When I was a kid, I had a close friendship with Jesus. For most of my adult years I thought of my childhood relationship with Jesus as quaint and cute, but irrational. I told myself that when I was a kid, Jesus was my imaginary friend. The best imaginary friend in the universe, I might add, but then I'd feel guilty for so smugly displaying my team pride. Other kids around the globe probably think Mohammad, or Buddha, or The Ghost of Mr. Rogers is the best imaginary friend in the universe.
Now I'm starting to question my disbelief. Now I'm starting to think maybe I knew more about my relationship with Jesus when I was just a silly kid than I have for the past twenty years as a big, know-it-all grown up. When I was just a silly kid, I felt that Jesus was real, that he walked with me, sat beside me, no, inside me, wherever I'd go. By the time I was a big, know-it-all grown up, I suppressed that feeling.
Now that my daughter and our friend Sarah have led me to Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, it feels like I'm reconnecting with an old friend I'd long ago shunned in the name of explainable answers and facts and reason.
For most of my adult years I thought believers were weak-minded, unsophisticated, or lazy thinkers. Whenever I'd find out someone I knew was a regular church goer, k.d. lang's "Don't Be a Lemming Polka" would play in my head.
My seven-year-old daughter Katie and I have been attending church since last November. At first I kept going because Katie loves it and I was impressed with the social justice work these church members do. I figured I could attend but not get too into the whole Jesusy thing. I could find my place within the church community and use that platform to help me help others.
It's been four months now. Winter has turned into spring. Jesus was born and now he's preparing to die and be reborn, if you're into that story. Days are getting longer. There is more light in my life.
For many years I've been honored to receive compliments for my writing. People find out I'm largely uneducated about creative writing--I've had two creative writing classes in my life, in 9th and 10th grade, and I flunked the one in 10th grade because I was uber-angsty and refused to do what seemed to me to be busy work--and they ask me, "How did you learn how to write?"
I say, "I don't know. It's just like, I don't know. I don't really think about it. I just sit down and the words come out. I can't think about it too much or it stops the flow. Like how your fingers have your library card number memorized, but if you stop and try to think of what your number is without typing it out, you can't remember what it is."
With the deal with my library card number, I explain that as my subconscious brain has memorized my number from so much practice typing it over and over in the thirty years I've had it. With my writing ability, it feels more like a gift. Until I started this blog not quite three years ago, I did not have a regular writing habit. I journaled a lot as a teenager. I wrote awful poetry. I threw too many trees into the trash after reading the crap my soul had transferred with ink onto paper and trying not to vomit.
I'd get ideas for books I wanted to write, but I told myself I didn't have time for them. And I didn't. I worked full-time at the library. That's a good enough excuse right there. But I was also putting myself through college--albeit incredibly slowly: it took eleven years for me to finish all the requirements of a two-year Associates' degree. And I was working on myself. Using my library card number to check out tons of self-help books and fiction I could relate to about sexual abuse and dysfunctional families.
I'd beat myself up for not writing enough. It has been my one unyielding goal since I was thirteen years old: to be a writer. It's the only thing I ever felt really good at. I'd spent all of high school and much of my early adulthood being told by others that I wasn't living up to my potential. Especially by my dad, an accountant who could not understand why I'd want to work at a library and not get a job that makes lots of money. I mostly learned to ignore these outside critics and learned to do what felt right to me. What felt right to me was writing, so all those years I didn't have time for it I felt shitty about myself.
I realize now the reason I love to write so much is because it's when I'm the most in touch with God. I'm not disciplined enough to regularly pray or meditate or go for a walk in the woods, things other people do to get in touch with God. I realize now the reason I love to write so much is because it allows me to tap into my inner energy. It brings me back to the time in my life when I felt like Jesus was inside me, guiding me. About the same time I gave up my childhood friendship with Jesus, at age 13, I began writing. I realize now it's because it was the only way I felt comfortable tapping into my dormant faith.
For many years I could not explain how I did it, only that I didn't have time to do it often enough. Now I take the time each day to write, because it feels so good to tap into my faith. I no longer worry it will make me look like that crazy preacher man on the street corner that everybody jaywalks across the street to avoid walking by. I'm mature enough now to mostly ignore my critics. I just sit down and don't think about it too hard, and let my fingers transcribe what my old friend Jesus whispers from within me when I take time to listen. Our relationship has evolved from best friends to imaginary friends to teacher/transcriber.