I became actively involved with the youth group. Because my mom worked there, during the summers, I began spending a lot of time with the youth minister during the day. His name was Bill Turner. He was young, fresh out of school. He'd worked for another church in Oklahoma during school (incidentally, the one our old pastor had left to become a minister at) but other than that, I think this was his first real job.
No, not "Bootstrap" Bill Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean
We had a very close bond. I can still remember stories he would share that as an adult alarm me that he would confide in a child about. I'm not sure if he saw me as moldable clay or if he took pity on me because in his mind I was impoverished and came from a broken home (I've had the same step father I call Dad since I was three!).
Flash forward about five years.
My best friend and I got into loads of trouble. We were typical teenagers, we just happened to each have strict Christian authority figures around us. Somewhere along the way, I guess I fell out of Bill's good graces. I asked questions he didn't have answers for. I guess I was doing things he didn't agree with (even though he never spoke to me about them). I been teaching children's church for a few years by this point. So my time spent with him was far more limited that it had been, but I should have seen something coming. I must have just had my teenager blinders on.
He had decided to leave the church for another. The moving on to a better paying job (or as they call it,"Following God's Will") didn't bother me. What did, was the fact that he didn't tell me at all. In fact at the going away party, I was specifically UNinvited. I didn't understand. A man I'd looked up to for over five years decided to cut ties and never speak to me again.
What hurt was, if you look at the whole philosophy Christians preach/follow, they are all about reaching out to the wayward souls or bringing lost sheep back into the flock. From what I could tell, that's what he thought I was. He just left me out there.
It taught me a lot. Adults are just as weak if not weaker than kids. They bail when things get uncomfortable. They hide from conflict. It also allowed me the freedom to begin looking at my faith and philosophy of life in a whole new light. I didn't have boundaries to maintain. I didn't have any one to impress. I was able to seek answers I needed without fear of persecution. In many ways, Bill Turner, good and bad, helped me become the person I am today.