Archive for March, 2007

Breaking the Spell (Prologue)

Posted by on Thursday, 29 March, 2007

I don’t believe the Devil
I don’t believe his book
But the truth is not the same
Without the lies he made up
Don’t believe in excess
Success is to give
Don’t believe in riches
But you should see where I live
I… I believe in love
— U2

When I was young I learned a game
Where love and happiness were the same
Now I’m older and I don’t play
I found out the hardest way
— Dramarama

There are a lot of pretty girls in the world… but only one of them is beautiful

Though my beliefs in other matters have changed wildly over the years, I always believed in love. Love is transcendent, undeniable, pure, true… and above all, exclusive.

One of the hardest things for me to accept has been the fact that my heart is a wicked liar.

I have repeatedly alluded to a certain individual who challenges me greatly. To put things in the best possible way, this person has even more serious communication issues than I do. I became uncomfortable about the interest she was showing toward me a number of months ago. She would always try to engage me in private conversation after Bible studies. I am still uncertain as to the point or even the content of these communications, but I became very weary of the fact that she was capable of at least enunciating when in a group setting, yet when one on one with me she seemed too nervous to even form coherent sentences. Eventually, I grew tired of these little episodes and told her straight out that I did not want to have these conversations anymore.

That is when the proverbial feces hit the fan. For the next three or four months, she would constantly tell anyone and everyone that she had “moved on with [her] life,” (at least whenever I was around) occasionally adding that she was not going to let me control her. Also during this time, she would send me a great number of emails. A lot of these were perfectly innocent “Bible commentary” type messages, which I found merely perplexing in their intended purpose. The others were more disturbing, in which she would accuse either me or others around her of things that were blatantly untrue. These almost always included a reminder that she was not chasing after me and was not interested in being my girlfriend. I did not know what to do with that. I suggest the analogy: if every single time you saw me, I were to remind you in all seriousness that I was not plotting to kill you, would you not be just a little suspicious anyway? Due to a somewhat similar situation in the past, I made it my policy to never respond to her emails, no matter what.

I will be the first to admit that I did not best handle this situation in an appropriate and timely manner. In fact, I might be the only person to admit that. One person told me at a relatively early point in the process that he personally would have gotten a restraining order a long time ago. Another said that he really saw Christ in me in the way I was handling things. That was a particularly difficult statement, being quite certain that Christ was not actually in me, for him to say so meant that this whole thing really is a farce.

The real trouble I faced was that in confronting her, I only saw a mirror. I intimately know what it feels like to care about someone who does not feel the same way. I know the profound sense that if you could just talk things out, to be able to connect, if the person would just see… and I know the overwhelming pain and frustration when it repeatedly does not happen. Facing her, I knew that if her heart could tell such lies… then so could mine. I could not take action to resolve the situation, because deep down I knew that whatever I might say to her, I should really be saying to myself, and I just wasn’t ready to accept that. The difference I saw between us was merely a matter of degree. I’m not sure it’s even fair to say that I had a stronger grasp on reality than she did; the only real difference was that I simply had a slightly better sense of what constitutes appropriate public behavior.

Breaking the Spell

Seeing God

Posted by on Friday, 16 March, 2007

I somewhat fear that God may be conspicuously absent from my narrative about God. So here we go. I tend to see God in amazing coincidences.

A few weeks ago, some folks from my church group went out swing dancing. I did not go, for a whole list of reasons, starting with, “I wasn’t invited,” and ending with, “It was ol’ Jingle Pockets’ birthday.” My favorite reason though (not that anyone asked) was “Not after last time!”

For one thing, I was still bitter about the fact that when I had tried to organize a group to go swing dancing back in December, no one wanted to go. (Which, come to think of it, might be exactly why I wasn’t invited this time.) I did actually go that time with the friend who had suggested the idea. (Confused you for a minute there, didn’t I?) Afterwards, when asked how it went, I would reply, “It was terrible… but I had a good time!”

What was terrible? My dancing? Well, obviously that… but I was actually referring to the situation as terrible. It was bad enough that no one else wanted to go, but in particular, that no ladies wanted to go. So it was just us two guys in a room full of dancing strangers.

Now, I knew that someone would probably ask me later if I had actually danced, and I would hate to have to say, “No.” More to the point, it would be quite a waste to have come all this way just to stand around and watch, because quite frankly, that wasn’t much fun at all. So I came up with the plan of observing carefully to find some wallflower who also didn’t know anyone there but clearly wanted to dance and was just waiting for someone to take notice of her. The only question remaining was, “How many beers do I have to drink before I’m willing to ask a total stranger if I can stomp all over her feet?”

I am not fundamentally opposed to drinking. I just decided a long time ago that it wasn’t something that I needed anymore. I really don’t care for the taste of alcohol, I would only drink for the effect, and that is something the Bible is clearly against. I do, however, drink on occasion under special circumstances. (Some of you are perhaps remembering a certain other recent occurrence, which was also rather questionable.) So there I was, a beer and a half in, already feeling rather tipsy (which was pretty disappointing for a guy who used to put down half a bottle of tequila in a single sitting), and I suddenly started thinking, “What the hell am I doing?” I may drink on special occasions, but this hardly qualifies. Here I was, drinking specifically for the purpose of getting drunk enough to do something that I would never do otherwise.

Having recently renewed my faith in God, I began to pray. I don’t remember what I prayed. I don’t think I even finished before my inebriated mind wandered off to other things. However, shortly thereafter, a girl came up to me and asked if I went to Trinity. Being a good fifty miles or so away from the church, I could only think, “Is she talking about the same Trinity? That was a hell of a guess.” She asked if I remembered her and told me her name. The truth is, I didn’t recognize her in the slightest… but I did remember meeting someone with that name not so long ago.

The point is, now I had someone to dance with. From my own church no less. Trust in Him, and God will provide.

Another incident also occurred in December. I had convinced my family to make charitable donations in lieu of Christmas gifts that year. So I was poking around online and got off on a slight tangent involving foreign adoptions. I don’t generally like to admit to even having any long term goals, but let’s just say that if I did, foreign adoption would be one of them. So I was reading about this organization that specializes in that, and there was a link to find out where they would be holding informational meetings. So I clicked on that. There were only about half a dozen states represented, but California happened to be one of them. So I clicked on that. I discovered that there was a meeting that very weekend, only three days away. Now if it was in LA, that would not be particularly surprising. In fact there were a few in LA in the coming months, along with San Diego and other metropolitan areas. However, this particular one that caught my attention was being held in Redlands, at The River church, which is WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF MY HOUSE. Could this have possibly been any more neatly packaged and delivered right to my front door? It had also recently come to my attention that not one but two of my female friends were also passionate about adoption. (Though they never actually mentioned the word “foreign.”)

What does all of this mean? As it happens, I had already planned on going to Mexico that weekend, and after mulling this over for awhile, I told myself rather sternly, “It doesn’t mean anything! Just stick with the plan, and whatever you do, keep your mouth shut!”

So I did, and I did. Well, up until now I guess.

Three Revelations

Posted by on Friday, 9 March, 2007

I had thoughts for three separate posts floating around. The first one was meant for back in December, but Blogger wasn’t being nice to me then and I never ended up posting it. The second two were thoughts from this week, or today as the case may be. I decided to just have a three-for-one sale, as they are somewhat loosely related.

1. If Only For A Moment It All Makes Sense
Men tend to value and desire the physical aspect of a relationship. Women prefer the emotional connection.

This is not to say that men do not want or need emotional connection, or that women don’t desire physical connection. Quite the contrary in fact. But from my observations of humanity, for whatever reason, men focus on the one while women focus on the other. As far as drastic oversimplifications go, I feel that this is pretty solid. Of course, there are always going to be just enough of both men and women on the opposite side of the fence to confuse everybody. Forget about them. Are you with me so far?

Sometimes men desire (or worse – think they can get) the physical connection “for free,” i.e. without emotional commitment. Such men are called “scum-bags” (or your colloquial equivalent.)

I assume that I haven’t said anything revolutionary so far. Here’s the insightful bit: sometimes women also think that they can get the emotional connection “for free.” I don’t know of a corresponding colorful term for this, because I’ve never even heard it acknowledged as a problem before. In fact, I believe that this is considered perfectly normal.

I further propose that, just as a woman might desire to save herself physically for the right man, so a man desires to save himself emotionally for just the right woman. (By “man,” of course, I take what I know of myself and extrapolate to the rest of my gender.)

This doesn’t work. A relationship needs both, and you can’t really get away with either one without the other. Not for very long anyway. This, I believe, is what is confusing the bananas out of everybody. (And by “everybody,” of course, I just mean myself again.)

2. Dammit
So I ask myself, “Why are you only mean to the people you care about?”

The obvious answer:
“What are you talking about? I’m mean to everybody.”

Indeed, upon reflection on the past, I seem equally likely to snub a total stranger or my closest friends. Oh well then, that’s sure a relief. Ain’t nobody getting through this wall.

3. Story To Remain Untold
I had the startling realization today that as much as I desire- or think that I desire- true love, what I actually want deep down is a really good love story.

I met this girl once and I was interested in her and she was interested in me and we started dating. And that may make for a good relationship, but it just doesn’t make a very good story. Especially when I have the remains of a better story still dancing around somewhere in my head and in my heart. This explains why tend I to wait until I’ve already lost before I even really start trying… because that’s the point where it gets interesting.

I need to be able to say that I’ve climbed mountains and fought dragons just to be with you… especially since I’ve done such things in the past.

I’m not trying to suggest that this is good or even remotely productive, because as a matter of fact, it isn’t. Did you know I was a hopeless romantic? I did… It’s just that I forgot a long time ago.