The Fight

Samson squeezing two pillars in a Philistine Temple

Samson bringing the house down

And now a story I shall write;
It shall be about a fight:
In Israel a man there was
With arms of steel, heart of brass
Battle-hardened stripes had he
Many sprung from trickery.
Hair as long as he was tall,
His weapon once a donkey’s jaw.
What fame he held
As he Philistines felled;
In vengeance and passion
They died in like fashion.
That is, until a woman he met.
To win her love he made a misstep,
Confiding in her where lies his strength.
So her people him to naught did rend;
For she shaved his locks of dread
And he to the Philistines was fed.
The Spirit of God from him departed
Until his faith anew was started.
His gauged out eyes deterred him not
As a servant boy led him to a spot
Between two columns he rested his arms
He prayed, the Philistines stayed unalarmed,
Then he squeezed the two columns
Turning a jovial moment solemn.
Thus, in the end, he won the fight
A man’s strength lies not in his might,
Neither in his passion nor in fashion
But being the Lord’s dearest possession.

Advertisements

Winds of Change: 343-337 days to go

Don’t you sometimes wish that all your problems could just go away? That God would just step in and work His divine alchemy to set everything right—the way they are supposed to be? But life is rarely that simple or easy. And even though it is possible (for God can do the impossible), He rarely, if ever, chooses to exercise His power in that way. Instead He uses those situations and the people who actuate them to build our characters.

That is how I see the problems I am facing now. Tomorrow (337 days to go (DTG)) I will return to campus as a full time student. It is with much dread and trepidation that I will set my feet on campus, but it’s something I just have to do. I have to demonstrate courage in the midst of fear. But, it’s scarcely a fear worth mentioning.

A brief look at fear

We humans face all kinds of fears and some are so intrinsic that they define us. Take agoraphobia (the fear of unknown places) for example. When the grip of the fear is so strong and severe it completely interferes with its possessor’s quality of life. The possessor becomes a prisoner in his or her own home.

Fortunately, I don’t suffer from agoraphobia or claustrophobia (the fear of small places), but I do slightly suffer from atychiphobia (the fear of failure) and the fear of hurting or disappointing people (I can’t find the Greek name for this one). I also fear conflict, not because I might get hurt. No. I fear conflict because I might just lose control, say things I shouldn’t and irreparably damage a worthwhile relationship. I also fear conflict because I might not respond in the most appropriate manner and lose brownie points for not standing up for myself or whoever I represent.

The sound of music

From my last three posts, especially the last one, you will remember that my cousin, S, and I had a tiff of sorts. She accused me of meddling and causing chaos with regards to the pianists for the mini-campaign which is currently underway. A couple of days after she (for lack of a better word) humiliated me in the youth executive committee’s instant messaging group, I texted one of the pianists saying that the person we initially asked was now available and we would no longer need his services. I thanked him for his willingness to help. I left it at that.

A week passed. D, the music director for my church’s youth, got guest artists for all the nights except Sunday evening (337 DTG). The initial pianist was on board and discussed practice session times with the praise and worship team. Then, all of a sudden the initial pianist could commit. He struggled to find time in his schedule for the practice sessions and for the mini-campaign. (When I stepped in organised the pianist for mini-campaign, I had gotten two pianists: the one I cancelled with and another one. This latter one is the pianist S overheard discuss who would play when with the initial pianist.) The sun couldn’t produce enough rays to equal the amount and intensity of the rays my smile emitted. I was right. I gloated to my parents and sister. I didn’t say anything to team though. It would cause unnecessary friction and might even drive us apart. But, I really revelled in being right about the situation.

D contacted cancelled pianist but couldn’t get through to him. She asked me to ask him to play for us, but I refused. I said, “After being told that I disorganise things that were already organised, I called [the cancelled pianist] and cancelled with him telling him that the person we asked initially was no available.” She was astonished. “So,” I continued, “I will not ask him to play again . . . Why don’t you ask one of the others to ask him.” She said that she had been trying to call him but couldn’t get through. I did not respond.

Today she told the team after tonight’s mini-campaign meeting that she spoke to the cancelled pianist. She asked him to play for us. When he said that I had already cancelled with him, she said that I had not consulted with her before doing so. He wasn’t pleased. I was speechless. She had just told a very sensitive person, who at one stage refused to play in the church (for various reasons), that I, his cousin, messed with him. She had just told him that I, her leader, acted out of line, while ignoring the fact that I saved her butt when I asked my very sensitive, temperamental cousin to play. All I could say in self-defense was “Did I not do the right thing? I told him exactly why we cancelled with him.” Her response, “You did do the right thing.”

After a while anger welled up inside of me. I had seen the implications of her actions when she told us. But, I was incapable of responding in a violent or aggressive manner. But the resentment built up very quickly. I guess, I tapped into S’s anger too.

S wasn’t pleased with D’s attitude and lack of camaraderie tonight. D did not organise a guest artist tonight and refused to sing in those slots. She had us doing damage control before the meeting started. This afternoon (338 DTG) she texted S asking her if we couldn’t play a video one of the guest artist’s slots, but S “blatantly refused” according to D. It was D’s mess and D had to solve it. I agreed with S when D informed me. So, S was angry with D way before tonight’s meeting.

S also told me that I should develop a backbone towards D. I told her that I’m working on it. I told S about D and the cancelled pianist, how she dragged my name through the mud and blamed me for the whole mess with the pianists. S was not happy.

(Dis)Engaged

A lot more stuff happened on Thursday (341 DTG) and Friday (340 DTG) with regards to the Conference Youth Director who was not able to preach on Saturday (339 DTG) at first. He was not going to make it back in time. But, he made it. Some folks who attended church said that it was one of the best services ever and that that is what church should be like. I thank God that they were blessed.

The preacher for the mini-campaign (not Saturday’s preacher) acts a lot like a comedian from my country. His sense of humour is the same as a cousin mine’s. But, his messages are powerful.

Unfortunately, not a lot of youth are attending the mini-campaign. I don’t know why. Maybe they fell victim to church politics? Maybe they don’t like us? Maybe they are just not interested? Whatever the case may be, I will continue to reach out to them.

Seasoned advice

A senior pastor (who is also family) told me on Saturday after I lunched at his home that I have a defeatest attitude, that I shouldn’t resign. If I do, then, this resigning will become a habit and affect other areas of my life include my marriage and my career. I was pretty shocked. He spoke about the elders, their lack of leadership and hidden agendas. He asked me not to resign.

When I told my mom about all of these things this evening, she was upset. She asked me to resign from the youth leadership post and to focus on my studies. I assured her that I would still do it. She also advised me not to humiliate myself by saying anything to D and thus let it go. But, when I see my cousin, the cancelled pianist, again I should explain the situation to him. He would understand.

Right now, even as I prayed earlier tonight, I think that there are too many advisors. I don’t know who to trust anymore. Of course, my parents will see nothing wrong with me. I’m their angel. The consequences seem endless as I view the simple decision of resigning as youth leader. I hold the outcome of people’s futures in my hands, it seems. If I stay on as youth leader, my own future will suffer.

Free thinking

I’m also worried that I’m listening to my parents too much. When do I make my own decisions and my own mistakes? (This is where the fear of failure comes in.) The pastor who advised me is S’s father. So, does he have a hidden agenda too even though he loves me like his own son? Do I listen to my friends? Are they trustworthy? Are they wise? How do I know what God wants me to do?

How do I approach my studies? I don’t feel like a team player. I feel really stupid among my fellow students in the lab. How do I deal with my supervisors’ disappointments? Why aren’t my efforts good enough? Am I living in a dream world? Will I ever be successful? What character defects do my studies reveal about me? How do I manage or overcome those?

These are the questions I wrestle with at this moment.

On the porn front

I had wet dreams on Thursday (341 DTG) and today. I have no recollection of either dreams.

On Twitter I discovered how one reports pornographic media, profile pics and tweets. You can just report them as SPAM. Or if you want to file a more detailed report, you may do so here. You’ll have to look under “Report spam”. The URL of the media or profile is needed. At first, I opened the people’s profiles while covering the obscene images with my hand. Later, I just right-clicked on the (small) image or profile tab (with my thumb covering the pic) and selected the “copy link address” option from the pane that appeared.

The crucible of life—that’s where I find myself. Raw material for stories.

Winds of Change: Days 83-84

This post contains mature subject matter. NPU 18.

Day 84

Itches and Urges

My day started with a battle as I fought the pleasurable sensations and the urge to masturbate that came from cupping my balls for comfort. The battle was fierce as I fought flashbacks of how I relieved the pressure in the past and the realisation that a mere pulling would have the same effect. I resorted to prayer and was careful not to make matters worse.

But, the battle continued this morning as I made my way to work. This time the battle was not about masturbating; it was about possible places my (future) wife and I could go for our honeymoon and what we would do there. These were places that were so remote that we would be free to roam around nude without fear of breaking the law. These were places where the only mark of civilisation was the cottage we would rent. These were places that were close to a body of water in which we would be able to cool down in. These were places I would like to go to for a solo retreat where it’s only God, nature and me. And by going to such places for our honeymoon, I would symbolically be inviting my bride into that communion.

Solo Weekend Getaway

But, the excitement of my solo weekend getaway (as I call it), which will be happening in January 2014, has been getting the better of me. By that I mean I was planning when I would be naked, for how long, what I would be doing during that time, what safety precautions I would take, what food I would make, how I would commune with God, if I would listen to music or watch a series of sermons on DVD, etc. It got so bad that I repeatedly visualised how I would do these things to make sure I didn’t miss a detail. My thoughts also dwelled on what if others see me, how do I handle that situation?

This desire to “just get away from it all” has been fuelling my internet searches for a long time. More often than not when I perform a Google (and now Flickr) image search (again) I look for things I would like to do or places I would like to go to. So, I would really like to wade (skinny dip) in the pool at the bottom end of a waterfall. I would also like to take in and observe nature on a virtually untouched (secluded) beach.

Why? Because my soul yearns for the tranquility of nature and meeting my God there. Similarly, my soul yearns for total acceptance by another human being who loves me so deeply, so unconditionally and whom I love in that way too. That is what I meant by

“. . . and if indeed catastrophe should strike
may our nuclei fuse with cataclysmic might!” — Close

I did not mean that my wife and I should lose our individuality after our happy union breaks apart, but that our union grows deeper, stronger, and becomes more devoted to God our Saviour and each other.

Dream casting

So, because my dreams, hopes and fears interfered with my work, I took some time out to write them down. I wrote down every activity I thought of doing on my solo retreat (sounds better than solo weekend getaway). I also made a list of my dreams.

My initial idea was to place my list of dreams in a bottle and throw the bottle into the sea symbolically giving them over to Christ who would work things out for the good of all the people concerned. After doing this I would not resume searching for pictures of waterfalls, hidden beaches, pristine forests, tranquil lakes, outdoor showers and bathrooms, freedom, and whatever tickles my fancy.

Then I got the awesome idea of building a ship out of toothpicks and setting it adrift instead. If I go with the latter, it will take me a long time to build; but the former allows me to do the thing now, today.

However, I’m having trouble letting go. I would like to retain a copy of the list of my dreams for myself . . .

I yearn:

  1. for a close communion with the Lord;
  2. to be my complete, unreserved self with another human being (i.e. wife) who will love me just as I am; and vice versa;
  3. to raise my children in such a way that we have a close relationship in which they can talk to me about anything and everything; and
  4. to live in nature–the more pristine, the better–but not too far removed from civilisation; we’re not designed to be hermits.

Day 83

Yesterday was much the same as today. I spoke to Frank, my accountability partner, who suggested that I leave these desires for intimacy with God and my (future) wife in His hands and in that way stop searching for the scenes from nature.

I had porn flash backs yesterday too. Didn’t realise what they were until today (Day 84).

How God comes through

But, God is faithful. I told Frank that every time I get a flashback, a song of praise or thanksgiving interrupts it as my heart responds by picking up the refrain. When the flashbacks are especially tantalising, I pray and after a while I either sing a hymn or worship song, or my thoughts dwell on some peculiarity of Scripture. Frank was very pleased when I told him this. He said I’m on the right track.