It’s God’s fault. If we’re bad, it’s His fault, if we’re good, it’s ours. i used to wrestle with the idea of theology practiced by Christians. I still do some days, if we’re being honest, i don’t think anyone has it all figured out, and what would the point of life be if you weren’t constantly discovering exactly what your purpose is everyday you’re alive? Today was a hard day, i drank a lot of coffee before i started it and forgot about water, forgot about eating and just focused on all this work we have flowing into 1924. i get overwhelmed by a lot of things, but today was a capping point, and i realized that there is no functionary reasoning behind my existence if I’m not doing it for Him, God i mean. “God” has this ambiguous, vague, kind of, often terrible, air of feeling surrounding that word. i think a lot of people are genuinely afraid of it, because of how much its associated with religion and religious decisions and all the negative aspects that come with it. It seems that morality on one half seems like hatred to a lot of people, is deemed demonic and inhumane, so you get this kind of half-painted, twisted picture of what God looks like through the actions and inactions of others. So then when you hear the term God, or Him, or Religion or Father or Christianity, there is a cringey little tingle that unnerves you. And it all comes back to fault. Now, when i was young, i was 8 years old, i had just been molested and was now on a path of self-destruction through the means of self-gratification. l remember being in the bathtub and feeling very aware of myself, i was 8, and i said very seriously, looking down, that i would sell my soul to the Devil in exchange for the ability to “have any girl i want”.
I was 8.
And i knew what that meant, and i remembered being told that the Devil played tricks on you, that if you weren’t specific he would create loopholes for you to fall into, he would make it feel as though he answered you honestly and forthright, but in reality would lead you astray and leave you to die. So i made up this list of “but you cant do this, and it doesn’t mean that…” trying to figure it all out. As i went on in my life, into my early teenage years i had a very difficult time being present without sexualizing any and everything around me. Now, whereas i have told this story before and heard before that every young boy is like that, i just cant agree to that. I think hormones play a factor in certain things sure, but ultimately i think there was a very dark association with sex in my life as a child that prevailed through into my adult life. At 16 i was questioned by my church about whether or not i was a homosexual, having gone through my experience, i felt a lot of disdain for this question, and an unrighteous anger towards it, and consequently the church too. I do genuinely look back and believe that Debbie, Theresa and Penny (my youth pastors at the time) had my best interests at heart - but at 16, i didn’t. A lot of young people have little wisdom, but have an immense amount of confidence, something that can easily become a downfall if not questioned, managed and addressed healthily. I left home at 14 and so two years prior to this i felt a sense of superiority to my peers, as though i had become individualized through my circumstance. Now, i’m an enneagram 4 for those of you that believe in that sort of thing, and a Taurus, for those that believe that, i find it interesting, not definitive, but certainly interesting. These traits all add up to my stubbornness and a sort of pseudo-reality that i was always invested in. My whole life was a fairy-tale mixed up with ambitions of grandeur i could not ever hope to achieve. Growing up in the small home i did, i felt that i had less than i was allotted and should have had more, this was selfish of course and completely untrue, nevertheless it’s what i believed. Because of that, i made up a place in my head where i could be the never-ending hero, a story for which i, and i alone, would be crowned. See, at a young age because of my sensitive nature, i started an identity based on insecurity. I saw, heard and knew what worked to make people happy - and generally, what did the opposite. Instead of pursuing kindness with this knowledge, like the 8 year old boy i once was, i pursued only one thing - myself. Young, dumb, naive, things that anyone tries to excuse bad behavior with, are all things i can very much look back on and blame but, ultimately realize, was my own doing. I was not a good person. i made a lot of mistakes, hurt a lot of people and mixed the idea of sex, pornography, victimhood and trauma, altogether in a very potent potion of destructive male-dominance misguided as love. They say that the worst kind of bully is one that was bullied as a kid because they never empathize, because they have learned to be non-sensitive towards themselves and thus, falling into a self-perpetuating cycle of pure, utter, destruction… “how can i hurt anyone? I am hurt, and no one has done anything about it.” It’s the narcissist’s cry. We see a lot of narcissism today, and pawn it off as symptoms of proud peoples, we don’t take into account what it means in regards to human interactive practices, by that i mean, we’re all kind of seeing things from an outside perspective of one another instead of really engaging with one another’s inner-self. So at 16, i leave the church, think i can believe in God on my own and lo-and-behold: i can’t. 18 comes around, I’m tough, going to Boston from small-town Oregon and constantly lying to everyone around me about accolades, giving advice that i cant take for a lick, cheating on everyone i know for the endless affirmation of myself from other sources, and feeling like a thirsty, ship-wrecked sailor who cannot satisfy his craving, all of this while toting around some boohoo story about my own trauma, which, i must acknowledge was truly bad but i never deeply and emotionally took the time to dissect and understand it in the serious light it needed to be properly addressed. Instead, i tried to normalize that behavior. I found myself completely isolated in my heart, lost in this narcissistic world of self-gratification and telling myself a mirrored lie that, i’m getting everything i want. This of course was the Devil’s plan all along and i know some of you are like “eesh, don’t blame the devil for being a jerk.” And i’d say you’re absolutely right, i don’t mean to pawn off my actions as anyone’s fault but my own, but i do understand what its like to be under the influence, to feel drunk, disorderly and a bit aware that what you’re doing isn’t who you truly are. Though at the time it’s completely you and you alone, there is something else also entirely involved. And while drugs are physical, and media is something you can see; spiritual intoxication is not often addressed as a real factor because it is spiritual and feels or sounds a little, spooky or something you kind of tuck your neck into your chest, half smile and raise your eyebrows saying “riiiight” as you look for the exit. i know how it sounds - but stay with me.
As some of you know, we are against pornogrpahy for a number of reasons, one of those being i know for a fact it played a roll in my own molestation, that it played a roll in how i treated others and in how i perceived love. For me, in a modern day world i have seen both sides of the same coin of humanity - we are wanting love, some will do anything to get it, and some will do everything else to get it. The difference is that love means something different to all of us. It’s the day and age of Tinder, it has been for a while, and let’s be honest, before phones came along it wasn’t exactly like the 70’s were all about morality and long-lived families. You’ve got a higher divorce rate than ever, a higher rate of the ability to become compatible, Elle and i met online so we’re testaments to that fact - you can find ‘love’ pretty much anywhere these days. But what it means now is a lot different, one night stands, casually dating, hooking up, kissing her, sleeping with him, doing this or that, it’s all shrugged off as the new normalization of human interaction - while simultaneously you have the #meToo movement, something i abhorred when it first came out because i was the perpetuator of the victim’s cries, the reason for #meToo, and i don’t mean it in the weird white guy way of being like ‘I get it now I’m so sorry!’ though i do, i was nothing short of destructive towards others. So back to my point, we have a generation that on one hand, wants to find love through any means possible, practice sex as much as they want with no repercussions as they feel privileged to do so, and on the other hand, feel completely victimized by traumatic and unwelcomed sexual experiences they suffered previously. We have a society that blames and points the finger and then practices the thing they hate: reckless interaction resulting in hurt emotions.
At this point in the story, if you’re still following, i can imagine sitting right where you are and feeling agitated, i don’t mean to do that, or downplay it or to make people feel ashamed, i don’t mean to target you if you feel related at all to either part - i just want to say it from as rational a stand point as i can see at 27 years old. “don’t be a cheater” don’t commit and then mess around with someone else, but here’s the loophole: if you have sex, if you make out and say you love each other, but never officially date or marry, it’s not cheating if you go and do the same thing with someone else, it can’t be argued and no one can be hurt right? Well, not exactly. The same reason that a lot of people are afraid of God is the same for why they are afraid to commit - it’s ambiguous and it means that the future is undetermined and it means taking a risk that might result in you losing parts of yourself, as a sacrifice to the person you love. Now i’ve herd before that if someone truly loves you then you’ll never have to change, and to that i say… i’m really sorry that anyone would believe it. Just because i am myself, doesn’t mean i know what’s best for me. We need guidance everyday of our lives until we die. As we get older we become wise (we hope) and are able to make more and more decisions on our own based on the past result of what helps us. Because we live in a culture that prioritizes self interest over the interest of others, we are left thinking that things we are doing to help ourselves is better for the whole. In point of fact, the opposite is true.
When loving others is our priority it costs you parts of yourself, and in marriage, the first thing you are called to do, the very first thing is to lay down everything for them. It’s really hard, it means that you have to allow yourself change, change that you might really not want to have happen, you might have to give up things you really like in exchange for the direction of your partner. That’s hard. But i’ll counter that challenge with the real difficulty of what it means to be selfish in situations where you are all alone. If you have no one left to take from, if you cant get gratification from anybody, you are left eating yourself in the hope that something good will come out of it - the endless snake cycle, sin destroys from within our identity.
So until i was 23, when i met Elle, i was in a perpetual motion of self-implosion - i am a victim of trauma, that trauma is my identity, i can do no wrong, i am concerned for myself, i am offended by anyone’s intolerances of my self-gratification, and i am all-seeing. At 16 you can see some similarities, but at 23, there’s no more humor in it, and it’s starting to form who you are and who you will be around everyone for years to come. i tell this story because Elle left me one day after discovering I was unfaithful in a number of ways, and the Peace i saw in her life was a gift given by God to her, i had never seen anything like that. Before when i had made mistakes, when i cheated, hurt others and did my own bidding, i cried, apologized, felt bad sure, didn’t fix anything, didn’t sympathize really, and went back to it, check please, what’s next? The day before she left during our confrontation, I crawled into the very dusty corner between my fridge and the hole in the wall where it sat, my face pressed against dirt and cold tile as i screamed out “i didn’t do anything wrong!” i’ll never forget it, because i had an out of body experience right then and there, where i was two steps away and looked down on myself as a child, the 8 year old i was prior to my own downward spiral, and saw someone i didn’t look up to, and leaned in and whispered - “yes, you did, you did do something wrong” and immediately i felt reconciled with my reality - convicted - things had to change, i had to change, or i would die like this: miserable and closed off. I went into the room, sat with her and watched as her eyes lit up with the peace of Christ. Let me tell you, If you’ve never experienced the love of Jesus through someone else, it is an unreal, even unsettling image. It shakes you. Because it is not afraid of anything, and it is the coolest thing, i hate that word “cool” but i literally can’t think of any other way to describe it. i thought that was it with Elle, i was certain that she’d fly back and that would be it for us… she did fly back, but she left a gift with me: a reality check.
You’ll hear the same thing i do when i share this testimony - “just because it was bad for you, just because you couldn’t handle it, just because you went through it, just because you were addicted, doesn’t mean……….” and followed by any number of reasonings why i’m somehow special because of how bad i am given the tools of destruction everyone else has access to. It makes me think of cancer, there are differences in cancer, some are relatively easy to fight some are deadly, still it’s all cancer. Some can survive it, some can handle it, some can struggle through, some simply die because of it. Cancer isn’t a choice, but fighting it is. This is important, it’s my testimony, my chance, my life, i know i have done wrong where others could have been better, i know i made mistakes where others could have avoided them - but, it’s still a cancer. Sexual trauma, identity trauma, these are unavoidably defining for all of us, it’s what we do with it that expresses our character, and how we move forward in life. I see love a lot differently now than to how i ever did, and it took a long time to unlearn the processes for which i learned to gratify myself and only myself. It is without a doubt the first year in Elle and i’s life where we feel closer and we’re married now, so it tells me a story of hope more than a story of redemption. When she left, i could no longer hope to achieve any sort of affirmation from her or anyone else, i was left wanting, deeper than sexually, deeper than through words or praise, it was and is a battle for stillness and peace in moments where i am anxious, ashamed and tired. Nothing i ever do myself can bring that peace I need, that gift is God-given and blessed, i ask for it a lot but i also try and work for it, it’s little decisions everyday in my thought life, in my actions that allow me to be in a place to receive what God has for me. Often times we want God to come down and just tell us He’s there. Often times it’s when you want to be close to Christ that you find the Devil wants to be closer to you too… changing takes time and it takes dedicated commitment - no going back.
No one wants to feel ashamed for their sins, actions or thoughts, so they’d rather normalize them, even if its traumatic, even if it’s bad, morally, they want to make it so that they don’t guilty. I used to yell at Elle because i thought, i mean i couldn’t comprehend how someone could possibly be so naive of the world, but it's exactly what we’re called to do, and she’s not naive she’s steadfast in her optimism for a happy and healthy life - nothing less. Just because the world starts to normalize things doesn’t mean we’re meant to. People ask me about moral good and bad, where it came from and is it religious? And i say the same thing: remember when you were a kid and no one was around because you were a sly and sneaky, and you did something wrong that no one saw you do? Somehow, still, regardless, you know its wrong and you feel guilty for it. No one saw you! Where’s that feeling come from? Who dictates that? If i’m here on this earth just for me - why would i feel bad? I’m positive there’s any number of arguments to that theory but for me, in it's most innocent form - it’s impactful and resounding. We feel hurt by things we yearn for the appropriate versions of. We aren’t developed for one night stands or flings, we feel hurt by cheating because we want love, we are traumatized by inappropriate sexual encounters with others because of how much our identities are meant to thrive off the correct ones — with our husbands or wives. I am more than sure, i sound astutely religious and even more-so, traditional to a fault.
But i know what it’s like to struggle, to suffer, to repeat again and again the hurt that comes our way at one point or another in life, instead of being above it, throwing in the towel and saying - you know what fine, you win, i give in, let’s do whatever anyone else is because it’s obvious no one is standing up for me, so why should i stand up for myself? I answered this question at 25, listen and change or there will be no time left for you to do so. It’s a bit harsh, because i realize some might be reading this at 38, 45, 52, 81, some might think it's one sided or somehow, still selfish. At 25, i gave my life back to Christ, i was baptized at 26 and re-embraced in a new light. Not to make myself feel free of the shame of what wrongs i’d done - and still very much remember, regret and feel accountable for - but because there was a message for my life and it wasn’t to lie down and give in. As soon as i stepped back from my addictions, from the spiritual cancer that i was pulling out of my body, my whole life started to react the same way it would if you were kicking a drug habit, massive bouts of anxiety and depression, fear and reliance, shame, so much shame. See when you normalize what’s wrong in your life, when you habituate your issues to the point of daily practice, you disassociate all of the negativity and see only what satisfies you, regardless of the impact it may have on other areas of your life. When you pull away from it, you start to realise how bad it really is because of much you’ll fight for it, the friendships you’d sacrifice to get it back, the improbable actions you’d take - that’s when you realise it’s got a hold on you. If someone questioning your actions offends you - first thing you should do is wonder why you’re offended and go from there. When as a society we normalize sin, especially things wrapped in our identities, we lose the ability to accurately address our sicknesses. It’s like having cancer and not knowing where to go to stop it. Cancer isn't normal, but it occurs normally, it’s something so simple that’s a part of you, your cells that every other day just work for your benefit, but then they become twisted, contorting and tumorous stopping the efficiency of your body. When you normalize cancer(s) you lose the foresight to stop it. When you normalize things, you grow numb to them, numb to why they can hurt, numb to why they are there, numb to why they should stop, numb to all of the reasoning of why it exists in the first place.
It’s God's fault. There’s bad, so stop it. If you’ve ever said it, you’d be lost in the innumerable amount of others who have too. But sin doesn’t work that way, and its not this battle of Good and Evil, it’s the life-threatening fight for the worth of our spirits. Bad things and good things aren’t just there, and it’s not one side against the other: God uses everything as an instance to teach, and to lead, not by how we think it should be done, but by how it is done by Him. Like faith, sin doesn’t always show itself easily: you can feel it, fear it, love it even, some worship it, but where it takes you is ultimately different, and quite the demise in comparison. Faith is greater than sin. God has lessons for us, and we need to take the time, put in the effort to learn them, and to share, to showcase what it's like to come out of the darkness and into the light. When you normalize how well you can see in the dark, you feel like, what's the point? i can see just fine… Perspective is everything when it comes to faith, and having a humble one is what sets you apart. I write this as a testament to overcoming not by own strength not by the affirmation of others, or the forgiveness of others, it's not about owning up, it’s about letting go of who you are, who you used to be, who you will be, for who you’re meant to be in the eyes of the only thing that matters, God. Because everything else fades away eventually, and what you’re left with now says everything about what you will do before you leave here - there is not long and all we have is time, love is beautiful, non-threatening, open, solid, and written - nothing less.