When I was Saved

By Maddie


I spent a week at Bible camp when I was ten-years-old. I’m talking evangelical, speaking-in-tongues, worship songs—Jesus Camp type of shit. I knew a girl who was going, and once my group of friends found out it was co-ed, we committed to it faster than we'd commit to a Recess marathon on a Saturday morning.


We thought it would be snow cones, float trips, and BOYS!!!1!!, but it was seven AM wake up calls, Christ, and sleeping with daddy longlegs. I shared a cabin with four friends, three strangers, and one counselor. We would go to chapel every morning and night, and after each service we’d have long gospel sessions within our cabin. Our counselor told us with certainty that she was going to Heaven—and we could too! All we had to do was accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. I asked her if my Jewish sister was going to Hell. She told me yes.

In chapel, we sang songs with lyrics such as, "Lord reign in me," “Lord I lift your name on high,” and “Lord I worship you blindly because I grew up in a strict nuclear family that uses out-dated stories to guide our lives after we disregard what doesn’t fit our agenda,” and listened to preachers speak the word of God. “As y’all can see, the road to Heaven is very small,” a woman with a mullet and PowerPoint told us. “The vast majority of people are sinners who go to Hell.”

It was in one of our after-chapel sessions that the first of my friends became Saved. She started crying and announced she had accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. I hugged her and faked happiness. I was so jealous—in the way I was jealous when my sister got a Furby before I did. I asked how she knew she was Saved. She looked at me with the most condescension a ten-year-old can muster, and said, “Trust me, Maddie, when you’re Saved, you’ll just know.”

A few days later, there was a camp-wide bonfire where everyone told their born again stories. Ten, eleven, and twelve-year-olds stood up, one after one, s'mores in their hands, the Lord in their hearts, and explained in great detail the moment they were Saved. One boy said that he was born in 1988, but he was really born in 1992. This eleven-year-old is telling me he was Saved at four?! Let me guess, you have four fucking Furbys, too?

I finally gave up and said I was Saved on one of the last days of camp. I didn’t really have a moment where I accepted Jesus, but I had honestly convinced myself I did. When you put a bunch of children in a week-long camp, feed them decent food, let them swim every day, throw in members of the opposite sex to flirt with, and scare them shitless, they’ll believe anything you tell them. If Max—the cute, tan, blonde—loved Jesus, then I wanted to too.

When I was picked up from camp, my favorite song, “Every Morning” by Sugar Ray, was playing on the radio. I felt at ease. I was Saved! (For the record, I find the fact that “Every Morning” was my favorite song far more disturbing than the fact I was born again.)

The ease ended about three days later, but not before I tried to Save my four-year-old cousin. I forgot all about my evangelical ways and continued life as a preteen with a vague sense of respect for my Catholic faith. I still prayed to some sort of higher power until my junior year of high school, but mostly out of habit. Today, my relationship with God can be best summed up by my relationship to Oprah: To some people, she means a lot, but to me, she's nothing more than a very famous person who I occasionally mock.

A year ago, after seeing President Obama speak in small town Missouri, my friends and I passed by the Bible camp and decided we should check out our old stomping grounds. As we entered the camp, I wanted nothing more than to run to the pool where the innocent children were swimming (girls in one-pieces, of course) and scream, “GET OUT NOW!! YOU ARE FAR TOO YOUNG TO HAVE YOUR LIVES RUINED BY BIGOTS WITH MULLETS!!!!!” Instead, I sat giggling in the backseat as we drove around for five minutes and took pictures of various Christian-related signs and Bush '04 bumper stickers.


12 comments:

  1. HA! This was already great, but Lily's addition to it makes it amazing.

    I never had a "born again" experience or went to bible camp, but I was going to Sunday school and CCD (like Sunday school, except it could be on any day) before I was going to real school. When I was really little and we were at church I would make my own parody lyrics to the prayers and make them about God fighting in wars for some reason.

    By the time I was in Jr. High I was an atheist, but my Mom and stepfather still made me go to CCD and get confirmed. I actually kind of liked CCD. I knew more about Catholicism than anybody else in our class, which was shown in a game of religious Jeopardy, which I dominated.

    Before we got confirmed I was we had to go to a day long retreat. I told one of the teachers that I didn't believe in God and thought the way people look down on the mythological Greek gods was silly when they believe in the Christian God. Yet they still let me get confirmed.

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  2. I thought this was fantastic too. I love 'saved youth' stories and this is even more Biblical than I am used to. The best one I have is going to an overnight lock-in at the community center where I used to go every evening to hone my 3-point shot - as a weak AND chubby gradeschooler my only hope was to become adept at lobbing long-distance shots while noone was guarding me - this got me out of running and most jumping (in theory that never panned out). So there was this overnight and most of my friends went and it was billed as a party and it was pretty awesome - there was an inflatable slide, poker, possibly clowns, 'Jesus ball'. It all went great until about two in the morning when I got 'Left Behind'. The grown-up chaparones announced that if you have or were ready to accept Jesus into your heart that you could come into a special room for treats. I did not grow up religious, and I had no animosity toward religion. I also thought it would be cool to be 'Saved', but I knew my home life sucked and that if Jesus was really a Savior he was a piss-poor excuse of one and I wasn't ready to pay him any praise even for some cake or acceptance. So, I was left behind, by myself on the basketball court for two hours while the un-heathen children got saved and ate cake way past their bed time, while I the obese tween that desired cake more than a girlfriend was left to whiff three pointers from the jump-ball circle until I was too tired to care about life or its implications.

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  3. This was so amazing Maddie, it made me miss church camp.

    Also, "In chapel, we sang songs with lyrics such as, "Lord reign in me," “Lord I lift your name on high,” and “Lord I worship you blindly because I grew up in a strict nuclear family that uses out-dated stories to guide our lives after we disregard what doesn’t fit our agenda,” and listened to overweight preachers speak the word of God. “As y’all can see, the road to Heaven is very small,” a woman with a mullet and PowerPoint told us. “The vast majority of people are sinners who go to Hell.” "

    this is why I love you.

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  4. Are you willing to name names and tell us who was Saved and who wasn't? I want a list of every person who is Saved.

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  5. hmm, Christine(sp?) Reiling, Eric Hansen, probably Demetri, then a bunch of fundamentalists...

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  6. lily- i still can't believe you remember that. everything she said is so true.

    jake- us catholic school kids hated the ccd kids cos they drew shit on our desks after-hours

    bub- "while I the obese tween that desired cake more than a girlfriend was left to whiff three pointers from the jump-ball circle until I was too tired to care about life or its implications." i loled at this

    katy- i love you more than i love making fun of religion

    glenn- i think all of my friends who went were saved (drea and marisa included). the first person who was saved was the coolest girl in our friend group, britney.

    i didn't mention it in this story, but we went back the next year (besides marisa, because her dad is a deacon and didn't want these people leading her astray from her catholic faith) so we could ask a lot of questions and sing obnoxiously loud in chapel. we ended up asking so many questions that our cabin had a special session with the pastor. he told us we should stop worshiping false idols (as in MARY when we say the "hail mary"). suffice it to say, no one was saved on this trip. also, we snuck out of game night with a group of boys to the volleyball courts and almost got sent home.

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  7. Demetri is a plumber has a bastard baby and is supper fat.

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  8. You mean that Demetri is super phat.

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  9. Glenn I've been saved 17 times; I can get you that list.

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