After an illness that nearly took my baby brother’s life, my mom went on a kind of spiritual journey. First she started going to a little Baptist church we occasionally attended in the neighborhood. Then she started watching this strange little show on TV called The PTL Club, which later I discovered stood for “The Praise The Lord Club”. Mine you this was at the very beginning of the show before the greed and excess really became apparent. This program eventually took my mom (and us kids) knee deep into the “Pentecostal Movement” of the early to mid-1970’s.
Being an awkward impressionable young teen I so wanted to fit in t whatever click I could find. Attending church during my mom’s spiritual journey was mandatory for us kids. But I must admit I enjoyed the lively music and tingling feelings I felt during the worship services. So I hit it off with my fellow tag-a-long kids at the various churches we attended. But as I dove into deeper into the doctrine of the evangelical moment, I was divided by the absolutes it presented.
As I have learned most teens in the moment had the same conflicting feelings about “living righteously “ and “living in the world “. So there I was standing in the middle, pretending to be this “warrior of God” around my Christian family. While “living for the devil “ around frankly the same group of kids outside the church. As I grew older the pressures of adulthood grew heavier and heavier leaving me nothing but disillusioned. I ended up divorcing my first wife and running back to the church for comfort. Later on I got married again this time to the preacher’s daughter. But on a dare from God (this is a whole other story) I moved my family away from everyone and most everything we had known.
It was here that I grew up becoming the person I am today. I struggled, but I was building a new life for my family. But it wasn’t long before the realities of life; raising four young children and dealing with my wife disabilities. Took a toll on me emotionally and spiritually. Most of my family including my late mom would simply say, come back home to church, but it’s not that simple. When you’ve lived through twenty plus years trying to live up to some ideal planted into your head. You quickly discover you’ll never make it to those ideals. My upbringing would tell me to put it at the feet of Jesus. But son all I can say is, that’s a beautiful sentiment, but what does it really change?
Please, please, please let’s not turn this into an argument in theology. I’m long past the tingling I felt so long ago. Silence, awareness, breathing are my sacred prayers now. Listening to that crying child that was bullied. That was told to man up all the while being told he was worthless. It’s the listening and embracing of that soul that brings peace. So I no longer pretend. I no longer try to live up to someone else’s expectations. Now I take my weaknesses, rather mental or physical and use them as strengths. I’ve taught myself to find balance, not absolutes. To stop pretending to be something I’m not and to be who I am.