I'm not sure if you know this or not, but I'm a Salvation Army Officer's Kid.
Now, for those of you who know what that really means, you're reaction will be one of two. A giant shudder, or an excitement as your straighten up in your chair.
I'm more of the shuddering type.
Let me start with saying that I had an enriching and privileged life. I had a mum and a dad who were still married. Not only married, but in love. I had a big brother who looked out for me. I went on yearly family vacations, California, Scotland, Florida, etc. I never wanted for anything.
Except, maybe, a normal life.
I don't begrudge my parents for their decision in following "the call" from the Big Guy upstairs. I really don't. In fact, I greatly admire their willingness to go wherever God needs them. They have made some really tough decisions and I am very proud to call them my parents.
So now that I have that clear, let me moan a bit about being an Officers Kid.
First things first. Being a pastor's kid you are labeled as either seriously bad or seriously good. When it came to our family I was the seriously bad one and my brother was the seriously good one. Especially in one of my parents corps eyes. My brother worked hard through school, even though there was a few circumstances beyond his control that made it pretty darn difficult for him. He powered through, though and got his high school diploma. He then went on to go to College and then get his degree. He is soft spoken, well mannered, handsome. He worked at the Salvation Army summer camp. He's gone on to a job where he is helping people and making a change in the world. He is a good guy.
I, on the other hand, was a little hellion.
I was a 16 year old girl who wouldn't listen to her parents. Whose boyfriend actually went into my parents office and made a huge scene. I skipped class, never did my homework, stayed out late, got into heated fights with my mum. I am crass, loudmouthed, belligerent at times, basically I was not very pleasant. I'm still not all that pleasant at times. I somehow managed to get my high school diploma. Making a lot of teachers want to retire early, I'm sure. After high school I bummed around. Got a waitressing gig, mostly to support partying with my friends, always dating the bad boys, still argued with my mum. A lot. I even managed to make a few enemies in the church. One family going so far as to write me hate mail.
I'm not blaming the SA for how I behaved. In fact, I strongly agree with a lot of what the Army stands for. I still feel as though it is my church home. But I do have a lot of resentment for Army folk.
Just so we're clear, when I say Army, I mean the Salvation Army. Please don't think I'm some sort of troop hater.
I really feel that if I had been a regular kid, we wouldn't have been under a microscope. Or I wouldn't have felt like we were under a microscope. I find it very difficult to live in the Army because I feel like I'm constantly being judged. Who knows though, right? Grass is always greener and all that malarkey.
Another thing I find hard about the Army is the other Officer Kids. Again, we fall under two categories. Total Army Kids, and Totally NOT Army Kids.
I chose to be a NOT. Since I chose that path, I felt ostracized by my "fellow" Officer Kids on a regular basis. While they all got together at camp every summer, and talked about how awesome it is to be a part of that group, I felt left out. I felt like I was a disappointment to my parents. I felt like I wasn't good enough to be in the Army. As a teenage girl that is the worst feeling.
I STILL feel like I'm an outsider to that world. While all the other Officer Kids are BFF, I look on and feel like this world that I live in, is keeping me out. I feel like there is a giant, metal door, and all the other cool kids know the password and have a key, and I'm just standing there. Like a knob. Wanting so desperately to be a part of it, but coming up short.
I just don't understand, why organizations have to have people in them to run.
You find a group, ANY group, and there is a cool kids table and the loser table.
When it comes to the Army? I'm at the loser table.
But y'know what? I'm ok with it. I grew up and led as normal a life as I could. I had MORE than the Salvation Army in my life. I made friends with people who's parents did normal things. Like, worked a 9 to 5 job. Had vacations at Christmas. Didn't drive a 16 passenger van.
Now, I don't want you to think all Salvation Army churches are like that. In fact, far from it.
I've got two examples.
The small town where Cuinn and I got married. That corps, is the most friendly, warm, welcoming and loving corps I ever went to. Yes, of course it had it's problems. Show me a church that is perfect and I'll show you a church with zero attendee's. We made some life long friends in that church. I never FELT such love in a church until I attended that one. It's the church that brought me back to my faith, the church that showed me human kindness, the church that put my faith back into humanity. I will forever be grateful to that church.
My other example is the big city Cuinn and I just left.
It was the first corps I went to as a person and not as an Officer's Kid. We made some fantastic friends there. We LOVED the Officers there. We still do. That church showed me how kind Christians can be. How giving they are. How much people are willing to lend a hand to a young couple of newlyweds. We had our beautiful baby dedicated in that church and we try to get back there to see people. It's hard because it's a little over an hours drive, but we try. The officers there CARE. About people, their ministry, God, scrapbooking, less fortunate, extremely fortunate. They care.
I love the Salvation Army. I do. I grew up in a pretty awesome church. It's just so hard to remember that sometimes people will fail you. Sometimes there is discord in a church. Sometimes God is going to test you with super hard times and people who are super hard to love.
Do I sometimes wish my parents had just let "The Call" go to voicemail?
Do I have regrets about parts of my past?
If I could go back and do it all the same, would I?
Absolutely. Because I am who and where I am because of all the experiences. All the choices I made. All the choices my parents made on my behalf. All the crap we went through. It's made me the woman I am today, and I think I'm pretty awesome.