Posts Tagged With: Overcoming Adolescence

We Were Wrong…

We Were Wrong…

Marion Aldridge

As I matured as a Christian, I reflected, long, often, and sometimes sadly, even painfully, about much of what I believed as a youngster, and into adulthood. Because my doctrines, my ethics, and my habits have sometimes undergone enormous changes, there may be those who are presumptive enough to wonder if I lost my faith.

Quite possibly, I lost your faith. I found my faith. The Bible calls these transformations “repentance.” Here are some of my confessions:

WE WERE WRONG to believe that science and God could be enemies. Truth is truth wherever we find it.

WE WERE WRONG to assume uniformity in thought or action was better than independence or creativity.

WE WERE WRONG to accept what our culture taught us about racial segregation and the supposed inferiority of black people.

WE WERE WRONG to believe that we could somehow obey the Great Commission by paying for and praying for missionaries to go to Africa while ignoring the Great Commandments, disrespecting the African-Americans who lived down the dirt roads from our churches. We were either unaware or didn’t care that they often drank polluted water, had leaky roofs, and had no indoor plumbing.

WE WERE WRONG to believe that a glass of wine on Thanksgiving would send someone to hell but that it was okay for the preacher to be 100 pounds overweight and continue to stuff his face with fried chicken.

WE WERE WRONG to believe that people in other denominations who paid attention to the Christian calendar (Pentecost, Maundy Thursday, and Ash Wednesday, for example) were somehow less spiritual than Baptists who built their church calendar around secular holidays (such as Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and July 4).

WE WERE WRONG to believe we could be comfortable and Christian at the same time.

WE WERE WRONG to believe the primary thing that Jesus or the Christian faith cared about was Heaven and Hell.

WE WERE WRONG to believe that somehow America was the Kingdom of God.

WE WERE WRONG to believe the assumptions of our secular society, that bigger is better, that might makes right, that getting is better than giving.

WE WERE WRONG to believe that highlighting a few isolated verses could sum up the Bible, as if God could be contained in a bumper sticker.

WE WERE WRONG to trivialize prayer, as if getting all the things we want is the point!

WE WERE WRONG to believe God intended to silence the female half of the human race.

WE WERE WRONG to assume other people could practice the Christian faith on our behalf: pastors, missionaries, youth ministers, and social workers. When was the last time you got to know a welfare mother or a drug addict?

WE WERE WRONG to say there is only one biblical way to focus on the family. The family of Abraham looks different than the family of Jesus, which looks different than the family of King David, which looks different than the family of Mary and Martha, which looks different than the family of Esther and Mordecai.

WE WERE WRONG to think that Roberts Rules of Order, rather than the Bible, is the primary guide for working out disagreements in our churches.

WE WERE WRONG to teach (or imply) that talking, telling, and preaching, was more important than listening. The great sin of the Old Testament, according to Roy Honeycutt, was “They would not listen.”

WE WERE WRONG to let bullies, blamers, gossips, and other spiritually unhealthy people dominate the conversations and the decisions in many of our congregations.

WE WERE WRONG to think that repentance was primarily for non-Christians outside of our churches instead of for those of us inside. The more I know about Jesus, the Bible, the Christian faith, and the Holy Spirit, the more I know I am called to change, to repent.

WE WERE WRONG to believe that any tradition, law, bible, preacher, program, building, doctrine, convention or any other part of creation—even if God made it and blessed it—could possibly be as important as the Creator.

This, by the way, is the short list. I could write a book!

I have always been a loyal kind of guy. For decades, I hung in there, as much as possible, with the ecclesiastical world I inherited. I knew racism was wrong, however, and one by one, I began confronting the errors and inadequacies of my childhood experiences. I am grateful for the church of my childhood, for my family, for the appropriate lessons from my South Carolina culture. But I am also grateful I had permission to continue to grow, to get un-stuck from the habits, behaviors and beliefs of my childhood and adolescence.

(Four years ago, I wrote this column for the newsletter of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of South Carolina.)

Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Family, Health, Holiday, Lists/Top Ten, Race, South Carolina | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

A Fairy Tale Retold: the Blue Collar Kid and the Cantaloupe

Do you remember the Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tale about the Princess and the Pea? The bottom line was that the Princess was so sensitive that even though 20 mattresses were placed between her and the Pea, she still felt the discomfort caused by that tiny little Pea. That proved she was a real Princess, fit to marry the Prince.

After I had been married several years, I realized that I had married a Princess. My wife Sally and I would be in a room and she would complain of being cold when I felt comfortable. That made sense. Some people are cold-natured. They should keep a sweater handy. But, later, in another time and place, Sally would complain of being hot, and I still felt comfortable. You can’t be both cold-natured and hot-natured, can you? Eventually I remembered this story of the Princess and the Pea and concluded that this doctor’s daughter from Greenville, South Carolina, is ultra-sensitive. She is delicate! Nowadays, we might say she is “high maintenance.” She has very elevated expectations regarding her own personal comfort. She knows—even though 20 mattresses may separate her from that Proverbial Pea—that the Pea is there, and she feels it. And she lets me know she feels it! And she wants me to do something about that blasted Pea, no matter how many mattresses have to be removed and replaced.

So far, this sounds like a complaint about the Princess’ super-sensitivity, but it’s not. Here’s another Fairy Tale. This one is about the Blue Collar Kid and the Cantaloupe. This Fairy Tale is about me. Instead of being extra sensitive, I tend to be less sensitive, even insensate, numb, not sensitive at all, anesthetized, and utterly unaware of the cantaloupe beneath my own thin mattress.

Sally and I would come home from somewhere and she would ask, “Do you smell that?”

I would answer honestly, “No.” I sensed nothing.

Over time, too many of these “Do you smell that?” or “Did you hear that?” episodes occurred when something was actually overheating or burning in the oven or making a noise that needed our attention. It wasn’t just that I married a person whose perception was extra keen; it was also that she married someone whose senses were apparently exceedingly dull. As I have tried to analyze candidly what was going on, I have concluded that there were a couple reasons for my insensitivity, my lack of awareness.

  • In the instance of “Do you smell/hear/etc.?” at least one aspect of the situation was my not wanting there to be a difficulty! If there were a problem, the commode overflowing, an electrical short in the light fixture, a noise in the ceiling fan, the smell of dog urine, twenty mattresses that needed to be unpiled and restacked, I suspected I would be the one whose task it would be to ameliorate the crisis. I didn’t want there to be a problem so I didn’t want to see, hear, smell, taste, or feel one.
  • The more basic issue was that I had rarely ever listened, smelled, tasted, touched, saw, or felt with much consciousness or comprehension, and that insensitivity predated my relationship with Sally. Call it clueless. Call it naïve. Call it stupid. Call it immaturity. In the movie “Clueless,” the teenage protagonist was hilarious. A 50-year old naïf is sad and frustrating, not humorous.

Listening or paying attention was actually a third-tier challenge for me. Not listening went hand in hand with an addiction I have, the need to talk incessantly, the secondary difficulty. The prior issue to that, however, my primary demon, has to do with fear, the fear of not being liked. I have heard it called “Approval Addiction.”

Categories: addiction, Book Review, Faith/Spirituality, Family, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My thoughts on the Confederate Flag recorded in Overcoming Adolescence, copyright 2011

One of those life-altering occasions occurred to me in college. I was a member of the Student Senate at Clemson University, and usually we debated such banal questions as whether or not the male Senators should wear a coat and tie to the meetings. Occasionally, to the chagrin of the Deans, we actually dealt with something of substance. In the late 1960’s overt racism was a larger fact of life on our conservative campus than drugs. In the Deep South, the Civil War, over 100 years in our past, still stirred far more emotion than World War II. The Second World War was history. The Civil War seemed like a current event. The Confederate Battle Flag was prominently and vigorously waved at our football and basketball games.

Someone put forth a motion in our Student Senate that flaunting the Confederate flag should not be allowed in our sports arenas. Ours was a newly integrated campus. I was against the motion. I was proud of my Dixie Heritage. I did not think of myself as a racist. I loved the Deep South. I loved our songs, our heroes, our food (grits, fatback, collards, barbeque, turnips, okra and cornbread), and the Rebel Yell (mine was louder than anybody’s). My accent, then and now, is deep-fried and smothered in red-eye gravy. I was and am about as Southern as a human can be!

But I was in college, getting a “liberal arts” education, and for the first time in my life, I was aware of a larger world. I had never been in school with a person of African heritage until I got to college. In my culture, we still used the “N” word casually.

A pretty Jewish coed sat beside me during the debate on the motion to ban the waving of the Confederate flag in the football stadium. She whispered to me, “Waving the Confederate flag in the face of a black person seems to me to be no different than waving a Nazi flag in my face.”

I had never thought about that! She was right. Period. I learned something that day. I voted for the resolution. I am pleased to say that Confederate flags are no longer waved at Clemson University on game day in the stadium.

Something shifted in me that day. I changed an old way of thinking. I grew up a bit.

Categories: Basketball, Faith/Spirituality, Football, Race, South Carolina | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

At one time in my life, I believed each of these statements…

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  1. Dogs were males and cats were females.
  2. Pregnant women had eaten a watermelon seed, and the watermelon was growing inside them.
  3. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were real.
  4. My mom and dad were better Christians than our pastor and his wife because my mom and dad only had two kids which indicated they had had sex (whatever that meant) twice, and the pastor had four children which showed they had had sex four times.
  5. Saying the word “pregnant” was wrong. If the “condition” required a word, “expecting” was preferred.
  6. As a young entrepreneur, I thought I could sell two pieces of penny bubble gum for 3 cents. I learned I was wrong when I sat in front of our house on a busy street all day long and sold none.
  7. All Russians were bad.
  8. All Americans were good.
  9. Black people were somehow inferior to white people.
  10. You can trust people to do what they say they will do.
  11. Having an “official” forum (radio, television, pulpit or print media) suggests you must be right. People would say, “I heard it on the radio. It must be true.”
  12. North Augusta, South Carolina, was the capital of the world, and its geographical center.
  13. Schoolteachers do not curse.
  14. All families have a mother and a daddy.
  15. Powerful and important people (especially those in the church, the school, politics and the military) are good and are right and are to be respected and obeyed.
  16. People who drink alcohol are immoral, wicked people.
  17. Marriages should forever be full of romance and continuously happy. If married people argued, something was wrong with the marriage.
  18. My religious heritage provided the only right way to be in good standing with God.
  19. Foreigners or Immigrants who have difficulty with the English language are not as smart as “normal” people without accents.       (It did not occur to me, until embarrassingly late in my life, that the person who was struggling with English was at least bi-lingual—many immigrants speak or understand three or four languages—and I was the dolt with limited linguistic skills.)

(From Chapter 9 in my book, Overcoming Adolescence)

Categories: Book Review, Faith/Spirituality, Family, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

 While I love to write, and I love

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While I love to write, and I love that people read what I have written in my blog and other places, my ego is not so large that I want to spend my entire retirement writing for fun.  Somewhere in the mix, I want to write for profit.  That means I need to sell some of what I have written, to magazines, publishers, newspapers, whatever.  Having friends check “Like” on Facebook, I admit, is a nice affirmation, but that is way less motivating to me in 2013 than it was in 2010!

 

If you like what I write, I hope you will buy my Memoir, Overcoming Adolescence.  You can purchase it as an eBook or as a paperback from Amazon:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Overcoming-Adolescence-Childhood-Maturity-ebook/dp/B0057B058O

 

  You can also order it from me for $20 and I will sign it and return it to you.  My email address is mariondaldridge@gmail.com.

 

If I can make a little money in the process of writing a blog, that would make me very happy.  More importantly, I think Overcoming Adolescence is worth reading.  In spite of the title, I wrote this volume for people ages 30-70, not for teenagers.  I don’t think adolescents have enough life experience to understand how to be mature.  They are in the midst of their formative events.  What is sad, however, is when adults turn age 40, then 50, and then 60 and still have the worldview they had as teenagers.

 

I began my process of transformation about age 30, and Overcoming Adolescence is my story.  If you read it, I would be glad for you to write a review for Amazon or any other website.

 

Thanks for hanging in there with me this far.

 

Marion D. Aldridge

Categories: Book Review | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

These are the first few paragraphs of Overcoming Adolescence…

There is a child within us… we must persuade not to be afraid.”  Plato, The Trial and Death of Socrates

“We are defined by what we fear.”  Gordon Livingston, And Never Stop Dancing 

“To see what is right, and not to do it, is lack of courage.” Confucius

 ImageWhen I was a kid, my mother would send me for a loaf of bread or mild to the hovel that doubled as a country store not far from our house.  The walk there and back was ten minutes of pure terror.  We lived on the last street of the last subdivision in our small town, backed up to the pine woods that are typical of the sandhills of South Carolina.  The forest itself was friendly space.  My brother, my buddies and I had forts in the shallow, red-clay gullies, and we created baseball fields in the meadows.  We climbed the trees.  My big brother and I picked wild blueberries, blackberries and plums there, and Mother made us cobblers from the fruit.  We discovered an old moonshiner’s still.  On the other side of the narrow strip of woods was a country road that led to Beverly’s Grocery Store, a small local market where we could purchase milk, bread, candy and baseball cards.  The distance between where I emerged from the path in the woods to Beverley’s Grocery was no more than 100 yards, but no condemned prisoner ever felt more like a Dead Man Walking than I did as I passed through a gauntlet of savage, growling, snarling dogs.  I guess there were anywhere from six to twelve of the beasts.  I don’t recall that I was ever bitten a single time.  But that did not lessen my fear.  I hated that short hike.

            Though I am now an adult, I still despise barking, menacing, aggressive dogs.  Why was I so fearful?  Why am I still so apprehensive?  While I am consciously aware of the spontaneous fright that pops up in me when I see an attacking dog rushing toward me, I am far more likely now to challenge the mutt, at least to throw a rock at him.  If I know the dog will be there on a regular walking route, I carry a stick with me.  When I told a friend about these episodes, he said simply that he would have shot the dogs.  Where did my fear come from?  Why did I feel so powerless against those mongrel mutts?

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