Part 1 – The Love Story (1 of 2)
Religion is one of those topics that you aren’t supposed to bring up at the dinner table. I myself have had a love-hate relationship with religion throughout my life. As a baby I was baptized in the Lutheran Church on Christmas day in 1966. In my early years, we attended church quite regularly. One occasion that stands out in my mind occurred when I was about six years old. I attended a Sunday school event with my friend, Margaret, at her Baptist church. Margaret had long dark brown hair with bangs cut straight across her forehead and was one of my best friends in first grade. I remember being invited to attend with her by her parents and that it was a lot of fun – almost a carnival type atmosphere. The speaker, most likely the minister, told us that if we ever had any problems all we had to do was pray to God and he would be there to help us. Fortunately for me, this advice came in handy just a few weeks later.
My mom dropped me off at a YMCA day camp. While I was there one of the teenage boy camp counselors thought it would be fun to bounce a rubber ball, like a dodge ball, off the top of my head. He did this over, and over and over and I did not like it! I became very afraid of him, and went running into the YMCA building. He chased after me as I made a dash into the ladies locker room. I thought he was going to continue to follow me, so I did what any reasonable person would do and jumped into a locker and closed the door behind me. Originally I thought this was a fabulous hiding place, but soon realized that I couldn’t get out! I started to panic and then began kicking the door as best I could with my right foot. Eventually, I was able to push my foot out between the door and the side of the locker. Unfortunately however, the door at the top of the frame would not release – I was in a near panic. Then I recalled the magical words, which were told to us by the Baptist minister, “Whenever you are in trouble, pray to God and he will help you.” So I stopped screaming and crying, bowed my head, put my hands into a prayer position and asked God to, “please help me.” In that moment of calm I looked down and noticed a metal rod positioned at the bottom of the locker. I gently reached down with my left finger, and push the rod up. The door burst open. I was free. At that moment, I believed in God.
That was quite an event for six-year-old child. It made me a true believer out of me, and I started reading the Bible every night, as I was preparing to go to sleep, I would flip through my Bible and place my finger on a random Bible verse. I was convinced that every verse I read had true meaning for me for that day. Sometimes I wondered what it meant when my finger landed on the verses that referred to a whole litany of people begetting one another. I didn’t quite know how this related to my day, but somehow I always manage to make sense of it – or I would just randomly choose a new verse – I figured my finger just landed in the wrong spot…
A few years later my parents divorced. We stopped going to church altogether. My father turned his back on God – he was raised in a conservative Methodist family and decided he had had enough of religion – and has never looked back. I however, kept asking my mom to take me to church. I was 10 years old, and would be dropped off at the local community Church to sit in the Sunday service and go to Sunday school. I went as often as my mother would take me.