Saturday, June 26, 2010

On Who I am, and what I want to Do...Followup

I have a confession to make. I haven't been reading my Bible much this week.

So, I finally had some free time today, and sat down to read my daily Psalms. When I'm following my plan, it goes like this: at least 5 Psalms a day and 1 Proverbs a day. If I have additional time, some part of the Old Testament, usually one of the Prophets. (I typically tend to read the New Testament separately from my planned time.)

If I stick to this plan, it gets me through the Psalms and Proverbs every month. (5 psalms x30 days = all 150 psalms/month. 1 chapter/day in Proverbs = all 31 chapters/month.)

So today being the 26th, 26x5 = 130, so I sat down to read Ps. 126-130.

I love the Scriptures. So often they say exactly what I need to read at the time. And this was the case today.

Earlier this week, I recently came to the monumental conclusion that all I want in life is to be a true and good Husband and (if possible) father — "hearth and home," as my Mom so succinctly put it in a conversation yesterday.

So imagine my joy to have the first thing I read in the Scriptures after this crystallization be the following:

Ps. 126 (LXX)
1An ode of ascents; for Solomon.

Unless the Lord build the house,
Those who build it labor in vain:
Unless the Lord guard the city,
Those who guard it stay awake in vain.
2It is vain for you to rise early,
To awaken from your rest,
You who eat the bread of grief,
When He gives His beloved ones sleep.

3Behold, children are the Lord's inheritance;
The fruit of the womb His reward.
4Like arrows in the hand of a mighty one,
So are the children of those who were outcasts.
5Blessed is the man who shall fulfill his desire with them;
They shall not be ashamed, when they speak to their enemies at the gate.

Ps. 127 (LXX)
1An ode of ascents.

Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
Who walk in His ways.

2You shall eat the fruit of your labor;
You are blessed, and it shall be well with you.
3Your wife shall be like a vine,
Prospering on the sides of your house;
Your children like newly planted olive tress
Around your table.

4Behold, so shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.

5May the Lord bless you from Zion,
And may you see the good things of Jerusalem
All the days of your life;
6May you see your children's children.
Peace be upon Israel.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On Who I am, and what I want to Do....

"Color" warning: there are a couple of words in here that some might find taboo, or offensive. I have included them on purpose, and chosen them carefully. If you don't like it, tough. You have been warned. :)
I recently posted on FaceBook that I "want to be Tom Bombadil". I think that deserves an explanation.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a very wise friend, who confirmed what several others have told me recently: I need(ed) to figure out who I am and what I want to do with my life.

Now, I know who I am -- I'm a wretch, inexplicably given mercy by God and being led to salvation. This is very bewildering to me.

There are a couple of things I truly regret in my life -- sins against others for which I've since repented in many tears, but which still sting my soul when I ponder them (one very recent, the other half my life ago: you each know who you are). There are a whole lot more things that I've screwed up honestly, and taken a lesson from; so while I may wish they'd turned out differently, I don't REGRET them.

But here's the problem. I'm also a bloody romantic, and dammit if I don't honestly believe that each of us can be, by the grace of Almighty God, a truly good person, and make a difference in someone's life, if given half a chance. And I've got this crazy notion that I'm included in "each of us."

I have also known for quite some time what I want to do with my life. But I never wanted to face it, because, on the surface, it's cheesy. It just comes across as unmanly.

However, my friend was right: I needed to bring it to my conscious mind, accept it, embrace it, and move forward. So, in a fit of soul-searching and crying out to God for help, by His mercy and grace, I have finally done that. I now fully accept what I want to do with my life, cheesy though it may be. I know what is my heart's one desire. And to be honest, I'm quite excited about it. :)

So what's that, Steve?

First, what it's NOT. I do NOT have any aspirations of worldly success, of being rich, of being President (I'm fairly certain I'd be assassinated in the first month), a Bishop, Priest, or any such thing.

I'm not saying these things are wrong, or that I won't do them to the best of my ability if God asks me to do any of them. I'm just saying, these are not my driving goals.

I think the best way to explain it is how I explained it to another friend this morning. When I die (if the Lord doesn't return first), and they plant my body in the ground, there will (hopefully) be something on my headstone. It'll have to be short, and I want it to be true. What do I want it to say?

Here it is: "He was a good Husband." If it has "and father" on there, too, that'll be just fine by me. :)

That's it. That's what I want to do with my life. I want to be the best damn husband I can be, for God's glory, and for the ultimate salvation of those entrusted to me. I want to care for another person, body and soul, with the whole of my being.

So what of my "vocation" or "calling"? That's what I'm saying: my "calling" is to be a husband, true and good.

True, part of that is to be damn good at my job, and to enjoy it -- to advance within the organization (if I work for one, like I do now), or grow my business if I start one, or whatever.

But my driving force is not and will not be my job. It will be my care and love for and rejoicing in my family, or my looking forward to and preparation for that, anyway. And that's all I want.

Hopefully, you see how Tom Bombadil fits that description. He is a character (in Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy) much like Adam was created to be -- and would have become, if he had never fallen. He is the master of his domain -- that area of life he has been given care over, yet no more -- and he has no ambitions for more. He has a strong wife, and he loves her dearly. She reciprocates that love. (He also lets her have fairly free reign over the house.) Also, Tom helps others back on their paths, while not trying to walk their path for them.

Bombadil loves life, and life loves him. In fact, he lives a very Orthodox, sacramental existence. As a consequence, the Ring has no power over him -- it neither makes him invisible nor affects his sight of others, and he does not think of it as of any significance.

So, to bring us full circle: by the power of Christ, Who came to restore us to Paradise ("for us men and for our salvation..."), I want to be (like) Tom Bombadil. I want to enjoy whatever job I have at the moment, and be good at it, all to support being a true and good husband (and, if the Lord wills, father) -- the best I can be. Cheesy? Yep. But I don't care; it's who I am.

I'll do the first part (about the job, and living a sacramental life to the glory of God) while waiting/looking for "the one" who will be entrusted to my care (and to whose care I will be entrusted). And we'll see how it goes.

Pray for me!!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

On the Defeat of Satan...

I just read this article on "Original Sin According to St. Paul," which, in it's conclusion, has these powerful thoughts (emphases in original):

Both Roman scholastics and Protestants are undeniably heretical in their doctrines of grace and ecclesiology simply because they do not see any longer that salvation is only the union of man with the life of God in the body of Christ, where the devil is being ontologically and really destroyed in the life of love. Outside of the life of unity with each other and Christ in the sacramental life of corporate love there is no salvation, because the devil is still ruling the world through the consequences of death and corruption. Extra-sacramental organizations, such as the papacy, cannot be fostered off as the essence of Christianity because they are clearly under the influence of worldly considerations and do not have as their sole aim the life of selfless love. In Western Christianity, the dogmas of the Church have become the object of logical gymnastics in the classrooms of philosophy. What is usually taken as natural human reason is set up as the exponent of revealed theology. The teachings of the Church concerning the Holy Trinity, Christology, and Grace, are no longer the accepted expressions of the continuous and existential experience of the body of Christ, living within the very life of the Holy Trinity through the human nature of Christ, in whose flesh the devil has been destroyed and against whose body (the Church) the gates of death (hades) cannot prevail.
The enemy of life and love can be destroyed only when Christians can confidently say, "we are not ignorant of his thoughts." Any theology which cannot define with exactitude the methods and deceptions of the devil is clearly heretical, because such a theology is already deceived by the devil. It is for this reason that the Fathers could assert that heresy is the work of the devil.

Wow. Good stuff. I highly recommend reading the whole thing. So go follow the link above already!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

NOTE: This post is somewhat personal, but it's a personal blog, so what the hay. If you don't want to see the personal side of me, close the tab/window, and wait for my next post(s).

Here goes! *holds breath and dives in*

I recently wondered (via my status update on Facebook), if I will ever be "normal."

Let me explain. You see, as far as I know, most guys actually know how to be good friends with females their own age, without getting delusions of grandeur and romance about these friendships. By which I mean getting a crush on Every. Single.1 One.2

Most guys. Not me. Uh-uh. No, yours truly has to run his heart through the meat grinder for each one before anything resembling a normal friendship with them happens. *facepalm*

Thankfully, there's usually someone whom I can get to slap me real hard (either literally or metaphorically) and snap me out of it. Not always, though.3 And even when there is, it doesn't always "stick".4 :(

It sneaks up on me, too. By the time I see it coming, it's already here, and it's too late to do anything about it except ride it out, or seek out the person who can best do the slapping mentioned above (the identity of this person changes case-by-case).5

Now, I'm getting better at hiding it (I think), so most of the time they don't even know it. Or if they do, they have the good grace to pretend they don't.6 7 8

Anybody9 got any advice?10 This is really annoying to me.11

1NB: "Single" here is to be read both ways -- individual, and not married. There seems to be a switch somewhere in my head that turns off this whole problem if I know the friend is married. That's good, I guess, since that would just cause more problems. But I digress.

2In turn, of course. Usually not all at the same time, although that did happen once — 'twas a very confusing time for me, let me tell ya!

3When there isn't one, the crush wears off; but it takes a whole lot longer. On the other hand, it usually doesn't hurt (me) as much, either. Kind of 6-of-one, 1/2-dozen-of-the-other, I guess.

4Thus this post.

5You'd think I'd have learned by now! But what am I supposed to do — stop making female friends? I'm pretty sure that's not it.

6For those of you who might be reading this who fall into the "knew it, but pretended you didn't" category — a huge thank you.

7Incidentally, it's the ones that don't know or pretend they don't know, who actually wind up being normal friends later, and usually really good ones. Ironic, ain't it? Sucks for me, though. (Actually, it's good in the long run, but the getting there burns something fierce.)

8Some who have noticed and didn't like it have "back-channeled" their discomfort to me through friends. That's always appreciated. Although every time this happens, I've been over it, or coming out the other end; so they've been behind the curve. Oh well.

9Male or female, any age, married or single — I'm taking all perspectives.

10I've disabled comments here, for this post, just because it's kind of personal, and I feel like I should. So if you've got advice, call me, text me, PM me on FB, send a carrier pigeon, smoke signals, sky writing...something.

11And I imagine it's pretty annoying to the ladies, too.