Yes, I am kind of old. I came of age in the late 1970's. It was an interesting time. The Viet Nam was was over. The draft had ended. Eighteen year old's could consume alcohol and vote - hopefully not at the same time. Large cars were still prevalent and many drove them with pride despite the skyrocketing price of gasoline. My generation came in on the tail end and also start of many things.
We enjoyed the freedoms that came out of the sixties, but we did not have the philosophical ties to those freedoms that our for-bearers did. What they did out of principle, we did out of pleasure and we were not sure what was behind it, but we would not be giving it up anytime soon. There was also, the recessions. Repeated economic back sliding throughout the Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan years that I believe goes back to Nixon's decision to kill the gold standard and let the dollar float on it's own. It was and is economic tyranny, but I digress.
They were interesting times. I had many 'rite of passage' friendships that enabled me to see many aspects of the real world that I had been carefully protected from for my entire childhood. I had gay friends and stoner friends and mentally ill friends and stupid friends and really intelligent friends that may have been any one of those other things too....from time to time. None of them seem to have any guilt or trepidation about who they were. Some were believers and some weren't, but they accepted there lot in life and pushed forward to where they thought they should be going.
With a Christian fundamentalist background, many of these things were a sort of revelation to me. They were a shock as well. All my prejudices were being challenged. People were all these things and they did not die (though some did later), they did not hate, they lacked fear and they loved life and the world around them.
My point here is that I believe this is where Christians, and particularly Christian parents, get it wrong. It's not a good idea to shelter your young people from real life and expect them to continue as if the actual world does not exist when they become adults. Once they are adults, they will need to be able to live and work in the world. It's realities can be crushing unless they are prepared.
I was not prepared for many of the world's realities. Some of this stuff came as a shock to me. It did not sit well with my faith and it started a questioning that did not stop until 1997. To say that everything I was taught about the world and God was wrong would be quite a stretch, but I was woefully unprepared. I blame no one for this. I tend to take things way too seriously and sometimes to an extreme degree and that was part of the problem. I had to learn grace. I had to learn that God had it and wanted to share it. It is what was missing from my faith and it's why it did not work. I was a Christian in name, but I was a spiritual Jew. I was unable to live up to God's standards or my standards (which, oddly, were higher than God's) and so I was crushed, discouraged and thought I was hell-bent. It's because there was no grace for me. It was there, but I did not recognize it. It was there, but I refused to take it. It was there, but I thought I didn't deserve it. And that's thing I could not wrap my mind around. Grace is not grace if you deserve it. If you deserve it, it becomes a reward for something earned. You cannot earn God's grace.
My life from that time eventually brought me to this here and now time. I am a better man because God taught me grace. He taught me how to love and forgive myself and that made me able to love and forgive others.
"love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all."
Lord thanks for this gift. I am yours. Take me where you will.