Jackie's evolution and why she believes what she does today.
|Almost home. Jackie ran down her mental checklist of things she had to do when she got home to their small duplex apartment. Two year old Kyle should be in his Scooby Doo pajamas. The kid dressed for bed, would lightened the load.
Husband Randy may have started dinner, but there was no expectation. Her job at the bookstore was fun, so Randy did not think of it as real work. Nineteen years old, she had plenty of energy, but sometimes felt thirty. She had several hours of responsibilities ahead.
The rainy night kept her on her guard. The rules of the road learned in driver's education three years earlier were still fresh. Jackie kept her foot strong on the brake pedal, and her wheels facing forward.
The long line of headlights reflected up from the dark shining road. It looked like caterpillars pulling cars behind them. Pasadena California's Hill Boulevard was busy. There was no break in the traffic.
The left turn blinker of her 1964 Chevelle tick-tocked and blink-blonked. Jackie reached her toned, thin arm to turn up, "The Dark Side of the Moon" on the radio. It was her favorite. It muffled the irritating rhythm. Hand back on the wheel. She waited.
Without warning or screech of brakes, there was an explosion. Jackie's car rocketed forward. She held onto the steering wheel so hard and pushed back on impact. It broke the bucket seat. She did not hit the windshield. The car went 75 feet. She thought, "This is It."
There was no escaping the drunk, rich lady as she hauled ass up Hill Blvd. The three year old 1976 Mercedes Benz was powerful against the rear end of the 1964 classic hot rod in her path.
After the crash there was silence. No music. Just rain. Jackie was not sure if she was dead or alive. She had never been in a car accident before. The crash stunned her.
Out of nowhere, a stranger ran up to her window, and a lady asked; “Are you all right?”
Jackie whispered that she thought so.
Then, in the background she could hear screaming. It came from the darkness behind her. At first Jackie thought the person who hit her screamed in agony. “Did you see what she did? She stopped right in front of me without signaling!” The voice screamed that she was going to sue..
The woman at her window demanded, “Accept Jesus as your personal savior." She dropped pamphlets of salvation through the partly open car window, onto Jackie’s lap. In another circumstance Jackie would debate about what that meant.
Right then, defeated, she dropped her shoulders. “Okay, I accept Jesus as my personal savior.” The lady smiled, congratulated her and was gone.
Jackie thought the proselytizer was back. Instead Randy was next to the window. She did not understand how he was there at the wreck. He said,“I heard the crash, and knew you should be about home. You are never late. I had the worse feeling it was you.” It was an unusual show of support from him.
The California Highway patrol showed up next. Three cars and one motorcycle. There were officers dealing with Mrs. Mercedes.
The first officer to her window kept asking how she was doing, and did she need an ambulance? Several officers and an ambulance driver kept asking if she hit her head on the windshield. Was she bleeding?
“No," she felt like she was okay. "No ambulance please.”
Jackie kept trying to tell the cops her license number, she could not find her purse. The motorcycle CHP stopped her worry. “Jackie, the lady who hit you is so drunk she can't even stand up. This is her fifth drunk driving accident. The last one resulted in a fatality.”
Her husband Randy was a mechanic. He got his boss out of bed for the accident. They got Jackie’s car hooked up to a wrecker. When they did, her blinker was still on. The officer pointed "we know she is lying. It doesn't matter if you don't even have a license. She rear ended you, she is 100% at fault. You have nothing to worry about.
Hours later, Jackie got home to her son. Her sister in law was there, she helped them out when Randy went to check on her, and then get the car towed.
The next morning Jackie was sore and stiff. Randy got an attorney who sent them to physical therapist. She learned that her hips, back and neck got knocked out of place. There was going to be months of physical therapy.
On the first day of physical therapy, she noticed an old Gideon’s Bible in the waiting room. Remembering her promise to the lady and Jesus, she picked it up and started reading. She wanted to hold up her end of the bargain. She wanted truth, not just what man had to say.
At the end of her first Physical Therapy session, she asked if she could take the Bible home with her. The doctor said yes, that was why the Gideons left them in places like doctor's offices and hotels.
Randy’s parents lived in the Ozarks of Arkansas. When they found out about the accident they said it was God. They bragged about how they had been praying and fasting for them.
Randy rejected their fundamental Pentecostalism. Jackie grew up as a Presbyterian. When she turned into a teen, did not have much use for the ceremony.
Randy did not know why Jackie was starting to read the Bible all the time. She wanted to go to different churches to try them out. He experienced abuses at the hands of his religious mother and stepfather. Jackie's changes made him shy away from her. The harder Jackie sought “the truth,” the farther apart she and Randy became.
Months of therapy went by; Randy and the lawyer hoped for a big pay day. Jackie did not care about getting rich over the accident. She felt lucky to be alive. It was some kind of miracle that she did not go through the windshield.
Six months in, their lawyer died. Randy got paid for the car, and Jackie’s medical expenses got covered. Jackie lost her job at the bookstore, and had a little reimbursement.
They took what money they had and decided to move closer to his family without being too close.
They chose to move to Fayetteville, Arkansas. There was work, and both of them could attend college. It seemed like a place where they could prosper. Randy could visit his siblings at a safe distance of a couple of hundred miles from his holiness parents.
His parents and their church said they were praying for their son’s salvation. In reality, they were casting spells. They sent evil and disharmony into their young family.
They were practicing witchcraft in the Name of Jesus.
Randy's parents prayed for televisions to blow up, they did. Cars to break down, they did. Lose jobs, it happened. The harm they caused in the name of religion was epic. It got to the point where Randy could no longer support the family. He took Jackie and Kyle to the home of his parents, and went back to California.
Jackie dropped into a Southern Pentecostal lake of fundamental religion. The Smiths lived deep in the woods. It was seven miles to the nearest highway, and then another twenty five miles to town. Jackie knew she could never beat them, and had no money or transportation of her own. An orphan, there was no one to call for rescue.
She wanted to fit in and went to their church.
The night she got baptized she felt something she never knew before. Maybe love. She danced in the baptismal tank for four hours speaking in tongues. She cried her heart out. Arms raised and dripping water in surrender.
The church people said that little tongues of fire that danced over her head that night. Like in the New Testament. They figured she must have been evil, and they had won a disciple from Satan's clutches. Her conversion caused a two week revival.
Jackie took it all in. She realized some gifts of the spirit. She prayed and fasted all they time so she could become as close to Jesus as she possible.
She read the Bible so much it was falling apart. She tried to live perfect, and believed every word in it. She was effective in prayer and healing by laying on of hands. Most of the congregation still acted suspicious of her. She never realized they did not believe like she did.
It took ten years for Jackie to start thinking for herself again. Things did not add up. There were different sets of rules and guidelines for different people. She got a revelation about these Pentecostals. They controlled people by their need of acceptance. They played on emotions and fear.
Jackie was a smart person, but the religious ones knew preacher speak and had her in their control for many years. She tried to escape when Kyle got older. They moved to Mississippi.
She had church friends there who she thought were kind and understood her. They welcomed her into group that was more of a cult than her previous church.
She and Kyle lived on a compound on "The Lord’s Hill". They got free rent, and could work there for the church, in obedience to The Lord. It was like being in prison. She was there for a few months when one day, Jackie was making cookies for her and Kyle. She heard an audible voice say, “Run, Go, Get Out Now.”
She did not know where the voice came from, but she grabbed a few handfuls of clothes, and Kyle. They jumped in her old car and hit the road. Jackie had no money. Nothing but a few possessions. The car kept going until she stopped in front of an employment agency.
She went in to sign up for work and got a job that day. The lady at the employment office was empathetic. She survived a similar experience. She took Jackie and Kyle into her home until they could get on their feet.
Over the years Jackie searched for a real relationship to God. It is much different than the fundamental holiness congregation teaches.
The closest thing that she found to what she thinks now is as a Universal Unitarian. Kyle wanted to get married, and refused to visit any church. He wanted it to be special and asked Jackie if she would get ordained to marry he and his wife.
Jackie became ordained as an Unitarian Minister. She offers free ceremonies to those in need.
Jackie thinks a person defined by religion only, has given control of their mind to someone else. Jackie believes it is disrespectful to the Creator when she does not think for herself.
Meditation. It has been thirty six years, and it still moves her. She hits the remote to the Blu-Ray. The melody comes soaring into her soul. Her favorite lines come; "Breathe, breathe in the air. Don't be afraid to care..." Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon.