For four years I was an Assemblies of God minister and a monk with the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, founded by singer/songwriter John Michael Talbot. This is an excerpt from my book Taking Off My Comfortable Clothes: Removing Religion to Find Relationship.
When you consider yourself a “cool” Southern California kid, you think you can handle anything that comes your way. Move to Arkansas and join a monastery? No problem. Become the world’s only Assemblies of God monk and try to get the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world to accept you? Piece of cake. Joyfully anticipate taking a three-year vow of poverty, chastity and obedience, and even invite your mom to fly out from California to witness the experience? Right up my alley.
Until I noticed a little bump on my upper lip.
At first, I thought I was having an allergic reaction to something. Even though it was January, my mom was having some trouble breathing and we thought it might be a reaction to all the cedar trees. Yeah, that’s it. The bump on my lip is due to allergies. I took some Benadryl, said a little prayer and tried to ignore it.
But the bump grew larger, and eventually I looked like I got in a fight and came out on the losing end of a right hook. It didn’t go away until I arrived in California a few days later for a vacation. (The community let us go on a vacation two weeks a year to visit family and friends. I considered it time off for good behavior.).
Back to the fat lip. Dr. Mom diagnosed it right off, but I was too cool to admit the truth she already knew: I was nervous about taking the vows. If anybody asked, I told them I was “fine” about taking the vows. But I was denying the fact that I was nervous about the unknown, and the truth has a way of showing itself in ways that we least expect. My spirit knew the truth and my body expressed it. My pride, and my lip, was swollen and when I finally admitted to myself (and my mom) that I was nervous about taking a three-year vow of poverty, chastity and obedience, the fat lip went away.
From this experience, I offer two “take aways” for those of you who need them.
1. Obviously, I wasn’t as cool as I thought I was, but you already figured that out.
2. When you lie to yourself about how you truly feel, neither drugs, prayer nor rebuking the devil will cure what ails you.
You know your right, but somtimes its just as hard to tell ourselves the truth as it is others. But at least you figured it out and did the best thing for you. Somtimes for me just figuring out what direction to go or where God wants me is pretty hard. But I appreciate the little bits of your book that you share it looks like it will be a great read. Candi
Love the picture…I remember those days so well… what a blest time and a great time of growth for us all. Looking forward to your book!
I remember that picture, and your mom, how is she? What you said is so true …… whatever is in the dark, will come out in the light, so why lie and try to hide ………… just a waste of time……
“When you lie to yourself about how you truly feel, neither drugs, prayer nor rebuking the devil will cure what ails you.”
Which is my kids’ way of saying – “heavy, Man”