Yesterday’s admission/confession was painful and yet healing. How many times does one have to go through this process to finally be free? Is it something like 70×7? This seems to be the number of times I have to forgive myself for being who I am. Along with talking to the men last night in our 7-Pillars class, part of the assignment was to identify the masks we hide behind. My most powerful mask has been “I’m OK”. As all of last night did unfold I found that in spite of my need to tell all of this: gay thoughts, fears of being like my brother or dad, and more, I was still OK without the mask. The shame I thought would overwhelm me was not present and instead, I was OK with no mask. I know God wanted me to find this out. Had I kept it hidden behind the mask I would still be tormented with the fears which have kept me paralyzed so much of my life. God is so faithful and good–especially when we take the steps He outlines for us to take. It was interesting to hear the other men tell their vulnerability and not hide behind their own mask/s.
Today is a new day. I still feel raw from yesterday but I’m not needing to withdraw. These feelings are hard for me to simply live with. I’ve always steeled myself from them rather than allowing them to be felt and allowed in my present state. The defect of hiding and stuffing must not return. I’ll need to see how this all plays out during the day. God is good–ALL THE TIME!
Yesterday I said God wanted me to know Him and trust Him. He is putting this to the test. I had done my lessons for tonight’s 7-Pillars class yesterday morning. In it you tell how well your week went and if temptations came and how they were handled, etc. I did all of that dismissing many thoughts I’d stuffed. Yesterday I was troubled with temptations of a gay nature. These are always haunting for me and I usually try to deal with them by getting busy and stuffing them and saying several panicked prayers.
I awoke a little before 2:00 am this morning unable to sleep and all of this was on my mind. I got up and read through some very relevant materials in the book which accompanies the 7-Pillars curriculum. So much of the struggle I have is that the gay thoughts make me think I am less of a man than others. It makes me think I’m an abuser like my brother. It goes to the core of what I believe a man is or should be. I know this is also driven by my earthly father’s behaviors and actions towards me. I have to bring this out in the open with the guys in our group tonight. I have to know that men are ok with me being who I am. The biggest thing is I have to be ok with who I am. God led me this morning to think He is fine with me as He wants to use me to help others with similar struggles. I want that too but I despise it and would change it in a heartbeat if possible.
I know God is wanting me to work through this character defect and not run from it this time. I’m facing this giant and doing so with Jesus Christ. I didn’t want this new creation that I am to have temptations like this, but, since I do I want to face them knowing Christ died for them too. I’m not done processing this but I am convinced I have to face it this time. To God be all Glory!
God is so amazing and consistently so. This morning while having my devotions I was journaling that I am not good at discerning man. I tend to take man at face value and then I’m shocked when man doesn’t do what he said he would or he does what he says and then does something inconsistent with it. God’s response to this was simple. “I am not interested in you discerning man, I want you discerning Me.” In my Experiencing God manual yesterday I did the assignment: God Invites You to Join Him. In it you come to realize that God invites you to have an intimate relationship with Him. In this relationship He will show you His Ways. This morning I awoke to the realization that this is exactly what God wants with me–an intimate relationship. I want that too and I know He and I are working on this. In this I realize I will be better able to discern God’s leadership in my life and how He wants me connected to His work. This is exciting and confirming. I don’t need to discern man. I need to know that I am connecting with God’s plan for me through our relationship one with another. What I do for man will be done through what God shows me rather than discerning myself what man might want/need.
It was 10 months ago that God told me He wanted me journaling to Him and not to His Son Jesus. He also told me a couple days later that He gave Jesus to us not to replace Him but to lead me to Him. In these 10 months I’ve begun to trust and believe in God my Father as I’ve never been able to before. I humbly thank Him for His persistence with me and building a relationship with me that is intimate. I have begun to know that even in my older years I can be made new. Praise be to God my Father.
Yesterday I said that God is teaching me how to stand before Him and man as a new creation. As I was journaling this morning I saw how this was demonstrated yesterday by living through the day. I was needing to confront an issue with our recovery ministries at church and I finished it. I was wanting to do more with it but God told me this morning that I needed to now leave it with Him. He is the one to be glorified in this work–not me. If I were to take the issue any further it would bring the lens onto me rather than Him. In so doing the grace of the work will be removed and it would be a battle of man. This I surely don’t want.
Secondly, a dear friend was sharing that his son’s struggle is not turning around. My friend knows he is to praise God even in the uncertainties of life trusting God and he was struggling to do this. We prayed for God to complete the verse Mark 9:24: “I believe, help thou my unbelief!”
As a new creation in God I am presently learning that God sees everything through His spiritual eyes, hears through spiritual ears, and more. Each one of us humans do all of this through our fleshly eyes and ears. If we don’t see and hear results we think nothing is taking place. The characteristics of human growth are so different than spiritual growth. Also, we humans can’t grow spiritual growth for someone else. We can only support the growth. Spiritual growth must come from personal efforts. As a parent it is extremely hard to learn this once and for all as our kids grow into adulthood. I for one know this full well. God is teaching me that trusting, believing, surrendering are all spiritual verbs which we are to act on in human flesh. This is part of praising God knowing He will complete the work He starts. How I want to do this well as I grow more into the new creation God is making in me.
This morning I finished the book of Joshua in my Bible reading. In the last chapter, ch. 24, Joshua is reminding the Israelites of all God has done for them. Their part in this was keeping God as their God and not turning to the gods of the foreigners living in the land promised to them. The battles that were won with these foreigners had to be fought but in reality, most of the battle was won by God’s work. The Israelites simply needed to show up for the battle and watch God do His part.
There is such a direct connection of this work of God then to the work God is doing in my life today and is doing in each of our lives as we keep Him as our God. The gods of the world around me have been replacing God. I can so easily see now how Satan has been working on this with me from my very childhood. The choices of my brother and my dad were used by Satan to destroy the spirit of belief God had given me at birth. Now that I see God fully as my God and I am working to live in the new creation He gave me so long ago, He is restoring my spirit with His Holy Spirit. He is showing me that I am His adopted son and that He sees His very own Son, Jesus Christ, in me as I grow more and more into the likeness of Jesus through the new creation He gave.
The Israelites claiming their Promise Land was done physically. We claim our Promise Land spiritually. Joshua told the Israelites to choose today whom they will serve. They chose God. We are asked today whom we will serve? I have chosen God and in so doing I am giving up the idols (gods) I’ve fled to in my past–porn, isolation, self doubt, identity issues and more. I choose God and I stand before Him and man as a new creation. I am learning more and more how to do this just as the Israelites needed to learn to claim what was theirs and trust their God.
Yesterday’s journey was an adventure which would have taken me into a cave in my times past. It started simply doing some yard work at home that all went well. As I headed to a friends to do some work for them I encountered problems with their equipment. I simply said I’d return today with my own so I could do the work. On the way home I got a troubling call from one of our men in recovery. A decision was being made in leadership which would have implications throughout our recovery ministry. I knew I needed to step into it and I did. During this time I had one more call from another man in our recovery group who is deeply struggling with his addiction. He has been deeply bruised by his childhood abuse and his belief system about himself is weak. We talked much about the new creation God is making in him and this takes time. A baby doesn’t quickly learn to walk, talk, make decisions, etc. without much guidance and nurture. One would never expect a baby coming from the birth canal to walk out of the room. Why would anyone expect a new creation to be strong enough to walk in this world without much help. This is what we are to do with one another helping us to keep our new creation in front of us and not our old haunting habits.
The day didn’t end with this but my point in writing this is that these issues in my past, even though I’d deal with them as a leader, would take me into my own isolation feeling I wasn’t good enough or the right person to make them. I’d beat myself up and let the voices in my head rule. I realized this morning that this isn’t so true anymore. I’m very grateful for this growth and healing God is giving me. Growing into the belief that I am made new is truly a healing and gift. Each one of us must ultimately find this truth within us, but we sure need to help others struggling see that God didn’t leave them out like I thought He had with me for so long. God is so good!
Yesterday was an odd day for me. When I typically come back from being gone I am usually so glad to be home and spend endless hours getting yard, work, etc. caught up. Even though I did this yesterday, my mind and emotions were still back in California with my sis. I had called her in the afternoon. She was actually doing fairly well and talked about the steps she was taking to move forward getting things done she wanted to do before going back to her job. I was glad to hear all of that but I longed to be back with her. I haven’t known those kind of feelings like I do now. I don’t think it’s just because I’m “getting old” that I now find them. I do believe I’ve always had them but now I allow myself to feel emotions instead of just show them at a moment.
Today is a new day and I want to step into it now being fully home. I have watched my wife over the years take a day or two to “return home” when we go someplace she enjoys. I know she is very connected to the emotions of life. I think this may be what has finally connected for me. We will have to take a minute and talk about this. It is odd to be old but feel new all at the same time but growing into the new creation God has made is like this. I’ll probably have more moments as the days move forward. I’ll keep you informed. God is so good and faithful making us into the “good and faithful servant” He created us to be.
We made it home yesterday afternoon. It was a good trip. As I was departing the plane in Boise I felt my wallet gone in my hip pocket. I quickly went back to my seat and a stewardess and I searched for it. It wasn’t to be found. She told me to go to Delta’s baggage claim to call Seattle and check with the gate where we boarded to see if they had found it there. I did this and it wasn’t there either. On the drive from the airport I got a call saying it was found after all on the plane and could I return to the airport? We did gladly! When I opened the wallet I found that the main credit card I use was missing. The last time I’d used it was Sunday for a family dinner at a restaurant in Escondido, CA with 14 of us present. I had paid for the group using it. Luckily I had the receipt with me in my shirt pocket so I called the restaurant. They had it and are mailing it to me. Boy, did I have a wake up!
Last night was our Tuesday men’s class. Our assignment had been to list the 10 most hurtful events in our past and answer 3 questions for each one. It helped me to see that my most hurtful events were all emotional ones connecting to my childhood. Adult events were painful but nothing compared to the childhood ones. Also, the childhood ones are the ones that had shaped my character defects impacting my entire life. Even listening to the others share their own, I could hear and see this time and again. It awakened again in me how important it is to stay on the journey of recovery until the hurts have been fully addressed and healed. The habits we develop must be overcome, but if we don’t get to the root cause we will never know the full beauty of God’s redeeming love and power.
Joshua, the Bible book I’m reading presently, is full of God’s command to “fear not”. All my fears are connected to childhood hurts. I’ve let them paralyze me endless times. Now I’m much more awake to this knowing God isn’t wanting me responding to fears with my old habits. Instead, He is replacing the fears with a desire to help those stuck with their own. Helping others with their fears (hurts) isn’t arrogance either. That voice of my past has been a killer for me. But, I now know that helping others and maybe receiving a “thank you” or a compliment for it is NOT arrogance. I’ve lived with this paralysis long enough. It is time to let God set me free and He is doing it. Thank You Father.
Yesterday was the day after. God had told me to share Joshua 1:9 with Bonnie.” Be strong and take courage….”I don’t know why I always question these times but when I did share the scripture with her she wept. She hadn’t slept well the night before wishing to just go be with Randy. God on the other hand wanted her to know He has plans for her life and to not be dismayed. Gods timing is always perfect.
Today will be the last one here as all of us leave in the morning very early to head back to Idaho. My bible reading this morning was continuing in Joshua. In 5:9 it says God rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you. Reproach means disgrace or shame. I know He has been doing that for me. In this journey of mine God has been removing my reproach–the shame and disgrace of my past. I can see God being used to help others through me. This morning He told me that this use isn’t arrogance as my dads condemning voice within my head always demeaned me with. It’s simply being Gods servant. The haunting voices of the past are being put to death. Praise be to God.
Yesterday’s service for Randy is done. In all of it there was so much love, honor, and grace shown. Both boys talked and even the older granddaughter gave her 9 year old speech. God was blessed and Randy was too.
At a time like this I realize my journey isn’t just mine. It needs to be including my family. All of us who came to support Bonnie and her kids were of vital importance. It was so visible yesterday as the service came together and the dinner followed. Taking everything down made the work simple. My niece and husband were so gracious in hosting the service.
Today my scripture reading was starting the book of Joshua. Moses has just died and God is telling Joshua to be strong and take courage. Just last Sunday our choir sang this song. Today God seemed to say to share this message with Bonnie. We do feel so abandoned and alone after death yet God wants us to know He has never gone away. He wants to be strong in us with His tender love and mercy. That’s part of why He gave us His very Holy Spirit to live within us.
I’ve needed to know this many times in my life and today I’ll share it with one who needs to be reminded. Gods love is to be shared one with another.