when i met myra i was in full-on church recruiting mode.
she was a neighbor.
i got along really well with her.
her live in boyfriend was an asshole and we could hear him yell at her before he slammed out of the screen door and drove off.
i told her that i loved jesus and she was cool with that. we’d sit on her tiny cement porch underneath her buddhist prayer flags and talk about god and spirituality and cleaning houses with natural products.
but always somewhere, i hoped for more.
i wanted her to go to church with me.
i wanted her to ditch her loser boyfriend and meet a good guy. i wanted her to know how deep she was loved until it sank into her bones and she wouldn’t need a neighbor to tell her. i wanted her to meet jesus like i had. quietly, and by the spirit.
one sunday i heard about an opportunity to bring our “non-christian” friends to. no pressure, all were welcome, free food, good conversation.
i told myra about it and lo! she said she’d come.
we showed up at my church that night and sat at the table with four other people to talk about god.
i looked at myra and her eyes were shining. she was open and happy and felt the love. i was happy, too. i understood at that moment that the jesus i had conveyed to her was the one she was expecting to find more of and i felt sure that she would find more tonight.
but i was wrong.
myra started to talk. she started to tell her story and her experience of god. two of the people at the table were the leaders of the group, man and wife, and the female member of this couple was bugged.
she was bothered.
she didn’t like the way myra talked about god.
it was a night to bring friends. it was night to be vulnerable about the topic that is so easily attacked when exposed. it was a night for myra to try on the clothes of christianity.
“um, myra?” the wife’s voice interrupted her finally, “could we stop using those new-agey terms?”
and just like that myra looked like she’d been sent to the corner.
because really, she had been.
myra didn’t live at church. she hadn’t absorbed the weird christian vernacular. she said karma because she had insight into reaping what you sow. she said mantra because she’d been experimenting with prayer. she said consciousness because she wanted to find more than she’d known so far.
but that wasn’t the right code. that was the wrong christian answer. she failed a test she didn’t know she was taking.
a test i brought her to.
my spirit sank.
myra didn’t say another word for the rest of the night. i wrote a scathing letter a few weeks later to the organizers and they responded and were very apologetic and worked to get to the bottom of it.
but on the ride home all i could do was say how sorry i was.
myra reflected as we drove and it was clear that she was hurt. but she didn’t say that. she just kicked off a little further from organized christianity that night, like a swimmer, turning for her next lap.
i told her that i had expected something different. i had expected that the conversations would be more like when she and i talked. and she laughed.
“well you know what they say about expectations?”
i didn’t. i was surprised she was laughing and even more surprised that she had some wisdom on the whole affair.
“no.” i answered. “what do they say?”
“they’ll fuck you every time!”
and she sort of kicked her foot when she said it and just erupted in giggles.
i laughed, too, but there i was in the wife role, uncomfortable with the word choice in order to describe a spiritual truth.
i don’t know what to say when an honest person is interested in god and finds no room at the inn at the local church.
and i don’t imagine that i have it any more together than anyone else.
i just know that it’s happened to me on more than one occasion that when i have a friend who is spiritually open and they get close to the church, they back way up and things change.
i will say it’s been ten years and more since i was myra’s neighbor. i laughed along with her that night in my car, uncomfortable and not really understanding the connection to her words and the situation.
but i get it now, myra. and you’re right. expectations do fuck you every time. thanks for trusting me all those years ago. i hope i deserved it. and i hope you and your boyfriend are doing alright.
i hope all good things for you and thanks for sharing the truth with me.