STATIC DISCLAIMER: All the stuff in here is purely my opinions, and they tend to change depending on what mood I'm in. If you're going to get bitter if I say something about you that you don't like, then maybe don't read. I avoid using names as much as possible, and would request that people who know me do the same in their comments. Basically, I often vent my frustrations on here, so if you happen to be someone who frustrates me, expect to read a description of someone very much like you in here!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

One tiny step in the shoes of Martin Luther

Questioning something that people have believed like, forever, can be hard. However, sometimes a man can feel so strongly about the sanctity of truth that he has no option but to do so. While ever this is merely a theoretical exercise, people seem happy to accept and ignore the fact you believe something that might be different to them, or to the church you attend. When you act on the basis of that belief, suddenly the world goes crazy. You actually believe what you said you believe? Crazy talk!

I know a story of a man who did that. On a scale that I find it hard to comprehend. In a time when there was one spiritual Christian authority in the Roman Catholic church who held not only the belief that they were the only authority on truth, but had linguistically locked up the only means by which you might be able to test that, he stood up and said "Your doctrine on salvation is wrong", challenging the authority of the papal structure of the time. I don't know how modern-day Catholics feel about Martin Luther and the Reformation, but it seems to me it would be a fairly big deal even today. Even if they acknowledged corruption in the church at the time, they'd have to think that on at least some level Martin Luther had it wrong, I would think. I could be wrong. But for me as a member of a church that formed from the linage of the Protestant movement, what he did directly relates to the way I live out my faith today. Truth, it would seem, is a big deal.

It seems almost blasphemous to compare my trivial matter to this. I believe something my church does not. In the context of my church as an institution, it's a ripple in a pond. If they tomorrow were to accept what I thought, it would not destroy the underpinnings of Baptist..ism. If they don't agree (right or wrong), it doesn't mean they're walking in some great fallacy that will cause millions to miss something vital to salvation. But for me, I see it as true which makes it a big deal to me. And my church are not happy for me to believe that, at least if I'm actually going to believe it. I cannot lead people in any capacity if I'm going to lead them while holding this belief. For my church, that's not an acceptable situation, and I can appreciate that. At the same time, I'm being ostracised for thinking for myself. So far, I have had my loyalty, honour, commitment, and motives questioned. I expect more.

BUT (and it's a bold, capitalised one), I'm not so proud as to believe I couldn't be wrong. I could be. It has happened before, and this is why I haven't explained the what and why of all of this. To do so publicly and then find out I was wrong would be devastating for me, as it may mean other people would start to think the same because of me.

What I did want to say was this:

I'm genuinely seeking truth from the Bible about what God actually says to His people. This morning, I sat and prayed for divine leading, and then read Matthew 1 through 3. Tomorrow I'll do the same and start at Matthew 4 and read from there. When I get to the end of Revelation, I'm going to go back to Genesis and read from there. This to me seems the best way to approach this. I'm asking God to show me. Asking that if I've got it wrong, He will point me at what is right. Surely, surely where you're asking questions about something you've been taught, to go back to simply the word of God is the best, if not only way to find what is actually true.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Collection of MiniPosts


So I have some medium-size things to say, and I wanted to put them in a post all together. I've gone back and read posts from my blog in the past in the same way one might look at photos from years gone by. It can be revealing, or cathartic, or surprising, or a number of other fancy words. Basically, it's why I'm putting these thoughts together.

Someone Is Wrong On The Internet!
I've just spent my evening writing to someone I don't know to try and convince them of something they didn't ask to be convinced about, because it's something that is important to me. Not a religious argument, btw. Just something that reflects a little on me, so I wanted to advocate on behalf of those like me. Cryptic enough? ;) Anyway... I wonder sometimes why I care so much about what random strangers think of me.

Internet Dating Is Unfun
I'm paying far too much money to make new "friends", where the inverted commas define a class of person with whom I've had a couple of coffees and conversations, whom I've parted on good terms with, but who doesn't really want to pursue things any further. It's nice that it's friendly, but it's gut-wrenchingly soul-destroying that I am clearly predisposed toward being in the "friend zone". It's like my teenage years all over again, without anywhere near the degree of opportunity. Maybe I need a wingman...

Fat People Are Less Likely To Get Married (statistical fact)
Reference: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199309303291406
I'd heard this before, but had to find the reference. I think there are other studies that find the same conclusions.
So this one is hard to come to grips with, but I've thought about it lots and it does make sense. Yes, to express it in cliché: true beauty comes from within. But when you first meet someone, that person in your mind consists of perhaps 90% how they look, and maybe 10% the conversation you've had with them. Over time, as you get to know the person more, the character attributes they possess, their interests, etc., make up more of the picture, and so someone who is physically unattractive can still be found quite attractive by a member of the opposite gender based on who they are as a whole. But if you are dating outside of your normal social circle, it's not uncommon to decide after a date or two whether or not you want to continue seeing someone. And really, how you feel about that person is based fairly heavily on their appearance. This all sounds quite shallow (and let's face it - it is), but being on the statistical downside of this particular factoid, I can see that there's not going to be any changing it. And I can see that I'm doing it as much as anyone else. It's just how it is, but interesting to consider how we behave in this context.


Unrecovery
I made the following statement to my psychologist (gasp! yes, I see a psychologist occasionally):
"From my observation, a person in my situation who doesn't find their way into a new relationship doesn't recover."
She asked me a few questions about this: What situation? Any relationship? Define "recover"? When I'd answered, she rephrased the statement slightly to pinpoint what I was talking about. Something like:
"From my observation, a person who has lost a satisfying long-term committed relationship against their desire, who does not find another committed, long-term relationship, does not return to the level of emotional satisfaction they had prior to the loss." (my rather haphazard paraphrase - I don't remember the exact words now)
After saying this, she sat there and thought for a minute, and then said:
"I'd agree with that."
This both makes perfect sense, and also flies in the face of a lot of the well-meaning advice I've got along the way. Specifically, the advice that I need to "be happy on my own" in order to be emotionally healthy enough to not be on my own. Quite obviously when you're in a long term relationship, you clear other stuff out of the way to make room for it. You compromise. Sacrifice. Change plans, and make plans. When it's removed, you're not the same person you were prior, and can't just go back to being fine on your own. Ever. You have two choices: make do, or fill the gap. People make do a lot. They throw things into the gap that hide its size for a little bit. Maybe. But ultimately, there's something not right whether they'll admit it or not, and everyone else can see it.
I find often I feel bad for wanting to get married again as more than just a casual aside. I actually really want to, and am keen to persue it as a goal. But it's almost like it's socially unacceptable to be that guy or girl. The word "desperate" comes to mind. I'm not desperate. Just tired of tripping over the gap all the time.

Internet Dating Is Unfun, Part 2
Clearly, eHarmony has decided that I'm an outdoorsy kind of person, and that I should only meet other outdoorsy people.

...

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...

...
forever alone


Sleep, or lack thereof
I'm finding it hard to get to bed at a decent hour. This can be traced to the following:
  • My Playstation and Mass Effect 2
  • Sites that deliver a random funny image every time you click a button
  • General lack of motivation
  • Writing blog posts
The problem is, tomorrow I will regret it. Again. Just like last time.

Also, I generated a meme:
Anxiety Cat - Drink 9 coffees Insomnia clearly caused by cancer

That is all.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Resolutions

This evening I sat with two of my friends and celebrated the coming of a new year. Two of us have spent this year dealing with varying moments of the process of concluding our marriages, and came as single parent families with children in tow. The other was missing their spouse due to work commitments that would occupy them until 3am on New Year's Day. All of us came as sole representatives of our names.

We drank cider, and tried to control the rabble of children that outnumbered parents 3-to-1. We stumbled over how to fill time until the midnight fireworks, by which time one gaggle of children had already left, and the remainder were beginning to fall into unconsciousness on the living room floor. As soon as the fireworks ended, I helped my eldest find a collection of cards he'd brought, lost, but absolutely had to have for tomorrow, and then gathered my youngest sleeping in my arms and herded them both into the car.

I heralded the new year with friends, but this year it felt like we were soldiers looking back on a long battle behind us. A year's fight is done, but so much has been lost along the way, and the road ahead doesn't lead us back to a comfortable home and a ticker tape parade. We sit in the quiet trenches and look at each other wondering where to from here. Around us lies the fallen remains of friendships that have been lost. Ideals destroyed. Visions shattered. For some of us, we bear the wounds of betrayal - from friends we trusted, colleagues, spouses. Some of us are fed up from watching those we once admired as people of substance crumble and fall around us. All of us have pondered escape, and the sweet aroma of a new beginning in another locale I am sure will see at least one of us absent in years to come.

But as for today; today we are the stalwarts. We are the remaining steadfast few amongst the many of our cohort who said words and made commitments that now are lost; caught in the merciless crossfire of a narcissistic culture. Those who still stand, who still fight, for values they professed when such profession was easy. We are far from perfect, and God knows we are judged for it, but I for one will not fall to the shots of those who have deserted and take aim to appease their guilt. We stand guard over a way of life I believe in, and for the sake of my children I cannot in good conscience avoid the line of fire. I will not back down. I will not surrender. I will not take my life for granted.

Friendship requires trust. Marriage requires faithfulness. Love requires commitment. I will no longer tolerate friends I cannot trust. I will stand against those who are unfaithful to their marriages. And I will commit to love my children, my friends, and my God with all that I am. For me, there is no other way to live - these things I believe in, and I would be less of a man if I were to step away from them.

This is not the direction I intended to go with this post, but it's where I've ended up and I'm content with what I've written. If I can accomplish nothing else this year, I will stand. And if that's not a New Year's Resolution, I don't know what is.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

OK, let's start by getting the elephant in the room dealt with: you're not real. Look, sorry to say it, but you know it's true. You might rightfully then ask why I'm writing you a letter. That's a fair cop, and one I'm willing to answer - I guess the fact that I know that Dad (that being the heavenly one) knows my thoughts as I write them, and that I can put a part of myself down in writing in this way is kind of appealing. So yeah, OK - I'm kind of using you. But you're not real, so I say we're even.

That being said, can I tell you something? It's been hard this year when people have asked me what I want for Christmas. I mean sure, I could put some games or DVDs on a list, but the reason I haven't is that none of it really shines for me. Honestly, there's just something much deeper missing and I've been thinking about it a little. Just every day for close to the past two years, I'd say. And so here's my Christmas list, Saint Nick - you ready for this?

Someone to love, who will love me in return.

That's it. That's all I want. I mean, I probably should be a tiny bit more specific - we're talking love of the variety that is "until death do us part" here, which means toward someone of the opposite gender, and that is deep and romantic in nature. I'd hate to give you room to be cheap on this one, Santy. Because we all know you can be cheap when you want to. I mean seriously - what good is a remote controlled car with no batteries? Yes, I do remember.

Look, I was never made to be alone. Dad knows this better than anyone, and so I'm not sure why he's let things unfold this way, but here I am. It's just been such a long time since I've looked in someone's eyes and seen that subtle softening that comes from owning a special place in the heart of the person to whom those eyes belong. I desperately long to see that again. My heart holds an empty room; furnished with hopes and dreams that began years ago; waiting for someone for whom that place is home. It's been lived in before and wasn't treated very well, but I've spent a lot of time cleaning it up; repainting the walls and scrubbing the floors. Dad even helped me fix up some of the bits that were a problem before it was trashed. When I look at it now, it seems... ready. It's a home for someone. They just aren't there yet.

So big guy, I'm doing my bit. I'm meeting, and coffeeing and generally doing things no 32 year old man with two kids should have to worry about. I'm preening and cleaning and trying to change the things about myself I look at and think could be better. But I can't make this one happen on my own. So I guess what I'm doing is being the kid writing a letter to Santa, hoping that his Dad might read it. That maybe, just maybe, it won't be as hard... or as long... or as complicated as I think it has to be. That the story of my life will give inspiration to those who tread a similarly painful path, rather than serve as example of how lonely things can end up when relationships go tragically wrong.

Well, that's about it Santa. I'll leave the rest in your white-gloved hands. Oh - and I'll leave out some beer and chocolate on Christmas Eve, but if you haven't taken them by midnight I say they're fair game.

Merry Christmas,
Justin

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Well, that didn't go so well.

OK, so I've been trying harder to eat right, and losing small amounts of weight. I'm thinking through what I can do about Japan, and making plans for when I can go, and that's all awesome. And I've been getting up at 6:30am... but...

As it turns out, this last change has changed the status quo of my household. My two wonderful children, who I used to have to wrestle from their beds post-7am in order to get them ready on time now wake before my alarm goes off at 6:30am, and demand breakfast amongst other things (one wanted chocolate recently for some reason), and generally ensure that I'm not spending that time peacefully contemplating passages of Scripture and in reflective prayer, as was the origial intention. So not really sure what to do about that one, but it certainly makes it hard for me to justify continuing this new tradition. That being said, I am generally more organised thanks to the getting up early and stuffs, so I guess in that way it's good.

I know I could do this stuff at the end of my day, but usually by the time I get my kids into bed my brain is already mush and I just want to soak it in sitcom, or live vicariously as a ninja through my Playstation controller. Both activities requiring as little or as much thought as I feel up to at the time. Mornings have always been my strong thought times. Post-coffee, of course, but that's just a given. So what do I do? :-s Does anyone else have some words of sage-like wisdom that might help? Maybe I should eat more sage. Or thyme. Need more of both of those.