Saturday, June 18, 2011

Excerpt from Is Love Wrong?: Chapter 30: Joel

Chapter 30: Joel

Don felt a surge of excitement as he pulled into the Dallas Seminary parking lot. There was almost a giddy feeling that Don received when he hugged the straight guys. He looked forward to Type A taking him into the library where the smell of the books just hovered in his nose making him want to learn. Type A pulled in just as Don put his jeep in park. Don smiled as he glanced at his human rights equal sign—there wouldn’t be any more of those in the parking lot.
Type A smiled his toothy grin and gave Don the nod to follow him into the library. Don felt that he had gotten close to Chris especially after getting to meet Zoe. A beautiful blonde that Chris saturated his love toward. Don had never seen Chris be close to a woman before and was surprised at the amount of tenderness he showed her.
Type A slapped Don’s shoulder and they walked inside the double doors to the Turpin Library. Chris would check out close to 15 commentaries every Monday night on the book of Matthew. Don couldn’t help giggling as he saw “Lurch” the librarian he nicknamed for his vibrant personality and demeanor. Don thought he would be better working at the morgue, but then the library fit too.
Don followed Chris into the stairwell. Type A never took the elevator, which Don didn’t mind, because it gave him an opportunity to peruse the lost and found pile. He always loved to put on the hats and scarves and be silly. There was something exhilarating in being rebellious in the library, but it was innocent enough that Type A could do nothing but roll his eyes.
Don put the “free stuff” back on the table and followed Chris up to the second floor stacks where the commentaries were. It seemed that Chris knew exactly where to go and which commentaries were good and which ones weren’t. Don smiled as Chris handed him a MacArthur commentary and then grimaced as Type A didn’t stop putting books in his arms. Chris grabbed two commentaries and Don carried the rest down the stairwell and then over to the check-out counter.
Don’s smile could not have been any broader or creepier as he watched “Lurch” try as hard as he could to ignore him. Lurched stamped the books methodically and then handed them to Chris without looking who in turn put them in Don’s hands. Don was sure that “Lurch” was not a winner. There wasn’t a strand of fun behind the wire rimmed glasses and the pursed lips that prevented personality from escaping.
“Did he get a lobotomy?” Don asked Chris.
“He can hear you,” Chris said under his breath.
“Can he?” Don whispered back. “I don’t think he can, he is in another dimension.”
Lurch handed the final book to Chris and Chris thanked him graciously and then led Don out of the library.
“You’re ridiculous, Don,” Chris chided.
“What I’m just trying to get him to mumble or speak or show an emotion—what’s wrong with that.”
“It’s never a dull moment with you,” Chris said.
Don smiled at that. He didn’t like dull moments and ever since his encounter with real Christians—there hadn’t been.
“Chris, I really enjoyed meeting Zoe. She is just gorgeous. Probably too pretty for you.”
“Thanks, Don.”
“I can tell that you really love her and are committed to her. You know I may be a gay man, but I do know something about being in relationships if you ever need to talk.”
Chris looked at Don for a moment and then smiled, “Thanks Don.”
Don followed Chris into the President’s room put down the books and then went to see Emily to get some coffee. She was always good about smiling and talking and hadn’t been lobotomized—yet. After grabbing his black coffee he walked back into the President’s room and was greeted by a large man with huge hands. Don gawked at the specimen for a moment and tried to not say anything offensive.
“Hi, I’m Don. Are you a Christian?”
The large man looked down at Don and enveloped Don’s hand in his. He looked him up and down and said, “I’m Joel and yes I am.” His voice was so soft that Don strained to hear it. 
The rest of the men filed in and Chris led the group, but Don fixated on Joel. He noticed that Joel didn’t say much and that he just looked at all the other men with suspicion.
Don was excited to input his observations and interpretations. He had never studied anything so hard in his life. He excitedly looked in his commentaries for answers to his questions and to others questions as the night progressed. So much information.
When prayer requests came, Don reiterated his need for a new place and that his store could move to and that the city would approve their zoning and requests. After adding his prayer request to the excel spreadsheet, Don waited for Joel to speak.
“I’m having a hard time with trusting the church,” Joel started. “I feel dead inside.”
Don’s heart raced. Don felt a deep need to intervene. After the men prayed, Don walked over to Joel.
“Are you a Christian?” Don asked.
“Yes.” Joel replied annoyed.
“If you’re familiar with this Holy Spirit thing, this is it in action. It’s all new and overwhelming to me I don’t even like Christians and now I am one damn—ok, here goes,” Don could feel himself rambling and tried to reel in his talk to make a point. “I can see you’re searching—for what I don’t know or really care, it’s not my business. God has chosen you, you can’t fight him, well you can but it’s a waste of your time and his, he has more time, but you, you’re screwed and your life is ******, and there’s no easy way around this.”
Joel’s mouth opened for a moment, but no words escaped. Don could tell he had never been talked to this way, especially by a man a quarter of his size.
Don continued undeterred. “Once you’re chosen, it’s over man. You have a pathetic choice—believe he’s working in you or just keep going along with your stagnant, superficial life. I’m speaking from very recent experience. I know you have God already working in your life. I know people, you showed up here for a reason.”
Joel’s face tightened and he narrowed his eyes at Don. Don continued with audacity, “Don’t fight it, it’s not a fight you can win, fight something else—but god**** just let God do what he wants to do in your life, it’s ok to let go, just pray. Hell, I even learned to pray, I’m new at this, obviously.”
Joel looked like he might say something, but Don pressed on, “This Holy Spirit is so real. For me to say something like this is—is beyond reality. You’re more advanced spiritually than me, but you’re hurting and I’m sorry for that—it won’t get better if you fight.”
Don became even more animated and now drew attention to himself as he was now flat out preaching to Joel. Chris looked on in horror. “He’s got you! You can run, but you can’t hide!” Don pulled his voice back down and regained composure and then continued. “It’s easy man, just give the **** up and tell God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit you give up. I did and I’m not special in any way. I know I’m abrasive, I know you can tell me to go **** myself. I told the guy that who gave me this same talk. You can hate me, fine, I don’t care. I don’t like seeing a guy with integrity, potential and hell, who knows, maybe a friend, hurting and in agony when it’s not necessary. Hell don’t you get it? He died for you and me and that freaks me out big time and humbles me. I’m so ashamed of my past but when I converted, God deleted it. I see it but he doesn’t.”
Don took a breath and took a step back. Joel kept his poker face which made Don nervous. Don’s eyes sparkled with excitement as he waited for a moment for Joel to say something. It was then that he realized he may be on the brink of a volcanic eruption in this huge quiet man.
“I’m stopping,” Don said. “I don’t want to piss you off. It just seems like someone needs to jump all over your ass, and I have nothing to lose, you have everything to win, come on Joel, take this ride with me, and the other guys. It’s the coolest freakiest ride I’ve ever seen, but the opportunity to honor God is priceless.”
Joel mumbled a couple expletives and then walked past Don toward the door. Don watched him leave and then turned to find Chris already staring at him.
“What?” Don asked. “It worked when you did that to me. I just did what you did to me.”
“Remember Don,” Chris started. “You are rare. I handled you delicately in some ways and tough in others. One size doesn’t fit all in the realm of spirituality. You can’t just rely on how God got your attention to get the attention of others. I do love your heart. We just need to work on execution.”
“****.” Don said and followed Chris out the door.

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