Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Things I Enjoy Or Am Thankful For

After reading the latest post by Pomoprophet, I decided to write something that would get me to thinking of all the good in my life rather than all the bad. So, I decided to make a list of twenty things I either enjoy, or am thankful for in an attempt to think more positively.

Here goes:

1. My nephews' laughter.
2. A beautiful Sunset.
3. A letter from my friends.
4. Spending time with my brother.
5. Exploring.
6. Watching a really funny episode of either the Simpson's, Family Guy, Futurama, or The Andy Griffith Show.
7. Having good health.
8. Knowing God loves me.
9. Drawing.
10. Writing.
11. Building things.
12. Comforting a friend.
13. Reading a really good book.
14. Having parents, grandparents, and other family members who care about me and love me.
15. Listening to Christian music.
16. Spending time with God.
17. All the material things I have.
18. A big slice of chocolate pecan pie.
19. Teaching.
20. Watching classic movies.

Funny, I feel better already just thinking about these things.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Making Decisions

Okay, so I've come to a better understanding of things. I am feeling better now, which is good, and I just want to thank everyone who commented and/or prayed for me recently.

I realize I've been holding myself back. I took the job I've got now without even wanting it. I didn't even want to work at the same place again this year. However, I took the job because I was afraid of finding another place to work at. I was used to the operations and people of where I was, and I was comfortable there. I enjoyed the social aspect of it probably the most. Working there has been my biggest outlet for being able to meet and be friends with other guys. I really just didn't want to have to give that up. And I was afraid that I might not like anywhere else any better. I was also prideful. I was asked to accept a promotion with more power and a little more pay and I jumped at the chance. Thing is, I knew I shouldn't have taken the job. I knew last year that I shouldn't go back for another season, but I did it anyway. I did it knowing that that's not what God wanted me to do. And then, after taking the job and finding out just how miserable it was making me, I foolishly decided to stick it out because I didn't want it to got the best of me. I didn't want to be ran off or forced to quit by my boss or anyone else, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could handle whatever hardships would be thrown my way. Well, I realize that in doing so, I have let the job get the best of me. I set myself up for hardships. I've allowed so much stress, anger, worry, frustration, and self-doubt to come into my life that it's just literally tore me apart. So, my decision is to finish out the next couple of weeks, if I can, and then move on and not ever look back. I won't accept that job ever again. And although I'd rather be laid off already, another couple of weeks I'm sure I can handle. I'm going to be positive about that. Rather than thinking oh man, not two more weeks, I'm going to think thank God, in two more weeks things will be better. I'm going to be hopeful rather than hopeless.

As for church, I kind of liked Rik Fleming's advice that he gave me in his comment to my last post. He talked about trying to give more to the others at my church and seeing where that would lead me. I think that's what I'll do. I know one thing that's hurt me there is that I don't speak out often enough. If I have questions or problems with certain things said, or if I don't understand something, like during Sunday school lessons or such, I usually just keep quiet. Well, I know I shouldn't keep quiet. I also know that I need to sit down and talk things out with my preacher. I've kept quiet concerning him as well for far too long. Long enough that I've started resenting him and being angry with him. Both of which I know I shouldn't be. I don't think he's meant to treat me bad, just that he hasn't known how to treat me. He doesn't know how to handle the fact that I'm attracted to other men. I can tell that I'm probably only the first or second person to ever confront him about homosexuality like this. I know that he doesn't understand a lot of things, and I know that from the way he's talked to me, he sees homosexuals mostly from the stereotypical point of view. He's only known the sort of homosexual the media most often promotes (the militant, liberal, promiscuous, drag-queen). So, he doesn't know how to help me or how to relate to me because of that. He thinks I'm something that I'm not. And really, I don't think that's entirely his fault. He's only seen a limited view of homosexuality. And I haven't explained myself well enough, I know. Of the three times we talked about this, I was mostly too afraid to do much talking. I was too nervous to really speak up as I should have. That alone has caused me frustration with myself. So, altogether, I know I need to just be myself more, speak up, and hope for the best.

I don't know that I'll continue going to church where I have. There's a lot that I do like about my church, but there's just a lot I have some conflict with too. Maybe I'll try out a few different churches I've never been to before and see if any of them stick. Whatever I do, I know I need to put my trust more in the Lord. And that goes for all things. All those worries and the stress and frustrations and anger, I need to take all that to God. I haven't been doing that like I should. And I know I need to keep my focus more on what God thinks of me than what others think of me. I shouldn't let what others think tear me down.

I really do want to thank everyone again who commented on my last two posts. Your encouragement, advice, and prayers surely have lifted my spirit and helped. I don't care what anyone else says, it's good to have "online" friends. Thanks a bunch to all of you.

Oh, and Happy Halloween to everyone!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Down and Out, Yet Again

I've felt sort of lost here of late.

Things at work are winding down, and I'm thankful for that. I'd got my hopes up last Friday when my boss called and said October 31st would be my last day. I was honestly ecstatic for nearly two whole hours. But then he had to call me again and say I'd still have another couple of weeks to go. I can use the extra money, but I'd rather have just been laid off. It's been a tough season. I've worked hard and I'm tired. And the crappy thing is that no one seems to appreciate any of the hard work I've done. I found out a couple of weeks ago that my boss does not think I've done a good job, and that he doesn't want to rehire me next season. Apparently, I haven't done good enough. Well, if he doesn't recognize all the hard work and effort I've put forth, then screw him, I say! I just wish October 31st would be my last day, or today for that matter, just so I can get away and start over someplace else. So, work sucks right now and I'm feeling stuck.

And, yet again, I didn't go to church this week. I'll be working the next couple of Sundays, so I guess I won't be going then either. I just don't know whether or not I believe church is good anymore. I can't help but see church as a place where everybody has their own thoughts and opinions and where they want everyone else to think exactly the same way as them, and where there's judgment and ignorance and condemnation. It seems too political. It seems fake. It doesn't seem Christ-centered at all. Everyone is doing their assigned task or duty and there's no meaning or thought to any of it. It's all staged as a show of faith, rather than a genuine act of faith. I know I could go to another church, but in all honesty, all the other churches I've ever been to seem to be exactly the same. I know I'm being harsh of the church. I hate feeling that way. And I recognize that maybe my problem isn't with church, but with me. But then again, I can't help but feel like I'm not important at my church. I feel a little like an outcast. I miss a few Sundays and nobody ever calls to find out if I'm okay or what's going on. My preacher completely avoids me, even if I am at church. Other people get together and do things, but they never invite me. I feel like I don't matter to anyone else. And the problem I have is that, shouldn't ALL people feel like they matter in the house of the Lord? If that's true, then why don't I? Why do I feel as though I can only be close to the Lord on my own time--when I'm praying at night, listening to Christian music, or talking with non-believers about God, or writing about spiritual things?

Then there's also so many other things weighing me down so heavily. I can't honestly think of anything in my life right now that seems to be going in a postive direction. I'm tired all the time, I don't have time for anything, my relationships with everybody is strained to say the least. I don't honestly have very many close friends, and some of the ones who are close, I can't even see. One of my best friends I actually met online back last year around this time, and we've never even met face to face. I don't know what I'm going to do once I do get laid off from work. And I'm worried about a lot of people, especially certain family members. I'm stressed out all the time it feels like.

I don't mean to be so negative sounding about everything. I know I am blessed beyond measure in so many ways, but something just isn't feeling right with me. Nothing feels right right now. If anyone would care to pray for me, I'd really appreciate it. I'm off from work today and the next two days, so hopefully I'll have some time to catch up on a few things and everything will be in a better light soon. I am looking forward to Halloween, so maybe that'll cheer me up a bit. Don't know.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Down And Out On A Really Good Day

Today has been a really good day.

I spent the early morning with my brother. I didn't go to church today. I woke up so tired and exhausted that I just didn't want to go to church and gain even more frustrations than what I have already had here lately. I've struggled to go to church where I go for a very long time, and I've hoped for such a long time that things would improve. A few things have improved, greatly, the last two or three years, but something is still missing. I just don't feel like there's a place for me there. And I don't feel comfortable around my preacher anymore. So, knowing that skipping church isn't something I should do or would condone of others, I did skip church this morning. Instead, I stayed at home and assisted my younger brother--who hasn't attended church for a little over a year now--at playing Zelda: Twilight Princess. I discovered just how entertaining that game can be. In fact, I felt really drawn into it. Of course, it wasn't long until I began giving my opinion on every move my brother was making throughout the game. I don't think he minded that too very much. We were enjoying each other's company.

When my parents got back from church we decided to take a little trip through the countryside, touring valleys and river bottoms in the adjacent county. There was an old turn-of-the-(20th)century church building we stopped and looked at. It had wood siding, tall windows, wooden seats and floors and ceiling, a wood burning stove in the center of the room, and a piano that looked like it had lost it's prime back in the fifties. It was really cool. It was easy to imagine how this church and it's congregation would have been back in it's hay day. We also toured through an old graveyard, taking note of the names on the old marble headstones trying to figure out if we knew anyone who may be related to any of the people buried there. We drove through the valleys looking at the hillsides and creeks and rivers and the changing leaves, and it was so very beautiful. I couldn't help but feel relaxed. I felt calmed and relieved. I felt better. The last few months I've been so stressed with my job, it was just really good to get away for awhile. Even if it was for a short day trip.

This evening, I've simply taken everything in stride. I've tried to enjoy this day the best I could. I am tired though. And I do dread having to go back to work tomorrow. My job is almost over, and when it is, I'll not go back to work there again. I've worked for several years at my job, and I've got a lot out of the place where I've worked, but I know my time there is through. I found out last Tuesday that my boss doesn't like me, nor the job that I've done this year, and that he has no plans of rehiring me next season. That news has pretty much crushed my spirit the last several days. I've worked so hard and tried my best this summer to do the best job I could do that to find out something like this... well, it's just like all the life in me has been punched out of me. I feel as though all the hard work I've done has been in vain. I feel like I've wasted my time and energy and, well, my life. I mean, I'm not surprised by what my boss has been saying about me, but it still hurts. I feel like this is just another example of how my best never is good enough for anyone. I feel like I'm never good enough for anyone. Maybe this recent bit of news is God's way of telling me to move on? I had already been trying to decide whether I wanted to go back next year or not anyway. Maybe I've just not been listening closely enough to God? I did feel like He was telling me not to take the job this year anyhow, but I wouldn't listen. This may just be His way of telling me, "See, I told you not to do it". Then again, maybe this has nothing to do with God and all comes down to the mean and uncaring people of the world who wouldn't know a good thing if it come up and bit them on the ***. Either way, I'm tired and I can't wait until the day I get laid off from work.

Today has been a good day. I needed today. I just hope there will be a few more of them sooner rather than later.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Becoming Man

A few years ago I took a summer job working around other guys. It was a simple job mostly and was dependent upon customers. That basically means that we sat around a good portion of the time just waiting for the customers to show up.

During those quiet times at work, I began talking with some of the other guys. I remember being very nervous about that in the beginning. I hadn't had much experience relating to other guys, and I basically had no clue as to how to talk to any of them. I remember being very reserved and feeling so awkward and out of place being around them like that. I mean, here I was working with at least ten to fifteen other guys, just thrown into the mix with them, and not having the faintest idea as to how to relate to them.

I found a friend fairly quickly in the resident screwball, who'd worked there for about twenty-five years. When I call my friend that, I mean it in the best of ways. He's a lot older than me, but he's got the heart of a child. There have been very few men in my life who I've known to be so warm and open and caring. I found that I could relate to him easily. I felt like a great big kid myself anyway, so we made a good match.

I slowly learned that summer how to get along with other guys as well. By simply talking to these other guys, I began to learn that not all men are cruel, thoughtless, uncaring, jerks. I began to learn that some were, but not all of them. In fact, most of them weren't. Most of them tried to get to know me in return. They talked with me, asked about me, laughed at my jokes, and joked back.

I remember that, in the beginning, I actually hated my job. I hated being thrown in with all these other guys. But by time fall approached, I'd learned to love my job. I really did love my job. I loved being able to be around those other guys. I loved the friendships I was building. And whenever I was asked to return to work that next summer, I certainly jumped at the chance.

This is now my sixth year working at __________. I'm now the boss of my department. I got this promotion because of that first guy who befriended me. He recommended me for the job. I don't expect my friend will ever read this blog. He does not know that I struggle with my sexuality. Although he has admitted to me that he's suspected I might, I've never admitted that, and for now I'd rather him not know. Regardless of that, I know I owe him a lot. I'm very thankful for him, and I hope that he knows that.

In learning to be friends with other guys, I've made some horrible mistakes. I've pushed away some of them whenever I found myself becoming attracted to them. I've neglected them at times for fear of getting too close to me and finding out my horrible little secret. I've turned down invitations to hang out or to go to parties or group outings with some of them. I've made a lot of mistakes like that, which I regret so very much. However, I was thinking today about how far I've come. Six years ago, I didn't really have any close male friends. I didn't have hardly any male friends, close or otherwise. Most of my friends were girls. But there have been so many friends I've made over the last six years. I'll admit that the majority of them, I lost as friends once the summer ended. Actually, I don't think “lost” is quite the right word. They are still friends. I just don't get to see most of them near as often as I'd like.

I've learned so much from these guys. I learned how to relate to other men. I learned that I'm not some girl stuck in a mans body. I'm a guy just like any other guy. Most guys face similar problems I have—pornography, masturbation, lust, envy, loneliness, rejection, etc. A lot of them have went through similar things. I would never have known that if I'd not started trying to make friends with them. I've learned that there is no such thing as a perfect guy. I've learned that I'm a lot more like other men than I ever thought possible. And over the years, I've grown to feel a lot more comfortable around other men. I've learned to be at ease around them.

It's funny, because six years ago, I couldn't imagine any other guy asking me for advice about guy things. This year at work, earlier this summer, I had three of them asking me about sex, one about college, one about religion, and I'm sure several other things have come up that I'm just not thinking about right now. I feel like I'm one of the guys now. And in a way, that's not really as strange as it seems like it should be, or like I used to think it would be.

When I first heard the message a year and half ago proclaimed by Exodus International, that change is possible, I believed it because I'd already experienced a little bit of it. Their message had already rung true in my life, or had began to ring true. Not that it's a guarantee, but that to one degree or another a person battling with homosexual temptations can change their lives. Their message is that homosexuality isn't really about sex, or a sexual problem, but that it's relational problem and one of misperception. It's not that we have a problem with sex, but that we have a problem relating to other people of the same sex. We simply use sex as a means of achieving those things we didn't receive from those of our own sex. (I won't say anything else here, because I know multitudes are sure to disagree with me about this stuff, and I'm not writing this post to debate these things, nor will I. There are a lot more things to mention here, which I won't bring up at this time). I believed this message because I knew how different I'd already begun feeling around other men since the time I started working with them. I could see so clearly how those problems with relating could cause me to have homosexual attractions. It's an opposites attract sort of thing. I didn't relate to men, but I could relate to women, so naturally, woman was not my “other”, but men were. Over the last six years, as I've been able to better learn to relate to other men, and as I've begun seeing myself in a different light, the attractions I've had for men has gradually decreased. And whenever I can go long periods of time without pornography or creating sexual fantasies in my mind, the even more those attractions dissipate. I feel more like a man now than at any of time in my life.

Having said that, I still feel very insecure as a man sometimes. I wish I could make more “close” friends, or feel like I have more in common with other guys. I have a few male friends now, and I love each of them, but I still wish I could spend more time with them. I hate the onset of fall (even though it is my favorite time of the year) because I know most of the friends I've made over the summer will be leaving and moving on in life. I know I won't get to see them or hang out with them as much. And there are a lot of guys I know I'm going to miss terribly. Some of them who have already moved on, I already miss terribly. I wish I never had to say “goodbye” to any of them.

I thank God for my friends though. I thank God for sending people into my life who have helped me so much. I thank Him for showing me a way out. God does that you know. Whenever you're stuck and needing help, God will help you and show you a way out. Before I began that summer job, that first year, I had just experienced one of the worst times of my life. It was my first year in college. I lost most of my girl friends from high school and was having so much trouble making new friends. I felt so lonely, and I was just coming to terms with the fact that I was gay. I was diving headfirst into all sorts of sinful behaviors, and I was so depressed I couldn't stand it. I was suicidal and actually came within only seconds of surely killing myself—I'd planned to drive myself off a cliff and just barely turned to wheel in time to keep myself from doing that. I remember traveling back and forth from classes and crying and praying until it hurt, begging God to help me, and crying out to Him to help me stop being gay. God showed me a way out! He showed me how to relate to other guys in a Godly way. He showed me that I'm not some horrible freak. I am a man, and I am a Christian. That's what I am. And even though I do find men attractive, that doesn't make me gay. I'm just like any other guy. Hey, we all have problems. But whatever our problems are, we shouldn't label ourselves by those problems.

I am loved! God loves me. My family loves me. I have friends who love me. I have people who care about me and want to help me. I'm not alone. It feels so good to know and to say that. I was alone for such a long time.

Here's my advice for anyone struggling with homosexuality: Pray to God to show you a way out. Try to build positive, Godly friendships. Bring your sins into the light, and allow others to help you. Be open-minded and reach out to others. But most of all, trust that God WILL show you a way out. Hold onto that with all your heart.

I'm sad that I've had to say goodbye to so many of the friends I've made. I wish I didn't have to say goodbye to any of them. But I'm grateful for having been able to know them during the time we were granted. They befriended me, and they helped me in a way which I doubt most of them will ever realize. And I'm not only talking about the guy friends I've made at work. I'm also so very grateful for all the friends I've made at church and online. I'm grateful God has given me friends. All of them have made me feel like I belong, that I'm not some sort of freak or different. They've cared about me, loved me, and made me feel like a man.

...I am a man.