There is little debate that my internal struggles with a higher power have been numerous and I have little shame in blaming it on the seed that was planted in my mind at a very early age. Even if intentions are well-meaning, the very act of introducing the idea of a supreme-being into a brain wired such as mine and the results are going to be messy, at best. There is supposedly a healthy balance of respect, fear and love that spiritual maturity brings about. However, as a child with a very active imagination growing up in church, my soul got snagged on fear. This fear has haunted me in my own sad form of spiritual arrested development.
The entire first decade of my life, there were a couple of constants: If the doors to the church were open for services, my family was in attendance; The radio was always tuned to country music; and my mom never left the house without her bed being made and everything in its place. To this day, my sister and I can sing most of the words to a plethora of hymns and classic country and western songs (I am pretty sure that we could muster up a minimum of two verses of Just As I Am and all the words to Lucille by Kenny Rogers). Basically, attending church was an integral part of my childhood. Unfortunately for my well-intentioned parents, I was rarely an easy child. My spiritual snag made Sundays literally hell on my parents as they wrestled, chased and beat my butt for resisting Sunday services. It was even the theme for one of my high school poetry assignments:
Now I lay be down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
A child of God I want to be
But Sunday church was not for me.
I kicked and screamed and was damn near beat,
But every Sunday I took my seat.
Alleluia and Amazing Grace,
Songs of love in a scary place
I hid my face tried not to look,
The preacher man is waving the book
I closed my eyes and I covered my ears
I tried to be brave, ignoring my fears
Fire, brim stone and eternal damnation
Lost souls missing out on salvation
Spending forever in a fiery lake
Is all too much for my mind to take
Please let him talk of the Promised Land
Milk and Honey I understand.
His message then took that sinister turn
My face grows hot and starts to burn
His words are out and I can take no more
I run down the aisle and out the door
My Daddy’s wrath is what I should’ve feared most
But this child was scared to death of the Holy Ghost
It would be one thing if my fearing the Holy Ghost was the extent of my spiritual hang-ups, but that’s seldom how things go in my world. The Thief in the Night, was a 70s Christian based movie that literally scared the bejesus out of me. The movie was shown to the congregation of our church and I was probably 8 or 9. The film was about the rapture and basically showed normal people going about their everyday lives and without warning, one would just disappear. I believe Kirk Cameron made a movie based on the same premise, but I am not absolutely certain about more modern versions, as the original screwed with me enough for an entire lifetime. I would wake up from dreaming that I was walking home from school with my sister and all of a sudden she would be sucked up to heaven and my dirty rotten unready self would be standing there staring at a puddle of melting butter on the sidewalk. Note: I don’t have any idea why my sister would be carrying butter with her on the way home from school, but for whatever reason God always left me behind with a stick of melted lard.
Years later, when I was a sophomore in high school I came home from school one day and found nobody at home. This was not totally unusual except for one terrifying fact: MY MOTHER’S BED WAS UNMADE!!! I stood there looking at that unmade bed and waves of nausea began to wash over me and I thought I was going to be sick. Never, in my sixteen years of existence on this planet had I EVER seen my mom’s bed unmade! My mom is completely OCD in the clean and tidy department. She makes Mr. Clean look like a slob! My mind did a mental checklist of possible reasons my mom’s bed would be unmade at three-thirty in the afternoon and after justifying that even if a loved one had been in a serious accident, the clean-freak would have at least made a hasty attempt to put her bed linens in order. That’s when I knew that The Thief in the Night movie had come to pass and I had been left behind. I was shaking as the gravity of my situation began to sink in and l ran to the window to see if I could spot any other careless souls that failed to make the cut. I was terrified.
A few hours later my mom and the rest of my family returned home. They had left when my aunt had suddenly gotten ill and mom had rushed out to take her to the hospital. Of course, they all got a big kick out of my crazy notion that I had been ‘left behind’. Looking back, it really wasn’t me that was the crazy one. Who let’s young children watch movies where people just disappear without warning??? Then there is the even bigger question: WHO, OF SOUND MIND, MAKES HER BED 7 DAYS A WEEK, 365 DAYS A YEAR???!! It is pretty clear that when your teenage daughter thinks the only reason that her mother’s bed would be unmade is the coming of the rapture, there is a lot of room for someone to learn to R-E-L-A-X, don’t you think? After all, aren’t we just going to mess it up again when we go to bed?
FUN FACTS ABOUT THIS STORY:
- After completing this post, I found the movie, “Thief in the Night” on YouTube. There is a scene in the movie where a little girl goes to the neighbor’s house to borrow a stick of butter for her mom who is baking something. The next thing you see is her doll and a melting stick of butter on the driveway!!! Freaky!!!!!
- It is my firm belief that in the past 24 years since the fateful day my mother left the house without making her bed, she has maintained a perfect 100% bed-making record.
- The pattern of my bed-making has no rhyme or reason what-so-ever and is completely random. Some days I make it and some days I don’t. My philosophy: I don’t want to scare my children.