Bit scary for me; but I want to start sharing some creative writings I’m experimenting with. Just a warning; they won’t be my usual colourful, crafty blog post updates. They are the results of my processing some more painful parts of my life, much having to do with church and patriarchy. If you are following me for my craft projects; fear not, those updates will also continue here. Meanwhile, here’s a small story.
Why are you yelling from the pulpit? Why is your face red? Why are you addressing the teenagers? We teens number just THREE this morning, as always. All the other families here are full of young children parented full-time by stay-at-home mothers and engineer/STEM/Ivy-league educated fathers. Mine is headed by my divorcee working-full-time teacher mother – the odd family in the auditorium. I am seventeen years old in the mid-1980’s, the oldest of five children; the youngest is eight. The age ranges in the other families are younger than ours. One brother and I make up two of the THREE teens you are addressing; our friend from the one other oddball family (you know, the family who later had an older son diagnosed with AIDS – the parents you all shunned out of fear) is the third teen.
Anyway, I’m sitting in my auditorium seat as I always do, quietly taking in everything. I’m newly seventeen; trying also to grapple with doing well in school AND with the fallout of having been abandoned by our mentally-ill father about a year previous. You know our family situation; all of your “elders” do. I’m also trying to please everyone around me with a faint smile that makes it look like I’m in the same mental and spiritual zone as you all, but it’s difficult. Standing up and dancing around, waving my hands in the air, closing my eyes and singing with no self-consciousness…is just not me. So, the smile and the quiet singing.
Until you interrupt the music and step to the microphone. And you, with a fierce-looking red face and a half-smile, growl, “I wannnnnt AAAAAAALLLLLLLLL you teenagers to STAND UP! You need to HONOUR THE LORD during worship!!” Inside, I panic. I am so embarrassed, because, there are just THREE OF US. You single us out. None of us is doing anything remotely disruptive, just sitting quietly – we aren’t even sitting near each other. We three shamefacedly stand up.
But a voice inside me defiantly screams, “I may be standing up on the outside, but on the inside, I AM SITTING DOWN.”