A Missionary Visited To Ask If I Believed in Jesus Christ So I Asked Her If She Voted For Donald Trump.
I live in a hovel in the middle of a swamp.
Due to the relative isolation, I don’t usually receive guests. I’m not a “crumpets and tea” kind of person anyway. I have a sign on my door that warns:
“If you’re an unexpected visitor I will throw you down my basement stairs.”
That’s an adequate deterrent, I figure, because even I won’t go into my basement alone.
You can imagine my surprise, as I sat along before my computer scrolling innocently through my Social Media for something to be angry about, why I was shocked to hear a knock at my door.
Of course, my first thought was someone had come to kill me. It had to be a burgler. Except, after a brief moment of panic where I just sat frozen to see if they’d knock again, I realized a burgler probably wouldn’t knock. I jumped up, scowling as I do when something inconveniences me, which I have 2 lines between my eyes forming the number 11.
As I walked into the foyer, I saw a older woman shoulder length hair that reminded me of a poodle, if the poodle had used a can of mousse. She had on a blue, ankle length floral print dress with a frilly, lace collar. She was clutching a folder to her chest and staring directly at me through the glass window pane with an equally stern expression- not a smile or a gesture of disarming pleasantry. It as if one of the teachers from Hogwarts had come to collect me for truancy.
I opened the door and inched my way out onto the porch, suffering the anxious feeling that I had done something wrong and she as here to let me know about it.
“Hi.” I said, not particularly sincerely, more of a formality but if we were to measure it on a musical scale, it would read as “What the f*ck are you doing here.”
But, suddenly, the corners of her mouth popped to the sides of her face like they were running away from each other. A sudden smile. She cocked her head to the side and said “I was just in the neighborhood…”
Thoughts are racing through my head. I’m thinking, “Lady, this is a swamp, not a neighborhood. This is wrong turn territory.” I let her continue.
“I just wondered if you had a moment to answer a question.”
My defenses went down. As I figured she was likely lost and feeling the urgency to get out of “The neighborhood” before sundown. We do have mosquitoes the size of pigeons; You tend to be swarmed by them as you’re running from the menagerie of eerie glowing eyes staring at you from the dark woods.
Hey, listen, I’m a cat lady who writes opinions on the internet. I have time to give this lady straight out of Steel Magnolias some directions back to civilization. It will be my good deed for the day. “Sure.” I respond with uncharacteristic kindness as the lines on my forehead soften and I stop squinting.
And then it began.
“What do you think God thinks of people who are seeking him.”
Huh? Unconsciously, I jutted my neck forward with confusion. My eyeballs darted around like they’d been knocked loose from their sockets as my mouth drooped. “I don’t understand the question.”
She lowered the folder she had held to her chest but revealed a Bible conspicuously hidden behind it. I knew what as happening now.
She flopped open the thin pages- I don’t know why bibles are printed on paper no thicker than one ply toilet tissue. Come on churches, you have enough money to spend on quality paper. She had a bookmarked position all ready. I was impressed by her preparedness. By my own nature, I’m disorganized, and if it were me in her low platform shoes, by now I’d have dropped everything twice, stumbled off the porch and swore in fine company, but not her. She was incredibly practiced. She held the book toward me as she read a passage aloud.
To be honest, it was a lovely passage, something to do with anxiety, which I immediately related to. I’m as anxious as a chihuahua on speed. “It’s like you know me.” I said, unable to conceal my awe. It was like that time I saw a psychic who told me I was experiencing personal struggles and I looked at her dead in her one good eye and said “If you google me the first return is struggle.com, honey.”
The missionary with the unfortunate hair permanent seemed satisfied by my reaction and tilted her head gently to one side and said “Do you have Jesus Christ in your life?”
Now, wait a minute. Wait a righteous minute. I’m a trans person who lives on coffee and Xanax. There was a time, honestly, that I was more religiously inclined. I’d stay up until 3 am watching Benny Hinn on the Christian Broadcasting channel wishing that he’s hit me in the face with his magic coat to miraculously cure me of my gender issues and make me like everyone else. He’d ask you to put your hands on the screen of your television and pray with him as he called out random people with random ailments. Bob with diabetes. Mary with the arthritis. Carol with the hare lip. He never got around to me, Pinnochio, who wanted to be a real boy instead of a broken boy who wanted to be a girl. I’d still pray and cry for Bob and co.
I respect those of faith, to be clear. While I stopped identifying as Christian long ago due to the undeniable damage I had seen organized religion incur on good people, I appreciate people who hold and maintain a deep, personal faith. People who use it to abuse others, not so much. I’m also not fond of solicitors- people who show up at my door and ask me inappropriate, invasive questions about my intimate beliefs.
I felt my face twist and one side of my lip curl. As someone who doesn’t want visitors, nor do I make an effort to visit others, I was shocked by the courage- the nerve she possessed to walk up to a strangers door in the middle of nowhere to ask them point-blank questions about their personal life. That’s brave, to be entirely fair, but what motivates that bravery? A sale. She was selling me her belief system.
I repeated her question to her. “Do I believe in Jesus?” I blinked twice.
The ambiguous expression drawn on my face must have left her thinking I was confused instead of surprised by the size of the balls she had just put on display. So, she explained. “Jesus rewards people who seek him. Have you accepted the Lord into your life?”
I crossed my arms and took in a short burst of air. Ugh. I hate confrontation. I hate having my time occupied by uninvited conversations and resented the swell of discomfort that ensued. You see, at my age, I don’t have the tolerance for being made uncomfortable in my own space anymore. Formalities aren’t my thing.
“Did you vote for Donald Trump?” I asked with a conviction equal to her own.
It was her turn to look confused. She slowly closed her book still holding her smile firmly in place because that’s her practice paying off. “Pardon?”
Now, I grinned, tilted my head slightly and folded my hands in front of me. “I just wondered if you had gone to the polls and helped make Donald Trump our President.”
She laughed nervously, “Well, that’s not the conversation I came to have, but maybe another-”
“No, you knocked on my door. You asked me, a complete stranger to you, where I assigned my faith and put it into practice in my life. A conversation works two ways. Simple yes or no.” I tried not to sound aggressive. I wasn’t trying to be rude, it was actually the first question that came to mind rather than an answer to hers.
She took a step backward, her smile was gone. “I did, just as many others did, because I listen for God, and if we listen, we hear him lead us.” She started opening her book again, “I’d like to read you a scripture that discusses The Lord speaking to us if only we open our hearts to him.”
I felt a swell in my chest as I spoke. “I’m a transgender person.” I said. “I come from a family of immigrants. I have two lesbian Mothers who are Witches that took me in because my own turned me away.”
She frowned, “Aww…” she said with pity. I expected her to apologize, as if I’d incurred some hardship that fetched her sympathy.”
I didn’t let her. “People like you voted to make my life hell. You subscribe to a belief system, and it’s not Christianity. It’s elitism. You want a world that reflects your view and accepts only people who share it, thereby placing people like me and those I love in a place where we are vulnerable to losing our human rights; You voted for a man whose absence of conscience subjects me and millions of others to abuse at the hands of those who claim to be Christian… So, be honest, you’re here to ask me to join you in this violent army you’re waging against everyone who doesn’t think like you do.”
She twisted on one foot, “Thank you for your time.” She said, without even a pang of regret. It was like we had just traded recipes. She had no emotional response to speak of.
I walked to the edge of my porch steps… “You’re welcome to stay and give your pitch. I’ll listen- if you’ll explain why everything Christians have done in the name of that book contradicts what it teaches.”
She didn’t take me up on the offer. Instead, she made her way to her beige car in the driveway. I didn’t watch her leave. I turned around and walked back into my house, my heart was thudding like a drum in my chest. I wasn’t angry, but rather exhausted. Part of me wished she had stayed to provide me that elusive clarity on why Christians have become much more known for their racism, alt-right violence and proud bigotry than their penchant for empathy, kindness and generosity.
At least Benny Hinn slapped people with his tailored dinner jacket promising to heal them. Despite being proved a fraud years later, it was back when Christians hid their criminal indiscretions and venomous hatred beneath promises of hope and salvation.
I’m not an atheist, full disclosure. I believe in something greater. The extent and details of that is intended for me, as part of my journey- not to impose it on others. I don’t need my faith in order to be a good person. I don’t need to be blackmailed with threats of eternal agony in a pit of hellfire in order to be cognoscente of how my actions and words effect others. I know the difference between right and wrong in the context of my own behavior instead of reducing it to good and evil while condemning other for believing differently.
It didn’t take courage for that woman to knock on my door. It took a sense of entitlement and a ridiculous expectation that I should listen and consume; That I would enthusiastically join her organization of which I, myself, have been targeted by.
If she learned anything at all from our short chat, it wasn’t due to anything I said… It was only skip to the house in the swamp on her next mission.