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  • With the way that I talk, you would think that Jon and I had a perfect relationship. We did not. In fact, if you were to have followed us for the first few months of our relationship, I wager you would place your bets that Jon and I wouldn’t make it past the honeymoon stage.

    It was hardly a honeymoon. Our first few months together resembled a bar room brawl. Take, for instance, this one night.

    Jon and I went to a Christian Open Mic night at a local coffee shop. I must have already been in love with Jon at this point because I would not otherwise be caught dead in a Christian Open Mic Night. You see, I was very, very angry with Christians when I first started dating Jon, very angry. I had had some encounters with some of these mega-church Christian types in my native Colorado Springs, home of Ted Haggard, who had permanently left a sour taste in my mouth with their arrogance, ego-driven piety and hypocrisy. The ironic thing was I found myself falling in love with one….not with an arrogant, pious hypocritical Christian, but with a Christian just the same. Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plan. I did and I got Jon, not part of the plan. However, I was in love with him and love makes us do stupid things like go to a Christian Open Mic night at a local coffee shop.

    So, there I was, squirming in my seat while some incorrigibly chipper girl strummed her guitar and sang about her love…FOR JESUS…of all things…oh my god, give me a break, you probably beat your kids…I couldn’t do it…I stood up…acted like I went to the bathroom but instead went to the bar next door, did a shot, smoked a cigarette and did the whole cry to the bartender thing.

    “Oh my god, Christians piss me off and they’re right next door,” I told her throw long drags of my smoke.

    “Tell me about it,” she blew smoke back, “My parents won’t talk to me because they know I’m gay.”

    “That’s what I’m talking about,” I said and then we both looked off, picking at the scars of Christian travesties of past. This is when Jon walked in.

    “What are you doing here? I thought you went to the bathroom.”

    I stubbed out my cigarette. Jon hated the sight.

    “I went to the bathroom here and got stuck. I want to leave.”

    “But my friends are in there.”

    “I want to leave,” I stood firmly but not wanting to let him see that his chipper Christian friends made my skin crawl.

    “You piss me off,” Jon said and headed out of the bar. I didn’t want to follow him, but I did. That damn love thing again.

    “Wait up,” I walked behind him. Instead of walking back to the coffee shop, Jon headed for his 00 Saturn Wagon, unlocked the door and climbed in the driver’s seat.

    “Get in,” he said. I didn’t want to do it, but damn this love stuff. We drove in silence to his house. This is when all hell broke loose.

    He stopped the driveway, turned to me and yelled,

    “YOU HATE CHRISTIANS!!”

    I am many things, but a liar is not one. When I accused, I couldn’t tell a lie.

    “I do…I HATE CHRISTIANS. I have my reasons, Jon,” and then I started into a horrible tale provided by my repertoire of character assignations of Christians I had met in the past. Then, I started in on his ex-wife, who I believed I referred to as Tammy Faye Baker Junior that night, who was a stripper turned minister and who took Jon, a dying man, for everything he had while achieving the title of Christian Woman of the Year by a group from my native Colorado Springs.

    Jon heard none of it.

    “YOU HATE CHRISTIANS!” he yelled again.

    “You’re not listening to me,” I began to talk louder.

    “WHY SHOULD I LISTEN TO YOU?? YOU HATE CHRISTIANS!!” He was now screaming.

    This is when I started to cry.

    “WHY AM I WITH YOU?” I cried, “ WHY I AM WITH YOU?”

    That is when Jon started to cry.

    “WHY AM I WITH YOU?” was his reply.

    We looked at each other; both of us bawling and almost said simultaneously,

    “I DON’T WANT TO BE WITH YOU!”
    Reflecting back, I cannot tell you how that fights ended. However, we were still together the next day and the day after that. The days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months. Sure, the implosions happened every once in awhile, but they grew less intense and the love grew more intense.

    Again, as I reflect back, I am not sure why the fights grew less and the love grew more. However, I do suspect that it had something to do with Jon’s relationship to Christ. He had not arrived at his belief haphazardly. This was a man who had woken to the grim reaper for the past two decades and who had been kicked around by some of the best. I haven’t had to do this, but I suspect this kind of awareness makes one contemplate on spiritual matters much more than I. For him, Jesus wasn’t just a bumper sticker; Jesus was his life; Jesus was in everything he did including in how he loved me which was full on Corinthians:

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    To be honest, I had never been loved like this. Sure, I had loved before…I think, but there had always been some part of the Corinthians verse missing in my previous relationships…something like patience, envy, pride, lack of truth or lack of protection. So, needless to say, I was starving for Jon’s love. I ate it up and his love became part of me. As this love nurtured me, our relationship slowly became a beautiful thing.

    This beautiful thing would serve us well when Jon began to die three years later. You see, if you haven’t been through the dying process with someone, let me forewarn you…it sucks; it sucks on all levels, but don’t shy away from it…go at it face first…trust me…it is the right thing to do. However, there are doctor appointments; paperwork mess-ups; insanely complicated medication schedules; medication refills; emergencies and oh did I mention there is also a person in the process who is losing his/her life? The emotions from everyone especially the dying is on high. So intense were these six months that I started to do something I hadn’t done in nearly two years…smoke.

    I certainly didn’t smoke in front of Jon; he deplored it. He could not understand how a perfectly healthy person would participate in their own demise; he couldn’t understand it; it pissed him off and he had a point. However, I was stressed beyond my capacity and I turned to a security blanket of old...the cigarette.

    One night, there was some medication mix up late at night and I had to drive about 20 minutes to pick some more pills up for Jon. While I drove, I think I smoked cigarette after cigarette. When I got back to Jon’s, I was in such a rush to get him his medication that I forgot to wash my hands and put on some perfume to cover my stink. I leaned over Jon to get him a glass of water and he crinkled his face,

    “Whoa, you stink!”

    I wanted nothing more than to make him happy at this point and I apologized profusely for my stench.

    “ I know…I know…I’m sorry, Jon; I’m just…just…”

    “Stressed out?” he asked.

    “Yes,” I started to cry.

    He took my hand and patted it understandingly.

    “That’s all right, Little Little,” he said softly, “I am just going to keep on loving you.”

    At this, I just started to sob and I laid in the dark while my dying boyfriend held me.

    Jon died in a December. Shortly after his death, I took his ashes to Israel. It was a trip that Jon and I had planned and paid for a month before he started to die. The trip was for him, not for me. He was the one who loved Jesus, not me; however, I loved Jon, so tour of Israel from the Christian perspective it was.

    So, three weeks after his death, I found myself alone with a box of Jon in Israel with 10 other Christians squished on the bus for 10 days…imagine my enthusiasm…10 Christians and me…hand me my iPod and 560 page book on ANYTHING….even ALGREBRA. Yet, there I was, stuck on this bus thinking this was one of Jon’s tricks.

    For the first couple days, I managed to stay clear of these Christians; I kept to myself; I read; I wrote; I was always on the tour guide’s heels to learn but also to keep those Christian people from talking to me.

    A few days into this trip, we came to the Sea of Galilee. To the place called The Church of Loaves and Fishes. Here, there was a modest amphitheater where the guide asked the group to sit down. The guide (who was an Egyptian Muslim who had boned up as well on Christian history), then, began to tell the tale of loaves and fish, which in short is the story of how Jesus took two fish and five loaves of bread and somehow managed to feed five thousand. I had heard this story a time or two and had even talked to Jon about it a time or two; however, on this day, something about that story stirred my heart and tears poured down my face. Took the sunglasses from my head and covered my eyes…don’t let them Christians see you cry…they might do something weird to me…I thought.

    When the guide finished his story, he told us to walk to the sea. So, we followed his lead and walked out to the shores of Galilee. On our way there, there were these stones that were carved into the shape of hearts, hearts like Jon had drew over and over again. You can imagine, what my tears did then…they poured as I looked out at the calm waters of Galilee.

    Later that afternoon, I noticed one of the Christian’s kids was lying with her down on a seat. I hadn’t spoken to this family much on this trip; I had written them off as nosy because their first question to me on the trip was,

    “You came here alone?”

    UGH!! I don’t want to get into it!!

    “Yes. I travel alone often,” was my only reply and then I avoided them.

    However, when I saw their teenage girl with her head on the seat something compelled me to ask if she was okay.

    “Yes,” her mother insisted in a too insistent way, “she is fine; she is tired.”

    Good, I thought, but I could feel another Christian cover up, so I backed away.

    About an hour later, the other was walking next to me on the way back to the bus. She reached out and touched my arm.

    “Can I tell you something?” she whispered.

    “Sure,” I said surprised by her approach.

    “My daughter is not doing very well. Six months ago, her twin sister was killed in a car wreck and that little girl you saw today was the one driving the car; she is 18.”

    My heart went to the bottom of the earth. 18, a dead twin sister, driving the car…JESUS H CHRIST and I thought I had problems. I reached out and touched her arm.

    “I am so, so, so sorry,” I said and we ended up in a hug. The love that I felt for this woman; the overwhelming grief of a mother who had lost her little girl…I just held her.

    I whispered in her ear,

    “My boyfriend died three weeks ago.”

    She, then, held me.

    I have heard that miracles are good things that happen without your permission and I suppose you could say that for me a miracle occurred from the time I first kissed Jon until now and that miracle is this…my skin no longer crawls when I hear the word, Christians; Sure, my skin crawls when I hear tales of hypocrisy or when I get those pious looks from you know who or when an ex-con comes up to me and tells me he is going to save my soul; This still makes me sick and I suppose it always will. Why? Because it is wrong and I believe Jesus would say the same

    . However, what I have come to learn is Christians are merely people like you and me…people who get mad at their spouses; people who get stressed out; people who sometimes steal a smoke; people who watch their loved ones die; they are simply people and they re faulted, so my angst towards them, I see today, is a waste of energy…perhaps, I should take those fingers I have pointed and point them back at me…but this is not my point. The point is Christians have little to do with Christ other than their belief and, I pray, their actions.

    Yet, Christ is another ballgame. Christ is about love, simple as that, and when I doubt that, which I do from time to time, I simply think of Jon and me and I think of our love and when I think of what that love did for Jon and I both…well, I have to admit I believe.

    So, in the end, a miracle has occurred; I can now sit in a Christian Open Mic Night and not seethe. Sure, some of the people aren’t my cup of tea but nor are they in any Goth club or yoga studio…but I can actually sit in places such as these and love…love all of them for what we all share and that is this life and all its tribulations and where there is love, there is grace.

    So, yes, if Jesus is Love; then, I have to say it…I believe.

    Ugh, I swear this is one of Jon’s tricks.
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