This may sound arrogant or foolish but I had never really known any 'cool' Christians. What I mean to say is I never wanted to be like any of the Christians I met. This caused me to want to distance myself from others who profess the faith. (This is now entirely in vogue as Christians love to finger point and call names to those they will one day have a feast with...Liberals, Conservatives, Gay lovers, Gay haters, you don't think like I do so I can't accept you...you get the point) Modeled for me in no particular order was hyper spirituality, legalism, fear of culture, boycotting concerts, boring and meaningless tradition, emotionalism, Jesus- is -going to- blow- this- place- up- so- who- cares- what- happens- on- earthism. It was difficult to find a way of looking at life that made sense and fit.
Mom and dad were figuring out their own way of making sense of Christ and doing the best they could with that, but it wasn't as if a deep understanding was being nurtured. There wasn't one.
So, with Fire Insurance in hand based on the 'sinners' prayer I lived my life.
My teen transition was rocky to say the least. Hormones raged and so did I.
I was angry and bitter although I couldn't exactly tell you why. I was smart, but not that smart. I was athletic, but not that athletic. I was average looking and was 'friend' to many a girl. You know the type of guy everyone might really like to marry one day but never date? Yeah, that was me. There's nothing like having a crush on a girl only to have her ask for your brothers picture! Because I wasn't really 'enough' in any area acceptance became a big deal. (Let me qualify that by saying my parents always tried to affirm me. I just figured it was their job and wasn't able to hear them)
Jr. High sucked. I was picked on a lot and found it difficult to think that God loved me. It was always 'God may love me but right now He must not like me!' With no faith community or mentoring relationships to fall back on, I would read the Bible, just the parts that somehow made sense - Proverbs, and see a lack of Wisdom and a ton of Folly.
It may very well have been difficult to like me, it is tough to see things from others perspective sometimes, but I did have some friends and am grateful for them. It wasn't until my 8th grade year that I got braces. (See picture from Long Ranger Post)
Acceptance is much easier to gain when your teeth don't arrive five minutes before you do. Getting out of junior high was a major blessing. Constantly receiving messages, intended or unintended, that you are unacceptable makes it very difficult to believe that you actually matter.
High school was an opportunity to get away from the bullying and difficulty and have a new start. A whole slew of kids wouldn't know me and I would be able to create a new identity. I most surely did that.
I could draw well and was pretty good at sports but there wasn't really a group of people I could fall into to 'fit in.' I found that group as I was grieving some things that didn't go my way. I really liked to drink. It didn't take long for me to find that the people who drank where pretty accepting and we really had fun together. During High School I made some lifelong friends that I am still connected deeply with today, but I also made a lot of 'weekend' friends, the kind you could get a ride to the keg or party with. Sophomore through Junior years were basically moving from party to party, drunk to drunk and hang over to hang over. I am not sure how many police I out ran (on foot, not in car) or how many near death experiences I had but God was watching over me. I knew that to be true.
As the anchor analogy goes, I was drifting and even trying to drive of with my anchor intact, seeing just how far I could push it. I tried to find acceptance everywhere but the only place it can be. I knew God loved me be could see no real way that played out in every day life.
As I entered college I had another opportunity to create a new identity. It was time to start taking some stuff seriously and figure things out. As I look back on it, it is funny to think that an 18 year old kid has ANY sense of life, what it means and how to live it. All the pressure people put on kids to know what they want to do and be when they are 18 is ridiculous. The frontal lobe of the brain doesn't fully form until around 25 and I was going to prove that in the coming years.
At some point you may be wondering what all this has to do with Anglicanism and my journey. Fair question. Context is key and while some where 'Cradle' Anglican/Episcopalian I was not. Spirituality is born in us, not on us. Because of this, I believe my context will help people better understand the journey...thanks for your patience :)