First Trip to Church: Colossal Failure

January 10, 2011

Wednesday I drove up a canon to find my inaugural church/dive bar. I picked the cutest church I could find — white, capacity of 30-40 parishioners — perfect. Right down the street, a dive bar. Lovely.

Sunday I woke up hours before the 10 a.m. church service however, I didn’t quite make it to a pew. It wasn’t the night before Tullamore, it was my living quarters and the weather. Bright white room illuminated by fresh snowfall. Basically I woke up feeling like an angel and since God wanted me to revel in my angel self, I decided to relax and think good thoughts about humanity.

That lasted for about two minutes and then I did the last thing any humanitarian angel should ever do. I read the Ft. Collins Coloradoan and the Wall Street Journal. First the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Gifford (D-Arizona) and then this stupid story about two old women sharing mom’s mink by cutting it up and turning it into two teddy bears. Weird? Definitely. News? Uh, no.

Trying to go back to God, I held my own service in bed, reflecting on one of my last religious experiences. Five years ago. Summer in Michigan. Hot, humid. Body thirsty. Sobering agent dissolving in stomach. No sleep for 24 hours.

I didn’t want to go to a church service in a graveyard, but I couldn’t weasel or beg my way out of it so I womaned up and pouted during the 45 minute drive. I was wholly unprepared for the event mentally and physically. Strapless sundress. Heels sinking in mud.

We were late. The place was packed. I tiptoed between headstones to avoid losing a shoe in the mud. People stared. In-laws offered us their chairs, I looked for a headstone large enough to support my rear. Couldn’t find one, opted to stand, knees bent, weight shifting to avoid cramping and fainting, which happens a lot. (Low blood pressure resulting from running, according to the dr.)

I tried to concentrate on the pastor’s message, which I managed until my hearing dimmed. I kicked off my shoes (I’m smarter than scary movie chicks), grabbed my husband’s hand and said, “we have to go.”

He said just a minute. I said no, right this second, death grip on his hand. He asked why, I couldn’t talk. I get lockjaw before and after I pass out.

Four steps into the crowd, hearing gone. Step five, vision collapsing from the periphery. Step six, down on my knees. Gone. Wake up surrounded by people, pouring sweat, dress soaked, fat man in a short sleeved yellow shirt and bad tie running at me with water and a cookie. Someone put me in a chair, told me I was pale, did I need something? Could they help? Husband —  back off, I’ve got it.

It was about 10 minutes before I could talk, drink or eat but all I wanted to do was get the hell out of the cemetery because, even though we were at the back of the crowd, we were the center of attention. But I didn’t have the use of my legs so I couldn’t escape. Thanks God.

I don’t have a video of my personal blackout, but this is exactly what happens. Generally I fall backward, but I knew I was going to faint in a dress so I fell to my knees. Modesty first.

Best Man Faints and Falls Backward

This is one of my few church memories and it occurred in the best possible environment for me — the outdoors. So, hopefully you can see my hesitation going into this whole church hopping experiment.

Now I’m all worked up. I’m off to snowboard and find a dive bar. Until Wednesday…


13 Responses to “First Trip to Church: Colossal Failure”

  1. Q. said

    If it helps any, most churches require sitting for the majority of the service, with a few calisthenics in between for added flavor. ^_^

  2. thumpme said

    That is very helpful. I have no idea why I opted to stand. Of course I wouldn’t sit on a headstone but I was tempted to grab one as I was going down.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ivy Hughes, ThumpMe. ThumpMe said: Bad memories of church. Fainting, God bringing me to my knees: […]

  4. Kevin said

    I never really feel like you are giving church or all of this religious investigation a fair shake, or a real serious look. It seems to turn into a lot of reasons why you can’t stand the Bible, the Church, Christians etc. I feel like you have had some bad experiences and are pre-judging a lot of the things you are setting out to do. I know I am coming at this from the opposite world view, but church seems so normal to me. Christians are pretty normal people. You seldom seem to find that conclusion, and it makes me sad that you feel this way. Please tell me why I am wrong. You know I respect your writing skill, and I want to respect your quest, but it feel increasingly like all of this is a platform to poke fun at Christianity and the Bible. I know you will give me a heartfelt response and I look forward to being corrected. Thanks!

    • thumpme said

      Hi Kevin. I’ve actually written quite a few pieces about aspects of the Bible I agree with/find value in. Honestly, it’s not the lessons or the people. It’s really a matter of belief. Though I love this project, I don’t believe in God. That may change but right now it’s a major hurdle. Today’s post had everything to do with me being an idiot and nothing to do with the actual church experience. I’m anxious about going to church because of the intimacy I assume it will bring. Not the people. The experience. Though I obviously express a lot about myself through writing, it is much harder to communicate verbally. For some reason, I find it threatening in all circumstances, not just church.

      I know I’ll have plenty of “normal” church experiences. I do want to go to some of the more extreme churches just because I’m curious about them. I want to get a broad perspective because, as you know, the extreme squeaky wheels get all of the attention and I want to see what they’re about in their own setting.

      By no means do I think Christians are nuts or inhuman. Actually, some of the greatest, most forgiving people I know are also very religious. I’ve written about that too.

      A lot of what I write is sarcastic, much of it poking fun at me, not religion. I’m sorry if this comes across as an attack on religion. That’s not my intent or I wouldn’t be continuing this project. I think if you look at the blogs I wrote in November (when my life hit a wall) you’ll probably see how religion/the Bible positively impacted me. Actually, a friend asked me if the project had any impact on me and my resounding answer is yes. I can’t go into details yet, but there is definitely a reason this project came to me at this time in my life and I wasn’t even aware of it until I finished.

      I don’t have the mental capacity or the time to really dissect all of this information. I hope that by going to church, I can pick up on some of the zillions of things I missed in the Bible.

      As for bars, people go there for some similar reasons. Right or wrong, I think the contrast will be very interesting. So, not poking fun, just trying to continue a project I find interesting, trying to learn more, trying to expand. I’m really sarcastic and I think sometimes I lose readers or my thoughts get misinterpreted. If you would like to write a guest blog, etc., let me know. I’m still very open to that.

      Does that answer your question/comment?

  5. Mark_S said

    You mentioned that your fainting has to do with low blood pressure from running but I know lots of runners who do not have fainting problems. I was just curious if you have ever had your blood iron levels tested to see if you have low-iron condition(s) in your blood? My best man’s wife Renae has iron-poor blood and she used to faint like this too. Would u say that u faint in a panic attack type of situation where u may have a social phobia or do u feel like it’s purely a medical reason in your blood why u black out? I just worry about ya 😉

    • thumpme said

      I don’t know. I just faint. I think it’s sugar. I mean, I get insanely mean when I’m hungry and I get hungry like that. So yeah, probably blood sugar. or maybe I should just stop running and loaf around.

      • My 13yo daughter fainted at youth group (yes, in *church*) this past weekend, so we are trying to figure out if it was a one-time fluke or if this is the start of a trend for her. After inventorying her diet that day, it definitely could have been a sugar thing. Like you, she knew it was happening and dropped to her knees–modesty first.

        I’ve only just begun to read your blog, and I’m thoroughly enjoying your outstanding storytelling ability. I also appreciated this reflective post and your comment above, where you expanded on this project a little more.

      • thumpme said

        Oh that is just amazing. Was she trying to get out of church? It was sweet of that guy to give me his book. I don’t like being critical of the churches because the people are generous but it’s kind of the nature of the beast. Thanks for reading!

  6. Linda said

    If you want to get answers to Bible questions, there is a better way than going to a different church each Sunday, chosen by exterior appearance. I pray that you find one caring individual that you can sit down with to have those questions answered, or if you prefer, correspond with online. Churches are like minded believers who come together to encourage one another and become family. Visiting a different church every week would be difficult for most Christians to do. If you were a child, would you want to be in a different family every week?

  7. Linda said

    Please read this. Please read the whole excerpt.

  8. Judy said


    I do believe in God and am a Christian. I found your blog through “Preacher Mike”s blog last fall. Then I went back and read yours from the beginning. Now I’m addicted, and I look for new updates nearly every day. Your journey through the Bible and reaching out to new people/new experiences is fascinating. I enjoy your writing. Keep it up, please.

    • thumpme said

      Hi. Thanks Judy. I’m posting Monday/Wednesday. Sunday I’m headed to church, Tuesday “dive” bars. I’m curious to really get into it. I love subcultures.

      Thanks for reading!

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