I've been out and about this week after having kicked over the traces of my mainstream church. I've been feeling worlds happier, more confident and just all around better after settling emotional boundaries and enforcing them. It's a learning process for me. Plus I have some new ideas as far as my spirituality. Leaving that church and moving forward.
Starting the preparations for our upcoming trip to Costa Rica next month and some of those preparations fit well with the things I did for my mental health, such as go out and get a massage and a facial. One of the best parts of the trip prep has been my daily trips to the tanning salon. There's just something about laying in that glowing buzzing tube that acts on me just like a tranquilizer. I don't know if it is the ritual and the associated pampering, but I always come out feeling better.
I've also been going to the park to walk daily so that I build up my muscles for the possibilities of hiking, zip lining and paddle boarding.
Another part of my new spring rituals for preparing is going to the Mennonite store near the park for a salad after the walk. Yesterday I ran into a familiar face from our old church that I was sad to see in that situation.
Remember Tom Smith from my old church? My tales of Tom Smith's sons and Andy and Laura being good friends and playing together? Remember the episode with Tom where he wanted to borrow a huge amount of cash from us and berated us for having put money aside so that Andy and Laura could go to college and he could not afford to send him? I saw Tom Smith's youngest son, the married son.
This son, Aaron, is Laura's age and he's been married for the last three years. The last I'd heard about Aaron he'd been on staff at a big youth church in Fredericksburg and was going freelance handyman jobs to supplement the tiny stipend the church paid. Both he and his oldest brother were doing those things together.
Now he's got a third job, stocking shelves at the Mennonite store.
I played the coward and slunk away clutching my salad to my bosom to avoid being seen.
While I hold nothing against Aaron, nothing that happened in the past had anything to do with him, bad or good, he was just a child, I cannot stand to see how the Fundigelical path Tom Smith has taken has pretty much doomed two of his three children to poverty.
Back during our old church days the Smiths had encouraged their children upon leaving high school to enroll in Teen Mania Ministries for several years, followed by time at IHOP, Mike Bickel's church in the St. Louis area.
During their growing up years Tom had instilled in them that they must deny self to minister to others after they finished high school and treated the idea of college as if it were a poisonous bed of liberal snakes seeking to kill off their faith. Plus he drilled into them that hoary old chestnut repeated again and again at church, 'God will provide' if you're a good enough Christian.
You'd think after Tom had trouble keeping a job and they lived on the brink of poverty all those years that all of them would come out with the mentality that they would not repeat their odious childhood, that they'd either get scholarships or student loans and go to college so that they would not have to worry about money. One of the boys was so smart he was offered a full scholarship to UVA, but, due to the indoctrination he'd received at home and church all these years he turned down the scholarship to spend four years away at Teen Mania and IHOP.
Only one of the three boys is in college. The middle less indoctrinated child. He is currently in law school. Aaron and Jorge are not.
Genteel poverty sucks. I know, when I divorced my first husband I had a small child and almost no income. I struggled to finish up my degree and raise my daughter at the same time. It wasn't easy but I'd gone through enough with my ex Dan that I was determined to make a better life for us. I didn't have the huge impediment that the Smith boys have, I had no religion or ideas that you should only work at a self employment situation or for a 'Christian' business, or that education was somehow 'unGodly'.
The series I wrote for No Longer Quivering about my bete noire, Tom Smith