I gave most of the 90s to Jesus. When I was yet a minor I allowed Jesus Christ to insert himself into me. If you’ve ever been to a live performance of The Singing Christmas Tree or The Singing Cross at Church on The Hill in Vallejo, CA 1993-1998ish, chances are I was in it. After soccer games I would normally end up staying at a friends house over the weekend and would go to church with their family on Sunday and I was hooked, line and sinker. Yeah, that’s right, D.C. Talk was my first concert. I attended church not once, but twice a week, sometimes more. I craved community and in the church I felt I had found family and friends. Sufficed to say, last year I forgave Jesus Christ and his followers for treating me as a pawn and royally fucking up my knees. I hadn’t thought about those years in many many moons. It appears I had locked them away, hidden in a Drop Dead Fred like jack in the box wrapped tightly and tucked into the deepest recesses of my mind. But it turns out the pain, especially emanating from my right knee for all of my adult life wouldn’t let those holy impressions die. Much of my youthful energy was given to Church on The Hill, I loved singing in Sunday worship, I even got chosen to sing on stage with some of the lead singers a few times.
I loved acting on stage, people would tell me how powerful my performance was and it made me beam. I loved all those folks and would do anything for them. Then one day it finally happened, I was chosen for a lead role in The Singing Cross. Easter had always been one of my favorite holidays and I so loved the spring. Curious what The Singing Cross might entail? Not quite the Peter Frampton comes Monty Pythonesque alive as it may sound, but in reality not too far off. Picture a giant centerpiece cross that could hold twenty to thirty members of the congregation all ready and willing to belt out dramatic ballads dripping with Jesus juice and key solos surrounded by hand painted sets where all the actors would hit their cues. These were full blown productions, lights, cameras, action, props, grips, costumes, makeup, mics up the ying yang, special effects, theatrical sound system the works, all in the hopes to get more hearts for Jesus and more checks written out to Church on the Hill. None of the cast, crew, or choir were monetarily compensated mind you, we all did it for the sake of the cause. Then there was the director, he was on the payroll. He also happened to be the youth pastor. I loved him so. I really got me out of my shell, out of my comfort zone, and out of my skin.
For this particular production there was a stage extension built in front of the cross made of four giant pieces of plywood nailed together, the center was my mark. I played a young girl who went to Sunday school every week but my stage mother did not, she was a non-believer. I had a few great soliloquies, house lights dark and spot lights beaming down on me. Of course inevitably, demons descend from stage left to drag my stage mother to hell for not believing in The J’man and everyone would hold their breath for my big crescendo as I scream, “MOM!!! NOOOOOOO!!!!” I fall to my knees on my mark at center stage. I stay there huddled in a fetal ball as the living singing cross begins one of its many choral processions, then wait for it, wait for it the song slowly fades, there’s a voice from above. I look up to the sound booth with tears streaming from my eyes, then I look to the top of the cross, the choir parts to reveal stairs that lead to Scott Schulmeyer, probably one of the hunkiest bass playing Jesus Christ superstars this side of
the Missisippi. I run up the steps and into his arms, he twirls me around and we disappear into the cotton batting
filled baptismal hot tub in the sky.
One dress rehearsal I was made to fall to my knees more than
thirty times till 1 o’clock in the morning, “Again, Again, AGAIN!” My knees trembled and the
nerves sometimes sent a shot of liquid pain out my right elbow. Being right side dominant, my right knee
took the grunt of it.. My natural instinct to preserve my own body had kicked in and it and was a
bitch to ignore. “AHHGAIN, AGAIN” and then the sound of me yelling,
“MOM, NOOOOO!!!!” finished off with the sound of my body mass hitting the particle board as it shook each time. I remember having to pull up my biker shorts every time I was able to stand back up. It was just me, the director and a couple stage hands left in the church. One of the guys finally told the director to stop, his face looked very concerned as he gazed at my knee. I looked down to see my right knee
had gushed blood down my leg and was soaking my white lace sock. My costume was a little summer dress, but I was not to wear knee pads for that would lose the “realism.” There was no padding or cushion on my mark, just a few nails that had seemed to finally find the flesh of my right knee. I was prayed for and given a flesh colored Johnson & Johnson Band-aid. I don’t know how many performances we did, I honestly don’t even remember how old I was, somewhere between fourteen and sixteen. Record numbers of people came forward at the end of each performance to give their lives to Jesus and tithe their way into his arms.
Nobody had my best interest in mind. Guess I just got extra credit with the lord to cash in someday in the end if that’s what you believe. I for one do not. Just another story of a pawn. I left the church not too long after that. I tried remaining friends with some folks, but they would inevitably pry into why it was that I “walked away from the church” that I was a “vessel of God and he still believes in me even if I no longer have faith in him.” I had played soccer longer than I had loved Jesus, fucking loved that game, but by sophomore year of high school my knees were too damaged to continue playing, I had to quit. Got nothing against the stories of Jesus Christ, he’s a cool dude and great role model, problem is he’s also a great power to hide behind. There were many things in the church I didn’t quite agree with, I just simply grew up, no longer needed an imaginary friend to help me feel joy or relieve my sorrows. It took me years to realize, but even if you think or really really want to believe someone has good intentions, nobody has your best interest in mind, for some of us it’s even the very person whom you were ripped from which can leave you like a gaping wound seeking others to mend. Nobody controls you but yourself, all that free will and godlike universal power is in each of us. The power of freedom is yours, and that’s the damn truth.