This post will be more brutally honest than most. Since writing is the medium through which I express myself best, I've decided to type out my present circumstances, my thoughts on those circumstances, as well as all the conflicting desires and situations that I feel myself torn between.
Think of it as you would cleaning your room, where you lay everything out on the floor and decide whether it should be kept, replaced, or discarded.
In the past eight months or so, many changes have occurred in my life. My Dad left and my Mom is getting remarried, my ideas for a career have changed, my friends seem different than they once were, my brother moved out. Also, on a more positive note, I've found a terrific church body that has helped me grow in knowledge and closeness to God in leaps and bounds.
This dramatic transformation in such a short span of time has shown me things about myself I hadn't previously perceived. I've recognized buried fears, identified new strengths, and gained fresh perspective.
In regards to the fears, I've realized that I have an almost irrational fear of small arguments, of conflicts that could potentially snowball into bigger rifts. I see this as one of the primary factors that destroyed my parents' marriage, and so I take painstaking measures to ensure that this won't happen in the relationship I have with my girlfriend Vanessa. And in the few times it has happened, I feel terrible, as if the relationship is in jeopardy, when in all probability it's just something that needs to be talked over or just dropped.
Probably stronger than anything else, I fear that because I share many temperamental similarities with my Dad, I will make the same mistakes. I love my Dad, but I keep thinking that because I follow in his footsteps in regards to personality, I will step into the same holes. I feel this intense urge to shut down and try and withdraw my emotions so that no one can get at them, and therefore won't be able to hurt me with anything they do or say. However, this would eventually be problematic in my future and present relationships; plus, it's definitely not healthy. I feel an intense longing to be close to my girlfriend and one day my future kids. Because of the relatively little involvement my Dad had in my life growing up, I want to overcompensate. I want to really be there for my kids and future wife, and know their likes and dislikes. I want to be someone they want to emulate, that they look to as a model of godliness and fatherhood. I just constantly battle the fear that I will emulate the shortcomings of my father. With God's help, I will take the strong work ethic and resilience that my Dad gave me and add to them my Christian values and ideal of strong family involvement. I'll let my wife and kids know that I'm there for them and how much I love them regularly. I also fear rejection by peers. I didn't have the best high school experience; within my circle of friends I was shy and reserved, and felt ignored to a degree. I felt that I was different from many of my peers; my hobbies, my preferences, and my temperament set me apart from many of them. I always knew I was different than most of the kids my age, but I began to develop somewhat of a complex, if that's the correct term. I'm at the point now where I resist the idea of hanging out with anybody on a one-to-one basis, unless it's my closest friend Joel or my girlfriend Vanessa. I feel that I would bore others, that they wouldn't share the same appreciation for my hobbies and interests that I do. I know this isn't necessarily true, but I battle with it constantly. I do a little better in group settings, where multiple people take the pressure off. On a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, after all my homework is done and I am free for the day, if Vanessa or Joel isn't available to hang out, I look through my phone at the long list of contacts I have listed, but rarely call. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the courage to take the initiative and hang out with other friends fails me, and I end up cleaning my room or reading or watching a movie until well into the evening.
I like people, I really do. If I am invited to a party with friends, I will usually go. I just have a real hard time hanging out with those friends I haven't hung out with in a while. I love listening to and joking with and hanging out around all sorts of people, but at the same time I feel that my interests and hobbies would bore them. It's very complicated.
On a more positive note, on to the new strengths! Counterbalancing these excavated fears, I've discovered strengths I didn't previously recognize. For one, I've realized (and had several people confirm) that I am easy to talk to. I wouldn't have guessed that in a million years, but I guess I make people loosen up. Good news. Secondly, I've realized that God has given me a tremendous burden for others, a care for their well-being that I didn't previously know I had. Not that I'm a saint, but God blesses us all differently, and he's placed in my heart an extreme concern for the emotional well-being of others. In addition to this, he's blessed me with a new resilience and level of faith that has really helped me in these recent stressful situations. I can't claim any credit for this improvement, for Jesus "lifted me out of the pit, out of the mud and mire. He set me on rocky ground, and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth..." (Psalm 40:1-3)
I turn now to the aforementioned fresh perspective. As I grow older and my horizons slowly broaden, I come into contact with people and concepts that revolutionize my way of thinking.
Things that change the prescription in the lens through which I view the world, if you will.
Over the past year or so, the way I see things has changed somewhat dramatically.
For instance, as I progress in my spiritual journey into a closer and more complete understanding of the character of God, I've realized that he is not a God who is only interested in the big events of life, whose presence can only be felt through Bible reading and Sunday morning worship. I've come to experience for myself that He longs to be in constant communication with us, and that if we "draw near to Him, he will draw near to us," regardless of our circumstances or location. I've learned that he is infinitely powerful and desires to have us be one hundred percent satisfied in Him, and that when we extend that tiny bit of faith towards him, he will honor that and transform us in mighty ways. I know that he moves in mighty internal ways as well as in mighty external ways, as evidenced by the numerous healings I've seen within our church. I also have realized that He is a very personal God, who will speak to us directly through the Holy Spirit as well as his Word.
Aside from the church, as I read more of and talk more with people of different opinions, I come to think that everyone has something to teach us about ourselves. I can even glean insightful information from people I disagree with, when I "eat the meat and spit out the bones," so to speak. For instance, even though I disagree with Nietzsche's ideals of perspectivism and humanism, I still find the aphorism, "Sensuality often hurries the growth of love, so that the root is weak and easy to tear up," to be true. The moral of the story is that you can learn from everyone, even if you don't agree with them. At the very least, you can discover how best to not think and act. ;-)-
In conclusion, this post I think has differed significantly from many of my previous. I have attempted to lay out the recent changes, fears, and concerns in my life. Consider this not so much a plea for attention or help as a glimpse into the inner workings of my convoluted mind.