Thursday, May 15, 2008

And He saw that it was good...

Welcome back, beloved readers. After the harrowing twist-turn I put you through last time, I'm glad you came back. Because I have something to share with you.

The last few days have been a difficult period of adjustment for me, and the next few will probably not differ much from the last few. You see, my period of repentance has actually, tangibly begun. And it hurts. I kid you not. This is an incredibly painful time. But then again, no one ever said dying was a pleasant experience. Just ask our Lord.

First, let's rewind and re-cap briefly. I made my confession of Jesus as Lord and invited him into my life on November 9, 2007. On that day, I supposedly died to my worldly life and was reborn as a new creation in Christ. Who supposed that? Oh, yeah, I did. Well, I'm a newbie, so you'll have to bear with me. After all the whole point of this blog is to chronicle my journey with our Saviour, noting milestones and way markers along the road. Well, I hit a milestone and thought you should know. Since my conversion from Green Witch to Christ Follower, I have been immersed in the true Word of God, and also in the world, chock full of false teachings and skewed Christian philosophy. TV, radio, Internet, literature. Unsure of which parts to believe and which to reject, I tend to lean on my church leaders for clarity, sometimes I think to the point where they're probably soon going to refer me to the deacons because I place such a heavy demand on them. Just kidding. They're great people. Wise, humble and patient men whose guidance has been invaluable, and who, without the Lord, could very well have been me.

So, once I converted, I assumed logically that I was already a new creation. I've been told by a good friend that I have a keen spiritual insight. As a result, I jumped right in and started soaking in all the church activities I could: I attended two Promise Keepers men's conferences, I've taken up learning to play piano again and have considered joining a worship team. I've preached a sermon, spoken in public a few times, ministered to friends and evangelized to co-workers. I pray all the time and believe that every last word of the Bible is the truth. And all that is about ME. Yep, I didn't know it, but I had reverted to an old pattern of behaviour. Lacking the adoration of the Beloved Son from my earthly father, I had become accustomed to garnering praise from others, be they friends, family, associates, co-workers or more recently, my brethren in the church. Not to say that in doing these activities I had no intention of doing God's will, or revealing His glory to the world. On the contrary, that was my primary objective to start with, but then I go and louse it up by sharing my experiences with everyone who'll listen, and suck up the praise. I occasionally need a reminder to be humble.

And at heart, I really am. More than you might think. See, when I was a child, my dad wasn't exactly proactive about raising his son. Any attempts to get his attention were generally met with a snarl of, "Go outside and play," or "Find something to do," and were only rarely acknowledged at all except with anger or the three or four paltry attempts at showing fatherly affection for me while he was plastered. The rest of the time, I remained rarely seen and even more rarely heard. All the while I was shepherded by my mom who, although she tried her best, could not instill in me those qualities that can only be endowed by a father, or better still a group of men. As you can imagine, I grew up scared of everything, protected and sheltered from everything, and unsure of myself. I believed, as my dad once told me, that all I could do was "shit and fall in it." (Again, pardon the language, but that's what he said...) My mom tried to build my confidence, saying I was smart, kind, caring and honest, but I was a wimp and I knew it. I was angry. All the time. I was just too scared to vent it. So I let it out by doing nice things and sucking up the adulation.

In my teens I spent a lot of time reading, or playing it safe with the few bookworm friends I had. Most of our adventure and excitement was found in the realm of Dungeons and Dragons. There I got to be a hero, a warrior, and at one point even a god. My grades suffered, of course, but school held little interest for me. In school, I was a wallflower. In D&D, I was a force to be reckoned with.

Anyway, I'm straying from the topic. What I need to say is that the other day, an event occurred which triggered the onset of true repentance, and the renovation of my heart. My father came by the house for a quick visit. The conversation was light, as usual, because my dad usually doesn't let it get too deep. But then I somehow felt the need to challenge him with regard to his poor opinion of certain people, and a small argument ensued. But he knew I was right. He then said he was done arguing, and that he raised my brother and I, and that we both have jobs and that's all he cares about.

At that point, I knew that my father was lost to me. Because he is still scared. His father treated him worse than he treated me. He's been a scared little boy inside for longer than I've been alive. And since a fatherless child can't properly raise a son, my mom was left to muddle through. He worked crazy hours, bags of overtime and was rarely home when I was. It was only after my mom had enough and divorced him that he turned to me for a relationship. It was OK for a while, but once he remarried and had a stable home again, he stopped trying. I was forced to accept who he was and deal with it, and of course, being afraid of confrontation, I just lived and let live. Nothing got resolved and my wound just festered. But this time it was different. And I knew what my kids had to look forward to if I didn't turn to my real Father and accept his discipline, his love, and his guidance. And the first step is confession of my wound. So here it is. I'm an unfinished man under the tutelage of my heavenly Father, and in the company of His people, and I'm on the path to becoming a good and whole person in Jesus Christ our Lord. I am dying. My old self is dying. Baptism is a symbol of death and rebirth, but it is God who chooses when this will truly occur.

I will therefore finish out the grieving process and press on into new territory. I feel a cleansing taking place as I grieve, and as I confess these things to you, dear readers, the Lord is stripping all the rotten timbers out of my heart and will soon begin the rebuilding process. As these things are realized, my marriage too is greatly improving, although I think my wife is rather enjoying having her husband reduced to a raw, sensitive bundle of emotions, easily confused, easily distracted and easily brought to tears. Like all good meals, this too shall pass, and the healing can begin. So I'll take these last few lines and bless those who stand with me in sight of the Lord, and tell them how blessed I feel that my Father is raising his boy through them. Praise be to Him who brought me to Zurich and interceded as a true Dad to heal my wounds and make me the man he intended for me to be when He made me, and saw that I was good. Amen.

See you next time. Have a blessed week.


Lumus said...

This sounds familiar. You touched on it during our friendly email headbutting.

Just to get it out of my system: phrases like "Dear Reader" pander to an audience, so telling your 'dear readers' that you're sucking up praise and need to be humbled is not just ironic, it's contradictory and undermining to the message as a whole [for those who catch it].

D&D is not the scapegoat for your grades; the culprit was your insecurity-driven behaviour. Consider revising that; I don't appreciate the blame-by-association, since I did run the game...

Those things said, to address the main topic, the death of your humility to allow you to be reborn: consider me as having officially volunteered to watchdog you. You can return the favour if you like.

I'll start by pointing out the strongest example of it in your general behaviours. You don't take I offer you a fair bit, I know this firsthand. A typical conversation with you where I try to offer you advice [and this has not changed in two decades] goes like this -

You tell me something is bothering you. I occasionally ask questions but spend most of my time listening to what is on your mind. I encourage you to talk about your feelings and thoughts first, then offer my own insights, relating them to what you have said. You agree with the conclusions thus drawn, without addressing the thoughts leading up to the conclusion. You offer to try following the proferred suggestions, and when next we talk you have gone off and done your own thing, usually the very thing that, when we talked, you stated was the worst thing you could do...

How this translates into a lack of humility is that you put your own opinions first and foremost, unless someone like Candy harps and drills and yells at you and actually makes you follow through in front of them. I myself can be overly confident, we both know it; that's why I make the effort when following someone else's advice to follow through quickly, and tell the person how the advice worked shortly after. If the advice works, I also make a point of thanking them for the advice; or thanking them for trying even if the advice didn't work. [Now, admittedly, this happens more at work or online than with my friends, but it does happen.]

You can do this on any number of levels, for big things and small. Unless the advice clearly seems to you to be dangerous or personally offensive, give it a shot. See what happens. Learn from it either way. Departing from your egocentric norm may allow you to learn and appreciate more; and the more your mind broadens, the more you can continue to learn.

*awaits the razzing email this is likely to generate*

Journeyman 567 said...

First of all, just so we're clear, I never said Dungeons and Dragons was bad, evil, or the cause of my sliding grades. I merely stated that it was what I CHOSE to occupy my time with in favour of studying hard. And I admitted, I believe, that my behaviour was, in fact, driven by insecurity.

Secondly, I am not in any way trying to pander to the audience. I sincerely mean that my readers are dear to me, as they are, as far as I know, all good friends and family of mine. Be that as it may, I will monitor my writing for signs of pandering.

OK, I can see that we both have a propensity for smacking each other with past behaviour that has no bearing on present events. I have since learned to take advice a lot better, which speaks to a bit of growth on my part, I think. I suppose I did recently and for a long time have a bit of an egocentricity complex, but this is where the whole 'learning humility' thing comes in. The whole point of this is to confess my shortcomings, give them to God and try to grow and learn to be more like His Son than I am. The secondary point is to let others on the same journey learn what they can from my experiences, as I in turn learn from theirs. It's how the body of Christ looks out for one another.

If I've offended any of your other sensibilities, sorry dude. I'm just charting my new life in print, and as a newbie, I can make a lot of mistakes before I get where I'm headed. I'll e-mail you soon, OK?

Lumus said...

Email received, read, replied to. Glad to see you're not hopping on the wagon of those who point their fingers like a pod person and screaming, "INFIDEL!" at the sight of D&D. :D That was my worry, really.

If you value the reader, that's a good thing; the wording nonetheless delivers an inference. If you want to be understood, you have to watch the inferences, ya know. ;)

Yeh, we do smack each other. It's part of our dynamic, I do believe, and not necessarily a bad thing, because we make each other see things through different eyes. That said: don't just take advice; follow it, value it, cherish it, and those who gave it to you. You'll feel better for doing so.

My sensibilities are admittedly a bit on the egocentric side, themselves; it's that primal urge you have when encountering an idiot [no, you're not an idiot! This is just an analogy.] - when you encounter an idiot that's hurtling at light speed down a path that can only harm them, and you want to grab them, shake them, say, "Hey! Idiot! Don't you see how you're causing your own sorrows?! Wake up!!!" I see you growing, and it's a good thing; you're also a friend, and I don't want to see you grow in ways that could be harmful for you. So, yes, out comes my hammer, and a-thumping I do go. It's not the best way, I know; it is my way, though.

Peace, bro.