Sunday, February 24, 2013

My Spiritual Journey - My Early Years as an Adult, Part 4

My senior year in high school I was as active as ever in my new Christian faith. I began to ignore my mom’s requests to attend Mormon events. I had no desire to go, nor did I even know anyone there. All the while I could see how much it meant to her.

Before graduating high school (1977) I went to my Presbyterian church and spoke with the pastor. I felt I was being called to the ministry. We discussed it, and he with the church leadership and I prayed about it. A few weeks later I was notified by mail that the church had awarded me a $1500 scholarship to college, and made arrangements for me to go to Austin College, a liberal arts Presbyterian school in Sherman, Texas. So I did.

At college I was a Pre-Theology Major and studied mostly general education, but I also took classes to apply toward seminary. I wasn’t a very good student in math or science, but I excelled in the Christian and theology classes. Philosophy and religious history fascinate me to this day. In the dorm I was very much distracted by partying and goofing around. I seemed to slip away from my Christian friends and go more toward people who had little to no belief in God. I stayed away from my family completely, because every time we spoke they would express their disappointment in my religious choice.
After my first year of college (September 1979), I attended a class at Brigham Young University at the recommendation of my father. The class was Youth Leadership 480, Outdoor Survival. YL 480 was comparable to Outward Bound, an extreme survival course and just as rigorous, but had higher morals and spiritual-academic components. The reason I am including it here, is that it was a life changing event, and probably had the greatest short term impact on my life thus far.

On survival about thirty of us spent 29 days in the desert of southern Utah, learning the survival skills of great outdoorsman Larry Dean Olsen. We hiked over 450 miles in that month and survived on miniscule amounts of food and water. I drank from potholes and learned to eat bugs. We worked together as large and small communities, as well as alone. During part of our trek, we were able to spend seven days completely alone along the banks of the Escalante River without books, tools or hobbies. The only conversation we had was with ourselves or God. It was at this point where I decided to show my parents and family respect by following their advice and go on a LDS mission. I didn’t want to be a disappointment to them. They told me it would help me make up my mind in regards my faith, and I tended to agree. Now I can see they probably thought it would convert me back to their faith, once and for all. Only God knows our motives sometimes.

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