Squaring God with Sex as a Single Man

It’s tough to tell what’s worse: letting your body get the best of you, or letting nothing occur at all. I’ve been on both ends of this teeter-totter, and done both with the abandon that comes from a “Grip it and Rip it” mentality. Now, as an older (possibly wiser) man, I’ve got some experience to draw on, to look back upon, that helps me ease toward the center.

Balance. That’s what we all strive for, right? We balance our checkbook and hope to stay in the black. We try to even out potholes in the driveway for a smoother ride. Corn needs water, but not too much. Thermostats are adjustable to achieve balance between the winter wind outside and the furnace in the basement. But what about things that are not so easily measurable?

I’m talking about the balance of faith, my faith in God, against the desires of my human body. It’s a tough thing to talk about, a tough thing to think about. Oftentimes, I don’t do either. Our world places a high priority on the things we can see, desire, and take to bed. Less prominent, but more important, are the things we keep to ourselves. The thoughts that eat at us. The guilt that gets ignored. Today, I’m in a mood to evaluate. Maybe somebody who reads this will wind up doing a little introspection of their own- if that happens, then I’m glad to have helped.

First off, this isn’t a judgment on anyone but myself. This isn’t politics or business, it’s my desire to be closer to God. To live the way He wants me to, while still enjoying myself. To find a woman who makes me a better man without compromising in any way. Maybe my standards are too high. Maybe I’m doing it wrong. I’ve done a lot of things in a lot of different ways, and they haven’t left me where I want to be.

Sleeping around didn’t work. Trying to build a life with someone who didn’t value God didn’t work.Playing house with divorcees is miserable in the morning. Hanging out with party girls at night is annoying. Going at a snail’s pace isn’t my style, either, though. Kisses and hand-holding are fine in the eighth grade, but make for a really long night. The opposite is tougher, still, when you wake up in the morning and wonder, “Why did I do this? She’s not even my type.”

I’m a flawed man, and I get that. My character defects are kept at bay by abstaining from drink (coming on eight years now,) from sex, and, recently, from social interaction. If a dog runs away every time it gets out of the kennel, you’ve got to keep it in the kennel or train it to stay in the yard. I’m tired of keeping the kennel door closed. God is helping me train for obedience, but sometimes it’s like the training manual is written in Mandarin-Chinese. I’ve got to learn to translate it.

The good news here is that God knows my heart. He can’t sweep my sins under the rug, but he can and does forgive me for them. He doesn’t care that I’ve run out of the yard- He’s just glad I’m back. But if I don’t make strides toward living obediently, He’s going to know that I’m not serious about following Him. I struggle with how far, how long I can stay away. Who even thinks like that? I do. I struggle with His ear-scratches and “Good Dog” praises not measuring up to the tasty roadkilled deer in the neighboring ditch. It’s bad for me, but I can’t help myself sometimes. I stay in the kennel.

At the same time, I’m up for just about anything that will bring me closer to Him. I’ll study the bible, spend lots of time in prayer, and talk to God. I’ll get to where I’m at the high end of the teeter totter- the supposed payoff, when you’re weightless, your knees don’t ache from squatting, and you’ve got the best view on the playground. Then, inevitably, I’ll come down again. Sometimes I wish the dog-gone thing would break, or rust itself solid in the up position. I can climb to the top, but not the bottom. That’s where I started.

This has been going on for years- I see what’s supposed to happen. I see the vision of it, and it doesn’t have a set hair color, eye color, figure, etc. It’s got God with it, though, blessing it. It’s got talent and excitement where I need it, and it’s got steadiness and loyalty as well. It’s got a house that’s now a home. It’s got no baggage. It’s a fantasy.

We’ll see what happens. Maybe the dog will decide to stick around next time I let it out, and maybe it’ll run off and be relegated to the kennel once more. God’s got a bunch of good translators around, and one of them will make sense to me. I’ll keep after it, keep trying. I’ll do my best to make the yard as appealing as possible.

7 Ways To Show Love To Someone With Anxiety/Depression

samfinden:

A little off topic for me, but this is worth reading. Please check it out.

Originally posted on Be Brave, and Talk:

The hardest people to love are the ones who need it most.

In honour of Valentine’s Day, here are some ideas for showing love to friends and family members with anxiety/ depression:

1.) Give Compliments:

Chances are, someone who suffers from anxiety/depression also struggles with self esteem. Help her challenge her feelings of self loathing by giving her sincere, specific compliments. Being specific is really important, because it will make her more likely to remember what you said later. It will also make her more likely to believe you. For example, instead of saying, “You’re a good mom,” you could say something more meaningful: “You are so patient with your children. I love how you encourage them to keep trying. They are so lucky to have you.”
One thoughtful, genuine compliment has more power than 10 careless comments that feel like flattery. Put your heart into what you say.

2.)…

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Outlaws of the West?

We’ve all got some knowledge of the famous outlaws, those men who terrorized the Wild West around the turn of the 20th century. Hollywood films and New York paperbacks have romanticized the outlaw lifestyle, giving us Paul Newman and Colin Farrell in place of Butch Cassidy and Jesse James.HC Butch Cassidy Newman.jpg Outlaws have been whitewashed by the paintbrush of time, turned from devilish thieves into sixgun-toting Robin Hoods, characters who stole from evil capitalists and gave to the poor. The truth, as is usually is the case, is somewhere in the middle.

Did Butch Cassidy keep farmers and ranchers around Hole in the Wall propped up with some of his take? Sure. And did he try to avoid bloodshed? Whenever possible, yes. But make no mistake, the money he stole wasn’t just that of the cattle or railroad conglomerates. They stole everything they could. Butch Cassidy stole.

How about Jesse James? We all know about he and his brother Frank fighting for the South in the civil war. Does that make them war heroes? Maybe. Does the fact that he was shot in the back by Robert Ford, one of his own, make him a martyr for those who hold loyalty high on their list of priorities? Hardly.

And Billy the Kid? He wound up orphaned by an Irish mother who had been forced from her country by the Great Famine. Does that make his exploits, his robbing and killing, a symbolic rage against the authority of Britain? Not so much. He was a bad dude who did bad things.

There is a common thread woven through the collective cloth of outlaw life, though, and it should be noted: These men were started right, and lost their way when one or both of their parents became absent. Butch Cassidy was one of 13 kids from a loving home. His father had to leave their farm to find work, and the affable youngster wandered in time, eventually finding the criminal lifestyle. William McCarty (aka. Billy the Kid) did well until his mother died of TB. And the James boys were sons of a Baptist preacher, but went bad after their father died in California during the gold rush of 1849 (apparently, he was preaching to the miners, not searching for gold).

The life of an outlaw was far from glamorous, what with all the hiding out and running from the authorities. These guys slept in caves and looked over their shoulders. They counted on their horses to keep them one step ahead. Their guns were faster than most. If they lived in our time, they’d likely have been part of Enron’s management- Affable guys who took shortcuts and got more than they deserved, but for a shorter period of time.

Butch Cassidy died in Bolivia after robbing the payroll of a tin mine. Billy the Kid was shot by Pat Garrett, one of his old acquaintances that had turned law, in the darkened sitting room of a friend’s New Mexico home. James was killed by his own gang member for bounty. All of them died as relatively young men.

Outlaws are fun to reminisce over, but often the legend is far more likable than flesh and blood was.

Keep your heels down!

Hindsight Sucks

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda. Why didn’t I do this, or refrain from that? What would have happened if I’d just stayed here, gone there, stuck it out with her, not hung around with them? And why?

I’m closing in on thirty, I’m single, I’m relatively under-educated, and I’m not the titan of industry or international sensation that I’d hoped to be. The compulsive guy who could do anything he set his mind to is now afraid to try, and is too gun-shy to put himself out there. And the positive experiences in the rear view mirror are now little more than blurred scenes that can’t occupy my time for more than a few fleeting moments, lest I lose sight of where I’m headed. Actually, I could look back in relative safety now, because I’m not travelling. I’m parked. But hindsight sucks.

It sucks because I second-guess the decisions that were made or not made, and the repercussions of each. If history is to be my guidebook for the future, then I’ve got plenty to advise me on what not to do. And if the future was wide open, with endless possibilities, mine is somewhat narrower now. I know how to do a lot, but I also know what I can’t do. And that sucks.

It sucks because I’m skeptical of women and my ability to tolerate them, let alone love or trust them. A guy can only go all-in with his heart so many times before he’s out of emotional credit with the house, and it seems like my note has been called. I’m scrubbing dishes in the back, hoping to pay back enough to play a few more hands. And when I’m able, will I? Or will I have learned my lesson? Part of me hopes I’ll do the latter, and simply step away from the table. If that happens- that sucks too.

Hindsight is a bearcat, and it’s nearly always 20/20. Rarely do I look back and say, “I handled that situation perfectly.” More often than not, I look back and wonder. “What if?” is a counterproductive exercise. “What now?” is where I’ve been for a while- and for that, I’ve got a few ideas. Right now, I’ve got to use my MacGuyver skills to fashion something useful out of seemingly unrelated pieces. I’ve got to dive into the Good Book, the Big Book, and the Phone Book to make something happen. I’ve got to adjust my expectations and see the potential in things. That used to come so naturally. Hindsight sucks.

Right now, I’ve got to have more days where I click “Save Changes” than days where I click “Don’t Save.” I’ve got to inch forward and hold the line. I’ve got to do something positive, to let someone in, and to make things count. I guess that’s why I’m writing this- maybe somebody else feels the same way, feels like they’re treading water. It’s okay- we’ll be alright.

Let’s not dwell in the past, eh? Hindsight sucks.

If the Horses are Fine…

keep-calm-and-warm-your-pipes-2

I just came home from a week-long trip to Minnesota over the holidays. Most of my family lives there, and several factors (a cousin’s wedding and an ailing grandmother) made my attendance absolutely compulsory. Don’t get me wrong, I love to visit with family. It was great to see everyone. All of the feelings I expressed in my last post, Enjoying Christmas is a Choice, hold true. I’m glad I went, and I was sorry to leave.

The entire time I was away, I held on to one saying: If the horses are fine, everything else is okay. I’d left my cayuses in the capable hands of my dear friends and neighbors, who have several horses of their own. They would take good care of my ponies, I knew. But still, there’s always that little nagging voice in my head- what if the water tank cracked? What if the other neighbor’s dog ran them through that section of smooth-wire I built as a gate? What if a Sasquatch came out of the mountains behind the house and took up residence in my barn? And so on…

So, as one might suspect, I was pleasantly relieved to find my nags in good flesh, bored, and undisturbed by Bigfoot when I got home. Most of my worry had been for naught. Unfortunately, when I got inside the house, a different concern showed itself to be very real and very inconvenient- the furnace had gone out, and my pipes were frozen. The faucets, which I’d set to dripping before I left, sported perfect stalagmites of ice rising up from the sink  bottoms.

I ran into Helena to get a few space heaters- luckily, only the faucets and fixtures inside the house had frozen, not in the crawlspace below. The propane company got a pleading visit from yours truly to get out here and rectify the situation- I’d ordered fuel a week earlier, and I’m seven miles from their office. It turns out that a week is not nearly the lead time they need, even if you pay in advance. All in all, it’s a hard lesson learned in the life of a new homeowner. But the horses were fine.

As things thawed out, I could take stock of the situation. My house would be fine- a few plumbing fixtures had cracked with the ice, but they were relatively cheap ones. A small price to pay for my ignorance. The power bill would certainly be higher this month, because of the space heaters. Again, a live-and-learn moment. My hay supply made it through the vacation season, and I’ve got a line on some new stuff from Ehlke Herefords this week. I’m sick, like a lot of people during and after the holidays, but it’s likely just a wicked cold, not Ebola or SARS or something equally deadly. My dog, Wheeler, is content to ride in the truck anywhere, for any length of time, just to be with me.

And the horses are fine.

Happy New Year. Keep Your Heels Down.