I don't know about you, but for me, I'm usually not much interested in "testimonials". In our strange-pants little world down here, these tend to morph into a type of info-mercial. Okay Mack, so what are you selling me? Our, or we "Amuricans" at minimum, format our reality as a type of advertising. G.K. pretty much nailed it about a century ago. It was to the effect, at least: "You Americans are surrounded by product claim after product claim. Each trumpets itself as "the best, or brightest, and fastest. How could they all be correct? What, after all is the other option available?". And he meant (think I) thereby, "Who would bother to say; 'Frankly, our stuff is kinda third rate, but we were hoping for some sales anyhow, since we gotta pay the rent and stuff'...". It's kinda funny-sad, that such guck formats as our sad stupid American "normal".
So then, the verb, to "testify-to", is usually formatted as a "hook" of some sort. The seller hopes that you "bite on" the claims, so to "try out" the given product. E.Z. credit,... 90 days, same as cash! Ergo, this proposes thus, a grasp of human motivation such that fishing with hook and "bait" is all the fishing there be! Ah, but what then of nets my friend?
Over in the Christian ghetto, we too (I fear) have been all too frequently captivated by this blather. Glibly, we speak of "my testimony", to refer to the blow-by-blow story of just how it was that I "found the Lord", so to end up in the "royal barrio"? Swell. And let's just face it here, not to put too fine a point on it; most of those testimonies are some serious snoozers. There are, after all some sound reasons as to why the believer's drug of choice, is lots and lots of black coffee! Trust me on this, you'll want some "help" to sit through much of this material. So, I normally hesitate to mumble through mine, because my goal here is to cause you to have the "want to" to continue scanning my junk!
Oh sure, every once in a Blue Moon, you might hear some cat kinda going like this: "So anyhows, I was hooked on crack by third grade, and became a regional dealer by 7th grade. Later, I was kicked out of the Marine Corps for "being overtly hostile". I joined the Mafia next, and those guys set me up, because they considered me to be "mean". So then, later on a federal super-max prison, I was formally refused membership in the Hell's Angels, because they deemed me "excessively violent, and otherwise anti-social". Okay, so maybe those those guys can be rather compelling speakers? And sure, that part about Jesus manifesting in Person, all aglow and fiery-like just as the dude was in the process of committing suicide, certainly grabbed me! Offhand, I'd say that those guys are the exception to the rule? Other than them then, unnatural doses of caffeine, plus an overdose of doughnuts; I'd recommend for your little outing, listening to Christians "witnessing".
My testimony then? Like me in person, tends to wax (way, way) overly wordy, and smacks of a difficult to follow "logic"...just like me! It appears (I fear) to many as "convoluted, or abstruse,... downright cryptic maybe"? I'll try then, in this; to be clear. If you dislike this sort of thing, these "testimonies" I mean, then just move on, it only goes downhill from here!
For me, this weird journey began, as far as I can tell, in the Air Force. It was the winter of '77, and very likely the abjectly worst Christmas of my life. I was nineteen, a one-striper newbie, on my first real experience outside the home. And brother, that season bit the Atomic Tamale... bad! It was awful. Fairbanks Ak. ain't exactly a garden spot (in the dead of winter), for starters. Four or five hours of daylight? A "high" for the day of minus 38? Lovely! To make a bad world worse, I promptly started in with the dopers. Reefer, is (essentially) a green "stupid pill", the fountain of which I in those days drank deeply. A guy would look at a clock after a "hard night of partying" (yawn) and it reads 5:00? Looking out the window is no help! A.M. or P.M. please? And, in just looking out the window, you can't tell! "Deeply disorienting, at minimum", I should say. And just for grins, add into the mix, a mildly psychotic supervisor who would set work schedules such as; two mids, a day off, three swings, followed by three days off, and then four day shifts? Swell, just swell. It got so bad for awhile there (that dark year-end), that I could no longer accurately predict upon awakening, whether it was morning or evening, nor whether I was on shift that day...much less; the day of the week we refer to? "Pointless stupidity", would be a charitable estimate here, I'd guess.
But don't get me wrong, to be single, alone, and weird is bad enough. The real problem was Christmas. If you are a fundamentally anti-social person (like some we could think of), single (not too awfully interested in fems anyhow), and also cut off from family, the blasted holiday is the absolute worst! Trust me on this. "Jingle Bells" becomes charming music to blow one's brains out by...
Did I mention the downside yet? I wanted to whack myself... pretty bad. Suicide, very much appeared to be my only "working option" in those days. I hated God's guts, despised human kind, and wasn't too damned fond of the monster I'd become either. What's the point of going on anyhow? Why bother? Best as I could tell, the "standard was perfection"? Yelling at God, "Hey Pal (Mister Pal, to you, gringo), I'll just be upfront here, I neither want, nor am able to even point myself in the 'right direction', if that "standard" actually is the case". Everything I did (or didn't!) was just more evidence against me? Swell. Just swell. My attitude was; "Hey Mr. Almighty dude, I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't; why don't You just go nag some other gringo, far from here, okay? You're looking for "righteous people" or something ...right? I tell You, You've got the wrong white man, I ain't your type. So back off already". Today, I'm glad, that in serial fashion He steadily declined my offer for Him to "bug the hell off, already!".
I hated the church, a committee of nice guys ruled by this rather enormous Nice Guy upstairs? Thanks, but no thanks. Any "witnessing" I might have been subjected to in those days, I mocked as "shallow', as fundamentally irrelevant. Jesus loves me; say you? Uh, so what's wrong with Jesus anyhow? How come He can't recognize a loser on sight? He needs glasses? Gosh, a guy might think that the Most High would have some type of insight (or something!) on human-kind or some such? Hmm, weird. I guess I'm surrounded by lunatics? And just to spice things up a bit, He could hear me and ignore me all at once? Things were kinda like that, except not so cheery and chipper as all that...
I never volunteered to be Christian. What a terrible idea! No sir, I was dragooned, drafted you might say, compelled! So, was He "saying then": "Go ahead shortie, kick and scream as much as you'd care to. Dig in your heels, get some traction already Bub, and fight me!"? He seemed to be good-naturedly mocking my protests, except in those days I was incapable of recognizing "good nature". I thought He was some type of Weirdo? Maybe the Guy who loves bullying skinny underweight geek types? You know the type... I thought He was one too? Well no, not precisely, let's just say, that I was profoundly hopeless about things, while remaining wildly confused, it was both. I didn't "find the Lord", I was far too busy fending Him off! Rather, He smoked me out of my nasty little hidey-hole! He found me. Deal with it. Believe me here; I kept telling Him that I was "a bad bet", "Hey Man, You got the wrong gringo!". He studiously ignored such "good sense", and today, I thank Him for it! "The Cat doesn't even know what's good for Him? How sad is that?", thought the young me. He won't listen to sense! And I wondered, how could things have ever gotten driven that far off the rails? A nitwit "amateur god", who specializes in nice-guyism, thinking I'm one of His? I tried (repeatedly) to point Him in the right direction, to go roust out some "saints" somewheres' else...
I won't murder your patience much further here, so in brief; I'd cut myself from God (on purpose!), from the Bible (stories of a gang of dead Jews?), from man, and finally (somehow) divorced myself...from me? I killed my heart. On purpose, I murdered the bastard, in a desperate gambit, to quit feeling, to quit hurting. It was crap, but that misery was the best I could do. Honestly! He came to find me through a series of disturbing and vivid dreams which I shall proceed to kindly "forget to" rehearse for you just now. The worst of that lousy batch of nightmares, was on a night somewhen between Christmas and New Year's of late '77. I awoke terrified, calling with my mouth for HELP! For reasons best known to Him, He heard!
It felt like a body blow. the solar plexus was center of the strike. Is there some big "valve" in there that the King (alone!) is free to grab hold of, and twist? Was that it? I tell ya, "Some Body" just now reached into my chest? "Good God, I'm losing my mind!", was my thought in that hour. But notice with me friend, the terror of that grim hour also fled with that "valve rotation".
That's how it all began, and I've never been really "the same" as the old-me; since that horrid night? Don't get me wrong, I was still a knuckle head, and a louse, but there was some new thing mixed in now. The aroma of life, was it? Or how's about the flicker of a hope, I'm not the one generating over here, perhaps? Hey, you tell me! I didn't sign up for this believer gig, but was hauled Masterfully in, in His grand-glorious net, I tell you, He compelled me in! And before I go, just let me say; this "trust Me" gig (of His) is only just now getting really interesting! Are we talking some kind of rocket fuel over here or something? Dude, He's scary-good! Becky Pippert once said something like: "I never knew! I just never knew how real it all could be!"
Amen Sister, amen. Rock on.