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pursuing the upward call with fear and trembling

just a 44 year old man seeking to share my meanderings with the world at large or the blogosphere at small

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spiritual Pollution

Recently discovered a blog called experimental theology which professor richard beck at abilene christian university owns. He is a very intelligent man and incredibly well-spoken, causing one to think.laugh and be angered all at once,quite a feat indeed!! I have been perusing his site since coming across it and found a post which sparked my interest for personal reasons. He posted a series based upon a paper he had one upon the topic of spiritual pollution and the related idea of disgust in relation to the physical body and body fluids in a social/moral context. One very funny remark was his sharing how a few of his lecture students became upset with him after he said that Jesus had diarrhea and probably vomited at some point as well. If Jesus truly was human in all ways as we are well then of course He experienced those things.

Professor Beck shares that he asked his class, he is a psych professor btw, 2 questions. First, how many believed that they spent too much many on themselves??? All hands went up. Second, how many were still virgins??? No hands go up, alot of worried faces though. He makes the point that alot of sins are viewed as performance-based. Ones which happen as a part of life and we all experience them, we all acknowledge them and accept that they happen and we seek to deal with them. Sexual sins are viewed from a purity standpoint and that we become *polluted* or contaminated by committing them, which causes deep self-disgust and shame, inside the one who committed it as well as within the social circle around them.

I found this very interesting due to my own experience. I have shared on here of my struggle with sex addiction and committing certain sins of that nature. I have found much grace and love and compassion on here in the sharing which has helped add to healing. The struggle has many dimensions. One is that I always had wanted to maintain a purity but because of physical appearnace which made me feel unattractive to females and left out of finding a romantic relationship where I could express my sexuality properly, I made rationalizations in my mind to feel these desires in a way that could happen though it violated my conscience and beliefs. The very nature of sexual expression became addictive, probably because i also had a deep love hunger due to other insecurities and emotional lack which made it easier to seek fulfillment in these fantasy ways. The guilt and shame were always in play after acting upon the impulses because of my conscience and beliefs as well as my commitment to being a spiritual leader which caused a lot of inner torment by my hating that i was so weak in an area i wanted self-control over.

I had to resign from a minstry position after engaging in a behavior which was discovered by the church leaders. I was in seminary at the time and while mostly only the semianry faculty knew of the incident, some word did go around and i felt very disconnected because of my sin being what it was. I have fought the addictive compulsions on and off, and the guilt and shane reman constant companions,again mainly due to the nature of the sin involving sex,even though it was fantasy and not actual physical involvement. The idea of feeling i polluted myself and ruined my purity really hit home in reading this post by professor beck and helpe me to turn myself over to God in a different light of understanding daily.

i wanted to share this as it hit me deeply and i want to still be vulnerable and open in case some may happen upon here who share my experiences, as well as recieve thoughts and encoureagment from whoever may stop by regardless of their own experiences. Exposing hidden things to the light brings freedom.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


A lot of exploratory talk floating around blogland lately, of various ideas and thoughts which had not been considered before. The movie Doubt is very much a zeitgeist/ sign of the times movie I think. Meryl Streep did her usual awardwinning performance, along with great acting by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams as well as the Best Supporting Actress whose name fails me at the moment grrrrrrrrrr. The plot is based upon events that breed suspicion and possible misconduct but also leaves much unaccounted for. One of the characters is confronted with a lack of evidence or proof with which to charge the individual she suspects of wrongdoing, but she falls back upon her certainty which she believes she has due to her intuition and previous life experience.

Certainty and doubt. They really do play off one another. What are we really absolutely certain of??? Faith by its very nature takes into account we will have an incapability to be irrefutably certain or else faith is removed. I do reflect now upon doubting thomas when he actually was in Jesus presence and could see and touch Him. Thomas still had to exercise faith, just a faith that was aided by sight. He was certain at that point Jesus was the Christ and the Savior and Messiah. Thomas was given a tremendous aid of direct experience to encourage his faith and certainty.

I am seeking to surrender my struggles with fear to God in a more complete way, yet once again. I have gone through this battle so many varying ways over the years. I have times where everything falls into place in a serendipitous way and all makes sense and feels as it should be. Sure enough something will lead to that *place* being changed into something else, feelingswise. Thoughts also change as well which affect feelings. I get caught up in worrying about that i have fear, then about various ways my human weaknesses occur and i stumble over and over again in very same patterns. It seems like my inner voice doesn't have an awareness of everyone else dealing with their humanness in their own ways, it just likes to remind me how i constantly fall short and fail to live up to expectations, whoseever they may be- Gods,parents,friends,various other people in life. Thankfully blogging provides an outlet to peek into the world and see so many others handling life as best they can, always knowing every day is a new one and change will happen!!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Security Where Art Thou??

I posted about seeking to understand the origins of my seemingly lifelong inner sense of insecurity and my journeying friend becky asked me where i got my security from??? Of course the *right answer* is God. Well, ultimately He is that,and Jesus is the One who makes that possible. I have thought about her question alot because I told her in reply that O seek security in many other places but ultimately end up turning to Jesus and God. What other places are there before where i ultimately end up???

This is one of those times when i wish I was programmed so i would not be able to turn to the right or the left. I have my inner voice, which may be a superego ot critical parent or hypersensitive conscience, whatever you want to call it. It finds a way to tell me- *of course you know the end result is Jesus and God you KNOW this why do you not just stay there always???* As I go about living moment by moment my security may be in a friends caring affection. It may be in the regular routine of life. It may be in a hope that things will work out even though chaos may ensue for a time. i also have going on with all this the thoughts that something could happen any second and all will end and i won't be able to do anything about it. The merry-go-round of these varied thoughts keep going round and round all day long, till i get to where i am just calling out to Jesus to help me just trust it all to Him.

I always have the *what-ifs* pinging my mind like a pinball machine which never stops. Jesus tells His disciples to be anxious for nothing, to not worry or fear and to turn everything over to God and His peace will comfort them. I take that and think YES!!!! Just rest in Gods love and protection,hakuna matata, no more worries!!!! BUT...... ugh that stupid but!!!! I have to bring up an alternative in my mind. What if cancer,heart attack,brain tumor,finacial devastation and who knows what else happen??? How can I just rest in Gods peace??? HOW???? Why does my mind find a seemingly endless cacophony of reasons why i must give in to worry and fear. Then I castigate myself for being the double-minded man who should not expect anything from God because he is unstable and foolish!!!! I ponder and wonder, how did i ever get seen by my atheist roommate as the best example of a christian he ever saw???? What a crazy mess!!!

I have never resolved the feelings/actions continuum either. I have this thing where I need a certain feeling to proceed onward in an action i want to take. Of course alot of things i just do without even thinking about what I'm feeling, I just do it to help or because i know iths the right thing to do. Sometimes it seems so hard to manage my emotions internally. If i have something make me feel a certain way I find it hard, on the inside, to just let the feeling go and move on. I will sulk and fuss inwardly although not revealing this outwardly. Something from another person ot some outside action will end up helping me adjust my mood.

Well becky, there is a myriad explanation. I wonder if most everyone,even the most mature of all, have struggles with resting in Gods peace and in trusting their security to Him moment by moment??? He gives me the chance to post this as i know every second of life is grace. Thanks as always for all who stop in and read as well as any who choose to comment!!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What Provides Security??

I have been messaging back and forth with a friend for sometime now, talking about struggles we both have had and still do have. One of those is having a sense of inferiority inside ourselves from as long as we can remember. This is an inward sensing, and not one dealing with outer appearance or actions. He told me of an experiment he studied in a human growth and development class called *strange situation test* This study had toddlers under the age of 5 be taken to a room and have their mothers in the room. The mothers sat in a chair and were there if the child needed them. Then the mothers left and a stranger came in and tried to communicate with the children, offering them a toy or something like that. If the child became upset the parents were brought back in. This pattern was repeated a few times. The research point was that kids who felt loved and bonded emotionally close with the parent were secure, the ones who were not were insecure and the researchers said this would be inherent throughout life.

I found this very interesting. Part of me understands it very well and can relate in a way. My dad had to go away very soon after i was born because he was in the army. He and my mom were both in the army, only she was an officer and he was a private. The army looked down on officers marrying enlisted men from what my mom told me. So my dad had to go to greenland. My mom had to work while he was gone, leaving me to be cared for during the day by my grandma who was an alcoholic and was very extremely overprotective. Let me say directly this is not an attempt to lay blame or make myself a victim, this is a searching to comprehend why this sense and feeling of inferiority has been inside me and I haven't shaken it despite so many good things i have experienced and learned in the course of my life, and my friend shared the same thing.

Can we create our own security??? I think we may believe we can, but for me I think I need it to be given by Somone bigger than me, able to give love in a way that could allow total trust and security. I analyze things down to the Nth degree-always have. I know so much of what i am supposed to know, and know the psychological explanations as well as philosophical and theological. The problem has still been an emotional,relational one. God is Love. Why has my inmost being struggled so intensely to realize this at the deep level??? The weird thing is, I can GET this for everyone else!!!! I sought to be a pastoral counselor for this very reason to help people realize and experience that YES GOD LOVES THEM!!!! I have not been able to do the same for myself. I find ways to sabotage showing forgiveness and grace to myself as God would or as i would to another person. I don't understand why it has been and still seems to be so difficult to do.

I think perhaps a lot of it has to do with the santa God concept- you better not pout better not cry he sees you when your sleeping he knows when your awake he knows if youve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake. As well as that song, be careful little hands what you do. I think someone referred to this song in their blog recently. God is seen as the ultimate eye in the sky who will catch you anytime your bad so you better be good. The calvinist notion of God creating some who are destined to be rejected also plays into this. If you already feel inferior even before understanding about who God is, how can you ever imagine yourself being one who is accepted by Him??? I don't accept this idea but in times of weakness and struggle, and knowing many do hold to this, it messes with your head. I have grown in dealing with insecurity alot over the last few years but still am searching to turn it all over to God in a more complete way. Hope to get comments and thoughts from any and all who stop by, what do you think???

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Blowing In the Wind

This song always had alot of meaning to me, just the simple lyrics it contains and showing how hard it can be to try and grab hold of answers. Just got done reading a few posts of a friend and they speak to me very deeply. Death is such a pain I wish it never had to happen but of course it does. I have run the gamut in how I have dealt with my fathers death over the course of my life. I think I had lots of time where I just buried my emotions, other times trying to analyze them in a spock-like way,other times just breaking down. I was a long way from being a christian at 8 when he died, but I did believe in God and Jesus and that They took care of him. I was refreshed reading a post by jonathan brink at missio dei where he spoke of grieving a college friends death. I get all twisted inside when I think of it all now so much. I have all the things I think and feel I should be doing as a believer and then i reflect on my weak areas and how He understands and a bunch of other stuff.

I wish I could write as fluidly as i did a lil while back. I get the thoughts in my head but then the words get caught somwhere in the middle. I guess it is part of being in the state of flux i am in, seeking to make change as I deem where it takes me. I am learning in a fresh way to trust and engage God and Jesus in a relational way where I have struggled because it *feels* risky. My intellectual/logical side of me has never quite understood why the emotional/relational side has had such a difficult time just trusting and risking. I fully know all the truth to why , but that fear of being hurt,abandoned,sabotaged,rejected is still so deeply entwined inside and I have always sought over and over to make my forays into taking the risks and acting in trust which overcome the fear and resistance, small victories won babystep by babystep.

I beat myself up inside endlessly for not having my faith maturely settled and set in motion after being a believer for so long and a minister to boot. Then I see many who were mature believers who chose to leave their faith behind and claim God doesn't exist. Still others are wondering just what to believe about God??? Some say we all would be fine if we just learned to take personal responsibilty and own our failures and character faults and overcame them ourselves. So many messages swirling around- be strong- show your weaknesses- take action and improve yourself- forgive yourself and acknowledge your pain and struggles. Which ones to listen too???

Truth is a Person, not a system of beliefs. Grace,love,forgiveness,holiness all have aspects of mystery which makes them bigger than our ability to fully comprehend, to me at least. I want to pursue loving God and loving people, I pray I do so in more complete ways despite the fact i will continue to struggle with my inner pretzelness as I seek Him who is like the wind. I think a certain Person said something like that in a gospel of John or something like that. Sing the song now, I dare ya lol!!!! Thanks for stopping by!!!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Self-Inflicted Friendly Fire

Friendly Fire is a term which makes me cringe. I first remember hearing of it in my TV Guide many years ago and then discovering it was a soldier who was accidentally mortally wounded by one of his own men. Considering the ways military offensives are carried out, as well as those involving police, it is amazing more events like these are not known of. But perhaps they just have gone unreported. I have been engaging in a dialogue with a friend i met via blogging, and we both share some very similar experiences as well as emotional,spiritual and relational issues which connect in a meaningful way that we can both share about. One of the insights we have gleaned in sharing is how the roots of our struggles often have a degree of self-inflictedness too them.

I have shared alot about my ongoing battle with fear. The aspect of fear i battle the most is the intangible one, of something happening suddenly like a major health problem or some form of disaster or accident. It is ironic to me that I have experienced both these things, and yet still the lurking presence of the fear has persisted. In high school I was hit on the head by a huge beam of wood, very heavy and huge. Some thought it had killed me, but it merely gave me a concussion and the Dr told me it narrowly missed a major artery which, if it had been struck, would have killed me instantly. At a summer camp I worked at for the Salvation Army, I dove in to the pool from atop my lifeguard tower-bad move-and struck my forehead hard against the cement bottom of the pool,causing lots of bleeding. I came away with a concussion. I could have easily broken my neck or smashed my skull. I have had 3 *silent* heart attacks, as well as had an angioplasty requiring a stent along with congestive heart failure. Hmmmm, the very things I let cause fear to wrap itself around me happened, and I came through them fairly well, thanking God for being with me and seeking to have a sense of humor about them.

Part of me still sits back and thinks, *well you didn't have your heart stop or your breathing stop so you weren't dying which is the real root you know". True enough. I wish I had been older to witness and really get a good handle on how my dad dealt with knowing he had a terminal illness. He had cancer which kept spreading on him, even after chemo,radiation and a few surgeries. He was a boisterous and unfazed man, for lack of better words. We went on a big vacation the summer before he died,and i have many very great memories, which were captured in slides, thinking back on that trip. He lived life and enjoyed it, not letting the reality of death being near prevent him from doing so. I think this is what bothers me the most. I HAVE let fear steal enjoying life from me on and off whenever i brood about it. I just have never been able to understand why??? As i started to write this post I laughed at myself realizing the way I had faced the fears I dreaded so much and found ways to laugh in the midst and be aware of Gods presence. Why do I let fear and pain and any other stuff get in the way of just resting in Gods Presence moment by moment??? Why have i not been like my dad who really HAD a life threatening illness and didn't just worry about eventually having one happen???

I think this is where my self-inflicted wounds happen in relating to people as well. I have always had a pleasnt demeanor. I am even-tempered and I really like to make people laugh and smile, I like to find ways to compliment and encourage. I like to be able to listen and be helpful in reflecting back when consulted for advice and stuff. I am all too aware of these inner negatiuve aspects though. My fears do not get displayed openly- thank God!!! LOL unless I have an anxiety attack or something. But I find it hard to embrace and act out the compliments i get or good advice because the inner voices sabotage and disrupt what i hear and know my friends,family and others are saying. Times when I have tried to act in ways that fight against my fears and shyness I have found I react physically. I turn red, my voice shakes, I get a tic on my cheek and just feel shaky. This is usually when trying to be assertive and keep anger under control. I just bury anger and let sarcasm or other ways of using humor to deal with it or just act as if its not even there.

Any of you find a similarity in any of this??? I just want to learn to surrender my self-sabotage tendencies, always like sharing on here to further myself along. It is very odd to look back at alot of my writing of my struggles and to see that yes, i am a fully functioning working human carrying on day by day with all this inside. Guess that is what we all do, who truly knows all the craziness under the surface of any one of us unless we decide to share it??? Thank you all for sharing yours, and stopping by to view what i share of mine.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

In Pursuit

Like many in blogland, seem to find words hard to come by to make a decent post lately. I may again seek the aid of my story community *Burning Embers* to express in a more fluid.colorful style. It is fun to wander about and check in on different blogs to see what is going on in the lives of whoever. I really liked what kathy escobar had to say once again, imagine that lol, when she spoke of her community in colorado called *the refuge*. She spoke of how they were open in sharing their hurts,pain,doubts,fears as well as the hopes,dreams,joys and love. She declared that she honestly didn't think her community was really any different from almost any other, hers just has learned to lower the line which reveals the level of the iceberg!!!!

It really is one of the most comforting things of blogging to me, being able to be transparent and experiencing the full gamut from all kinds of people. My lil inner sanctum can become a very scary place alot and feel so isolated, but I take a walk around blogs and soon realize I am in good company. Why is it so hard to let that realness of sharing whats under the surface in face to face encounters so often??? Hmmmmm could it be??? SATAN???!!!!????

LOL just felt the impulse there. Pride and wanting to appear *in control* and *having it together* Funny thing is that most of us, truth be told,will still do this even though online we *let our hair down* I guess it is a relief though to know we struggle to have our actions catch up with our dreams and thoughts not to mention our words. Keep on walkin, travelin on!!!!