Sunday, October 14, 2007

the branding

Next month will be the 10-month anniversary of my branding.

Excuse my vagueness on this subject. Specifics may reveal my identity. But it’s a briefly worded branding upon my arm that was supposed to remind me daily of killing off any self-centered desires of mine.

Or, at least, that’s what I think it means.

In November 1997 this branding was a hot topic. And how could it not be? The professional had to shave the area in order to brand properly. Plus, a fresh branding is real bright and shiny for days. It was physically obvious and attracted much attention that I wasn’t looking for.

People often looked at it and asked what it meant. I often rattled off some words of Jesus found in John 12 about “a kernel of wheat must fall to the ground and die before life can spring from it” or something religious-sounding jumble like that. Hey, this is the fair mother city. You can get away with saying stuff like that and people think you’re cool and dangerous.

Then I noticed that my branding was immortalizing me in the eyes of some as a “cool christian”. You know, like those christian-rock star types with cool hair and tattoos. Or maybe the offspring of Jim and the late Tammy Faye. You know, they may look like cool, artsy hell’s angels, but really they’re just safe and religious. They’re “cool christians”. I didn’t want to be one of those.

Few people ask me what my branding means anymore. And that’s good, because honestly, I don’t even know what it means anymore.

So the other night in East Texas, I was with some obscure relatives of mine the night before a family reunion. And an aunt of mine I haven’t seen in like 20 years sees my arm while we sat in a restaurant. She’s not particularly faith-oriented or religious that I know of. And that’s always fine with me.

So she asks, “what’s that on your arm mean?”, expecting a quick, flippant answer. Or, that's how I interpreted her query.

So I answer, “I have no clue what it means” and allowed the subject to change. Honestly, I don’t know what it means anymore. The meaning seems to change daily.

In recent years I’ve wondered if my decision to be branded with these words was youthful arrogance. Like maybe I had everything all figured out. But if I remember correctly, my reasons in 1997 were about exploring. I wanted to know what it meant. And if I woke up seeing it every day then maybe I’d eventually learn its definition.

And back then I swore I heard the voice of the CEO say that these words were “to be put on you”. So like a dumb-ass, I took it literally.

All that to say, it’s been 10 years and I still have no freaking clue what my arm means.

Meanwhile, did I miss a chance to share something deep with an aunt I know little about? Maybe. But we were in a crowded diner with nine people at a table.

And I feel really awkward about sharing Jesus and, I don’t a flippant, drive-by way in close quarters over diner grub. Oh well.

CEO – give me better responses to questions over this branding.


Matthew said...

This made me think of your latest undercover operation.

Agent B said...

Yeah...I "saw" that particular tract on-line.

There is a blog maintained by the Lubbock-based counterparts of the Abilene tract-passing crew. And they are proud users of this million dollar bill tract.

...and so far I have avoided commenting on that Lubbock blog. There's too many things that send me spinning on that...

JesusFreak said...

Did you mean that this is your 10th year anniversary?

Sorry, nitpicking details comes with the job...

Agent B said...

Yes - 10th year anniversary for having this branding, not marriage.

Actually, this will be my 9th year marriage anniversary coming soon...

ericaprosser said...

B- i think its good to re-evaluate and ask the tough questions. its too easy to throw up "christian answers." and i'm ready for what's real rather than whats merely enough or socially acceptable.