Reflections

Sometimes I find myself just sitting and thinking about my life. Before I turned twelve I’d been shot at, thrown a kid off a cliff (don’t worry he didn’t die or anything), broken someone’s nose in two different fights, tried to kill myself, been beaten senseless several times, eaten and fed others poison berries, been called every bad word in the book by one or both of my parents, almost made my mother leave the family, fallen off a cliff (obviously I didn’t die either), and been thoroughly inculcated into the demonic (I mean that literally, not figuratively). Cognitively, I understand that this is a bad childhood. Actually, I think from the average American perspective, this is an extremely violent, troubled childhood. However, for me, it’s just the way I grew up. I realize that my childhood was violent and disturbed, but I generally don’t think of it that way.

Before I turned eighteen I’d tried to kill one person, ¬†been told I’d actually killed someone else (and that I was being charged with manslaughter), put together a plan to set off a nerve gas bomb in my high school (it was a stupid plan in the first place), tried to kill myself several more times, made a habit of watching porn at least six hours a day, and started hurting people (especially women) in order to make myself feel good. I feel the violence and depravity of my teenage years much more than that of my childhood. There isn’t much in my childhood that I actually regret doing. I understand the things that were done to me, and the problems they caused, and I understand the things that I did to others. The core of pain that I’ve mentioned a couple of times now certainly had its start in my childhood.

However, many of my deepest regrets come from the things that I did during my teenage years. After I converted to Christianity these things haunted me for many years. I lost a lot of sleep over the things I’d done and the people I’d hurt. I spent days at a time praying for them, and begging God to make me a better person. I struggled with many of the sins that I’d lived in before my salvation, and I often wanted to walk away from the Christian life. God would never actually let me walk away though, no matter how much I fought him. I’ve never been one to run away, but I tried to run away from God, a few times.

God doesn’t let go of what’s his though. He’d track me down, tell me he loved me, and drag me back onto the straight and narrow path. He did this more times than I can count, and I can’t thank him enough for it. I don’t deserve such treatment. I’ve certainly hurt God more than most people, but he never gives up on me anyway. I want to be able to love like this, and in a few cases I’ve been able to (a very few cases).

I want to be more like Christ, and God keeps making me give up integral parts of myself in order to make me more like Christ. I have to admit, I like becoming more like Christ, but I’m not always fond of what it requires. I started my fast today.

Hope

I know what it’s like to live without hope. I’m not there right now, actually I’m doing pretty well right now. I find that I’ve finally come to a place where I’m not looking for anything. I’ve always been looking for something, a better job, a relationship, someone to love me, someone to support me, a new hobby, a new degree program, or some new thing… always something. However, recently God has had me waiting. I honestly have no idea what I’m waiting for, I’m just waiting. I’m not applying to any jobs, not sending out resumes, not applying to schools, and I’m not looking for a relationship.

At first this was really hard because it felt like giving up. I thought I was on my way back to that point of utter and complete hopelessness, that God was, for some reason, commanding me to dive back into the depths of suicidal misery, and I do actually mean that literally. I’m not being melodramatic, two years ago I was suicidal for about four months. I also spent Jr. High and High school trying to get myself run over by cars. However, that’s a story for another time. I’ve found that the secret when I’m suicidal is to remember that my life is not my own. It is not my right to end my life. Only God has the right to choose when I die.

However, back on track, that hasn’t happened. It’s been hard, especially the last couple of weeks, but God is bringing me to a point where I actually do rely on him and find my meaning, my purpose, and my self in him. As I wait, I find that I am becoming more comfortable waiting. Not the hopeless, giving up kind of comfortable that proceeds suicidal desperation, but a comfortable expectation that the waiting will end at some point, and that God will use it to make me better.

I love my job, and while I’d like more work sometimes, and could certainly use more money, I know that what I do matters. I have friendships that need work, but I also have friendships that are meaningful and that allow me both to sharpen others (which I love doing), and to be sharpened (which I need). Finally, for the first time in a very, very long time, I’m comfortable being single. There are one or two women that I’m interested in, but I don’t need anyone else in my life.

I’ve been happy before, but it was always something of a circumstantial happiness. There’s nothing wrong with this, circumstances can make us happy, but they can’t be relied upon to make us happy. Circumstances change, good things come and go, but our happiness doesn’t need to do so. We can be joyful because God is with us. As the Psalmist said, he is our portion and our part. Actually, even more telling, Jeremiah says this in the middle of Lamentations, which is a book that thoroughly expresses the feeling of hopelessness and depression.

I’m finally beginning to learn to simply be happy, not because of something that I have or something that I’m doing, but because I have him. I am simply content, and satisfaction is the key to happiness. Like me, many of us spend so much time searching for one thing or another that we forget how to be content, and contentedness is not only important, but also commanded.

So, simply put, I’m learning to be happy, and to let go of pain. Giving things up always happens differently. When I gave up my hate it happened almost overnight after I first got saved. One day I hated everyone and everything, and the next I didn’t. However, God took almost a decade to change my suspicion and distrust into a complete and total trust of him, and many of those lessons were very painful. When I gave up my anger he had me fast for three days, and I gave up my anger on the first. No, this… I’m learning to be happy, learning to let go of my pain, and I am fasting, but I think this is going to be more of a process. God works in mysterious ways, but he never stops working, and he always knows what he’s doing.