A weekly blog hop
where writers come together
to talk about whatever inspires them.
But I do.
In fact, I will never forget.
It was July 11, 1979. I was eleven years old.
Everyone was talking about it in the days leading up, wondering when and where it would land. It was expected to land in the ocean, 800 miles southeast of Cape Town, South Africa. However, it landed near Esperance, Australia – without incidence.
So you may wonder why this event has stuck with me after all these years?
Religion is a topic that can be controversial and even taboo. And it is a topic that is very difficult for me to discuss. Do you know what religiophobia is? It is the fear of religion. Very few people know of my fear, including family outside my immediate family members. I am sharing this story for a couple of reasons: I thought it would be therapeutic, and I hope it’ll help others to understand the reasons behind my fear.
Here is my story. My truth. How I remember it.
I was a good kid, polite and respectful. My parents had been raising us Catholic. We were not religious, by any means. We went to church a couple times a month, but I never really understood any of it. Honestly, I kind of tuned it all out.
I had a neighborhood friend that I played outside with once in a while. She was a year or two older. She didn't go to my school. She went to a Baptist school.
On July 10, 1979, it was a Tuesday, she invited me to spend the night. I had never been in her house before. It was very small, with curtains drawn, and only a couple of table lamps casting shadows on the living room. There were five of us in the room. The father and older sister were sitting on the couch. My friend and I, on the floor. The mother was puttering around the room. I wanted to play a game or watch TV. But they had other plans.
“Jesus is coming,” the mother said.
I stared up at her and said nothing. I didn’t know how to respond to that.
“Jesus is coming tonight,” the father added with excitement.
I looked to my friend and gestured to her that I wanted to go to her room and do something else. My friend didn't move.
Her parents continued, taking turns questioning … preaching … pressuring.
“The Skylab is just a ruse. Jesus is coming to save us, because the world is ending. You want to be saved don’t you?”
Awkwardness turned to fear.
“Have you welcomed Jesus into your heart?”
I didn’t know what that meant.
“You must have welcomed Jesus into your heart?”
I shrugged, timidly.
“You want to go with Jesus don’t you?”
“No, I want to be with my mom,” I answered in a whisper.
“Well she must’ve welcomed Jesus into her heart.” The mother held an open Bible in front of me, pointing to lines on a page. “It’s right here. You must do it!”
“Say the words! Or Jesus won’t take you with him!” the father insisted.
“What if I don’t?” I asked, my voice shaking. They were hovering around me. I felt trapped.
“You’ll be the only one here in the morning. We are all going with him tonight.”
“But … what about my mom? My family?” I asked tears welling in my eyes.
“She would want you to be saved – to go with us tonight. Say it with me now,” her finger moved across the page while she read a passage from the Bible.
They talked about the dead rising from the grave to meet Jesus in the sky, and the living to be raptured. They talked about tribulation, and the second coming. They spoke of millenniums – 1,000 years being equal to a day in Christ’s reign. And at the end of the second day, time will cease and believers will go to heaven. They said this could be my only chance to be saved before the end of the millennium – the year 2000.
I looked at the clock on the wall. It was almost 11 pm. This had been going on for hours. I was tired and scared. Finally, I jumped up from the floor, pushed passed the parents and flew out the front door.
I ran home in the dark, sobbing, afraid that I would be too late – that everyone would be gone. That my mom would be gone.
It was a long time before I could sleep alone, without a firm grip on my mom.
But the affect these people had on me that night will NEVER go away.
At first I blamed them. That family. Their interpretation of the Bible. Their use of scare tactics, especially on a child separated from family. But then I saw that it wasn't just their interpretation, but a whole religion. I was young, I didn't understand that there were all these different religions with different beliefs.
Add to that, countless wars and killings all over the world, all in the name of religion? It just doesn't make sense to me. I'm not saying that I don't believe there is a god. Honestly, I don't know what I believe. I just feel like organized religion can be a scary thing. It endorses herd mentality. Then the herds clash.
Who's to say one herd is better or right?
Why can't we just live life with morals? Be kind to one another.
Everyone wants to be happy, healthy, loved. We want to live, not just survive.
This is the most I've ever shared. I don't want to be controversial or confrontational. That is not me. I am not judging anyone for their beliefs, and I hope that I have not alienated anyone.