Glass Houses and Fishbowls

I Peter 2:9

pe-cu-li-ar: (adj.) strange or odd; unusual

From birth, a PK (preacher’s kid) is different.  Just as the parent is set aside for a singular purpose, the PK is included in the unique situation.  Living in the parsonage is often likened to living in a fishbowl.  Your life is transparent to anyone and everyone.  This tends to create a situation in which the child, early on, begins to develop strategies to be just like everyone else, normal. It’s an uphill battle.  Once your peers are informed of your heritage, it begins.

stand-by-me

PKs are especially prone to peer-pressure and bullying. Recently, I was telling a friend about my formative years. Somewhere around sixth grade, I spent most afternoons wondering who would try to beat me up that day.  I wanted nothing more than to simply be “one of they guys;” I just wanted to fit in. In those efforts, I usually went overboard trying to prove my normality.  I was an easy target for peer pressure.  I remember the neighborhood fellas daring me to throw a rock through the window of the vacant house, just to prove I wasn’t a “goody-two-shoes.” (I won’t recount the story here, but Google the term. It was originally a tale designed to motivate children to live a virtuous life.) I bent down, picked up a stone of adequate size, and threw it straight and true. CRASH! As schoolboys do, they all scattered, and left me staring at the results of my vandalism.

I ran home and hid in my bedroom.  I sheepishly moved around the house, waiting to see if I had gone undiscovered. The rest of the afternoon went by, and it was finally bath-time to get ready for bed. I had escaped.  There I was, naked in the tub and counting my toes, when my father walked in. “Come here.” I was naked in more ways than one. He didn’t even let me dress. He wrapped a towel around me and led me to the front door. The stranger there turned out to be the owner of the rent-house under renovation. I wondered what that sticker on the window meant. It meant they were brand new windows.  I had never seen this man before. How in the world did he know I was the culprit? There wasn’t even a line-up with the other boys, just me.  There went my allowance for the month.

I had not only embarrassed myself, but also my father. He was serious about the way his children’s actions reflected on his ministry.  At one point a year or so later, he was especially irritated at my grades in school.  I brought home three Cs.  Have I mentioned I am a “junior?” He was Arthur Wesley Wellborn Sr. I was Arthur Wesley Wellborn Jr. After one lick of the belt for each C on the report card, he sternly asserted, “Boy, that’s my name you’re carrying around in this world, but you’re acting like a jack-ass.  If you keep this up, I’ll take you to the courthouse and change your name to Jack Ass.”  I believed him. The next report card was nothing lower than an A. He put his arm around my shoulder, and told me he was proud. He then pulled out a brand new pocket-knife as a reward.

These days are a little different. It’s not just preacher’s kids who are under scrutiny.  There is literally nothing hidden. Digital technology assures that. We all live in fish bowls.  Our actions are open and permanently recorded for everyone to see. Everything comes to light at some point.  In many ways, I still feel different, peculiar, odd. In many ways, I still want nothing more than to feel “normal,” whatever that means. It does give me comfort, however, to know that God’s people are different by design. We are different for a reason. As Christians, it is Christ’s name we carry through the world.  We are set apart in that world, and if “normal” means clinging to the darkness rather than proclaiming the light, maybe being peculiar isn’t such a bad thing.

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Published in: on July 27, 2017 at 11:15 am  Leave a Comment  

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