Formulaic

We were both trying so hard to be what everyone, including the Evangelical interpretation of God, expected us to be. She was supposed to be a dutiful, submissive wife. She was supposed to find her deepest joy in our kitchen or folding our laundry. I was supposed to be a providing, dominant husband. My deepest pleasure was supposed to be in our recliner or taking out our trash.

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Tolerant

I don’t remember much of our time together, other than it feeling very cold and sterile in his office. However, he punched through my darkness with one question: “Dallas, do you think Jesus would be surprised if he walked into your bedroom and you were wearing women’s clothing?”

I relaxed internally as it hit me that an Omnipotent God wasn’t shocked or surprised. He knew. I could tell him all about “it” and he would listen because he already knew about “it”.

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Rigid

The start of college continued in much the same vein as high school: wearing stupid Jesus shirts, going to way too many church events, and half-assing my education. I was the best little Republican Fundamentalist Jerry Falwell could’ve ever hoped for. My Jesus wanted tax cuts for the rich, bombs dropped on anyone who fucked with America, and demanded moral purity via legislation.

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Saved

I can’t tell you a single thing he said that night. I just remember that, at the end of the service, they did something called an Altar Call for people to accept Jesus into their hearts. You were supposed to walk up to the front of the church and pray with the people standing up there. I’m sure there were many hugs and proclamations of brotherhood and sisterhood involved. I guess Jesus was there, too, with a box full of knick knacks he was going to put in people’s hearts to add a personal touch to his new living space.

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Nothing

As my eighth punch connected with the football player’s head, a teacher yelled, “Stop fighting!” Being a somewhat-obedient kid, I did what she said. This leads me to a valuable life lesson I learned on that day: Never, EVER, stop swinging until you or the person you are hitting are on the ground.

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Obligation

There isn’t a timeline to my jumbled childhood memories of spirituality. It’s a mosaic of wooden pews, Catholic statues, memorized prayers, Methodist hymnals, and religion classes, so that’s how you’ll have to read it.

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