Towing an anchor through various seas, stormy or otherwise was an interesting experience.
We moved in fifth grade and it took me to a new school, new friends (who cared little or knew nothing about AWANA) and a new set of problems. When you grow up with kids at a given time in your lifespan they learn to accept you in a different way than when you are new. Things like our income, lifestyle and home environments that were previously know, understood and basically not worried about suddenly come into sharp focus when trying to establish yourself anew.
My long curly hair (yes I had hair once) and my massive overbite did little to help me in this endeavor. I quickly fell away from any sense I had of Christ being anything but an anchor. Yes he was there and yes I was loved but it had nothing to do with daily life. In fact, I had to try to find my own way of fitting in. Fifth grade is screwy enough isn't it?
My quest became one for acceptance. I wanted to be accepted by the kids around me and did all I could to do that. I tried every type of identity I could find. Friends, sports, humor all played some role in me trying to figure out who I was.
Church during this time was a mishmash of things. When we went, and it wasn't regular, we went to baptist, four square, assemblises, Roman, or any number of other churches. Our spirtual life mirrored our own lives in a way, wondering about trying to be cemented in a world of water. Looking for a footing where none was to be found. I think this may be true for most of us.
Structures are no substitute for relationship, but they sure help. Without a structure I thought I could be who I needed to be and do what I needed to do without connecting to a community not knowing that growth comes through commitment.
The lone ranger, it's only me and Jesus type of spirituality dominated my journey for the next number of years. I honestly thought this was Christianity. Jesus loves me and forgives me, life is on my own unless I need him, and I go to heaven when I die. Needless to say I was ill equipped for the coming hormonal storm, anchor in tow.