I have to start by saying that I do believe that some extraordinary events have taken place during my life, some of which will probably have broader implications on the rest of my life, and possibly even my afterlife. However, I cannot choose one as the ultimate life event that contains definite signs. Personally, I think I’m swell (if you weren’t so modest, you’d think you’re pretty awesome too) but in the Puritan tradition of seeking God’s approval, I’ll consider my life as having to be judged by a supremely and infinitely wise higher power. But while in the knee-deep act of doing this, I also realize that if I had to map my life out as a predestined sequence of somewhat mysterious signs or events from God, I may not be as edified by the thought of pure Christianity or as excited to join the heavenly clan as Thomas Shephard in his “Autobiography.” In fact, I’m not sure that God would be trying to convey to me that I’m part of his love bunch- instead, perhaps he would be saying something like, “Stay far far away from the elect. And stop being so arrogant- you’re actually very awkward.”
As a child, I usually thought of myself as the only rational being in my small hometown, and oftentimes envisioned god as a tall white bearded man giving me an encouraging head nod. That persisted until I saw a Morgan Freeman movie. Then it persisted in the same format with the same nondescript head nod but it was Morgan Freeman and not only was god approving but he was also instantly hilarious. I would do all the usual bad kid things, and rarely got caught. When I was caught, my parents usually understood but my mother thought that sending me to my room full of toys was a punishment. I interpreted this as god’s endless grace, but as I look at it from a Puritan perspective, I realize that my grandparents were dropping like flies. By age five, I had none left. Tragic as it was, I interpreted it as natural life processes, but God was moving and I should have heeded his warnings.
Fast forward to high school and I’m Bible Club Leader. In the yearbook picture, I’m awkwardly standing in the back and the high school Music Coordinator is credited as Bible Club Leader. In the middle of the semester, the principal of my school has to ask a youth pastor to stop helping us because he was having an affair with a student’s mother. Who also happened to be married to the principal. People stopped coming after that. I interpreted it as god allowing me to focus on living up my senior year, but I suppose he could have meant it in the same way my mom rolls her eyes at my half-assed attempts to explain algebra to my 12 year old sister.
Then college at the beautiful Charleston Southern University (in the dangerous ghettos of North Charleston). That’s when my sinking suspicions about certainly not being a part of God’s elect were somewhat confirmed. My roommate stole my identity my sophomore year and took out a credit card in my name to pay for her frequent (and lavish) visits to Waffle House. My English professor accused me of using a “way too elevated” vocabulary and suggested that I spend time talking to everyday people as he handed back a B-paper that he admittedly did not read the entirety of. After an altercation with a snarky cafeteria lady, I became extremely paranoid that all the school food tasted a little bit like arsenic, but couldn’t prove anything because it mainly tasted like dog food. Now that I look back on it, if God didn’t get my attention with the dead grandparents, he definitely awakened me to his message on that god blessed campus. I decided to transfer, and those who I know were most certainly some of his elect (the English professor for instance) rejoiced. God made clear his thoughts of me through his peoples’ actions. I think they flew banners and burned me in effigy; however, at the time I interpreted that as somewhat odd and not indicative of predestination.
Once I joined my own kind at the un-godly college, things got much better for me. Though I may not be predestined for the elect, I’m okay with that. After having re-thought all of these somewhat disheartening signs, I’m happy about being with my own kind.
I can even curb my arrogance for a serious moment in order to accept that I’m somewhat awkward, albeit in a very endearing way.