Transitions (April 2003)

During the summer of 1994, my family moved from the city of Houston to one of its most tony suburbs, Sugar Land. Though the move was entirely because my father had been appointed as senior pastor at Christ United Methodist Church, it seemed as if this move had been granted by God just for me.

Right up until we got there.

It wasn’t so much that I was unhappy, because I wasn’t. I just knew that I wasn’t going to fit in. For starters, I had just finished two years in a performing arts high school with musicians, dancers, artists, and actors that were among the best in the country. My mentor was an opera singer. It was a culture that few, if any, of the teens at Christ Church had been exposed to.

It was also a different type of church. I don’t really know how to describe it other than to say that it was one of those “yay God!” types… where people are just so happy to be in the service of the Lord and even happier to tell you about the good work that they’re doing at top volume while ignoring all issues of personal space.

In spite of this, though, I really did make the best of it… and I have Mikal Bowman to thank.

One year younger and three inches taller, Mikal was a force to be reckoned with. She had gone to the church long enough to know the ropes, and even had her own personal nickname for it: “Christ United Methodist Country Club.” Within the first couple of weeks, she had lovingly given me a nickname as well: “Ugly.” I wasn’t offended. She only called people that if she really liked them.

Throughout the summer, Mike and I were inseparable… except when she would go and hang out with her friend Meagan Atkinson. I couldn’t help it. I was jealous. I didn’t even know Meagan, but I thought, “Hey! I just moved here. Surely Meagan has more friends than me. Why does she have to do things with MY friend?” Looking back on it, I realize that I was far too trusting. It didn’t occur to me to think it was weird that Mikal never invited me to meet her other friends and include me in the group.

But that is another posting entirely. The highlight of the summer was when Mikal, another friend of ours named Sara, and I all went to Reynosa, Mexico. We were going to teach Bible School.

Yeah. Right.

My Spanish vocabulary was equal to that of your average Mexican first grader. The only thing that got me through the week was knowing that everyone *attending* the Bible School knew it, too, and didn’t harass me about it. In fact, I have now come to believe that however little Spanish I knew was still more than most of the others on the trip… which is how *I* got elected to “give my testimony” at one of the Mexican worship services.

To know how utterly ridiculous this was, you have to realize that although the church I attended was a “Yay, God” sort of place, I am not a “Yay, God” sort of person. For me to get up in front of a group and talk about how God was changing my life was the antithesis, to me, of what Christ taught. You’re not supposed to get up in front of people- you’re just supposed to live by example and leave it at that. However, I reasoned that trying to get out of it would involve more Spanish than getting the damn thing over with, so with fear and trepidation, I walked to the front of the church.

“Dios es llame me… trabajar… con los ninos.”
(God is calls me to work with the children.)

“Yo tengo amor para la iglesia y los ninos.”
(I have love for the church and the children.)

At this point, I knew that I had pretty much run out of things to say… but that had never stopped me before. So I started over.

“Dios es llame me… trabajar… con los ninos.”
(God is calls me to work with the children.)

I looked out over the crowd. Mikal caught my eye. Her look clearly said, “wrap this thing up before you embarrass the crap out of yourself.”

“Dios te bendiga.”
(God bless you.)

I sat down next to my friend. She leaned in close. “That was the worst piece of crap I’ve ever heard in my life.”

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