Part 1 of my convoluted story ended with me meeting Glenn, (in Spruce’s Market in 1987, where I worked…and is sadly gone now. ) I was all of 17 years old and this man caught my eye in a way no other guy had. There was something about him. He didn’t say much (some things never change) but I was drawn to him, and I’ve never had such a strong feeling toward anyone, ever…before I knew his name, I knew I wanted to be his.
After a few weeks of checkout-flirtations, (including my very graceful demonstration on how to knock over a rack of bananas with a shopping cart) Glenn finally revealed his first name and then we went for our first date – on a Saturday afternoon, to the gazebo in the park. We chatted a little, I was very nervous. Somehow the topic of Christian music came up.
Hey! I was a Christian music fan! My friend Paul, trying to save my soul from country music, gave me some tapes he made: Kenny Marks, Twila Paris, and someone else whose name I forgot. This somewhat impressed Glenn that I had those tapes. And that I listened to them. In my heart I forgave Paul for not taking me to the prom, because of that “satanic music.” Because of Paul’s desire to have me listen to good music, I had something in common with Glenn now, and this was shaping up to be good.
Glenn and I began dating in earnest, and I was on top of the world, in spite of the fact that my mother was very unhappy. She did not like Glenn, did not like how he came down to the house and just played guitar (my favorite song of Glenn’s, Yet There Is Room, was introduced to me during one of these visits.) My mom and dad didn’t like that he was “religious.” I liked that he was religious. I couldn’t explain why, but I did. (I didn’t see the unseen hands reaching out to me all those years. I only saw my loneliness.)
I had renewed my dabbling in religion thanks to my involvement with Glenn. When I was a young teen, my bestest friend Cindy took me to Sunday School at the Baptist Church in Hawley with her. I liked it, mostly. Cindy once told me I needed to be baptized, to wash all my sins away. (She was a little confused.) My mother, on the other hand, was offended. She said, almost mockingly, “What sins could you have?” (She was confused too.) Maybe she didn’t mean to mock, but that’s how I took it. I eventually stopped going to Sunday School. Mom didn’t encourage or discourage me but she didn’t mind that I didn’t go.
Anyway, in spite of ditching church, I considered myself a “born again Christian” at this time, because one night when I was about 12, or 13, I was overwhelmed with heartbreak and loneliness over something, (I don’t know what…at that age, anything upsetting is the end of the world.) I was just lonely and crying in my bed. I had memorized, along with The Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23, and was repeating it over and over in my head. With my eyes closed, I envisioned that Green Pasture, and then I saw Jesus in my mind’s eye. He wanted me to come, and I did…and I fell asleep. The next day was business as usual, but off and on over the years following that, I would get out my Good News Bible, or the NIV my cousin gave me for Christmas one year, and read it. Then I became friends with Paul in high school, and that was interesting. He was appalled at the state of my soul, because I read Stephen King and listened to “secular”music. Then Paul moved away. But I had Twila Paris, and Kenny Marks, and my Bible. I was a Christian, in my mind, anyway.
[ /Back Story]
Back to 1987… just before Christmas, Glenn called me to tell me that he couldn’t see me anymore. He said that he could not get involved with me as I was not a born again believer. I was annoyed by this. Who did he think he was? Didn’t I listen to Christian music? Didn’t I willingly go to bible studies with him at his pastor’s house? Was it my fault I had to work on Sundays and didn’t go to church? At any rate, it was over, and I was devastated. Once again, I was alone, rejected, blah blah blah (violin music begins.)
However. I was not to be defeated. I recalled that Glenn’s dear friend Joe attended the Baptist Church in Hawley, the very church where I used to go to Sunday School with Cindy. And…hey, while I couldn’t go to church in the morning, I could go at night, and meet this Joe person, and somehow let him know that I was Glenn’s former flame, whom he ditched for not going to church enough. Hmmmm.
My plan worked pretty nicely. Sure enough, about a month or so after my attending church on Sunday nights and meeting Joe, Glenn called me. And we got together again. And to make this long story less long, Glenn asked me to marry him. And I said YES!
Finally, I was going to have a place to belong! I was going to belong to a man who loved me! And I would have a new name.
Glenn’s friends stepped in. They did not believe I was saved. Again, this irritated me. How could they possibly know? They had never MET me! Glenn again, broke up with me, this time in his pastor’s office. I told that pastor, and Glenn, about my experience at that night when I was crying, and thought of The Lord’s Prayer, and saw Jesus, and I went to him, and I was saved. Neither one of them gave much weight to that. Then I said I’d been going to church, and I even wrote a Christian song, and that didn’t impress them much either.
I left the pastor’s office a broken, broken woman. I was 18 years old and my world had ended, I was beyond devastated. I do not know how I made it home alive, because I did think about just ending it all with a well planned car wreck. How many times would I have to be rejected?
How many times?
Then I realized, to my horror, that I had been using God all this time, I had been lying, I didn’t care about being a Christian as much as I wanted to be a Christian so I could have Glenn. I didn’t love Jesus, I was using religion as a means to an end. And I was horrified.
How could God ever forgive me? What was that unpardonable sin I read about?
I was doomed.
[I think this is going to take more parts than I anticipated. Thank you for reading so far. Part 3 coming soon.]