“What will people say when they hear that I’m a Jesus freak?
What will people do when they find that it’s true?
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak,
There ain’t no disguising the truth.”
There he goes again, driving slowly, voice shouting out through a loudspeaker, “Jesus saves! You heathens are doomed without him!” It is impossible to miss the black station wagon plastered with scripture verses and the huge plywood billboard on top usually displaying a message about the end of the world or the hopelessness of the sinners in America. Day in and day out, he drives up and down the downtown streets hoping to convert others with his message. My husband pointed to him and asked, “Is that going to be you in a few years?” After eighteen years I am used to Paul's teasing as a way to display some humor in his love, but still, I shudder. Is that how people think of me? Am I really that obnoxious in my efforts to share my faith?
Although I am a lifelong Catholic and have always had a strong faith, it wasn’t until the past few years that the label “Jesus Freak” began to seriously apply to me. I felt a deep conversion as if God had moved from my head and landed directly in the middle of my heart and burst it wide open. I couldn’t get enough of God. I couldn’t get enough of prayer, daily Mass and spiritual reading. I began journaling about my experiences and would not consider leaving the house without a book to read and a journal to write my thoughts and prayers in.
Soon there were signs that maybe I was going overboard in my faith (is that possible?). I couldn’t stop talking about God and church to anyone who would listen. Every day when I would go to work, I’d share stories about the latest fabulous homily I had heard, or the spiritual book I was currently reading. One of my friends at work told me that as she was waiting at the bus stop some Jehovah Witnesses approached her, wanting to share the Good News. But she stopped them cold “Please don’t share your stories with me today” she told them. “Anne is coming to work and I get all the religion I need from her!” Yes, my coworkers were definitely at my mercy. But gratefully, they are very sweet and loving and indulge me by listening to my church prattle day in and day out.
But there came a day when I felt I might have really crossed the line. We had a new employee starting. I had just finished a visit with an extremely inspirational client and was very excited. I told one of my coworkers that I just had to go to Mass on my lunch break so that I could pray about it. She turned to our new co-worker and said “Anne talks about God and church all the time.” The new employee’s response took away all of the joy that I was feeling. “Oh no!” she said, “I don’t believe in anything or anyone. You aren’t going to be preaching at me all the time, are you?”
I fear that even my loving family feels burdened from time to time by my expressions of my faith. My son, Joe, who seems to feel the sting of a teenager’s embarrassment towards his parents very keenly, asks me questions like “Do you remember life before you became a Jesus freak, mom? It doesn’t matter what we talk about at dinner, somehow you always find a way to bring Jesus into the conversation, it's all you talk about!” And, “ I don’t mean any disrespect Mom, but do you think we could sleep in once in a while instead of going to daily Mass? All of the kids at school tease me.”
On the positive side, every now and then I see signs of deep faith in my children, spouse and coworkers that makes me feel that my constant prayer life could be a good inspiration for them. For example, my son Jack was recently playing in a baseball tournament. John was with him and was sending text messages to Joe and Mary at home to let them know how the team was doing. When I called from work to check on my children, Mary told me that Jack’s team was losing 15-1 and Jack was scheduled to pitch the next inning. “So, Joe and I are praying the rosary for him. I never saw Joe so Catholic before!” she said.
Still, I wonder, am I over the top? Am I ruining my kid’s lives, making my husband question his choice in a wife, and turning off my coworkers? I certainly hope not. But I readily admit that I am head over heels in love with God and whether I am experiencing joy or sorrow in my life, there is nobody with whom I’d rather share those emotions with than my heavenly Father in prayer. I do try to curb my religious expression so as not to offend anyone or turn anyone off to the Lord, but I just can’t seem to resist sharing the joy of Jesus with the world. I guess there just ain’t no disguising the TRUTH; if the “Jesus Freak” label fits, I will just have to proudly wear it!