It would have been nice if someone I really trusted would have told me that no, there was actually nothing made by the Christian music industry that came close to being good to the other stuff on the radio. I could have also used a heads up as I went about in my belief that, although I liked people my age, I never thought they quite measured up to my high spiritual standards.
Yes, in High School, I was "That Kid."
What frustrated me the most was not that the "pagans" at school weren't part of my God Squad, but that those in my own church youth group didn't want to take part in the Holy Huddle I was seeking to create. I cringed when they would curse and roll my eyes in disgust when they mentioned or alluded to drinking alcohol or going further with the opposite sex than I deemed appropriate. In other words, I kind of hated them for being normal.
How great would it have been if someone had pulled me aside and told me that it was me who needed to change. None of the adults would do that because I was what they wanted a child to be, and I reveled in the attention. I was the slimeball that I've learned to disdain.
(Carney and I have talked about how interesting it is that the people we like the least are those we most see ourselves in.)
Over Christmas I visited that tiny church I grew up in. Sitting in front of me was a friend I hadn't seen in many years. She was one of those that I have since come to realize put up with my arrogance for so many years. (Really, since we were born.) I decided to try and make amends for my sins.
The prayer came and I, as is sometimes the case, had my eyes open. I noticed she also was not bowing her head and closing her eyes. Later in the service I scribbled on a piece of paper and passed her a note, (one of the many things every other kid did, but which I looked down on.) On it was written: I saw you with your eyes open during the prayer. You know you can go to hell for that.
She looked back with a somewhat disgusted look on her face and, when she did, I realized my foible. To her, I am still the guy who BELIEVES THAT. Shit, I thought. She wasn't there when that church hurt me. She missed the long nights of me wrestling with God over who I'd become. She was not around when I had my first beer and she totally missed me becoming best friends with a pastor who had no problem dropping the 'f' bomb. She missed a decade and a half of a journey. To her I was teenage Craig looking down on her less-than-stellar church behavior.
Cross Canadian Ragweed got it right. You're always 17 in your home town.
Afterwards I made some sort of comment that perhaps somewhat salvaged myself. I told her I thought she could use some humor. It was stupid, but it was all I could get out.
Sometimes we have to come to grips with the fact that the damage is done. We can move on from our sins and all that "blood of Jesus" and "white as snow" talk we learned about in Sunday School is true. But the ripples keep rippling.