Thursday, June 21, 2012

Spiritual Warfare

Here are some random thoughts I want to share with whoever while I ought to be doing devotions and getting ready for sleep. I hesitate, at times, at being overly personal here (and everywhere else on my blog), but this is my life and what I deal with, so that's what I'm going to write about. 

Today, after having a great conversation yesterday with my friend in which I told him that sexual struggles and lust have been dormant in my life for the past month or so, I woke up struggling with lustful thoughts in my mind. (why... Why?!?! was it because I lied or something? Or because I was getting prideful? I dunno) But anyways, I did what a smart person does and forced them out of my mind all day. But towards the end of the day as I got home and was getting exhausted I just gave in and indulged in the thoughts. 

As I was sitting and indulging in my idolatrous fancies, I attempted to bring some scripture into my mind. Something I read earlier today: "How much better it is to have wisdom than gold! and to get understanding is to be chosen over silver." I thought about it and tried to apply it to my life, to which my mind replied something to the effect of "psh. screw that! naked women are a heck of a lot more fun to think about than boring truth!". I saw my mind's point, and then unreluctantly gave up trying to dissuade myself from my sin, concluding I was already sinning anyways. Ok, I'm probably portraying myself rather more shadily than it really was. It was more like I genuinely did not want to think about this crap and and was feeling sorrow inside, but the sorrow wasn't enough to change my attitude. 

It's funny (I'm not laughing). These moments are when we are most convinced that we're too far gone for any kind of repentance and we may as well continue on with whatever sexual sin we're committing, be it sexual fantasy, pornography, masturbation,... uh, well, I'm sure there's other stuff, and then repent later.
But as I've been realizing recently, these are the moments that spiritual warfare intensifies and really begins-- the reason we don't want to see it that way is because we're sold on the pleasure and don't want to contemplate the idea of giving it up. The band "Oh, Sleeper" has really been teaching me a lot about spiritual warfare. I used to think that spiritual warfare was, well, actually I don't know what I thought it was. I just thought it was dumb because it had something to do with demons scaring you and you trying not to be scared, which seemed totally dumb to me, because if demons exist, then God probably exists, and if God exists, then we have absolutely nothing to be afraid of. (I'm not that rational, I promise. I just think I am) 

The other night I went running and listened to metal music the whole time. The band I just mentioned uses a lot of imagery of heroic sacrifice and constant devotion to what one is bound to. Whenever I run, it makes me get that feeling like, "Ah man look at me runnin' and all, I look so disciplined and hard core. I'm really fighting hard (I say this after like half a mile of running, which isn't anything really). It gives you this feeling of pride and honor exuding from yourself, but in reality it is baseless. Running at that point in my run isn't real spiritual warfare anymore than praying in the bed with the lights off and the door closed with your girlfriend is, and to pretend so is just as sinful as pretending you're really being godly by doing such a thing with someone you're not married or engaged to. 

What is real spiritual warfare then? I like to say that spiritual warfare begins when you shut up with your emotions and talking and you're truly confronted with a challenge that is going to consume your whole soul, and as you fight you gain spiritual muscle deep down. See, it's nice when I run and listen to music and feel all awesome and disciplined like that during my first mile, but when I'm more than 3/4 of the way through a 5 mile race or even a 7 mile run ; I feel my gut clenched up, my muscles aching, my throat closing up, my whole body ready to collapse on the ground, my spirit and my hope failing, literally everything I could possibly imagine working against me, that including my mischievous deceptive mind, THAT is where spiritual warfare and discipline begins. That is when it truly takes everything you've got in your soul, and that is where heroes come from. Even as I write this I find it hard to believe, because I've so trained myself that life doesn't have to include such moments. But it does. 

In my favorite song by Oh Sleeper, (it's a metal scream band by the way), the lead singer named Micah begins screaming in the middle of the song (that begins with the words "We were born to fight") something that really does punch me deep in my gut when I think about it. These are the words: "I'm sweating red; I'm sweating red, I'm sweating red. I'm red, I'm sweating red, I'm sweating red, red, red. [and so on...].  This is no light-hearted scenario. This isn't something you raise your hands and sing about. This is, of course, the scenario of Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane-- a spiritual battle with no legitimate rival. With these words, he illustrates the absolute lengths to which we ought to be willing to go to in order to uphold truth, God's law, and devotion in our life. That battle isn't over when all the fun and games and singing have stopped and the true pain and work begins; it's just beginning. 

This is actually funny: it's quite ironic how listening to this music during the first mile of my run makes me feel awesome and disciplined, while listening to it near the end of my run, I genuinely don't care about feeling awesome or any of the feelings of pride I had the first mile-- I am wholly focused on completing the challenge before me. This is the mindset I want to have. Forget the pride, forget the baseless passion. Enter into spiritual warfare as a daily battle, and see what happens. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Random...

Something about listening to the song, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms", combined with thoughts of my experience of my brother's college campus (Berry College)-- Greco-Roman Divine architecture, so tall, so beautiful, reaching so mightily towards God and Truth.. a symbol of noble souls, including saints, sacrificing everything they had for the good, the true, the beautiful... thinking of true friendship, deep love and the "infinite mystery of it all" (at least as Captain Jack Sparrow put it at the end of the fourth Pirates movie) absolutely wrecks my soul with pain and bitter-sweet desires for... something big and Other. It's like nostalgia, but it's not the remembrance of anything. At least I think. According to my theories about the mind, sin, and moral goodness, it is sinful to entertain these fancies.. but by God, I'll have a bit more of this.


Ok, time's up. The same brother of mine I spoke of second ago posted a quote on facebook which I find very illustrative of my life:


"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy." --Rabindranath Tagore


I find that I am usually "sleeping". Thinking about how joyful life would be if this and that. But I have a hard time actually getting up and acting. Welp. Back to the grindstone. Joy, I bid you meet me there! 



Monday, June 11, 2012

My Current Struggle

Now that I've realized that I don't really put much deep thought into anything I do, say, or think, I've begun to see so many areas of my life where I am missing in fundamental understanding of reality. But since I've begun to see that, I've become a lot more reluctant to read things, knowing that the typical way I read them is shallow and almost not worth it.

I can sit in a room and hear people talking, feeling like I understand them, but in reality I only understand a misinterpretation of their emotions and slight sensations of the concepts they hint on. So now I sit in rooms where people are talking, saying nothing, and attempting to think through what they actually say and feel. Unfortunately, I catch only 30 percent or so of it. I've recently become lazy and unwilling to even engage in this hard work of understanding people and reality. I lapse back into living in feelings and emotions, not caring about true understanding. But then I realize I am creating a horrifying gap between not only myself and reality, but also between myself and my understanding of reality. It is one thing to be conscious. It is another thing to actually live a convicted thought life-- one where you are constantly tapped into your logical intuition in order to understand what is outside you. And it is even another thing to have true beliefs. If I understood how much my conscious experience differed from reality as it truly is, I would probably be horrified.

So now I'm calling myself to wake up again and be mature.. a call to arms, so to speak. This life is short and I have a lot to accomplish!

Also.... I'm reading Narnia.. heh, it's awesome.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Realization so Horrifying, You Treat it Like a Dream

I seem to have some sort of psychological disease.  And I'm not kidding.  I'm only over the past week or so realizing that in reality, when I speak, I have no idea what the words coming out mean. When I say things to people, I generally have no idea what they actually mean or the realities expressed by the words I am saying. Words, to me on a daily basis, are just vehicles of feeling, not substance. I know that is false for many other people, but for me, it is true.

It takes an extremely painful amount of thought to actually find out how other people are actually feeling and what they actually mean, and to make decisions with any degree of reasonableness. How can I respond to this?    I'm trying to form theories to explain it-- maybe it's a mental disease that few people have, but I happen to be one of those who was unfortunate enough to inherit it.  I know some reading this will think, "oh, no he's just realizing he's a sinful person".  Well, yes, and no. I already know I am a sinful person, and that everything I do is horribly sinful by any reasonable account. But this is genuinely something unique to me, and I must find some way to fix it. Others actually understand what they are saying, and the reason I know this is because they act consistently with it. I do not act consistently with what I say.   Perhaps this will make a man of few words of me.   Maybe it's an extreme case of Narcissism. All I know is that I would really appreciate it if nobody replied to this telling me it will be alright and that it's not a unique problem. I've been told all my life by people that I'm somehow special and have unique skills, and that's probably the reason I've developed this narcissistic lack of empathy or reasonability-- because I've never dealt with my own problems. If anyone can shed some actual light on this and help me find out what I really need to do, I would appreciate it.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Now to Figure Out the Hard Stuff

Here's the question I want answered today.  Is it possible for me to truly selflessly love someone? I don't mean perfectly-- that will never happen on this side of life. I mean this: is it truly possible to possess a lasting, powerful, deep seated longing for another person's good will that is not driven by exterior motives or instinct and which is actually powerful enough to displace personal desires for other things?

I'll go ahead and say that I've never had this before. I sometimes feel such deep concern for my own mother that I've wanted to call it selfless love. But then I yet again found out it was idolatry. I don't selflessly love my mother's soul, I earnestly desire the intactness of her mental presence in my mind, since it has been something I've grown accustomed to all my life. It's called emotional attachment, not love.

After I became a devoted Christian three years ago, I began to feel pangs of such desires. (and when I say pangs, I do mean to communicate the painful feeling that seems to accompany that word. Love freaking hurts.)

Now that I've begun to crush these sinful desires to please other people, I've developed the capacity to be such a callous jerk that I am genuinely scared by it. I really don't want to do that. I know that desire stems from people-pleasing desires-- I can't wholly get rid of them. So until I learn to actually genuinely care for other's well being, I'm either going to have to act like a jerk or entertain sinful people-pleasing desires. Crap. I suddenly have a lot more respect for jerks who are jaded from dealing with the non-genuine relationships that accompany people pleasers like me.

I want to find out what it's really like to act out of a genuine desire for other's well being, not an emotional attachment to their approval which disappears as soon as the threat of their disapproval does. How the heck does this happen?  Whenever I do genuinely care about people, it's awesome. I want that so bad.