Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Inside Joke with God

I was talking to my sister the other day about what an interesting experience it has been in the past year for me to learn to recognize how God talks to me. It is confusing at times because I have these strange thoughts that seem to belong to me, but they are definitely not my thoughts. For instance, one day in September, I was watching Hotel Rwanda and felt a great urge to devote myself in service to the world. I thought, "I'm going to join the Peace Corps!" After about 30 seconds of looking at the Peace Corps website, I thought, "Or I should go on a mission!" I heard my own voice in my head, but I knew that wasn't my thought because my brilliant plan was to join the Peace Corps. (Some of you will say, "But, Anna, you didn't go on a mission." First of all, I'm on one--just not a proselytizing mission. Second, submitting the papers was as significant an experience for me as, perhaps, a full-time mission could have been.) The ensuing months brought many similar experiences. Each time, I was surprised to find that the Lord spoke to me in my own voice. But this morning I was shocked to find that the Lord will even speak to me in inside jokes. 

I was upset about something last night and doubly upset that I didn't understand why I was upset in the first place. I had distressing dreams about being stuck floating in the air in Macey's and not being able to eat doughnuts because they would make me fat, but I really wanted to eat the doughnuts. (The dream is not related, although being stuck floating in the air may be symbolic. I'm pretty sure the doughnuts mean nothing.) I woke up with one thought: There's no such thing as Joel. "Who is Joel?" you ask. "What does that mean?" I won't tell you the meaning because it is not important for you to know--it is my revelation, and I'm keeping it. But I will tell you what the sentence originally meant.

Junior year of high school, 4 (or 5?) of us were crammed into Ellie's bed, trying in vain to fall asleep at 2 or 3 in the morning. But first, our usual late night conversation:

"Guys, I'm afraid of the Rapist." I don't know who originally concocted the Rapist, but he lurked outside waiting to ambush us at every sleep over and late night gathering.

"And the rabid raccoons." Again, more demons who stalked us.

"There could be a lion!" This one was new.

"There's nothing outside. Go to sleep."

"I heard a noise! It's the Rapist!"

"It's one of the cats." Ellie goes to the door and lets the cat in.

"It could be a rabid raccoon disguised as a cat!"

"It's not."

"I heard a noise! It's the Rapist!"

"Guys, I'm scared of the Rapist."

"I'm scared of rabid raccoons."

"I'm scared of lions."

"Yeah, and I'm scared of Joel Diamond." Joel was a loud, often obnoxious, sometimes mean student in the graduating class ahead of ours. Many of us found him intimidating, except for Ellie, who took multivariable calculus with him and insisted that he was always nice to her.

"Joel Diamond is scary, but not as scary as the Rapist!"

"There's no such thing as the Rapist."

"Rabid raccoons!"

"There's no such thing as rabid raccoons."

"Lions!"

"There's no such thing as lions. The only real scary thing is Joel Diamond."

"There's no such thing as Joel!" We all burst out laughing, which relaxed us enough to fall asleep.

The statement "There's no such thing as Joel," survived for probably a year. We applied it to all situations, kind of like "your mom," but I think it mostly meant, "don't worry" or "calm down." It has many connotations that only the creators of the joke would understand. I imagine that over the past 7 years, it has evolved in my mind and taken on meanings only I understand. I suppose that is why the Lord can bring it to my mind at a time when it makes no sense, and I know exactly what He means.

Fascinating.

P.S. My apologies to anyone named Joel. I'm sure you exist.

Current song: "The Lord Is My Shepherd"

3 comments:

The Dancing Newt said...

Oh no way I didn't even remember the history to that story!

Bekah said...

The Lord definitely has a sense of humor--one day while I was in Brazil, my mission companion was having a really crappy day. We were both praying very hard for her to feel better. When we went out to work, this very large, very drunk, probably homeless man walked right up to us, grabbed my face, and kissed me on the mouth, then turned and walked away. My companion sat down on the curb and laughed until she cried. Then she said something to the effect of: "I didn't know that God had such a great sense of humor. That was exactly what I needed." I'm always glad to help out by being the punchline of the joke, but that was pretty gross.

thirdrobot said...

Joel is like the worst name in history... just my personal experience.

I'm thinking of going by J instead.