I do a lot of talking about how godawful it was growing up Adventist. It is my personal opinion that there are absolutely zero redeeming qualities about Adventism that would make growing up Adventist better than growing up in the real world.
Nevertheless, our childhoods, for the most part, were not 100% rotten and miserable. There were good parts too, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that.
In some ways, I’ll always be an ex-Adventist. Because there are parts of Adventism that not only can I not let go of, but that I do not wish to let go of.
1. The Food
Oh god THE FOOD! I know that most people who grew up normal are not going to understand this one. I had an argument with one of my secular friends a few weeks ago, wherein I told him that Fri-Chik was not the same as “friend chicken.”
Everyone, this is Fri-Chik:
My family, unlike most Adventists in our state, ate (clean) meat, but we also ate veggie meat. At least for my family, the Fri-Chik was served in one meal, but for the next, we might have had actual fried chicken.
I am fortunate in that I have quite a few ex SDA relatives. Most of them were raised the same way, and, even though they all eat real meat now, they will enthusiastically eat Prime Stakes, Grillers, and superlinks.
Another food thing that I am refusing to let go of is Haystacks.
No, my autocorrect isn’t malfunctioning, I meant to type “Haystacks” in a sentence about food. Growing up, Haystacks were so commonplace that I was surprised when a neighbor came to visit and didn’t understand what it was that my mother was serving.
Haystacks start with Fritos. Some people will tell you that you can use regular tortilla chips. Ignore those people. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. Then you put on the beans–any kind of beans will do– and then you add your lettuce, tomatoes, olives, avocado, cheese, sour cream, or any variation on acceptable haystack toppings.
I was describing Haystacks to one of my secular friends the other day. She thought for a moment, then asked, “do you mean nachos?” So, I think that real world speak for haystacks is “nachos.” So if you ever want a haystack at a restaurant, order nachos and see if you get anything resembling a haystack.
For a long time, I thought that this was the hardest thing about leaving Adventism. When I was an Adventist, and even after I’d left Adventism mentally but not physically, I knew that I could go anywhere in the world and immediately find a group where I would believe (mostly) the same things, have a lot in common with people, and where I would know how to make friends. I had a really wide social support network that extended at least across the state, if not the globe.
When I was an Adventist, I not only had friends, I knew how to go about making them. I had my friends, and I knew they loved me, and I loved them dearly. As a child I hated church. As an Adult I rather enjoyed it, because it was a good place to go to where I could socialize.
I don’t think that the benefit of having a community requires Adventism, though. I mean, people could form similar communities with, I don’t know…. StarTrek or something. I think that Adventists take this sense of community way too far and tend to isolate themselves more than they should. Nevertheless, there is that community there, and it was nice while it lasted.
3. Day of Rest
As an atheist, I still keep the Sabbath. Sort of. I don’t always keep it on Saturday, and I don’t follow the ridiculous rules that were associated with it.
But I do take one day off a week and hold it “sacred.” On this day, I allow myself to do no work. Dishes need to be done? They can wait. The bathroom needs cleaning? That can wait too.
I think that the idea of taking at least one day a week where you just let yourself be is extremely healthy. I know some have gotten into the mindset where they feel guilty if they take a day off from work or school. This leads to feeling overworked and burnt out, and I think that could easily be avoided.
Adventists tend to carry this principle to extremes, but I do appreciate that I don’t have this sense of “I must be productive or I will feel guilty.”
And maybe most people in the real world don’t have that, who knows. In any case, I enjoy the Sabbath principle.
4. Nature Walks
Adventists go on a lot of nature walks. They’re a popular Sabbath afternoon activity.
Some nature walks I enjoy more than others. I did not appreciate, as a child, being dragged to EVERY SINGLE WATERFALL in a 100 mile radius whether I wanted to or not. I’m still not a fan of waterfalls. But I do still enjoy grabbing a friend or 3 and going out to the local park and walking the trails there.
I enjoy looking at the beauty around me, and instead of having to somehow think of “the creator,” I get to think of science and how it all works. When I ask questions like, “why are all the leaves green?”* I don’t have to be satisfied with answers like, “because God made it that way.” I get to find out the actual answers.
Yes, I sing. No, I do not do it where I think anyone could hear me.
Adventists, at least conservative ones in my corner of the state, love to sing. They do it when they are depressed to make themselves feel better, they do it because they are filled with joy, and they do it to express their sad feelings. Actually that last one might be me rather than Adventism. Set that aside.
I don’t miss the majority of the praise songs. But I do miss getting together and singing hymns. Embarrassing confession time: I still seek out a church at Christmastime because I love singing Christmas songs. I unashamedly love Christmas music.
6. Biblical knowledge
Seventh Day Adventists know their bibles. This knowledge doesn’t often come in handy out in the real world, but if I’m reading, I sometimes come across references to Bible stories. I do think that it’s a good idea to have at least a basic knowledge of the Bible. I also think that if you took out the word “Bible” and replaced it with “Koran,” the sentence would still be true.
There you go, 6 good things about being raised Adventist. There may be more, but I was picking things that were specifically Adventist. That is why “doing things together as a family” is not on the list. Because guess what Adventists, secular families do that too!
This list is also different from what an actual Adventist would come up with. An actual Adventist, I think, would list things like family, Adventist education, community, being raised to love Jesus and have a strong Christian faith, being kept separate from the world, and being kept from alcohol and drugs.
The only crossover we really would have would be the sense of community Adventists have.
And it is this sense of community that I am still looking for.
*This is just an example. Of course I know why the leaves are green.