Disclaimer: This is probably the hardest part of my story to write, because it involves friends and others who know me. This is written to tell my story and no other purpose. Some things are over-generalized for writing's sake. All of these things come from a single, flawed, human perspective.
In high school, I was venerated and placed on a pedestal as a good Christian example.
In college, I was knocked down. I struggled to be even good enough for the Christian crowd.
In fact the only time I felt that people recognized me as a decent Christ follower was when I was chosen to lead a mission trip to the other side of the world. I know the trip was not a failure in the eyes of God, but it did fail to make me look good as a Christian in the eyes of man. ( To make a long story extremely short, for the next couple of years the missions department at my school referred to my trip as "the mutiny" and was used to help future students lead mission trips better.Seriously, I was not a winner.)
I did everything I could possibly do to look like a better Christian, so that I would be accepted by those who were thought to be. I was aware of the tension between wanting to impress the cool Christian crowd (and even some of my friends) and the desire to be authentic. So, I didn't join groups or lead or mentor when I didn't feel God calling me to do those things. But I walked a bit inauthentically at some points, because I rarely felt like the authentic me was good enough.
I coined the term "spiritual points" during my college days, because it so often felt like a game. The more spiritual things you did, the more friends you could have, and the more people looked up to you. There were certain things that got you more spiritual points than other things it seemed. I just never seemed to do the right things to win at the game.
I even had friends that sometimes made me feel like less of a Christian. I'm sure some of you may be thinking that good friends wouldn't do that, and at times I felt that way. But my college friends put up with a lot from me, and in turn I put up with a lot from them. The truth is we were all kind of immature at the time.
I wish I could do justice to the Christian climate at my school, but words really do not explain it. And I certainly don't want to pick on any specific crowds of people. But there's this ridiculous, yet hilarious book out called Stuff Christians Like that I wish I had studied before college so I would have been more prepared. Pick it up. You might need it someday. Or don't. Your choice. Anyways...
So there I was, hundreds of miles from home, away from everyone who believed I was a good Christian, spending hours in Beth Moore Bible studies a week, taking ministry classes, serving in my church, and trying to look really, really spiritual.
It's too bad that I didn't stop and consider what Christ thought a good Christian looked like...