The Pain of Intimacy

As I write my heart has a knife in it. My lungs buckle under the strain of gasping for breath. Pain spreads over my clouded chest as both Continue reading

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Winds of Change: 295-272 days to go

It’s been quite some time since I last posted, eh? Well, I’ve been working on my thesis and finishing up the last couple of experiments in the lab. Quite a lot of stuff happened since my last post but for the sake of time and brevity I won’t get into those things now. You should know by now that I will get back to the events and the self-discoveries in the near future. I’m a rehasher, a cud chewer. 🙂

Where do I stand with my thesis? I’m still writing and reading up for the literature review. At the same time I am processing my data, fitting equations and thinking about what to say. The latter I find difficult to do since I like seeing the big picture before diving into the details. I have seen the big picture but am struggling to hash out the details, i.e. making the equations fit the data. (My project has a computation component.) Next Friday will be my last day in the lab so that I can focus on writing up my work.

On the porn front I don’t know what to say really. A couple of weeks ago I was in a let’s-just-get-it-over-and-done-with mindset. I just wanted to be done with stuff. So, I dived in and looked for the skimpy underwear that I subconsciously looked for. Suffice it say, I started wading through sewage. My reflexes were active so as soon as I saw some junk I averted my eyes and exited the page. All the bullets I was dodging got too much for so I decided to call of the search. I chose not search through the sewers of the Internet for a strapless leather penis pouch. Although not extreme, it could only be found on the extreme side of the underwear world. And I was not going to jeopardise my porn abstenance any longer. I have not been back since.

I did, however, purchase a c-string and a pouch thong to see how comfortable they really were. The c-string I bought because it can be used while sunbathing (to protect my goods). The pouch thong I bought to see whether it hampers erections and how painful having an erection in one really is. I can satisfactorally say that the pouch thong impedes erections and isn’t painful to wear at all. I was worried about developing Peyronie’s Disease though but did not. Using the bathroom with it was also fine. It was the first thong I ever wore. I purchased three skimpy underwear so far. When I work again I will order two more.

With the let’s-just-get-it-over-and-done-with mindset I also expanded my Flickr favourites album to include photos of non-sexual activities I’d like to do naked one day. To achieve this I had to go back on my resolution to not search for stuff with the words naked and nude in the search string. I saw some unwanted pics which either I literally closed my eyes to and scrolled on or exited the search completely. To be honest, I found the fact that I was search for “nude hiking”, “nude kayaking”, “bare boating”, etc. a little disturbing but I knew that if I didn’t get it over and done that I would want to search for those images again. Why? Because those are my dreams. I kept thinking about doing those activities naked so that I don’t forget that I’d like to do them. So by adding them to my Flickr Favourites album I wouldn’t have to remember that I’d like to do those activities anymore.

I hadn’t been on Flickr for three full weeks until last Friday (277 days to go (DTG)) out of stress and the impractically of going on a short hike while it rained outside. I needed to clear my head while contemplating a data processing problem. It felt good to back on Flickr but I felt so bad because I broke a promise to myself, a resolution. I also returned to Flickr because despite the glimpses of frontal nudity I got during my non-nude searches, the landscapes and activities I search for relax me. I didn’t stop looking for photos though. The same searches I had done on Flickr—that is, “hot tub”, “hot spring”, etc.—I searched for on Twitter. And there I saw some dirt. Twitter is not a good source for water-related images. They Twitter searches shocked my sensibilities so I’ve classed photo searches on Twitter with Google Image Search, Tumblr and Experience Project: a “No Go” zone. So, I’m back on Flickr.

The two questions I noticed myself asking are (1) “What images will Twitter produce for these search terms?” and (2) “Does this [Flickr] user have more photos like these?” Question 1 I don’t have to worry about anymore because I’m avoiding Twitter searches. Question 2 I am training myself to not explore. I take it one day at a time.

Art-wise, I finished Witness: a new perspective on the New Testament church and will post the book review on Friday, 11 July. I also finished Bloody Valentine by James Patterson and K. A. John. The review of that book will be published next week Friday, 18 July.

One last word: I can’t wait for the summer! It’s extremely cold! I don’t mind the rain. In fact, I love rain. It’s the cold, I mind. But what would winter be without the cold, eh?

Ciao!

Winds of Change: 316-296 days to go Part 2

This post is a continuation of the previous one and mainly deals with my relationship with my professor and struggle for freedom.

On Thursday, 29 May (313 DTG), I got a panic attack during a conversation I had with my professor. I was completely unprepared for the conversation although I knew it was coming. He had asked me to analyse data in a certain way and perform some experiments. I was still in the process of figuring out how I would go about carrying out his requests and also troubleshooting what I already did. He backed me into a corner. I lied instinctively. I confessed the truth immediately. And panicked. I don’t know to what degree my face contorted as my heart began to race, my breathing became shallow and my mind froze. It was the most horrible and the most humiliating experience ever. I said a quick prayer and God helped me gain control. It wasn’t a full blown panic attack, but it came pretty close in my books. Ever since then I am going about systematically to meet his requests.

It couldn’t have been any clearer how addicted to approval I am. Two fellow students I related the incident to said that they overcame their fear of authority figures by relating to them on other stuff and just realising that they are human. My accountability partner said that Joyce Meyer’s Approval Addiction is a good book. His mother-in-law struggled with approval addiction until God freed her from it. Joyce Meyer’s book was instrumental.

I see the danger of it, but I will share my thoughts on approval addiction in a Ramble which I’ll write once I worked through the book. Maybe the Ramble post will be in the format of a personal essay? We’ll see.

Another realisation I came to during these past three weeks is that I’m stuck in a cycle—a Cycle of Interest. In this cycle I move from reading about writing to nudity & nudism to sculpture to skimpy underwear. This Cycle of Interest is the source of the frustration I described earlier because my life, my interests consist of more than these four subjects.But I guess that because I don’t have the economic strength at this moment I cannot realise the goals connected to those interests.

This Cycle of Interest is another reason why I adopted the I-just-want-to-get-it-over-and-done-with mindset based on the belief that if I give my interests in skimpy underwear and in photographs of nude activities I would like to do one day the attention they want, they will die out eventually. I mean there are only so many things I would like to do nude. So, when I get the photos I want I will have no excuse to look for more photos of those activities. The photos in my Flickr account also serve as a reminder of what I’d like to do one day. So, by having them in my collection I don’t have to actively remember that I want to skinny dip with friends (in a particular place); run in a field of wild flowers; sunbathe on the deck of a yacht; wake up and stand by french doors as morning sunlight enters the room and warms my body as I look out over an open field without any fear of being seen, breaking the law or the gender body taboo; or hike nude in the mountains with some friends.

So that’s where I am in life at this moment.

May it go well with you until next time!

E

Winds of Change: 316-296 days to go Part 1

I don’t even want to count how many days it’s been since my last post! This post has definitely been long overdue. I don’t know what it is with bloggers and thesis or dissertation writing. Despite our best intentions our thesis just seems to take up most of our time. We seem to channel all our energy into the work.

However, I must admit that it’s not only my thesis that’s been keeping me busy. I’ve had to confront a couple of character defects and inclinations during the past few weeks. I tried posting a couple of times but I guess I just wasn’t ready to post yet.

My accountability partner and I spoke for the first time in two weeks last week Wednesday when I had 300 days to go (DTG) to reaching a year of abstinence from pornography. I brought him up to speed and told him what I will share with you in this post.

But first, my dad’s eldest cousin died on Wednesday (300 DTG). We weren’t particularly close but I loved him. I was pretty shocked when my mom shared the news with me although I didn’t show any shock. My heart was quite heavy on Thursday (299 DTG) and Friday (298 DTG) to the point where I didn’t feel like doing anything. That all changed on Friday night.

My family was out so I had our home completely to myself. After putting on some worship music, I settled down. It was in that moment of resignation that I broke out in tears. The sense of loss could not be contained any more. I knelt down in prayer, thanked God for my cousin’s life and His Son’s life and cried for a while. When I got up from there, I felt so refreshed, so new, so consoled.

It’s amazing how grief affects a person. We’ve had deaths in our family before, but this was the first time I cried so wholeheartedly.

On Thursday and Friday (299 & 298 DTG) there were moments when I longed to look at porn or at least search for it. But thank God I did not seek comfort in the arms of lust. Yet, being in a I-just-want-to-get-it-over-and-done-with mindset and having searched for photos on Flickr about stuff I would like to do naked (no frontal and non-artistic nudes) for said reason, I tried to come up with all sorts of situations (excuses) in which I would like to experiences sin ropa. But after searching for photos with the string “morning+sun”, I quit. I would like to photograph a male nude (actually, I’d like to be the male nude) standing in the door with a cup of coffee as light from the morning sun streams into the room, lace curtains breathing in the wind as sunlight bathes his body in warmth. I didn’t find that photo but I found a similar one. I saw other nudes during my searches to which I just closed my eyes either skipping passed them to get to the photos I wanted to add to my collection of landscapes, cityscapes, nightscapes, and other scapes or exited the search to start another or to work.

The I-just-want-to-get-it-over-and-done-with mindset was brought about by my renewed interest in skimpy underwear—the male c-string, to be exact. I read reviews and comments on the garment to find out how comfortable it was. Is it painful to get an erection in one? And how practical is it really? How does it affect one’s urination routine? But the blogs and website provided no answers. I also checked out local online retailers of the male c-string to keep abreast with the prices and stock availability. I really wanted to buy but couldn’t bring myself to because of my present lack of income. But my frustration about searching for the c-string and not wanting to increased to the point where I decided to use some of the money I have to buy it. The male c-string is on its way.

Shortly after this, I decided to just get the skimpy underwear searches over and done with. After much thought and prayer I realised that there was one particular skimpy underwear I wanted—a strapless leather penis pouch. I saw it during my “men’s locker room” days (you can read about it here). Unfortunately for me, the pouch is so deeply buried in filth that after some censored exposure to extreme erotic underwear I just gave up. I decided that it wasn’t worth my time, effort, purity, and integrity to wade through the sewers of the Internet to find a hidden gem. I’d have dive very deep while its location is unknown. I thought I remembered the website where I saw it many, many years ago, but when I checked it out, it turned out not to be.

But, I wasn’t done. There were other thongs that I liked so I set out to find and add them to a watchlist. During the years, I developed a sense (of sorts) of knowing when a piece of underwear might be too risqué without having previously seen it. Because I wasn’t interested in how the undergarment looked per se as its description sufficed, I covered the photo with my hand. And I knew what I wanted.

So, when I went to the website on which I purchased the male c-string, I looked through the men’s underwear section for the type of underwear I would like to try. I favourited them and bought one. It came on Friday (298 DTG). To keep my mind from wandering I focused on my goal which was to find tight fitting, pouch undewear so that I can test their level of comfort and practicality for day-to-day life.

From this search I learned that I like underwear with form enhancing pouches that are slightly see-through and elastic. I have a few pairs of long johns that do not have pouches. I remembered now that prior to buying them I looked long and hard at the models on the cover of the boxes in which the long johns were packed to see whether the long johns had pouches. None of them had. So, I settled on the pairs I bought. Back then I thought that I was looking for a neurochemical hit, that I was being pervy, but now I think I was just unaware of my preference for underwear with pouches.

At this moment I have one thong among my collection of briefs, boxer briefs, boxers and long johns. I still prefer to “hang loose”. I wonder what a future girl friend or wife would think if I told her that I like wearing thongs. But, that’s for the future.

I will write a review on the thong and the male c-string. Whether I will post them on this blog is another story.

I celebrated my second masturbation abstinence anniversary on Wednesday (300 DTG)! To celebrate it, I hiked a trail close to campus and bought some ice cream the next day (299 DTG).

To be continued . . .

Winds of Change: 323-317 days to go

Today I have 316 days to go (DTG) for a year of abstinence from pornography. I am also 16 days away from celebrating my second year of abstinence from masturbation! The post that follows was written yesterday to summarise the whole of last week. In it I discuss my thesis, nudity & nudism and some other things.

Please remember to take part in the poll. There is only one week left and so far only four people responded.

I’m sorry that it has come to this, but my time is not my own anymore. I’ve been working late this whole week and have been too tired to write every night. So from now on, until my situation changes, I will post once a week.

Changing approach

I realised today (318 days to go (DTG)) that the reason I struggled with writing my literature review is because I’m trying to make my ideas fit into a mould that is foreign to me. It’s not my style. Let me explain. My research is based on previous student’s PhD and MSc theses who wrote his literature review in a certain way. I’ve been trying to copy that format with great difficulty because my writing style leans more toward narrative writing. He described the biological big picture of his PhD thesis and then the individual elements he studied followed by the theoretical framework he applied. But, my natural inclination is to describe the individual elements as I encounter them during my description of the big picture—as you would do when relating a story. When introducing a new character in a story, the story teller usually gives a brief description of the character as well as some background information. That’s how my articles were written during my internship.

So, tomorrow I will go to my co-promoter and ask her opinion. But, my literature review has been a laborious exercise up to now. And I usually like reading and writing review articles.

My experiments went well last week. We have to repeat one of them though. During a meeting I had with my promoter (a.k.a. my professor) on Friday (319 days to go) I saw while we were going over the results that he was giving me advice on how to write up that experiment in my results chapter. I don’t know why it didn’t register before. I was most probably trying very hard to decode what he had asked me to do in terms of future experiments.

During Friday’s meeting, he asked me to do a calculation but my mind went completely blank. I really struggled to do it. I didn’t expect him to ask me to calculate something—a very simple thing, I might add—on the spot! Nada. Nought. Zilch. Nil. Absolutely nothing went through my mind. I did try to answer the question though but my answers were all wrong! Surprisingly I didn’t feel like a failure.

Fatal attraction to complexity?

During this week I discovered that I am drawn to complexity. Nudism offers a lot of complexity because it and the nudity it celebrates affects a person and society on so many levels. Some keywords associated with the philosophy are freedom, health, sun, surf, acceptance, confidence, body image, non-sexual, sexual, perversion, moral, amoral, immoral, choice, judgment, legal, and self-control, to name just a few. As you can see from this list, nudity engages us in the religious, moral, legal, psychological, spiritual, sexual, health, and political spheres all at the same time. Which sphere is more affected depends on the situation in one finds oneself and the values with which you judge nudity. As I have said many times before, even ad nauseaum, I am not a propounder of social nudism because it breaks the gender segregation taboo which I believe is a moral principle. And even if the gender segregation taboo is not a moral principle, I cannot in good conscience break the taboo while I retain membership in a church that upholds it. It would be hypocritical of me. And I am not a hypocrite.

You can see how easily a discussion on nudity and nudism can let me go on a tangent. So, what I wanted to say is nudity and nudism are complex topics which my mind is drawn to in order to figure them out. I am inclined to dissect the issues they create and those that created them in all the spheres of life. This would ultimately make me an expert in nudity and would lead me in the direction of gender studies which I also interests me. I just decided to stop gathering information. I have other complex things that need my attention.

So, after I decided to quit studying nudism and the body taboo, I read some more articles on it. I also contacted nudist organisations in my area to ask if they know of any places remote, unofficial, nudist-friendly places where I can skinny dip and sunbathe nude without having to worry about shocking people and embarrassing moments. I am still waiting to hear from them. I also contacted places I would like to vacation at in the near future to hear whether the owners or managers are okay with nude sunbathing and swimming. The owners did not have a problem.

I felt uncomfortable contacting owners of holiday accommodation asking them whether it’s all right to sunbathe, swim and lounge around nude. I didn’t want them to think that I was a nudist. And I worried how it would impact my witness for Christ. So, I just decided that I wouldn’t ask owners about this anymore. It gives the wrong impression. I asked the owners if they permit these activities because one nudist on an online forum had said that it’s a good idea to call the management of your remote, unofficial nudist-friendly accommodation and alert them to your intention of being naked during your stay there. I’m not a nudist, won’t be naked all the time and don’t want to give the wrong impression so I won’t be contacting any more owners or managers.

Library expansion kit

On my way home from school on Friday, I picked up three books at a discount store for US$1.00 each. One book is Simon Cowell’s autobiography while the other two are novels: a literary fiction novel of a Muslim guy and a story about a man who runs away when disaster strikes or when he messes up. Today (317 DTG) my uncle lent me John Grisham’s The Innocent Man which is based on a true story. I have to finish Jack J. Blanco’s Witness: A fresh look at the New Testament church and its book review as soon as possible.

One step closer

Today (317 DTG) I also bought steel wire for my future sculpting endeavours. All I need to buy now are calipers, wooden planks, clay, foil and masking tape. I’m pretty excited. I will tell my parents about my desire to sculpt when I go to buy the planks. Clay will be the last thing I will buy.

In summary

Not much happened between Monday (323 DTG) and Thursday (320 DTG) except for me analysing data, preparing a report for the meeting with my professor and figuring out things related to nudism, as already discussed.

I had a wet dream yesterday morning (318 DTG).

Winds of Change: 327-324 days to go

Following is the entry for 327-324 days to go (DTG). (Today I have 321 DTG.) I dwell a lot on the question of nudism and why some people are drawn to it. In this post I also share some of my more mundane experiences.

A year in review

To think that just a couple of days ago I would have celebrated one year of abstinence from pornography! But it would not have been a kosher victory though since I struggled with many definitions and conceptualisations finding myself in compromising situations now and again. I guess that’s why I was so keen on starting over.

Drive of the nude dude

Anyway, for the past few days the question of why I am drawn to naturism like a moth to a flame plagued me. I don’t mean naturism in the true sense of the word. I mean the love and desire to engage in activities in nature or the countryside without a stitch of clothing and the fear of breaking public indecency, moral and modesty laws.

Then, I began to wonder what drives true naturists and sympathisers (which I see myself as being) to do the same. The desire to know the answer to this question drove me to read a couple of nudist and naturist websites and blogs while making sure that I don’t see any photos. I even contacted two leading authors in the field who have not replied yet. I spent a lot of time in prayer as I asked God to reveal the reason to me. My past I did not leave alone either. I wanted an answer that went beyond the normal responses of freedom, comfort, and the negligible quality of clothing.

I remembered how I used to strip as soon as my parents left me alone at home. Their absence bestowed on me the freedom to run around naked at home and masturbate to my hearts content. After masturbating the endorphins that flooded my nervous system would be drained out. Feelings of loneliness, regret, disgust and frustration would then fill the void the endorphins left. So, the link between nudity and sex was quite solid in my mind. The link was strengthened by the naked women in Playboy magazines I used to masturbate to and fantasised about.

But, that all changed when I learned that nudity does not equal sex. That was a life changing truth because it allowed me to seperate nudity from sex. This happened about two years ago. And that’s when I wanted to practice good nudity. My disgust for the bad kind grew steadily over time. The psychological and spiritual nature of the porn addiction kept sabotaging my recovery. But I praise God for the help He has given me and for my accountability partner.

From the start being naked was a kind of freedom for me. It wasn’t the absolute kind that we find in Christ Jesus, but it was some kind. What I don’t understand is why I am drawn to seeking this kind of freedom. Being naked was a form of self-expression. With the discarding of my clothes, I discarded my stress, society’s expectations, anxiety, means of sexual stimulation as I used my clothes to masturbate, etc. I was free to be myself. I grew confident in and with my body. I acted on my health conscious thoughts. I appreciated Creation more. I felt free. And the bonus was that my nakedness didn’t have to end in sexual gratification!

My natural love for nature and my new found freedom from bad nudity merged soon after. For a long time I had exhibitionistic thoughts and fantasies. And my accountability partner can attest to how much I struggled to make sense of them throughout this past year. An exhibitionist who doesn’t want to expose himself to people out of fear of arrest or shocking them; yet drawn to be naked in the company of others in a same gender setting because mixed gender nudity goes against his beliefs, was what I was. In the end, after a huge struggle, a whole lot of prayer and discussions, I decided to dispense with dubious activities which might be misconstrued. I was not an exhibitionist.

With the dispensement of those dubious activities my desire to be free in nature increased. I saw those dubious activities as a kind of present manifestation of a promise that could only be fulfilled in the future. (I hope that makes sense.) So that’s the reason why in moments of great stress I think about the next time I will “get away from it all” to spend time with God in nature and also be naked there. (The places I choose are private with very little possibility of discovery.)

So, I guess I answered my question. For me it’s about freedom to dispense with my clothes and move around in my birthday suit. However, this freedom is kept in check by my inability to be naked just for the sake of being naked. There must be a definite purpose for my state of undress. I get uncomfortable very quickly. And that is most probably why I could never be a naturist or a nudist. I’m not comfortable being nude for no reason at all. It’s not a matter of comfort for me but a celebration of the freedom of solitude.

That said, the longing for company still exists which is why I often wish that my society and culture had bath house culture like the Koreans and Japanese have. Their bath houses are gender segregated and functional, i.e. they have a definite purpose that goes beyond relaxation and socialising.

I still want to know what fundamental motive drives nudists, naturists and their sympathisers to frollick around in the buff. So, if you are a naturist, nudist, or one who indulges ocassionally will you please answer in the comments below?

Three books

On Thursday, I bought three new books: Think Big by Ben Carson, Approval Addiction by Joyce Meyer and Prophet: A novel by Frank E. Peretti. I’m looking forward to reading these.

Spinning heads

My friends who were at the Bible study last Monday said that their heads spun the whole week as a result of our discussion. The pastor who sat in and guided the study told us about his experiences with and warned us about demon possession. That formed part of the subject of being saved to serve. Every Christian is born into the Kingdom of God as a missionary. The two demoniacs of Gergesa (or Gadarenes) illustrate this perfectly as do the Samaritan woman, Levi Matthew, Paul, and many others. I was glad that I was not the only one who was unsettled by our discussion.

Impact of the naturist question

I worked on my thesis a little bit today (324 DTG) after spending the whole morning looking for answers to my question on what drives people to engage in naturist activities, let alone adopt the lifestyle. I just decided to call it quits. The only way I will get an answer is to talk to nudists and naturists. They won’t reveal the or their fundamental motive when asked directly. It will, however, be revealed during the conversation. It might occur as a theme or an omission or both. And that is a work of a lifetime! To speak to nudists in person I would have to cross boundaries I cannot in good conscience cross. I’m not willing to compromise the Truth for a less important truth.

Requests

But, if you are a nudist, naturist or a sympathiser will you please tell us what you think the fundamental motivator is in your life for your participation in the lifestyle?

Also, in the panel on the right there is a poll. Will you please choose one of the options? I am curious to see how many of my readers and followers like reading paperbacks, hardbacks, and e-books.

Winds of Change: 332-330 days to go

My church celebrated Mother’s Day with a children’s programme and gifts. Each mother got a compilation CD.

I worked a bit on the data analysis script on Sunday morning. In the afternoon, I went to the lab to feed my cultures. After this my youth group and I went to a drug rehabilitation centre.

My sister and I went to one of the youth group members’ home—our designated rendezvous point. We felt a little socially awkward. I was afraid that I would run out of things to say to our friends and would therefore struggle to keep the conversation going. So, when we arrived at their home we decided to wait in the car until our other friends came with their car. After 15 minutes elapsed, we were joined by my idealogical twin. He was shortly followed by our friend at whose place he was residing. There was no difficulty in keeping the conversation going.

We waited for more than an half an hour for our other friends to come. When prompted all they said was that they were stuck in traffic. We couldn’t believe it. Traffic on a Sunday afternoon? But it turned out that they were telling the truth.

At the drug rehabilitation centre, the matron (head nurse) was displeased with our lateness. The recovering addicts were watching a DVD. She didn’t want us interrupting the programme and wouldn’t budge when our “contact” asked that we just speak to them for 15 minutes. She called the pastor in charge of the facility upon request who restated their position. He said that we could come in two weeks’ time. Our “contact” agreed to this.

Our “contact” is not really the contact. She is the assistant youth leader through whom the contact worked. The contact went behind our backs and secured the approval of our church’s head elder. Then she asked me during church one day whether the youth could give a programme at the drug rehabilitation centre. I said that I would discuss it with the executive committee.

I didn’t feel comfortable about going to a drug rehabilitation centre and neither did my team. We chose not to say no directly. We just didn’t answer her request. She approached me a couple of times after that first meeting. S was present most of the times as were one or two other team members. When she saw that she wasn’t getting anywhere with me, she approached S’s cousin Na. She was incessant.

During the course of time I told the youth elder and the head elder. The youth elder said that we should run the programme by him before we go since we’ll represent our church. We should also find out what topics, words or phrases we should avoid. When I inquired, the church sister said that she had such a sheet. It won’t be necessary though because all we had to do was sing songs. She would bring the message.

Well, it turned out that she wouldn’t be there. She was in another city and sent us into the lion’s den without her supervision. She manipulated us into going by fixing an appointment with the drug rehabilitation centre without having a definite yes or no from us. That was two months ago. She told Na about this on the day of appointment. We tried to put a programme together to save our name and hers but were unsuccessful. So, we rescheduled for Sunday.

Sunday came and went. We came to the drug rehabilitation centre and left mission incomplete. In retrospect, we came to the understanding that it wasn’t God’s will that we interact with the recovering drug addicts at the centre. The invitation we saw was not from God. The church sister is not a member in good and regular standing. She was also involved in very dubious activities recently. We saw that our friends being caught up in “freak” traffic late on a Sunday afternoon was evidence of God’s intervention. We saw that the whole team felt the same way about ministering to the recovering drug addicts through her invitation. (It’s not ministry to the recovering drug addicts that put us off, but one through whom the invitation came.) We had unanimously agreed that ministering to recovering drug addicts was not our place as a youth group. It’s a special ministry that. It’s not one we are equipped for.

We learned some valuable lessons. I am certainly grateful.

S said that she was very uneasy about us going. She didn’t go herself. And when the time of the appointment drew near she prayed that God would send a battalion of angels to protect us. My sister was also uneasy about going. Her stomach acted up. She felt queasy when we arrived at the place and wanted to run away. So, there were signs which we disregarded. Yet the Lord still protected us.

Strangely enough we studied the liberation of the two Gergesan demoniacs in last night’s Bible study class. Because we couldn’t get the church key from the youth elder since he wasn’t at home, we went to S’s parents’ home. I had to conduct the study but forgot the study guide at home yesterday morning. I had ample time to read it when my train was cancelled. In total I waited an hour and a half for a train. Not having the Bible study book with me, I had no choice but to take out and read The Middle of the Journey.

I must confess that I’ve been looking for nudist groups in my area on Twitter. I found a men’s nude yoga group (which I’m definitely not interested in joining) and a couple of “nudists”. These “nudists” are more like sex addicts and prostitutes soliciting on Twitter. I can’t tell you how much it irks me to find people of this volition masquerading as nudists. They feed the perception that nudists are nymphomaniacs when the truth is far from it.

I haven’t spoken to my accountability partner in about two weeks. I’m still figuring out how I would go about calling him since my family doesn’t know that I had a porn addiction and would become suspicious of the calls. He did advise me to pray for my local church last week because of the power struggle and miscommunication between its elders and my team. It was the best advice I had ever gotten. And I thank God for it.

I had two wet dreams on Saturday morning (332 DTG)

Winds of Change: 338-332 days to go

It was with great trepidation that I went to campus on Monday ( DTG). I was afraid of the reception I would get. I was not looking forward to experiencing my professors’ displeasure. For this reason I have not spoken to my co-supervisor yet.

There isn’t much to say about my lab work really. My professor sat me down and explained to me how I should go about analysing my data. I sent him a copy of the data file. I’ve been analysing the data ever since. The data analysis process involves some programing. I’m not good at programing but I have some proficiency in reading and manipulating (existing) code.

The data analysis and the mini-campaign occupied me a great deal.

On the porn front

I’ve been longing for the mountains, pools of water and sunlight bathing my entire, uncovered body in warmth. I have already decided where my next solo retreat would be. I would like to socialise with people there but am afraid that something bad might happen. But, I know that God won’t let bad stuff happen to me unless He sanctions it and even then it will work out for my good as He promised.

Throughout the week I had some difficulty with impure thoughts especially on the days following a positive response to the preacher’s appeals.

Winds of Change: 342-333 days to go

Mini-campaign

Well, the mini-campaign is done. And I give God all the glory for the role He played in making it a success. Our speaker originated from a neighbouring country. He has lived in mine for almost seven years. He made us laugh a lot. His was the kind of humour that had a whole lot of truth in it. He spoke about the Kingdom of God.

You’re most probably wondering how I dealt with the challenges I faced last week. In one short sentence, God carried me through.

At first the Conference Youth Director couldn’t make it for Saturday, 3 May because he was out of town. I contacted the substitute he organised. At first the substitute was to picked up at his domicile by us and brought to our church. But, the substitute also had to be ordained as a church elder at another church that day. He was going to lunch by me where the brothers from that church would pick him up and take him to their church where the ordination would take place. The arrangments changed many times as new information came to light. Ultimately, we agreed that the brothers from that other church would collect him at his domicile in the morning, ordain him at their church and rush him to mine so that he could preach.

However, on Friday (341 days to go) the Conference Youth Director confirmed that he would be able to preach on Saturday. With a smile on my face and a song in my heart, I informed the youth elder who did not inform the other elders as I would learn the next day.

The Conference Youth Director preached a powerful sermon on the Kingdom of God. He really made it personal. The congregation was moved.

That Saturday night the pastor who would conduct the campaign for the rest of the week delivered his first sermon. He had us cracking just like a famous comedian from my country. Being fully bilingual, and speaking to an almost fully bilingual audience, he mixed the two languages we speak pretty well. But, the message came through loud and clear.

After we did a lot of damage control on Sunday night (337 DTG) which made us start the programme 15 minutes late, we had to stall the programme the Monday night (336 DTG) because the pastor assumed that we would begin late again. As on Saturday afternoon (339 DTG), he came just as time ran out. He was on time for the rest of the week. He came a little late tonight though but not that late!

On Tuesday night, D spoke to me about the underlying tension she sensed in the group. She referred to my cousin, S. I asked her if she meant S, she said yes. Something just told me “Level with her” occurred to me. So, I did. I explained that S was upset with D because D didn’t organise a guest artist for Sunday night and that D should’ve been prepared to sing herself since she is the worship leader. I told her that I was also angry with her because of what she said to my cousin, the sensitive, temperamental pianist. It made me look bad, uninformed and incompetent as a leader (these are her words). But, because the unity of the team is more important to me, I decided not to hold it against her. I forgave her. Only then did she realise the implications of what she had said. She apologised.

Then I asked her to speak to S to clear the air. But she had reached the point where she just didn’t care anymore. D told me that she had called musicians the whole Sunday and the week preceding it, but she couldn’t secure anyone.

That night, I told S about my conversation with D explaining D’s position. I urged her to speak to D. But, S didn’t want to.

That same night (335 DTG) we had a short debriefing meeting after the programme to explain mistakes that we made and prepare the team for the next evening’s programme. Because D had to leave early, I informed the team that D had two unconfirmed artists for the next night. One of the pianists (N) and his cousin volunteered to perform while one of the other members (R) of the praise team was going to get men’s group to perform. However, I didn’t hear correctly and thought R was L (their names are similiar). L had fallen out of favour with S three years ago during the first mini-campaign we organised as a team. So, the team was shocked that D would have L secure an act for us. (The thing between S and L was really ugly since S loved L and her brother a lot. L had hurt S by misusing her name.) I was pretty shocked myself when I heard that L was going to secure an act for us. But, I’m always happy when those who left the youth start getting involved again. Quite upset S told me not to talk rubbish. I was taken aback by her outburst. She excused herself from the meeting and high tailed it out of there. We concluded the meeting and met S outside.

As a fail safe we asked a housemate of one of the team members to go on standby for us. We would confirm it on Wednesday morning. D had to let me know if the two acts confirmed by 10 am. I called her at 11:15am to find out. None had gotten back yet. D’s sister had been scheduled to sing for one of the two “special item” slots but due to her illness she couldn’t make it. That’s why we were looking for a replacement act. D asked me to ask the stand-in to prepare one item only. I, in my wisdom, asked the stand-in to sing two items. After D confirmed that the pianist and his cousin would perform, I informed D and the housemate of the stand-in about my error in judgment. I also gave D the housemate’s number telling her to communicate with him directly. (I panicked there for a bit, but I asked God to give me wisdom to handle the situation correctly.)

That Wednesday night everything went smoothly. It was then that I told about my conversation with D and asked her to speak to D. S refused out of fear of saying something she would later regret.

Everything went well Thursday night too (333 DTG). We had refreshments to which everyone on the team contributed. S supplied cocktail bread with various toppings, tea, milk and sugar while the rest of us supplied biscuits. D brought juice. Su and Sh arranged the refreshments. The pastor was really glad about this opportunity to meet the people. It rained cats and dogs so not many of the attendees stayed for refreshments.

Tonight (332 DTG) we had a small hiccup. The pastor ran late, the team mate who saw to the slide show ran very late, the head of family ministries in our church didn’t get a chance to speak since it was not included in the slide show, and the guest artist for tonight only sang one song when he was supposed to sing two. The congregation sang Heart of Worship in the open slot.

One member of the praise tried to convice D that she should sing in that slot even if it was only Amazing Grace but D refused. Seeing that D’s mind was made up, I told him that no amount of asking or begging would persuade D to sing. She is one of those people that rigidly obey Newton’s Third Law of Motion which says,

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” –from The Physics Classroom

D agreed. But her point was not that she was stubborn. She was not prepared to sing. She kept saying that voice was the same as any other musical instrument. You need to practice before a performance. It isn’t just a matter of going on stage and singing your heart out. It became clear that D and S would never reconcile on this point while the team mate understood D better.

I had to say thank you to everyone who participated in the programme. I prayed earnestly that God would help me do say thank you to the people. I don’t usually do the thanks at events. When I do, I try to finish as quickly as possible. This makes it seem cold and unemotional. But tonight was different. God answered my prayers. A warmth characterised my voice as I thanked the contributors and participants from my heart. I even blessed the pastor and mothers (since it’s Mothers Day weekend). Blessing the mothers was unplanned.

I’m grateful that God helped me and my team safely through this week. I’m grateful that God blessed this mini-campaign and kept the team together even though it seemed as if Satan would have the upper hand. I’m grateful that He blessed those who attended and that He guided the pastor in the presentation and preparation of the messages. I am grateful for His patience and for the work He performed on my character–a work that is very important to me.

And I thank you for your patience as my posts have become irregular.

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.