It is funny the things we remember sometimes. My local newspaper's religion section carried a puff piece on the new Young Life director here. I haven't thought of this organization in years. In fact, I was amazed that they were still around. Reading through the article made me revisit, if ever so briefly, what is generally the black hole in my memory--the horror of my high school years. One of the great consolations of real life is that it generally turns out to be nothing at all like high school.
I was a textbook-case misfit in high school. My family lived out in the country, by choice. But I went to school in town, and unfortunately, I lived in the snotty high school district. I had no chance of fitting in with the cool kids--we were not members at Willowbrook Country Club, nor the Petroleum Club, nor the Marina, not even the Tennis and Swim Club. We obviously did not live in the right neighborhoods. And my family did not attend the big social Methodist Church downtown. I did not play sports, so I could not hang out with the jocks. I was too timid and self-conscious to join the smokers at breaks out under the trees. Nor did I have the consolation of being a brain. Other than English and History, my grades were decidedly average. Needless to say, I had trouble finding my niche. But I did have several friends, and I especially remember the kindness shown me by those who did not have to do so. I hope I was not so busy feeling sorry for myself that I failed to show kindness as well.
Young Life was big, really big, at my school. Several acquaintances urged me to come along to one of their meetings. Religiously, I was something of a blank slate. My much older sister and her husband were Southern Baptists. I was sent along with them sometimes, but managed to escape when I was 14. So, I approached Young Life reluctantly, for I was not the least bit interested in Christian pep rallies. My bigger concern was trying to figure out a way to be cool. I don't remember much about the meetings other than there was a lot of rah-rah, some sing-songing, some skits, and then we all sat Indian-style and listened to the Young Cool Dude director share with us. I attended another, smaller venue in the home of one of our town's society leaders. To me, it just seemed like something South Tyler Methodists did. And at all these functions, I simply remember thinking--I do not want to be here. My distaste was not rooted in the content, but in the company. For I knew that all these kids acting all Christian-y at Young Life would be the same ones who wouldn't give me the time of day the next day at school.
The picture below of local Young Lifers accompanied the arti
cle in question. Even after all these years, the names may have changed, but the faces are exactly the same.