5 – deus patria ipse
Deus Patria Ipse. In the eight years I was there, I never knew that the River Oaks school motto was “God is my homeland.” Now that I know it, I like it, but I wouldn’t say it fit the school as I knew it then. Or maybe it did more than I was aware.
As I explained in the last entry, my assessment of my own problems in jr. high were skewed by my own myopia. From my perspective then, I was a good christian guy going to school with a lot of sinful kids. To me at the time, I was behaving myself while they were drinking, partying, having sex, cursing, dancing, and all the other things I knew better than to do. Here was one more reason to avoid parties, not that I needed any reasons. In spite of my myopic, judgmental attitude, high school was when things started picking up for me. After Tamara taught me to deal with depression, Cole Smelser taught me to be comfortable in my own skin.
The funny thing was that Cole was known as a partier – and by some measures, the polar opposite of me. He was the cool kid a grade higher than me, and at least in my own head, I was the reject. In hindsight, I wonder if anyone else ever even knew how bad jr.high was. Most of the kids probably never knew what was happening in my little world in the library at lunch times, but from my self centered universe it was a matter of people not caring rather than people not knowing. I thought everyone hated me, when really there just a few little turds that saw me as a target and others knew nothing of it except to laugh when something was funny. I was just as self centered as they were. Anyway, Cole befriended me when I needed it most. The harrassment and rejection was dying down at the end of jr. high, and he helped me out of the effects of it. To this day I wonder if some teacher had pity on me and instructed him to throw me a rope.
Regardless, one of the first lessons was “make an appearance.” He explained that I needed to go to social events once in a while to get past the assumption that they were all bad, but I didn’t have to stay the whole time. “Go and be seen by a few people so they know you were there, and no one will know when you came or left.” It seemed like a good idea – less social pain but still get credit for showing up. To an introvert that’s a big deal.
Next lesson – find something you care about and be a leader in it. People will come to you in your comfort zone, rather than you going to them in their comfort zone. Again, HUGE to a kid with social issues. So I started “Fellowship of Christian Students.” The good news is that this showed me that I was wrong to judge my fellow students faith based on my assumptions and limited knowledge about them. 60 members. I was wrong to assume people weren’t Christians just because they did some things I thought to be sin. (THAT’s a big lesson)
Yeah, that’s me in the bottom left picture. The two things I had some pride in by then were my drumming skills (band jacket with lots of patches) and my christianity (little sin and lots of people in the club.) My pride in christianity was not the good kind, where you are proud of God’s work in you. My pride was the other kind, where you are proud of how good you are in relation to the “sinners.” I’m afraid the success of the group built my confidence, but it’s not healthy to climb a mountain too fast – altitude sickness. I went from nothing to something. I had friends again now, but mentally I thought I was more pious than them. So much to learn.