Friday, January 4, 2013

Falling From Grace

Once upon a time, in a fictional small town somewhere in the Southern portion of the United States, a woman, who we will call Jan, encountered a former old schoolmate with whom she had attended the First Baptist Church. Jan had since moved to another small town in the same portion of the country, so she was delighted to see a familiar face in her old hometown that was steadily filling up with strangers.  Jan’s friend, who we will call Betty, asked Jan if she was still singing in the Baptist Church as she had done for years; or so Betty thought.

It seems that Jan wasn’t entirely comfortable at the Baptist church in her new community, so she tried different denominations and finally found a home at the First United Methodist Church. Well, all good Southern Baptists know that to leave the Baptist church for the Methodist church is nothing short of scandalous. So, as soon as Jan explained about her new denomination, Betty immediately replied, “Oh, you fell from grace!”

Jan and Betty both immediately erupted in laughter. Jan’s ten year old  daughter Yolanda, was standing there witnessing the conversation. Yolanda didn’t understand what “falling from grace” meant, but she was smart enough to know that it meant something bad. And she loved her mama. She didn’t want anybody insulting her. So she made a mean face at Betty. She didn’t laugh or smile and she squinted up her eyes, cut her head to the side and stared hard.

Jan quickly explained to Yolanda that Betty was just teasing and they were joking around, but that did little to appease Yolanda, who squinted even harder at Betty after briefly glancing at Jan. Of course, this only made Jan and Betty laugh harder, which irritated Yolanda even more.

Jan and Betty wrapped up their brief reunion and parted ways, which relieved Yolanda. She didn’t like Betty at all, and didn’t realize it at the time, but would remember this encounter for the rest of her life. To her, it was significant because of the emotions that were stirred in her. And it was a long time before she could allow herself to trust a Baptist again.

Of course, Jan had to tell everyone in the extended family about the encounter, which made everyone laugh, except Yolanda.

The next summer, Yolanda returned to her mom’s hometown to visit her grandparents. She loved coming here, because they always made her feel special. For the week that she was there, she was able to get all of the attention, like an only child. Because there was no one else but her to create commotion, she was subject to more scrutiny that she had at her own home. But feeling special far outdid the price that she would have to pay with exemplary behavior,

She was riding through town with her grandparents in the backseat of their big burgundy Oldsmobile that seemed to never lose that “new car” smell. She loved having the whole backseat to herself. She was quietly enjoying the ride. Her grandparents were talking quietly to themselves, when they just happened to pass the liquor store. Yolanda didn't know it was a liquor store. She barely even knew what liquor was. But she did know just a little bit.

She heard her grandmother exclaim, “Well, there is Bob Johnson, the head of our deacons of the First Baptist Church in line at the liquor store!” (EVERYbody knows that Southern Baptists aren’t supposed to drink.)(Disclaimer: This is a fictional story and is not meant to represent anyone who may be named Bob Johnson, who happens to be the head deacon at a First Baptist Church in any small town in the southeastern portion of the United States. Any similarity in names to any person, living or dead who may be named Bob Johnson, who is the head deacon at a First Baptist Church in any small town in the southeastern portion of the United States, is purely coincidental; especially if the living or dead real Bob Johnson, who is the head deacon at a First Baptist Church in any small town in the southeastern portion of the United States happens to frequent the local liquor store. Thank you)

As soon as her grandmother pointed out that the head deacon at her church was in the line at the liquor store, Yolanda was gripped with a feeling that she had never had before. She didn’t know what to do. She just had to do something! So, before she could stop herself, she exclaimed,
"Oh, well he fell from grace!"

She still didn’t know what it meant, but judging from her grandparent’s laughter, she knew that maybe she had hit the nail right on that Baptist head. And then, she secretly thought, ‘now, take that you Baptists!’

From that point on, in her own little mind, she always felt that she had somehow vindicated her mother.

And they all lived happily ever after.

copyright 2013 by Kathy Robbins

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