Thursday, September 24, 2015

My mom's watch, Testify!, and other things

I've started wearing my mother's watch. It's a beautiful Citizen Eco-Drive, with (what my watch guy confirmed are) real diamonds around the face. It's much too fancy for me but I love to glance down at my hand and see it there.

It has made me decide that my Fitbit - basically a piece of rubber - looks funny next to it, so this week I ordered a Fitbit One, which is the kind you can clip on to your clothes. My friend wears it on her bra and swears it's more accurate than the Flex, which is what I have.

Aside from appreciating her watch, I've been thinking about my mom quite a bit lately. Things have come up that are such a reminder of her.

Yesterday, during lunch, one of my coworkers joined me in my cubicle. He was very serious.

He said, "I've been wanting to talk to you about something for a while now."

I said, "Oh, no, am I in trouble?" - This is my standard response in these situations.

He said, "No, I've just been wanting to follow up on something that you said to me a while ago."

I thought I knew what he was talking about - once, we drove together to Costco to pick up pizzas for the office, and in line there, he started telling me his "testimony." His is a good story, and I certainly don't mind listening. We actually had a really nice talk. I said, "Oh, is it about that time we went to Costco?"

He said, "No, but I remember that conversation." Then he told me that some other time, I said to him, "Are you going to ask me if I've accepted Jesus Christ as my lord and savior?" I remember saying that, I don't remember the context, but I'm 100% sure I was making a joke. Anyway, he asked me, "Why did you say that? Those were very interesting words to use."

I said, "I'm sorry. Did I offend you?"

He said he wasn't offended, but he wanted to know why I had used that particular phrase. That's a specific sequence of specific words that not too many people would put together on the random. I told him that I've heard it many, many times. Then he asked, "So, have you?"

I kind of hesitated. I'm not exactly an atheist. I'm an "Oh shit" believer, right? I mean, I don't know if there's a god, but if I'm about to rear end someone unless space opens up in the lane next to me, I'm going to pray a little. (Note to the affirmative: I've never rear ended anyone. Does this mean anything? No, only a testament to my superior driving skills!) I mean, I don't want to say what I believe. Maybe I do. Maybe I don't. It fluctuates. If there's a god, I'm sure he or she would be okay with that. If there isn't, then it's only my time I've wasted.

I started telling him about my mom, and her path to Christianity, and the scam artists on TV and the in the church, but not all the full-on details.

I told him about the time Jules was flipping through some of my mom's things (still all exactly where she left them) and he found the 3 X 5 cards with the dates of my whole family's acceptance of the lord on it. Everyone else had a date, but mine had a question mark. I told him that I have seen and heard a lot of stuff that goes against what I believe people who claim to know God should be saying or doing. It has made me very, very wary of religion, and religious people. I could have told him about the pastor who claimed he could make my leg, supposedly shorter than the other one, grow, just by the "laying on of hands." (There was nothing untoward about this. My mother was present. But WHAT THE HELL, DUDE. I was like, 10 years old.) I could have told him about listening through the bedroom wall to my mother watching Praise the Lord in the living room, and hearing some former heavy metal singer tell stories about actually battling the devil in person. I seem to remember him saying that occurred in prison. I could have told him that it makes me sick that there are people who will send their hard earned money to televangelists so that those scam artists can buy themselves a jet or a mansion.

Then we sort of veered off topic and started talking about (I don't know why) Kim Davis. My only thought on that was, "If I decided that I didn't like some employee's life choices or personal beliefs, I can't deny him FMLA. I have to do my job. She has to do her job. If she doesn't want to do her job, she should stay home." Simplistic and naive, maybe, but my opinion. Anyway, at that point (thankfully) another coworker came by and stood in my cubicle too. Now all three of us were talking and the conversation was less personal and we were having a bit of fun. Until coworker no. 1 mentioned that "Christians are the most persecuted people in the world."

I like this guy. He's a sweetheart and we laugh a lot and talk about our kids. I've heard this line before. Religious people of all faiths could assert this. But in this country, in these days? Christians? Persecuted? Come on.

And then I made my big point: "Jesus' whole message is that we should love each other. Everyone. Once you go beyond that, you've corrupted what is supposed to be a simple, beautiful thing."

(I almost started singing this song we used to sing in church - it goes like this: "They will know we are Christians by our love. They will know we are Christians by our love. They will know we are Christians, they will know we are Christians, they will know we are Christians by our love, BY OUR LOVE, yes they'll know we are Christians by our love." Repeat.)

He said, "I disagree that that's the whole point of Christianity," and then I said, "OK. But I don't need to know what anyone's religion is. People have the right to believe whatever they want. But they don't have the right to inflict their moral or religious code on me, especially when there are laws to prevent that," but we didn't go any further. Which was good, because I was getting uncomfortable talking in the office like that.

(I once heard someone in my office say, while discussing another colleague, "God don't like ugly!" She said this as if that other person had better watch out! I had to bite my tongue and not say, "No. God loves ugly THE MOST. Doesn't that make you feel good?")

I said, "Are we all friends still?" and coworker no. 2 said he talks this way with coworker no. 1 all the time. So I hoped it was all okay.

This morning we had a staff meeting, and I got there a little early. These two guys were there early too, and coworker no. 1 said, "You know, I've been thinking a lot about our talk yesterday," and I said something like, "Really?" He said it had made him a little sad. And I half-seriously said, "It's okay with me if you want to pray for me." And he said he would.

And it is. It's totally okay.


  1. I get really angry when Christians say they will pray for me. It feels so aggressive. Gosh you handled that situation so well. I am an atheist and since I am pretty upfront about it I am able to avoid those conversations mostly. But, when they pop up I do not handle it as diplomatically. You are the best!
    So nice that you are wearing your moms watch! I bet it looks super pretty on your wrist!

    1. It used to bug me too. But you know, if THEY believe in it, what harm is it doing me if someone prays for me? Knock yourself out.

      The watch is pretty. I'll show it to you.