Wanted: Church Librarian Lady
Isn’t that against the law? I wondered. My thirty-six years on the planet featured numerous spurts of intense religious devotion, followed by long lapses of spiritual disengagement. I was no stranger to subtle and not so subtle acts of sexism. But to come right out and say it. And to have the budget for such a position.
I applied almost immediately.
The QR code on the sign took me directly to a fancy website where I filled out the application. When I checked my email in bed the following morning, I had a message from one of the assistant pastors asking for references. Due to my ample resume of religious trauma, I had no trouble providing several. I was called in for an interview on Friday.
Friday came and I typed church librarian lady into a search engine to see what would come up. It had been four or so years since my last church, and I didn’t want to come off as out of touch with the appropriate dress. My experience told me that dress codes were most brutal in church. My spurts in the corporate world came close, but the punishment wasn’t quite as emotionally ferocious.
The interview started off normal. Question. Answer. Question. Answer. About me. About the church. And so on.
Then the assistant pastor, Charles, got to the statement of faith. He paused and then explained that all staff had to sign their agreement with the statement. After slowly reading it aloud, he asked me if any of it would be a problem for me if I was offered the position. He looked uncomfortable. His leg was restless and his office chair kept shifting under his weight.
I asked how it would be a problem. Charles didn’t say. But he clarified that the question was if I believed what he had just read. Judging by his fidgeting and the sad look in his eyes, I didn’t believe Charles believed it. I asked him if he was okay.
That’s when he broke into tears.
It’s strange to say that this was not uncomfortable or surprising to me. For all the backward and anti-progressive thinking in the church, it’s the one place where I’ve seen adult men cry on a consistent basis. Not because of healthy emotional lives. But because of the pressure and trauma of living (and failing to live) up to militant, ancient expectations. Because of the psychological dissonance that comes with holding others under an inhuman and illogical worldview. For the power grasping and insecure men in this world, the tears don’t come. But for the softhearted ones, like Charles, it catches up to them.
Charles tried to recover, but his sobs wouldn’t let him. His body was mercifully telling him this was his last day. I stood up to leave and patted him on the shoulder. “It’s okay Charles. You can leave. You can have your peace back.” Through tears, he looked up and his eyes told me thank you. I smiled back and left Charles to his healing.