The Gambler

Yesterday was so good that I decided to celebrate by acting out.

Pop Quiz:

Guess who feels like a zombie?
A.) The guy who DJ's on public radio
B.) Ben Stein
C.) David

If you answer C you would be correct. If you answered A or B you'd also be correct.


I ranted and bitched about how God shouldn't leave me to struggle with my sin. I want desperately to be free of it. I cry out to Him. I'm so devastated every time I mess up. I feel like my heart stops pumping blood and my soul shrivels up into a crusty prune. I just can't understand how this is supposed to work. I know that I'm utterly powerless to overcome this addiction. I can't stop. I know when I want it there is no chance of me stopping myself. I will simply cave in without even fighting. Why God!? Please help me!

And to add to this agony, I'm humiliated by my own fickle words. I proclaim Jesus and His glory one day and curse Him the next with my unbelief. I don't know what to trust. I told my friend Katie that I feel like a lab rat who is going crazy from inconsistent results from the lab techs. I'm losing it. I don't know what to count on.

I'm really on edge here. Like a gambler who has the fringe hope that this one will be the jackpot, I call on God yet again. Please, Jesus. I can't take anymore of this failure. It hurts me so much. It suffocates my heart. HELP ME.



I'm looking out over a sea of green tree tops that modestly conceal the city below. The Cascade Mountains connect the jagged edge of the urban forest to the pale sky. Watching the mountains turn from light blue to purple and the sky dim, a new light in my heart rises.

The feeling that I had seen everything to see was stalking me from behind dark trees. I feared yesterday that I was doomed to walk a closed circuit through life. As that idea was invisibly bearing down on me from every direction like a poltergeist, suddenly newness emerged. The scenes of life were the same, but somehow they all looked and felt different today.

I'm in love with life today. I don't know how it is possible. It is the miracle of joy. I can only see ugly self reckoning ahead for me. With all my therapy, 12-stepping and journaling I'm seeking a path of pain. The excitement comes from a fundamental change in the foundation of my consciousness: Hope.

It's an ugly life, an ugly world and I'm alive in it. The numbness has passed and the pain is promising. The emptiness is gone. The fight is real, and the fight is now. I fear the worst thing that has ever happened to man is the feeling of insignificance. The fight is for me. The fight is for you. The fight is for all of us. The joy is seeing it and knowing that it is our fight.

Every human being will fight whether they know it or not. Misery is to pretend there is no battle. Some will make their fight to simply not know the truth. How can one live with all of this pain if there is no purpose for it? What utter denial and agony! To embrace the fight as a reality of life is to know joy.

I say, "This is my plight, I accept it and I will engage with a knowledge of purpose."

I am realizing the deep-seated nature of my issues. I'm unveiling my narcissism, self-righteousness, dishonesty, and the list goes on. I'm starting to be able to see the emotional weight of who I am and how fundamentally broken I am. There is million idiosyncrasies that I labeled as "normal" within the grace of my family context. I really thought I was pretty close to respectable and good. I have many people fooled as well. Or at least I thought I did. When I tear down the backdrop that society plays for my ego and I expose myself to God's reality I then see the immensity of my inadequacy. And I've just begun.

This ugliness is bigger than my ability to overcome it. I know this. I am overwhelmed by it. But somehow I am inspired above this defeat to say God is good, and in the midst of my suffering I will continue to proclaim it.

Read yesterday's posts for a contrast. Hallelujah!



I just watched the "Diving Bell and the Butterfly". It is about a man who has a stroke at 40-something and becomes completely paralyzed except for his left eyelid. He learns to communicate by blinking. He describes his life like a diving bell that he can't move in. He just floats there forever underwater.

I'm reading three different C.S. Lewis books right now and I'm overwhelmed by the clarity with which he writes. I want to express myself like that. I wish I could speak my thoughts. Right now I feel like I'm in a diving bell of thought. It's all in here. I want it out. I want it out of me so badly. I'm hoping that honesty will be enough to compensate for my lack of language skill.

I have a desperate thought on my mind right now. I'm out on a limb. I have told so many people about the transformation that is taking place in my life. I've spoke of Jesus' power with such confidence and excitement that now the pressure to perform is weighing on me. I feel like there is much face to be lost. Here I am dipping ever closer to the bottom again. I'm ashamed to say that I'm failing when I told so many people that I was sure of God's strength. The worst is the people who don't have a faith of their own. I fear they look at me and think,"So this is the "awesome" power of Jesus at work, huh?"

My Prayer

God, I've sang your praises when it was good. I sang them loud and fearlessly. Now I'm failing again. I put my faith in you, weak as it is, it's all I've got. Here I am feeling the desperation for righteousness and completeness in you. I know I'm a slave to the approval of my fellow man, but I put it on the line for you. How can I say,"Jesus is the way", when my life and my actions are a pathetic mess of sin? How can I proclaim your truth when my life denies it? I feel like a liar and a fool.

Furthermore, I'm calling you out on your promises. I am submissive to my powerlessness. I'm not denying it or fighting of my own will. I'm waiting. People are mocking me for not "trying harder" but your word says to wait for righteousness. I believe in you, I believe in your promise to credit my faith as righteousness. Lift me out of the mud, Father. This is me calling on you in what little confidence I have.

I'm sorry I don't have the reverence or fear for you that I should. I'm scared and scattered. I'm angry. This is where I am. You said you'd take me, so take me.


My post just got deleted by the backspace key. I guess it wasn't meant to be.

It's okay. All I needed to say was this. I am a failure. A man of God said it best,"...I have created the Grand Canyon of failure in my heart. But I think God sees the spaciousness inside me in a different way than I do. I think He sees it as more room in which to unleash an ocean of grace. "

I hurt myself again with my lust. I feel dead inside. My best intentions are suicidal. I want what will kill me. I need rescue . God please change my heart. Words can't express the depth of my emptiness. Fill me.



My heart could explode at this very moment.

Sara and I decided that we would not communicate until January 1st, 2009. I felt like I couldn't rely on God completely with her in my life right now. She felt the same. So there it is. I'm not confident with these new legs of grace and dependence on God yet . I can't be the man she deserves and I will destroy both of us if we're part of each others' lives right now.

Obedience is so hard. And painful.

The reason I can't have Sara in my life at the moment is that I'm still prone to try and feed off her rather than support her. Not in a financial way but emotionally. I've spent the vast majority of my years looking for a girl to fill the void in me. In all those years I applied the hope of a girl "completing" me to just about every area of my life. I went around getting disappointed by girl after girl. Now I have found the true answer in my relationship with Jesus. I need the reality of God's power in my life to settle into the cracks and set. With that confidence, I can love Sara. I mean give love, not take. Love in the positive. We can be whole together, rather than collapse into each others emptiness. That emotional black hole is not fun.

The hardest part about this situation is that I know what all the bad possibilities are. I've seen dependency run its course in the plethora of bad relationships I've been in. What I don't know is how a good relationship looks. I have vague theories, but really I can only project my own experiences onto the future, and it looks impossible. From this vantage point I can see two promises:

1.)God will have all of me.
2.)Sara will have all of me.

It's obvious that I need to learn a new way. I don't know how these things will come to pass, but luckily the outcome doesn't depend on my foresight.

The struggle with lust continues, also. This battle may never be over, but I know that until I consistently let God's strength prevail I can't be anybody's anything.

To be completely honest, I don't always feel complete in Christ, but right now I do. However God brings Sara and I together will be beyond-my-wildest-dreams amazing. That much I'm sure of.



I had a dream about Alaska for the third time the other night. My best friend from high school was in this one. We were driving there in a 15 seat van with a trailer. My friend was driving and, true to form, he was driving too fast. This always irritated me but in the dream I was getting terrified because the road was built on a high cliff. We came around a corner and the outside tires started to slide off the sharp edge of the road. I gave him a look that said, "Why aren't you being careful? Why do you always show off? You're scaring the crap out of me, you jerk!" (looks can say all that in my dreams.) By then it was too late, we were falling. All in one moment I nearly exploded from anticipation, yet resigned to death. I grabbed my friends hand, squeezed hard and said,"I love you." He didn't squeeze back. We just kept falling but we never hit the didn't ever hit. Then I decided to wake. That moment in that van was so near to heaven. I was ready. I knew it would be painless. It was terrifying and joyous all at the same second. It was possibly the most real I have ever felt.

All the dreams I've had about Alaska have been morose. There is a fearful essence to the place I remember. I don't know what it means, but I know it means something. The emotion of those dreams has to mean something.

Today I failed again. I succumbed to lust and acted on it. The hardest thing to do right now is hope. Six months ago it seemed like I had so much hope and love just flowing out me. Now I can barely move my fingers to type. I am so defeated by myself. I just want to dive bomb into full on relapse. I want to give up. I need rescue so badly. What could this all mean? I want badly to wallow in self pity right now, but as I write I feel a small light growing in me. I think it's just enough to say the words, "God is in control." I want to go on sinning. I pray that God will rescue me from myself. That's all I can muster.


Hellos and Goodbyes

Life is so strange. Sometimes I look around and I feel like I'm in a painting. The color, the people, light, all of it. It so surreal. Praise God for the freedom to sit back and watch the world once and awhile. Peace and security are such wonderful things.

My prayer tonight is to love without fear. I want to smile on the worst and extend love in exchange for abuse, insult and cold glares. The weight of that longing is much. The truth is that I'm pretty cowardly and I am cursed by knowing how good it could be, how great a man I could be. Just the thought of what that might entail scares me. The ideals of manhood are pouring into my mind as I soak in more of God's truth, but the rift of who I am and who I could be is growing pretty steadily. It's ridiculously impossible for me to live up to the image of a "man of God" I'm beginning to piece together. All the better, though. This is how God will get his glory. Looks like miracle weather.

Lately I've been a little overwhelmed by the darkness swirling around me. Everyone is so broken. There is dull sadness in nearly every eye I meet. The negativity steals my joy. It feels like there is a regime in place that has outlawed smiling and anyone who flashes one is some sort of renegade. Whenever I feel bold enough to brave it I retreat when not met with a supporter of the cause. I'm not talking about the mouth-only smile. You know what I mean. The plaster-cold Vanna-White-grin that is sometimes accompanied by a laugh that cuts like a knife with its insincerity. Those smiles are government issue Stars of David. The genuine smile I'm referring to seems more like a battle cry. I'm so sick and tired of being scared of showing my soul to the world. I don't want to be a sniper, I want to be on the front line, I want to be Achilles.

My father told me one day as a boy he decided that he would stop smiling. He said he would go around grinning at anyone like a fool, and one day he decided he was tired of being everyone's fool. I don't think he's ever fully recovered. I remember when the same things happened to my little brothers. I remember deciding that a frown was manly. It's an epidemic.

As early as kindergarten I can remember being ashamed of crying, too. Therefore I was determined to never shed a tear. I worked hard. By the time I was 21 I had denounced emotions as the cause of all mankind's problems. Last November I got a phone call and found out that someone very dear to me had nearly succeeded at taking their own life. It was then that I realized I couldn't cry as bad I wanted to. Since that moment I have been fixated on expressing my full range of emotion with confidence, or more accurately, vulnerability. Even the Bible shows a picture of men who cry. Paul, David, and Jesus "wept bitterly". So it's a goal.

In the interest of my fragile faith it would be good to end on a triumphant note. I have been seeing a counselor name Caleb Mitchell for a year and 3 months. This man has seen me change from an emotional vampire, a sex addict, a drug abuser, and a lost soul into a lover of Jesus and has been instrumental in all this. He walked with me through heartbreak, withdrawals, unemployment. and worse. He was gracious when I wouldn't pay him. He was loved me when insufferable. He has shown me what a man looks like, and been something of a father to me. He was Christ to me. He one of the best friends I've ever had, and I love this man.

Throughout this miraculous sojourn, I hadn't cried once in his presence, mainly because I fear men.

I go to Caleb's office last Tuesday, like usual, and plop down on his crappy couch. We start our typical banter to get going, but he says that he's got something important to say before I tell him what I want to talk about. With what seems like a an enormous amount of build-up he says he has decided to quit counseling. My first reaction is gut-level emotion. I start to well up but then instinctively swallow it and stare at the ceiling. I ask him what I'm supposed to do. He tells me he doesn't know because he's never never done this. I stare at his bookshelf and try to hide in the titles. After a minute he ask me what I'm thinking about and I say, "I hate myself for being unable to show my emotions, for not being able to show I care and that this is hurting me." He says,"You just did." I reply,"No they're are just empty words, just like my Dad and his I-love-you's." He then says,"I know it's real, I can see it in your face. And beside that, this is about you and me. Fuck your dad." By the end of that sentence the tears were already soaking into my beard as I looked him the eye and cried.

After a minutes I laugh/sobbed partly because just at that moment I noticed what a funny shape his head was, and also because I realized what had just taken place. I had just done the scariest thing I could imagine: cried tears of love for a man whom I fear. God broke my heart open at long last. Maybe I'll go get "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants II" and some Ben and Jerry's and let the floodgates bust since I'm on a roll. Hah!


My Friend

My friend Travis. He is so dear. I hope he doesn't leave, cuz I like when he's near!

That was a poem for my friend. He's a neat guy. Yes. Neat. I met Travis about month ago. I squished into a car in an alley near my apartment and there he was in all his skinny art student glory. He told me he liked David Bazan, and bummed cigarettes off his coworker, but he doesn't smoke. Later we watched seven consecutive episodes of "Flight of the Conchords", double dipped chips in the guacamole and sour cream, and camped in a friends backyard. The next morning we woke up at 6am and drove a guy to the airport.

Travis is subtle. He is a master of understatement. He has dirty blonde hair that always gravitates to the center, like an anti-part. I suspect this is by design. His eyebrows seem to be furrowed more often than not, implying some intense undercurrent of braining. He's got blue eyes and a tentative smile. He is always holding back but spilling out all at the same time.

Fun Facts about Travis

1. Travis has had sideburns since he could grow them.
2. Travis only owns two pairs of pants.
3. Travis does an awesome Bob Dylan impersonation.
4. Travis does a not awesome bronx accent.
5. Travis can draw pictures with great skill.
6. Travis likes dingy diners.
7. Travis loves Jesus.
8. Travis is an Olympian.
9. Travis is a storm cloud with a smile on it.
10. Travis rocks the scene.

Travis is only a few blocks away from me. I am really excited that we met because it's like being a kid again having friends in your neighborhood. You can call them up whenever and hang out for no reason at all. Travis and I are good friends because we are purposely aimless. We know we want something, but we just don't know what it is.

In my life it has been so hard to find people to walk beside, rather than follow or lead. I walk beside Travis. God has blessed me with his friendship.


Under Deconstruction

Today is all emotion. I feel like so much has happened to me this weekend, but I have no clue how to say exactly what. I know that I'm growing up. I feel like a child, but I also feel like a man. I'm tentatively stepping into the life that God has for me. Each step feels like it will be off the edge into oblivion. I'm slowly embracing the dependency I have in God, and trying to be at peace with that.

After a minute of thought, I can say what a few of the catalysts for all this turmoil are. One is the looming "fourth step". For those of you not steeped in the 12 step lingo, a fourth step is where you make a "searching and fearless moral inventory". What that amounts to is a list of all the character defects, flaws, fears, resentments and sins I am prone to. I know you're probably thinking, "that's awfully negative," and it is. But there is a greater end than knowing what a douche bag I am. The big idea is that I take a look into my soul and see what makes me tick and drives me to addictive behavior. The philosophy is that guilt drives me to self-medication, and to counteract said guilt you locate the sources of it and then turn it all over to Jesus for freedom from it. Actually that's the whole 12 step bit in a nutshell. Recovery.

Anyway, I'm reeling hard from that long hard look in the mirror. The devil has been whispering in my ear many discouraging accusations. He says, "You are hopeless, you'll never get better. Jesus can't change you, just look how f'ed up you are!" I persist in the work at hand, because I need to continue digging deeper into myself and into Jesus, There really is no time in life I'm stationary, I'm either moving forward or moving backwards. That is to say, it's imperative that I keep on driving on, or I will be losing ground. It's very hard, though, to examine myself critically with the intention to tell someone else. Maybe the hardest thing I've ever done. It goes against every I've ever known. I pray it is worth it, because it's pretty damn painful.

The other reason this weekend has been so painful is because I prayed to be broken. I'll stop short of calling myself a fool for asking God to break me, because I know it's when I learn and grow, but dang, what was I thinking? I think I'll be some sort of super-Christian by praying that brave prayer, but every time God breaks me in some new creative way, I scream and whine. Sometimes I feel like the only thing I can ask for and consistently receive from God is brokenness. I am new to the game, I know, but right now it just seems that way. It's more likely I'm just seeing the ugly side of life, playing the martyr again.

My mom sent me a blurb by some famous Christian author, and it was surprisingly spot on. He said that rather than look at life like a series of ups and downs, "mountaintops and dark valleys", we should see the positive and negative as two parallel tracks that always exist. We can choose to see life as such, and choose on what to dwell. This weekend there was bad, and there was good. I chose to see the bad. I was expecting to see bad. I ate good food, I fasted, I went to persection-free church, I saw good friends and went two free concerts. I also broke down and wept at one concert, got swung at and spit on by a man I was trying to help, I hid from God, I wanted to isolate from people, I was lazy, and I hated how ugly I am inside. There are two tracks.

I see how Paul was a joy fiend. He figured out how to dwell on the promises of God. He located the safe havens of thought and lived there as much as possible. He shot up the Good News like an addict. I dare say Paul was a bit on the compulsive side. At least he wasn't washing his hands 73 times a day.

I need that security. I am petrified by the fear of depression. It can fog my eyes and suffocate my mind. I need those promises to be tattooed onto my mind. There are so many messages of condemnation in life that walking down the street for me like is like walking through a minefield. It seems it only takes a critical word and my castle walls are suddenly made of sand. I need to be built on the Rock. Simple as that. I think this fourth step business is the intention deconstruction of my walls, in order that something solid may take their place.

Even amidst this destruction of everything that I have sought comfort in, things are looking up. I'm beginning to see my castle for the prison it is, and the battering rams have begun crashing.




Today the blog is yours. Today the blog is a prayer. I want to tell what's on my mind and in my heart. I am numb today. I woke up just hungover enough to know it from a night I feel like I shouldn't have been a part of. I had a donut for breakfast and skipped reading your word. I went to work. I came home. I took out more money for groceries since I spent my cash at the bar last night. Ugh. Jesus, you know all this. I feel like crap about it. I'm so terrified that I'm going to fall apart again and the cycle of destruction will begin again. I am yours. I say it, but when it actually means something, when it means taking a risk, or doing work, I am so quickly distracted. I want so desperately to be at the place I was before. I was fearless in you. I was self-assured. Is that what your trying to show me? That I haven't changed? That I'm just reaching the end of myself again? Is that it? Jesus. Please answer me. I want to be in you. I can hear the accusations from every place I turn. I don't want to turn to you because I'm afraid you, too, will tell me that I'm a failure and that I'm just not cut from the stuff you really want. I could say the "appropriate" thing here and claim your promises, but Father, I'm not convinced at this point. I'm scared. I remember the hideous life that follows close behind me, jaws gaping. I've got a horrible track record of performing under pressure. You know.

I hear you saying, "Let go." I want to. I want to trust you. But, Jesus, I'm stuck. I can't separate the promises you make from my insidious desire for independence. I keep this escape plan in my back pocket, planning to con you into enough blessing to make a break for it.

I'm a slave to it. Rescue me, Father. I'm a prisoner of myself. I see it. I see the bars. I feel the chains. Take me away from this black hole. The harder I try the harder it becomes. Take me. Take all of me. Please take me out of the way. Defeat me. Teach me that you're my only hope of peace.

If it takes a thorn in my flesh to keep me humble, I'll take it. To suffer in you is truly better than prospering in loneliness. Do whatever it takes. My sole desire is to say, "Your will, not mine, be done", and mean in with every fiber of my being. Take me. All of me. Destroy my walls, my selfish outposts. Take away all my defenses, besiege my soul and overthrow my tyranny. I long for you. I need you. I love you. I long to love you more. My words are empty. Fill them with sincerity. Change this wretched heart. Jesus, you have fathomed the depths of my darkness to depths I dare not consider. Fill the infinite chasm with your spirit. Invade me. Permeate me. i want to seep with your grace. Saturate my soul. Let your mercy drip from my words.

My words are like doing surgery with a chainsaw. Search my soul and know the depths from which I cry. Surge up from beneath and surround my anguished soul in your womb of consolation. I love you.


High ho, Silver?

"What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Sovereign Lord."

I think I may fall in love with King David again. I grew up thinking he was pretty hot stuff. Shoot, he was King, he killed a giant as a prepubescent boy, he got the girl(s), and God recognized him as a man after His own heart. I was obsessed as a kid. And why not? He is the epitome of a boyhood idol.

Unfortunately, modern "manhood" caught up with me. I embraced an attitude of pacifism, adopted the image of a man that was intelligent, passive, enlightened. The idea that no fight was my fight seemed very enticing. Peace is the new black right?

John Eldridge does a pretty good job of eulogizing the man that lives in the heart of every little boy. Today I'm seeing the parallel between Jesus' resurrection and the resurrection of the man who died in the move from innocence. As I draw nearer to Him, I feel this inspiration in me well up, a fight that once was for the neighbor girl, once for the kid who got picked on, once for the good guys. I'm starting to see the disparity between who I have styled myself into and what God has planned for me. There is fear, fear of the real fight to be had, the fight of existence living in this broken world. Justice is alive in me, and I am desperate for the courage to fight for it.

To bring this rant to reality a little better, I have a confession. I am a coward. I am my father. I am every man who settles for a desk job, when the boy in him is still somewhere in a corner sulking for the "Hero" position he lost the courage to take. I am feeling the need for courage today. I am, in more ways than I can express, I more little boy than man. Today I have arrived at the crossroad that I took a wrong turn at so many years ago, and now stare down the right path, full of possibility and danger. I got scared of it. I hid in my apartment cowering under the weight of the call. I overate, I sulked, and then I slept. I succumbed to the lifestyle of fear, the lifestyle of self-medicating blindness. I ask to see God's will for my life and it terrified me.

I don't know how to work without being driven by guilt. I find this amazing emotional freedom in not working, in not caring. I know God wants me to work. I'm overwhelmed by the fact that He is calling me back to work. How? I need my work ethic to meet grace. I today I feel like something hangs in the balance with my deeds. I can't seem to let go of the idea that I need to do anything. I fear that my dad's presence is looming over me saying, "Sure, have your 'grace' or whatever, but you're still a lazy pile of shit in my eyes." And he says it through implication of his own life. He works so hard, and I can even see what an ugly mess it has made of his life and I still can't separate myself from the wrong. I feel the need for approval there is still so strong that I can scarcely deny my father's addictions. He's forcing himself on me by holding out his approval. AGH!

This leads into a whole other room of worms. Reconciliation with him is unimaginable. I'll leave that bit for another day.

Does every American man go through this fiasco just to find his place in the world? Does everybody have to dig through the past and pollute their innocent memories with hardened ugly truth of reality to move forward? Why is life so hard?

My father's voice inside me is mocking me right now for my anguish. But I'm anguished, I'm angry, I'm sad, I'm hurting. I'm seeking something better than his life.

He can shove it.


Inadequate Words.

I got an email from a girl I know. I'm not afraid to use the word twitterpated. I am not afraid to say that I love her.

This is so wonderful. My love for her is growing. The weird thing is this: The more I mature as a person, the more I grow in Christ, the more I realize how little I know this girl that I say I love. I see how poorly I made room for her to be a real person to me. I never allowed her to define herself to me. I kept her in a nice, safe, oppressive box. As I allow the mystery of Sara to grow in my mind to better represent the vast human being she is I find that intrigue and fear of the unknown beckoning me. I am inspired to explore her. My confidence in God has allowed me to allow her to be a real person to me, for me to allow her to exist in full. Rather than be fearful of the idea of another person encroaching my on my ego, I am seduced by the possibilities her expansive horizons.

It is a miracle that I am not scared to death of the intensity of loving a real person.

Some might say that it's crazy to say that I'm in love with her even though the shallowness of my previous relations with her are becoming evident. The truth of how little I know her doesn't discourage me because of this single fact: what little I was able to understand about her in my selfish blindness was incredibly noble, beautiful, graceful, stunning, Godly, humble, and selfless. If God so decides that I will get to share my heart with a woman in this life, it, without question, will be hers.