Whenever I tell someone about my sudden conversion to Christianity, they very often ask me what my wife thought of the change.
“Hey, man,” I often respond. “It doesn’t matter what my wife thought of it. I’m the king of my castle. If I’d wanted to become an indoor pig farmer, my wife would be fine with that! You understand? What I say goes! Besides, this isn’t about her! This is about me! It’s always about me. Me, me, me!”
And that usually puts the conversation back on track.
Anyway, I became a Sudden Believer at the tail end of a week during which my wife was out of town on a business trip.
That God. He sure knows how to … turn people’s lives into one big sitcom that’s totally missing a laugh track.
At the time of my conversion, I’d been married for sixteen years to Cat (short for “Catherine,” which is short for “Catherine the Great”—but generally she’s cool with friends just calling her “The Great”). Throughout that time—and for a great many years before then—I couldn’t have been any less of a Christian if I had horns sticking out of m head and cloven feet. I simply had no respect for the faith: It seemed like nothing more than a laughably simplistic, fear-based system designed to exploit and (especially!) capitalize on two of people’s most dependable weaknesses: guilt, and the need we all have for Daddy’s unconditional love.
People being “forgiven,” and “saved.” Please. If ever there was a religion for the mentally unchallenged, I figured Christianity was it. And worse, actually: I thought that saying someone was a Christian was about as condemning a thing as you could say about that person—since, to me, that meant that person was guaranteed to be smug, self-righteous, judgmental, and reflexively dismissive of the beliefs of everyone who wasn’t a Christian. (Of course, like all bigots, I somehow managed to disassociate from that malicious stereotyping those Christians who were, in fact, my friends: They, of course, were different.)
And then, via my Sudden Conversion (which I discuss here), I had an entirely different view on the matter.
Then I was one of the people for whom I’d always held such disdain.
Anyway, the man Cat left behind on her business trip that week was the Happy Heathen Husband whom she’d always known and tolerated. The man waiting for her at the airport the night she flew home, however, was … well, holding a Bible, for one.
“Is that a Bible?” she asked, after having jumped in my arms, and hugged and kissed me so much it was all I could do to pretend it embarrassed me.
“Uh, yes,” I said. “It is.” By then we’d started walking toward the baggage claim. She stopped dead in her tracks.
“What?” I said. “What is it?”
She closed the distance between us, and fixed me with her humongous brown eyes that always seem to have behind them energy and love piped in directly from, well, God.
“Something’s going on with you,” she said. “What is it?”
See, this is the problem with marrying a woman with freakish, supernatural intuitive powers. I could be just thinking about, say, arctic seals, and she’d go, “I just got cold. Are you cold?” It’s like living with Cassandra, the Gypsy Empath.
“No, no” I said, trying to sound casual. I didn’t want to tell her at the airport. “Nothing’s wrong. Everything’s good.”
“I didn’t say anything was wrong,” she said. “I said something was going on with you. You seem … different.”
“Well, a week is the longest we’ve ever been apart,” I replied. “I’m surprised you recognize me at all. In fact, when you first came off the plane I saw you heading for that other guy, that cop-looking guy. Oh, sure, he was handsome. If he hadn’t been so groomed, you’d probably be going home with him right now.”
She reached up, and rubbed her fingers in my longish stubble. “I do prefer the furry types,” said.
About halfway through our drive home from the airport, Cat said, “So? When are you going to tell me what’s going on with you?”
“Nothing!” I said, a little too intensely. I didn’t want to tell her while I was driving. “Nothing’s going on with me.”
“You are so lying,” she said.