Now and Then

Great. it's been almost a year since my last entry on this thing. My how things have changed. I read my old post from last year and I noticed many things. The funniest is that in my attempt to divulge my little "confession" about being addicted to dictionary.com I used the wrong word to describe my vocabulary.

Another confession: I have anxiety surrounding the use of the word "irony". Once I said something was ironic and a girl gave me this look like i was an adorable little kid and said,"Oh, you don't know what irony means, do you?" It steamed me so much. That's probably a really revealing statement about me.It's hard for me to not hate my parents for subtly passing the torch of know-it-all denial.

Sigh. I've reached a new place. I will describe what this place looks like. It is a place where I see the troubles of my life as labor pains leading to immense joy. It is a place where I relish suffering because I've learned what it is for. This is a place where not being in charge and being out of control is a peaceful. This land that I have come to is one that bad things are good things, the worst things are the best. This is a place where I am invincible. Protective eyes watch me, powerful hands fight my fights, loving arms comfort me.

It's my way to speak in very esoteric terms. My reasoning is that I can't seem to convey the depth of my experience in straight narrative. The symbolic expressions I tend toward just feel better to me, but alas, no knows what all this blather means but me. I want you all to know what I'm talking about, but I feel like I lose so much feeling in the story-telling routine. I write to God when I really get going and I take for granted that He knows me, so I don't have to worry about being to enigmatic with Him. I mean, He did author my life, so I think He gets it. Anyway, I'm gonna have a go at telling how God brought me to this "place".

This story starts in a pretty typical situation. Emotionally absent father with good intentions has a baby boy with a needy, unfulfilled woman. David Amir Beckwith is born. Me. My parents are devout Christians. Thus, I was "saved" at the age of six or seven. I needed so much. My parents didn't have what I needed. I longed for love. I was born into emotional debt. Dad and Mom did a fair share better than their parents, but their philosophy of "just-don't-be-like-my-parents" left them wanting for more, and ultimately falling prey to the very same faults of their parents in their desperation. The fallout of this was four pariah children trying desperately to distance themselves from the pathetic need of their mother, and achieve the stoicism of their father that created so much dissonance in our ideas self-worth. And thus began the next 24 years of guilt driven self destruction.

It's a pretty uninteresting span of time between 7 and about 22. What needs to be said is that I discovered fantasy, denial and addiction probably before I committed to the faith that would torment me. This was the defining factor of my whole life. I learned denial early, and it set the stage for all the ways I would learn to numb myself from the reality of my life. I discovered masturbation about the same time I gave my life to Jesus. This became the outlet for my emotional, sexual being. I assumed from my the person my father was that the person I was was not acceptable. The weakness, the sadness, the vulnerability, the fear, the longing, the love were not things that men had. I had these things. Whoops. I hid them. I hated them. I hated me. I wasn't anything like my dad, I thought. I poured those unacceptable traits into my secret addiction, so I could hide them better. So, the first 18 years of my life were marked with increasing proficiency in being more like my father and less like my mother. I was progressively compulsive with all my growing addictions; the more proficient I became at smothering my heart the stronger all my coping mechanisms became, until I was a shell of a human being. A rock for a heart. I masturbated constantly to porn, overate, binged on video games and books, pursued girls with reckless abandon, later started drinking and inching my way down the drug path.

Girls were the Mecca. They represented to me hope for fulfillment. Everything I did was in some way or another related to the pursuit of women. It's ironic how pathetic I thought my mother was, yet all the while transfered the hopeless love she gave me to my own hopes of fulfillment. This was my ultimate goal in all my pursuits: to find a replicant of my mother's love without all the shame of needing it. Wow. It just settled how sick I've been.

22, I'm in Anchorage, Alaska, I'm tripping on mushrooms, having visions of God's sorrow for me as I ravage my body and soul. I am broken, after a night of sobbing, and repenting desperately for the life I'd been leading, I commit to living right for Jesus. I had been toying with the idea of suicide more fervently up till now, as my life has become more detached from hope. I decide that now is the time that I will devote my life completely to the God I've held out on for my whole life. I started strong with throwing away all my pornography and drug paraphernalia, making amends with my family and friends, and starting a Bible study. This time would be different than the all the others, This time I was gonna do it "right".

Long story short, I lasted for about three months. I surfaced next to dumpster with a puddle of my own vomit a few inches from my face one morning. My life is back to "normal" I take a moment to evaluate some doubts I've had about Christianity at this point, and this questioning becomes a flagship for the armada of reasons I had for turning my back on Jesus. I prayed desperately for God to take away my addiction to pornography and sex the previous months to no avail. I took a look back over the years to see that my life had gotten progressively worse up till that point. It had been a long series of the same song and dance: get low and dirty and come crawling back, and sail till the next low, which will inevitably be worse than the last. I was beginning to see a pattern emerge. At that point, I said, "Fuck you, God." No more struggling and squirming, I was done. I would seek out a God that actually did something. I would find the true God. This is the beginning of the beginning in my opinion.

And I was off. The next two years of my life were the birth pains. Fortunately, in some ways, I was adequately drugged up for the experience. I moved to Seattle shortly after my departure from Christianity. I went headlong into philosophy, psychology, and this thing I hailed as "awareness". I was my judge and jury. I believed that seeing myself with a critical eye would make me invincible. As to say, I would beat everyone to the punch. No one could touch me because I already knew. Self-salvation was the true name of the game. It amounted to enormous misery, and subsequent compensation with drugs, alcohol and sex. Incidently, I worked at a summer camp that was a Christian organization my first summer in Seattle. I had signed up and committed before my "anti-conversion", and went for it as an escape route from the AK. I told myself it would be a good way to meet people and find my feet in Seattle, and it was, but it was also the most trying place a person denying Jesus could have been. Looking back I see that God never let me stray too far.

Next big step in my journey was counseling. Another long story needing to be shortened for your sake. Caleb is his name. I wanted to talk about philosophy and big questions of faith and reason. He would let me run all my lines and arguments till I ran out of steam, and then he gently asked, "What do you really want?" This took an embarrassing number of months. He suggested that I seek out some support groups if I wanted to overcome my addiction. I blew off the suggestion, considering my big "God" questions the primary need of focus. The real changes began this year. I had started becoming more and more infatuated with the idea of running off and living in the woods. I wanted to be self sufficient and closer to reality, or so I thought. I got fired from my job in January, probably because I was so preoccupied with this fantasy of departure and freedom. It was a brutal blow for me that blindsided me. I dove deep into depression and my affinity for suicide returned. In the midst of this upheaval, Caleb artfully guided me toward what I really needed. I had a lot of free time at the loss of my job, and I finally conceded to going to a support group for my addiction. It was hard. I then found the Twelve Steps.

Sexaholics Anonymous was the way in which God tricked me. I joined hesitantly, expecting only to overcome my sex addiction. I would take what they had to offer and then leave. I read the first three steps,

1. admit you are powerless over your addiction
2. Come to believe there is a higher power that can restore you to sanity
3. turn your will over to the care of that God.

Easy enough, I believed in God at the point, and not being sure who He was was fine. So I began. I stepped away from masturbating and pornography ever so slowly, going for longer stretches each time, and finding that surrender, rather than a show of willpower was actually working, and surrender made me feel really good. The first three weeks were pure Hell, though. This little section of time was basically the dredging of 24 years worth of rotting soul. I woke up one night and was overcome by the reality of who I was without my numbing drug. I literally writhed in my bed for a few a minutes then tried to get up and go the bathroom. I collapsed midway there and sobbed uncontrollably on the floor until I passed out. There was a lot of these type of moments during this time. It was beginning of a the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me.

I gradually became more comfortable in my sobriety as they call it in SA. About a month in, I had started realizing that every time I felt temptation and relaxed and turned to God rather than "white-knuckling" as they say, I felt an incredible sensation of peace and comfort. This was an interesting phenomena to me, and after about 5 or 6 times of experiencing this, I came to an explanation. A passage in the SA book said when you surrender your will to God you create union with Him. A-Ha! So this is God's love hidden here in the last place I would have thought to look!

What happened next is the moment when the snowball started rolling down the hill. I was on the bus one night and I was flooded with epiphany. With the discovery that surrendering my temptations and substitutions to God's power, it also occurred to me to find the source. I then thought about what I wanted. The question that brings my world to truth. I considered why I needed all these worldly "medications" as it were, and my best estimation was that each one of them pointed toward a need for love. I wanted a father! I wanted to feel like I was good and that I was acceptable. I want to be validated, to be told that I was a man. I wanted to not feel like what was inside of me was something to hide. I wanted to be loved! So I that night I surrendered all my substitutes to God's love. I put down my axe that I'd been trying to perfect myself in exchange for God's power. The thing that happened in that moment was so beautiful I can hardly think of it without getting teary-eyed.

I closed my eyes and saw a Man. I was there too, but I was a little boy, that little boy that had been hiding for so many years. I came out from hiding from the Man, who I knew to be my Father. I said, "Daddy, here I am!" and I knew that I had been bad, I knew that I had hurt my Father, but in His eyes was a desperate longing to be close to me, to love me. He saw my foolishness, and my ugliness, and He didn't care, He was so in love with me and I accepted His love. Father and son were united at long last. I came to realize that night that I would never long for love ever again. I realized that I had experienced the real drug. The one all the others imitate. All I had to do to get more of it was ask. The degree of which I surrendered my substitutes was the degree I would experience God's love. Hallelujah!

A little later, I realized that what had happened was exactly what Jesus died for. What I had experienced was being born again. The redemption that I felt was paid for by Jesus. It was through Him I had tasted God's love in spite of my nastiness. When I let this realization hit home it was clear that I had to give my life to the service of the God I love, Jesus. And so a month later I was baptized. Everyday I can look back over the last few months and say that life is better today than yesterday. C.S. Lewis describes it perfectly, "Further up and further in!" It is tremendous to know that once my life was on the decline, that my memories were the sweetest things I could hope for, and now tomorrow holds more promise than today, even though today is wonderful. So goes my life.

1 comment:

//lindsey lou. said...

Thanks for the writing, David. Granted I have heard most of your story by this point, but it is powerful to have it all laid out at once.

You have a cool way of interpreting life.