Jeez. I mean, Jesus
Last Monday night, I was watching TV.
The nice man with the fake hair and the Bible told me that whenever I'm feeling despondent, lonely, and hoping to get in touch with my faith, I could pick up the phone and call the 24 Hour Toll-Free Prayer Line.
At that point, I realized that I had been watching the nice man with the fake hair and the Bible long enough to realize that I was now feeling despondent, lonely and hoping to get in touch with my faith. So I called.
I'll spare you the Psalm 16 references. The occasional Hail Mary's. And the suggestion that I attend Bible Study Camp in the Poconos in July. For everything else, you're on your own.
But enough of my talking. Read, for chrissake.
And this time I really mean…for chrissake.
OPERATOR: Hi, thank you for calling the Toll Free Prayer Line. May I have your name and state that you're calling from, please?
ME: Hi. My name is Lane. I'm calling from Ohio.
OPERATOR: How may I pray with you today, Lane?
ME: Well, the thing is, I just…I don't know. I just feel like my life is out of control right now and I'm not really sure where to turn or who to talk to.
OPERATOR: Lane, we're here to comfort and console believers such as yourself. We want to connect with you spiritually and personally to help you get through this time of crisis in your life.
ME: That's great. I really feel that I need to connect with someone on a spiritual and personal level right now. What's your name?
OPERATOR: We're not allowed to give out our names, Lane. But I still want you to know that I can still connect with you personally through our common love and belief of Jesus Christ.
OPERATOR: Are you a Christian, Lane? Have you given your life to Jesus Christ?
ME: Well, see, the thing is, I'm…uh…Jewish. But I can't seem to find any Jewish prayer lines. At least none that are toll free. Figures, huh?
OPERATOR: Excuse me?
ME: Listen, even though I'm not really into the whole Son of God thing, is it still OK that I talk to you?
OPERATOR: I understand what you're saying, Lane. And rest assured, no one is here to judge you.
ME: Other than Jesus.
OPERATOR: Jesus doesn't judge, Lane. Jesus loves.
ME: You're not going to tell my family or anything that I called, are you? They'd like, totally freak out.
OPERATOR: I don't even have your address, Lane. I'm only here to pray with you.
ME: Thank God.
OPERATOR: And Jesus.
OPERATOR: So you said that you feel that your life is out of control.
OPERATOR: Do you find that it's out of control spiritually? Or physically?
OPERATOR: When was the last time you were in Church, Lane?
ME: You mean temple?
ME: It's been a little while now.
OPERATOR: About how long?
ME: I don't really know.
OPERATOR: A few weeks? A couple of months?
ME: Not sure.
ME: Twelve years, four months, two days.
OPERATOR: That long?
ME: I think about going a lot, though.
OPERATOR: It's time for you to rediscover God, Lane.
ME: I'm glad you said that. I know this is going to sound weird, but a man came to our house to fix our dishwasher last week. I know I said I don't believe, but I'm telling you, this guy looked like he could've been Jesus! It was creepy. He had the beard and the long hair. I mean, he was fatter than I imagined Jesus would be, and he smelled like Canadian bacon, but -- pardon the expression -- Jesus, I almost thought it was him. Does that happen a lot?
OPERATOR: Jesus arrives in people's lives in mysterious ways.
ME: I know. He was in a blue truck with a big wrench on the top of it.
OPERATOR: How can I pray for you today, Lane?
ME: Well, it's just that there've been a series of events lately that have really forced me to re-evaluate where my life is heading and…I'm not really comfortable talking about them with my wife. Or my co-workers. Or my family. Or my girlfriend. Or anyone other than a stranger, to be honest with you.
OPERATOR: I'm here to help you pray on a personal level, Lane.
ME: Even though you can't tell me your name.
OPERATOR: Tell me about your life, Lane.
ME: The thing is, I don't think I've been a very good father lately. I don't know whether it's the stress of my job or life in general, but I just haven't been proud of the example I've set recently.
OPERATOR: For instance.
ME: Well, the other day my son didn't brush his teeth when I asked him to. And I kinda lost it.
OPERATOR: Did you abuse him?
ME: No, no, no. Nothing that bad. I just called him a stupid idiotic moron worthless piece of crap brat. Then I raised my hand like I was going to hit him. But I just pounded the wall like I always do.
OPERATOR: And then what happened?
ME: He brushed his teeth, that's what happened! I did feel badly afterwards, though. And that hole in the wall keeps getting bigger. Is there a Psalm or a verse or something that I could say that would make me feel better?
OPERATOR: The Bible doesn't have specific prayers for specific situations, Lane. The Bible and prayer are about speaking to Jesus and asking for his help in making it through difficult times in life. Would you like me to pray for you, Lane?
ME: Well, um…I've kinda got some other things, too.
OPERATOR: What else is going on in your life, Lane?
ME: I think I'm obsessed with Britney Spears.
ME: Britney Spears. The singer.
OPERATOR: I'm sorry. I'm not familiar with her. Does she sing religious music?
ME: Um, not exactly. She's sings popular songs that teenage girls like. And me.
OPERATOR: I see.
ME: Yeah, well did I mention that she's kinda smoking hot, too? Anyway, the thing is, I…I don't know. I guess I spend a lot of time thinking about her. Have you ever been obsessed with anything?
OPERATOR: My love of Jesus guides my life.
ME: Right. Well, it's kinda like that. But yours is more of a spiritual thing. Mine's more of a short sequined dress over-her-head kind of thing. But it's the same, though. I guess.
OPERATOR: Is there more, Lane?
ME: I…um…I don't really know how to say this, but I…I…I called my wife Britney the other day at a really bad time. If you know what I mean.
OPERATOR: I'm not sure I know what you mean.
ME: I mean I called my wife Britney at a REALLY BAD TIME.
OPERATOR: I'm still not sure I underst…oh.
ME: Exactly. So now my wife won't talk to me. And I don't know how to make it up to her. Which means my home life is for crap. And to top it off, things at the office aren't much better.
OPERATOR: Has something made work difficult for you too, Lane?
ME: Well last Tuesday, I messed up a project and my boss spit in my face.
OPERATOR: God forgives all for their sins.
ME: Man, I hope so. Because when she walked out of my office, all I was hoping was that something really terrible would happen to her -- like a ceiling beam would collapse on her head and crush her cerebrum. Then I was praying that she'd die right in front of my eyes. As long as it was painful and bloody, I didn't really care. I don't know. Is it bad to think things like that?
OPERATOR: God forgives all for their sins.
ME: I also spit in her coffee the next morning when she wasn't looking. The bitch.
OPERATOR: Lane, God teaches us to love our enemies.
ME: I'm sorry for swearing.
OPERATOR: It's OK, Lane. Jesus teaches us that to correct our faults, we must first understand them.
ME: Oh believe me, I understand what her faults are. She's a bitch.
OPERATOR: Would you like me to pray for you, Lane?
ME: Yes I would. But there is this one more thing.
OPERATOR: I'm listening through the ears of Jesus Christ.
ME: Well, where I live, there's a statue of the founding father of our city Harold "Ballbuster" Henson III, right in the center of town square. Last weekend at about two in the morning, my wife and I were driving home from the bar after we had had a way too much to drink. I know, I know. It's bad to mix alcohol and drugs, but y'know, we all have our own way to blow off steam. Anyway, while we were driving home, we decided to pull over by the statue. I got out of the car and I wrote all over the statue in magic marker, "Harold Henson Blew Dead Monkeys." Then my wife took off her clothes and jumped on the statue and acted like she was y'know…y'knowing Harold Henson. I took some Polaroids, too. It was really funny. But when we woke up the next morning, jeez, we felt terrible about the whole thing. Plus, the kids saw the pictures.
OPERATOR: It sounds to me like you need to accept the Lord as your savior, Lane.
ME: Okeydokey, my captain.
OPERATOR: Lane, I'm going to pray for you. And I want you to repeat after me.
ME: Lane, I'm going to pray for you. And I want you to repeat after me.
OPERATOR: Not yet.
ME: Am I that bad?
OPERATOR: No, say "Jesus."
OPERATOR: Jesus, I ask you to forgive me for my sins.
ME: What did you do wrong?
OPERATOR: This is you talking.
ME: This is you talking.
OPERATOR: I ask you to come into my life.
ME: I ask you to come into my life.
OPERATOR: And forgive me for every fault and failure.
ME: And forgive me for every fault and fai…every fault? Really? Is this realistic? I mean, I've got a lot of faults.
OPERATOR: There is nothing if not through the eyes of Jesus.
ME: I don't know what that means. But I'm thinking it means I should say "every fault."
ME: Every fault.
OPERATOR: And I want your peace to be in my heart. Amen.
ME: That's it? I'm OK now?
OPERATOR: Tell me, Lane. How do you feel?
ME: Usually with my hands. Why?
ME: Are you crying?
OPERATOR: Yes, I am. I love Jesus.
ME: Right. Hey…um, listen. Thanks. I think you've helped me quite a bit.
OPERATOR: Bless you, Lane. Jesus blesses you.
ME: Right-o. Thanks again.
OPERATOR: Lane, if you're ever in a dark moment where you feel that there's no place else to turn, I encourage you to call again. So we can pray together in the name of the father, the son and the holy ghost.
ME: If I call, can I talk to you?
OPERATOR: Of course.
ME: But if I don't know your name, how will I find you?
OPERATOR: Jesus will show you the way.
ME: Cool. Hey, listen. I know we've gone through a lot here, but would it be possible for me to get one more quick prayer in before poker tomorrow night?