THING I THOUGHT: So far, so good.
A special thank you to Tyler, who pulled me aside, asked for my wallet, opened up and revealed that the fortune taped to the inside my wallet reads: “You are a True Romantic,” not “Hopeless Romantic” as previously reported. Turns out it had been far too long since I last looked at the message.
Thank you Tyler, for calling me on my bullshit.
“It’s funny where we look for salvation, and where we actually find it.”–Anne Lamott
I’ve scoured high and low for a way to work my way into the love of God, into the love of others and to fashion a device that’ll keep me from hating myself. If I put myself in this mess, I reason, if I built these walls, then I should be able to escape into the light and forgiveness and grace of God.
I know all the cliché answers for problems in life. “You have to let go, and let God.” “God’s will is not our own.” “When God closes a door, He opens a window.”
When God closed the doors in my life, I felt like telling Him to screw off and find some other soul to mess with, because I’d had it with His “not your will, but Mine be done” shit. I knew what I would do for a career, I knew who I would work with, I knew who I would marry, I knew what friends I would have, and most importantly, I knew every single one of things would make me happy.
I knew I would be happy because what I wanted was what I needed and I needed what I needed in order to make me happy because I knew what I needed to make me happy because I needed to be happy.
Yes, the guy who didn’t know how to properly change a tire until 20. The guy who’s lived with 14 different people since May 2008 because he doesn’t make enough money to live in his own place. The guy who routinely forgets the location of his keys, wallet and glasses. Sometimes all three at the same time.
This is the guy who told God to screw off because he didn’t want to be bothered by God’s incessant whining. This guy had the whole “peace and joy” thing figured out, and was taking the necessary steps of putting the plan into motion.
Right after he learned how to change a fucking tire.
It doesn’t take anything special to reject God. You don’t need four years of college and a special degree to shake your fist at the Almighty and proclaim “U…F-O!”
(Think about it.)
All you need to reject God is a can-do-all-by-myself attitude, a disinterest in others and the world around you, and a desire to make yourself as happy as possible. Armed with those tools, you should be able to make a complete-grand-slam fucking mess of your life in no time flat. A few months, maybe. Six, tops.
I spent years and years standing outside the walls of God’s kingdom, shouting at all hours of the night, blabbering on about how I wanted to gain entry, but only on my terms.
Dom: “God! It’s me!! Let me in!!”
God: “Dom? Is that you?”
Dom: “No, it’s Father Christmas. Yes, it’s me! Let me in!”
(Editor’s note: Never be sarcastic with the Almighty. Risky.)
God: “Okay. No problem. I’m actually glad you called. I’ve been looking for you and I—“
Dom: “Looking for me? I’ve been right here the whole time!”
God: “What I meant to say was—“
Dom: “Hey! You wanna let me in or not!?”
God: “Oh, yes. Of course I’ll let you in. All you need to do is—“
Dom: “What!? No, you can’t pull shit like that!!”
God: “Well, if you’ll let me finish—“
Dom: “I come here out of my own benevolence, because it looks like you need company in that glorious kingdom of yours, and you want me to change? What the hell is this about!?”
God: “I love you—“
Dom: “Love me!? If you loved me then you wouldn’t make me change! If you loved me you’d open the damn door right now!”
God: “I can’t do that, Dom.”
Dom: “And why the hell not?”
God: “Because I love you.”
Dom: “AAHRGRGGRHAHRHRHGH!! Has anyone ever told you that you make no sense whatsoever!?!”
God: “I get that from time to time.”
(Psst…how’s it coming with the UFO joke? Get it?)
God must’ve felt He was being drunk dialed, what with all the times I would be on my hands and knees, screaming to Him that I’d never sin again and would, in all my ways, acknowledge Him. I would be awesome and I would be lovely and I would be the best Christian God had ever seen. And I’m sure God, listening politely on the other end, nodded His head and waited for me to finish. When I was done talking, He would whisper.
I would leap back from the phone, in complete shock. I’d stare at the receiver, laying still on the ground, for several minutes. My mind would bounce back and forth between what I knew I should do and what I felt I needed to do to protect myself. After the wrestling, I would hang up the receiver and try to forget I ever bothered to call.
When I found out I couldn’t walk into God’s kingdom on my own terms, I tried to jump the moat. When I splashed into the moat time and time again, I tried to dig a tunnel underneath the moat and underneath the walls. When I couldn’t get the blueprints to God’s kingdom and when I kept banging my head into the walls no matter how deep I dug, I decided to forget the “gaining entry into God’s kingdom” part of the plan and simply dig.
I wasn’t digging a hole to fucking China. I digging to dig and to forget I’d ever heard the name of God and ever felt His love.
It was in that hole I found the iceberg upon which I’d dance and proclaim once more to God, “Let me in!! Look at all that I’m doing for you! Look at how long I’ve practiced and how good I’ve become at dancing! Surely this will get me into your fucking kingdom!!”
God: “Dom, is that you?”
Dom: “No, it’s…(thinks about using the Father Christmas joke again, but decides against it, seeing as how he’s freezing to death on an iceberg and jokes have gotten him nowhere)…yes, yes it’s me.”
God: “What the hell are you doing on an iceberg?”
Dom: “Uh…I…I’m sorry?”
God: “What the hell are you doing on an iceberg? Who said you had to dance on a damn iceberg?”
Dom: “Did you just say ‘damn’—“
God: “I can say whatever I want. I created the giraffe. I created the dung beetle, cicadas and you. I love you.”
If you’ve been reading the other installments, you’ve heard the rest of the conversation. If you haven’t, here’s the gist of it: I threw all the reasons why I shouldn’t be allowed in God’s kingdom straight in His face, and all the man said was “I love you.” He won.
When I was young and in high school, I refused to trust God and tried to make relationships out of thin air. When I was older and in college, I refused to listen to God and tried to make peace out of thin air. When I was a Masochist and a year out of college, I refused to listen to God and tried to make relationships and peace and success and security and joy and love out of thin air.
I felt comfortable calling myself a Christian, when in reality I was some kind of fucking magician, spending day and night conjuring up emotion and fake purpose out of thin air. “Nothing up this sleeve, nothing up the other. But if you look closely, inside is my hat is….TA-DAH!”
Nothing. Still nothing. There’s nothing inside the damn magician’s hat. You may call it peace or fulfillment, but if it’s anything, it’s a bunny rabbit. Not fulfillment.
Digging moats and desperate penguins, icebergs and drunk dials, top hats and not-fulfillment-bunny-rabbits. My shock-and-awful weapons against God in the effort to fight of His grace and calling.
Enveloped by His embrace, tears down my face, I whispered.
“I give up.”
And that’s the last thing I remember before dying.