On Turning Back to God.

So the other week, I decided to try going to church. My dad is a Baptist pastor. Ultimately, I’m not quite sure what made me want to start going again. At first, I thought it was something I’d do just for him. My dad wants to see me in church again, and just like writing is my thing, church is his thing, and it makes him happy when I show up.

I haven’t regularly attended church for the past ten years.

Now I think it’s because there’s a lot I’ve been struggling with internally. Fear is powerful motivator, and lately I fear I’ve been going down the wrong path in a few ways which I won’t get into here. Which sucks, because it isn’t something I feel comfortable talking about with anyone at all, really. I’ll just say that it’s a certain kind of addiction which involves something on the internet. Anyway. Suffice to say, there’s this strange urge to “get clean”.

But I have my doubts. I doubt myself, and I doubt the presence of God. I doubt His forgiveness, especially when I get caught up in the throes of anxiety and guilt-tripping myself. Like you can’t conceive of this idea of a benevolent, forgiving creator when you feel like your thoughts and emotions are chaining you to the ground. And every time you get up, an obsessive thought comes flying through the air to pin you back down.

I also feel like I face deeper battles if I choose to bring spirituality into my life again. The question of faith is difficult. Not so much faith in God per se, but faith in myself and how to weave the two together. During my years as a Christian, there was so much I struggled with that was pounded into my head (at conventions or by youth leaders, not by family) that was “sinful” or “sacrilege” to do or think about. But I never felt that opening my eyes led me down any wrong path.

I believe there is good in everyone. I believe God is in everyone, and that expressing yourself is an extension of that. But do ideas need tempering, in the same manner that a public image does? I ask because there are deep, disturbing stories I still want to write covering a range of sexual and psychological issues, but I often question their purpose as an extension of me, and their place in a spiritual life. What does it mean? Am I ready for a more pure life? Can I write such things and still call myself a Christian?

These are difficult questions. I know this seems confusing, so I’ll give a solid example of what I mean here.

There’s this story I want to write called Sting.  Very disturbing, intense sexual matter, particularly dealing with a mother who psychologically breaks down her own son to forge him into a sexual weapon to use against the man who raped her. As he grows up, she teaches him the art of seduction, how to come onto older men and what they like, etc. that she learns at her job as a therapist counseling sex offenders. It’s often alluded that they have somewhat of an incestuous relationship, more emotional than physical. Her son is eventually successful in seducing and murdering her rapist, though she goes to jail once the police find out what she did to her child. There is much more to it, but overall, the story deals with deep taboo questions regarding society’s views of teenage sexuality, age of consent, psychological manipulation, and the boundaries of what it means to have a choice.

In other words, do we have free will, or do we just think we do because that’s how we were nurtured and raised?

And I ask myself what place such a story has when it comes to my faith…holy crap, did I just answer my own question here?! Whoa.

Anyway, the struggle still remains. I broached this topic before with myself months ago, and every so often, I return to it again. Because I suppose I believe (or at least I have been taught) that living a Christian life means giving up certain things, and it’s only natural to start with the most obvious that need to go. I don’t know. Maybe my ideas of true Christianity were just warped by all those conventions I attended over the years. They want to “save everyone from sin”. I don’t think I ever got that with my dad. He’s not that kind of pastor at all. I’ve never really discussed my personal faith all that much with him, if at all, and maybe I should start.

Another thing I crave is a closer relationship with my dad. He’s always been my pastor, and the only one I ever enjoyed listening to (I know that’s biased, but it’s true). I love his nature. He’s a funny guy. He gives people a lot of hope and talks extensively about the love of Christ, never doom-and-gloom or hellfire sermons like a lot of those ultra-conservative nutjobs. But it’s difficult to really have a conversation with him too, only because he’s always busy and I am too, and despite the fact we live under the same roof, all we ever really discuss is politics (which gets boring fast).

But I’m rambling lol. I guess my point is, my dad is one of my biggest inspirations. Both my parents have been, perhaps my mom even more so when she was still alive.

So how can I give people hope in the same manner, using my talents? How do I have that same faith in God and faith in myself, while still remaining honest and true to who I am and who I want to be, and especially with what I want to say and show to the world?

As a writer, my mind is often a very disturbing and scary place. I think it was even when I didn’t write as much. I’m sure if I believed in demons, I’d think I was possessed, but I pride myself on being a rational person in the real world lol.

But I’ve always loved asking tough questions, and I think this definitely fits. Do I want a Christian life? Do I even want a Buddhist life, with its many principles and texts which I feel in some ways better resonate with me than the Bible does?

Spirituality and faith are just…difficult anymore. And I wish it wasn’t, because it’s something I want in my life, because I see what that power does for other people. It changes you–hopefully for the better. I want to have faith, and to believe in myself and in the godly force which moves and guides all things. It’s just so hard to see it as something that’s there, especially when you haven’t opened your eyes to it for so long.

Anyway. I will be going to church tomorrow, and I’ll see how I feel about it. Or maybe I just need to have a spirit walk with it, and get really personal with God.

Because ultimately, that’s what I feel a spiritual lifestyle should be. A personal relationship with a being, whether it be your own inner being, or one with the “universal consciousness”, or whatever force you feel moving within that drives you to personal greatness.

I dunno. Maybe the first thing I should do is stop worrying and not get caught up in rules or particulars just yet. Read my Bible, read other religious texts, meditate on it, and just go with the flow of wherever it takes me.

Maybe faith is like a river. What do you think?


Perception & Striving For Eternity.

(NOTE: I originally posted this on Tumblr here.)

I’ve been thinking a lot tonight about my perception of things, and I’m slowly coming to find conflict in what I’ve previously perceived as balance. This in regards to both myself and in everyone else. Everything is just…fleeting. Everyone just wants one night, one minute, one SECOND. We dream of better lives only to drown them in our usual habits, and nothing changes. “Just give me the distraction and I’ll be fine.” Well I’m tired of just being “fine” and letting my addictions get the best of me. It’s like we’re all living a giant distraction, haven’t you noticed?

Religion condemns vices for a reason, and lately I’ve been feeling that reason. It takes away from your potential, it really is stealing from yourself. Just one second. Just one moment. Just one night. But what about the rest of your life? Isn’t that more worth living? If you’re more focused on drowning your sorrows like I have been for the past several years, you’ll never live in the moment or move past certain points in your head. We are linear creatures. We’re meant to move on, keep changing, keep evolving.

I’ve created this atmosphere where I’m just “comfortable” and now I’m sick of it because I’m starting to see how other people do the same thing. I’m so confused lately because I keep moving further and further away from sexuality and now I’m starting to see why. Because it’s always just been “one night”. I’m living in the realm of “one night” and all the hopes and expectations that might come with it, and they’re never fulfilled because “one night” is all I’m aiming for.

I was surfing through channels on TV earlier today, and I curiously stopped on an old recording of a nun, which I’d normally switch past. But she seemed like the sweetest lady, and she was telling this story about traveling on a train through Iowa and how fast the fields of grain seemed to fly by, and she related that to life. It’s seemingly gone in an instant, and then she read some scripture on how the spirit of God LIVES IN YOU, and YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN. That made me think of my favorite film in the entire world, Cloud Atlas, which states “Our lives are not our own. We are bound by others, past, present, and future.”

For me, that realization is not so much about God as much as the all-encompassing SPIRIT OF LIFE ITSELF. This spirit transcends all space and time, and we are a part of that, we are LIVING extensions of that, constantly existing and evolving from moment to moment, lifetime to lifetime. And you can fool yourself for a while, you can engage in all manner of vices in a vain effort to convince yourself you’re comfortable, to only live for just that one moment, or that one event you’re so convinced will be epic and astounding. But the true joy is ALWAYS in the journey, in the getting there. The doing will always happen, and you may get what you wished for. But it will never feel as good as the anticipation, especially when the event is over. The vacations, the excursions, the sports games, the movies, the sex, the highs, all of it. 

For me, it’s always going to the club every week, getting drunk, hope to meet someone nice, go back to their place, mess around. But I always wake up feeling like shit regardless of whether that’s happened or not. So if it feels like shit, why have I kept doing it week after week like that for years?

Honestly, alcohol bores me, and it has for a long time now because I don’t feel that sense of drunken inhibition anymore. I just feel in a slightly altered state, but I don’t socialize anymore, so it does nothing to shift my personality out of the funk I’m already in. I still feel just as inhibited and socially awkward as always, so why do I continue? Same with pornography, which I’ve been more or less addicted to for a long time. It doesn’t make me feel better, and it doesn’t do for me what it used to. Same with sexual experiences with people…I find that I frequently don’t want to be touched anymore by anyone.

So why is this?

Honestly, I think I’ve just been selling myself short for far too long. I’ve gotten addicted to too many things, fooled myself for years. YEARS! As in nearly an entire decade! I haven’t known what I want, I never bothered to chase it because my dreams always seem too far away, unachievable, or there are just other things I’d rather be doing with my time, or I’m just living for the night or moment or whatever I’m anticipating what could hold a little fleeting feeling of happiness or pleasure.

So fuck the moments, honestly. I want to do better things, to strive for better things, to live in the moment instead of dying in it or letting one moment or experience dictate how I’ll feel about all future ones, and to stop distracting myself with petty addictions that are bad for me or that hold no purpose or reason other than to dampen the emotions I’m not facing. 

The way I see it, if you’re going to live a dream, you should live it FULLY and not succumb to an endless cycle in which you’ll never truly achieve it because of self-limiting beliefs and excuses. As that Reverend Mother said on TV, time flies and it’s all over before you know it, and with the Spirit being in you, you have a responsibility. You owe it to yourself and those you may later effect to live as much as you can in the moment—not FOR it, but IN it—so that you can contribute to the evolutionary process of all living things, especially yourself.

It reminds me of the questioning entity in the first episode of Star Trek: DS9 which I recently watched, in which they question why Benjamin Sisko’s thoughts keep drifting back to his wife dying on his old ship. “Why do you exist here?” they ask, after he’s explained the linear existence of human beings. “This is NOT linear,” they remind him. And so it is with us. We constantly live in these memories and moments, always fearing them as they surface, attempting to mask the bad things through all manner of vices.

So before you take a sip from that bottle or slide a fresh cigarette out of the pack to light up, consider why you’re doing it. Are you living in the moment, or for it? How long were you able to wait, and what crossed your mind as you did? These are important questions to ask yourself, as they can reveal quite a lot about your character. They say dreams often tell us which things we need to deal with, and it’s no different with addictions. What can’t you deal with? Because in all likelihood, if you waited long enough and talked it out with someone, I’m pretty sure you COULD deal with it, you just don’t WANT to.

It’s just no way to live, and because of this reason, I’m going to be working to cut all vices out of my life for a good while. I just need to take a breath, to understand myself, what I need to deal with. There’s a lot I want to experience in the world and a lot I want to do, a lot of people I want to help. And I can’t do that so long as I live for fleeting moments.