For those of us who were members of our little church, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
At this point, I was managing two restaurants and working part-time as a minister; the stress from the restaurant job was enough of a burden without the constant denominational tension. Between the two jobs, and the stress that was part and parcel of both, I started vomiting blood. Forgive me if this is too personal, but not long afterwards, I started crapping blood, too.
The process of leaving our denomination was a little bit of a nightmare; they came after everything we had. Property, you name it. Just getting through the process of leaving was hellish enough without all of that. But when everything was said and done, we got to keep the property, etc.
I was so relieved that when I got the call about the outcome of the situation, I promptly walked outside of my restaurant…
and blacked out.
I had spent the last three years running on a steady diet of nicotine, Red Bull, Monster, and coffee.
When I started the restaurant job I weighed a very healthy 145 pounds. During my three year nightmare, I was under so much stress I could hardly eat; when I did manage to choke some food down, I’d puke half of it back up within 10 minutes, along with a healthy side of blood. The other half would make its bloody exit a half hour or so later.
None of this was helped by the fact that I am insanely, stupidly stubborn and I despise doctors with every fiber of my being.
The day I blacked out, my employees saw me collapse in the store parking lot and when the couldn’t get me to come back around, called for the ambulance. When the hospital checked me in I weighed all of 97 pounds.
A little over a week and a half-dozen blood transfusions later, I was released from the hospital with some very firm instructions:
- No more Red Bull.
- No more Monster.
- No more coffee.
- No more caffine, period.
- We mean it.
- And, quit your job while your at it.
So I quit my job at the restaurant post-haste.
I didn’t have to worry about quitting my church job.
The denomination’s parting gift to me was that while I was in the hospital, busy trying not to bleed to death from multiple stomach ulcers (one of which perforated), and hence was unable to move my ministerial credentials, they stripped me of my ordination.
How’s that for a kick in the crotch?
So I got a new job. I became the dishwasher at a Greek restaurant, and it was the best, most stress-free two years of my life. I visited some other churches, but it just wasn’t the same. My theology was so different from theirs that I was never comfortable anywhere for long.
So after a two year absence, I went back to the Lutheran church where Christ saved me, fully recognizing that I was not really a Lutheran, but they loved me anyway.
And then I got called to the coffee shop they ran one night to run sound for a band that was playing. Everything that could go wrong that night…did. The soundboard crapped out. My dog died. (I’m not kidding.)
But there was one bright spot in the evening, though.
I met the girl that I would marry.