it’s just a step to the right
Admittedly my view of the world was a small one. I had seen very little outside the towns and cities I grew up in. What I knew of the world at large was what I got from television, history books and the church I was involved in. When our preacher decided his calling was pulling him to go elsewhere to minister to the lost, I jumped at the chance to go too.
I had no idea what I was getting into, but I was eager to find out.
When we left New York it was with the clothes on our backs, a suitcase a piece and not much more aside from our faith. I still had questions. I still had doubts. But I had a hope too.
In a lot of ways that move is the turning point that changed me. It was a fresh start. We ended up in El Paso, Texas. If I thought times were hard before, they got down right ugly there. We had no money. We had only the preacher and his family as friends. It was a hard way to start fresh.
We looked for a church that was in line with our view of faith, with our preacher’s take on the bible. We attended several over the first few months and ultimately settled on a small church that seemed happy to have us. We watched as our pastor and his family ingratiated themselves into the lives of that church’s pastor and family.
We were living on 25 cent bags of popcorn from the K-mart. It was Christmas and my brother was back east with my father for the holiday. We were invited over for dinner, and while we were there, we watched as the preacher and his wife put together a box with food. For the other pastor and his family.
I got a pair of socks as a gift.
Now I’m not going to say that this was the end of my faith. It was the end of my trust in that particular man. It was the beginning of my distrust of preachers in general. It was a day that stands out in my brain as one of the crystal clear moments when the questions were bigger than the belief.
I still believed. I clung to that belief as though it would save me. But I stopped clinging to him and to his teaching. I realized he didn’t have the answers that I craved. I realized that the maybe the answers I craved weren’t going to be found in a book or a man.
The next years were hard on me spiritually. I wanted to believe, I wanted it to be easy to believe. I clung to what I thought I believed. And through it all I disliked myself more and more. I couldn’t look myself in the eye. I was tired of the whole thing, of carrying the hatred that had taken hold, hatred we disguised as love. I read and studied and prayed.
Eventually I had to admit that I did not believe the things I had once. The problem was, that left me not knowing what it was I actually believed.