church goers file through the front doors for nearly an hour, I knew it was time to, as my mom used to say...Shit or get off the Pot. I don't why I went in. I didn't know what I'd do, what to expect. Daddy James was no where to be seen. I've never been a fan of idle threats. I guess I just couldn't see going home without following through.
Usually being a person that always does what she sets out to do is admirable.
In this case, it was nothing but lunacy with quite a bit of masochism thrown in.
Right before I assumed services were to begin, I got out of the car, headed to the steps in front. There I met an elderly gentleman. He walked right up to me and offered his hand. "Hello, young lady." (Already liked him. He called me young!)
He introduced himself and welcomed me to services. He was so happy I was joining their little congregation for services that morning.
I managed a smile and as I shook his hand I said, "I'm Shawn. Thank you so much."
I walked into the foyer. Such a simple church. Nothing fancy here. Remember, this was a neighborhood of limited means. I found a seat on the far left, in the last row, right on the edge by the aisle. Escape route appropriate.
I sat quietly, barely looking around for Daddy James. Mostly staring at my lap or the front of the church. Looking for salvation in all the holy symbols hanging there.
Cue the water works.....Not just whimpering, not merely crying. Bawling. Sobbing into my hands, dripping snot on my pants while straining to suck in breath while making no noise.
Yeah...that won't attract attention or anything.
Within a minute, a woman that I later learned was the Pastor's wife came over to me. She didn't ask me what was wrong. She was in no way intrusive, just concerned and armed with Kleenex. She said she was glad I was there and she hoped I enjoyed the service. I nodded and accepted the snot rags with great gratitude.
All the members here seemed older. I think they liked the idea of a newbie, a soul to save that might bring something fresh to their beloved place of worship. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that's why they were so unbelievably kind to me. It's just a bit of an off topic observation.
The church had a Welcome Wagon Tag Team. Next, I met Madeline. She offered comfort. Asked if I needed help. I said, "No thank you. I just hoped to find some peace here."
Cue the lightening! Hard to believe God didn't fry my butt right there in that hard, wooden pew!
I hadn't come for peace. I had come to perpetuate my war, my vendetta. That was not to be. (Thank God!) Daddy James was no where to be seen.
Madeline gave me a pamphlet that described weekly meetings and group counseling for those in crisis. She shared that these meeting helped her when her husband had passed recently. I was extremely grateful, but I could not wait for her to leave me alone! The more kindness that was wasted on me, the heavier my soul became. The guilt was almost unbearable. I thanked her and told her that, for now, I just wanted to sit in the back and pray for guidance. She graciously left me alone, after offering a gentle hug.
The sermon began. In an opening prayer the Pastor thanked the Good Lord for bringing new faces to services that day. The poor man had no idea how unwelcome I should have been. Only I knew my intentions for joining them on this Sunday and that knowledge nearly suffocated me as he spoke.
For nearly an hour, through his sermon (Can't remember a word of it) I sobbed silently and I begged God to help me find a way to rid my broken heart of this intense pain but, I wasn't granted a revelation that day.
I rose quietly during the closing prayer and crept out. I couldn't take anybody else being nice to me. The shame I carried right then was immeasurable. The only saving grace was that I had not talked about Jaymie to anyone. I managed to refrain from dragging any of these lovely folks into my version of hell fire and damnation. I walked quickly to my car.
Caught a glimpse of myself in the rear view mirror. Puffy, blood shot eyes, blotchy red skin. I was a sight! I remember shaking my head at my own reflection thinking...Who in the fuck are you anyway?? I don't even know you! You're pathetic!
You all know, I don't wear weak well. I needed to get back some control. On the drive home, I began to shake off the guilt and contemplate how I could use what I'd learned from Madeline.
I wondered if Daddy James would go with me to the counseling meeting at his church?