Church was the one place I always longed to be. Our senior pastor taught seminary style classes and I was a sponge soaking up all that knowledge. The youth group was the place to be back in the day. It was probably the most dynamic group in Gwinnett at the time. Our youth pastor was an excellent musician and worshipper. He used a computer to sequence songs and taught me how to do the same thing. He helped compose my first song and supported me with his presence and time during my middle school years. I soon developed a similar passion for music, leading worship, and passion for God’s presence that has essentially been a major part of my life (even to this day).
Our youth pastor preached like summer youth retreats every Wednesday. They were powerful, challenging, and no kid fluff. Teenagers and college kids would come to grow in Christ. Our youth service attendance outnumbered the adult service easily two or three to one. I was one of the founding kids in the group with a handful of others.
The challenge was always the same – be outspoken for Christ and change your world by being bold. Well, I kind of made that my mission. Parkview became my mission ground. What began as an innocent desire to “win my world”, soon got tainted by a desire to have the “greatest” story of impact. I wanted God to do great things through me so I had great stories to share at church. I never fabricated anything and I genuinely did want God to move in my school. But, my motives were on a slippery slope.
Looking back, I believe all of my struggles in the youth group were stemmed by my desire for spiritual leadership to approve of me. You see the youth group continued to grow and new youth arrived. But, as the group grew so did some of the problems. The group became competitive. Our youth pastor started an elite group called the “fellas”. It was mostly just in jest and a group of his inner close youth friends, but I felt, at times, that it was his acceptable group. Sometimes I was a part of it, but for the most part I was never fully welcomed. Largely, that is because I sided a good bit with the “other side”. I was very good friends with the girls and stood with them. This got me in trouble many times with the “fellas”.
I desired a great bit for spiritual leadership to approve and accept me. I am sure my youth pastor did such to the best of his ability and perhaps I wanted more attention than was my due. Either way, I felt like I was drowning. Several incidents would transpire over my formable high school and college years that had me guessing whether I was accepted or not.
I guess the best way to describe this would be a child who desperately wants the acceptance of a parent and will go to extremes to get that attention. And, in my search for acceptance, I found jealousy, envy, and every bit of turmoil. Much of this is seen in the stories of regret during my formable years.