Saturday, September 17, 2011
About a Girl
You've got to understand that I was far from being a Casanova in high school, or really anytime for that matter. She was one of only two girlfriends I had in high school; the first one. But using the term "girlfriend" to describe what happened probably isn't accurate.
The relationship started as co-workers in a restaurant, and took the next step with me providing private math tutoring at her apartment. She was going to the local community college. Why the late college start? Well, I was a little slow to put it together, but I think it was kind of a big break-up, re-invent herself, rebound thing. I was probably a rebound thing too, but I digress.
I know this is somewhat of a teaser, but I'm not going to divulge the details of the fling. I'll just sum it up with the fact that I was (thankfully) too shy, inexperienced, and flat-out immature to take full advantage of what would have probably been a big mistake. The relationship fizzled out before any real damage was done.
Anyway, part of that relationship involved me trying to spend any time I could with her. She was a Christian, and a regular at her church. So that meant that I escorted her to church several Sundays.
Her church was different. It was non-denominational, and it was my first exposure to a non-Methodist church. To me, for the brief time I attended, it sounded just like a Methodist church, but it looked completely different. Specifically, there was no Christian iconography. No crucifix or cross hung prominently behind the preacher. No stained-glass window adorned the building. If it wasn't for the pew-style seating, it could have easily been mistaken for just some generic meeting center.
Around the time before this woman, I had put my faith on a shelf. I didn't go to church. I still believed in God, but there was nothing about me or my actions which would have given that impression.
Then, there I was again, going to church. Some might say it was God leading me back into His fold. I would say it was just me, tempted by having a beautiful, mature woman on my arm, but that was not all.
In the back of my mind, going to church was one of those things I should be doing anyway, but wasn't. Also in the back of my mind was the haunting question: Why have I never felt God's presence or heard from Him? So this church-going revived my thirst to know God. It took on a significance well beyond this girl.
I started reading the Bible by myself for the first time in my entire life. Starting with Genesis. And I started taking hand-written notes; notes which would later serve as the impetus for my Bible summary on my other blog when I came across them about twelve years later. While I read on in Genesis, there were some things which disturbed me a little bit, but not to the point of shaking my faith at all. The weight of my faith was based largely on what I had learned of God in church and youth group, which was almost exclusively New Testament based. The image provided to me was so good that the minor snags I found in my reading were as easy to dismiss as are the idiosyncrasies of dear friends.
I also started praying, which was the first time doing so in a mature fashion. As a kid, I would pray to God to help me find my lost wallet, but during this personal revival, I was far less trivial. The maturity of my heart for God far exceeded my knowledge of Scripture, and exceeded the maturity in any other aspect of my life at that point. I was praying for the healing and good will for other people. I was praying for God to use me in any way which He saw fit.
But I still wasn't hearing from Him or noticing any discernible signs of divine favor or involvement in my life. There was no Holy guidance to direct me in God's will.
I began to reflect upon myself to discover what I may be doing which was hindering my relationship with God. I began to be as upright as I could, changing habits which might be objectionable. I thought back about my many sins committed that far, and I prayed prayers of repentance. I remember around that time, Lent was getting ready to begin, and so I chose to give up listening to heavy metal music for Lent, thinking that perhaps that was somehow preventing an interface with God. (Not being Catholic or knowing much of anything about Catholicism at that time, I just knew Lent was a time to give up something you enjoyed in order to get closer to God.) I started listening to any sermons I could find on the radio to supplement my church learning.
Still nothing. Still nothing.
I held out hope. Someday, God would guide me, when the time is right. Someday I'd know. But without any divine guidance, my pious passion eroded away over time. Hope was still there, but the passion was gone. I was waiting. Indefinitely.
Many years later, when I would pick up the Bible again to study it, I mused to myself, wondering if, with just a little divine encouragement, if Abel would not have been killed, like my faith.