Thursday, August 28, 2008

Some 'Splanin' to do... PART ONE

Strap in, this is gonna get loopy.

This is the post where the "danglers" will drop off, resolving that I am completely off my nut, crazy, delusional.

Yes, it all starts here.

It's okay. I generally expect as much and I am resigned to the branding; however unfair it may be, branding me won't change who I actually am. It's sort of like a reputation. In a room of 500 people, you have 500 reputations. The only one that matters is the one you know to be true.

In order to tell you some of the amazing stories that I have, it is necessary that I start further back, setting the stage.

I'm the son of a vietnam-vet, turned hippie, turned preacher. Like my mother before me, I'm a preacher's kid. I was born in the quiet little burg of Anderson, Indiana, on July 28th, 1975.

*not my church... not even remotely close to Anderson, Indiana, but it's quaint and reminded me of Little House on the Prairie, a show that literally makes me cry every single time I watch it.

For those who care to know, Anderson is home to...

THE Church of God

THE Anderson Indians
Man, I miss those days!

THE Wigwam (looks a lot emptier now... GM town... paging Michael Moore!)

and college heartthrob (and personal friend) Jon McLaughlin (pictured right). You do remember me, don't you, Jon?

The point is, I'm a real person and probably average in many ways.

I'm not sure how preacher's kids fare against missionary kids. I know we're all somewhere on the same totem. The general idea is that PKs and MKs are trouble waiting to happen. It's a generally held idea because it's generally true. Sadly (for my readers), I don't have lots of mouth-watering tales of a misfit past. I was never into crime or sex or booze or pot... heck, I never even loitered!

I never got hooked on cigarettes. At the tender age of 8, my dad said I could smoke if I wanted to, even going so far as to offer me one of Aunt Imogene's lit cigarettes. He pushed that damnable thing on me so hard, I never did see it as a forbidden fruit. It just stank, and I was gonna have to pass. Just brilliant!

Truthfully, the biggest crime I ever committed was wiping my boogers on the under-side of my desk in the 3rd grade, and even then, I was personally overcome with guilt to the point that I voluntarily confessed to Mrs. Meckley. She laughed until she cried. What a queer moment. I was free of my burden and she was happier than I've scarcely seen anyone since. That day still kind of screws with me. Oh well.

As it turns out, I think a lot of the trouble that PKs get into (speaking as a PK) comes from the kind of parents they had growing up. Some of the worst PKs imaginable probably had parents with some serious control issues, and understandably so. Let's face it, with a congregation of 500 people or more, it doesn't make for a good Sunday-morning-offering when junior gets caught huffing gasoline with a group of renegade Eskimos. Of course, I'm posturing a theory here; this whole thing would require a great deal of scrutiny and scientific research to substantiate. In short, my theory (in all of its staggering originality) suggests that, the higher you rise, the harder you fall. Fortunately for me and my brother, our folks were very down to earth (pastored a small church). It's not that they were liberal by any means. I still remember the day my mom spun around to face the back seat of the car in replete horror as I sang along word for word with the song "talk dirty to me" as it came on the radio. The sun didn't set that night until my 45 record had been throughly disposed of under my mom's ever-watchful eye. At least I got to keep Whitney Houston's riveting classic, "I wanna dance with somebody". Who knew she would wind up huffing? Sorry mom, you can't call 'em all right.

But seriously...

My mom taught me the value of laughter and gave me the ability to absorb life in the best possible way, through the eyes of humor. Things were rarely so serious that they warranted solemnity. As I recall, virtually everything had ribs and was deserving of a good elbow to them. That's not to say that my mother was a rube. On the contrary, she has always been deeply spiritual. But mom was never forceful about it, so faith was never a duty for me; it was allowed, familiar and welcomed, but still as personal as I needed it to be. That ultimately made spirituality very attractive to me and not something I felt the need to challenge "just because".

Looking back, I probably saw my mom cry one-too-many times at the hands of people in "the church". It was her propensity for laughter that made her crying so much more unwelcome. It was a gear-strip, a clear and awkward departure from normalcy. Naturally (and even understandably) we were always exposed to the scrutiny of "the body of Christ". Being under a microscope is the constant reality for people in ministry, and make no mistake, when the parents are in the ministry, the kids are in the ministry. When you make your income from people's tithes, even buying ice cream for your kids can come pre-packaged with a guilt trip. That may sound melodramatic, but that was real. I'm sure I don't know the half of it and that's because my parents never really complained (at least not around us). They took it in stride, pain and all, and just kept on truckin' for Jesus.

I still think maybe they were just a little bit crazy!

As I write this, it occurs to me that their faithfulness to "the church", despite the real struggle that it could sometimes be, was probably the single-greatest-example that I ever had of people doing what they felt was right, even if it came at great personal cost or pain. From my point of view as a child, more than not, it seemed pointless. There was no reward in it. There was no way to win a prize from a "getting punched in the face" contest. From my perspective, it seemed rather unattractive and lonely for much of the time.

Of course, these are my words... and this is my point of view. To hear my parents tell the tale, I am confident, it would be more joy than sorrow and there would be few regrets for the life that they've led. Don't make the mistake of hearing my words as theirs. I honestly don't think for one second that I am speaking for them, nor should you. Likewise, I'm not complaining about my past or saying "look what you did to me". I'm actually very grateful for this road that I have walked. Seeing people as they really are has been liberating and rare. I hold tightly to each of these little memories and each one makes me wiser, stronger, and less tolerant of the elixir salesmen that cross my path.

What I couldn't know then was that I would soon start hearing a voice in my head, seldom at first, and then regularly. It would speak to me in the third person and lead me into some of the most amazing adventures of my life. For a corn-fed boy from Indiana, the possibility of hearing God speak was something I had never expected, but would soon be forced to face.

(to be continued)


jcuffs10 said...

Bubba thats funny that you should talk about the little voice in your head !!! The first time I heard it....I was in Gary and Beths house behind Anderson High school when they lived in the downstairs part, And it freaked me out so badly that night until I told Beth what I was hearing for her.....IT WAS GOD TO SAY THE LEAST !!!!! Since then I have learned to listen for his whisper.....what a loud whisper it lead me to the sand box !!!!!!! I head back on the 31 at 6pm. Good luck in Dubai brother !!

T and T Livesay said...

from one booger wiper to the next ... we love you. we're hoping to raise a bunch of booger wiping MK's together with the Renner clan