I don’t know where this lands in the chronological events of my religious life, but one evening I attended, with neighborhood kids, a sort of revival meeting. It was held in a building (maybe a church, but maybe not) with a room full of chairs — not pews. I remember only two things about this evening. One involved chocolate. One involved Jesus. Both were peppered with my shyness.
Jesus first. The room was full of children, some young and some older. The speaker (minister? pastor?) stood in front of the room and talked. The one thing I remember him saying was that all we had to do to ensure ending up in Heaven was to accept Jesus Christ as the savior. We could tell one person or a whole lot of people, but we couldn’t just tell ourselves. I knew, then, I was doomed. How could I tell anyone that I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior when I was terrified to talk to strangers? At the end of the evening, possibly seeing that I’d not talked to anyone, the man who’d told us about accepting Jesus approached me and said that if I whispered it to him I’d be saved. I don’t remember if I did or not. I think I didn’t, but replayed it over and over in my head afterwards to the point where I believed I had whispered to him the words that would save my soul.
Now about the chocolate. At the beginning of the evening, after the adults quieted the roomful of children they said that they had a surprise for us for attending. A select few of us would get a candy bar, just for being there. They told us to look under our chairs and if we had a piece of paper with a dot or something taped to the bottom we were the lucky winners of the candy bar. We all looked under our chairs. My chair had the winning piece of paper. I told my friends, but was too shy to tell anyone else. I think I gave my paper to a friend. She got the candy bar. I don’t remember if she shared it with me or not.