The joys and sorrows of family . . .

I love my family.  I really do.  But sometimes I wonder how much they love me. 

I’ve always been a fan of unconditional love, but it seems to simply be a nice thought, that most of us put very little stock into.

I’ve always felt that my value to a community has been based on my conformity to its mores.  As such, my tendancy in my family has been to just sort of shut down.  It’s why I spent most of my youth locked up in my room, watching t.v., and not engaing a whole lot with them.

I’ve always sensed that I was . . . different.  Different from many in the black community, different from many in the Christian world (at least the Evangelical one), and different from everyone in my family.  I responded to this by just conforming as best I could to those around me.  And honestly, it left me feeling hollow, despite becoming quite successful in all those realms.  Eventually, I think I began distancing myself, and putting up masks to avoid the inevitable rejection.

Now I’m left with relationships based on inauthenticity.  Even with my family.  And I don’t know what to do about it.

It’s amazing that after just 3 days at home, I (almost instinctively) reverted to my old self.  I spent the last few days watching t.v./movies, and eating tons and tons of food.  Now, this is probably not extraordinary, considering it’s holiday time – but I just find it odd that this was my behavior at home throughout my youth.  I can only remember 2 things very clearly in my upbringing: eating and television.

Funny thing is, I (the real Darren) NEVER watch television.  People are shocked when I tell them that I don’t have cable.  But I have no reason to spend $60/month on it, when I never turn on my t.v.!

And I only eat once a day (twice, on some days).  Food is simply not a preoccupation for me. 

But I go home, and there I find myself eating and rotting in front of the tube.

It dawns on me that this is how I disengage from relating to my family, and how I comfort myself living in such tension

It makes me wonder if I’m not more fucked up than I imagined. 

I don’t like this.  I don’t want things to be this way.  Yet, when I’m home, I feel so restricted.  I feel like I can’t be me.  I feel like I simply don’t connect in deep, meaningful ways with my family.  The things that interest me (science, philosophy, theology, mystery), just aren’t even on their radar!  I dunno.  It’s very disconcerting. 

And at the same time, I must acknowledge that I’ve never really given my family the chance to see the real me.  I’ve just kind of assumed that they would want nothing to do with me.  I’ve accepted rejection before it’s even demonstrated.  I guess it’s a self-protective mechanism. 

But I just don’t have the balls to open up and share the things that are really on my heart. 

You’d do well to pray for me.  I don’t suspect this is something that’s going to be fixed anytime soon.  But it would be nice to at least have some modicum of peace about the matter.

Until later . . . I still have reviews of “If Grace is True: Why God Will Save Every Person”, and “Happy Feet” to give   Also some interesting thoughts from the new book I started: “Exclusion and Embrace”.  Quite apropos to some of the theological questions I’m contemplating and wrestling with right now!

PEACE!

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Happy . . .

I don’t know how many people know this about me – it’s not something I advertise a lot (unless it’s online, of course ).  But for the last 5 years or so, I have simply not been happy.  And by that, I’m talking the expansive definition of the word: I have felt very little joy, peace, stability, or contentment. 

It’s why, when people ask me “How are you doing?”, I usually reply with “I’m surviving!” or “I’m still alive!”. That’s my clever way of not having to lie.  I would honestly love to say “fine”, or “good”, but those have rarely been honest responses to the question – and I cannot bear to live inauthentically.  So “I’m surviving” has been my go-to answer.  It’s short, sweet, honest, and even a bit vulnerable, without being overly needy.

But it seems that as I’ve journeyed to recognize more about the authentic Darren, I’ve also become progressively better, more whole, more mature.  I’m starting to see the fruits of the Spirit operate in my life for the first time. 

And I think I’ve finally crossed the threshold for good.  Meaning, that when people ask me how I’m doing, I can – for the first time in over 5 years – finally say “good”.  I have such a peace in my heart, and a confidence in who I am, and Christ’s love for me.  I’m actually doing well!  I’m actually good!  I’m actually HAPPY!

I was honestly beginning to wonder if I would ever see such a day.  And damn!  It sure feels good to see it!

Oh, and I totally have a crush right now  (CTP!)

Anyway, I need to get going . . . HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING, everyone!!!

 

Catharsis . . .

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been 9 days since my last post!  My life has been absolutely CONSUMED by this presentation that I’ve been working on.  So much so that I hardly know what to do with myself now.  I’ve literally made no plans for my life past this date.

But the presentation went fairly well.  It was on “Treatment of SSRI-Induced Sexual Dysfunction”.  Don’t that sound fancy?  

After it was all said and done, I felt very askew internally – like something wasn’t positioned correctly in my guts.  I got a lot of really good feedback, both on things to improve on, and things that I did very well.  But it was the comment “it was very professionally done” that really got me.  My professionalism is actually what was wrong with my presentation – at least to me.  Thing is,  I procrastinated quite a bit on this one – I didn’t finish my slides until early this afternoon, and practiced the presentation for the first time 2 hours before I was giving it.  Generally NOT something you want to do for a 1 hour presentation! 

And because I procrastinated so much, I didn’t have time to add the quintessential “Darren” nuances to it – like some well-placed humor, some funny pictures, etc.  So I had to default to delivering in this very “professional” manner . . .which isn’t a bad thing – mind you – it’s just not typically my style. 

Overall, though, I’m happy with how things turned out.

Lots of stuff has been on the brain in these last few weeks of stress.  My best friend, Paul, is off to Kenya. I’m missing him really bad already!   He’ll be back in a couple weeks though.

I’m still plodding through “If Grace Is True”.  Actually, I woke up early Saturday morning around 5am (couldn’t sleep), so I started reading the book, and it seriously shook me into a crisis of faith!   They start making these claims that Jesus doesn’t have to be God in order for this whole grace thing to work out.  I guess what scared me was that what they were saying made a LOT of sense.  I’m not usually one to scare easy over theological issues – b/c I generally operate in a “I don’t know for sure” manner – so I’m OK being wrong on most points. 

But this was . . . different. 

It took me back to my Evangelical days, when every individual point of my theology absolutely had to be true, or the whole faith structure would crumble.  Every once in awhile, I think I unmask vestiges of days gone by, and I have to remind myself that my sense of being and purpose does not rest in me being right . . . or having the answers.

So after a good talk w/ J.D., and some cool people from church – my faith crisis was successfully rendered null and void

Speaking of church – this is exaclty why I fall more in love with the place with each passing week.  I’ve never found a church where I could drop a sentence like “I’m wrestling with the idea that Jesus may not even be God”, and no one gets bent out of shape about it.  They just entered right into the wrestling with me.  And this is why I haven’t been able to step foot in that place for over a year and a half, and not cry.  I am so humbled by this amazing gift that God has given me.  Wow.  *exhale*

And now, I feel as though I’ve successfully purged my soul, and may return to my wonderful bed, which – no doubt – is missing me as much as I’m missing it.  Now that the presentation is over, I can have a bit of my life back, so you ought to be hearing more free-flowing thoughts from me in the days to come.

Lata,

D.J.

If grace is true . . .

The day I graduated pharmacy school was one of the more distinctly depressing days of my life.  It was paradoxical to me, really – having graduated at the top of my class, and finally becoming a doctor – that just minutes after celebrating with my family, I would be alone in my room, riddled with anxiety and emptiness.

The next day, I set out to San Diego, California with my good buddy, Chris.  This was my parent’s graduation present to me: a week of time share.  I remember that being a very bittersweet trip.  There I was, engulfed by the beauty of the pacific coast, with its lush mountains, and gorgeous weather, but internally feeling more like the taunting desert just a few miles away.

It was a week of soul-searching for me, as I read Brian’s newly released “The Last Word, and the Word After That . . . ” – it’s all about Christian views of hell throughout the past 2 millenia.  It was while reading this book that I became cognizant of just how much my behaviors were based upon this fear that if I fucked up in any way (be it slight, or considerable), that I would end up in hell.  And it was in our sunny resort that I realized I simply could not live this way anymore.  That was just one more significant – yet painful – step in the process of me becoming OK with who I am.

It was while reading that book that my interest in another book was piqued,  surrounding issues of Heaven and hell, who’s “in” and who’s “out”, and how we all came to believe some of the things that we do about the afterlife.  The book was called “If Grace is True: Why God Will Save Every Person”.  You could really call this a “Christian Universalist” approach to Heaven – if that makes any sense. I’ve been meaning to read the book ever since, simply because I found it fascinating, but didn’t quite get around to it until my buddy JD told me he was reading it a few weeks ago.  It’s really changed his perspective on things.

I just started reading it today, and so far, I’m really enthralled!  I’m a bit skeptical, because I really don’t consider myself to be a universalist, or an “inclusivist” – but then again, I’m hardly an “exclusivist” either.

But the authors make some very interesting points very early on in the text.  One point worth mentioning is this idea of how we personally experience God.  When Peter was essentially told (in a dream) to fellowship with Gentiles, he initially balked – as this was a direct contradiction to “God’s Word” which directed the Jews not to associate with Gentiles.  Yet, he went to Cornelius’s family and witnessed them receive the Holy Spirit.  I think many of us take for granted how absolutely phenomenal an event this was!  Peter had to battle a LOT of skepticism and criticism from fellow Jews regarding the “good news” being good news for everyone, not just the Jews.  And Peter had to actually make the horrifying step of rejecting his cultural mores, even as directed by clear Scriptures on the subject, and choose to experience the broader embrace of God. 

This was no easy task for him, I assume.  Because later on in Acts, we see Peter and Paul in dissension, quarrelling over the way Peter associates with Gentiles only in private, but treats them completely differently when his Jewish friends were around.

It does make me wonder . . . do we live in a world where God still speaks?  And if so, is it possible that we serve the type of God that actually likes to have live interventions with his people?  Or does he sort of just sit around on his magnanimous throne, waiting for us to pick up his ancient text and make sure we get it right?  And if he, in fact, is the type of God that interacts with his people, is it possible that even today, he is calling his people to see a broader message than the one they’ve interpreted from “infallible” Scripture?

Intriguing thoughts, I must say.

This has all reminded me of the one experience I had with God that was like no other.  It was a particularly emotionally difficult week for me, as I was struggling with all of my inadequacies, and falling to more and more porn as the days went by.  One afternoon, returning home from class, I got inspired to listen to an mp3 prayer from a conference I had been to the previous summer.  

It was a chilling moment, listening to that prayer again on my computer, because it was like that prayer was directed to me.  And when it was done, I felt this . . . this . . . something . . . invade every fiber of my being.  It felt like nothing I had ever felt before, and nothing I have ever felt since.  It was more real than anything I had ever experienced- more fullfilling than anything I had ever known.

And then there was communication.  I can’t describe how it was communicated, because it was not words – it was simply a knowing – but a knowing so deep, that I’ve never heard something more clearly before in my entire life – not with my ears.  And the God of the universe shared with me that He knew every inch of me – inside and out – and he loved me, accepted me, embraced me.

What was most shocking about all of this was not what he said, but what he did NOT say.  There was no mention of my sin, my guilt, my trespasses, the ways I needed to get better, the ways I needed to stop doing x, and start doing y.  It was simply a message of love.

In light of this experience with God, I have to ask myself if a God that loving would have grace enough to save the entire world (not just his elected, chosen few, and not just the ones who prayed the right prayer on this side of the grave)?  Will God indeed save every person?

It’s a rhetorical question really, but I’m more than happy to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Anywho, I need to get to bed.  Hope you’re all doing well!

Peace and Love,
D.J. Free!

P.S.  I’m sure I’ll be adding more insights from the book as I read it, but it may take some time, because the bulk of the next few days will be mostly spent thinking about lots and lots of sex.

P.P.S.  As an addendum to the previous comment, I should mention that the next few days will spent thinking about the sexual side effects of SSRI antidepressants – as I have a presentation to give on the subject very soon

Why gay men will run the world . . .

If you haven’t heard it by now, you must be hiding under a bed . . . or in a closet . . . or something.  Americans are obese.  And it’s true.  You may not notice it, because you grew up here.  Just ask any of your international friends . . . “what was the first thing you noticed about America when you landed here?”  “The people are so BIG!” will be the indubitable reply.

Nearly 65% of Americans are overweight (which includes 30% of the population that’s obese, and 5% that’s morbidly obese).  And the number just keeps rising!  It’s not just an American problem either – though we do take the crown.  But it seems to be pandemic.  Obesity is an increasing problem in all of Western society (admittedly, not nearly as bad in Europe as it is here in the States).

obese_men

And this is why gay men will rule the world. 

As Americans continue to eat themselves into inevitable diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and yes, eventually death – gay men are spending half of their lives in the gym, trying to look good for their weekend jaunt to the clubs.

The Conservative Evangelicals have it all wrong!  There is no huge queer conspiracy.  Tinky Winky was just a distraction!  There is no other gay agenda, than the agenda for survival! 

Let’s face it, gay men are shallow.  If you want any hot, man-on-man action, you have to be a stud.  Do you know how many hours at the gym this requires?  Gay men are fit and healthy.  And they will outlast all those morbidly obese heteros.  And once they’re all out the way, gay men shall take their proper role as rulers of the universe. 

Meanwhile, the scientific community is hard at work seeking to discover whether this so-called “heterosexual obesity epidemic” (HOE, for short) is purely behavioral, or if there is a genetic causality.  It’s the hottest debate since “Michael Jackson: pedophile, or Peter Pan?”.  (Coincidentally, if you haven’t heard, that debate has been squashed, as the world discovered there was – in fact – no distinction between the two.)

Proponents of the biological basis for the heterosexual need for greasy, fatty foods argue that heterosexuals simply cannot help themselves – it is hard-wired into their genes – and are therefore requesting not to be held accountable to Christian Church teachings concerning greed and gluttony. 

It should not be surprising to discover that the team at Johns Hopkins that released this most recent, convincing evidence for genetic causes for HOE (published in the July 2006 volume of the New England Journal of Medicine), are themselves rather rotund, and clearly have a bias towards these particular findings.

Conversely, the behavoiorists vehemently oppose this research, citing instead age-old evidence from the Egyption Book of the Dead.  It is still not clear what the Book of the Dead has to do with HOE, but the behaviorists are fervently attempting to bridge the knowledge gap.

One thing is for sure: this debate will likely rage on for years.  Unfortunately, by the time the question is finally answered – IF it can indeed be answered – all of the obese heterosexuals will be long gone, and gay men will reign.

For this reason, I have chosen to be a gay man.

Well whadya know?!  I guess it’s a choice afterall!  I honestly had no idea that this short editorial would unmask the truth behind the other big “nature vs. nurture” debate.  But there you have it.

If you think about it, though, this choice is really a Pro-Life kind of choice.  I mean, we’re talking about survival here, people!

Unbeknownst to the world, I actually made the decision to become a gay man nearly one year ago.  I decided that all of the exercising and fad diets simply were not working for me as a heterosexual.  So I tried my hand at being gay.

It was no easy task, let me tell you.  It took a lot of training and practice.  I started simple – with a few male friends.  Whenever I socialized with my male friends, I would regurgitate what would become my mantra for the year: “wow, he has a nice ass!” 

It wasn’t long before I was getting tipsy with friends and “accidentally” finding myself in compromising situations.  Next thing you know, we’re back at my place, making out, doing other things not fit for public documentation, then waking up in each other’s arms wondering how 2 “straight” guys ended up in bed together

What’s so amazing about the whole ordeal is that being gay has been fabulous for my health!  Since January, I’ve lost nearly 25 pounds!  Not to mention that I’ve gone from Stage I hypertension to a near-normal blood pressure.  Moreover, my overall metabolic profile has changed as well, as my lipid (cholesterol) and blood glucose panels have normalized.

That is why I am proud to be a gay man, and am preparing for the day when I shall be among the number to rule the earth.

For all the poor heterosexuals out there, trembling in fear right now from your imminent demise . . . do not fret!  There is still hope!  Choose to be gay.  Choose shallowness.  Choose cattiness.  Choose to revel in that hot best friend’s deep, blue eyes and burly biceps.  And in so doing, choose life . . . and power.

God speed.