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Sometimes You Get the Church Sign You Need

Perhaps it’s because the signs belong to a religious institution, but I always think that G-d speaks to me via church signs since burning bushes release dangerous levels of carbon dioxide.  I assume G-d wasn’t thinking about the potential greenhouse gases that would be released into the atmosphere when he spoke to Moses, causing global warming.  But now he’s given it some thought and realized that church signs are much more environmentally-friendly way to communicate with individuals.

Anyway, I read church signs as I pass, and while the vast majority don’t seem applicable to my life, and they must be meant for someone else…

“Use sonscreen to prevent sinburn.”

…this one spoke to me.


It wasn’t really on the Beulah Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  It was on a church that I pass on the way to my parent’s house.  But that church is on an inconvenient curve in the road, and I wasn’t about to pull into the parking lot just to take a photo.  So I made that on a church sign generator.  Which, I know, feels like cheating.  But the point is the message.  Isn’t that a smart message?

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”

As I drove I thought, “I could be a tough person.”  I mean, I’m not a particularly tough person now, but I could make a point to become one since it is true that — if personal history is correct — tough times don’t last.  I could keep that in mind and pace myself.  I could choose toughness.

I came home and recited it to Josh, who finished saying it aloud with me after the comma.

“Oh!” I said.  “You saw the same sign?”

“No, Melissa, that is just a familiar cliche.”

“I found it helpful.  It gave me a new perspective on life.”

I felt defensive about my church sign.

I decided to Google the saying and discovered it was a popular platitude, attributed to Robert H. Schuller.  Who was Robert H. Schuller, I wondered.  He was a televangelist who ran a program called the Hour of Power.


My first thought was the lyrics to Frank Zappa’s “Bobby Brown Goes Down.”  Didn’t he say he could last an hour… power…  So then I needed to Google that song, which actually is a Tower of Power and not an Hour of Power.  (“I can take about an hour on the tower of power / As long as I get a little golden shower”)

And that reminded me of a harrowing drive I made between Milan and Venice in the backseat of a friend’s car as he drove over 100 mph, and I had to translate and explain an entire cassette of Frank Zappa songs for him. (“But, Melissa, what is a golden shower?”)  I was gritting my teeth, my entire body tense as his tiny car rattled over the highway, thinking, “dear G-d, dear G-d, let me get to Venice in one piece.”  And that didn’t last, you know.  That tough car ride had an end point when we arrived at a long-term parking lot so we could take a boat the rest of the way into the city.

See, I was tough.

Which brings me back full circle to the fact that sometimes you get the church sign you need.


1 nicoleandmaggie { 07.07.14 at 7:58 am }

Gee, I hope that’s not really His method of communication, because if so, God is often trying to tell me passive-aggressive homophobic misogynistic bigoted things. (And sometimes just really bizarre stuff. I often wonder what the Church sign-maker next to the shoe store is smoking.) Or maybe He’s just not trying to communicate with me.

2 Pepper { 07.07.14 at 8:17 am }

I think you’re tough. Anyone who makes it through infertility or is still in the midst of it (because does it ever really end?) is tough. I remind myself of that when I’m feeling particularly not tough. I did IVF, I can do anything.

3 Heidi { 07.07.14 at 9:15 am }

I’m not a church-goer, but I do read church signs! I still remember one that I regularly walked, and then jogged, by every single night during the summer of ’85, when I was home for the summer and trying to lose my Freshman 15. “God gives us the strength to better ourselves.” I wasn’t so sure about the God part, but I still found it inspirational.

4 a { 07.07.14 at 10:29 am }

The last memorable church sign that I wish I would have photographed (because now, I can’t remember the wording) was something that implied blow jobs. As you can see, I only look for irony in church signs. 🙂 Plus, my drive to work no longer includes passing 3 churches with inspirational messages on the same 1/2 mile stretch of road. Maybe the bar signs on my new route will prove inspirational.

I suspect you’re tougher than you give yourself credit.

So which was more difficult – your friend’s driving or explaining the golden shower?

5 Valery Valentina { 07.07.14 at 11:12 am }

Ha ha ha, I’m still laughing about the sinburn. And wondering if having a daughter and being infertile counts as sonscreen?
You made my day anyway!
And I’m with -a-, I think you are a tough cookie.

6 Laurel Regan { 07.07.14 at 12:06 pm }

Love your train of thought. Thanks for the smiles!

7 Tiara { 07.07.14 at 1:24 pm }

I drive country roads home from work rather than stress on the highway & I pass a little stone church that always has different messages on their sign, always followed at the bottom by “Free Will” …always seems odd to me.

8 Lori Lavender Luz { 07.07.14 at 5:12 pm }


You’re a tough girl.

9 Mali { 07.07.14 at 10:30 pm }

I think any of us here, living with the scars of infertility, are pretty tough. We just don’t realise it.

10 Battynurse { 07.08.14 at 12:52 am }

I think most of us are pretty tough but don’t realize it in the moment you’re trying to survive. If we look back though we can see how tough we are.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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