I sit confused on the pew as my ears can’t believe the words coming out of the large speakers. I turn my head just in time to catch the ludicrous smile that forms on the face of the man sitting next to me. I want to ask why he is smiling, but I figure out that I might be seen as rude.
It is my first time in church and I don’t know how things work here. I try my best to act normal, but I can’t. The lady sitting at my other side notices my discomfort. She puts her hand on my arm and asks gently, “Is everything okay, brother?” I look into her beautiful eyes and, with the escape of a tear, say, “I was told to run towards the Light. The Book said to flee from the wrath to come.” Her incredulous look makes me feel like I said something strange, as though I had spoken in a strange tongue.
“Never mind,” I respond to her confused look.
I don’t know what else to do, so I decide to continue listening to the talk being given. The man talking is sharing a story about his experience while traveling with a public transport service some 10 years ago. The crowd laughs at a joke he makes about a fat woman with mouth odor that sat next to him in the bus on that journey. He goes on to say that we all needed to ride our own cars so that fat women won’t disturb us. The crowd gives a roaring amen. That is the last straw for me.
I gently stand up and I make my way towards the exit. I step out of the building and I start walking towards my apartment which is not very far from the church. Maybe I didn’t understand the warnings given in the Book. Maybe they weren’t really warnings, but random pieces of advice. The preacher had said that it was well with our souls. Surely it included mine. Why then do I feel like it isn’t?
I stop in the middle of the walkway. Why did I leave my house? Emeka had said I would get answers. I’m not sure they have the answer that I seek. Else I would have noticed in the two hours that I had been there. I feel like I’m bound for hell. No, it isn’t well with my soul. The preacher couldn’t have been more wrong. It is hell in my soul.
I hear the sound of singing and I turn to see another church. I decide to give this another try and I begin walking towards the church. In my muddled state of mind, I mutter a prayer, “Please let this be where I get the answer that I seek. Let this be it.”
After 30 minutes, I find myself back on the street. Maybe they have lost the answer and Emeka was wrong.
Is it well with their souls? Or is it hell in theirs as it is in mine?