New Year’s Reflections

My jet lag induced insomnia is not letting me sleep and for the first time in several weeks the only sound I am hearing is the keystrokes on my keyboard.  I have decided to recap 2010 as best I can.  Noting lessons learned and questions left unanswered and simple observations in no particular order.

I can sum up 2010 in one word: crucible. A crucible was a device used to smelt and purify ore.  Crucibles and crucible experiences have become a literary metaphor referring to any trying time that is formative.  And that is exactly what 2010 was. A trying time that was formative.

2010 was a year of extremes. Extremes that almost broke me. I was madly in love and experienced heartbreak so profound I wanted to die.  I felt the closeness of a God that redeems my sin and felt abandoned by God in my darkest hours.  I have had months of clean time and binged.  I have enjoyed the warmth of community and I have felt completely alone. These extremes tested my limits, burned out a lot of impurities and hurt like hell. In counseling I once said hopefully that my world has shrunk and gotten a lot smaller.  He commented that while most people mean that in a negative way he knew what I meant.  I let go of a lot of things that did not matter, and others were taken away.  All of them were holding me back.  Like sandbags on a hot air balloon they were excess baggage that needed to go for me to lift off.

I went through incredible pain this year, often feeling very distant from God. A pastor at Christian Assembly preached a sermon highlighting the worst parts of King David’s life.  His whole point was that sometimes God brings you to a place where all you have is Him so that you know all you need is Him. I definitely was in a place where many things important to my life were being stripped away and I felt the void left by them But for me I did not feel God’s presence or known His redemption of any of the pain.  From this I learned that I am a survivor, despite the hard work and pain that was before me and around me I have kept going, and I believe this is an admirable quality about myself. I do not give up.  Even though I have dealt with much pain for the most part in isolation I made a decision as a young man that suicide was not the answer. Even in my most defeated states, I continue. Life doesn’t just go on, life does not just happen…I go on, I persevere and endure.  Like Drake says, in Thank me Later,  “I’m in it till its over.”

I think God might have been absent or silent at times to get me to start believing and trusting in myself. By saying I am a survivor I do not mean to suggest that I do not need God, but I still very much struggle with self-hate.  The Church’s call to be selfless came to early for me, before any sort of self was formed, and just served to reinforce the dysfunctional rules I learned in my home.  Besides, if I am resilient, I was made so by God possibly through the very trials I often question.

I am afraid of success. I fear success because I feel a lot more comfortable and familiar with failing and because I believe if I succeed I will always have to maintain that level of success.

I am way too hard on myself. I have impossibly high standards for myself that make it impossible to enjoy life.

I am way too serious. Some of this is just due to the content of my life.  Other times it is an unhealthy dwelling on everything all the time.  Sometimes I think my theme song is “No Joy in Mudville” by Deathcab. I need to compartmentalize (not deny or minimize) some of my junk so that I can live the rest of my life.  I am a 26 year old college educated handsome adult male born into incredible wealth.  I’m in the prime of my life and need to live like it.

I am self-destructive when I cannot healthily express anger. (More about this later)

I struggle receiving love. I am surrounded, and have been surrounded, by many loving people.  It is my character defects, my fear of relationships, and my patterns of withdrawal that prevent me from receiving a lot of the love available to me.  Instead of dealing with this I have historically blamed other people for being unloving, especially Christians.  I am sorry.

I have realized I am a man of paradox.  I am a Christian who has tried to build his life around God at the same time as he struggles with faith.  I am a resilient man whose smallest failures make him crumble in self-hate.  I used to think I was lying if I said anything good about myself or was being to hard on myself if I noted anything that needed work.  In reality I, like any human being who has ever walked this Earth, has bad parts and good parts.  I just tend to have them in the extremes.

I am figuring out how to engage in relationships in a healthy and sane way. De facto lessons learned by people who grew up in healthier families are just now dawning on me as I have come to realize how relationships worked in my family of origin is not how relationships work in the real world.

I think I also lost my faith.  No, what I should say is that I have been for the first time widely honest about the nature and extent of my struggle with faith. To suggest I had lost my faith would mean that at one time I truly had it.  I was pretending.  Sorry. I hope in 2011 I can come back to a place of a meaningful relationship with God.  I think this will most likely happen through SAA, not through Christians or Church.  If it could happen through Christians or Church it would have happened a long time ago.

I can sum up in 2010 in one song: Sensible Heart by City and Colour and I’ll close with its lyrics.

I get so distracted
By some peoples reactions
That I don’t see my own faults
For what they are
For what they are

At times so self destructive
With no intent or motive
But behind this emotion,
There lies a sensible heart
A sensible heart

See I’m no king
I wear no crown
But desperate times
Seem over now
But still I weaken somehow
It tears me apart
It tears me apart

I hope to learn as time goes by
That I should trust what’s deep inside
Burning bright, oh burning bright
My sensible heart
My sensible heart
My sensible heart
My sensible heart

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About Speakfaithfully

I am figuring out life and faith and taking other people along with me on my journey. Sometimes as fellow travelers, sometimes as hostages.
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