What follows is the second part of a story begun here.
So there I was – one foot in the side hallway of Living Word Church, the other foot halfway through the open door of the church bookstore. And right at my shoulder was none other than Lin Jackson, Living Word Church’s facilities manager and someone with whom we’d frequently spoken and worked back when we were part of the ministry.
I knew he’d know who I was. I knew I was busted.
I turned to face Lin Jackson. Our eyes met.
And to my great surprise, I could immediately sense that he did not recognize me. Not at all.
I should take a moment to explain a couple of things so that I don’t sound like my husband and I have an overblown sense of our own importance as I talk about my surprise at Lin Jackson’s obvious failure to recognize me. First of all, I’ve been told over and over again throughout my life that I am a “striking-looking” person. I am much taller than the average woman, and when I was younger I did a bit of professional modeling. I have always stood out in a crowd – literally “head and shoulders above” almost everybody else, much to my chagrin. For good or for ill, people do not ever seem to forget me. I could never get away with undercover spy work, or with impersonating anyone else.
But far more than that, another reason I couldn’t believe Lin Jackson didn’t recognize me is because he had worked with both my husband and me on many occasions over the course of several years. This was a guy with whom we’d both had extensive interactions. He totally had known us. Although we’d never socialized with him outside of church, we’d spent many hours together setting up for special events and working on projects together. Plus, it’s not like the guy didn’t have his wits about him. Before taking on the job of facilities manager at Living Word, he’d served in a high-level secular position with a great deal of responsibility. (His prior work history was touted proudly by Pastor Smith from the pulpit on more than one occasion, always with emphasis placed on how Lin Jackson had his priorities in order, to go to work for the church rather than to take a promotion with his previous company and move away from “the anointing.”)
Anyway, Lin Jackson was nobody’s dummy, and to say the least, it was odd that he appeared not to recognize me. But I still held my breath to see what he’d say.
“Can I help you?” he asked.
And then, before I could reply, he continued, in a tone that was far more warm and friendly than any he’d ever used with me during our interactions as co-laborers for the Lord, “This is our church bookstore. It’s closed right now, but you are more than welcome to take a look around.” He reached around me and flicked a panel of light switches. “Our bookstore is something we offer as a service to the congregation, and it is usually open before and after services on Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings, and occasionally during our midweek services.” He was in full salesman mode now. “Please feel free to look around and then perhaps come back sometime when it is open for business!”
I couldn’t believe my luck. All I’d wanted was the opportunity to flip through the pastor’s wife’s magazine for a minute or two, and my wish had come true! I immediately stepped over to the rack and picked up what looked to be the thickest, most recent issue of the First Lady’s magazine.
Lin Jackson was still standing there. As he saw what I’d grabbed, he suddenly grew even more gracious in tone. “That is a magazine that is put together by our First Lady, our pastor’s wife. And you know what? I just know that she would LOVE for you to have a copy. I know she would LOVE to bless you. Please, take a copy with you!”
In my shock over my amazing luck, I think I must have conveyed the perfect response, which would have appeared to be a mixture of excitement and humble surprise. “Oh…why…are you sure?” I asked.
“Yes, absolutely,” Lin Jackson replied. “Please, take a copy with you!”
I clutched my magazine and quickly stepped back out of the bookstore. Having achieved my ultimate goal, I didn’t want to risk jogging Lin’s memory in any way. I thanked him with great enthusiasm and left to rejoin my husband, whose eyebrows raised in shock at the realization of what I’d managed to do.
I had a lot of fun telling him about my encounter with Lin Jackson. He shared my disbelief over the apparent fact that Lin had not recognized me at all. My husband said something profound about that: “It’s like once you leave Living Word Church, you cease to exist in these people’s minds.”
But, whatever. I didn’t really care that Lin Jackson had seemed to be the victim of cultic Jedi mind tricks. I’d succeeded in my quest. Now, I’d finally get the opportunity to see the First Lady’s magazine for myself. After more than two years of wondering about it, I finally had a copy of my own.
In the next post, I’ll describe for you just what the ladies of Living Word Church have to say that is so important that it deserves its own 80-page full-color glossy magazine.