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RELIGION

It’s 8:30 on a Friday Night. Do You Know Where Your Jesus Freaks Are?

A sad tale of witnessing.

Photo by Diana Vargas on Unsplash

My daughter has just parked the car. We found a great spot next to the cart return at the grocery store. I’ve taught my girls a series of lessons in grocery shopping, and parking location is one of them.

We step out into the cold, damp Virginia night air as a drizzle attempts to permeate our outer layers, chatting about what’s on our shopping list.

I’ve missed mundane tasks like choosing my own groceries.

Although the weather is much different than what I’ve experienced over the past couple of months, I love it. I’ve missed melancholy and rain. It feels like home, and I smile. But my peace is about to be interrupted.

“Hello! How are you?” inquires a young woman in the Kroger parking lot as she approaches us from between two parked cars.

“I’m fine,” I replied annoyingly.

In a split second, I assess the situation at hand. It’s 8:30 at night. In this miserable weather, this poor woman is trolling the parking lot for unsuspecting souls to save, I presume. Clothed modestly in a long skirt, turtleneck, cardigan, and jacket, armed with a stack of pamphlets, I’m certain of the next question she will ask me.

“Are you interested in going to church?” she begins.

“No,” I reply, “I’m an Atheist.”

Boom. Suspicions confirmed.

“Perhaps I could change your mind,” she presses further.

I sigh.

“I was abused by my youth minister. I don’t think so,” I retort.

We quickly scamper toward the main entrance as she exclaims, “I’m so sorry that happened to you.” Me, too, lady. Me, too.

As my daughter and I approach the door, her peer in this witnessing project on this sad, gloomy Friday night begins to dig in with the same questions. We simply ignore her.

Whew.

We reached the relative safety of the hustle and bustle and glaring fluorescent lights of the giant Kroger Marketplace, where my husband was waiting with a cart in hand.

I applauded myself for not being as curt with those young ladies as I may have been in the past.

How ironic that one of my first forays into the real world following rehab for PTSD and cPTSD, with part of my story including religious trauma, was met with an interaction with Christian witnesses.

What kind of church sends young women into parking lots at night in the name of Jesus? They could have been killed if they approached the wrong person. Maybe harm due to witnessing would make them martyrs in the eyes of their church.

I suppose it’s not my business.

It is the business of these church ladies to see the signs in the parking lot declaring that there is to be no soliciting on the property of Kroger. But maybe they don’t see potentially guiding lost souls to religion as soliciting. I wonder if Kroger does.

The thought did cross my mind to tell the staff in the store about these women, but I decided to let it go and not ruin my night, or theirs, over it.

I just feel sorry for them.

Perhaps I could have thought of something more clever to say to these ladies, and maybe I’ll have a speech ready if I reencounter a similar situation, like a quote I just saw on social media that says:

“Religion is for people who are scared to go to hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there.” — Bonnie Raitt

Amen, Bonnie.

As for me, I carried on with my grocery shopping relatively unfazed, and grateful to have something to write about. These are things I could not have said two months ago.

I’ll consider my meager retort and my restraint in not tattling on them a win for me.

___________

Yes, I have been absent from this platform for some time, for which there are many reasons. I will share with you all about my journey soon. But do look for me to resume publishing here.

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Originally published at http://annethevegan.com on December 2, 2023.

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Religion
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