The story that I am about to tell is regrettably true.
The details are extremely hazy, but the first part of it that I can remember is that I was playing pin the tail on the donkey. I must have been about 6 or 7 and I was at a birthday party for some kid whose name I can’t even remember now. It was my turn. No one else had even come close, and the poor donkey had tails on his face, legs and back but the rump was completely unoccupied. I distinctly remember laughing to myself. These kids had no idea how smart I was. There was no way I was walking away from this game without taking first place. Some kind unsuspecting mother stepped towards me and placed the blindfold over my eyes.
‘Can you see?’ she asked.
‘No’ I lied. She had no idea. Just as I had figured, there was a small slit between the bottom of the mask and my right cheek. I had a clear line of sight straight out of the bottom of the mask. They spun me around three times and sent me on my way. So far so good.
My only problem was that the donkey was not on the floor at my feet. Somehow, I had to line up the space in the mask to that I could see in front of me. No problem for me though. I had a plan. In order to give the illusion that I had no idea where I was going, I stuck both hands out in front of me and grasped at the air as I inched forward towards the prize. I knew I was going in the right direction because my head was tilted all the way back, masked face looking directly up at the ceiling. It hurt my eyes, but I rolled my eyeballs as far towards the bottom of my eye sockets as possible. The pain was worth it. I could see everything. And nobody had the slightest clue.
‘He can see!’ one of the Mom’s was onto me. Time for damage control. I switched to my sweet angel voice. ‘No I can’t.’ I was positive that with my reassurance, they had given up on the possibility that I was cheating. Three or four of the Mom’s started laughing.
‘Should we stop him?’ cackled one mother to my right. ‘I bet he thinks we don’t know.’ Who where they talking about? Certainly it wasn’t me. There was no way that they could realize what I was actually doing. My acting was flawless. My eyes were covered. They must have been talking about someone else. Maybe, one of the other kids was stealing candy out of the prize bag. Maybe, one of the girls was trying to kiss one of the boys. Whatever it was, it was robbing me of the attention I deserved. How dare they.
Truth be told, I was deluded. And it didn’t matter what anybody said, I was going to believe that I had not been caught. Long story short, I didn’t win the prize. They popped my bubble. Brought me down to earth. And I didn’t like it.
Coming down to earth is not always that easy. And this is especially true about my life as a fundy.
Sure, there were a lot of things along the way that made me wonder if our way was the right way, but they were quickly silenced by my recital of circular reasoning and shoddy logic. No matter what arguments were thrown at me, or what evidence was brought up, or what source was referenced, or what the Bible actually said, nobody was going to pull me away from my position. I had an answer for everything. And it might not have been founded in truth, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from fortifying my position comfortably inside the bubble of the IFB.
And then, it happened. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
I was walking through the mall handing out gospel tracts when I spotted him. He was about 20 yards ahead of me. His mohawk was green and the sides of his head were shaved and tattooed. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing, because he was standing in one spot in the middle of the walkway. I told myself that he was probably high. As I got closer and his extra wide-leg black jeans came into focus so did the chains dangling from his belt. This guy was long gone. Nobody needed Jesus more than he did. As I made the final steps to approach him, I prayed that God would give me wisdom to break through to this guy.
But before I could get the first word out, this heathen reached out and handed me a piece of paper. I looked at it. It was a pamphlet about Christ. I was stunned. I looked up and the tattoos on both sides of his head were one word, Jesus. He looked at me square in the eye and said, ‘Hey man, do you know Jesus?’ His voice was full of genuine concern.
I could only stammer. He continued. ‘Jesus changed my life, man.’ Did this guy really think I needed to hear about Jesus? For one thing, I actually looked like a Christian. I had my khakis on, and my polo shirt was tucked in. This guy had looked like a freak! What right did he have to tell ME about Jesus. I said the only thing that I could think of.
‘You mean, you’re a Christian?’
‘Yeah! Of course!’ I was dumbfounded. The conversation lasted about five minutes. He did most of the talking. The few times that I found my voice, my comments were mostly questions about his appearance. My brain was melting by the time we finished talking and I awkwardly shuffled away. I had never met somebody with so much passion for Christ and so much love for other people. Period. And it bothered me.
It bothered me because I wasn’t like that. It bothered me because for the first time in my life I had come face to face with my legalism in a way that I couldn’t ignore. And it was in those moments that I started to wonder if maybe, just maybe, God could work outside of the small, stifling bubble that I lived in.
And the rest is history.
If you have come out of the IFB, think about that moment, when you first started to question. That point in time where you first mustered up the strength inside of you to cut through the fog of the brainwashing and the guilt and the manipulation and genuinely questioned that the IFB way was the right way. And when you think of that moment, be thankful.