Dogwood Blue: Am I Going to Hell?
i remember the day i became a christian. i was 13 and i was brushing my teeth. i put down my toothbrush and thought, i accept jesus into my life as my lord and savior. then i went back to brushing my teeth.
a little bit later, while i was dressing, i had another thought. 'wait. what if that wasn't real? what if i just thought that because i know i'm supposed to? how do i know that it took?' so i did it again. and waited. i did it through dinner, before sleep and kept waiting for some kind of sign that, ok you did it, you're saved, you're not going to hell, you won't be left behind during the rapture and you won't have to wear a burning 666 in your forehead. (i was a baptist, you know?)
this went on for weeks, until i was baptized (which was such a frightening thing for me my father had to put me under twice.) then i just relaxed into it for the next few years - until college, when the questions started again. this time i started asking myself, 'dude, what if you only became a christian because you were scared of hell? does that count? isn't that coersive? does coersion negate choice?' and then that got me started in this loop of free will vs. being a puppet, blah blah blah.
then in grad school, i took a break from all that dithering. i could feel my orthodoxy chipping away, chunk by chunk. whoops, there goes not smoking. oops, beer sure is good. whoa, so that's an orgasm. (there was no way i was going to be the oldest virgin in america, no way) then came the period of serious darkness and nihilism in my life when it seemed there was no way of getting back to God.
and then i joined this church here in chicago, after 3 years of skeptically reassessing why i believe what i believe. and this question of being hellbound - i have no idea. wouldn't it be funny, though? wouldn't it be the greatest joke ever?
i asked my dad about it, who told me he's constantly approached by his congregation asking the same thing. 'am i really saved? am i really going to hell? how do i know this is true?' after all this time, we are still searching and afraid and blind. grace is in front of us and we still hesitate to take it.
i wish i could continue like this for a while, but the banana i just ate for breakfast gave me gas, i think. gotta go.