Never woulda thought . . .



Is anyone else ever amazed at how very
different reality is than what you originally imagined it would be?



I’ve been thinking recently about that.  I just never in a
thousand years would have imagined my life was supposed to be this
way.  I guess because I grew up in a pretty sheltered, Christian
home, I had all these preconceived notions about how if you had God in
your life – and I mean
really had
Him in your life – that you’d be set.  No worries.  No
problems.  Well, nothing bigger than the occasional “Oh dear, I
don’t know where I’m gonna get the money to pay for this second
Mercedes”.  But past that, life was supposed to be easy.




Why did God have to shatter my dreams?  Learning to accept the
reality that God has something else in store for me than that has been
one of my biggest trials.  Forget the struggles with self-esteem,
the sexual temptations, and getting over all the past abuses . . . the
hardest thing about all of that crap has been learning that my answers
to life don’t mean shit, b/c I don’t know the first damn thing about
life!




The last few weeks have been amazing.  Amazing in the sense that
in some way, somehow, my perspective has shifted.  When Christ
uttered the words to my heart “You have value because I’ve given it to
you”, suddenly my life took on new forms and new meanings.




So actually, I can report for the first time in (literally) ages that
I’m doing well.  That’s hardly to say that life is peachy. 
It really isn’t.  I still cry daily, but the tears are different
now.  Lately, they haven’t been quite so much about sorrow, but
about gratitude.  I thank God for my family.  I thank God for
my friends – far and near.  I’m so in awe of how truly blessed I
am, even when I feel like shit, and all those things are drowned out by
the emotions that accompany misery.  I can still at least say to
God “thank you for what you HAVE given me, even though I feel like I’m
lacking so much.”




I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so broken.  I can’t think
about Christ without crying – knowing the hefty weight of my sins, and
how graciously He has shown me a better way.  The other day, I
spent like half an hour in the shower just weeping about how good God
has been to me, and how much He’s brought me through.  The other
nite, I watched 2 friends of mine from EPIC get baptised (along with
about 25 other people from our church), and the whole service, I’m just
crying, because the spiritual transformation of rising from the waters
anew is so beautiful to me.  I cry because in the last 2 months, I
can’t count how many friends of mine have just opened their hearts to
me and shown me their own tears because they’ve been through
that much,
and my heart responds in kind – I weep with those brothers and sisters
who weep, because I love them, and I’m not going to let them go through
it alone.  And just tonite, I’ve shed tears because I’ve been
through so much . . . SO MUCH . . . in this very short life of
mine.  And yet, I’m still here, still standing, still fighting,
still learning every day the truth behind the words “His mercy is new
every morning” and “He is more than enough for me.” And I realize that
I would have never, ever, ever known the real truth behind such
statements had I not gone throug the pain of trying to fill my heart
with everything and everyone else to make me happy . . . only to
discover that there’s nothing on this earth –  no one on this earth –  that
could ever satisfy me.




Sure, I still have to battle my flesh when it seeks to find some person
or some activity to make me feel whole.  Sure, I have to cry out
to my God daily and ask for Him to give me the strength to carry on,
and give me friends who will stand in this battle with me.  And it
seems that the Lord is hearing my cry, and He’s moving in my life in
some pretty cool ways.




I’m always skeptical of saying that I’m doing well.  Emotions are
such transient, fickle things, aren’t they?  I certainly have a
hard time trusting my own.  But something feels different
inside.  It feels like I’m growing, and maturing, and figuring out
how to navigate this thing called life. 




I need to go to bed now.  But I’m going to bed with a full
heart.  It’s filled with sorrow, but also filled with joy. 
Could this be the abundant life that my Savior spoke of?  A life
that’s full and complete, knowing both good and bad, trial and
freedom?  Maybe.  It’s pretty sweet.  Better than
anything I ever would have originally imagined.  In many ways, the
happy, sheltered life I expected for myself is looking more and more
like a self-made hell.  I’m glad to be out of the matrix.







Keep it real, dawg.




Peace

I’m building a house . . .



So I just got finished
watching “Life As A House” for like the 8th time or something. 
(By the by, sorry again, Audrey.  Hope my departure didn’t seem
rude or anything, but this movie tends to put me in a very reflective
mood, and I needed some time to myself . . . you may understand more
after readin’ along!)




Yeah, it’s definitely one of my favorites.  I can’t make it through this movie without crying.



Every time I see it, I’m
increasingly struck by just how tragic it is, yet how beautiful it is
all at the same time.  I guess for me, it’s really not just a
movie.  It strikes such a deep chord in me because I relate so
well with the anguish that Sam goes through, and with his desire for
change, yet not knowing how to do it, and feeling scared that he’ll
never be able to be who he wants to be.




And at the same time, I can’t
help but think of my dear friends and fellow warriors who see
themselves in the characters of this film.  It’s not just a story
on a screen, it’s our lives, our experiences, our fears, our struggles,
and our triumphs placed right before our eyes.  And I bawl every
time.




There are so many spiritual
metaphors laced throughout the film, and I’m always left feeling just a
little bit closer to God when I watch it.  Because I know what
it’s like to weather hard days, and leave a sordid past behind. 
And I know what it’s like to allow love to come in and completely
change your life.  I’m absolutely in awe at how relentlessly
Christ has pursued me, no matter how hard I kick and scream.  And
then I turn back to find that He’s been changing me every so slightly
day by day . . .  that I’m a new person, despite myself.  So
very, very beautiful.  As the sage Sy Rogers says “I may walk with
a limp, but the miracle of God is that I even walk at all!”




So yeah, I’m building a house on a Rock, and I stand looking over the ocean . . . listening.



Holla if ya feel me.

All snowed in . . .



Yup, just as I predicted.  I could feel the waves of emptiness rising,
ready to crash on the surface. . . and then I got news that there’d be tons of
snow this weekend.  It was obvious to me that I’d be gearing up for a very
dark few days.





I’m not sure why it is that every year, I seem to be most lonely on days when
it snows.  It’s as if God is playing some sort of cosmic joke on me





Perhaps I shouldn’t complain though.  Last year around this time when I
was snowed in, the loneliness was so painful that I started to have minor panic
attacks.  It was almost unbearable.





This time around, it hasn’t been quite that bad.  I’ve been able to busy
myself with lots of phone calls and good friends.  Special props go out to
my international peeps . . . thanx for the calls Ralph and John!  John,
thanx for caring, bro.  Love ya, dude.





Crazy man . . . in the last week, I’ve gotten calls from Uruguay,
Australia, Japan, and Canada.  Yo, as cool as it is to get the
international flava, I’d be MUUUUUCH happier if you buttheads would just go
ahead and move to Maryland!





Got to talk a good deal w/ Chris today as well.  Always a good time. 
Special props to Jamin for calling this weekend (thanx for caring, bro . . .
you rock).  Talked to my boy Paul as well which is always the most special
of special treats.  Talked a bit to Joe as well.





In between calls I’ve been watching Bad Boys II and laughing my ass off! Such a
funny movie! A bit too much profanity even for my taste, but it’s nice to
sometimes lose yourself in mindless action and comedy





So yeah, I think I managed to survive today without quite as much heartache as
past snow storms.  They’re calling for more snow tomorrow though, and I’m
hoping it never happens, b/c I’m not sure I could handle another day home
alone!




Why do I have the feeling that it’s going to be a very lonely weekend?

I need a frickin’ roomate or something. *sigh*

Ho hum . . .



Well, it’s been a very interesting few days.  Some ups, some down,
but not swinging nearly as wildly as in the last few months.




Just got back from the gym.  It’s the second time this week . . .
and it’s been a looooong time since I’ve stepped foot in a gym! 
Um, can we say “feelings of inadequacy the moment I hit the
door?”  But oh well . . . gotta start somewhere, right?




Still haven’t heard from any of my residencies yet.  That’s making
me somewhat nervous.  I think I should have heard SOMETHING from
them by now . . . something like “thanks for sending in your
application, you’ll be hearing from us soon.”  Hell, I’d settle
for just a “thanks” at this point.  No word just makes me nervous.




God has been teaching me so much these last few weeks.  I don’t
know how long this upswing will last, but I’m gonna ride the wave as
long as I can!
  Been learning a lot about relying on the
Lord in tough times, and giving my hurt to Him, and not drowning it out
by trying to ignore it or porning it away.  (Yes, porn is both a
noun and a verb
)  Speaking of which, I’ve been doing well
with that struggle.  I’ve had some moments of temptation (thus the
reason for getting to the gym more, so I can get an endorphin kick the
natural way).  But I’m weathering things OK.  Still
desperately, desperately seeking some companionship and intimacy. 
Still not finding what I’m looking for.  But at least I’m
surviving.  For now. 




I’m just glad my buddy’s back from Argentina.  I’ve missed the snot out of him

Had a brain fart this week and
totally forgot that I was supposed to see Lance on Friday, which
severely conflicted with my work schedule.  Luckily, he had a noon
slot open today, and we had an awesome session.  Damn, he’s
good!  The guy really does challenge me to keep growing, and helps
me sort out all the mess that lies inside.  We got into some
pretty interesting discussions today about marriage, and how to bring
baggage into it the right way, and how to be open to your spouse. 
Plus, he really challenged me to be more direct and vulnerable with
where I am.  He suspects I have a tendancy to misrepresent myself
when I try to be direct, and thinks that may be the reason why I get
shut down so often.  Hmmm . . . this learning how to trust people
stuff is confusing   But still, it was gooooood stuff! 



Aight, i’m outtie.



Peace in da middle eas’!

Another sleepless night . . .



It’s 6:30am.  Why am I
up?  I’ve been tossing and turning all night for some
reason.  There’s something bothering me.  It’s like there’s a
splinter in my soul, and no matter how hard I try to ignore that tiny
little perturbance, it cries out for attention . . . it screams to me
that I must attend to it.  So though I went to bed late, and
though I’m supposed to get up early, it’s no matter . . . I’m already
up.




It’s kind of ashamed that I’d
follow two awesome, awesome days with two days of confusion and
sorrow.  But I feel I have a lot more perspective on why that is.




I had sort of a wake-sleep
dream a few minutes ago.  I don’t wanna go into details about it,
but it has a great deal to do with some very interesting conversations
I’ve had the last couple of days with person after person after person
from my church.  And I can’t say that I see any rhyme or reason to
what I’m hearing, or what’s going on . . . all I know is that right
now, I feel very, very alone in having a desire to do something about
it.




I’m surrounded by people who
are going through exactly what we should expect to go through at this
age: confusion and struggle.  And yet, I feel like the only one
who seeks to dialogue about, and pursue others’ hearts.  And maybe
it’s because I’m the only one that’s been in a community of healing
with like-minded strugglers, and have seen how God’s hand works when
we’re willing to bear our souls and be honest about exactly what we’re
going through, and push each other closer to Jesus Christ.  So
while I’m desperate to find that in my own church, I’m pretty much all
alone in that sentiment.  Or am I?




I can only think that I am,
since every time I pursue such relationships and such healing, I’m
utterly shut down by superficiality, disengagement, complacency,
ignorance, and in some cases just outright rejection.  But then,
maybe people are just scared, or insecure, or immature.  Or maybe
I’m just psycho.  Scratch that . . . we KNOW I’m psycho  
So maybe it’s a combination of all the above, I suppose.



All I know is that I find
myself constantly surrounded by people at church that I genuinely like
– love even – but often find that I leave their presence feeling more
frustrated than when I came.  And it’s wearing me away little by
little, inch by inch.  Because every once in awhile, when their
guards are down, they’ll slip up, and express how miserable they are on
the inside . . . but do little to change that.  And yet, I try to
do something to change it, but feel absolutely crippled by a distinct
feeling of being all alone.  The result is a group full of people
that are individually flopping around like fish out of water – getting
worse and worse – but come together to put on smiles and pretend like
all is well.




The real question is . . . am I actually brave enough to be the one to put my heart on the line and say
anything about it?  And that would be where my disturbing dream
comes in . . . I’m too much of a coward to do so.  And deep inside
of me, the conflict is rising, yet I’m too much of a prick to be the
first to get real and get naked.

I’ll end my thoughts with some wise words from Henry Cloud, loosely quoted from his book Changes That Heal (with some additions by Sy Rodgers):

“You go to a legalistic church, and it’s culturally unacceptable to
have problems.  That’s called ‘being sinful’.  You go to an
Alcholics Anonymous meeting, and it’s culturally unacceptable NOT to
have problems.  That’s called ‘being in denial’.  In a
legalist church, people appear like they are getting better, when
they’re actually getting worse.  You go to an AA meeting [where
all the dirt comes out] and it appears like they’re getting worse, but
actually, they’re getting better.”

Truer words were never spoken.  Dr. Cloud has seen the same thing
that I have in my short time with patients in the addiction
setting.  Yet so few people in the church understand this most
basic principal of change . . . that you often must appear to get
worse, before you can ever get better.  It’s certainly been true
in my own life, and yet I can look at things now and see how God has
changed my heart so much, and it’s so beautiful.

But is it any wonder so many people seek their primary help from outside the church?




Lord, help me.  Help us.  We need you. 

More joy . . .



Well, 2 good days in a row calls for some sort of celebration!  Who wants to go get toasted with me?




No, seriously .  . . had an awesome day.  The substance abuse
rotation is over.  Got to meet some good contacts today in the
psych/substance abuse world. 




Was feeling a little needy and empty after a nap, but had an AWESOME  time praying at Casey’s house w/ him and Amy. 




Then my good buddy Philbert called me all the way from Aussie
land!!  Dang, I haven’t heard his voice in 2 years, and it
certainly was good to hear again.  I was so overwhelmed with
love.  Wish I coulda given him a big, huge hug right then and
there.  Love ya, Phil!!




Then me and Casey got to have some quality time afterwards and get into
some spiritual stuff . . . he’s struggling with a lot of theological
questions.  I think it’s pretty cool.  I remember when I was
bothered by those same issues, and now I guess I’ve just learned to
become comfortable with the tension that sorta goes along with being in
this walk with Christ, yet not having all the answers to all my
questions.




And onto a really fun pic.  This one SERIOUSLY brightened up my
day!  This is my friend Diem.  I cherish her greatly, to be
honest.  We don’t necessarily see eye to eye on a lot of things –
as a matter of fact, we disagree on quite a bit.  Yet, when we’re
together, we have so much fun together, and totally respect each
other.  Don’t you just wish all relationships could be like that?
  Love ya, Diem!!  When you gonna start a xanga page?