Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Remembering Wild Oats Not Sown

A friend of mine was in the airport in Kansas City last weekend when he noticed a group of college-aged young adults who were waiting to board charter flights to spend spring break in Cancun and Acapulco. Apparently they were getting warmed up for the activities of the next week or so as many were already noticeably intoxicated at 7:00 in the A. M. And there was the young woman who dressed in such a way that little of her skin remained unseen while awaiting boarding. It seems like of the three major activities of a collegiate spring break -- drinking, being promiscuous and getting a tan -- only one remained unexplored. My friend had an odd observation about the whole experience. He said, "I never went anywhere on spring break in either high school or college, yet I don't feel like I missed anything, and even after seeing [this scene] at the airport, I still haven't changed my mind."

Immedately my mind went into flashback mode. Nobody went anywhere on spring break in high school unless you were with your parents. But in college, juniors and seniors planned for spring break in Florida. First of all, it was usually only upperclassmen who had saved up enough cash to make a trip like this, and second it was usually only upperclassmen who knew the best places to go. Or at least that's what they said. I heard more than a few stories of eight guys crashing in a teeny room with two single beds and a television padlocked and chained to the wall. My own roommate made a trip for spring break one year. He had a gorgeous girlfriend, so he supposedly went to get a tan and drink. I'm sure he did a lot of that. But he didn't share a whole lot of stories about Florida when he came back. I've always wondered if the abundance of peer pressure and beer pressure was too much for him.

Secretly I wanted to go with him back then. At least I thought maybe I'd like to go. Or maybe I just wanted one of those "sowing my wild oats" experiences. The alcohol wasn't a temptation. I never liked beer and only rarely was there anything alcoholic in college I even tried. I had always been a picky eater. Turns out I'm a picky drinker too! So potential drunkenness wasn't an issue with me. Getting a tan sounded nice, and I couldn't remember reading, "Thou shalt not darken the skin of thy body with sunshine," so that wasn't a real issue either. Two down, one to go.

That left promiscuity. And in truth, that really wasn't an issue for me anyway. I've already described one occasion when I showed off my lack of appeal to the co-eds. After my high school sweetheart dumped me a few weeks after she arrived on a college campus, my confidence was pretty well shot. I was overweight and usually pretty shy around women, having been through some humiliating experiences just trying to find a date for a concert. Casual sex wasn't an option simply because women found me either unattractive or too shy to worry about. So in the end the decision not to go was an easy one. If I wanted a tan, I could do it a lot cheaper in Indiana than Florida. Plus I would have to deal with rejection and drunks.

Since that spring, there have been times in my life when I wished I would have gone on that spring break. My imagination conveniently lacks much of the common sense thinking which helped make my decision back then. And in those fantasies I was free to reject the beer, but the ladies wouldn't reject me. After all, wouldn't that have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience? A rite of passage into manhood? The part about it being a selfish, indulgent sin-fest could easily be swept under the rug.

Thankfully those times don't come around anymore, and like my friend I can look back and say that I really didn't miss much. But I can go a little beyond that. I can look at those times and see Divine protection in all of that mess.

As I mentioned earlier, I never liked beer. At a college with a party reputation I tended to stick out a bit, but I never minded that much. Having no taste for alcohol kept me out of a lot of situations where I could have really gotten myself into trouble. I was never worried about a DWI citation. I wasn't worried about spending the night with my head in a toilet (except for when the dorm cafeteria served burritos). Now I had an appetite for sex like most college students, but with a "raised-in-the-church" kind of guilt about it. But since the college girls had no sexual appetite for me, I was spared all kinds of emotional and possibly physical damage. I didn't have to worry about drunk driving or unplanned pregnancies. Now 23 years ago I never would have thought to thank God for being visually unpleasant to females, but I've got to admit now that given my state of mind as a college student, I would never have had the willpower to say no. And had something happened in school, I would not have been available to the one to come who would love me for who I am. I have my wife today due in part to not being corrupted by the peer pressure and beer pressure of college.

I usually think of God protecting me by means of giving me inner strength or by placing some sort of shield around me. But it just may be that God does his best protecting in ways that we would never expect and often would never appreciate. It's yet another reason why God's will is best and my will is usually found wallowing in my selfishness. I thank God that even though I wanted to sow some wild oats years ago, today I am not plagued by the weeds of a life lived to glorify the idol of self.


Kristen said...

I hear you...I too am glad I didn't go on those trips (though I can't claim my BC days were too much better than that).

Praise God for our lives in Christ, made new and clean.

rev-ed said...

Believe me, I'm not bragging about my Christian walk in college. Too many detours. . .

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