Justin Trawick was loud in my speakers, threatening to shred the internal wiring of my granny-car's sound system if I turned the nob another fifteen degrees. His rough and spastic voice was telling me stories of an Untitled love that I was becoming increasingly jealous of.
"And I kiss your lips, and those lips taste as good as cherries on a warm Sunday afternoon," he sang. "And I ran my hands down every part of your body and the only way I can describe it is like that of the smooth touch of velvet."
I was singing along, trying to synchronize with his intoxicating voice, when I thought about what my church friends would say if they were in the car with me, or worse, my pastor. This song was erotic compared to songs about green pastures and Jesus, and everyone knows erotic=wrong. Would they blush? Would they think I was perverted, a bad christian? Were these questions the convictions of the Holy Spirit, or was all this all coming from my own self-conscious paranoia of being an inadequate Christian?
About to drown in my own thoughts, I quickly switched to worship music(just to be on the safe side). Not to be outdone by worldly, "eroctic" music, I ignored Justin's threat and turned the volume up.
But turning off Justin didn't turn off my internal conflict. One of the hardest controversial topics I've ever dealt with in my Christian walk is alcohol. Somewhere, somehow, I got the big impression that alcohol was equivalent to drugs. It was something bad people did, and something good Christians never, ever did. A good friend who is much more of a Christian than I ever could be, drinks, and I prejudicely counted that as his imperfect little quirk. He once described drinking like eating cake.
"Cake is good in small amounts. If you handle it right, it won't make you fat. Same thing with alcohol."
Hmm. I do like cake, so this made sense to me. And I do NOT believe in diets. I refuse to deny myself pleasure so I can fit into what society has told me is beautiful. I think this is how my friend sees the issue of alcohol. Our issues are paralell. He's not going to deny himself something he has no problem with just so he can be accepted by fellow Christians. He knows God loves him, with or without alcohol*, and I know God loves me, love-handles and all. When I realized this, I truly began to hate myself for being so misunderstanding and judgemental. I wanted to be like my understanding and merciful savior-and here I was being his opposite.
I had just passed the tollbooth on Highway 183 ,about thirty minutes away from my dad's, when my car started vibrating.
But then I remembered that my care is definitely not cool enough to have speakers that would shake my entire car.
Maybe it's the road. Maybe it has those little ridgy things.
But after about ten seconds of what turned into some nasty vibration, I squished by car up against the slim shoulder. I shimmied out of my car looking something like an awkawrd, brunette Marilyn Monroe (I was wearing a white dress and it was, or course, windy), and saw that I had not a flat tire-but a shredded tire.
Now, I know I said I know nothing about cars, but I do know how to fix a flat. Not saying that I would if I could get someone else to-but hey, I know how. Anyway, I had to whip out the AAA card and get some assistance.
Luckily, I had some very nice police officers escort me across three lanes of traffic and safely into a parking lot. They stayed with me until the Man Who Missed His Beer came.
The Man Who Missed His Beer came in his big AAA truck. His indian skin was covered in grease and his hands were calloused and worked. I was nervous he was going to be perverted or rape me or something. He was from the city, afterall.
But he was nice, and had a busy mouth.
"Man we're so busy today," he would say, flipping my shredded tire over his shoulder. "Twenty fucking calls a minute, too fucking busy."
This was something that I had never, ever seen. Someone cussing while smiling. Another thing I've learned from being around a prominintly baptist family is that cuss words are BAD and UNCOMFORTABLE. Cussing was a thing that uneducated and unchristian scary people did.
But he was smiling, and changing my tire as fluently as I brush my teeth. He seemed articulate.
"Man I miss my beer," he said. There were still little hints of his indian heritage in his voice. "I'm can't wait to go home and get wasted!"
But he didn't sound like an idiot. Intrigued and dead set on not showing my small town colors, I asked him, "Why do you think it helps?"
His hands stopped for a minute, his shoulders relaxed, and his eyes lifted from my tire to the sky in a curious way.
"Well, I don't really know," he said. "You don't think so much when you're drunk. Feels good."
He shrugged, and returned to changing my tire. I laughed nervously at first, hysterically later in my car. I asked him what his favorite drinks were. He listed them off; Smirnoff Ice, Budwiser, Jack Daniels...
When he left, I refrained from hugging him(another small-town Christiany thing to do), and told him thank you.
"Get drunk tonight! Enjoy yourself!" I found myself saying to this stranger who missed his beer.
I don't know why I said it. I don't know why I didn't argue with him and tell him that Jesus was better. I know that neglecting to argue with him was a good idea, but neglecting to mention God was not.
I know that now, but at the moment I was so overwhelmed by this new mentality of the Man Who Missed His Beer that I forgot my own. I wasn't prepared to share the gospel with him, and I can't blame that on being from a small town. Lately I had been so caught up in "What will my church friends think of me?" that I completely forgot that I had a bigger mission. I forgot that there were people who missed their beer.
So now every time I think of beer I smile. Not because I particularly like or dislike beer, but because my beer bubble has been popped, and that makes me happy. My faith is finally becoming less and less of what I've learned from parents and grandparents, and becoming more of my own. I think of beer and alcohol and think of the Man Who Missed His Beer and remember that he was smiling about beer at the same time that God was smiling about him. God doesn't care. He loves the Man Who Missed His beer, and I should've told him that. Next time, I will.
*This is saying that my friend is NOT abusing alcohol. The abuse of alcohol is something God cares about deeply. Not because it goes against one of his "rules", but because he knows it is not beneficial for his creation. God aint a dictator, he's a lover.
"Now take a look inside yourself and realize that we're all the same. We're all trying to make the best of a very bad situation."
-That Old Forgotten Street, Justin Trawick