I know that Jesus is on to me. He has to be. It’s practically his job to see me when I’m sleeping and know when I’m awake and know that I am bad not good and scheming under his nose, for godssake. And I’m starting to feel a little guilty with the other people I’ve pulled into it, putting in a good word for me while I sit back and wring my hands and make no direct eye contact with the Lord and Savior. And I have recently started to worry that their pleas on my behalf will not only not get me into Heaven with them, but could ultimately be the deterrent that pushes them into Hell or the Nothing.
It has been going like this–
Ryan says, “I’m heading to church to learn more things.”
I say, “Can you ask God if I’m going to Hell while you’re there?”
Ryan says, “I’ll see what I can find out.”
A few hours later, I get a text. He found something out.
Ryan says, “God says you’re good, but you need to stop worrying.”
I say, “How do you know?”
Ryan says, “Because he said so.”
I say, “I think I need more proof.”
It’s not just Ryan. I’ve been using my pastor-friend-Bryan’s position for years to tell God nice things about me. And sometimes it’s difficult to be dating Someone so Saintly, who has pre-ordered us a time share in the New Earth. And I have suspected Kelsey and Jessica are endlessly putting me at the forefront of their prayers– in a good sort of way.
And so this is how I envisioned it going on Judgment Day:
God says, “You can’t come in here.”
I say, “Okay, I understand.”
My Someone says, “But I already bought us matching robes!”
Bryan says, “Come on, do a servant-of-your-will a solid, God.”
Ryan says, “That’s not the deal we talked about. Are you going back on that promise?”
Kelsey says, “We can figure this out.”
Jessica says, “Please.”
God, “Okay, fine. But she is responsible for cleaning the throne room floor for the first 2000 years. And she is your responsibility.”
Jubilee. We did it.
Then the worry settled in. What if at the end of that interaction, God says, “If you want her in here so bad, you take her place.”
There’s this part of me that believes they would. So I am trying to retract their intercessions and come clean.
A few Sundays ago, we went to church. It was a gig, really, but a gig that took place during a church service in St. Paul. I was shaking by the time we took to the stage, then realized too late that I would be singing to a Stained-Glass Jesus in the back of the sanctuary. I looked down. I looked at the ceiling. I looked anywhere else, afraid that direct eye contact would shatter the glass or permanently turn his pristine face to a haunting grimace. When we finished, I took my usual place in the church– in the front row, hunched down, and ashamed to be there. A tired display of what not to be. The pastor took the pulpit and began to speak.
And I waited for the part where I don’t pray enough or right or at all. But instead, she said this–
“Don’t tell children to pray for starving children in Africa if what they want is chocolate pudding. In doing so, we teach our children to be hypocrites.” She went on to tell us to pray for what we want, that if we pray for more pandas and extra dessert, God isn’t going to give us a snake and a vial of poison. Maybe it’s okay to say what we want, so that maybe those things we want to take over our lives, anymore, even if we don’t get what we want.
I’ve been practicing. I’m not broaching the subject of salvation or anything big. I’ve started with my right foot.
Back in May, my bum foot took me out again, and we have been for weeks in beautiful places and not able to hike. We’ve done everything to fix it, my Someone and I, and nothing has worked. Then, somewhere between stretches I found on the internet and ice, I threw in prayer.
“Dear God, please help my foot.”
That’s it. Twice a day, morning and night. I don’t want anything else. I don’t want my foot to be healed so as to do His Service. Because that’s a lie. I want my foot to be better so I can take a hike in South Dakota in the Black Hills with my dog and my Someone. Maybe that is God’s will, but I don’t know anything about it. I just know this: please help my foot. So I can continue to do my job. So I can make dinner. So I can keep being selfish.
Sometime after the praying, Ryan helped me remember Angie. Angie knows all about important things in the body, being a massage therapist, and Angie found a person who can help me. Tomorrow morning. And we have just enough money to cover it this week.
I am not healed, yet. But I am a little hopeful.
I told Ryan.
Ryan says, “So, do you believe in God, now?”
I say, “I believe in Angie, now.”
Ryan says, “I think that’s the best answer.”
This makes me believe in Ryan, too. This makes me have a second prayer.
I say, “Please don’t make Ryan go to Hell because of me.”
God says nothing. Maybe I will tackle issues of faith later. Two prayers is enough for now.