Last night after Extreme Makeover Home Edition Kansas City (Ty was hot, per usual… and I mean that in a manly, nongay way), I watched a show called “14 Kids and Pregnant Again.”
I have to say, it’s one of the most frightening things I’ve ever seen in my life. Let me preface my commentary by mentioning a few less known facts about me and my family. As I’ve mentioned before, my dad was a pastor for most of my childhood. This meant that we got to be a “pastor’s family” and I got to be a “pastor’s kid.” (insert dramatic music.)
Being a pastor’s family is a totally unique experience. First, you are more sheltered than anyone else on earth, and you don’t know it. You are raised to believe that you have wisdom that could only be acquired through being a pastor’s kid. You are raised to think you must be the example for everyone else on earth, and that all eyes are on you at all times. You’re also raised to think that no matter how good you live your life, it will never be good enough. Most of those lessons happen on accident, so it’s hard for the pastor to notice what’s happening to the kids.
So as you’re growing up in a bubble, you miss out on much of life, but you don’t know it until much later than normal kids. You don’t realize that it’s strange to wear slacks and a nicely tucked-in polo shirt when you go out to play. You don’t realize that most girls don’t wear ankle length plaid dresses that they made themselves. This belief is further compounded by either being homeschooled or going to a tiny Baptist school from 1st through 12th grade.
That, my friends, is what we call a bubble.
So naturally, once you finish high school, and go off to the public university…. you’re going to get a crash course in normality. That’s what happened to me. The problem with crash courses is that you never really learn the lessons as well as someone who got the full education. You discover that in order to “catch up,” you have to live life far more extremely than most people, and sadly, it’s usually later in life than is normal. When you grow up with an isolationist worldview, it isn’t easy to undo the damage.
However, there’s an upside. As someone that grew up in a bubble, I can tell you that the moral grounding I was given would also be very difficult to undo. I can differentiate between people and actions better than most people I’ve met. For instance, I have several gay friends, in spite of my belief that homosexuality is immoral. They know what my beliefs are, and they respect them. For me to condemn the person would in essence be to say, “hey, I’ve never done anything wrong, so I can look down on you.” Which of course, as many people would attest, is not the case with me.
As a teen, I was unable to make that differentiation. I saw it as “splitting hairs.” I was pretty much a judgmental prick. Funny how a little life kicks that out of you, huh? After my experience with Melissa (Ms. Right), I found myself far less willing to look down on anyone. Some in the religious community would say that I have let my beliefs get watered down, and that’s why I don’t condemn people for their actions. Maybe they’re right. Or maybe they’re self-righteous, holier-than-thou jerks.
The show about the humongous family brought this on. The family is all homeschooled, their church involves one other huge family coming to their house on Sunday, all the girls make their own clothes. Very cultish. And I say that as someone who grew up in much the same way. Not the huge family, but for some reason, I really related to the oldest son, who was around 16. He reminded me of me when I was 16.
Thank god we get to keep learning after our “formative years.”