More later. This is only the beginning.
Four months ago, I hit the proverbial wall called, Life. I had to do something about my life cuz I could not bear the loop I was in. I was unhappy, that’s one thing – also I was making people in my life unhappy.
Over the last four months I have been trying to improve myself, my life. Actually, I attempted to improve my life in September 2016. After returning to Vancouver from China where I taught film post-production, I discovered to my shock that I had no teaching job any more. I looked around Vancouver for teaching or editing work. I decided rather than just do what I usually did which was to take a low paying or uninteresting job just because some work was better than no work, I would take a friend’s advice and do house-sitting. House-sitting turned into more than that – in the different sits, I looked after farm animals, alpacas, and monitored a senior. I enjoyed exploring the countryside in Wales and in France. I loved the Alpacas of Garth Mountain, and I loved accompanying Charlie, the springer spaniel, on his outings across farmland near La Marché. I think my greatest pleasure came from walking into the Welsh village each morning and getting the Daily Mail newspaper for the senior I monitored.
However, this attempt at improvement really only accomplished the sense of confidence a person gets from traveling. And, this improvement soon amounted to nothing when I returned to Ontario at Christmas and realized my mother was not doing so well. When you return from traveling and looking after animals, and see that your mother is falling all the time, you soon understand that it’s time prioritize your time and get serious about what matters – family. So, I made the decision to give up my life in Vancouver and return to my home province of Ontario to be with my mother.
At first I though of it as a temporary move. After moving in with her to see how she was really doing … she would say, “oh, I’m fine” … I soon understood that she was not “fine”.
More later. This is only the beginning of the hard digging.
Evening Sunday December 21, 2017. Toronto
I am crying in church. The pastor is reading a prayer. The prayer succinctly describes my struggle and hits on my biggest flaw. I had the pastor send me a copy of the prayer so that I might share it with others. The prayer:
my brokenness and sin is ever before me. I have desired control and that has only produced fear. I have desired power over others and that has only served to alienate them from me. I have desired my own comfort and that has only brought for anger when my comfort was not achieved. I have sought the approval of others and have meticulously kept them from seeing my true self for fear of rejection. I am consumed with thoughts of self-aggrandizement, self-promotion and self-service. In my deepest parts, I doubt that you are God and I want to rule myself. Show me the truth of the cross through which you rescue me from myself and my idolatry. May the work of Jesus ever stir me towards radical. joyful obedience in my home and place of work. May he be my reason for living and my source of joy, hope, faith and love. Amen”
The part that hit hardest with me was, “I have sought the approval of others and have meticulously kept them from seeing my true self for fear of rejection.” All the rest of The Confession is also part of what I am trying to rid myself of … “meticulously’ hiding myself in order to appease people is my big problem that I am dealing with. I see this as part of telling the truth … every day, every moment. Before I was content to not tell the truth in order to “shield” people from the truth about myself and about my true opinions. I thought I was right to do that. Why fight all the time over things that didn’t amount to much? I have learned not to do that. I now know that telling the truth all the time leads to making good decisions. If you know you are always going to face the consequences of your actions including not relying on lying your way out of stuff, then you tend to think about things more carefully before doing them. Also, I was burying a self that is actually a good person, a person who does know right from wrong, is honest and hard-working, who is moral, knows that, for example, having sex signifies you are completely turning yourself over to a person you trust … I was covering myself up with who I thought I should be … I had no confidence in myself because: 1. I was influenced by “heroes” who were not me but are revered in contemporary society and, 2. since I did not see myself reflected in these “heroes”, I thought I should act like them which led to, 3. I practiced getting better at being someone I was not. And this acting like I thought I should be instead of who I am, caused others in my life great stress.
I was crying in church because I was overwhelmed by suddenly thinking that the struggle to improve myself could also be seen as being a fool’s errand. That in this struggle I was actually doing all the things The Confession was about; I was only acting like someone who trying to improve their life.
My struggle to rid myself of all the things that were covering up my true self … the “self-promotion” by trying to be witty and clever (read: I am a jerk), the manipulation of people and situations to make my life easier, the “rule myself” because I am arrogant enough to think that my way is the only way to go … these were things I was doing to make myself appear as though I was improving myself. I wondered if, once again, I was acting at improving myself in order to cover up my true self – a person who is humble and at peace but is buried beneath the need to feel they must act out for fear of becoming left out … lonely.
More later. This is only the beginning of digging myself out.