The Plan

When I was little, I would pretend that my first word was “dog” and that “dog,” spelled backwards, was “God,” and therefore I was always meant to be part of a Christian church. My first word was not “dog,” but the strangers in the suits standing at my front door and humoring a 7 year old didn’t seem to mind.  “Is your mom around?” They would ask, and I’d always say “no” and close the door.

Years later, I became pregnant at 17. This lead me back into the arms of those strangers in suits who seemed to know what plan was in store for me. My father was gone, moved to Oregon to start a new life with his 25 year old girlfriend, so I might as well find a new one. Who was this “God” person, anyways? What did his book say, again?

The first Sunday when I attended mass, it was with the family of my baby’s father. They were Hispanic, and so went to the Spanish side of the church to hear their message- that’s when I learned that God was bi-lingual. The community within the English-speaking church was kind, open-hearted, and quickly forgave the engorged stomach that tattled on my having premarital sex. They didn’t know that I’d had sex long before that, and not by choice. They didn’t really need to know that. God knew that, right? Perhaps it was part of this plan.

I really wanted to know what that plan was.

I can’t remember the first message, but I remember the music. A band played, and I could hear everyone singing in unison to songs of praise and forgiveness and love, singing about Jesus’s sacrifice and eventual return. I didn’t know the words, but I sang along with them.  I didn’t know if my voice made it up to God’s ears, but some feeling within the church walls assured me that it was making it to someone’s ears. Someone with a plan, I hoped.

Later, the kind people at the church would turn away from me as soon as I expressed concern over my then husband’s dangerous habits. A child out of wedlock they could forgive, but I’d screwed up the plan by needing more than a husband who couldn’t take care of himself or respect me at the ripe old age of 19. When I moved out and divorced my ex, I stopped attending church.

I really wanted to know what that plan was.

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