Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I was just thinking it's been quite a while since I've done a book report. I don't even know what the format would be, but this is a book that I want to study in-depth. So I'll post tidbits here and there when I discover something that just makes me more in awe about what is going on inside of me.
This second chapter is talking about the difference between unmanly and manly men. Unmanly men in very short summary feel powerless, angry, and terrified. The one aspect I related to the most (although I can honestly relate with all three in some form or fashion) was being terrified. Some quotes that stuck out...
"Life itself continually demands that men do more than they feel capable of doing." And yes, dad's reading a newlywed's ability to relate to this will laugh to themselves and say, "Good luck with that..."
"The terror won't go away. Usually it remains hidden under the wraps of success, sociability, and routine." Uh oh.
"Enjoying God is harder work. Terrified men want relief now!"
In manly men, they are found to be active, gentle, and purposeful. Some quotes that made me scream inside my head, "YES, THAT'S ME!!"
"A manly man's pain doesn't interfere with his feeling the plight of others, even when their troubles are less severe than his. He has the courage to face his experience honestly. He therefore feels the sadness of living in a fallen world, and the loneliness of living in imperfect community."
"No matter what happens in life, manly men always find room to move. There is always something to BE, even when there is nothing to DO." This is so true...
"Manly men are enticed by the joys of freedom, by the unhindered chance to follow the call of manhood. A manly man is not addicted; he treats his body roughly, to avoid coming under a foreign power. He fights hard against his relentless desire for pleasure. He moves according to a plan. He is a PURPOSEFUL MAN who knows what he's about and what he can contribute to the purpose for which he is living."
I love how much time he is spending identifying the symptoms of being manly and unmanly. He pays extremely close attention to detail and somehow is broad enough to relate to all kinds of circumstances. I feel like God is running after me with this book. Like everytime I read it or open it, He's about to show me something that will save me from the path of misguided purpose and destructive planning. I feel so loved by God when I read this book, like I've been given something truly of value.
And I'm just done reading Chapter 2. At this point, if you're a man, please hear me. I've read a few books, not as many as I would have liked but a few. If you don't read another book next year, I beg you to read this one. Please join me in discovering who God made us to be. And if you're not a believer, I plead with you to read this. It's truthful and gets to the root of issues without hiding behind Christian language. This book will change your life and introduce you to a very real, intimate God that loves you where you are today... not one that is waiting for you to clean up A, B, and C before He can love you fully.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I'm living a very surface level life. This was hurtful for me to hear. I try to go deep in situations if possible. Even with myself, I thought I made decisions that allowed me to get beyond the surface. But when "the surface" is defined as materialism, then you're not exactly getting beyond the surface if one aspect of it is something you don't struggle with hardly at all. What my counselor explained to me is that through salvation in Christ I now have Jesus Christ living in my heart. In turn, I have the Holy Spirit dwelling within me, moving and stirring my affections for Jesus up at every possible turn. Because of that, I'm no longer only living in the flesh, but am living with the Spirit of God inside of me. With me so far?
He explained that God is infinite. He's never had a beginning and has no end. Because of that fact, God is free to create infinite reflections of himself in human beings. Therefore, I am truly unique. There has never been nor will there ever be a person that is uniquely designed as I was. I'm truly different. Because of my design, there are things in life that appeal to me and things in life that truly don't appeal to me. There are certain people I feel comfortable around and others that I can't stand to be around. There are verses that really resonate with me and then there are verses that are just words on a page to me. The cool thing is that it's different verses depending on where I'm at in life.
That alone is proof that God's Holy Spirit truly lives inside of me. He changes my heart on issues, he changes my mind on other issues. He increases my love for this person and impresses upon me to do something generous for another person. Whatever, I could go on and on... He's constantly in control regardless of how it appears.
Well because I've been subconsiously creating my own stable environment, I've been effectively telling God, "I don't really want to go deeper than this. If I start asking questions such as "Who am I?" or "what was I created for?", then I don't know that my world would be that stable once I found out the answers. Thanks but no thanks." I've been afraid to go deep, so I settled for my surface stability with endless strategies in place to keep me at that level. I became the very thing that I spoke against to everyone I know.
So when my counselor told me that because I was uniquely designed by God all I had to do was be completely, 100% who I was instead of having to do A, B, C in order to receive D blessing from God... I just sat there in disbelief. I was looking at the couch shaking my head while he said, "Your head is spinning now, huh?" I looked up and said, "Yeah! That is the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. I've even told people exactly what you just told me, but I wasn't living it."
As a result, I finally feel free. Feeling and being free are different. I'm working towards being free. How?
Well for one, I'm going through "The Silence of Adam" by Larry Crabb.
Second, I'm not building my strategies for studying Scripture. I'm going to read a book... let's say Colossians. When something jumps out at me, I'm going to dwell on it because the Spirit inside of me is saying, "There's a reason this means something to you. Sit here and dwell with me here so I can unpack another piece of your character." I'm going to stay there until I've exhausted the verse, until I truly have a grasp of it. Until I truly feel like I could move on without thinking I'm missing something. In other words, I'll let the Lord lead my bible study. I don't know how this is going to work because I've never done it, but in my head it makes sense. It's extremely profound.
Third, I'm going to write. I have to. The Lord is good in giving me a voice through words. May Jesus open the floodgates as far as that is concerned.
Lastly I'm going to live in community. I'm going to talk to friends, keep up with them, and love them. I'm going to volunteer and be available, only because it's what I really have a desire to do. I'm nervous sometimes, but that nervousness is my flesh not the Spirit of God. So I'm going to listen to the Spirit of God and let my flesh fall in line. It sure beats listening to the news and other people...
I was really encouraged this weekend. I still am encouraged. I'll keep you posted. Thank you for your prayers (those of you that prayed). They were answered in very real, specific ways in my life recently. Today I'm dumbfounded that God's understanding is infinite and in that understanding that He would allow me to walk in blindness to His plan for my life for so long only to use it to bring me back to Himself. I love Him. I have a hard time not loving Him more when I write down what He's done in my life. This Sunday during worship I just wanted to sing to Him. So I did :) He's who I live for...
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Well today marks my second ever counseling appointment. With all the events of last night and a conversation Becky and I were having before going to bed, I might have just figured me out. Well figured out the root of some anger issues at least... I think it's stability. And here's why...
Growing up that's all I ever wanted. At 12-13 (somewhere around there), I experienced the beginning of the most stable period of my life. Being home with Mom and Larry. That lasted until I went to Purdue, which in a sense was still stability for me. It was a new experience yes, but it was an experience that I was in charge of. I decided how to live out every minute of my life and it was a pretty stable environment. Then I move to Houston... same type of experience college was. I was in control.
And then I met Becky :)
Trust me, that came out a lot harsher than I meant it but I couldn't pass up the opportunity for a laugh. In so many ways, Becky has changed my life and I will be forever grateful to her for it. In talking all of this out, she asked the question, "Then why would you marry me?" meaning that she would represent instability in my life since I was no longer in complete control. My answer was because I knew I needed to be with her, I even felt I needed to be with her. I honestly believe that God allowed me to look beyond my need for stability for a brief moment in time to fall in love with my wife. Now temporarily looking beyond that need didn't permanently fix anything, but it put in place the most important person in my life... a person I would truly share everything with. And someone who would help me break this unhealthy sense of wanting stability.
A few examples of why I think this is the root...
- I get angry when I'm in the far left lane and Becky tells me to get over 3 lanes of traffic in 10 seconds. In traffic I zone out... set out on the course to our final destination. When that is interrupted I don't have a positive reaction... because instability has reared its ugly head.
- Ever changing plans aren't something I enjoy. I thrive at making a plan and even more so sticking to it. I LOVE routine. That sounds like prison to most of you... and the scary part is that it sounds like complete freedom for me. Inside of a plan, I can truly relax and live. I'm in a stable environment...
- Cleaning. Why do I enjoy cleaning so much? Why have I made the bed (or asked Becky to make the bed) 97% of the time I wake up in the morning? I want order, I want a home to come home to, I want to take care of what we have. I don't want to trash a place and then need to find another. I want a stable environment...
- ExxonMobil... self-explanatory.
- Financial planning. I'm borderline obsessive compulsive with finances. I pour hours into tracking our expenses, updating spreadsheets, running reports, tweaking the budget, and complaining when we spend money. I don't like the verse that says you can't serve two masters God and money. I want to serve God by managing money... instead I end up serving money and managing God. My flesh is weak, but I don't address this weakness because it would introduce instability.
Trust me, Becky and I laid these along with 30 different examples (no joke) last night of where this is probably the thing in my life that I am most committed to. It made me want to cry and yet I can't. We prayed together and I'm going to start doing whatever I can to work through this and not hope for a temporary fix. Writing will be a big part of that. On here, in my journal. Everywhere. I'm just praying I can get over the exhaustion of writing and sharing because it's honestly paralyzed me for over a year.
Please pray for me and Becky. I don't write this to get any kind of sympathy from anyone. I write this because I need to. I honestly don't care how much dirty laundry you find out about me or how many things I need to work through. I hope you find out everything because then I would never even have a reason to hide. I love honesty, I love realness, I love depth.
Why? Because it's stable... :) Don't worry, I'm in counseling.