Get back on track

all right. get back on track. get focused. what are you trying to accomplish?

i want to break away from all the evil that persists inside of me.

what do i need?

i need to shut the music off, no matter how beautiful it is. i can immerse myself in man made music, or i can seek out Christ.

i need to find the spark as it lived within me in the old days, but i need to be a grownup about it.

i feel sometimes like the only way to go about this is to gratify the self and its evil urges until it is spent and numb. then, the real religious E can begin to live.

i don’t feel depressed today, but i did get angry and i did give in to the lustful urges. i guess that’s something. they said the medicine will take awhile to really kick in.

i am trying to do a lot of listening before i write. does the Lord want me to convert to Catholicism and become a devout Catholic, or go back to school, specifically at a Presbyterian seminary so that i can preach the word of God full time? Or, is there something else hiding behind what is still my own imagined visions of what God might want me to do?

i wish i could take everything out of my head and lay it all out on a long table in a large auditorium and get it sorted out. keep this. toss that. move all of this stuff over into a section for revisiting on a rainy day post retirement.

the old urges to travel and be artsy in new york or san francisco. the apocalyptic dreams. the strong will to find a small community and church that loves me and accepts my love, as i’d always dreamed and hoped s would one day be for me.

the desire to see mom and h again, and r and grandmas and nannie, too. the desire to walk with mom and h again along ft. myers beach. to return to that moment right before i started calling h dumb repeatedly throughout the summer, wherein i began my true life of sinning and departure from the voice of the Spirit.

there is no going back, but shouldn’t there be some great Ideal that consists at once of good and perfect things remembered combined with those to come in a beautiful place where no more harm can come our way? shouldn’t that Ideal be visited frequently and often in the head, to keep one on task and not constantly veering off into sin?

oh, that there were a way to return to pure innocence, free of sexual urges and thoughts tied to sex. free of concerns for politics. free of a deep understanding of mortality. a childlike appreciation of what is beautiful, good, true and possessing Love.

when i pause to read the words i wrote in more idyllic times, i find it terribly striking that i was so full of worry and concern for my future. i may have appreciated to some degree the fact that i had to work little and could sleep and be awake when i wanted to, but i was anxious and certain that my best years had already passed me by, though i was no even 22 years old yet.

it’s almost like i was preconditioned to be negative, and much of that was due to the company i kept and the amount of drinking i did. what i wouldn’t give to even go back to the ten minutes before h left the house for the last time just to let him know how much i love him.

i was constantly under the impression that everyone around me was having more fun than i was. that all of the beautiful girls in the class were completely taken by fraternity studs, and my only hope was to get out of debt and seek out a monastery after i left college. i fantasized about being alone, celibate and priestly as the world rushed toward the new millennium.

when g came along to hijack all of that, i was too full of all the old, bad desires and decided that maybe i could become a normal, socially integrated person after all. but i was also too full of a lot of other issues, like grief (over h’s death) and certainty that i could only marry a virgin (or someone who had lost her virginity to me before we got married, and had slept with no one else).

the ball was always in my court, but i didn’t pray that much for guidance.

and, maybe a key thing to understand even now, is that God most definitely does not want me to become a complete puppet who doesn’t lift a finger without waiting for the certain call of God and perfect discernment over what to do next.

i need to be open minded to the possibilities of what could happen next, but i also need to be focused on reading the Word of God and listening for His voice above all else. any personal opinions about my next steps should be minimized and refocused on practical, day-to-day concerns that come up all the time.

Be patient. Wait on the Lord

Be patient. Wait on the Lord. You haven’t waited on the Lord long enough. Waiting on the Lord is different than sitting around doing nothing. Actively: listen for the Lord’s Love as much as his Word and Wisdom. “Look at me!” “Look at how great I am!” That is what you keep crying to the world every time you do anything (or nothing). An endless yearning to be a part of something–and boundless fear of failure. But, oh, to be a part of a group that is doing some good in this world. To feel connected and not cut off from the Christian community. How long, oh Lord, must I live apart from your people? Must I be completely sin-free for six months or more? I was a happy child until I had sex-consciousness. And then I became a little god–full of pride, eog and all of the vices– a little devil, indeed. People were objects on a scale of values based on their looks, physical athleticism, and popularity.

How much, if any of this will be remembered even a year from now

The pope released his encyclical on the environment. A white supremacist shot up an African American church, which included the killing of a man who was a pastor and state senator. Obama got an APAC trade deal passed in Congress. Greece is preparing to default on its last loan and leave the Eurozone.

How much, if any of this will be remembered even a year from now as having been significant activity that precipitated some kind of lasting change in the world?

It feels like the world is slowly moving toward a major event that will usher in the era of the Antichrist, but how slowly? I really don’t want it to happen in my lifetime or L’s lifetime, but I don’t have much of a say in the matter.

The demons stay with me. To trivialize this, is to never fully comprehend what a soul-killing issue this is. I think I’ve often written about the demons with one eye looking ironically over my shoulder and winking at an imaginary literary hipster audience. But, they are a significant and real thing.

The demon of lust and the demon of anger.

The OTC meds clearly keep them at bay. Or, I should say, they keep my brain generally at bay to the point that I don’t even feel like I can do much except lay around and nap. The primary ingredient appears to be DXM, a non-selective SRI, which does appear to be administered (not as DXM, but other variations) to people with depression.

The challenge will be convincing a psychiatrist that I should be on SSRIs. I am pretty good at coming off as someone who is not depressed or prone to loss of temper, especially when I am removed from a lot of stressful situations. Sitting here at home by myself, I am generally prone to only a few mild out-of-control series of thought patterns each day. And, no one is around to hear me rant and rave or see me sin if those patterns lead to sin.

Of course, God is around, but sinning in front of only God doesn’t scare away potential employers or friends — at least not directly. Naturally, over time, if I allow things to build up unexamined, then they beg to be let out at times that may not be of my choosing.

The difference between the me of today and the me of ten years ago is one of certain seriousness about life and death. People are not to be made fun of, mistreated, or thought of as objects or lesser humans. I am not a great man, or a man on the verge of greatness. I do not need people around me to validate my ego like I used to. I do not spend much time at all worrying about whether or not people approve of what I do and say.

I understand that I am way behind in terms of my self improvement, due to the fact that I have often gotten caught up in a state of “everything’s really okay, what is wrong with me is no different than anyone else’s character flaws.” I saw the relationship I was in at the time and the recent promotion to a sales position as confirmation of MY hard work and determination to have nice things, NOT blessings from God.

It’s also hard to focus on and attack your mental issues when you are: 1. smack dab in the middle of them and can’t get away from them, 2. temporarily divorced from them through OTC meds, alcohol or enough distractions in life to keep you from pausing to pay attention to them.

If you are able to take some time off from work and start to get things right again with yourself and God, you start to feel like maybe they aren’t even that big of a deal, after all. It also doesn’t help when you see a therapist and she seems to belittle and diminish things that are of huge importance to you. You start to feel like maybe you are some kind of mental hypochondriac, and you should just get out more and get over it already.

Of course, if you are still dealing with many of the same issues as you approach 40, then some of those folksy, homespun pieces of advice are probably no longer quite valid, and anyone you meet who wants to continue to spin them to you is probably not worth talking to again about your problems.

***

Mostly, I should just be praying to Jesus to give me guidance and show me the way out of this. I don’t want to die as the kind of person that I am today. I think I can be so much better than I am, and I think I have so much more to offer the world than I have.

The temptation to dip into the past is always there. When I am on these OTC meds, it is much easier to view the past as an impartial observer. I don’t get all weepy or angry about it. It becomes a form of entertainment, a distraction from what I should really be focused on.

There does seem to be this huge conflict between my artistic side and my logical self. There is a part of me that longs to have perfect order in everything I do, and witness a straight line of self improvement and/or growing closer to God. That part of me looks back and sees nothing but a man who simply can’t change himself for the better, no matter how many times he’s tried.

The creative/artistic part of me revels in my written creations, and sees an upward trend of improvement, even if it isn’t as linear as I would like. I think that I perhaps discredit this side of me too many times as belonging to the devil, when in actuality, either side is just as prone to being receptive to either God or the devil. The key is to figure out when I am destroying some part of me that is actually a God-given repository of talents, and when I am hanging on to old dreams and fantasies that were created in my head before I sought God every single day.

Within the space that I call my Self or myself

Within the space that I call my Self or myself, as it were, I’ve developed a playground and a prison. I’ve fought to change myself and I’ve resisted changing anything at all. I’ve yearned for a simpler, more innocent version of myself, and I’ve lusted after being a grownup as grownups are presently defined by my culture.

I’ve begged a million times to God and Jesus for help with healing that which is broken in me, and I’ve backslidden and sinned just as many times. I am a terrible sinner, and there is no denying that. If I make it into Heaven, it will not be due to something I accomplished here on earth as it pertains to my self improvement. Only grace, mercy and forgiveness can save me now.

My kneejerk reaction is to go on Facebook and look for a friend that never was. Or, I scan the news for an inspiring thing that will hopefully trigger a change inside of me–a new thing to move toward. I am reluctant to look inside of myself for inspiration, because I rarely like what I see. If I do find that I like what I see, I quickly allow my ego to spin out of control and find myself thinking I will be the next great leader of a company or the country.

The person I see in the mirror and the person I know to be me is never the one who I see reflected in the faces of people around me or in videos I record of myself. The disconnect between how I see myself and how others see me is a million miles wide.

I am good at scaring people away because they can’t discern who the real me is. I don’t know who the real me is.

I’ve allowed myself to be too soft, too ambiguous, too flighty, too nervy, too effeminate. I’ve basically allowed whatever forces are inside of me to continue to dictate my person, instead of perfecting a singular, cohesive person who is aligned with God, Jesus and is one and the same through and throughout.

I don’t want to be a weak-kneed milk sop for Jesus. I don’t want to be an asshole, either, but if I hope to become the person God made me to be, I have to stop pretending like I am someone I am not. I am NOT a woman, a boy, a nerd, a geek, a loser, a pushover, a softy (except for women, children and animals).

Send forth your love

Send forth your love. Pray to God for a little bit of his Love, in Jesus name. Send that Love forth, too. Begin loving and forget about the past. Wake up each morning with the intent to keep moving forward.

Love the man who blocked the doorway last Sunday, oblivious to people trying to come in and get their children.

Love the people who mistreated you at work, and refused to listen to you.

Don’t wish anything spectacularly good or bad for them, just send forth your love to them.

Love the conservatives whose actions don’t seem to align with their words, and the ones who don’t seem to love the poor unless they are far away on a mission trip. Love the liberals who don’t understand what was good about our history, and what what is good about God.

Just send forth your love and stop worrying about what they are doing. Love those who are caught out in the storms today.

Learn to love yourself. You can’t love your neighbor as yourself, if you don’t learn to love yourself. Learn to accept God’s love for you.

Learn to accept that you are not on the verge of becoming great. You have to get yourself cleaned up first.

Emotions. Moods. Identity. Being who I am, becoming who I was designed to be.

Emotions. Moods. Identity. Being who I am, becoming who I was designed to be.

A shower helped.

I was getting pretty full of it. Anger, chaos, no focus. Sadness, over everything and everyone I’ve lost.

And then, the sun came out.

I felt full of purpose again. Confidence. Focus. Straight up knowing where I am headed and why things have to happen the way they do.

I need instruction and I need to keep my intellect strong, but I can’t go disconnecting with all of that which makes me careen about like a ping pong.

Or, I should say, the very act of disconnecting causes me to not have a clear handle on my emotions.

I can’t speak for anyone else as to the proper way to be. I can only speak of my own struggles and shortcomings.

I say this because my mind immediately goes to hearing voices of “real men” telling me that emotions shouldn’t be an issue and me responding in a way that is critical of them. I don’t need to have conversations with anyone in my head — people from the past or straw men of the future, or anyone else for that matter — unless they are God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit.

Running away from things = running around in circles.

Running away from things = running around in circles.

Motivated to do something because it is a counter to something I just did or something that just happened to me is the process I’ve established.

I need to make sure that I am not interested in spiritual things merely to get away from the crassness of the past professional life.

I need to make sure that my more academic interests aren’t amplified because I don’t feel like I measure up to the calling of ministry.

I need to make sure that I do whatever I decide to do for the right reasons: the major career change is God’s will, and any future crass jobs are because my family needs the money. I do not get back into computers, sales or marketing because I want to satisfy my ego which demands that I have a career in the way the world wants me to.

I need to make sure that my ego stays out of spiritual/academic considerations. The last thing I need to do is pick up where I left off and start envisioning a new journey that leads me to the same bitterness and anger toward others who don’t immediately allow me to be the leader of the gang.

I have become adept at developing a habit to react to people and assume they have the worst intentions. This was born out of being accused during adolescence and early adulthood for not defending myself and speaking up enough, and letting people take advantage of me. Now, I have swung hard in a terrible direction with the tendency to have a kneejerk reaction that says every person is trying to screw me over.

I also have never fully developed an understanding of certain social norms. During my single years, I was perplexed by women and what their intentions were as well as what exactly they were looking for in a relationship. Having been raised (ie, parenting and small town norms plus lack of social experience) to assume that most women are marriage-minded and simply going along with sex to have a relationship to review the mate for marriage potential, I completely missed the cues from the ones who were in need of a fling or a little fun, or just simply wanted to flirt a little and do nothing else. I am still uncertain of what some of the rules of engagement are for men–when are men being competitive in a jocular, fraternal sort of way and when are they dead serious and trying to remove me from whatever environment so that they can secure more singular and direct access to the best jobs and mates?

I have never been good at developing a personality that takes the place of who I really am on the inside as a person. I have almost no ability at all to take the fakery even further and develop a persona and brand. A lot of people a lot of the time want to only get to know each other as fellow personas, and I should know when a smile is simply part of the veneer and when it is genuine, but I still have a hard time deciphering this.

I don’t feel the need to have friends who sit around and share their feelings, hopes and dreams and mostly remain in a state of misery, but I do have the need to make friends with people who don’t have any other apparent agenda besides needing another friend. I don’t know where these people live, but that would be where I would want to live, were I to have a choice in the matter.

I don’t want to run towards another fantasy or job that is meant to merely be a placeholder where I tread water until something better comes along. I want to run towards my calling.

That said, the choices I am now weighing in my head can look like running away from problems, especially the option of converting to Catholicism and choosing to seek layman’s outreach opportunities. Because, then I don’t have to face some of my worst sins and flaws head on, I can put up walls in front of people at church under the guise of being especially reverent and following the more rigid sets of rules, and I can continually run to priests for absolution when I do sin. On the other hand, it has also been made clear to me that I simply might not be ready yet for the role of minister of a church. I may be in a place of spiritual development where I need to ask for help as much as others will be seeking it from me.

Of course, the more academic option, which seems to be a distant third right now, has the potential in spades when it comes to me running from my problems and putting up comfortable walls.

Obviously, I should pick the one that I am most convinced is the right one for me to do per God, but I obviously need to carefully remove anything that looks or feels like me running away from my problems or running toward a fantasy instead of a real calling.

I have also received the notion that if I pick the Catholic option, there will be less opportunity for me to find any role in the church that I could turn into a living. Again, while this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker if I am convinced this is what God wants me to do, I should be very clear going in what my expectations are. I may be more likely to see myself going back to work doing something I hate in the near future in order to keep our finances sound.

When I was drifting off in my sleep, I received these thoughts as well:
The calling will be in a church. I will be spending the majority of my time outside of home in a church, either as a volunteer or as a paid employee.
I will be helping others. People will receive some kind of social or pastoral help from me within the parameters of the work I do.

This pretty much excludes the academic option. If I go back to school to get a PhD in a subject like history, linguistics or archaeology, then I will spend the better of part of ten years mostly at the school when I am not at home.

As I have stated elsewhere, one of the primary things I am missing in all of this is a true sense of Christ’s Love with a capital L. I am still too caught up in trying to weigh all of these things with my intellect. My brain doesn’t need to be completely removed from the equation, but I am pretty far away from being able to regularly think about what my calling might be by using Love as a starting point.