My childhood is filled with canvas tents, canoes, and the lake’s edge hut. I have the clearest memory of childhood discussions and a collection of bunkhouse adventures with God. This skinless friend was more real and very much more interested in me than people with skin on. My earliest recollections of God stem from kindergarten. In the night blackness, I clung to the walnut rail along my brother’s crib and softly sang bits of “Silent Night” to him while God and I tried to put Randy back to sleep.
What happened to this childhood faith? Drifting. Drifting happened. I drifted from the bunkhouse of my childhood faith.
Any number of AA’s can say to the drifter, “Yes, we were diverted from our childhood faith, too.” Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, 2012, p 28
I can identify the delineation between childhood and adulthood in the timeline of my life. Where were you in the fall of 1970? I was crying tears and flinging promises of letters to Tommy (my fishing buddy) and Donny (the lake’s 6th grade dare-devil). I had already missed a week of classes from an ear infection which sprung from the crying. I hugged my brother and made him promise to stay away from the high school bad girls and turned from the family station wagon towards my first year of college.
I was terrified entering the small private college only 20 miles from home. This was the year of protests, Kent State, sit-ins and Earth Day posters in the Science Hall. That was it…the line between childhood and ever after. At first I was still me, the girl in jeans, goofy hats, and cowboy boots–but I was drifting from the dimly lit night skies to the bright street lights stringing through campus. I drifted from a vivid faith and rambunctious adventures with God and my young buddies into a world ripe to bursting with intellectualism, confusing idealism, and rebellion.
Once adrift, I wandered wide-eyed into the brightly lit avenues of education: philosophy, classical literature and journalism, the human psyche and sexuality. Spending my spare time in the library, I couldn’t learn enough. Knowledge was the alter whichthat I knelt before. I forgot childhood. I had left my buddies. I stopped hearing Him. Instead of leaning into my faith, I was diverted away from it.
By the summer of my freshman year, I had drifted so far that I didn’t want to leave campus. I had no regrets of childhood losses–only anticipation of learning, stretching, becoming a successful student of life. I wanted to know how to live by the secret rules other people seemed to have already learned. I wanted to do it right…to be a part of things. Above all, I wanted to be an adult and outgrow my wild-shooting rambunctious childhood. By graduation I was drifting towards accomplishment, independence and a feeling of belonging.
Once I was freed from assigned readings and the pressure of grades, God (no, religion) became my topic of passion. I was an academic in pursuit of Greek, Hebrew, and Berean scriptural studies. Everything tested and proved. I rose to the task. I had approval from the top. I had won…and I was lost. Amidst all the trappings of church-related ministry and the image of having arrived, I had lost myself and with that…I had lost the God of my childhood. I had exchanged my innate knowledge for the pompous study and the slick words of imposters. Bill says it best.
Actually we were fooling ourselves, for deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God. ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, 2012, p 55
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