Headed for Home? Or Headed for Hell?

Bibury, England (laviezine.com)Source: Lavie Zine

My Real Memoir

By the time I turned 11, my brief flirt with faith (“Hello, is anyone there?” Cue crickets. “I guess not.”) was beginning to fade. I was a boy agnostic with a taste for shiny things—girls, fame, bad behavior. I hadn’t dived into the first two yet, but had definitely dipped a toe into the latter.

So, was I “headed for hell?”

No. Amazingly, King David is called a man “after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) despite the fact that he committed adultery and murder. But if bad behavior isn’t a ticket to hell, neither is good behavior a ticket to heaven. Because heaven and hell aren’t about good or bad behavior, they’re about relationships. Somewhere along the line, I had this half-baked epiphany, but didn’t take it out of the oven until years later.

When I was 9 or so, I’d reached the end of a gleefully misbehaving day. My puckish cronies and I had been lobbing olives at cars, which erupted in magnificent purple explosions against windshields, causing fervent curses and comical careens. It was all good (evil) fun…until Mom spotted us.

She’d come to the door to shout her usual June Cleaverish, “Come in and wash up for dinner!” when she saw what we were doing. There must have been some conviction in my pre-manly breast, for when she welcomed me in, whispering, “Wait ’til your father gets home!” I thought, “Why didn’t she call Rory in instead?” Rory was the only one of us who’d refused to throw olives.

And then, lo, a marvelous truth did fall upon me: “She didn’t call Rory in because she’s my mom, not Rory’s!” And nothing, even the fact that I did really bad stuff, could change that!

Interestingly, this realization didn’t result in a torrent of licentious behavior. In fact, it had the opposite effect. Sure, I did other bad stuff, but I never threw olives at cars again. Once I’d realized that living with Mommandad was a gift, it made me want to do better. Of course, there would still be hell to pay when Dad got home…

But not hell to go to. 

Because heaven and hell aren’t about what we do, they’re about who we know. And it’s relationships that make us better (or worse), not behavior. You don’t become a tree by producing apples. You produce apples because you’re a tree. So one day, despite my convoluted journey through the mountains of doubt and deserts of disbelief, I would…

Finally come Home.

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Headed for Home? Or Headed for Hell?

  1. Pingback: Monsters I Have Known and Loved | Mitch Teemley

  2. Debi Walter says:

    You had “ears to hear” even before you knew to seek them. That is a gift of grace. I love this, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Eric Mathews says:

    now I want to throw olives at car windshields just to see the magnificent purple!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A perfect illustration of this truth. A good reminder at any stage of life. Thanks, Mitch.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I love this, brother Mitch ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ejstoo says:

    Lucky … in our day, someone would have got out of the car and booted us one and then told our parents….which might have been worse. Wonder why people worry so much about where they are going after they are gone. I would say that one should worry more about what they do with the life they have. But guess I’m weird that way 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Just to clarify, Jean, it’s the “who” that matters to me, not the “where.” I love my Creator and long to be with him. The verse that started me on this journey of faith was John 17:3: “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • ejstoo says:

        See, now I’m not in a rush to join any creator. I figure I might still be of some use here to some for awhile yet. If you take care of this life, the next one will come soon enough. One life at a time. Like one step at a time.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. karanoel says:

    This is such a fun and engaging telling of your story but I was taken aback by the profound truth so simply stated here. Way to go, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. murisopsis says:

    An excellent meditation on Who and not what…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “Heaven and hell aren’t about what we do, they’re about who we know.” Amen to that, good sir! Be assured; you never traveled through those mountains of doubt and deserts of disbelief alone. Many have walked those same meandering paths, yet we were always under God’s watchful eye as He gently drew us to Himself. Blessings to you, my brother!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A profound truth wrapped up in a cute tale! Well expressed. Yes, it’s all about relationship. One of my favorite songs says it well, “oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God!”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Nancy Ruegg says:

    I’ve never heard that quote about producing apples because you’re a tree. What a terrific metaphor for the Christian life, to go along with the tree metaphors in the Bible–even a few about olive trees! (Though we’d be hard-pressed–pun intended–to find a reference about throwing olives for their purple-splotch effect!)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. LOL! Funny. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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