Although Patrick is not a real person, the events of the following story are all true and happened to real people. They serve to illustrate the point I want to make about how pressure from duty, obligation and expectations robs us of the freedom to be our true selves and the joy that comes with it. The story is kind of long, so it will be broken into installments. Please bear with me. I intend to tie it all together in the end. As you read, it might be helpful to think of similar events in your own life and how they may have affected you.
Patrick was in many ways a typical American boy. The oldest child born to loving parents who had waited years to have a child, he was deeply loved right from the start. As a boy, Patrick was quite precocious and very friendly. He had many friends and enjoyed talking with adults in an easy way that many kids don’t. He loved being outside, where adventure was always right around the next corner. Patrick’s neighborhood was full of kids his age and it wasn’t long before they had quite naturally developed into a band of young adventurers. They were good kids and not naturally destructive, but every now and then their mischievous nature got them into hot water with the neighborhood adults. Patrick was a natural leader and the other boys enjoyed his company. Life was good and every day was like a new world to conquer.
Patrick’s parents were very religious, so every Sunday and Wednesday Patrick was taught about God and how important it was to be good. He as told that God doesn’t like people to misbehave and he’s keeping track of all the bad things we do. It was very important to be in good standing with God because you never knew when Jesus might return. Patrick secretly feared that Jesus would return and find him unworthy to go to heaven.
At school Patrick was learning even more about correct behavior. His naturally talkative nature often got him in trouble, so he learned to sit quietly and listen. He was a smart kid, and made “straight A’s”. This earned him a lot of praise from his parents, even when his conduct report didn’t always look so good. Over time, Patrick learned that sitting quietly, listening closely and obeying were the most important things to do if you wanted your teachers and parents to be happy. The long days in school and the hours in church felt like prison to him, but he felt guilty about it, especially the church part, and said nothing to anyone.
To Be Continued…