How following Christian advice hurt my social life.
This post gets rather personal and vulnerable. I am posting this as a specific example of harm done by a particular type of Christian upbringing. I think that surely I am not the only one, and this post will help others who experienced the same thing.
I knew next to nothing about the culture of my peers when I was in school. I listened only to Christian music (CCM) until I was 17 years old and I didn’t watch the popular shows — largely because the folks at Focus on the Family said they were bad. Mom told me not to watch The Simpsons specifically, and shows like Friends were out too. (An odd exception was The Lion King, which I think was the only animated Disney film we ever purchased. FotF approved it because they thought the story of Simba mirrored Jesus. However, my main take-away from the movie was the “circle of life” concept, which is not what they were intending to push. But anyway… ) I had very little opportunity to watch shows without my parent’s supervision while I lived at home, because only one TV was connected to satellite and the antennae reception was terrible where we lived. I could watch what I wanted early in the morning, or what I could pick up on the tiny tv in my room on antennae, but this was very limiting. Dad pretty much had full control of the TV all during the day. As a result, I knew basically nothing about the music and tv shows of my peers, and had very little I could talk to them about. I didn’t get their cultural references. What was even worse is that I thought that a lot of their stuff, such as Bevis and Butthead and Metallica and Ozzy Ozbourne and all (secular) rap, was actually evil. Brio (the magazine from Focus on the Family for teen girls) said as much, and I took it seriously. I tried to get my friends to listen to the Christian music and go to vacation bible school with me as my form of witnessing, and you can guess how that turned out. My belief that I being rejected because I was a Christian did nothing to help me overcome the real problem. I learned about eighth grade that most of my peers, even the worst bullies, were Christians from Christian families too, and I found that revelation to be a shock. (There is a story about Christianity being pushed in the classroom behind that revelation, and I may get to that in a future post.)
The fact that I have a natural tendency to take things literally and not notice ‘unspoken rules’ did not help either. Basically, I was the awkward homeschool kid before I even started homeschool. I’ve made some great strides socially since then, connecting to others though interests in TV shows, like Doctor Who, and though my atheist group. Right now I am more social than I ever was in school. However, I still carry that social anxiety baggage from my school experiences. There are some things you never entirely get over.