Ever wonder where hell is? Back when I was younger than thirteen, the Baptist preacher (who looked kinda like the devil) always pointed toward the floor. I assumed that he meant under ground even though he never explained that part. He always liked to talk about hell too, that and the devil. Always at the end of all of his services he would have his favorite part.. The alter call. I’ve been in a few different denominational services and without a doubt in my mind… Baptists love this part of the job more than any other.
It is easy to understand too. They use it as a gauge to see how effective their speech was on the congregation. The more “lost or repenting” souls at the alter, the more effective the sermon. Seems kinda childish really. And then comes the control of people’s lives and emotions To not have faith that what you are saying is reaching people…. Faith. Especially when they are the same congregants Sunday in Sunday out.
Later in life by a few years when I started getting confused about God and stuff, I started to think that hell was all around. Kinda the way the preacher, who looked kinda like the devil, said God’s presence was all around… Faith. I found it, by far, much easier to believe that there was hell than a belief in an omnipotent God. It is easy to see that there is torment all around, and everywhere. Not to mention pain, poverty, torment and… Well, you get the picture.
Thanks to the preacher’s doctrine, my confusion and fear grew a lot. I worried night and day about going to hell for any of the many transgressions that I imagined that I had committed. Based on the preachers sermons I didn’t stand a chance for a ticket to heaven. People who have faith that God will provide…. even when he hasn’t yet, have very strong faith.
Fast forward a few more years and I was worried about other people’s souls and the part that I played in their fate. While I was in the Air Force, I met a girl my age whom I was very attracted to and she, to me. But the relationship was not to be because of the distance geographically between us. After my enlistment was up, I returned home. One day I ran into her and found that she was married and had a beautiful baby girl! I was very happy for her. It turned out that I knew him. Sam was a good man and they were happy. We stayed in touch and even did stuff together as a group.
Yes, this is the typical (although not for me at the time) they broke up (I was working out of state at the time) and when I next saw Vickie, she was having a very hard time trying to work and supporting herself and her daughter. I have always helped people who needed it. I bought diapers, food and helped her with some bills. The friendship that had started on my return from the service continued to grow and when they decided to get a divorce, I asked her out. We dated for several months and despite the urge to have sex, I told her that I would wait until their marriage was over. This was a difficult thing to do but something that I knew was right.
We hadgone to an amusement park one weekend. It was a beautiful day! We had so much fun and we’re so happy so at the end of the day we made love for the first and only time. I had never been so happy and it seemed that she felt the same way. I was away for five days after that and when I went back to see her she said that Sam had came by and that he wanted to try to make their marriage work.I was mad but I thought that I understood. I said a tearful goodbye and the last time that I saw her conscious.
Fast forward about two months. I had been in torment. The relationship that we had was a powerful one. I decided to go back and talk with her, to see for myself how things were between them. It was in my mind to try to take her for myself. But when I went to her Grand parents house, where she and the baby were living at the time, her sister came out in tears. I heard her day that Vickie had been hit by a car while crossing the highway near a friend’s home. Worse, she was in a coma in intensive care in a hospital about 50 miles away.
She was hit on Memorial day of 1975. I went daily to see her, to see if there were any signs that she would wake up. She had broken bones that they had to pin she had to have cranial surgery to relieve pressure on her brain. All the while unconscious, she grated her teeth and despite medication her body wreithed almost continuously.
I had gone home for the day when I got the call that she had died. It was the 4 th of July. Sam had already given up and couldn’t go back to see her after the first two weeks. Others had done so too it was a hard thing to see. Even though the doctors hadn’t bells out much hope, I had to stay. I wanted to believe that she would pull through.
After the funeral the depression that I had dealt with for most of my life went into overdrive. I began to believe that because we had “sinned” that it was my fault that she might be in hell. It caused me torment unlike anything that I had ever felt before. I also became just as convinced that I too was hell bound. I’m not sure how long it took for it to relent. Over a year I know. I wandered aimlessly, I was suicidal and at the same time flogged myself mentally for being so. The effects took control over my social life and I didn’t allow anyone close to me for a few years.
So,now. Hell is as close as it can be. According to preacher boy, and by my understanding there will be no redemption. I have listened to the denial insisted on by others but I know this to be true. What to do then? Cling to a religion that I’m sure will end in the “burning lake of fire” or believe in nothing and take my chances… Hmmmm, one or the other, this one or that… I don’t know, the guilt and confusion suffered for so many years should be enough, really. But not by the RULES. I guess time will tell. Funny, ironically of course, I’d that if at the end there really isn’t anything and all of this was for naught.