I’m 21, a Southern Baptist raised, but with an open heart. I was “saved” in 4th grade, baptized in 6th. Yet . . . I’ve been a lukewarm Christian most of my life. Good kid, good grades, didn’t use any drugs or alcohol till I was 16/17. Nor did I have a strong relationship with God.
Fast forward: failed out of my freshman year at Alabama, then lived as a prodigal son in my parents’ home; moved out, then had a road to Damascus moment and started devoting my life to Christ again.
My problem is that I have a very hard time connecting with Christians, or finding a group of Christians I can relate with and enjoy. I have a lot of Christian friends, some who truly follow Christ, but most don’t. But I can’t seem to relate or have any connection with the truly devote ones: the only thing I truly have in common with most of them is Christ. I’ve made a few attempts to hang with them outside of church, but it feels like I’m trying to hang out with them because I have to, or because it’s the right thing, instead of because I want to.
The reason I’m stressing this so much is that I’ve been struggling with going back to my old ways of drinking and stuff again and don’t want to go back to that.
So my question is: Do you think you have to be with Christians that you don’t necessarily have anything in common with besides Christ in order to stay out of temptation’s way? It would seem the answer is yes, obviously; I know that it’s true. I guess i just need to grow a pair and just live for Christ no matter what.
So first of all there’s no such thing as staying out of temptation’s way. It’s like trying to stay out of the way of air: you can’t, because it’s everywhere. The desire to waste oneself via physical indulgence isn’t a problem with what’s outside in the world. It’s a problem with what’s inside each and every one of us. Everyone is seriously prone to damaging excess, and everyone struggles against it their entire lives. You will, too. It sucks. But, alas, it’s part of being human. (And later we can, and, duh, really should, talk about this.)
Secondly, no, you don’t have to hang out with anyone with whom you’re not comfortable hanging out. If you don’t enjoy hanging out with someone, there’s a really valid reason for that. Pay attention to that reason. Respect it. It’s trying to tell you something about those people that you’d be a fool to ignore.
Mostly it’s trying to tell you to go find someone you do enjoy being with. Do that! Life’s too short to spend it with people you don’t love being with.
You’ve got a deeper problem, though, than just not liking the people you feel you should. That’s really just a distraction for you. Your real problem is that you don’t know who you are. And that’s cool. You’re young. Young people never know who they are; they haven’t had time yet for life to prove to them who they are.
I’ll tell you one thing: you need to get your ass back to college. Fail to do that and I guarantee that within a year your life will have narrowed down so fast you’ll think you fell into quicksand. The world is brutal to people without an education. Without a piece of paper signed by a Big Deal Institution attesting to the fact that you’re smart and know how to think (whether you are or do or not), you’re fully hosed. Without a degree all you can do is get some scratch-ass job you’ll hate but be stuck in.
And that’s not even the real reason to go to college. The real reason is that you don’t know who you are. And a lot of that is because you don’t know what your options in life are. Well, college gives you those options. College is the whole world handed to you for your perusal and enjoyment; it offers you nothing but choices you can choose about what you like, what you find interesting, what moves your spirit and mind. It not just encourages you to become the best you you can be, it sort of makes you the best you you can be. It offers you templates you can fill in with yourself.
Just trust me: Go to college. And take it seriously. Make that what you do for the next huge chunk of your life. Beg your parents to pay for you to return to school. If they won’t, beg them some more. And keep begging them until they relent. If they simply can’t afford it, then make it happen some other way. But go.
If you return to college you have a chance in life. If you don’t, then . . . then you make of yourself a horse it’s hard to bet on. Then you will drink yourself into nowhere, because nothing else will seem as appealing to you. That’ll be your best option.
(Btw: in my absolute arrogance, stubbornness, and full-on anti-everythingness I sure as hell didn’t go to college once I was released from high-school. Which is how I found myself at 38 years old making $11.00 an hour pushing around a mail cart and cleaning the kitchen in a law office. Not. Good. Go to college! Without it your mind only knows what you bring it, and . . . you can only learn so much watching TV and playing video games. Again: trust me on this. An uneducated person is too much like a mouse stuck in a maze. You want something better; and if you don’t now, you sure will later. Promise.)