Monday, August 18, 2008

The Afters - You

The last few weeks I've been listening to a song by The Afters called You. It's such a peaceful, beautiful song about God and His greatness, and I've been able to relate to it's lyrics so much lately--about how I feel and the way I think about God. Thanks to Jay for helping me figure this out, I can now share the song with all of you from off of YouTube. I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I may be giving myself away a little, but at this point I really don't care so much. I had to work late the other night and before leaving I decided to go for a little stroll around the dock where I work. The sun was just setting over the hillside and our customers had all turned in for the evening. The air was cool and soothing after the heat of the day. The water was perfectly still. The moon was shining bright across the water, and the stars were already coming out. I looked out onto the main body of the lake and suddenly felt lucky for having been assigned to work during this time. The beauty God had created all around me simply amazed me. Everything seemed so peaceful and calm, and I couldn't help but feel relaxed.

My mind soon began wandering, and I began thinking upon all the time I'd spent working there. I remembered all those tasks performed, all the coworkers who had come and gone, and all those good times and bad. It wasn't long until I began yearning for the past. I kept thinking about all those people who I'd worked with over the last few years. So many of them have gone on to other things, and I rarely see most of them anymore. In thinking about that, I remembered the guy I fell in love with a few years ago. I know there was no way I could have ever been with him—he wasn't/isn't gay. But I know I fell for him harder than anyone else I've ever known. He was a Christian, smart, funny, cute, kind, everything I ever looked for in another guy, and the more I was around him the more I loved him. I almost wanted to cry just thinking of him. I still see him from time to time, but it's far and few times between. When I do see him, it's not like it used to be. We're more along the line of acquaintances now than friends. I miss him. And I'll admit, I can't help but wonder sometimes what could have been had he felt the same about me. It's very likely that had he had feelings for me, I'd have gladly been his boyfriend. Who knows what different course that would have led me?

I don't just miss him though. I miss a lot of people. I've reached a point where I hate so very much having to say goodbye to people. I know from experience that once I do that, I'm very likely never or rarely to see that person again. Because of that, I hate having to say goodbye. I have that fear that when I do, I'll never see that person again. This is one of the main reasons why I've questioned my decision to become a teacher. You spend an entire year getting to know your students and then they move on in life while you stay put. It's a kind of sad profession in that sense. Not to say that it isn't extremely rewarding in other regards, but it's just that you lose people on a yearly basis who you've spent so much time with getting to know and love, and it hurts whenever you lose those you love—in whatever context that may be.

I think sometimes I must be the most sentimental person in the world. I have a great tendency to hold onto the past and long after it. I think back to good times and wish I could revisit them. I see a familiar spot alongside the road and just have to pull over. I think of people who have moved on in life and wish I could be around them again. I keep everything, because everything has a meaning and a story to it. I'm a real pack rat that way.

I know it's been hard for me to move forward in life because of that. I know my life could be a whole lot different in so many ways if I could just let go of the past. I know I let my past hold me back so much of the time. I may have found a better job, church, place to live, etc. by now if only I could have put aside the past and charged forward into the future.

Maybe there's fear there. Maybe I'm afraid of change. Maybe I'm afraid of the future. Maybe I'm afraid that what lies ahead won't be as good as what lies in the past or in the present. I think it's just that a lot of my past hasn't been what I'd call great. As a means of escaping real life, I've tended to lose myself in the thoughts of what were good times, and I long for those times and for what reminds me of them. I guess I just like the familiar and like to hold onto what's been dear to me. The places where I've lived, worked, went to school, church have all contributed to such a large part of who I am. My identity lies, in part, with these things and the people I've been around. To lose these things, I feel as if I lose a part of myself, or who I am.

I know I'm awfully sentimental this way. More than I should be. Sometimes it's just hard for me to shake my memories. And maybe in some ways that's actually a good thing more than a bad thing. I've learned it does help to think of the good times during the bad ones. There's hope in doing that. I just hope there'll be more good ones ahead.

I then began thinking about what job I may have five, ten, fifteen years from now. I wondered where I might be living. I wondered if I'd have a family of my own by then, or if I'd have completed writing what would hopefully be a bestseller novel, or accomplish any of the other hopes and dreams I've had. And as I looked out at the lake and thought again of God's beauty, I just felt His reassuring me not to worry, that there would indeed be plenty of good times ahead, new friends to make, and plenty of new memories to have and to hold onto.

I felt so at peace about that.

Friday, August 8, 2008

What Others Think

Whenever you hate, the only person you hurt is yourself. Because the person you hate often doesn't know it, or if they do, they don't care.

I heard that from the movie Ghosts of Mississippi several years ago. It's something the late great civil rights leader Medgar Evers was supposed to have said, and something I've held onto and tried to apply to my life ever since hearing it.

I told that to my young friend from church the other night. He was telling me about how he had begun to feel about some of the people at our church. He knows deep down they are good, loving, people (and I agree), but that the way they have treated him is far from good or loving (also agree). And because of their response to him, he now worries about what others think about him and what they are saying about him behind his back. Because of that, he said he had begun holding a grudge toward some of them. That bothers him because these are people who prior to his coming out he really did admire, respect, and love, and whom he thought they felt the same about him. I told him to try to let go of those harsh feelings. That's a hard thing to do sometimes, but it's a worse thing to go around carrying those negative feelings inside you all the time. It simply weighs you down and wears you out. I also told him to try not to worry so much about what others think of him. What others think doesn't matter. It's what God thinks that counts. People will either love you or hate you, so you should just be yourself and not worry about what they think. But God loves us more than any of us could ever imagine. And He'll never stop loving us. The advice seemed to have helped him a little, but I could tell he was still bothered.

I wonder why so many people put such heavy burdens upon themselves. Why do we think so much about what others think? Why do we blame ourselves for things that are out of our control? Why do we overwork ourselves? Why do we worry so much? What good is any of it?

I know I have trouble with all of these things. I do worry too much about what others think of me. I try to be a good worker, a good son, a good brother, a good friend, a good student, a good Christian, and so on and so on. I want people to like me. I know it's unrealistic to expect that everyone should, and I know it's probably stupid of me to get upset when people don't like me, but it does bother me sometimes when they don't. Perhaps that's a little bit of pride on my part, but I think this is something common for most people. We all want to be well liked by others. I know of very few who'd admit to enjoying being hated. But as much as we'd like to be liked by others, we should care far more about how God thinks of us. God always loves us no matter what. He never stops loving us. And in everything we do, we shouldn't think about what our friends, family, or peers are going to think of us, but how God will think. The phrase “What would Jesus do?” I believe is a worthy saying to apply to all things. In all that we do, are we going to be more concerned with what everyone around us is going to think, or are we going to care more about what God will think?

Take Noah, for example. Noah was a Godly man who followed the Lord with all his heart while the society around him was falling into sin and moral decay, turning away from God. Rather than follow their ways, Noah chose to follow after the Lord. And when God told him a flood was coming and to build an ark, Noah obeyed. Now, the whole time Noah was building the ark, all those around him mocked him and made fun of him. “You're crazy,” they told him, and urged him to stop his work and to come join in on their sinning. But Noah resisted and remained true to the Lord. He cared more about what God thought and wanted than what everyone else around him thought. And in the end, that's what saved his life once the flood came and everyone else was killed.

We can all take comfort in that story. Whenever people put us down, abuse us, shut us out, or mistreat us in any way, we can always take comfort in knowing God loves us, and knowing that so long as we're living our lives His way, that's all that matters. If we're going to worry about anything, that's what we should worry about.

I see in my friend someone who can go on to do incredible things for the Lord. He wants to do good for others and he believes and understands Christianity in a way I only wish I could have when I was his age. I'm bothered that so many at our church can't see that at the moment and have turned away from him. I'm angered that they'd rather judge him and push him away instead of reach out to him with love and understanding to bring him even closer to the Lord. I mean, here is someone whose testimony could bring countless numbers of people closer to God and salvation. Why would anyone want to push someone like that away and not use him for such great purposes?

I'm gonna try not to hold a grudge against any of them myself. Like my friend, I don't want to think badly of these people. What good would that do me, or anyone else? All that sort of thinking ever does is tears me up inside, and causes me to do things I normally wouldn't do. I don't want to feel that way anymore.

I think putting trust in God is perhaps one of the hardest things for any of us to do. We can believe in God and have faith that can move mountains, but when it comes to making decisions, it's so easy for us to choose the worldly way over God's ways. But if we can trust Him, and do the things He wants us to do, and obey Him by not doing the things He doesn't want us to do, we can never go wrong. God will always deliver us and see us through any situation.

So I wonder sometimes why we so often put such heavy burdens upon ourselves. Why do we put ourselves through so much heartache and grief, worrying so much? Why do we lose hope and turn to other things that never bring us any happiness? Why are we so hard on ourselves when our lives don't go completely as planned? Why do we so often chase after the wind—such a meaningless pursuit—when following after Christ is our only true hope? Why do we care so much about what others think when we have a God that loves us each so very, very much, despite all our flaws and inabilities?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Whatever, I'm Tired of Feeling

I try to be positive and to hide my pain, but in truth, I'm hurting. I've been hurting for a long time now, and in a certain way, I feel sort of numb. I don't feel good, but I try not to feel bad, so I just feel... whatever.

I'm not at all where I'd hoped to be at this stage of my life. I'm trying to get where I want to be—to get back on course—but just so much seems to be so wrong or so complicated. I don't even know where to begin, or if I even should. It just seems like for every step I take forward, I take two giant steps back.

Several of my hopes and dreams have went to the wayside. I don't have any hope for a family of my own anymore. That hope and that dream is practically gone completely. Being a realist, I just don't think it's a very realistic thing to expect anymore. It seems far too unlikely. Instead, I find myself wanting a boyfriend, and knowing I can't have one, and realizing that even if I did have one, I probably still wouldn't feel any better than I currently do. And it doesn't help me any to face the very real prospect that I may be alone the rest of my life.

I've been struggling with lust and pornography. It's like I can't see enough; like there's a longing within me that I just can't satisfy. And I know this has been brought on in large part due to my work environment. I can't escape seeing at least two or three good looking, near naked, guys each day. It's sort of inevitable. I see them and that longing builds within me. I look away but the feeling remains. I try to turn to Jesus but I feel ashamed, or guilty or whatever, and then I just feel lonely.

I've come to the conclusion I don't really want to be straight anymore. I don't want to be anything for that matter. If I could have things my way I wouldn't be attracted to anyone or have any feelings of sexual desire or arousal at all for anyone. It just seems like there would be a lot less headache if that were the case.

I've been so disappointed with my church lately. I've been heartbroken by the response given to my young friend who reached out for help there. He is gay and doesn't want to be. People who I've known my whole life have responded so terribly toward him. These are people who I've loved and cared about and who I've worshipped with for so many years now, and it's just torn me apart in my soul to see how they've responded. It's made me glad in one sense that I never have told more people than I have about my own struggles. I wonder if they'd treat me the same way if they knew.

There were so many things I wanted to help bring about at my church. I wanted to help create more programs, get more people involved, be able to reach out into the community more and bring people to God, but none of that seems to be happening. Maybe I'm being a little impatient. I feel like I'm constantly fighting against everyone else though. A lot of my ideas seem to be brushed off or ignored. I seriously wonder sometimes why I always feel so compelled to stay at this church. A lot of times I just feel like people are pretending to care about me. I get the feeling sometimes that if I just stopped going, I wouldn't be too sorely missed. That thought bothers me. I don't want to sound too down on my church though. There are a lot of good things happening there. I just get so frustrated so much of the time about certain things.

I've also been angry with a particular family problem lately. I won't get into the details of that too much here, but it involves my brother and his kids. Their mother doesn't want them, but my brother and family does and can't get them. Someone outside the family is getting them instead, and it just feels like these kids are being stolen away from us and by someone who rightfully shouldn't have a say in anything related to them. I feel so helpless to fix the turmoil this has caused my family. There's nothing I can do. I can't help the people I love. And this is crushing.

I'd hoped on being a published writer of something at least somewhat noteworthy by now. I have all these really good ideas, yet I never find time to write anymore. I'm too tired or too distracted to ever concentrate like I should. And what I have written hasn't amounted to anything. I couldn't even get members of my own family to read my book a few years ago. I find that dream is still alive, but the goal just seems to keep getting further and further away.

I'm gonna be going back to school, but I honestly don't know why. I really don't know what career I want to pursue. I think maybe I'm just going for the sake of going. Everyone expected me to finish school and get a degree. I think maybe I'm just trying to live up to expectations. I'd like to graduate from college. I just wish I was more certain about the purpose of my going. I'd like to think that what degree I get may be put to some use.

I feel like I can't trust anyone. Some of the people who I thought were my friends I've recently found out they've been working against me behind my back. Aside from that, I miss some of my other friends. I haven't heard from some of them in a while now. Maybe they've just been busy like me and haven't had time to write/visit/phone/whatever. And I wish I did have more free time myself for such things. I miss spending time with these friends. I haven't had much opportunity for that lately.

I just wish I could get some answers. I feel stressed and frustrated and so clueless about what I should be doing in my life or how to achieve some of the hopes and dreams I have, and it just seems like God isn't answering me. I want guidance, direction, some blueprint for how to get from this stage in my life to the next. I want hope. I want encouragement. I want somebody to just tell me to keep on hoping and to keep on believing that everything will work out as it should. That God will lead me to a better place. I wish someone would tell me they love me. I wish I could get some rest and be able to stop worrying.

I just wish things could be good for a while. I'm just so tired of all this. I know everyone must get so sick of my whining around. I'm sick of it myself. I'm just so sick of feeling this way.