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.
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.
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.
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.