Saturday, June 10, 2017

Testimony

This was never really something I planned to write about for anyone to see. But then a thought struck me: if I could say something that would help a young person that's currently going through what I went through, and I don't say it, then I should, and would, be disgusted with myself. That would be more sickening to me than any thought I ever had or thing I ever did.

I was addicted to pornography for about four years. I lied about it to my parents and everyone else. Not because I thought they wouldn't love me or try to help, but because of the status I wanted. I wanted to be the best, morally, academically, etc. And admitting my addiction would have dampened that.

It started in the summer after eighth grade, if I'm not mistaken. I didn't really know what I was doing at first. I knew that it was wrong, but I wasn't exactly sure why or what it was.

It escalated throughout ninth grade, when I was struggling with other tough life issues, such as my grandparents dying, frequent sickness, and the transition to high school, where I knew hardly anyone. I remained steadily addicted through most high school, until near the end of my senior year.

I hated it. I begged God to free me from it every single time I gave in, sometimes several times in a day. I tried everything that I could do on my own. I tried blocking sites, reading my bible whenever I felt tempted, I tried journalling, praying, getting out of the house, exercise, filling my schedule, and especially playing video games to distract myself.

The things I saw were disgusting. So many perversions of God's gift of sex. If you think you've seen something so disgusting that no one would understand, trust me. I know. I know where those terrible paths can lead. I've been there. You are not alone.

The horrible things I saw made me angry at myself for giving in so easily to the temptation every time, angry at God for not freeing me, angry at Satan for putting this stumbling block in front of me. I felt guilty, I felt ashamed, I felt disgusted. I escaped these feelings by playing massive amounts of video games (which is why I think my video game 'addiction' was really just a defense mechanism).

I couldn't ever get away from it. I think the longest I ever went without watching porn/masturbating was two weeks, in the fall of junior year. I was able to get the occasional week. Maybe a few days. But it was usually daily, or worse.

Finally, I was able to tell someone. I think I first confided in someone near the end of my junior year, or possibly at the beginning of my senior year. And that helped a little, but I was still in the grip of my addiction. I was finally trying to get help from friends, and I thought that talking to someone would be the magic key that released me from my chains.

But it wasn't. I told one person, then another, then one or two more. I started to open up, bit by bit. But it stuck around. It got to the point where I barely tried to fight it anymore.

Finally, after years of throwing my willpower at it, God decided to lift my addiction from me. And that's really the only logical way I can describe it. I will give some more detail, to hopefully help anyone who reads this, but it was all God.

Around the end of February of my senior year, I gained a new motivation for ending my addiction. I had sworn to myself that I would never date someone if I was still addicted to porn. And at that time, I was fairly close to being in a relationship. So I tried more and more to resist the temptations, with very little success.

But then, one day, it worked. And then another day. I wasn't doing anything drastically different; I had already tried throwing all my willpower at it, so it wasn't that I was suddenly trying harder. I wasn't praying harder. God just decided to give me a day. Then the day turned into a week, before I knew it. Then it was two weeks.

The first two weeks of freedom from those chains were not that difficult. But then the temptations returned in force, and it became nearly impossible. In fact, without God, certainly impossible. I remember waking up in the morning on Saturdays, moving to the couch, and literally freezing every muscle in my body so that I couldn't possibly move, because I knew any movement would be sin. I would lie there for an hour, frozen, begging God to keep me still. Finally, I would be able to get my mind off of it long enough to get upstairs and eat breakfast.

Don't get me wrong, I was not (and still am not) lust free. During those frozen morning hours I had gross, perverse thoughts. I still couldn't control my own head (which is one of the worst feelings I've ever known). All that I really could control at that point was the muscles in my arms.

But after a month, it got a little bit easier. Without visiting porn sites, I wasn't feeding on the perverse food. My mind was no longer lingering on sexual thoughts.

After a couple months, it got slightly easier.

At this point, I was well into a relationship. One of my biggest fears was that if the relationship ended, would I fall back into my addictions?

Thankfully, God is not an idiot, unlike me. He didn't leave me in charge of defeating the bondage of sin; that was Jesus. So when the relationship ended, God reminded me of that. I didn't fall back into it, through no power of my own. And praise God that I'm now about fifteen months masturbation free.

I still struggle with the temptations. I still struggle with how I view women. But, if you're stuck like I was, know that there is hope. It does get better with time. Maybe not the time you would like, but it does get better.

The best I can say is reach out for help. Talk to people. Be open about it. Break the silence on this issue that destroys the young men and women who fall into it, as well as the people who create the images we love and hate so much.

That is why I am writing. I know what it is like. I know what a dangerous place the Internet can be. I know how the temptations feel. I know how it feels to be lost, ashamed, alone, sickened, guilty, begging for freedom. If that's where you are, speak out. Know that you are loved. Know that Christ has died so that you may live.

I'll describe some of the negative effects porn had. This might get graphic; I'm not sure what I'm going to say. This is to help show that it was a compulsion/addiction that I hated, and would have stopped instantly if I could have.

Sometimes, I would masturbate so much that I would see blood in my urine. Sometimes I would get crippling headaches while watching porn (completely unrelated to my migraines). I already described the hours spent on the couch while my thoughts rebelled against me. When I was around women, I was able to see them as people, but as soon I as I was alone I was objectifying them, despite how sickened I was by the idea. Social media was a major pitfall --- if you're struggling, delete Instagram right now. I lost hours of time to have fun or be productive just thinking about porn.

I think the worst part was that my introversion, my own mind, was stolen from me. When I was younger, I liked being alone. I could be happy reading for a long time, playing video games, whatever. But when porn started, being alone was the greatest trap. After the years, being alone was inextricably linked to porn. I lost my attention span for reading because it wasn't nearly as stimulating as porn. Being alone was a constant battle against myself. Being with people was draining (as I was/am still introverted). Neither option seemed great.

I'm finally rebuilding my ability to be content when I'm alone. College helped me tremendously in that area. I'm also thankful that my addiction did sometimes force to be out among people. There's always a silver lining.

Thank you to my parents, who I know always loved me, even though I've never felt able to talk to them about it (and to be honest, still don't). Thank you to my close friends who I finally managed to talk to about these things. Thank you to my teachers who constantly pointed me towards God. Thanks be to God for lifting this curse fifteen months ago. I pray that it will stay that way.

I write this as an encouragement to all my friends, men and women, who are still in the midst of the battle. It can get better. It's not easy, it's not fun, but it can get better. Tell someone. The first person is always the most difficult.

I write this to open up the dialogue. I am convinced that if more people in the church were open about this, we could change lives. If we talked about this like a human struggle, another facet of sin, instead of some great malady/disease that requires 3 hour sermons, bowing our heads to hide our shame, and revealing our struggle in secret, we could help more people.

If this could just be 'a talk', instead of "The Talk", maybe we would stop scaring people into secrecy. Open up these conversations with your friends. It will be difficult, at first. Know that none of us is alone. Sin is part of the human condition, and we all have a struggle to share.

Also, to parents everywhere, know that it is not your fault. It is the devil, it is sin, it is human nature. You are not the ones to blame. Being open will help, and sex education will help, but especially with technology being what it is, kids will see porn. That is inescapable. Pray for them, not just to stop sinning, but to pursue the things of God. To pursue love, to pursue deep friendships, to pursue a meaningful life.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

2016 --- The Cracked Foundation

Here's a detailed description of 2016 in just one word:

Well, 2016 has been one heck of a year. In many ways, it feels like everything we once assumed cannot be counted on. Cleveland won a championship, the internet mourned a dead gorilla for over half a year, racial tensions exploded, Donald Trump won the Republican nomination --- and then the presidential election --- and so much more.

And for me personally, things seem to be even crazier. So many things have begun and ended. I had my last high school theater performance with some of my best friends, I graduated, I started college, two sisters got engaged, I gained a brother-in-law (and another next year!), and I had my first break-up (so yeah, maybe I was secretly a little bit salty when I was at that wedding). I moved out of the house I had lived in for 18 years --- oh yeah, I became a legal adult, too. I started playing Ultimate Frisbee, I have a significant chunk of a novel written, I changed my major that I had planned on for ten years (literally; I first decided I wanted to write when I was 8). I have roommates for the first time in my life (and an awesome floor as well). My lifelong career plan has taken a radical shift. I rarely play video games. I've seen my cat about four times, and I became obsessed with a band for the first time in my life. I've written more poetry this year than I will ever admit to.

If there's one thing I've learned from this year, it's this: Nothing on this earth is stable. There is no foundation that will support you through all the insanity of life. Not family, not friends, not achievements, not living situations, not talent, nothing. Anything can be lost. 

But God. 


Thematic song to close the post: How Firm a Foundation, version by Chelsea Moon

Thursday, September 15, 2016

EVERYBODY struggles

Hey, I've got a great idea that will surely keep everyone moving forward.

How about we compare our struggles??!1!1!11!! Yay!@!@!#!*$!!!!!

No. Freakin stop.

The thing is, everybody has struggles.

Yeah, racism in America sucks. It sucks that minorities have to deal with that. Yeah, sexism sucks. Yeah, disability prejudice sucks. Yeah, it sucks that poor people can't get health care. Yeah, it sucks that people like Brock Turner are let loose. Yeah, it sucks that ____.

Keep the list going.

Take Orlando. Terrorism, hate crime against the LGBT, Islamic extremist, call it whatever you want.

Did you know that happens every day?

Orlando happens every day. Every. Single. Day.

Approximately 50 people shoot themselves with a gun every day. Total daily suicide rate is approximately 114, according to the AFSP.

Do you know who 70% of those people are?

Middle-age white males.

Not the homosexual teens who struggle with identity. Not the oppressed women who aren't paid the same as the men. Not the people of color who have grown up in a rigged system.

The middle-aged white males. The ones who are supposed to have some sort of charmed, perfect life. The ones who are oppressive. The ones who just don't get it. The ones who are, in many cases, voting for Donald Trump. The misogynists, the racists, the privileged, whatever you want to call them. Those are the ones killing themselves.

Now, those other problems I mentioned? Yes, those are serious problems! We should seek to love the homosexual teens. We should seek a fair and equal system.

But never assume that someone doesn't struggle simply because of their gender, their race, their sexual orientation, or anything else.

Because everyone struggles. 

And because of that, everyone must seek to understand each other. Take the plank out of your own eye first, so that you can properly see the struggles someone else is having. Men, see how that girl might have struggled with being compared to men. Women, see how that guy might have struggled growing up without a father. And so on.

Opportunity =/= happiness.
White skin =/= happiness.
Success =/= happiness.
Money =/= happiness.
A career =/= happiness.
Education =/= happiness.
Health care =/= happiness.
Acceptance =/= happiness.



Friday, August 26, 2016

Moral Evolution

Evolution can never explain morality.

Here's 2 reasons why

1. The chemical/electrical/neural basis.
       If, indeed, we have simply evolved from a pool of amino acids, then all our thought processes can be broken down to reactions between the chemicals and neurons in our brains. That includes all thoughts/feelings we may have about morality.
       Therefore, all our thoughts about morality should be considered equal. They are all A. From the same source of evolution and B. Involve the same chemicals/neural reactions.
        If the connections in your head tell you, "Hey, human sacrifice is probably bad," and the connections in a tribesman's head say, "Hey, human sacrifice is good," who are you to say that is wrong? What is inherently wrong with stopping the continued motion of some connected reactions/hormones/genes?
        The same processes that say, for one person, "Racism is bad," can say for another person, "Racism is okay." If there is no higher authority to distinguish, then both views are of equal authority. They are both the product of the same amount of evolution, they both rely on reactions in the brain, etc. So, one may cause pain. What is inherently wrong with causing another evolved meat-sack pain? Their life-span is meaningless in the context of 4.5 billion years of evolution. As long as the survival of the species/gene pool is not at stake, there is not a *logical* argument to be made for an inherent issue with causing pain. The view of the majority (that pain is bad) does not make something true. It just means that more chemical reactions happen to result in one speech/thought pattern than a different one.
          People who ascribe to the view may respond with, "how could you say that," or "I hope that the only reason you're not out there killing people is your ancient book".
          This totally dodges the question. Because the only reason that can be cited for morality when God is discarded is the basic life processes and evolution that led to each individual's existence.

2. Natural selection and our moral beliefs are, in some cases, mutually exclusive.
      For example, many people, from all beliefs/political ideologies, think that caring for those who cannot care for themselves is good. To some, it means loving your neighbor. To some, it means the government should provide healthcare. To some, it means philanthropy is admirable.
      Yet, logically, this view could not come as a result of evolution. Those early hominids who expended resources to help the helpless would have been at a disadvantage, and therefore natural selection would have killed them off. The 'kindness to the helpless' gene would have been eradicated, because it would have been an unlivable lifestyle when resources were scarce, and survival was at stake.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Biblical Case for Infant Baptism

Here is a list of every Bible verse in which we definitely see an infant getting baptized, or are clearly commanded to baptize infants:

1.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Novel Incoming!

This is just a quick update on what I'm doing with my blog and my writing and stuff.

This summer, in lieu of getting a job, I have committed to writing 20 hours a week. At first, this number seemed a bit daunting. But I quickly stumbled upon a story in my head that started out as seven pages, then 25, and now has ballooned into a 25,000 word beginning of a story.

I hope to complete this story by the end of the summer, with somewhere between 100,000-200,000 thousand words. Then, of course, there will be editing and revising and all that, and it'll probably be crap and I'll have to redo most of it to make it even slightly workable BUT it's going to be a complete, full-fledged novel. So I'm excited.

This is normally where I'd include a caveat, such as "If I maintain the motivation" or "As long as I have enough to write about" but I've determined that those excuses will not be acceptable.

If you're interested in reading drafts, let me know. Even if you just read the first 5 pages and say "This doesn't interest me" or "This is exciting" that's helpful!

Good song:




Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ode to Jud

Ode to Jud

Oh sad and hated, yet glorious Jud
How your smokehouse felt like home
You worked and powered through the mud
And through many fields you would roam
Your Judly jaw jutted forth
And there was a scowl in your forehead
And your wild hair was fully worth
The pain it brought each night beforehand
Every day I settled in
To your emotions and frightful chin
I scrubbed your dirt onto my face
And fell into your clothes embrace
Though ripped and torn and splashed with... tea?
They began to feel a lot like... me. (thanks Catey!)
As I think back to
When I was you
And you were me
For all to see
Those were great times
So many crimes
And your own knife
Would end my life
Saturday night finally came ‘round
Tears certainly did abound
But for me that wouldn’t do
I had to see those last shows through
Then we came to Sunday noon
One last time our tunes we’d croon
And once again we all said
“Oh no, it seems Pore Jud is Daid”.
Thanks to the cast
It was a blast!
And to our crew
We couldn’t do it without you
But in a blink
The show was done
Though I do still think
I shoulda used a gun.




Just remembering an amazing show!! Thanks to everyone involved and everyone who came to see it!!