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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10 thoughts on “Year of my stuckness

  1. I think 23-25 is just a tough age to be at in life. You realize you’re in your prime, but also realize it’s not all you thought it’d be, or perhaps you aren’t doing all the things you thought you’d be doing, and so on. A friend told me when I turned 24 that this age sucks, and I didn’t believe her. But as the year goes on, I can see why. Second your out of college…settled into a job and daily routine, and its easy to feel “stuck.” For the first time in life there’s no other big horizons or major events looming ahead…at least not that I can see. Just routine. All that to say…I feel ya man! Don’t be down though about the year…God works and people change in ways we often can’t see until much later. 

  2. Yeah, if there was an Olympic category for wasting time, I would be GOLD. But it’s never too late to start again. God can do great things through you – for instance just by writing this it’s inspired me to look back on what I’ve accomplished and forward on what I still can accomplish (which is, if you’re curious, a lot). Keep fighting the good fight man, I’ll be fighting right beside you.

  3. Chris – the Lord will guide your steps and draw you in to the opportunities that he wants you to pursue if you keep yourself available.  Always keep some goals in front of you, stay involved in various activities and connected with others, both professionally and at church.  Focus on what the Lord wants you to be doing with your life, including all of your concerns and issues.  And be available to mentor others with what you have learned in life.  By answering a 17-year-old’s questions you will be impacting your own life in a small way.  An I trust that you have a lot to offer to others.I hope 2009 is a good year ahead for you.  God bless. Jeff

  4. mmm.  {{{{HUG}}}}  my heart goes out to you, chris.  i’m MORE than just familiar with these words and sentiments.  i pray 2009 is a year of tons more visible growth and grounding.  sometimes it’s best to stop striving, and allow God to do his work.  and frankly, sometimes we can magnify one sin at the expense of all others, to the point that the magnified one doesn’t improve, and the distraction hastens and worsens all others.  perhaps Christ is calling you to be more whole universally, and not merely in the area of SGA.  maybe even he’s not nearly as concerned about that as you are.  either way, i hope you can just rest in Him, and in His power to make you clean and whole.

  5. Life is a journey…I need to remind myself of that too. I appreciate your transparency. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thanks for that reflection Chris, I completely associate with that based on my own previous year. I have had the same thought, I know what I should do, I just don’t endure, knowlegde seems to be only a part of it, it is the continual action that needs to follow.I am the same as you, I have these visions of spiritually etc of where I should be at my age and then think of time wasted, stuff I have done to slow me down……maybe I should try some of your positive self talk!As Nike would say….”JUST DO IT”Thanks again for sharing.Hayden

  7. That was such an excellent post. I enjoyed it very much. Hope you have an AMAZING 2009. Keep strong!Tom

  8. You wrote this and it really struck a chord:  There’s”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.”There’s a problem with this, Chris.  You correctly identified the problem:  you know all this and it hasn’t helped you before.  But the problem is your solution:  it’s not about follow-through…it’s about the Gospel.  Stick with me on this; I’ll try to explain.Jesus did not come to give us a new law.  “Do this and you’ll live better.”  “Do this and you’ll have a breakthrough year.”  “Do this and you’ll have a great life!”  No, my friend.  This, unfortunately, is what is proclaimed Sunday after Sunday in churches across both our nations, but it is not the Gospel.  It’s simply new law.  Jesus fulfilled the law; this leaves us with the Gospel of Christ, which is grace.First, let me say what I’m not saying, because I’m sure I’ve already offended 3/4 of your readership.  I am NOT saying we do not have responsibilities to live according to the Law.  God’s ordinances are important, indeed vital to the Christian walk.But here’s what I AM saying:  pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and trying harder will not get you anywhere.  You try it in 2009…and then you tell me on Jan. 1st, 2010, if it worked for you.  You will have failed.You see, the Gospel is about what Christ did.  The Law’s job is to convict us of sin….and it does so rightly.  Yes, it’s sinful to engage in porn and masturbation from lust and all of those things.  Yes, those things should be avoided.But what of what Christ did?  What about the fact that your sins are forgiven because Jesus took YOUR place on the cross, dying for every sin you will EVER commit, even if you live to be 90?  What about the fact that you are not a slave to sin because of what Christ did, not because you decide to stop sinning and try harder to be like Jesus?  You, of yourself, will NEVER be like Jesus as a result of anything you do.  No, only Christ can do that…and you don’t even get to cooperate with it.  Your repentance is from God…it is a gift:  “For you have been saved by grace through faith, and this not of yourselves, lest any man should boast.”  The salvation is a gift, the grace is a gift, the faith is a gift.  That’s what the “this” means in the phrase “this not of yourselves.”  The “this” points to all three, brother.So I want to encourage you as you grow in Christ:  believe the Gospel!  Receive it with joy each day!  The Gospel is not something we get saved by and then move on to other things…it is the beginning and Christ Himself is the end.  We don’t cooperate, we only receive…and that’s awesome because it’s not something I can screw up.  Lord knows, I’d have screwed it up long ago.Blessings in 2009, brother. I’m praying for you.  Feel free to email me at worship.fanatic@gmail.com if you want to talk more or have questions.  I don’t want to turn your board into a debate-zone…I’m here just encouraging a brother in Christ.

  9. Chris, just want to encourage you with this. Indeed only God in His sovereign purpose can turn beauty out of ashes. We must never run out of hope in Him. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also   predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brother.” -Romans 8:28-29  ‘If you live inside this massive promise, your life is more solid and stable than Mount Everest. Nothing can blow you over when you are inside the walls of Romans 8:28. Outside Romans 8:28 all is confusion and anxiety and fear and uncertainty. -John Piper

  10. Well I certainly agree that the gospel is central to freedom, but it’s in the daily life application of the gospel which is key.   You may merely “wait around” for Christ’s gospel to suddenly change you, but you’ll be waiting for the longest time.   It is the gift of God’s grace which enables you to live in God’s truth by conforming your behavior to it.   Christ will not only change you, but expects you to be an active part of the process.  Take a look at Luke 1:73-75, Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”   Consider also John 8:31-32 (Amplified version) “31So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. 32And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.”    Believing Christ’s gospel takes more than embracing the truth.   Belief means that we act upon the truth; applying the truth of God’s word.  The only way to change the lies you’ve believed is to replace those lies with God’s truth…  What doesn’t work is waiting around for Jesus Christ to do for you what He’s already done.   It is for us to walk in the truth, by rejecting the false god and its lies, taking hold of the true God and replacing the lies with His truth.   This is a walk, you are responsible for not only believing and “waiting” but doing your part.  Jesus will do His without fail, all that is wanting is you obeying Christ’s teaching.   If you want to sit around wishin’, hopin’, prayin’, with a little Bible study thrown in, go ahead, but it’s a miserable life long wait.   Your masculine identity is the root of all your troubles.   God shows us, perhaps the greatest of all masculine attributes.   He shows us when He sends Christ.   God reaches to save; He makes the decisive first move.   You have to become one who trusts God’s word more than your feelings.  You have to start reaching FIRST; acting FIRST; making the FIRST move.   Now here’s the trick you have to learn to get yourself insinc with what God wants to do first.   Fasting and prayer have been instrumental in my life.   I fast, pray, and ask God, “Okay God, what do You want to do first; Where do we begin, and what is my part?”     He’ll answer you, but there is very little God can do until you accept the responsibility of being part of God’s work in your life.   You’ve got to make a CHOICE to do what God shows you is your part.   You cannot do His part.   This must be very clear: God is the one who does all the actual freeing.   Your part is to do what Jesus teaches, and to do what God shows you to do as it pertains to your particular situation.What you are talking about here is the norm for those who struggle with SSA.   The difference between those who God changes and those who turn from God to homosexuality is a staunch belief in God’s word over your subjective feelings.    That’s why I’m always on you guys to know the scientific facts, and to carefully study what the Bible teaches about all sexual immorality including homosexuality.   The truth will hold you up when the subjective feelings seem like they’ll wash you away, but you have to do your part and reach for the truth.   It’s your choice….Blessings,BP  

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