To prepare for my first visit to Church, I had decided that it would be a great idea to have a bible. In my former religious life [that’s a blog for another time], it was probably better if you forgot to wear pants rather than leave your bible at the house. And being sufficiently brainwashed, I obediently tried to purchase a bible. That and I like wearing pants.
My first mistake was walking into a Christian Bookstore uninitiated. The benign and churchy posters and ads, with pictures of families looking all loving and content and huge book covers with very smiley authors on them did not warn me about what I would later find out it was.
A big box store for the Lord.
It was sooo big. Hear me- I had never, eeeeever, been in the presence of so much religious merchandise in my life. My eyes scanned the room and I tell you friends, the Lord was everywhere and churchiness abounded. There were mugs, house wares, music, movies (did y’all know that Kirk Cameron found the Lord? I know Captain Stubing did, but Mike Seaver?!!? ) toys, clothing, and other … other … shit. My mouth dropped open from all the sheer number of the stuff.
“Welcome! Can I help you?” a voice comes out of nowhere. I yelp and turn around to find a girl with a very sweet spirit and not much else going for her facing me with a smile that bigger than the circumstances called for. I take a step back, which as I will find out the next day, will be a habit that I will develop quickly.
“Can I help you find something?” Her smile falters at the sight of my back step, but she recovers with a genuinely warm smile. I was scared and startled, yes, but that wasn’t meant towards her. I was caught up in shock and awe of the Lord’s licensing machine and a sudden blast of upbeat customer service wasn’t the most soothing way to snap out of it.
“I’m looking for a bible. I’m going back to church for the first time in about a dozen years”
Her eyes widen and brighten. This must be her area of expertise; I bet she knows this store like the back of hand and she can get me through the Christ tchotchkes to the Holy Grail of my quest.
I have found my churchy sherpa, I can breathe easier.
“Oh, that is so wonderful!“ Sherpa Sister Sweet Soul says, “What translation?”
I stop short. In my time in religion, for all intents and purposes, there was only one translation- the New World Translation. It was the one you received when you said that you wanted a Bible. You had no access to any other and were discouraged from consulting another. And I had never stopped to think that I may have wanted to research the different types of translations available.
And that was my second mistake.
So now I have at least 42 choices and grossly way out of my comfort zone. I ask the next logical question, not really wanting to know the answer.
“How many are there?” I brace myself.
“About 42 that I know of..”
“Then 42 truly is the answer life the universe and everything!” I said. Her smile faded from joy to simple politeness, “That would be Jesus”.
Well… that joke went flat. And I can feel my eyes starting to burn.
She showed me the Bible section and I started to hold back tears.
I want to stop right here and tell you about how much I love books.
I love books. The way that most people decide that they want to live the rest of their lives with you is the way I love books. I own nearly 3000 [yes, with 3 ‘0’s’] books and sitting around and amongst them gives me pure joy.
Happiness joy. Chocolate joy. Joy from the stuff you thought I was going to say-joy!
But not this time. I saw all of those bibles- maybe a few hundred at most- I felt horror… I felt lost… and I cried.
I felt like fool, and wanted to leave, but needed a bible, so I just turned to Sherpa Sister Sweet Spirit and said “Why don’t I just get a basic sized N.I.B. translation?”
The sweet smile twisted to a scowl as an overly tweezed eyebrow arched into her hairline. Then a laugh busted out from behind us making us both jump.
The guy behind us takes a deep breath and tries to not to snicker too hard. This is neither helping my nerves or my cool.
Guy Behind us walks up, still snickering, places a meaty hand on my shoulder,
“NIV is the Bible translation, NIB, not so much….” And walks away.
Sister Sweet Spirit looks at me confused. I shake my head and walk away…
Within four steps I am crying my eyes out and sobbing by the time I get to my car. I take a few moments to yell at God for having a laugh at my expense and boost a signal to those who love me.
And they didn’t fail me.
Tracye let me finish crying in her garage and Lisa, Ryan, Christian and Nathan sent warm wishes that were balm for the soul.
Jack, Lisa, Alonda, GiGi and Missy all provided me with Bibles and study guides, which helped me find a deeper comfort.
And as the weeks have gone by, I have found that as I miss my old tribe and the path I had walked here, that a bit of faith has found me a new one. It’s still new and a bit wobbly, but first steps often are….