Being acceptable

I’ve mentioned off and on in the past about a rebellion period in my life… that had sort of been brewing for a while, but broke loose not too long after a long term relationship ended.

There is one weekend, very early in this period, that sticks clearly in my mind.

Friday night was a random warm evening, and so I had my window open… facing out from my apartment over the busy intersection just a sidewalk width from the building. I lived right in the corner spot, directly above a pawn shop.

Across the street diagonally was a church that I had attended for a good part of my freshman and sophomore years. Across the street (from both me and it) was a building that had once been a bank, but that the church had turned into a youth and college building. Beside it was the larger parking lot for residents of our building.

But across the street from us the other way… was quite the contrast. A biker bar sat right on the corner. Next to it one way was a second bar. And next to it the other way was a video store that was more x-rated “restricted adult” section than it was normal videos.

Down the block had yet another bar, and a large public library. I was always sort of amused by the contrasts of the area.

So I had my window open, listening to bar music and general noise that had spilled outside due to the nice weather.

And I watched the people for a bit.

And the more I watched, the more I found myself deciding that I was done.

Done behaving as best as I could and still never seeing to be enough. Done with relationships that were supposed to bring positive into my life and instead brought rollercoasters. Done with struggling to do hard things.

Done with being the grasshopper…. when the ants seemed so much more happy.

With the way things were going for me spiritually at the time, this made sense.

Eventually I ended up at my computer… not sure entirely why… but I had left aol open, and I had a message from someone.

At the time, I had been talking to quite a few people on there that I’d connected with over the profiles section for our area. This was a guy I’d been casually talking to for several months… who had been openly flirty, but that I’d always turned down.

I think he was slightly shocked when I asked him if he wanted to get together that night.

And he would be even more shocked by my responses as the night went on.

As were several other guys from similar situations that weekend.

But one of the moments that I remember most from that weekend was late sunday evening.

It was dark, and the weather had turned cold again. Coming home from a guy’s house, I walked past the front of the church youth building, and waited for the stoplight to change.

And I found myself looking in… through the steamed windows into the main room with the stage brightly lit and the teens and young adults all gathered into a sea in front of it.

And as I watched, I realized several things.

First, I realized that I felt no guilt about the weekend. I knew I should have, but I didn’t. At all. Nor did I feel any urge to go inside, talk to the youth leaders, repent, or anything at all in that direction.

But the bigger thing I realized… was that I felt more accepted and cared about that I had at any other time ever in my life.

I knew that none of the guys from that weekend would ever be a spouse or even a boyfriend… if I ever even saw them again at all. And yet… the fact that they found me to be ok… to be dateable… to be acceptable… to even have my life together by some of their standards…

It was enough.

It was more than I’d ever felt even from the multiple year relationship that had just ended.
More than I’d felt from being a part of any of the groups I’d been in, or even led.
More than even what I’d felt from my relationship with God.

And I knew… that it shouldn’t be that way. The I should have been able to draw on my relationship with God for that same feeling of being acceptable… much more so than I could feel it from any human.

And yet… in spite of years of knowing that… and years of trying to make it that… it still had never developed.

Did I know it mentally? Yes. Did I ever truly feel acceptable to him in my heart?

No. I might have thought different before that night, but it became really obvious that in comparison with the way I was feeling now that I’d never really ever felt that

Maybe part of it was the mess with not feeling accepted by Christians… and maybe it was part just from knowledge of my sinful nature… but nothing I’d ever really felt had ever made me feel as much like I was acceptable as a weekend that probably still ranks up there as one of the most intentionally sin-seeking times in my life.

The light changed, and I turned and walked across the busy street… feeling that a crossroads had been passed. I’d made my decision… and at that point I’m not sure if you ever could have convinced me that I would ever look back towards Christianity again.

And while I know it wasn’t the best path to take to get the answers that I needed… I think a decent chunk of what I needed to know from the rebellion period came out from that night. And I think they were lessons that I needed to learn to move on with my life.

And sometimes even now… years on the other side of it… I find myself needing to remember that although I choose to live aiming for standards that I may never live up to, that those disappointed hopes are not always the big picture. I may not be who I’d like to be… but I’m not nearly as far from the target as I think that I am.


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