Year of my stuckness

IT is somewhat disturbing that the, positive, defining experiences of my Christian and same sex attraction journeys are now years ago. The cold, clear winter when my dad and I repaired farm fences in manly closeness and then I came back to the house and did the setting captive’s free course on the internet; four and a half years ago in the mid-noughties or 2004. The time in university I became a ‘passionate evangelist’ and shared and questioned with about 10 people; three and a half years ago. When I told family and close friends about my SSA; three years ago. They told others and hurt me a lot; almost three years ago. The time Mark Driscoll taught me what it meant to be a man and masculine; two and a half years ago. I look back and think ‘wow, God’s taken me places,’ but then I feel stuck in the relative wasteland of late 2008.  

 

My 20 month wander through the desert in spiritual disobedience, laziness and apathy ended in July when I stopped my deliberate sinning and started seeking God through prayer and bible reading again. I’m not sure what the hell I was doing for that period stretching from November 2006; it feels like a bit of a blur. Though for as long as I live I’m sure I will regret the time I wasted. Unfortunately in July I couldn’t instantly become the person I was in October 2006 and have had to work through some things again. For example in my darkest places I am naturally a prick: a mean, selfish, lazy, stubborn and negative person. During my journey in la la land these “qualities” resurfaced and were acted on more than they should have been. A good going over by my manager at work in February shocked me into seeing what I was becoming. Even now with simple things like washing the dishes that two years ago I would have been able to do, mostly, in happy love feel forced and done grudgingly.

When I recommitted myself to serious obedience and pursuing God there was such happiness in my life. It was like an emotional weight had been lifted off me or my glasses had been really dirty, but were clean again. It felt like I was playing offence in life and taking ground rather than defensively protecting what I had and hoping for a better day.

 

Getting older scares me. I really thought I’d be more by now. More what you ask? I don’t know, there’s just an unsettling feeling that I haven’t been and achieved all I should have at age 23 and a half. People have said to me in the past ‘the world is your oyster,’ but it doesn’t feel like it. This feeling that niggles at me is obviously irrational and unhelpful, but it is there. More explicit is that in the course of being at my parents these past few weeks it’s come to my attention I am taking on all the characteristics I dislike in the men in my family. I sometimes passively avoid issues and decisions like my father, at times I negatively nit-pick like my grandfather or believe my own hot air like my uncle. These men have been driving the significant women in their life crazy for years. Unfortunately it will take more than a general desire to be different to defeat these family traits. The other week I threw out 20 bottles of out of date mayonnaise, salad dressing, spreads, chutney etc from my mum’s fridge. It wasn’t until afterwards I realised this kind of action was reminiscent of someone else.

 

Two thousand and eight had its highlights as well. Though nothing massively good happened there were plenty of pleasant everyday events. There were good times with family, which drew us closer together. My house and housemates were easy to be with and they don’t complain when I take up lots of the freezer. Work at the newspaper was challenging with plenty of freedom to innovate and improve. Even better a mid-year office renovation meant the five male journalists were all moved into one area allowing for some masculine bonding and examples. My late year attempts to fill in my evenings with more activity proved moderately successful. And my first steps into a new church went okay. There were numerous fun times with friends at barbecues, parks and beaches. Other good stuff included building upper body muscle, driving through the beautiful Victorian countryside, tasty food and plenty of Windows Live seven hand poker with a mate. To be totally honest, however, these things add to, rather than alleviate, my stuckness. Just enough fun and love to keep me medicated, but not enough to make me joyful or so little that I am deeply unsatisfied and need to make changes.

 

If a 17-year-old dealing with same sex attraction came to me and asked for help, I do believe they would be given nearly all the knowledge about the possible causes of their attractions and practical actions to take they’d need. But all this knowledge is not helping me. Instead I am lacking endurance. Hebrews 12:1 says “run with endurance the race”. My race is made up of sprints and dawdling. But the thing about becoming someone who endures, who keeps at it, is that that’s all there is to it. To become someone who endures I just need to endure. Don’t want to masturbate? Just need to keep working at it day in and day out. Don’t want to become my father? Continue at it. Want to be more masculine and confident? Take one little step at a time. Want to follow Jesus more closely? Do whatever I can right now. But I know all this. Have known it for a long time. Knowing hasn’t helped me before. It’s about whether I follow through on my knowledge. Will I do more in 2009? Will I endure? It’s up to me. There’s nothing more I need to know right now then what I already do. I can’t even think of anything happening that would help me endure. Sure another male friend would be nice; but if I can’t endure without them I don’t see how they would help.

 

In saying all this I don’t just mean endure in doing or not doing actions. I am including enduring in dealing with the deeper issues and root causes of my SSA. Changing the heart to change the actions, becoming more whole etc. Also I know that for some things I just need God to show up and be powerful, or for there to be a place where striving ceases and I rest in Christ’s righteousness that he has given to me as my own. For example I have only looked at net porn once in the past six months and there’s no 10 steps to success I can pass on, because I just got sick of it and couldn’t be bothered looking at it. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe the same thing will happen with masturbation or possibly it won’t.              

 

For the past two years I have written reviews here on xanga of my trip around the sun and they always seem to end up saying the same kind of thing. Apply the knowledge I have. Take action. Look to eternity, but fight every second. And so on and so on. It’s sad; it’s scary. It makes me question where I’m going to be in 10 years. Still writing the same stuff here on xanga? In previous years of my life there’s been struggle and progress as a Christian and in SSA. For example even if masturbation or something remains I can see I’ve improved somewhat. This year I’m not so sure. For the first time in four years I even had an obsessive infatuation with another guy, which suggests maybe I’ve regressed. Three hundred and sixty five days changes a person for sure, but I can’t think of any substantial ways I’m better in a deep manner that will stand out as 2008’s achievement in the archive of my life. I weigh less and am more toned, but I don’t think that matters too much. Hmmm. Perhaps one thing is I practice better self-talk, for example today I got a slightly abrupt negative email about a plan I was making for the weekend. Instead of thinking ‘I had a bad idea; they don’t like it,’ I thought ‘oh well at least I took the initiative and stepped out’. It’s something, haha. Take away the Christian/SSA parts of my life and I do feel more mature despite the niggling concern I’m behind where I should be in life. I’m better equipped to handle the challenges of being an adult and living in the real world. Extra confident that I can make a pleasant life and die old and content. But this is almost divorced from the things that really matter ie God/wholeness/eternity. I mean where is God in all the stuff I’ve just written; yet He is whom matters.

 

So those are my thoughts as the year ends; I’m going to stop now. Are they a tad illogical and baseless? For sure. But it’s what came to me as I sat on the hay in my father’s barn and on the train to Melbourne, and contemplated the past 12 months. I’m going to go cook a blackberry and apple pie now as my food contribution to New Year’s celebrations with friends tonight. I hope all you guys have a great night and that the New Year is everything you need in the ways that matter.

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Fun on the farm

I’VE got three weeks off from work and am spending it at my parents property as it’s closer to the people I want to see and the places I want to go. Plus there’s the pantry and fridge are full of food. The dial-up internet is a challenge though.

 

It’s been great. I had a mate from high school who now lives in another state stay for a week and we saw some friends, did the Christmas shopping, went to the beach and played a bit of Xbox. Me and game’s consoles don’t go together. I didn’t win anything against him. On the weekend I did some hay bale carting with my dad, sister and her boyfriend, which was good physical work. Then there was Christmas week with family, gifts and food.

 

On Sunday I’m doing a sermon at church on Hebrews 12:1-3. It’s a pretty good passage to use near the beginning of a New Year “run the race with endurance” and all that. I’ve been trying to think of an ending to the talk that will bring it back to Jesus on the cross and our salvation. There’s more thinking to do on that one.

 

Well I should go for a bit of a bike ride to help with the digestion of the leftover pudding, cream and custard I enjoyed for lunch. Keep safe!

When I’m at the end of myself

I made it to about 17 masturbation free days in the end. Now the battle is restarting and I’m facing teh hard yard of getting past the first few days and into the easier parts of the struggle.

It’s been kind of a crazy week emotionally though. It always amazes me when I stop doing some kind of sin, in this case masturbation, how many other sins I realise I am guilty of: self pity, pride, self righteousness, lust. Basically all the hard to defeat stuff. I guess it shows I need to not really on my own strength to fight sin, but on Jesus’s blood and righteousness. That’s where forgiveness is and restoration. I need to think about it more as it only passed my mind this afternoon.

The other thing is I’ve felt kind of desperate for male love. I’m not someone who usually has a conscious desire for touch or deep talks. But this week my desires have been way more then they usually are. I see a guy around my age on the street or the cleaner in the office and I want to just walk right up to him and have a good hug. I don’t remember feeling this way in ages. It’s not a sexual desire. I know I should be thinking of what these desires say about where I am at, but nothing’s coming to me.

Today for a story on a Christmas lunch a couple of churches organise for lonely people, I had to go and meet one of the attendees to interview him and take a photo. It was like something out of a movie. He was in this run down house in the middle of these paddocks with knee high grass and surrounded by hills. Basically no family, no one to spend Christmas lunch with. I almost wanted to cry and give him a big hug too. Few things scare me more about my same sex desires then the possibility one day that will be me.

Reinterpreting what I used to want

ONE of the interesting things for me lately has been thinking about some of the things I wanted when I was in my teens at high school, particularly in relation to same sex attraction and all that. My number one wish in those days was a really close male friend who also struggled that I could be 100 per cent honest with, who would understand me and would want me as a friend. (Okay, what I really wanted was a lover minus physical stuff, but I was pretty deluded in those days.)

I would pray to God for this male to come into my life or for someone who I felt something for to become that person. I was totally sincere in my prayer as well. Basically I was asking God to give me someone who I would be in a way too close intense emotional non-sexual relationship. He’s good and he never answered the prayer. I laugh at myself now; asking God for the very thing that would harm me. And I’m thankful he had made me realise the wrongness of my prayer.

Recently I found out someone I knew in those days also dealt with similar stuff. And there were a lot of questions that came with this knowledge, because there I was praying for a person and nearby was actually someone who may have been going through the same kind of issues. It was kind of unsettling. I wasn’t like ‘why God?’ more ‘this is interesting God, what were you up to?’ I don’t mind if i’m not given answers to those questions, but they’re there.

It’s becoming almost a pattern that I am in close physical proximity, for a while, to people who deal with gender issues, but I don’t find out that they were until after I don’t see them anymore. It kind of weirds me out; so close yet so far. There’s praise at moments like these, because I see God has been protecting me.

I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t be thinking about all this and playing what if with my past. It’s been and gone and there is only the future. But the past shaped me or didn’t shape me, and now i’m here; looking back thankful and questioning.