Sunday, April 29, 2012

Proverbs XI

I am going to be doing a little of this over the next few weeks.

It's scary for me to step out into the unknown. Everything I've experienced in the past is telling me I'm about to fall and yet there's just a little faith that God has provided a bridge to cross the chasm. Just because I can't see it at the moment, doesn't mean it isn't there. This last year has taught me that.

I'm going to be praying a lot over the next few days. It's funny, or maybe sad, that something so small can motivate me to pray so much.

God, ... help ...

Update: I changed my mind. It's not a small thing. It's a big thing. And it's important to me. And I'm important to God. So it's important to God too.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Crazy Week

Dear Diary,

This has been a crazy week. Crazy for lots of reasons. It feels like I've been running a marathon, fell off a cliff, and then got up to finish the marathon. I'm mentally and emotionally exhausted, in a good way. A way that feels like I'm growing and developing as a person. It's like exercise for the soul.

Lets see. The first thing I want to mention is actually kind of hard for me to say. I have only told a few people and there's more I want to tell in person. I have started going to a different church. For the first time in my life, ever, I have actually decided which church I will attend. That was a very tough decision for me. I had been at my previous church, for almost 7 years. As I read through my blog I found an entry back in January of last year where I mentioned I was trying to find where I fit, and I was actively trying to find the church for me. Well, 15 months later I have finally made my decision. It was very difficult for me to do. I have been in the same denomination since I was born and now I am going elsewhere. I am a very loyal guy and this decision was not an easy one for me to make. Whew! Exhale. I want to be clear and say my previous church was great. I am not leaving because I am disappointed with something or someone. It just feels like I have a purpose at my new church and I feel like I fit. It's taken me a long time to be able to say that.

My small group has gone through a few changes over the last week or two. People have come and gone. We are slowly figuring out who we are. I like what seemed to be taking shape this last week. It also feels good. We still need to figure things out but I think we're going in the right direction.

And Tuesday was the cliff, in a good way. I did something I haven't done since I was 11 years old. Something that kinda scarred me for life, up to this point. I danced. With a girl. And we held hands. And it was good. I had fun. After the dance lesson ended we continued on even though the rest of the students dispersed. I was mentally drained at this point. Then myself and two friends stayed up until 1 or 2 in the morning sharing a little bit of who we are with each other. We laughed a lot. We may have teared up a little bit too. I think we exposed a little bit of ourselves and made ourselves vulnerable to each other, and it was also good. I had a lot to think about after that night. There were thoughts verbalized that I didn't even know were ruminating around in my head. I'm sure I could write quite a few posts based on what came out of that night.

And C&C kicked my butt in a good way again. The message was spot on. I pray that it won't be lost on me  in a few weeks as the message fades. I'm glade I take notes. The next step is to put the word into action. It also dawned on me that many people at C&C the last few weeks are going to be gone for the summer now. It didn't click with me then but now I'm feeling a little sad knowing it will be 4 months before I see many of them again.

And another woman from church offered to set me up on a blind date with her friend. Seriously. I guess I am flattered, and somewhat confused. I politely declined the offer.

And there has been some other (positive and meaningful) emotional interactions going on this last week as well.

So, here I am now. I am trying not to censure myself. It's just that over the last week or so quite a few people in my life have discovered this blog. It makes me feel a little vulnerable sometimes. That's when I start second guessing myself and questioning how much of me to reveal in this place. As my life blooms, more and more people become a part of it. I can't write about my life without somehow making reference to the people in it. I want to keep them anonymous for the most part, but at the same time others in my life will definitely know who I am referring to. I'll try to work that out and I'll definitely try to stay true to my mission statement, to allow you, the reader, to know me a little better.

It feels like this last week has signaled the beginning of a new phase in my life. The phase I was hinting about for a couple months now has begun. I am excited and a little nervous, but God is good and that is good enough for now.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Icebergs are awesome. They look so beautiful and they make great metaphors.

My blog is an iceberg. My life is an iceberg. This iceberg is an iceberg.

Ok, that last one wasn't really a metaphor.

They say that 90% of an iceberg is below the surface of the water.

My blog is kind of like that too. What you can see is only a small percentage of who I am. Whenever I find out someone I know has found this blog and started reading it I usually think to myself, "Great. This will be a good way for them to get a chance to understand who I am." About 10 minutes later that is followed with, "Oh, crud! What have I done? If they read this blog they're going to think I'm nuts." And that is because I realize that even though I am completely open and honest on this blog, there is still a lot of me that is not visible. If one thinks I am only what they are reading on my blog (and only knows me through this blog) they are missing everything below the surface. The other thing that may happen is that the reader fills in the blanks and imagines what the rest of me is like. I sometimes worry that their imagination paints the picture they want to see, which is not necessarily who I am. There are aspects of myself that I don't know have ever appeared on this blog. If you've ever seen me play dodge ball against a group of junior highers you'd know there is definitely more to me than what you've seen here. Anyway, just keep that in mind as you read. This blog is an iceberg.

Now on to the main metaphor. Early on in this blog, for the first six months or so, I used the metaphor of a mask to explain who I was, or what my life was like. The mask was the front I put on to interact with the world. It was to protect me from getting hurt but it was really just a barrier that kept me from living the life I believe God intended for me. The mask was an appropriate metaphor earlier on. But for the last year or so I think that metaphor has been obsolete. The new and more accurate metaphor is the iceberg. I am the iceberg. My new goal isn't to remove any masks. They've been thrown out a long time ago. My new goal is to be me more. The tip of the iceberg is the part I allow others to see. But there's more of me under there that I want to bring to the surface. Slowly. Cautiously. But purposefully. I am sure there is a limit to how much of me could or should surface. I don't think we can be 100% vulnerable to everyone all the time, but I do think there is something to be said for a genuine life lived as a witness for others. And hopefully there are a select few who see more of the iceberg than the rest, intentionally. Anyway, I'm still growing as a person, learning to trust, learning to relate and all that other good stuff.

The iceberg rises.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Is God Funny?

Ok. If we are created in God's image, what does that really mean? I've heard a lot about that from different sources. Each source makes a very interesting point. Each source also contradicts the other sources. They can't all be right, or can they? I'm not going to get too deep and theological but I'm heading in that direction. However, rather than say, "This is what God is, so this is how we should be," I'm going to go in the other direction. I'm going to reverse engineer the answer. (I still think we should ask ourselves what God is like, so that we can be more God-like ourselves, just not in this post.)

We humans have certain ingrained traits, no matter where we live, what we do, or what culture we were raised in. There is some universality between everyone. I think that universality is a good starting point. I've heard it said that we all smile in the same language. I think that's a deeper statement than the original author intended, but it's true. Happiness, Joy, Love. I think those are all universal. If God truly has imparted to the human race His own characteristics I think those must be a part of who God is. So, what about a sense of humour? What about being funny? I have never met a person who didn't have a sense of humour. Some of their senses of humour may be very different from mine, but they still found things funny and told jokes and tried to entertain. I have never ever met anyone who didn't try to tell a joke within the first 5 minutes of us meeting, at least not that I can remember. It is as if being funny is a part of all relationships. I know I find that the people I laugh with are the people I feel closer to. Therefore, I conclude God has a sense of humour. That is the end of this episode of discerning the character of God.

Now, on to what I really wanted to talk about. God, are you punking me? Maybe pranking is a better word? Or just having fun? Then again, maybe some things are just coincidence. But I bet God is kinda laughing to Himself anyway. I kinda am, and I'm pretty sure God finds the same things funny as I do.

Anyway, 15 months ago I was talking to God about some of my "leftovers" and how I wanted to overcome them. You've probably noticed I have some reservations about dancing if you've read any of my previous posts. I told God I wanted to work on that. BAM. A few days later I found myself standing in front of everyone at C&C doing a dance number at our Christmas banquet. I find that hilarious, in retrospect. (It was also extremely uncomfortable at the time.) So, I didn't really mention the dance thing to God again until recently, lest he take my request for another opportunity to have some fun. Fifteen months later, I dared to ask God for another opportunity and, BAM, a friend has discovered free dance lessons for a month. So, here we go again. I get the sneaking suspicion there was some divine intervention involved in all this. Joke 1.

Now, I also have some issues with touching and personal space. It's something I am also working on over coming. So I casually mentioned that to God. BAM. Within 2 days 2 different guys asked me if they could put their hands all over my body. Serious. Perhaps I should explain. One guy is becoming a massage therapist and needs to build his time and experience so he is offering free massages. Shudder. I have never had a massage and the thought of it freaks me out a little bit. Especially done by a guy. If I absolutely had to have a massage, I would prefer a girl. but that's like saying if I had to get run over by a vehicle I would prefer a car to a bus. Anyhoo, the second guy just happens to be my brother who needs to practice his physical examination techniques for his med school final. He desperately needs to practice on people to increase his skills. Nuts. I want to see him do well, but I don't want to be poked and prodded on a daily basis. I'll probably relent. Joke 2.

The Thing I Find Most Difficult To Talk About is joke 3. I have actually written the longest post ever about it, but have decided not to put it online at the moment for various reasons. I have hinted about it before so I may as well just come out and say it. Romantic relationships and my feelings about such things are extremely difficult for me to share. Hence the world's longest unpublished blog post I've written on the subject. So, I was chatting to God about that one day and shortly afterwards, BAM, the spouse of one of the C&C leaders told me they a had a long time friend they thought would be perfect for me. She asked if I would like to be set up on a blind date with this person. I have written a whole lot in my unpublished post about such things, so I'll let those thoughts stay on that post for now. Suffice to say I'm not interested in a blind date, ever. Anyway, I kind of find that funny too. One day I'm talking to God about such things, and the next day such things are banging on my door, offering those opportunities to me.

To recap: First, God has a sense of humour. And second, if I'm not being pranked by God, I'm sure He's at least enjoying the funny circumstances that have popped up in my life recently. It's like my life is a series of sitcom plots right now. If this keeps up I'm going to end up taking 3 dates to the prom while scheming to keep them all separate the entire night. Hilarity ensues.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Looking Back

I was free this morning which is nice considering I worked a 16 hour day yesterday.
I used my free time to read this entire blog, from the most recent entry to the oldest entry. It really is amazing to me to see where I have come from, where I am now and the path that has lead me here. And I enjoyed listening to the music, the soundtrack of my life at those particular times. Some entries I would have sworn I wrote last week but they are from a long time ago, and others seem like a life time ago but are much more recent. I know I've said it many times before but it blows my mind how different my life is now compared to my life before I started this blog.

There was one post that seemed to jump off the screen at me. It was a prayer. I pray random things all the time, and although I like to think I am always praying with expectation, sometimes I don't count on my prayers being answered. Here's something I prayed a little over a year ago.

Lord, You are good.  Thank You.

I am confused, as usual, but You know that.  Lord, life is swirling around so fast I feel like I can't keep up.  At least not under my own power.  Help me.  That seems to be my prayer more often than not.  I am thankful that You have a plan for me.  Please lead me and direct me.  Show me where You want me and what You want me to do with my life.  Please help me understand.

I'm looking for something definitive.  I trust You.  My heart is yours first and foremost.  All that it is belongs to You.

Please place me where my life, my skills, my gifts and abilities are needed.
Please increase my passion.
Please increase my faith.
Please increase my ability to care.
Please show me what it means to be a friend and help me be a friend to those in need.
Please continue to surround me with friends who can support me.
Please help me be a support to others.

And God, the unsaid prayers I have in my head, please do what You need to do. 
Ah, life, greater and more confusing than ever.

Thank You that this journey is just beginning, not ending.  I am excited, and nervous, and just a little fearful as your will unfolds in my life.  I am scared that your plans are not my plans, but I will take your plans over mine any day.  Please reveal your plans to me.  Please lead me. 

Please help me understand what an abundant life really looks like.  Please help me receive it and live it and give it. 
I am amazed by the answers to prayer I have received over the last year. I am humbled by my own  words. I pray that this is still the prayer of my heart.

Monday, April 9, 2012

More Leftovers

As I read my Leftovers post from a few days ago I was reminded of other leftovers from my childhood that I am still working through. Seeing as I had planned to list them all on the previous post but forgot some, I thought I would write a sequal. The following are more leftovers from my childhood that I am working through.

I notice I become extremely aware of my actions/movements/body when I am around strangers. Every movement I make, from moving my feet to smiling or shifting my weight takes a conscious effort. This was my life all the time as a kid. I always felt I was being judged on everything I did, even how I moved. Normally no one thinks about how they walk, they just walk. No one thinks about how they smile, they just smile. When I am comfortable that is how I am too. However, when I am in uncomfortable situations (which, for me, usually involve meeting new people) I become intensely aware of my actions and my body. I feel like the tin man or C3-PO. I stiffen up. I become aware of my appendages. I have to make myself move whereas most normal people would just do what they always do unconsciously.

I am extremely self conscious of my body. It's not that I have any crazy defects or self perception issues, its just that I am very "modest" or physically shy. It is extremely difficult for me to wear anything more revealing than a T-Shirt. Muscle shirts, or even sandals leave me feeling too exposed. It takes me a lot of effort to go swimming. I can remember being teased as a kid about different physical features, usually by my brother. He wasn't actually being mean spirited, just a normal brother, but it really did affect me. From that point on I decided to never let myself get in those situations again, which meant never taking my shirt off, never going barefoot, never swimming in trunks alone. I'm sure this is somehow connected to my personal space / touching issues as well.

And finally, I find I always expect people to reject me in whatever situations arise. I can point to several times when I was younger where I felt serious rejection. I know those times had a very major impact on my life. As a kid with social anxiety, I decided to avoid future situations which could produce the same rejection. So, I stopped inviting people to do anything with me. Anyone could say no, and I always interpreted that as a rejection of my self. I stopped having birthday parties. I stopped inviting friends over after school. I never asked anyone out. To this day I find it very difficult to ask anyone to do anything with me. It's as though I can't comprehend someone wanting to be with me. I don't want to give them the chance to say no and confirm what I already suspect. This is a difficult one for me to share because I like me, but somehow I find it difficult to believe someone else could possibly like me as well. I'm slowly daring to believe that I have friends. This last week I've been invited out to so many things and events and gatherings and parties and walks and game nights and just casual "want to do something"s I've actually had to decline some opportunities because my schedule was too full. In some cases I was triple booked. It's very difficult for me to comprehend or accept that just maybe, I am likeable. I wonder how one gets to the point where one even wonders such a thing. And yet, here I am. I am relatively certain this all bridges into the one thing I find extremely difficult (or maybe uncomfortable is a better word) to talk about. And that will be the subject of my next post, maybe.

Monday, April 2, 2012


For those of you who know me, you may be surprised that this entry is not about food. However, I am sure some food posts will appear on this blog eventually.

Let me just say that for every entry I post online, I usually have about 5 that never see the light of day. This is one of those posts that finally made the cut. But that's still not why I titled it Leftovers.

I know I have written a lot about my issues with social anxiety in the past. I don't feel the need to refer to it too much any more because it is in the past. I feel like it is conquered. It is now part of the history of me, not the present, and definitely not the future.

Having said all that, I realize that there are some leftovers from my past that still show up occasionally. (See, that's where the title comes from ;)  )

I'm sure we all have those little hangers-on from our past, whether we know it or not. The best way I know how to describe it is to tell you about my first dog, Puddles. I was just shy of 3 years old when Puddles passed away but I remember him. He was a rescued dog. His previous owners were not the best, and from my understanding, their kids were quite mean to him. I remember he always ran away from me. I could never pet him. He wouldn't let me. Whenever I raised my hand he instinctively dropped his head and backed away. Even though he was free of his abusive past, his habits carried on in his new life. And in some ways that's me too. My past is my past but I still carry a few of those previous habits (or "feelings") with me in my new life. At least I am aware of them, so I can make the effort to change them.

(Refresher for everyone who doesn't know what I went through as a kid. I suffered from Social Anxiety Phobia. The best way to describe it is a fear of always being judged and scrutinized, and ultimately rejected.  My method of survival was to try and not be noticed. If I could hide in the background no one would focus on me. If I didn't make friends or talk to strangers I couldn't be rejected. That was my life for too long. That is not my life now. The following are some of the leftovers from my past.)

Dancing: I can't even describe how terrified I am of dancing. I know it doesn't make sense. I may as well be scared of balloons. No offence to sufferers of Globophobia. My entire life I hid from dancing and dances. It just seemed too noticeable. I was terrified of being in the spot light (and thus be judged and rejected). However, even to this day, even if I am around friends and family, people who would never judge or reject me, I get this overwhelming sense of dread if I think I may have to do anything dance related. Even seeing other people dance makes me uncomfortable. It's a very Pavlovian reaction. I am going to work on overcoming this fear, unfortunately. I'm pretty sure I can't avoid dancing for the rest of my life.

Clapping or doing actions to a song: Those are just cousins of dancing. They may as well be the same thing. Hand dancing. Here's a tiny confession. I was extremely uncomfortable during VBS last summer during the open session in the morning because all the songs had actions. As a leader I was expected to do them. I forced myself. It was horrible. And yet nothing bad came of it. Everything that I associate with "dancing" like judgement and rejection did not happen. Maybe it was a good thing? Either way, I felt extremely exposed and vulnerable during those 5 minutes.

Touching: I have a very big personal bubble. You know those touchy-feely people that have no personal space? They terrify me. I know, weird. I think it is because touching connotates a level of intimacy and intimacy was something I had instinctively avoided as a part of my defense mechanism. (Side note: Dancing involves touching. Double Whammy!) My immediate reaction to touching, almost like a reflex action, is to pull away or recoil. That has created some very awkward situations. Ha ha. Oh could I tell stories. But I won't. Even to this day I associate touching with something awkward and uncomfortable and I react accordingly. I know in my head there's nothing wrong with it but I still go through a weird series of "feelings" when I touch someone or am touched by someone. I imagine this is similar to people who have been abused in the past. I'm ok with hand shakes, and have been working my way through hugging over the last few years. It's a slow process. A prolonged hand on my shoulder sends shivers down my spine. I know that can't be normal. I'm working on it. As a result of my personal space issues I associate touching with deep levels of intimacy. I don't know how to explain that rationally, but that's the thing with all these leftovers. They aren't rational. To me, a hand shake is just a hand shake, but a hug carries a lot more meaning to it than just a hug. A kiss, even a tiny peck on the cheek (I'm looking at you, my French relativies) is way too intimate to just casually throw away. And back rubs or massages are practically like sex. I'm not saying that's normal. That's just the way it is. I notice at C&C people touch each other a lot. I am very aware of it. It freaks me out just a little bit. When the back rubs start flying I avert my eyes. If you ever see me touching anyone, they must be very special to me or it would not be happening.

Why am I sharing this? Well, I think secrets are like little self-imposed prisons. They keep us captive, all the while we are holding the key to our own freedom. When you share the secret, you've opened the cell. And now those little secrets can't hold me captive any more.

I will end this post like many other posts, with a request that you hug me next time we meet. Although, be warned, if you hug a little too long, I just may faint.