“You are not upset that we have different boxes. You are upset because my box does not match yours.” ~Rob Lester Too often we place God in a box, whether it’s a box of our own making or one belonging to someone else that we’ve co-opted for our own designs. We lift up the flaps, … Continue reading The God Box
“Where I grew up there weren’t many trees. Where there was we’d tear them down and use them on our enemies.” ~Peace On Earth, U2 I grew up in 2 different places: the chaos of Southwest Philadelphia, and the insular bubble of the Adventist church. While these distinct places warred with each other for possession … Continue reading The Southwest Philly / Adventist Dichotomy
I guess we all go through our lives thinking that others know what we’ve gone through, assuming that our experiences are tacked up on our faces like so many notices on a board, or at least we don’t really think about where others come from so we assume the same when it comes to them. … Continue reading Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Questioning
Growing up Seventh-Day Adventist, it was only natural to wonder about the nature of male/female relationships. Everybody growing up wonders about that, but for the SDA it was almost like sacred territory. We saw couples at church, but we were only privy to their public relationship with the Lord, not to their private relationship with each other. But you know how kids are. We talked, and it was pretty easy to place the couples we saw into three categories:
- The Ones Who Were Genuinely Happy
- The Ones Who Were Pretending
- The Ones Who Weren’t Even Pretending
The ones who weren’t even pretending were the ones who we never even saw together. Either the wife would bring the kids to church, the husband would bring the kids to church, or they would both be there, but never in the same place at the same time. These couples tended to be middle-aged with young children. The ones who were pretending could always be seen together, but they were never actually found communicating with each other. And those who were genuinely happy had a seamless nature to how they went about their business while at the same time tending to each other. Those couples were usually smiling, and had an ease to them that we could tell the other couples obviously envied.
But one thing that was hardly ever in question was that each couple we saw at church were in fact baptized Seventh-Day Adventists. While there may have been degrees of faith, the faith itself was never in doubt. Apparently this isn’t so clear-cut in some other religions, but I didn’t know anything about that then. I assumed that everyone who was married was “equally yoked,” meaning that they were of the same religion. I also assumed back then that when I grew up I, too, would marry a Seventh-Day Adventist and raise Seventh-Day Adventist children together with her. That assumption would prove false. Continue reading “Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Unequally Yoked”
My 20 – year high school reunion is next month and I have been reliving some of the highs and lows of the experience. Hard to believe that it has been 20 years since high school. Some days I can almost convince myself I’m still a gangly 15-year-old with acne and a distinct lack of facial hair. Now the facial hair I do have has quite a bit of gray scattered throughout, so when I look in the mirror I can believe it’s been 20 years.
I went back after 15 years, when I was searching for some kind of anchor or foothold I had been missing back then. And I did reconnect with several people I knew, but it was transitory. It wasn’t solid. But this is 20 years. Everyone will be there, and I am at once both elated and frightened over that.
Everyone remembers high school differently. Some recall only the good parts, the “best years of my life” that is often bandied about by middle-aged people who need to relive their glory years, the metaphorical heyday. While others remember the bullying and tears. Still others reflect on how invisible they felt even in the midst of so many others. I was in this latter group.
Don’t get me wrong. I had a small network of people I would have called friends for lack of a better term, and they were separated into black, white, and other. Not by me, but by them. My black friends were courtesy of my skin color and my sister. My white friends were because we shared the nerd trait. And the others played table tennis with me. Back then those were the lines, but perhaps looking back they were only in my head. Continue reading “Reunion”
“There is no past. Only present. And future.” -Theodicus
There’s a saying that you can never go home again, and I believe wholeheartedly in it. Not that you can’t go back to the physical place, but that you can’t go back to how you used to fit into that space. That’s important for a world of reasons, but the biggest one is that there is something to be said for nostalgia, once that distance has been forged, that connects us back to that time period, and to who we were at the time.
So many people have memories of their childhoods, be they good or bad, that they come back to in one way or another. For me that childhood was a solid mix of the good and the bad. But whichever sentiment clouds my memories, it’s safe to say that every single one of those thoughts involves my religious upbringing. In fact, just today I was singing “Jesus Loves Me” while at work, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I was on the second verse.
My mother used to always ask me to go to church with her every single time I went back to Philadelphia for a visit. I could hear it in her voice, too, that emotion that said I was doing a horrible thing saying no, but there was also that feeling of sadness. And I knew that she wasn’t just asking me to go to church. She was wondering where she went wrong, that I would so fully abandon the church that pretty much raised me nearly as much as she herself did.
But what I wanted to tell her was that it was never her, that she hadn’t done anything wrong. Continue reading “Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Going Home”