Commentary: For a very long time it has been a misnomer that gays are not religious or believe in God. If that were true, why do so many LGBTQ individuals pray to God to make them “normal?” On any given Sunday, churches are filled with gays, on their knees, praying to Jesus, just like everyone else.
Many people need to witness a miracle first-hand to become believers. While I have never experienced a miracle, the Lord’s blessings touched me in other ways and smacked my mother right in the mouth.
Growing up poor in a small town in Texas can have challenges and blessings at the same time. My mother was a stay-at-home mom, and my father was an automobile mechanic who worked on commission. The rent on the house we lived in was only $60 a month. My parents sometimes struggled to make the first of the month deadline, but they always seemed to find a way to make ends meet and provide for the family.
Since we lived less than a block away from the elementary school I attended, I came home for lunch every day rather than eat in the cafeteria with my classmates. That was except for Thursday, hamburger day, when Mama would scrape together the 35 cents I needed. I remember watching her dig through her coin purse to find enough change for my lunch money.
To help put food on the table, we always had chickens and a garden in the back yard. We grew lettuce, squash, okra, and an assortment of other vegetables. I always looked forward to the okra maturing so we could harvest it since Mama made the best fried okra I’ve ever eaten.
It was my job to hold chickens across a block of wood, while my dad swung a large heavy axe and chopped its head off. Thankfully, he was a good aim. I’d then toss the chicken so it would bleed out, learning the meaning of “running around like a chicken with its head chopped off,” at an early age.
But that wasn’t the worst part. After being properly dunked in hot water, I along with my siblings would commence to pluck the headless fowl and heaven help us if we missed a feather or quill. The fresh fried chicken we’d have for supper later that night made it worth it, though.
Going home to eat lunch, raising your own food and killing and plucking your own chickens may be character builders, and looking back now they are nothing to be ashamed of. In its own way, it was a blessing.
There is one part of growing up poor that I haven’t spoken of to many people. Our house had two bedrooms for seven people. The living room was quite large so that’s where my bed was placed. Mama tried making it my own space by hanging a curtain petition or arranging the furniture to accommodate a faux bedroom, but it was always a bed in the living room.
That wasn’t all bad, though. After everyone had gone to sleep, I could sneak over to the television and watch late night movies. That’s where I fell in love with Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, and many others. I would often stay up until the FBI Most Wanted List, the Lord’s Prayer, and the “Star Spangled Banner” would play.
Sometimes, when my parents had an argument, Mama would come to the living room and get in my bed. One night after she and Daddy had a really bad fight, she came to “my room.” It was around midnight, in July or August and with no a/c, the windows were open allowing the attic fan to pull in tons of cool air from outside. I was 12, maybe 13, and she asked me if I believe in God. I told her I wasn’t sure.
She didn’t scold me or insist that there is a God. She proceeded to tell me the story of why she knows He’s real. During the Depression, when she was in her late teens, she developed a toothache. The family was struggling to survive, often eating boiled thistle as a meal, so seeing a dentist was not feasible.
Mama, who was born with a cleft palate, endured non-stop intense pain for over a week. None of the home remedies of the day worked. She said the pain was so bad that she could hardly take it anymore.
In an act of desperation, Mama told me for the first time in her life, she got on her knees and prayed. She asked God to please take the pain away. She did not try to make a deal or make promises, just begged for relief. She crawled into bed hoping God had heard her prayers.
When she awoke the next morning, she felt better than she had in weeks. The pain was gone. Her toothache had miraculously vanished.
She said God performed a miracle on her that night and that’s why she believes there is a God. From that day on, she prayed to Him every night.
She then decided it was a good time to teach her middle child how to pray. She said you do not have to be on your knees or have your hands together. She said to just talk to Him and He’ll listen. You can talk to Him in silence, and He still listens. She encouraged me to pray that night. I did and have been praying every night since.
After her prayer to God that night sometime in the 1930’s, she lived the rest of her life without ever having another toothache. She always thanked and credited God for that.