Saturday, August 1, 2009

Jesus Zombies

I love Facebook for its ability to reach far and connect old dots. I always wondered where my college buddies are now or what happened to playground pals from elementary school. Now, I know. I love FB for more than that, though. What’s fascinating is that the subtleties of personality are present despite the once-removed nature of interaction there. Life ambition, quirky humor and even harbored resentments lie in status updates, photo uploads and personality quizzes. Recently, a FB friend posted a quiz revealing his most hated types of people. I nearly spit out my coke with laughter when one of his answers was, “Jesus Zombies.”

“A Jesus Zombie? Is that what I am?” I asked myself, imagining my friends and I as walking dead with empty eyes, arms affront, moaning the name of Jesus in ridiculous monotone. Random belly laughs erupted the rest of the day at the copier, while driving home and even when walking my Jesus-Zombie dog. The mental metaphor just wouldn’t leave me.

The human brain rests more comfortably with patterns than in chaos, so I was not surprised at all by the stereotype. Categorizing is a natural response, shaped by life experiences. It’s quite simply our attempt to make sense of things. The problem is, none of us can claim the same categories. While the Jesus-Zombie classification is hysterically foreign to me, I wonder to how many others, however, it may seem familiar. How are we, as Jesus followers, like zombies?

Definitions for the word include, mindless and controlled. While Romero’s 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead made “zombie” popular, etymology reveals a probable Haitian descent, most likely derived from the word zonbi, a voodoo-spiritual term for a person brought back to life from the dead without speech or free will. Interesting. I’m still chuckling.

I had almost forgotten about the Jesus-Zombie metaphor until Jesus himself brought it back to me recently. While I could have used a good laugh, a two-week stint with my husband in and out of the hospital and a personal bout with the flu did not conjure any visits from zombies. In fact, those friends that I had earlier imagined ambling aimlessly in mummy clothes were anything but lifeless to me. Just the opposite, in fact.

Consider Zombie #1, my friend Robin, who happily hosted my daughter in her home, despite Lily’s growing separation anxiety and horrid fear of seeing her Daddy on a gurney. Going beyond “the nice thing to do,” Robin cooked Lily’s favorite foods, carried her to the pool and found herself energized, not burdened, by doing everything in her power to make Lily’s life normal. And what about the time she waited, and waited, and endlessly waited in the hospital parking lot while I comforted Lily- in a dead panic at the thought of leaving Mommy behind again? No, mindless isn’t a word I would use to describe my Jesus-friend.

What about Zombie #2, my girlfriend Debby? With one surgery behind us and five crazy nights with my Asperger-diagnosed son in tow, she antied up for five more, without hesitation, when complications sent my husband back under the knife. “Because I love you,” was her matter-of-fact reasoning. Lifeless isn’t someone who hears you on the phone say, “No, I don’t need you to come to the hospital” and shows up anyway proclaiming, “You can get mad at me if you want to, but I had to lay my eyeballs on you to make sure my friend was ok.”

Let’s think about Zombie #3, my sister-friend, Cindy- or Cindy-Lou, as I call her. She texted me scripture every day, sometimes three times a day, and was an outlet to the world when I was stuck in the catacomb-esque CT scan waiting area, my husband fighting pain and nausea. She will never have any idea how comforting a simple “Hw RU my frnd?” can be. And her life-breathing scripture?…a complete Godsend. She and technology were simply vessels feeding me messages from above. I’m not talking about unrealistic “You will be healed” scripture, either. While there is a place for such, Cindy-Lou knew I needed to hear instead, “God is our refuge and strength, a very-present help in times of trouble,” Psalm 46:1 and, “He gives power to the faint and weary,” Isaiah 40:29. I wouldn’t say Cindy is living as one under mind control, would you?

Still, some would argue that these are things that church people just do. Nonsense. Jesus isn’t just a connection I have with these ladies, it’s THE connection. Jesus Zombies don’t go deep, and I have rarely gone deeper in friendship than with them. That’s why they show up in force when I am in need. I’d do the same for them in a Zombie-second. They understand what a privilege it is to be Jesus to another person, and they do it so well. These are just three of the many, besides my sweet family, who called, visited, texted, prayed, mowed our grass, made food for us and even offered to do the laundry.

So, call us Jesus Zombies if you like. Besides, I guess it’s just the newest slam-version of Jesus-Freak. But, I have never been more blessed by the hands of my very free-will exercising, life-giving, mindful and loving friends. Guess we have a great idea for a costume party, though.

Click here if you'd like to read the introduction to this series.