Monday, April 29, 2013

I should, but I can't, but now I can

Monday, April 30, 2013

Today is the last Monday of my middle age. I turn 60 next Sunday and will be officially an old person.
Now, from the outside, that may seem to be a bad thing. Eww. Old. Can't do stuff. Rickety. But the outside view is wrong, wrong, wrong.
(WARNING: VAST OVERSIMPLIFICATION AHEAD!) I chose to take all of the behaviorist classes I could while I was in school. What makes behaviorism different from humanist, or existential, developmental, gestalt, and the other million ways of understanding the human condition is that it focuses strictly on behavior. It's not true that behaviorists deny that there is a soul, or a mind; it's just that the behaviorist says "It's not your mind that gets you into trouble. It's your behavior." The Hollywood stereotype of the psychoanalysist has the patient lying on a couch, talking about dreams, what were the first things he remembered, etc.The behaviorist says: What problem behavior do you want to change, or what desirable behavior do you want to learn or enhance?
And, from the behaviorist view, all behavior is purposeful. We have a reason to act the way we do. You can't always tell the purpose of the behavior until you see the results, and sometimes those results are long - term. From this perspective, the reason I am sitting in this chair, right now, typing on this blog, is a result of my behavior throughout my previous life. Everything I have done so far has been to bring me to this point. Even if I didn't know I was going to this point, this is where my behaviors brought me. Now, they back off of the ultimate conclusion, which makes Christians snicker; because they say that the ultimate conclusion is that our behaviors in life lead us to death, which is of course preposterous; to which Christians say NO IT ISN'T ! IT'S THE ENTIRE POINT! WE LIVE OUR LIVES IN SUCH A WAY AS TO BRING US CLOSER TO GOD!
But I'm not dead yet.
And, based on the ages of my parents and grandparents on both sides, I'm gonna make it to my 80's with no problem. So I've got at least 20 years to be a competent (intellectually, at least) old person.
Now, let me tie this together: For my entire life, I've been preparing to be an old person. The character I have been forming is going to flower as an old person. The body I have has become that of an old person, if we look at the rickety crickety painful parts, for the past several years, so getting an old body is something I'm already good at. I'm prepared for retirement, since I had to take early disability retirement some five plus years ago. And old people don't have to do nothing they don't want to do, and I've been working on that for the past several years.
Now, the LAW, which presents us with the "I should, but I can't" dilemma, is no longer a problem for me. See, all my behavior up to this point has been designed to bring me to the place where what I WANT to do is to manifest the LAW in my life. And, of course, I'm not talking about the ceremonial law. I'm talking about  "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself." I can remember like it was today that awful tension of wanting to get high, but dreading it, and the cycling back and forth until I either gave into it right then, or postponed it and gave into it later. That was really, really awful. And I could repeat the same description about any number of ways to mess up. But: I'm old (or will be in a week), and I don't have the hormones and the stupidity racing through my blood system any more. I'm geared up now to be an old person; an old person who really enjoys being who God has called him to be. I don't have to cut my hair, I can wear blue jeans to church, and I can ask for reproof and receive it and learn from it and grow and prosper, because I am living in the land of promise.
So, har-de-har-har, young men. You've got strength; I've got gray hair. GLORY!

Locusts and wild honey,


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Give me your heart, my son

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Proverbs 23: 26
Give me your heart, my son,
And let your eyes delight in my ways.

I don't know of a scripture that has hit me as hard about parenthood as this one. 
Earlier in this proverb, there are a number of admonitions to sons: don't do stupid stuff, son, you'll break yer mama's heart. Said much better than that, of course. And it's all really, really good advice.
But this verse, right here, gets to the fundamental essence of being a parent. 
First, Give me your heart. The promise of "I'll take good care of it" is implicit. Give me your heart. Trust me. Give me your heart. Believe in me. What an audacious statement! What parent would DARE to say to their older-than-10 child, "give me your heart?" And yet, isn't that what we are saying to them, with everything we do? Even if we don't ever, ever say those words? Isn't every act of loving and caring for a child saying , give me your heart?
My grandson came over on Friday. He's not quite three months old. And, at the start of the visit, he was fussy. His tummy was upset, and he was cranky, and he didn't want his pacifier, and he didn't want anything. But ya know what? I could hold him, and bounce with him to help him jiggle those burps up, and I quietly sang him nonsense...and he would quiet down. And I nuzzled him, and kissed his head, and told him I loved him, and held him close.
And it was all saying, give me your heart.
Of course, the only way I could say to Heath, give me your heart, is because I have already given my heart to him. He had it before I nuzzled him; he had it before he was born, he had it before he was conceived; he had it when we sat around the kitchen table twenty years ago and I prayed for those my children would marry, and their children, and their children's children. So, because Heath has my heart, I can ask him to give me his heart.
And that's what the Bible says, too; that's what it means when it says, For God so loved the world.
Second, Let your eyes delight in my ways. Watch me closely, son! Do what I do! Enjoy it!
Where is the weight falling with THAT particular transaction? You betcha! It's absolutely falling on me. See what I'm doing! I'm not gonna hide anything from you. I'm not going to keep hidden secret sins; I'm not even going to hide the cookies from you. Well; I MIGHT hide the cookies from you, if you eat too many cookies. But mostly, I'm going to make my life an open book to you, and I want you to turn the pages, and make bookmarks, and notes in the margins.
And speaking of margins: I've read Proverbs more than any other book of the Bible. And I've made notes. And comments. And dated some of them. And I have annotated the verse above this AND the verse below this; why? why? why? why has it never clicked in me before what this verse is saying? I didn't get this from a commentary; I was just reading it. Today is the 23rd of April, and this is Proverbs 23, so I read it. I guess it's just that...I was ready.
And it's a good thing, too. Vanessa and I are raising two of her grandchildren. And I have to make sure I have given them my heart. Because I will be saying to them, give me your heart; let your eyes delight in my ways.
I don't think it's an option.

Fools rush in, addendum

Well, yesterday I searched my heart and learned somethings. And, in an expanded form, I think yesterday's blog might be worthy of going further.
But I have to add this addendum, because it is also an illustration of the fool rushing in and paying the penalty.
Background: After months of anti-inflammatory therapy with meloxicam, the day came when my gastro-intestinal tract could no longer tolerate it it. From heartburn to the other end, it seemed like I had nothing but problems. Doctor suggested another, milder NSAID, but it did the same thing. My gut symptoms gradually eased, while my pain symptoms rose up and grabbed me by the throat and shook me like a terrier shakes a rat. 
Over time, of a couple of weeks, I began to tolerate the pain better, or it eased, I don't know which. I do know it became less demanding. But the gut stuff never quite went away.
Now, we're in the midst of pollen season here, and the levels are such that if you don't live in it, you wouldn't believe it. So, I thought, maybe that's keeping me inflamed. Makes my eyes burn and my sinus are flaring, so why not my gut? But it became enough of a problem a few days ago, that I decided to take some pepto. It had been a benefit for me last year when I was withdrawing from the morphine. So, I opened the fridge, saw a bottle of generic pepto, and took a swig. Best tasting pepto I ever had.
Didn't seem to help with the symptoms that I could tell. So, Day before yesterday, I re-dosed myself. Nice minty taste. No help with the symptoms. In fact, I had to make a couple of more trips to the bathroom.
So, yesterday, before I wrote my blog entry, I decided to give it another try, and took a BIG slug of the stuff. Not really a trial to do so, it really did have a pleasant taste. Did my study, wrote my blog, had a nap attack...
...and woke up feeling very uncomfortable. Couldn't really pinpoint the problem. Wasn't pain, exactly. But I was decidedly uncomfortable. So after a minute or so, I headed to the bathroom; maybe there was something in my breakfast that had presented a problem.
And as I sat upon the throne, an upside-down volcano erupted from my nether regions. And horrid, boiling noises, as if I had eaten a live bobcat, resounded from just below my ribs. I remained cloistered for quite some time.
What was wrong with me? I KNEW I had not taken any more of the anti-inflammatories that had started the problem. I hadn't started any new medications, and nothing I was taking had ANY gastric upset as a side effect. Pollen? That seemed...ridiculous. I've lived in the South my entire life, except for the Army time. Never had this happen to me before that I can recall.
When I was finally able to disengage from the plumbing, painfully and slowly, I made my way downstairs. A faint thought occurred to me. I followed the light... to the refrigerator. I took out the bottle of generic pepto. Read the label. Not generic pepto, after all.
It was milk of magnesia, a laxative. The fool had rushed in, grabbed a bottle of laxative, and dosed his runny guts with it on three consecutive days, without ONCE bothering to check the label.
Recently, my pastor asked me if I could see how a pattern of rushed decisions had been a flesh pattern in my life. Yeah, PJ, I do believe I'm beginning to get a small glimmer of that.
I think I'm going to eat a couple of pounds of cheese today.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fools rush in and pay the penalty

Monday morning, April 22, 2013

Proverb 22: 3 (NASV)
The prudent sees the evil and hides himself,
But the [b]naive go on, and are punished for it.

I had a long teachable moment on this topic this weekend. It involved a parable/aphorism and a true story, and what it looked like was Kenneth and I sitting on his bed with the door closed. The aphorism first: "If you poke a dog with a stick, you might get bitten. If you poke a bear with a sick "; here Kenneth interrupted me and said "he'll kill you." 
Yeah, I said, he might. He might run, but he might kill ya. You never know.
And then I told him the story. 
I was in the Cub Scouts, and I think it was in the 3rd or 4th grade. We wore our uniforms to school, and there was another Scout there, a much bigger, much older boy. His uniform showed that he had been in Scouts for three years, but he only had three merit badges. I thought that was hilarious, and so I proceeded to make loud fun of him. "Three years in the Scouts and only three merit badges! Look at that!" 
The next thing I knew, I was upside down in a garbage drum, one of those 55 gallon drums they used to collect litter on school premises. It rolled over, and I rolled out. I wasn't hurt; it happened so fast I didn't even have a chance to get scared. 
Now, 52 years later, I realize that it was very likely that the boy who dumped me in the trash would now be recognized as a special needs student. We didn't have special classes for those kids back then; they just struggled along in the lower grades with everybody else, and failed, and when they were old enough, they either dropped out or went to the vocational-industrial  school. I know how hard school was for me, as a kid with ADD when nobody knew what ADD was; for the kids who were mentally impaired, it had to be so much worse.   
So for the boy I mocked, I realize now the pain he felt was much worse  than what I experienced that day. From my perspective today, I can imagine all kind of scenarios that were essential in bringing him to that day of wearing the uniform: a patient pack leader, helping him to slowly do the things he could do; supportive fellow members of his pack, encouraging him; his own frustration as he saw everyone else proceed beyond what he could do. 
But he could wear the uniform, with pride; and he had, for three years. And he wore it proudly to school that day; until some snotty little punk started making fun of him.
"Go up, you bald head!"
Bears did not come down and tear me to pieces; that was merciful.
I do hope that the delight of seeing his tormentor upside down in the litter made up for whatever he experienced as a result of my cruelty. I hope he went to his class, and was congratulated by understanding, supportive friends for tossing that kid in the trash where he belonged.  I hope that he didn't go home in tears to his parents that afternoon and tell them he was never going back to Cub Scouts again.
But I have no way of knowing. 
If I could, I would make amends to that boy. I can't. I never knew his name; I don't know that I ever saw him again. 
But what I can do is teach Kenneth.
And maybe I can share the story with others.
And maybe, if I can do that, some of penalty for foolishly rushing in that day will be paid.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Grace and Peace, Take 2

Well, the last time I did this, I suffered a shiver-me-timbers blood sugar episode, and that left me unable to do much more than close my eyes and lean back. Then later on in the day, suffered another one, not as strong the second time, though. It did keep my pretty much shut down for the rest of the day.
BUT: now let me return to I Thess 1. Paul writes: Grace to you, and peace.
Growing up in the semi-rural South, I knew the word 'grace' first from the prayer that was said at the start of every meal. It seemed to take three forms: the rote prayers of children (God is great, God is good); the rarer times, usually at holiday meals, when it was an opportunity for someone to be long-winded; and finally the occasions I remember as a young teen when my step-father would use the occasion to scold me to God. Now maybe he wasn't doing that; sure felt like it. But, whatever form it took, it was a prayer said before a meal, and that CAN'T be what Paul was writing here. 
The second way I knew the word 'grace' was from the hymn. First verse sung everywhere, at all times. For an invitational hymn, which to those of us in the Baptist Church meant either a time for an initial profession of faith, a re-dedication, or a transfer of fellowship, OR it meant that you were about ready to leave and go get some lunch, we'd sing the first, second, and last verses. Or if we were having a revival, we'd just keep singing it over and over...
But I don't want to put an overwhelming burden on the lyrics of a song. Yeah, maybe in the lyrics of the song, we can find out what Paul meant, when he wrote to the Church at Thessalonika, but, since I've already bitten the bullet and decided to look at the Greek, let's just go there instead.
And: it looks like it means a "a gift from God to you." Not a natural gift, like air, water, food; but a gift that was specific to the needs; a gift that was designed to make them stronger, wiser, more loving; something spiritual, but with total practical application. It wasn't specified what the gift was; it was a blank check, based on what the needs were. And, it wasn't just a 'Hope you are all doing well!' sort of greeting, either. That's covered in the rest of the letter.
I've been rolling this one around in my head. I don't think that Paul was just tossing in some extra words for form's sake. Instead, I think that what he was doing was SENDING to the church: XARIS and IRENE, grace and peace. 
Look I know it's easier to type on a blog than to use a quill pen on papyrus, but this goofy cat just walked across the keyboard, and I ALMOST lost what I had written. 
Maybe if Paul wrote me a letter that started "Grace" he'd give me the supernatural spiritual power to refuse the cat permission to sit on me until I finished my blog.
BUT: Yeah, I think that's kind of what he did. I think that when he wrote "Grace and Peace" he wasn't just hoping they would have peace, and that some grace would come their way. I think he was actually expecting that through the receiving and reading of the letter, the church would experience a power gift according to their need, and peace, which they certainly needed.
And I'll stop there. I've got a cat on me.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Grace and Peace

I'm still in a study of I Thessalonians 1. In fact, I'm still on verse 1. But today is different from yesterday. Which is kind of apparent, hey?  But let me point out a couple of ways that today is differnt from yesterday.
For one, it's Friday. and from now on, all Fridays are Red Fridays. Remember Everyone Deployed, until they all come home.
For another, I've decided that the music to listen to while I'm writing is better to be Brooks Williams on Pandora, as opposed to worship music. It's not that I have anything against worship music; it's just that the function of the music is largely to drown out the sound of the kids and not to distract me, and the LOVELY acoustic guitar licks of Brooks Williams do a much better job of that than worship music. Elevator music for the soul? Nah. It's just that it's soothing, delightful, and it doesn't demand my attention the way that worship music does from time to time.
And another thing that's different is that I have abandoned my previous posture of non-scholarly study; specifically, I needed to go to the Greek. The awful, awful experience I had at seminary was mitigated in that I did have some exposure to Greek, under the teaching of Chip Hayes, a graduate student who was one of the most authentic Christians I studied under, and maybe the only one who started his classes with prayer.
But I don't want to comment on that time anymore at the present. Except to say, I wonder where Chip Hayes is now?
And I've got to stop for a bit; my hands are shaking and I'm feeling like I'm having a blood sugar crisis. 
I'm not sure what the protocol is for blogging while under blood sugar alerts. Mine was 87, which isn't too low, but it was enough to zap me for a while. Back up to 114 an hour later but I still feel bad.
Think I'm gonna haveta let this one ride for a while...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Reading I Thessalonians 1

I'm reading Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy's letter to the church at Thessalonica. And I'm trying to break it down into little chunks so i can understand it. And I'm trying to put that into this blog, and I'm doing it with a needy cat in my lap. I wonder if Paul ever had to deal with a needy cat?

And the first thing that strikes me is that the grammar is sort of strange. If I was writing to Liberty Church, I'd write it "To the church  of God in Marietta." Not that Liberty is the only church in Marietta, nor is Liberty a part of the denomination called the Church of God.
But the letter says 'church OF the Thessalonians' 
'IN God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.'

I really don't want to put a whole lot of emphasis on prepositions, since it's been 30 years since I took Greek and I didn't study then, and I'm not pulling out my Greek New Testament, and I'm not even comparing the NASV with the NIV.
But let's just pretend that I did.
church of the thessalonians. Yeah, I can do that. It's the church composed of thessalonians. I don't have to stretch at all to understand it.
but: the church IN God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ? Behold, I will hide nothing from you: I'm not even looking at the opening to the other letters to see how this compares with the other openings. I'm just gonna meditate on what it means. God is in the church; the church is in God. Are those equivalent statements?
AHA AHA AHA! Here comes the first sho 'nuff point that I want to make: I believe I have observed some confusion, or maybe just sloppy language, but maybe sloppy theology, about who it is we are worshiping. Now, maybe that comes from listening to prayers that weren't particularly well thought out. But this letter is pretty clear: Gods the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some of the cults are pretty clear about who they aren't worshiping. We had a couple in the house a few weeks ago who were Jehovah's Witnesses, and they don't believe Jesus is God. And compared to that kind of defining clarity, I guess what I'm talking about has little significance.But:
The Father is God, and 
The Son is God, and
The Holy Spirit is God.
And the Father is not the Son is not the Holy Spirit.
I do NOT understand the Trinity.
I just believe that the Trinity is, and that there is a difference between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
I ain't up to being on Jeopardy or getting grilled to pieces about the particulars. It's just what the Creeds say, and it's really, really clear to me that the Bible says that Jesus is God, and that the Spirit is separate from both the Father and the Son.
I've got to stop now; my brain is full.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

It only makes sense when it's irrational

Saturday, April 6, 2013

I've been sober now for over 25 years; 9227 days, in fact, if the counter on my desktop is accurate. 
I didn't quit because I wanted to join a neat club, although I have joked that the reason I wanted to join AA was so I could hang around with people with tattoos and and have to worry about getting beat up. I quit because I was desperate. 
I quit a LOT of times because I was desperate.
And then, after a couple of days, I wouldn't be desperate anymore, so I'd drink again; or after a week (don't know how long I might have pulled off THAT much dry time) I'd be desperate, but this time desperate for a drink, so I'd drink again. And I'd drink until the next time I was desperate.
But what made me quit, and STAY quit, was not desperation; it was the slight tingle of hope. I went to a meeting, and I heard Ron talk about what it had been like, and what had happened,and what it was like now, and I got this idea, that maybe this thing might work for me.
And it did.
On several levels.
The first level it worked on was this: I took my last drink on January 1, 1988, went to my first meeting on January 4, 1988, and I haven't had a drink for 9227 days. But not-drinking is just a necessary but not sufficient condition for sobriety, defining sobriety as a way of life that leads to peace with God and fellow man,and gives one the option of being happy, joyous, and free.
But it worked on other levels, too.
I THINK the next level it worked on was showing me the defenses I had erected to hide and protect myself, or more specifically,showing me that they didn't work.
And the way that happened was this: In the program where I got sober (Alcoholics Victorious, an explicitly Christian version of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous), at the beginning of every meeting, we went around the room and introduced ourselves. The classic meeting intro/greeting is "My name is Bill, and I'm an alcoholic." "Hi, Bill!"
And during the introductions, I would cry. I didn't understand, at first. But then I realized that I had spent so much energy and resources on hiding and denying the fact that I was an alcoholic; and yet, here, I was recognized, and acknowledged, and accepted as an alcoholic.  When they said "Hi, Pat!" They were saying, yes, you are an alcoholic, and you recognize that, and we are alcoholics, too, and we recognize that, and we are NOT going to reject you or mistreat you, we are accepting you at and because of your point of weakness. Hi, Pat. We know what you have been through, we've been through it ourselves, and you don't have to explain it, but you can tell us about it if you want to, and you'll still be a part of us, and we'll still be here.
Wham! All the stuff I had used to make myself special dropped into insignificance. The fact that I had the coolest jeans in the room. The fact that I had a master's degree in counselling. It didn't matter.
Because my greatest failures didn't matter, either. And all of my cool stuff had just been defenses to hide my failures, and all my failures just went away. Now I could have jeans that were just jeans, comfortable clothes that fit me nicely, not a symbol of coolness.
That was maybe the first major deliverance I had from the pattern of lies that had kept me in pain and drinking to stop the pain, and then in pain from the drinking. It wasn't the last deliverance, though; I don't know what the last deliverance is, because I haven't had it yet. But, one of the MAJOR additional deliverances was this: My best thinking brought me here. Whether it was doing the right things for the wrong reasons, doing the wrong things for the right reasons, doing the same things over and over and expecting different results, WHATEVER: it all lead to the same conclusion: it was my best thinking, and acting on that thinking, that brought me to the point of utter hopelessness. And then, because God is, a miracle happened.
So now, how do I know when my best thinking is leading me into a pit or to a mountain top? Well, the first thing I learned was to look at the guys who had made it, and do what they did. Then I learned to shut up and listen. Then I learned that wise people had something to offer me. Then I learned that stupid people had something to offer me. Then I learned a lot more stuff, and eventually I learned that my thinking was better. 
But it can still go wrong, so: again, I ask the question, how do I know if my best thinking is taking me to the pit or to the mountain top? And I suppose the answer is this: look for signposts. Take headings. Ask others. Prove all things; hold fast to that which is true. And don't forget to sk for help; and don't forget to trust in Him.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A short note about typos

I've noticed that my typos are significantly more numerous than they have been in the past. Not just here, but everywhere I type.
Well, I think it COULD be because I cut off the end joint of the middle finger of my right hand.
I just ain't able to hit the keys with that finger like I useta, and it's thrown me off. My ring finger is gradually taking up the slack, but until I get the new habits well developed, It's gonna be clunky.

The next circle

And it's Friday.
How's the circle going?
Well, it's doing just fine.
I received encouragement and direction for my home group leader, Andrew.
Then I received extensive counsel via email from my pastor PJ, and after working through basic issues, met with him and Andrew and Chuck, the care pastor for our service.
And that was a good circle.
PJ chewed on me; he knows I'm chewable, and that I take him seriously.
Wanna know what my sin was?
Wanna tell me what YOUR sin is, first? No?
well, I'll tell you: it's that I let things go, and then over-react. 
Okay. I can deal with that.
Defend it? No way. 
Why would I ask somebody to tell me how to do the right thing, and then spend my time telling them I already knew how to do the right thing? I'm after healing. I ain't tryin' ta justify myself. There's nobody I care to justify myself to; either my behavior commends itself, or it doesn't, and if I want to get any better, I've got to let my circle take the log out of my eye. 
So: I had to write guidelines for my house.
I hate that. I hate to put down in writing how we are supposed to act.
But evidently, we haven't been able to function without it, so, there ya have it.
And so I wrote them, made some changes requested by my circle, and sent them to Vanessa, and she's going to take a look at them as well.
And we'll meet, and receive more counsel, and then, do the next right thing.

Monday, April 1, 2013

 April Fools Day, 2013

Writing about the unspeakable, the unbearable, about that which cannot be contemplated.
Our innermost circle, I suppose, consists of just one person, and that is ourseves.
Them I think, if we want to go on a path of truth, the next person we add to our circle consists of God.
In fact, that may be a sign as to whether we are really looking to find truth in the circle. Get this: if what we really want is for people to know,and to make us feel better, and be on our SIDE!!!, then we will likely pick someone we know is going to fit in with what we already believe.
On the other hand, if we are seeking truth. maybe the next person we include in the circle is God. This is a tough one, because there is ALL KINDS of noise we can generate to block what God wants to say to us, even if we do include Him in as the next member of the circle. See, I think that LAW (grinding sound) is a good way of inviting God into the conversation without really having to listen to anything He has to say.
Now, I don't want to toss out Law either; I can recall at least two occasions when the Law kept me from doing something bad.Both incidents were when I was a 19 year old Christian, didn't have a really great grounding of soil. And I was sitting in my barracks room, and I get this thought: Hey, if you really believed, you could walk out the window and not get hurt. So if you don't,that means you don't have the faith. And yer supposed to have faith. But you don't. And then I reached way back in some unremembered part of the Bible,and said: I'm not supposed to put the Lord to the test." I didn't know where  that was, but it was some Law, and it did me good.
And then there was the time, shortly after that, when I was horribly convicted about masturbation; and I came across the scripture that says if yer eye offend you, pluck it out. So, I'm thinking, well maybe I should castrate myself so I wouldn't think about sex all the time. No, this was some really, really heavy duty struggle going on here! On the one hand, I hated the fantasy imagery that went into the act of masturbation. I wanted to be clean and pure. I wanted to look at women, and not have my immediate thoughts be about what kind of sexual fun I could have with those women.So, maybe I needed to castrate myself. Boy, I really, really didn't want to castrate myself! I finally flashed back to some old Testament law that said a priest had to be complete in body, and I held onto that for a LONG time, carefully not looking it up, so that I couldn't find that the verse mentioned something different.
I think there was SOME God I admitted into those early circles, even though I was really just looking for law. Wasn't until much later that I got the entire context of the temptation in the wilderness, and not putting the Lord God to the test; and much, MUCH later before I realized that my lust didn't live in my penis and testicles; it was a pattern of thought, and that most DEFINITELY was something that needed to get dumped.
And as to the unspeakable, unbearable: things get resolved. And until they do, hold on to what you have.