Review

(noun) a general survey of past events or of a subject

 

I love to read reviews of things: movies, years, TV shows, cars; basically whatever. It probably appeals to my analytical and curious nature. I’m going to attempt a review of 2006 in my life and the major stuff that happened and how it sets me up for the future. This is long and I’ve written it more for me to read in coming years perhaps, then for an audience.

 

I got lazy on a lot of things towards the end of the year. (As a side note it seems a lot of people I know had a bad end to 2006). Friends is one of the things I got lazy about. I still have good friends from high school who I see or chat with regularly. I don’t think I will talk to any friends from university in a few years time. They were probably more time and place friendships. This year I didn’t make too much of an effort to expand my friendship horizons. Some of this was probably caused by the situation I mentioned in my ‘Betrayal’ post. A few years ago I would really push myself to talk to people and think up conversation topics. The funny thing is that because I am less introverted then I used to be I probably do about the same as I used to do, except I have the potential to do more. This is an area that requires some work. I have also felt myself become more self-centred as the year moves on and this is not helpful for friendships. I don’t think writing a blog helps free me from self-centredness because it is all about ‘me’ and ‘my’ thoughts. One of the highlights of my year in the relationships area was helping a man from church out with building his house. It lasted a few weeks earlier in the year and I was helping him put up plaster. It was a good time. He’s not a plaster cast saint but he’s a pretty good role model and a really serious Christian. I consider that a big blessing from God to be able to have the opportunity to do some manly work with a man.

 

Another area I got lazy about towards the end of the year was fighting sin. I kinda let myself go in this area. There was no really profound reason. It was probably I wanted to feel happy and this was a quick way to do it rather then walking through the pain of whatever I was/am trying to numb. I’m annoyed at myself because now I’ll have to win victories and experience withdrawal feelings from masturbation when I have already done it a few times. I have to be careful of living too much in the present on these issues. If I win victories and take the small steps today in five years time I could possibly be a different person and yet I’m often not willing to sacrifice what I want today, so tomorrow will be better. If I never change anything in this area, it’s never going to change and I’ll be a burnt out 25-year-old regretting all the years I’ve wasted. I don’t want to be that, but I have yet to pay the price for more then a couple of months.

 

After I told people about my SSA I interpreted many things they did as a reaction to whether or not they accepted this part of me. I don’t do this anymore, which is a good thing. It’s probably that the passing of time has made me more comfortable. I told a few more people as well. They mainly took it okay. One was really shocked and concerned about how it reflected on her because she had had a crush on me. I’m still yet to find someone who reacts the way ‘I’ want them too, and I doubt I will. I would even say this is self-centred and expecting too much of other people. I would like someone to be concerned and ask lots of questions, be willing to get informed so they understand the issue and continue to be involved over the long-term. In saying that I realise my personality and reservedness contributes to people not wanting to bring it up. It’s also an opportunity for me to be the person I felt I needed with my problems for someone else with their problems. And when I turn this problem around into an opportunity for myself I can see how hard it would be for someone to be what I would like them to be in my life. I don’t have people in my life I feel like I need to tell at the moment. If it came up at the appropriate time maybe but it’s not something I want to push.

 

In 2004 and 2005 I lived in the town where my university is, but this year I decided to drive the one-hour trip each day I had classes. I only had classes three days in semester one and two days in semester two so this wasn’t too bad. Though I did get sick of driving. It meant I didn’t really participate in uni life at all but alternatively I got to be more involved in my church and did more productive at night time, such as read and surf the internet rather then watch television. I was tired of study by the end of the year and am glad to be done with my Bachelor of Arts (Journalism). I got good marks: all High Distinctions (80-100) and Distinctions (70-79) so that was nice. Scarily I might be studying again in the New Year by doing a distance education shorthand writing course. Shorthand writing is the abbreviated style of writing some journalists use so they quote what interviewees are saying. It would be a good skill to have but I thought my study break would have been longer.

 

I’m not where I would like to be with God as I end this year. I had such an amazing time of learning mid-year as I listened to great sermons from men like Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Paul Washer and Matt Chandler and I feel like I’ve gained all this knowledge but it hasn’t really changed my life. Or maybe that should be I haven’t let it change my life. But I did enjoy the challenge of learning. Some of the stuff I learnt included the masculinity stuff in my last post, why women shouldn’t be pastors, Calvinism stuff (I wouldn’t call myself a Calvinist though, but I lean that way), and just new ways of looking at old stories. I also started reading all these discernment internet websites, which basically pick at what is wrong with other ministries, people, theologies. If they’re right there’s going to be some scary times ahead. I guess I enjoyed them, firstly because they are all about truth but also because it appeals to my competitive nature and they’re out they’re fighting against the forces of darkness, and sometimes just looking silly because they haven’t done their research. If you’re wondering why I began this paragraph with a mention about God and then digressed into God-related stuff it’s because I’m not exactly sure how I’m meant to describe “where I’m with God” or if I even want to.

 

Church was pretty good this year. I got to be more involved and went to our weekly prayer meetings and Bible study. I’m the only person in my age group, the next youngest is about 17 and the next oldest would be about 33. Only about 30 people go so this is not really that exceptional. I get to be very involved in my church and do stuff on the computer for church, lead worship, preach and teach Sunday school. I’m going to hold off on some of that until I feel I’m securely back on the narrow again. I have had a couple of opportunities to preach in the past couple of months and haven’t taken them up. The Ted Haggard thing scared me a bit. I was thinking that maybe I would become a pastor one day mid-year. But now I think I would be more of a support role. Preaching is really what I love and there’s no reason I can’t do that but without the responsibility of a title. At church I started to preach through the book of James. I did about four. I like public speaking and preaching is a great way to do that. But more then that I love shouting truth into people’s lives. I’m a realist I know that no-one really changes their life long-term because they heard a great sermon but it’s good work.

 

Turning 21 was a bit of a non-experience. Australians can vote, drive and drink from the age of 18. But it does serve as a reminder that I’m getting older. In August I’ll be 22 and that is differently leaving behind all the year’s that are generally classified as youth. Feeling older is a bit scary. Today a song on the radio, which I can remember very well from when I was about 14 was introduced as, “another Light FM classic.” You know you’re getting older when songs that were released when you were a teenager start to be referred to as classics. Getting older also brings up other struggle issues. Will more acquaintances wonder why I haven’t got a girlfriend despite the fact there’s probably no reason I shouldn’t? Will I be able to afford stuff like rent if I stay single forever? These issues don’t worry me too much but I didn’t think about them four years ago.

 

Getting a job has to be a highlight of the year. It was just perfect how it happened. I was worried about what I was going to do when I finished uni, so I had a couple of meethings with the careers counsellor and she said to send out my resume to some places. So I sent it out to local newspapers and politicians officers. Then the paper I work at now rang me up and said they were looking for someone and I could do a trial. They were impressed with my resume and it’s nice to know working hard and being involved in activities and stuff pays off. We were talking at prayer meeting about specific prayer and how sometimes we need to pray specific. So I prayed that I would get a job so I wouldn’t have to do my usual summer job, which was picking asparagus, and it all fell into place. I’m looking forward to the new situations this will bring in the New Year. As I get more settled in I can get better stories. I’m also looking forward to moving and perhaps staying down there and getting more involved in a new church. The paper is also getting a new editor and that will make things more interesting.

 

So to the New Year…I understand why people don’t make resolutions, but I think they can be okay things, without vision the people perish and all that kind of Hallmark card stuff. So in 2007 I want to take life step by step, fight the battle in the hour and push myself out of the comfort zone in that moment without getting all worked up and making it seem like a big deal when it’s just a fleeting moment before I move onto the next opportunity for victory or getting out of the comfort zone. But I also want to remember the future. What I do in those minutes and hours matters for when I am 25 and 34 and 62 and for eternity. If I win in this moment I win for the old man who wants to celebrate a life lived well as he dies. I want to work towards being the kind of person I wanted to help me. I want to be real I don’t just mean that I want to disclose stuff to heaps of people, but I want to be honest with myself about where I am at and what I’m feeling. I need to preach to myself that it is okay to be in pain and work to resolve it in healthy ways rather then seeking to medicate myself with sin. I want to be porn and masturbation free. People tell me this is a bit of an unrealistic goal, but I’m going to put it out there and say that one year I will never do those things again and so it’s not really as silly as it may sound. So bring on ’07.

 

Anyway if anyone made it through to the end. Well Done!! And a Happy New Year to you. I feel a bit weird wishing people a ‘happy’ New Year. What if what you or I need isn’t really pleasant happiness that helps us sleep at night, but a kick up the arse so we can go further in 2007 and grow and heal and be better in 2011 then we ever thought possible. So I’m wishing you that kind of New Year if it’s what you need. And if it’s not, good stuff, and have a great one. I’m off to celebrate with some friends and I’ll catch ya’s in ’07.

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Masculinity

(adjective) of, like or suitable for men

 

In the middle of this year I was on a masculinity kick. I listened to some good preaching by Mark Driscoll on masculinity and I read some internet articles based around the theme of why men hate going to church. My interest in the issue has dwindled a bit since but I have noticed it in relation to churches a lot recently.

 

It seems that the churches I have been to are feminine places. And it’s everything. The music, the type of language used, for example ‘relationship to Jesus’ rather then ‘following Jesus,’ the focus on dull programs, craft in children’s Sunday school etc. Then there’s the whole culture: it’s the first family of don’t rock the boat, and if in doubt nod and smile. I’ve noticed it at Christmas as well. It seems like a lot of carols were written in an overly sentimental time, and the whole story has been made soppy with the warm and cosy Mary and Joseph with pleasant animals watching and so on.

 

Its weird this has become a big issue for me. I’m not the most masculine person in the world. But I almost feel my attempts to be more of a man is hushed when I try to do it in church surroundings. The other reason it’s bit silly me talking about this is because of sin I am not in a position to take on greater responsibility and to try to make a change from the inside.

 

I’m not really blaming women. Probably most of the fault rests with men. Instead of leading they’ve been passive. Instead of fighting sin they’ve let it win and left the women to pick up the pieces. Instead of preserving in the battle to de-sentimentalise churches they’ve given into apathy and laziness.

 

The other reason that has got me thinking about it again a bit is because I don’t think the approach in some places is leading to good fruit. There’s lots of young guys who will leave the ‘women’s business’ behind as soon as they can. There’s other guys who aren’t being challenged enough so are settling for a mediocre faith.

 

Some attempts to correct the problem seem to go too far the other way and create a hyper-masculinity. I was reading about this GodMan conference they had in LA. (I think the name and place are correct). I think it went too far the other way. So it’s probably about being balanced and biblical.

 

Crush

(noun, informal) an infatuation

 

Something that bugs me is when a chick has a crush on me. Obviously it’s flattering in a way but when I’m only seeking friendship and nothing more it’s frustrating. There are always signs of a crush like an increased tendency to reply to emails or the need to send text messages a lot. And looks that last too long.

 

I don’t want to give the impression that every chick I meet falls for me, because they don’t. There’s only been about six or so. But they follow a pretty predictable pattern: I notice they probably like me and they show a greater interest in me. Through the previously mentioned ways or they want to ‘catch up’ all the time, which is difficult if I have only seen them the week before. During this I try to make sure I don’t lead people on. (Though I only realised last year that I should take more radical steps to do this).

 

A few times they asked me if I liked them and when I said I didn’t they lay off. And a few found out I struggle with same-sex attraction so that took me off the available list. Each time the situation follows a predictable pattern. Once they know I’m not looking to date, the emails and messages and invitations to ‘catch up’ dry up. I’ll be honest and admit this leaves me feeling a bit used. Surely if they there was something appealing about me it should still remain despite the fact I don’t like them.

 

There are advantages to this. I should be seeking male friendship and so if chicks have a habit of leaving me that’s okay. I also prefer male company anyway because I find chicks annoying because of previous said reasons and potential for that. Hopefully one day I won’t.

Christmas

(noun) the Christian festival commemorating Christ’s birth

 

The most notable thing about Christmas here was that it was cold. It was just 14C (58F). It was the coldest Christmas day in Melbourne since records began. Some places had a ‘white Christmas,” which is extremely unusual. For me personally it was nice, I’m not a big fan of hot weather and a roast meal tastes better when the heater is on. If this is global warming, bring it on baby, I say.

 

My Christmas day started around 8:30am when I got out of bed, which was good because I was worried someone would get me up earlier. I received some useful gifts including some heavier dumbbells to hopefully grow some muscles, a new pair of thongs (as in flip flops not other thongs) and money. I also received the first two seasons of ‘Lois and Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman.’ I loved that show in the mid-1990s. and it was great watching it again. Some of my memories must have been lying dormant in my long-term memory for a decade plus, because sometimes I knew what was going to happen next.

 

My family had dinner with my Mum’s sister and her family and our grandparents. It was a good meal and the company was good. I’m appreciating extended family a lot more then I used too. Our extended family is not really close. But they’re great people to spend some relaxed time with and chat (or listen to them in my case usual) good-naturedly. There feels like there’s less pressure when it’s family, as opposed to friends or acquaintances.

 

So all in all it was a good day. Except I’m promising myself that next year I won’t eat so much…and maybe I’ll keep myself to it this year.

Betray

(verb) to be disloyal to

 

It wouldn’t be an understatement to say one of the most hurtful things to happen in my life occurred this year. I still remember the February day I found out. I was at the train station with a mate after a day in Melbourne and he said, “I know about the um..that.” So it turned out that behind my back some of my high school friends had found out that I struggled with same-sex attraction, because other people I had told; told them. The worst thing in my perspective was that some people had known for months, and never said anything to me. And people who I thought might have told me about what was happening didn’t.

 

It hurt heaps. I guess I understood the reasons why they did it. Mainly because they “thought they should know,” which frustrated me because I wasn’t against telling people. And secondly it’s hypocrisy because they didn’t/don’t use the same standard with themselves. I don’t see a need to tell everyone, and it wouldn’t be helpful to tell some people. Especially non-Christians who would (and did) express puzzlement and offer to help me find a boyfriend. I also only really wanted to tell people I could trust and where it would be helpful for both of us.

 

Another thing that frustrated me in the whole thing was that when I tried to find out what actually happened, to get to the bottom of it all, people weren’t very helpful. I did want to find out who told who and why, because it hurt so much and I was in disbelief that it happened. Then people were blaming me for it. Saying I should have told more people, I was never going to tell people, you’re ashamed about it so we thought we’d help. Then people I hadn’t told were hurt I didn’t tell them, which I guess showed how much they invested in our friendship.

 

‘Cause it hurt so much I probably lost perspective in the whole thing. I’m sure there were things I contributed to the whole situation. One of them was that there was some tension with me witnessing to people beforehand. I’m sure I did the wrong things in other areas but I can’t figure them out.

 

The whole thing has made me a bit apathetic about friendships. They’re nice, that’s for sure. But the potential for hurt is heaps. I don’t consider myself a very emotional person, but the amount of emotion I felt when I found out showed me I did care a lot about these friendships. I also have less expectations from people now, which perhaps is a good thing, it if goes well that’s great-if it doesn’t; oh well. It has also made me aware I need to try to help educate people about same-sex attraction. Part of the reason they must have been able to tell other people and then not tell me is that they do not understand what a big deal it was at the time for me. (Not so much now). What it means to tell people after all the years of private struggle and pain.

Tired

(adjective) feeling that one would like to sleep or rest

In my personal opinion being tired is one of the worst physical feelings in the world. I probably had five hours of sleep a night -at the most- for the past four nights. I blame it on two things: having some  kind of cold/throat thing, which made it difficult to sleep and people making noise.

I get tired pretty easy. If I stay up till 1am or so and get six hours of sleep I often feel crap the next day. I feel lethargic, like i’m going to through up, dizzy and just tired at different times. And then the worst thing when I finally hit the sack I wake up and it takes me ages to get to sleep.

I am pretty intense when it comes to my sleep. When selecting a place of board, one must be aware of multiple things. How far is the room from the teleivision? Is there a wall or door between said television and room? Is the bathroom nearby? Does the bathroom have a noisy shower and exhaust system? Do the people feel an unnecessary need to be making loud noises after 11pm? Are the people nice enough to make sure they don’t unneccesaryly disturb you? Will ear plugs be enough to block out noise?

One of the most annoying things in the world has to be when people make lots of noise and then they apologise for it. To me it seems insincere. If they were really sorry they wouldn’t have done it in the first place. (Obviously a lot of sorrys aren’t geninue but I think on this issue it is especially noticable). It’s like they are saying, ‘I know I was making lots of noise last night, and just for politeness I’m going to apologise’. I had a very sincere apology today about being woken up, I’m sure he genuinely meant it. But when he was making noise a few nights back I’m not sure he would have been able to apologise genuinely.

Week

(noun) any of a series of 7-day cycles used in various calendars

Sunday was a pretty good day except it was really hot. 41 celsius or 106 farenheit. It only goes above 40 a few times each year if we are unlucky and it doesn’t usually happen as early as December. My grandparents live about 5 minutes from us and they have this drain out the front and because it is drying up the fish are all concentrated in one part that’s only about 40 centimetres deep at the most. So my sister and I went around there with buckets and tried to catch the carp, which is basically a pest fish. Some of them were pretty big. There were also some goldfish. It was quite fun. The heat and the water and the fish and my sister. I need to have fun more often. Then I went down to my new home townish and that was okay. I tried out another church, which is the church one of my housemates goes to, it was better then last weeks one. It was really short like a 45 minute service.

 

I don’t really get Christians who get drunk and swear and smoke. Two of those things are debated in some quarters as to whether they’re wrong or not. But I don’t get it basically cause my ‘cultural background’ if you like all those things were frowned upon. And these are Christians who teach Sunday school, lead worship and even get to preach. And then I think of myself who has done all those things (teach, lead, preach – not the other three) and my masturbating and looking at porn, I know these things are wrong and I think maybe what I’m doing will appear as silly to someone else.

 

I still want to move. The people I’m staying with probably want me to move too. I overheard them a few times saying non-positive things about me. It wasn’t really anything personal or unexpected, so while it disappointed me to hear it, it wasn’t really that bad. Going there was a risk, which I knew could possibly turn out bad, so I’m not too fussed about it in that sense. But I still need to find another place to go to and there isn’t any other better offers on the table at the moment. I’ll advertise again in mid-January after the Christmas break when perhaps there is some action happening.

 

I didn’t really think about my struggle against same-sex attraction much this week. It hasn’t really been on the fore front of my mind. I went Christmas shopping today and damn there were lots of hot guys. So it basically sucked, but one thing I did notice is that there aren’t really that many hot guys to distract from the cause in town, which I guess presents me with an opportunity to strengthen myself when there is less temptation around.