I’ve been a PK for 33 years now. (PK = pastor’s kid for those of you who were fortunate enough to grow up without the stigmatization of overtly demeaning two-letter acronymic labels by which we are categorized as a subspecies set apart from average humans in society.) During this time I’ve watched as my dad has transitioned from student pastor to Bible class schoolteacher to single mom’s ministry to assistant pastor to senior pastor to nonprofit executive director and everything in between. In case you’re wondering, he’s actually still juggling the latter two simultaneously. Don’t ask me how. It’s quite the balancing act from what I can tell. Somehow he manages to pull it off every day without suffering a complete psychotic breakdown.
Personally, I would’ve cracked during the student pastor phase. Or maybe the single mom’s phase. (No offense to screaming teenagers and overburdened single mothers.) Either way, I certainly would’ve died long before becoming the lead pastor of a local church. I just don’t have the patience for it. Somewhere my father is nodding in agreement.
Speaking of local churches, I’m sure you’re aware that they’re chock full of opinions and assumptions. Of course, this is true of people everywhere, not just those who “go to church.” But, when you’re a pastor’s kid, you tend to grow up hearing nearly every attendee’s viewpoint, speculation, lamentation, thought, and theory — no matter how trivial or serious — including the thoughts directed at or about your father and your family.
One of the many common — yet terribly inaccurate — assumptions about PKs is that we’re all destined to work in some venue of full-time church ministry. Even worse, many folks assume that we want to work in ministry or that we enjoy it. I’ve seen this, heard this, and experienced this time and time again. I guess the groupthink tends to be “Well, your dad does it, and you’re a lot like your dad, so you must want to do it too.”
And then there are others who assume that, although we may not go into full-time ministry, we should at least be in some sort of volunteer or leadership role because “your dad is the pastor.” Whether it’s teaching a Bible study or playing in the worship band, we should supposedly be doing something that separates us out from the “average” kid in the church. You know, because we’re a “PK” and PKs are special. God forbid that we just be normal.
Now, I know that what I’m about say might come as quite a shock to many of you, so take a deep breath and try to relax. Allow me to set the record straight, once and for all, on behalf of PKs everywhere: Not every pastor’s kid wants to work in full-time ministry. Moreover, not every PK even wants to volunteer in ministry on a regular basis. And you know what? Who cares?
Crap. Grandma fainted. Someone help her back onto the pew.
The simple reality is that some — dare I say many — pastors’ kids (of all ages) just want to attend church without having to worry about fulfilling any sort of leadership roles, lofty expectations, or ministry requirements. There’s a freedom in that. There’s a tranquility in it. As PKs, we’re already immersed in the church’s culture, news, gossip, and drama even when we’re not on campus because it’s often the subject of household conversation. Not only do we know almost everything about the worship music, the ministries, the current sermon series, and the upcoming events, we’re also keenly aware of a plethora of complaints from congregants; the latest marriage to crumble; the most recent power struggle amongst the staff or board; the last person who spouted off and insulted our father; and the newest rumor about Brother So-And-So’s secret sin. We often know who’s leaving the church for no good reason, who’s struggling financially, and who’s in the hospital facing the possibility of entering Eternity.
If these issues exhaust us as PKs, how much more do they drain our dads? Thank God that they’re spiritually equipped for the role of pastor. Otherwise they would surely suffer that nervous breakdown I mentioned earlier.
The truth is that when people in the church see the PK fail to meet a so-called “expectation” — like ministry involvement or leadership — the outrage is often completely fake and unjustified. No one is authentically upset. It’s all a game. It’s just a theatrical production. They think they’re upset, but they’re really not. They have no reason to be, whether they're aware of it or not.
There was a time when I worried about those opinions and expectations, but now I honestly couldn’t care less about them. The Lord can use anyone in any career field, and PKs are certainly no exception. So, if you’re a pastor’s son or daughter, don’t allow other people to forcibly impress their wants and desires onto you. Don’t succumb to outside pressure to go into ministry. If it’s not for you, then go find your passion elsewhere, embrace it, and carry on.
Mocking millennials is certainly one of America’s greatest national hobbies. I imagine millions of citizens are doing it right now. Some of them are probably even making future plans to do it. They’re literally scheduling their days or weekends around it. “Hey, baby. You free Friday evening? I thought we could go to dinner, take a nice walk, and make fun of millennials.” Somewhere, in some place, someone is making fun of millennials right now.
I admit that, even as a millennial myself, I’ve enjoyed partaking in this particular trend from time to time. After all, when it comes to my generation, there’s certainly no shortage of things at which to poke fun. We’re spoiled. We’re selfish. We’re entitled. We’re lazy. We’re narcissistic. We have expensive tastes for things we can’t afford. Most of us can’t even change the oil in our own cars or boil an egg without asking a Gen-X-er or Boomer for help.
And now, we’re apparently stressed out. Like, super stressed out. And we demand that everyone know it and believe it. In fact, we’re more stressed out than anyone else on the planet. Or so we think.
Yes, in what seems to be one of the most absurd and altogether pointless surveys ever conducted in the history of human civilization, a CBD oil company known as Endoca, in conjunction with OnePoll, recently polled 2,000 individuals in the infamous 23-38 age demographic and found that over one-third of today’s millennials believe that their lives are more stressful than the average person’s life. Furthermore, almost 60 percent of millennials think that life today is more stressful than it ever has been at any time since the dawn of mankind’s existence.
But, what’s the source of all this stress? Where is it coming from? Gone are the days when Americans were concerned about random outbreaks of polio or the prospect of nuclear war with the Soviets. The Great Depression is over and the smallpox scare is a thing of the past. Those were the sort of worries that weighed on the minds of our parents and grandparents. The Greatest Generation stood strong in the face of death, chaos, economic uncertainty, breadlines, gas lines, and other societal horrors we can’t even fathom. This is 2019 for God’s sake.
By contrast, today’s millennials seem to be worried about their own brand of apocalyptic disasters. You know, really frightening atrocities like “losing my wallet/credit card” and “arguing with a partner” and “traffic delays.” And there’s also the nightmarishly terrifying possibility of “cracking my phone screen” or, wait for it, “slow WiFi.” Dear Lord. It’s truly a wonder that these folks manage to make it through the day in one piece. These persecutions and challenges make the Gulags of Lenin’s Russia look like the Ritz Carlton. It’s simply mind-boggling that millennials are not an extinct species by now.
I suppose one could argue that these things are micro-stressors that contribute to an overall increase in stress levels, which then lead to negative health reactions and side effects. Maybe this is the case. Maybe not. Regardless, someone should really sit a lot of the lunkheads from my generation down and have a chat with them about what it was like to fight against Japan in World War II, endure the Vietnam draft, or struggle to put enough food on the table to feed your family. If nothing else, it might, at the very least, make them more appreciative of the era in which they live.
Truly, the egocentric individualism of today’s millennials is incredible. Compared to the America of old, we practically live in a modern-day Garden of Eden where nearly every resource, want, and desire is within arm’s reach. Think about it. With our iPhones alone we can buy movie tickets, purchase clothing, request an Uber ride, summon a corporate staff meeting, instantly send messages and photos to friends and family, order coffee before we arrive at the local Starbucks, have dinner show up at our house, download hours of music, watch endless amounts of movies and TV shows, and read any book, newspaper, or magazine we want. The entire world is literally in our back pocket.
And yet, here we are in one of the most prosperous and technologically-advanced times in U.S. history, whining like spoiled brats about having to wash dishes or go through the sofa to find our phone chargers. (Yes, seriously. Go back and look at the list.) Sure, our generation experienced the 9/11 terror attacks, the war on Al-Qaeda, and violent civil unrest in places like Ferguson. But, in the big picture, most of us were not directly affected by these events on a personal level.
Today’s young people will never know the frustration of searching their pants pockets for enough change to make a long distance call from a phone booth or trying to remember what time their favorite TV station will be “signing off the air” every night, much less be intimately acquainted with the horrors of war and death. Stressed out? Give me a break.
If you’re a millennial and you’re stressed, odds are you’ve created the source of the stress yourself; or you’re letting your emotions control you, rather than the other way around. Either way, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Yesterday, The Daily Mirror — a British tabloid newspaper headquartered in London — ran a story about a “married lesbian couple” from Florida who are now apparently “husband and wife after one became a man.” That was literally the headline of the article. The subtitle notes that they couldn’t care less about genders because “they are madly in love.” In other local news, a man and his soft taco are now a team of salsa dancers after one of them transitioned into Desi Arnaz and began singing Babalu.
Anyway, a little background: Tay and Anayah Kennedy were (and are) both females when they started dating about five years ago at the ages of 17 and 14, respectively. Now at 22-years-old, Tay has undergone hormone replacement therapy and wants to have gender reassignment surgery because she apparently feels that she was meant to be a male. Anayah says she has no problem with this and added, “I am attracted to Tay as a man just the same as I was as a woman, maybe even more.”
Alright, that’s enough for now. If you’re interested in the remaining history of their relationship, you can read it for yourself by visiting the embedded link, which I don’t particularly recommend. Besides, that’s all we need to know in order to arrive at a few sane and logical conclusions.
I admit that, after reading Tay and Anayah’s story, I initially sat down at my laptop to furiously type out a scathing rant against gay marriage. I was ready to list all of the reasons why gay marriage and transgenderism are a fundamental threat to the sanctity of traditional marriage and to society in general. I was ready to cite all of the biblical and logical arguments against these two disastrous cultural monstrosities. And the truth is that if I wanted to do this, I certainly could. Moreover, I would even be right in my assertions. Gay marriage and the entire LGBT agenda have indeed wreaked havoc upon our culture and devastated countless individuals and relationships. But, then I remembered a blog post that I wrote back in July of 2014 about a trend called “beta-testing marriage.” It was about people — mostly millennials and young adults — who were taking marriage for a test drive as if it were a new car. This was around the same time that so-called “divorce parties” were also popular. Perhaps you remember those. Hollywood even churned out a divorce party movie last February. These “ceremonies” were designed to “celebrate the end of a marriage or civil union and usually involve one or both of the separating couple” — as if divorce was something to be happy about before moving on to another marriage or the next phase of life.
If this is true, then we must be one of the most ecstatic, jubilant, and overjoyed nations on the planet. After all, nearly 50 percent of our marriages end in divorce. There are literally over 46,000 divorces per week in our country. For those of you who are keeping up with the math, that roughly translates to one divorce every 13 seconds. Huzzah! The answer to eternal happiness and bliss has finally been revealed: Just divorce your spouse! What’s not to be celebrate? Well, as it turns out, quite a bit. An alarmingly high number of Christians seem to be giving up on marriage as divorce has become increasingly common within the church, even among leadership and staff. Young believers in their twenties and thirties have all but given up on ever tying the knot. They quite literally want nothing to do with it. And who can really blame them when our society is utterly saturated with these sorts of statistics? Combined with issues like gender identity confusion and same-sex relationships, there just doesn’t seem to be any reason for a young person to even consider pursuing marriage these days.
In the midst of all this turmoil and chaos, I believe some differentiation and clarification is needed. You see, I don’t think the question is just “What are we going to do about transgenderism ideology and gay marriage?” though this is still certainly worthy of our attention, both as Christians and conservatives. However, I think the more significant and pressing question that we should be asking ourselves and the culture, particularly as Christ-followers and truth-tellers, is: “What are we going to do about marriage?” In other words: What are we going to do in order to ensure that the true, right, moral, biblical definition of marriage — one man, one woman — is cultivated throughout our society? If we were to answer this question with our own actions, the other issue would take care of itself to a large extent.
Traditional marriage is, quite literally, the very bedrock and foundation of our civilization as it is the only form of marriage in which procreation is possible. Without it, there would be no human race and we might as well end the conversation here. We should constantly assert this point when confronted with debates on same-sex or transgender “marriages.” Do it in love, but do it with boldness because you actually believe what you’re saying.
Let’s also be clear on another point and the reason why I place “marriage” in quotation marks: There is no such thing as gay “marriage” or transgender “marriage.” They do not exist because 1) marriage only has one definition and 2) transgenderism is a scientific and biological impossibility. It’s all utter nonsense to which our culture and our politicians have simply assigned their own terminology. Giving something a different name does not make it something else. If I were to walk into my den and refer to my dog as a cat, it would not make it so. It just makes me a crazy person who doesn’t know the difference between a dog and a cat. What our society refers to as “gay marriage” is simply a relationship between two people who happen to be of the same gender. But, it’s not marriage, no matter how much they wish that it was or how many laws they attempt to pass. In fact, it is the opposite of marriage. And what they refer to as “transgenderism” is, well, nothing at all.
So, what can we do? For starters, let’s model biblical marriage to a culture that obviously doesn’t understand what marriage was designed to be. Blog posts, Facebook statuses, and sermon series are great, but they only accomplish so much. Live out what you say you believe. Furthermore, take a strong position against divorce, even at the risk of offending those who have endured it, while simultaneously offering comfort to those who have been on the receiving end of it. Clearly marriage is not easy, no marriage is perfect, and in some horrific and extreme cases, divorce may even be morally justified or legally necessary. However, this doesn’t mean that we can or should ignore Scriptural principles about divorce or cease to speak of the terrible effects that it brings on families and on our society as a whole.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we should teach our children and the next generation that their personal security and identity will never be found in another earthly individual, in a romantic relationship, or in trying to become something or someone that they are not. These are utterly worthless and trivial pursuits. Their security will only be found in Christ. The biblical and scientific truths of marriage, gender, and identity need to be desperately guarded and bravely defended in order to guarantee that this is even possible. I have dedicated much of my writing, blogging, and social media posts to doing just that. I have chosen not to give up, even though there often seems to be no point in trying.
Sadly, many Christians and churches have surrendered on these topics and fallen silent for fear of being labeled “insensitive,” or “mean” or “homophobic” or “bigoted” or “hateful" or whatever. This doesn’t make me some sort of hero, but it does illuminate the unfortunate reality that thousands of Christians — including some pastors — have chosen to skirt these issues and run away from them with their tails between their legs. And to that I say: So be it. Let them run. If they are too concerned with their own popularity, or are too fearful of repercussions, then they do not belong in this particular battle. As for me, I will not back down or join their cowardly withdrawal. And if you’re still reading this, then I hope you won’t either. After all, our culture’s very soul is at stake.
On Monday, Senate Democrats blocked a Republican bill known as the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act, a piece of legislation that, among other things, would potentially send doctors to prison for refusing to save the lives of viable babies of botched abortion procedures. In terms of basic care, it simply requires that the child receive the same standard medical treatment of any other baby at the same gestational stage. In fact, despite what Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren claim, the legislation doesn’t even restrict access to abortion. It is not an attack on women. It is not, as the immoral degenerates of the NARAL said, an "extremist" or "anti choice" bill.
It merely posits the idea that a viable infant — outside the womb — should be treated with the same care whether it happens to be born in an abortion clinic or in a local hospital:
"If an abortion results in the live birth of an infant, the infant is a legal person for all purposes under the laws of the United States, and entitled to all the protections of such laws. Any infant born alive after an abortion or within a hospital, clinic, or other facility has the same claim to the protection of the law that would arise for any newborn, or for any person who comes to a hospital, clinic, or other facility for screening and treatment or otherwise becomes a patient within its care."
To say that this vote should have been a “no brainer” for every politician — regardless of party affiliation — would be the understatement of the century.
The fact that it failed to pass is indeed one of the saddest and most evil tragedies in this nation’s history. Forty-four American senators outright refused to condemn the slaughter of born-alive infants. Every Democrat, save for three who withheld, voted against the bill. President Trump took to Twitter to point out the inherent extremism in the Democratic position on abortion:
As you might remember, New York recently legalized abortion-on-demand through every stage of pregnancy with the “Reproductive Health Care Act.” Not long after, disgraced Virginia Governor Ralph Northam openly endorsed infanticide during an interview with a local radio station. Many of his fellow Democrats either applauded his stance or refused to address his comments. Few have distanced themselves from Northam altogether.
The time for euphemisms is over. Let’s speak bluntly and honestly: This is demonic, immoral, and reprehensible. It is wicked and depraved at levels unseen since ancient barbarism. It is Hitleresque evil. And no, I do not mean that exaggeratively or metaphorically. I mean it in the strictest and most literal sense possible. This is about basic humanity and basic decency. There are some moral lines in this universe — in the spiritual realm — that were not meant to be crossed.
Putting all bipartisanism, opinion, ideology, and politics aside, one thing has become unmistakably and inarguably clear: The Democratic Party is now the party of infanticide. They have unashamedly embraced child murder at every stage of pregnancy and every stage of viability, including fourth-trimester abortions. Liberal progressive politicians — such as Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and others — who once preached that abortions should be “safe, legal, and rare,” are now intentionally and cheerfully conflating abortion with infanticide, and making no apologies for it.
Fortunately, as a recent YouGov poll reveals, the vast majority of Americans — including many pro-choicers — not only see through this absurd charade, but stand opposed to it as well. Dems are literally alienating their own base all in the name of some mysterious and nonexistent right to murder babies, including those born alive during failed abortions. It’s truly a bewildering, horrific, and astounding political spectacle to behold. They are destroying their own Party in pursuit of a radical extremist ideology.
Ironically, this is the same Party that will champion human beings as being worthy of inherent respect when it comes to issues like sexual assault, immigration, and education. And yet, they refuse to treat the most innocent and defenseless among us with the same respect and care.
If Democrats are perfectly fine with leaving a living, breathing baby on a table as he cries, moves, struggles, and gasps for his very life, then they have not only openly advocated for infanticide, they have inched us ever closer to a society where human beings have no intrinsic worth or value at all. And when we arrive at that dark and hideous place, may God have mercy on us all, though we surely shall not deserve it.
I typically do my best to avoid thinking about my epilepsy. I admit that I’ve gotten pretty good at this. Or at least I tell myself that I have. I can get through some days without having a seizure and therefore ignore the reality that, whether I like it or not, epilepsy and all the things that accompany a neurological condition are indeed a part of my life. I’ve come to accept the truths of my disorder and, more importantly, come to embrace and understand many things about it.
But, despite what I personally understand, know, and feel about epilepsy, there are many people who are, for one reason or another, utterly ignorant to what I and other epileptics endure on a daily basis. Even close friends and family members can be totally clueless. To be clear: This is not necessarily through any fault of their own (at least not in most cases.) Oftentimes, it’s merely due to a lack of basic education, knowledge, and experience.
So, speaking of education, here are some quick stats: Today, over three million adults in the U.S. suffer from epilepsy, in addition to almost 500,000 children. Each year, over 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with some type of neurological disorder that will result in or cause seizures. There are many different types of seizures, each with its own vast array of accompanying symptoms and after effects. (Everything from staring blankly into space to uncontrollable twitching to more extreme behaviors such as tongue-biting and loss of balance.) Some of us experience one, all, or a combination of these symptoms depending on the severity of the seizure. Epilepsy is currently the fourth most common neurological disorder after migraines, strokes, and Alzheimer’s. It can also be associated with and triggered by migraines. Many times — and in my own case — migraines can occur before, during, or after a seizure.
It may not be Epilepsy Awareness Month yet, but — for what it’s worth — here are some thoughts that I felt might be worthwhile. Please excuse any momentary hints of resentment or indignation that may surface in this post. If you or someone you know has epilepsy, feel free to pass these along to surrounding friends and family members in an effort to contribute to a better understanding.
1. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment or medication option.
Don’t assume that we can just go see a doctor, take a few prescription pills, and be fine by next week. Epilepsy is far more complex than that. In fact, for some of us, it may even involve non-medication treatment, such as counseling and therapy. And even then, the truth is that all the medication and therapy in the world still wouldn’t alleviate every symptom, particularly the neuropsychological, emotional, and spiritual symptoms. This leads me to the next point.
2. Please bear with my frequent moments of intense anger, frustration, discouragement, and depression.
Epilepsy is a very psychologically and emotionally torturous condition. It wears on our feelings. It grates on our state-of-mind. It conjures up intense levels of fear and terror, the magnitudes of which I don’t even possess the words to adequately describe. It causes us to doubt and worry. It seizes the mind and injects anxiety into our daily thoughts, particularly before and after a seizure has occurred. It infuriates us because we cannot stop, cure, or control our condition. It inhibits our ability to drive and robs us of our independency. It discourages us and, oftentimes, brings us to a dark place of depression, even if we do not appear to be depressed on the outside.
3. If I don’t have a job (or a “real” job), it’s not because I’m lazy.
There are countless physiological and psychological triggers for seizures, not the least of which are stress and sleep deprivation. These are my two strongest triggers, both of which eventually forced me to have to stop working in the clothing retail industry, which I had been a part of for almost 15 years. The high stress levels associated with customer service, Black Friday madness, the Christmas rush, dealing with the public (including shoplifters) on a daily basis, responding to the pressures of management expectations, juggling late-night closing shifts, and overnight inventories finally took its toll. I was having several short partial-complex seizures before and after my shifts, and eventually had a longer one during a shift — one which caused me to lose my balance and hit the floor. The latter seizure prompted my manager-on-duty to call an ambulance, ultimately bringing my retail employee days to a close.
4. No, you don’t have to be “scared” or “freaked out” around me.
Being an epileptic doesn’t make me some sort of freakish weirdo or hazardous threat to society or ticking time bomb. Leave the butterfly net at home, please.
5. I still want to have as normal of a life as possible.
Epilepsy stole my ability to drive. It took away much of my independency. It robbed me of certain career opportunities that I might have achieved otherwise. It has neuropsychological effects on my ability to eat and swallow solid food. (For more on that story, see my Epilepsy Page.) The medication has frustrating side effects. It affects my sleep cycle. I could go on and on.
Regardless of these realities, I still want to have as normal of a life as possible, just like anyone else. I’m still a regular person who does regular things. I go to church. I spend time with friends and family. I go to movies. I date. I eat sandwiches from Chick-fil-A and drink coffee from Starbucks. I read books and listen to music. I meet and interview fascinating people throughout my city. I watch my writing get published in local magazines. I design websites and digital media for churches and ministries. I speak on cultural, political, and spiritual issues.
So, I’m still a pretty normal dude (by most accounts anyway.) I just happen to be a normal dude who has epilepsy.
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