Do you ever catch yourself having a thought and laugh?
Like, you start out thinking about something and one idea leads to the next and before you know it, a strange phrase runs through your mind. You think, “if I said that out loud it would be confusing and hilarious”.
I remember a time at an Evangelism conference when I had a really weird thought. For my friends who are unfamiliar with an Evangelism conference – it is a gathering of Christian children from the middle school to early high school ages and it has the general agenda of making you feel like a selfish piece of crap while convincing you to commit to silly endeavors like not swearing or having sex before marriage. It may be the primary source of self-esteem issues for Baptist youth. It is also an unofficial training ground for sneaking out of hotel rooms without chaperones catching you. Anyway, most of the event is a stage show where everyone gathers for hearing stories of people who have been saved.
At this conference there seemed to be a parade of people coming on-stage and telling stories about living a wild life of sin only to have it turned around by the warm and loving grace of the lord. Each time I thought, “Wow, what could be more inspirational than that guy?” and lo and behold a new sage would appear with his tale from the gutter. By the end of the day I was convinced that the only person who could have a better “witness” would be a spiritually redeemed Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hilter.
One guy talked about being a serial womanizer. Trying to always fill some sort of emotional/metaphorical hole with lots and lots of frivolous sex. Burning through partner after partner only to realize that he was avoiding true love and self acceptance. Side note for the sex addict guy: To a teenager with raging hormones, your story just sounds like bragging or a challenge. I’m sure 90% of the audience missed the intent.
Then another guy talked about living a life of crime. Stealing small things, like CD’s and packs of gum, before increasing his portfolio to cars and armed robbery. He learned that he was trying to have control of a ship that already had a captain (God). A little time in the slammer made him realize that he didn’t like being in the slammer but needed some solid evidence that he had changed. He recommitted his life to “being good” and has “never been happier”.
After this guy, was a man who became addicted to heroine laced with PCP and stole orphaned kittens from his Grandmother to grind up for dog food to sell on the illegal black market to pit bull fight clubs or some crazy sad shit like that. Sad stuff for sure but almost terrible to the point of being unrelated. Yet again, once this wayward scamp had snorted all the powdered kitten crack he could get his paws on, this man hit rock bottom and turned to the ministry. Who can challenge the authority of the witness from Kitten Krack Kenny?
All the stories left the audience with the desired effect. Knowing that even if you run your life into the ground you can apologize, straighten up, and through youth ministry have thousands of pre-teens share an empathetic tear in a packed indoor arena. Most will even agree that the person is “so brave” or “totes inspirational”. The girls in the youth group were particularly moved. As a borderline teenager myself, I was intrigued by their interest so I did some pondering on how to increase my attractiveness.
I found myself wondering if being a complete and total screw up was a pre-requisite for being inspirational in the religious speaking circuit. I tried to imagine what the story might be from a totally normal guy who was a good person from day one. Could he deliver a riveting tale of how following the rules totally worked out? That led me to my weird, middle school logic thought.
“Maybe I should try crack or gambling.”
How ironic. In a system where high morals are valued the most impressive resumes are from people who battled a string of drugs and prostitution. I guess it is the prodigal son concept, which I think is critically flawed. We should be celebrating the loyal family member who never strayed in the first place. Crazy parables.
If you have ever listened to inspirational speakers and had the strange thought that maybe you should strike out in search of your own personal rock-bottom, this post is for you. You’re welcome. Go live it up and work on that backstory. You can be inspirational in no time. If you survive.
-Underdaddy to the rescue.