Nevertheless . . .

In thinking on my experiences and the opportunity to share more as I prep the quote posts for The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands, I thought of some of what it’s been like to write this blog, and just live life. The truth is, in life we are weak if we want to admit it or not. The thing most won’t do is actually admit it. I’m going to, now – of course, you can get a sneak peek at what I still have available to post.

There’s all the other pressures going on that I’ve talked about and not talked about. Keeping myself afloat enough financially that I don’t completely sink and drown. The realization that if I didn’t get help along the way that I would. Not knowing what to do to make things better in this regard.

Then there’s career choices. One thing I realized when I was regularly employed at a “career” was that it was so unfulfilling. I could do it well, in fact much better than most, but I didn’t find the rewards coming back from it. Not so much actually getting paid like it, but knowing I was making a difference somewhere. The thing is, when I lost that job, I found a serious walk with Christ and had the time to actually ground myself in the faith by the Spirit. So there’s always a positive by anything. You could say I was called out of that to Christ.

But as I looked for more solid work in that line, I got discouraged by not finding anything, not hearing anything. Not even finding a niche for myself offering things online and elsewhere. It’s hard to not find a good solid place in the world where you’re appreciated and are fulfilled in the course of what you do.

Now in that trek, I’ve gotten the chance to facilitate several Bible studies, and even write some. In looking for solid career work, I’ve found that thought, and preaching, and praying for people, and…you get it… much more preferable than doing what I used to do. I get excited at the chance of doing it.

But as I got more knowledgeable about Scripture, and able to evaluate the things around me, the excitement waned. Could I participate in Churchianity, and put aside my own personal faith and convictions and service the blue-pill illusion behind such things? I found that harder and harder, as I learned more about the backroom politics and things behind how churches are run. As I learn the stories of how many faithful preachers are dismissed simply because the corrupt masses want their ears scratched by the Personal Jesus (2 Timothy 4:2-4) instead of want to hear someone share a solid walk in discipleship to Christ through the Scriptures, I get more discouraged. Of course, that discouragement extended to the blog – when I started I had the hope of finding people that loved…truth. But now…

Then there’s the matter of my mother. I had to take time away from doing the things I was doing that fulfilled me. Namely the blog, namely being around people I could find mutual support and encouragement from as opposed to the discouragement I was finding. Taking care of her until she finally passed. Then having a complete and large houseful of things to get rid of. I got away from doing the things that filled me, because I wasn’t sure I could commit to anything beyond a particular day. Then I lost steady Internet access to be able to read widely enough and keep the blog wide open and active. Again, a discouragement.

Of course, a good in that space has been the opportunity to learn about myself, and the effects of how I was raised. I was the normal kid in a house with a special needs kid that got all the attention until she passed and left a torn-up marriage in its wake between my mom and dad. So I basically raised myself. Given all the problems that whole situation created and how messed up those things have made me, and seeing signs of better in others, I get discouraged. But thankfully I didn’t receive all the traditional brainwashing of gender roles I’m about to blog about when I get these quotes copied.

Then there’s the time it takes sometimes with things of the blog not coming as quickly as I would like, which outside of the other discouragement is why the edit queue backed up so much. With the book review, I’ve been copying for the last week when I can. Then reading that stuff gets discouraging – that a vast majority of people actually believe in it and are Gribbles. Then there’s not so much enlightening out there that I read in blog-land to respond to that doesn’t stretch me and isn’t a retread of anything that hasn’t been posted twenty-million times by everybody.

Then there’s other stuff like reading through “No More Christian Nice Guy” by Paul Coughlin, being frustrated by it, and then completely forgetting everything about the book so I couldn’t even do a review and then going back through it. Then there’s the Arterburn notes (“Every Man’s Battle”, “Every Young Woman’s Battle”, “Every Heart Restored”) and the Dobson notes (“What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women”) that got lost, along with the draft of a book I co-authored under my real name (thankfully that happened AFTER it got published). I still have three of the books, but it involves going back through and reconstructing notes so I can finish out the posts I have started on those books. Of course, there’s the book idea that gets pushed on the back burner for other things and finishing out these two books I want to do (the mentioned one, and “I Am A Church Member”) before I start on that fully. Not to mention, all the other edit queue posts and things I haven’t even started on that I would like to post out of the 2+ pages I have typewritten here.

Then, as I see people put on their pretty perfect everything is fine faces, I get discouraged. I know people have problems themselves and are lying, but how does everyone else have all the answers for their lives, doing what they need to be doing, and are blessed and filled by it all? Communal shame is indeed a powerful motivator, but indeed a powerful tool in the hands of Satan and those that would work for his purposes. It’s so easy to ask the question “What’s wrong with me?” before the Lord in watching such things and be completely discouraged, like I’m not measuring up before Him and in some way am faking. In fact, once upon a time I asked several in one of my more melancholy moments, which I wrote down and kept:

Why is my best not good enough?
Why do I work so hard, get so tired, and get so little in return?
Why can’t I have validation that I am on a good path?
Can others see me as good?
Can I ever be good enough for others?
Can I ever find refreshment in life?
Can things ever work out?

All of this is just simply proof that I’m a broken person that is bankrupt of myself and needs healing and meaning spoken into my life. It’s proof that a true life walked in faith of Christ’s sacrifice isn’t an easy thing, nor a bed of roses (truth be told my life went to crap not soon after I came out of the water). It’s proof that feeling doesn’t matter in the light of the holy truth:

  • I may not feel loved by others, nevertheless Christ loves me.
  • I may not feel financially provided, nevertheless Christ has seen my way and will continue to do so.
  • I may not feel fulfilled by what I do every day, nevertheless by grace Christ will find me a place.
  • I may not feel part of a family, nevertheless Christ will put me in one.
  • I may not feel part of a church family is not apostate, nevertheless Christ will find one for me.
  • I may not feel refreshed by life, nevertheless Christ will refresh me with life eternal.
  • I may not feel like I have a good place of ministry, nevertheless Christ will give me one by His grace.
  • I may not feel like I’m doing enough for God’s Kingdom, nevertheless in Christ’s grace it will be sufficient.
  • I may not feel like I got life by the tail like others, nevertheless Christ’s grace will be sufficient.
  • I may not feel like I have any value to offer, nevertheless Christ will make me valuable.
  • I may not feel whole or healthy, nevertheless Christ will heal me.
  • I may not feel comfortable about all the evil things going on in the world, nevertheless Christ will deal with it all and in time I won’t have to.
  • I may not feel comfortable waiting on Christ, nevertheless He will be my ever present help in all of this trouble.

I may feel like everything is wrong and nothing is right, but all is right in Christ and He will make it right in those that are in His truth…at the right time. Lord, come quickly!

Blogboard Confessional

I was reading this and something came to mind that I’ve been dealing with a whole lot. There’s a tendency within the human spirit to pretend, deny, deceive, lie, and even exalt oneself regarding their state. This is part of the old man, part of the flesh, to be sure.

But part of following Christ successfully is to admit that you’re bankrupt. Even to the point of denying yourself (Mark 8:34-37) and dying to self, as baptism illustrates. But part of faith is carrying that out. And part of that is being able to not lie or deceive, but admit that we don’t have it all together.

To say that we’re fine of our own selves is to admit weakness. And the world abhors weakness. Yet that is exactly what we are called towards – to make ourselves weak so that Christ may be strong in us and be glorified. In a sense, this is the reason that trials come into our lives – if we can look at Christ the Master and not think things will be any different for us, we are simply deluded. After all, it is the only way we run the race completely, to keep the faith of what salvation represents throughout our lives until we depart.

Now our problems seem to be that we can’t really see ourselves honestly, and if we do we can’t communicate that and be accepted. Things like this had to be written:

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:6-9)

Personally, I can say that this will be one of the harder posts for me to write, simply because I’m going to share some things that I’m not used to sharing. I’ll admit to pretending for a number of reasons, both within myself and created by others.

I already looked at one of those reasons, the need to present oneself as competent. This is a big pressure for men, because to say you’re unsure about something is to paint you as unworthy within self and unworthy with others. Especially when it comes to spiritual matters, this becomes especially incumbent as when the pastor, minister or priest presents himself as “Look to me; to me, in some of my
formulas, to me in some of my developments, and be saved.” To present himself any different makes him unworthy to follow in the eyes of his blind followers, but ruins people otherwise. Then the others take the same example and paint the picture that anything less than pure happiness means you are not saved. I’ve personally been kicked out of groups because I dare speak of problems going on within my life.

Then there is the usual training that men get from childhood growing up at the behest of women to conform to the traditional gender roles. “Big boys don’t cry” we are told, and then shown repeatedly that what goes on with us and our feelings don’t matter. Then it goes to further the sub-humanoid view of men held by most all women and men. One chapter of “The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands” (fascinating book, what I’m working on right now from the SoP edit pile) relays that it seems to be a shock to women that men were created in God’s image (a revolutionary concept in light of traditional marriage) and actually have emotions, aspirations, goals, and dreams like them. But you’re not supposed to give those credence as a man, because they don’t befit the woman’s purpose for them to “protect” and “provide” for them. If something’s wrong about you, that’s nobody’s business but your own. Women have girlfriends, church groups, wider society, and the media to listen to their problems and weaknesses and affirm them as “okay”. A man just has…himself. And if he doesn’t pull the cart to expectation, watch out!

Then there’s the general lack of community that exists in wider society and the church. This is even mocked by a tendency to ask “How are you?” as a greeting in church services. I’ve found personally in many cases just how little people love one another as Christ loved them (John 13:34-35) – again for men more than women. The general “layout” of “church” and the tendencies of people in the community trend to isolation. As that Scripture reads, we are told that is how others know we are following, if we love one another. The function of the Church is to allow us to function in community (there’s 56 “one another” commands in Scripture, depending on translation) with the singular goal of Christ and running the race. We’re supposed to be here for each other and get through this life together, yet we’re by ourselves and then seen as failures if we aren’t able to stand alone (the uniquely American traits of individualism and the “self-made man” that’s poisoned the Church).

Unfortunately, I speak so much from experience in such a post as this, simply because these are all things I’ve encountered in my own life. I’ve willingly given into so many of these pressures by wanting to fit in and deny before others certain hurts, heart’s desires, habits, and even sins that cause my spirit and soul to cry out in agony. Then to large part, I’ve accepted the message continually sent that “no one wants to hear about my weaknesses, my failures, my problems”, and that if I’m not perfect in my life, that it’s something I did – and if I would just fix it, all would be well. I have my problems, but they only get magnified by such matters.

But that’s the elemental truth that one must take in faith upon a walk with Christ. I’m messed up. I can’t fix it. I can’t stand alone. That’s the flesh talking when I say I’m okay, I got this, I don’t need anyone else, even Christ. Now, the acceptance of the Gospel points out another one of those indoctrinated traditional gender differences: Women are hard to accept that they are failed in the first place, while men see it but are hard to accept that they can’t fix it.

Denying your failure is hypocrisy, just as presenting a walk with Jesus as the perfect romantic relationship (a bed of roses) is. Denying the flesh is hard, denying the world is hard, coming to terms with your problems is crushing, going against the flow is hard. We are freely given salvation, but we have to take hold of it in faith to receive it. If that wasn’t fraught with peril, if we got “fixed” when we came out of the water, we would not value what Christ does give us, forget Him, and then exalt ourselves over Him.

To conclude, I’m reminded of my fundamental faith moment when I began my serious walk. I used to think these things and worry about my salvation, but when I heard a pastor proclaim his lack of perfection and then I read of all the things David did and see that God still called him “a man after mine own heart” (Acts 13:22). I felt a moment of comfort that everything was going to be alright (knowing fellow travelers are out there does that).

How many have been driven from Christ simply because they met these lies and deceptions in those who proclaim His Name? It’s a more glorifying and welcoming message to echo Paul (2 Corinthians 12:5) – if we must glorify ourselves to point out how infirmed we are. “I’m messed up just like you, but Christ accepts me anyway. Let us walk together in His light.” reflects God’s love much more than “Be perfect and if you’re not something is wrong with you. Be gone.” Isn’t it so much better to be honest and reflect love?

Single Missionary Man

Churches/families/others tend to support women more than men with monetary donations for missions. Women in need are worthy of support, but men are not.

FWIW, I had an opportunity as prompted by this post to ask someone I know who was a single man in the mission field (he ultimately married, so he’s been both single and married while doing this) about some of the issues involved here. The main question I asked was whether he found his mission work impeded in any way by being a single man. This means if he found he was “more effective” in reaching people as a married man, as well as whether it affected his ability to solicit donations from churches or the amounts. This is what he relayed:

1. He stated that the above quote is false in his experience. No doors were opened after he was married in terms of ability to solicit and he did not experience more financial giving after he was married. It seems people judge more on the work being done than the status of the person doing the work. Of course, this is only one data point – a comparison between what he received as a single man versus what a single woman in a comparable mission field has received would be more useful.

2. However, what he did notice in solicitations was more of a personal conversational interest which reflects more of a well-being concern, stemming from what has been noted time and time again on numerous blogs.

What did change for him from a being a single man to being married is this:

1. Being an American (and otherwise very unremarkable in every other measure), he was an alpha in the manospherian parlance, so the native women were continually throwing themselves at him in hopes he would marry them and bring them to America with him. He counted this as a major handicap in his ability to do the work he was sent to do.

2. He noted the usual concern (well noted everywhere) of a single man being alone with a (possibly) married woman in a situation and the resulting appearance of evil, and the real need to be sure he would not be placed into that position, especially considering #1 and the possibility that some of those native women would be married.

3. Then there was the usual case of being alone and having to gain enough friendship and trust from some of the natives in case he walked into a situation where he needed to have someone watch his back (think possible unsafe/violent situations).

I will leave conclusions and discussions to the reader.